“Remember then:there is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.” – Leo Tolstoy
There are two ways to live life: consciously or unconsciously. Conscious living, or “mindfulness” means being an active participant in your life, choosing the experiences you get involved with, and taking responsibility for the decisions you make. The opposite, living unconsciously, means allowing circumstances to dictate your life, remaining passive, and taking little to no ownership over what life brings. When it comes to living consciously or unconsciously, which one sounds more appealing to you in this one and only life? I thought so 😉
When you live consciously, you become intentional in the things you do. You put yourself in the drivers seat, and instead of waiting for things to happen, you MAKE things happen. You get more done, are more mindful of what you do, and are more focused. All of this gives you the ability to accomplish the things you set our to do and to be more successful in life. The best part is that holding yourself accountable for the life you have has a direct and positive impact on self-esteem, attitude, and belief in yourself.
Studies have shown that conscious living also provides numerous health benefits. It helps reduce and manage stress, chronic pain and blood pressure, and increases immune function and ability to cope with disease. Individuals who live consciously tend to be happier and have a more positive outlook than those who don’t. They tend to take themselves less seriously, are less impulsive or reactive, and accept their own weaknesses without self-judgement. Further, they’re able to take criticism more easily, and suffer less from depression and other emotional and behavioral issues.
Living consciously also means focusing on the present and not dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future. In other words, you live life in the moment. This translates to experiencing more positive thoughts and feelings as most of our anxiety and fears are rooted in past disappointments or regrets and the worry we feel about the future.
Finally living a conscious life helps you develop closer relationships. You’re more in tune with your emotions, thoughts, and reactions which helps you to be more sympathetic and understanding toward others. And you can more easily understand the impact of your choice on you life as well as those around you.
Ready to be an active participant in your life and live in the moment every day? Conscious living encompasses all aspects of life. Everything from what you choose to eat at dinner to the way you treat people can involve intentional thought and action. Living consciously can occur at any moment, on any day, just by actively being present during your experiences and being aware of your feelings and emotions. All it takes to get started is a commitment to be present in your life. Here are my guidelines for living in the moment (and actually enjoying it!)
Caroline’s Live In the Moment (and ENJOY it!) Suggestions For Success
- Stop and Smell the roses. Throughout the day, take time to pay attention to what is happening around you. Become mindful of your environment and how you personally fit into it. Observe colors, sounds, light, smells, and textures. Savor moments by allowing all of your senses to fully experience them. Make a habit of noticing new things in every situation, even for those repetitive actions like walking to work and making breakfast.
- Experiment: Every day find something new to try. Take a class. Attend a seminar. Read a new book. Play a new game. When opportunities present themselves, embrace them openly and look for the potential that they may bring. Say YES instead of no and do one thing a day that scares you. Trying new things keeps you engaged, youthful, and living to the fullest.
- Stop Thinking: Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School tells us, “Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall.” Part of our inability to live consciously is that we let our thoughts overtake our minds, precluding us from living in the moment and experiencing life. Instead, allow yourself to “just be”. Focus less on your thoughts and more on whats going on around you at the moment. Actively take part in the present while shutting out negativity of the past or future.
- Breathe: When you feel the urge to be impulsive of have a knee-jerk reaction to something, stop and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. When it comes to building a conscious life, deep breathing helps you hit the “restart” button. Instead of reacting hastily or irrationally, you’re able to gain self-control and have more rational and appropriate responses to situations and circumstances. Best part is deep breathing is free, easy, and can be done ANYWHERE! Inhale, Exhale, REPEAT!
- Accept Challenges, Pain, Worry: When something is uncomfortable, we often feel compelled to avoid it. Instead of pushing these feelings away, simply allow yourself to feel them and accept them for what they are. When we don’t acknowledge negative feelings, our minds deal with them in indirect ways. This can manifest in unhealthy behaviors, or worse cause us to do things we may regret. Accepting negative feelings, however, helps us understand our stressors, anxieties, and reactions, giving us the power to move forward and create new feelings and reactions so we can move past negativity instead of dwelling on it. I always say you have to FEEL in order to heal!
- Switch from Autopilot to Manual: You know your inner autopilot is at work when you feel like time has passed you by, yet you have no idea what you did or what happened during that time. You are going through the motions instead of actively engaging in your life. Maybe autopilot kicks in during a commute or while running errands. Or maybe its at work for longer periods of time. To get the most out of life, its important to be an active participant. Shut off autopilot by increasing your awareness of your thoughts, actions, decisions, and experiences. Don’t defer to others to make decisions for you or allow circumstances to dictate your life. Doing so will only lead to disappointment and frustration. As pilot of your life, you have ultimate control of where you go and the direction you head. Constantly look for ways to engage in what life has to offer…. you never know what may come your way.
Studies have shown that when individuals take the time to enjoy the moments of their lives, they experience more joy, happiness, and positive emotions, and fewer of those that are negative or depressive. But you don’t need research to tell you that conscious living is worthwhile, being an active participant in your life just FEELS better!
How do you practice mindfulness and “live in the moment” on a daily basis? Heres to living and loving every second 🙂
Information for this post provided by 52 Small Changes: One Year to A Happier, Healthier, You by Brett Blumenthal. Great read, check it out!
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