It’s easy to live your life on autopilot. We spend our lives developing habits and routines and then, without much conscious thought, we settle into the molds of the past living out each day similarly to the previous one. We forget how to live consciously.
But, something amazing happens when we recognize these patterns in our lives and start living more consciously. Bit by bit, things start to change and we connect to life on a deeper level. We start noticing the little things, we become kinder and more compassionate in every area of our lives. We start striving for greater ambition. Not only do we dream about being the best versions of ourselves, but we actually start taking conscious action to turn those dreams into reality.
When you put forethought into every action, the impact is quite simply, profound. It’s the difference between hitting the snooze button on your alarm every morning because that’s what you always do and then starting off your day on the wrong note as all the days past, versus deciding to take the control back and wake up the second the alarm rings, and starting off your day with a smile on your face and a sense of accomplishment.
A small conscious change with a whole day’s worth of impact.
Today we’re going to talk about a few ways you can start living more consciously. Some of these are small changes, while some are huge lifestyle overhauls. The one thing they all have in common is that they all force you to think outside of yourself and live a more conscious life. Here they are:
Have Intention Behind Every Action
Going back to that alarm clock example, often we let the day run us, rather than the other way around. The reason boils down to a simple lack of intention.
If you’re anything like me, you pretty much plan for failure every night. Instead of setting just one alarm, you might set several in 15-30 minute increments because you know you’re not going to wake up on time. On my phone, I used to have 3-4 alarms in 15-minute increments with a final emergency must-get-up-or-be-late alarm. This habit resulted in me repeatedly hitting the snooze button and then finally, grudgingly, getting out of bed at the last possible moment and then rushing around trying to get ready in time. In other words, I started off the morning with the day running ME.
But, a major shift happened when I started setting an intention every night. I started setting just one alarm with NO snooze enabled. But more importantly, I took a few minutes to mull over my intention before going to bed: I was going to wake up the second that alarm rang and I was going to take my time to get ready. I was going to start off my morning relaxed with plenty of time to let my mind and body center for the day ahead.
It was within my power to make this change; all I had to do was set the intention and then leave myself no other option but to follow through. By being more conscious about my intention, I was able to make this positive change in my life and you can too!
All you have to do is slow down and pause, set the intention, either by talking out loud to yourself for a minute or two stating your intention, or by writing it out on paper and journaling a few sentences about what your intention is and why it’s important to you to follow through.
Disconnect From the Digital World
Technology is certainly quite tempting. It’s easy to reach for your phone, and while away your time without any conscious thought of exactly how much time is passing by. You might grab your phone to check a message, but then get distracted and end up googling something random that pops up into your head instead. An hour later, you don’t even remember how you got to where you are!
This is not only a huge waste of time, but additionally, it becomes a mind-numbing habit. Browsing around in the digital world without a specific purpose or end goal is an extremely passive activity and the more time you spend engaging in it, the worse it is.
Set the intention to limit your time online. Be specific. Maybe set aside a one to two hour period everyday when you’ll consciously choose to disconnect from all technology entirely. That includes your phone, T.V., computer, everything. While initially, you may find yourself bored, in a couple days you’ll find all sorts of fun ways to entertain yourself!
Personally, I also like to use the app Forest to limit my time on my phone. With this app, you basically have a forest and can plant trees anytime you want some time off from your phone. When you hit the button to plant a tree, if you attempt to do something else with your phone, your plant dies, which is a great motivator for me to stay away from my phone!
Another app I’ve been recently trying out is Space which tracks exactly how much time I spend on the screen and even how many times I pick up my phone to unlock it. Knowing exactly how much time I’m spending on my phone everyday helps me keep myself in check.
Let Go of Judgement: Both For Yourself and Others
Nobody is perfect and I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I can be judgemental without even any conscious thought on my part. Both, of others, and more often than not, myself.
But, judgement is such a waste of time ultimately. It’s pessimistic in nature and creates a habit of constantly looking at the negative side of things rather than trying to find the positivity and beauty in everything.
For example, let’s say you go grab a coffee in the morning at your favorite coffee shop and the barista is a little rude to you. Your first inclination will probably be to judge her and write her off as a rude person and furthermore get upset by that interaction. Later on, you might then judge yourself for getting upset over some random 2 minute interaction.
Both of these judgements are unnecessary and making the conscious decision to let go of them can be so liberating! Instead of stewing over the barista’s rude behavior, you could show empathy or understanding. Maybe they’re going through a rough time in their life, maybe they had a horrible morning, who knows why the behaved the way they did? Give them a smile instead and move on with your day.
If you can’t help being upset, forgive yourself for letting it get to you. You can’t always control what something makes you feel, but you can control the way you handle those feelings.
Make the conscious decision to let go of judgement.
Be More Expressive
I see so many people that have a bunch of hang-ups about expressing their feelings. Thanks to toxic masculinity and femininity, everyone is afraid of being judged for expressing themselves.
Emotions are what make us human. Without them, we’d be nothing but robots. Embrace your feelings – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give yourself permission to express yourself more freely.
If you love someone, tell them every day. Time is precious and every opportunity to express your love for a loved one should be snagged immediately. Give them a hug. If something someone does is upsetting to you, then tell them in a kind, non-accusatory way that their behavior hurts you. If you find yourself admiring something on a random stranger, tell them what caught your eye – you might just make their day with your genuine compliment.
If you feel like crying, let go. Let yourself cry. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, crying is a natural release and it can make you feel so much better.
Don’t be afraid of judgement. If someone criticizes you for being expressive, the problem is that they themselves are afraid of expressing themselves freely. The problem isn’t with you for having emotions and expressing them!
A good exercise to become comfortable expressing yourself is to start off with complete strangers. Start off setting a simple goal to compliment 1-2 strangers every single day. If someone has a beautiful smile, tell them! It might be awkward in the beginning, but you’ll get more comfortable with it as time goes on.
Also get into the habit of telling your loved ones that you love them. Tell your partner how much you love them every single day. Give your kids big tight hugs every time you see them, no matter how old they are.
Eventually, it’ll become so natural to you, you’ll wonder why you were bottling up all your feelings to begin with!
Consider Your Environmental Impact
Lastly, I want to talk about living consciously when it comes to our environment as well. So many people don’t give a single thought to the environment. Greedy corporations constantly push their own agenda of consumerism onto everyone and unfortunately, it’s easier to forget about our individual environmental impact instead of making small simple changes that are better for the planet.
Don’t fall into this trap. You might think that one person’s actions have no impact on the environment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Change starts with every single individual and it snowballs into bigger movements from there.
Take the time to educate yourself and make more conscious decisions.
This might mean eating a more plant-based diet. Maybe switch out one daily meal for a plant-based one. Make your own produce bags from used clothes or buy them if you’d rather do that. Bring a reusable container with you when you go out to eat and bring your leftovers home in there instead of the single use plastic container the restaurant may offer.
If you want to go out shopping for some groceries and the store is nearby, opt to walk or bike there instead of taking your car. You’ll get in some exercise and fresh air! Buy goods in bulk whenever you can – it’s cheaper and better for the environment.
These are mostly very small simple conscious swaps that have a bigger environmental impact than you think.
These are just a few of the thousands of ways you can start living a more conscious life.
Living consciously is not something you can just change overnight. Living consciously is a lifestyle and an art. It’s not something you do just once, but rather small changes that add up to a completely different life.
All it boils down to is: Be conscious, and put thought into every single thing you do. Make conscious choices rather than doing things without thinking. Question all the things you believe and put conscious thought into every belief, word, decision, and action. That’s all conscious living is in a nutshell.