After completing my 10 day inspirational life challenge I wanted to share some things I learned about living consciously every day. This is the longest article I’ve written to date but working on even 1 of these tips can make a significant difference in your life.
What does it mean to live consciously?
To me living consciously means to live in a way where you are constantly working on the improvement of yourself and your life on a daily bases. It’s about the conscious pursuit of happiness or fulfillment where a person understands their life is their responsibility.
To live consciously means to avoid falling into a mindset where you merely react to your life situation rather than creating your life situation. It’s about having control over your own mental and emotional state instead of letting the world control you.
Living consciously is about being grateful for the things in your life, having an awareness of your own conscious growth and striving to make every day count. It’s also about understanding the direction you want your life to head in, and working towards making that vision a reality.
The problem is, these things are easier said than done and it’s easy to frequently slip from a place of conscious living to unconscious existing.
Slipping in and out
Once in a while we all have those bad few days… Things just weren’t working out, our plans were falling apart, we got in fights with others, we found ourselves bored or unhappy with whatever’s around us, we don’t even bother to work on future goals or if we do we run into frustrating roadblocks. Then after the few days are over and we’ve somehow snapped out of the funk we look back and realize we had been living totally unconsciously during that time. This is usually when I smack myself in the head and laugh about all the problems I had created for myself. 😀
After going through this kind of thing it’s easy to feel like the days were wasted. All too often I would get caught up in the daily life struggles that took up all of my attention and I’d forget about any big picture stuff. It’s all too easy to be unconsciously unhappy about the little things and forget to take a step back and realize how awesome and fortunate my life was. Looking back it’s clearer than ever how living unconsciously just makes everything in your life harder and less enjoyable which in turn only perpetuates things worse.
This really got me thinking about ways to ensure I was living consciously on a day to day basis and ensure I didn’t slip into this mental state.
1. Form Conscious Habits
The key to living consciously from day to day without slipping into an unconscious funk is to form conscious habits, and by habits I don’t mean chores or tasks, I mean routines so deeply engrained they are as natural as brushing your teeth. Habits are formed through repetition and positive reinforcement of emotion behind the repeated actions. I think it was said best by Marci Shimoff in The Secret: “The only difference between people who live in this way, who live in the magic of life, and those who don’t, is that the people who live in the magic of life have habituated ways of being.”
2. Wake Up the Right Way
In my challenge I learned the most important time of day to build a conscious habit is right when you wake up. How you start your day has a massive effect on how the rest of the day will unfold. Just like how the first song you hear in the morning tends to stick in your head throughout the day, the first thoughts and feeling you hold will remain prominent in your mind. If you start your day un-rested with a blaring alarm clock and a massive dread to get out of bed and head to work your programming your mind for that day to feel negativity and if you head out the door in the morning before doing some sort of conscious activity your setting yourself up for an unconscious reactive day.
Invest in an alarm clock that allows you to play mp3 cd’s and create yourself a disc with some beautiful feel good inspirational tracks. Check out this post for some good music to wake up to. (Waking up to ‘Lemon Jelly’ is almost guaranteed to put you in an amazing mood!). Put the alarm on random song and wake up with a different amazing song each day. This will help break the automatic negativity a normal alarm sound makes and takes the randomness of radio out of the equation. If you have a computer or laptop in your bedroom you can download a free alarm clock program here, and then set it to play a new awesome song every day to wake you up.
3. Start With Gratitude
If you want to set yourself up for a highly conscious day the best way to do that is to have your first thoughts be on gratitude. Feeling good about anything in your life that you’re grateful for is the best way to snap yourself out of any kind of morning negativity and appreciate the good things in your life. It doesn’t matter what you’re grateful for as long as you feel good about it, and if the thought that you have nothing to be grateful about pops in your head remind yourself that over 2 billion people in the world are living on less than $2 a day, and the fact that you are even reading this on the computer is something to feel extremely fortunate and grateful about.
4. Use Visualizations
Another habit to form essential in living a conscious life is the habit of visualization. Visualizing an amazing future scenario is an incredibly powerful way to relieve stress and feel good, it will also contribute to the manifestation of the future-you image, and ensure your life is a progression towards increased happiness and fulfillment rather than a stagnant routine. Create for yourself in your mind a scenario in the future where you are the happiest you have ever been in your life, then make it feel completely real for you. Make it something you feel is possible to work towards and someday achieve but don’t limit yourself because it’s also meant to be the perfect scenario if all of your dreams had come true. Put yourself in the situation and feel it as if it was the present moment and not some distant vision. Enjoy this perfect present moment fully feeling it as 100% real and joyful. Bring as many senses such as sight, smell, and taste into it as possible. Come up with as many details as you wish, and have it cover as many areas of your life as you want. Make the feelings of happiness and joy you get from this image incredibly powerful. If it’s hard to feel extremely joyful when doing this than your not imagining big enough, and you need to visualize a future with even more awesomeness in it. It should be impossible to keep a smile off your face as you do this. If it helps you, you can write out a list of details and descriptions of this future scenario then visualize about it as you read. Listening to inspirational music or being in nature while doing this can increase the feeling of joy tremendously.
Here are a few lines from the visualization I do daily. Realistically I know the dream is still far away as this website is almost brand new, but as I visualize I feel it as if it is completely real here and now in the present and it really excites and motivates me.
I am on a free vacation sponsored by a travel company that I provide advertisement to by blogging about their amazing trip
I’m having a blast blogging about the vacation; I use the word pure bliss many times
I experience an abundance of friendship and positive energy from the other travelers and people outside of the group
I wake up with a smile on my face every single morning, even if I’m hung over from an amazing night of partying
I interview many other travelers and learn things that surprise me in positive ways
I notice while on the internet my readers thanking me for my previous content and it thrills me when they tell me how they have made positive changes in their lives as a result
I connect with the people I meet on this trip on a deep level, many will consider me a friend they want to keep for life
I start a game of Beer-Frisbee and have a blast
I affect the lives of everyone around me in a significant and positive way
People love my lust for adventure, they are inspired by it
I feel pure bliss and ecstasy sitting under the stars at night on a warm beach
I feel an underlying love in everything I do, even the laundry
I encourage people to live with true freedom
I see limitless possibilities for my future
I’m grateful everyday that I accomplished my dream of travelling for a living, every single day
You really only need to visualize this sort of thing for about 5 minutes a day so you’ll never be too pressed for time to make it one of your daily habits. It also makes you feel so good you might find yourself doing it way more often. Feel free to make multiple scenarios for multiple awesome futures and playing a few in your head every day.
5. Goal Setting
I think it’s pretty crucial for personal development to have a few projects or goals that you work towards in your spare time. Figure out what area of your life you want to improve the most and set some goals in that area. If its financial, set a goal to spend an hour working on another source of income per day, if its relationships set the goal of meeting 1 new person a day or if you’re in a relationship to do 1 extra nice thing for your significant other per day, if its health set the goal to work out at least 3-4 times every week or to improve your diet. The more goals you set in the more areas of your life the more consciously you’ll have to pursue and ensure you stick to them. Working on improving specific areas of your life requires focus to keep improving and reflection to see how you’re doing on your path. Both keep you more conscious.
6. Improve Your Inner-Game
Mentally we all have strengths and weaknesses. Identify the ways you think about yourself or life in ways that aren’t beneficial and work on improving these areas. Read books that can shift your mindset in areas you need improvements. If you have a fear of failure realize there’s no such thing. If you often have negative thoughts practice thinking positively. If you’re depressed find ways to bring happiness back into your life. I’m over simplifying everything here because each one of these things would require their own article, but the point is to identify where you are mentally struggling and to work on improving. Know there is a way to think or act to solve any problem you are experiencing, you just may need to find it and work on it for a while.
7. Have Conscious Friends
The way I’m most often snapped out of any unconscious state I’m in is talking to my good friend Matt. We constantly talk about conscious living and other related things and it’s nearly impossible for either of us to walk away from one of our conversations without reflecting on how consciously we are or aren’t living. The more personal development oriented people you surround yourself with the more you’re going to grow as a person and the less often you’ll slip into negative mindsets or routines.
8. Become Present
Whenever you realize yourself on a bit of an autopilot take a few moments to become full 100% immersed in the present moment. Forget all things related to the past and future and be completely in the ‘now’. Look at everything around you with pure presence and you will notice things that you didn’t before, things will seem more alive and real. Quite often when I’m having an unconscious day ill pass by things without noticing them, my awareness of my surrounding is stifled. The next day with a more present mindset I’ll notice things that I was completely oblivious to before. Even doing mundane tasks like the dishes becomes an interesting meditative practice when you truly clear your mind and focus 100% of your awareness on your actions in the moment. Practicing remaining centered in the present moment is an extremely valuable habit who’s life changing value can only truly be realized by reading ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckart Tolle.
9. Keep a Journal or Blog
Keeping some kind of journal to force yourself to reflect on your personal thoughts and daily activities forces you to examine the exact habits you have on a day to day basis. It’s quite hard to remain unconscious if you’re actually taking the time to become aware of your thoughts and feelings. A journal or blog is also an awesome way to watch how your life progresses over time and is a great way to track and learn from your conscious growth. A great time to write in your journal and put yourself in a personal reflective conscious state is right before bead as your final mindset for the day will stick in your head as you sleep further reinforcing conscious habits.
10. Live and Inspired Life
Be free as you move through your daily life. Sing to your iPod in public places if it makes you feel good. Be friendly to everyone you encounter. Do something nice for a stranger for no reason. If you see someone that looks down on their life give them a genuine compliment to make them smile. Get excited about little things. Release your creativity; make something fun and silly in whatever art form you like. Try to have fun with whatever you do, if you have to clean your house turn on your favorite song and use your broom as a microphone. Go on an adventure. Try to see the world through fresh eyes once in a while. The possibilities for making your life feel a little more inspired are endless, this is an interesting world we live in, whatever you do don’t be bored.
Living consciously is not always a matter of ‘on’ or ‘off’ it’s more of a gradual scale from one degree of consciousness to another. Even if you never find yourself slipping into unconscious mindsets there’s always ways to further increase your level of consciousness by bringing more conscious habits into your daily routine.
Please share in the comments any way you help bring and keep conscious mindsets into your life.