How to Live More Consciously

Living conscious of who we are and what surrounds us is the best way to be in harmony. Keep reading to learn what you need to do to live more consciously.
How to Live More Consciously

Last update: 24 June, 2021

In today’s world, with so many media and sources of distraction that invite us to focus on others and not on ourselves, living consciously is becoming increasingly difficult. It seems that our inner self is becoming less and less attractive.

But why should we be interested in living consciously? Why do we need to explore our own experiences?

This isn’t just about a connection with the self, but about being fully aware of the moment and the circumstance in which we live.

Delving into these answers is part of what we’ll address in this article. Here, we’ll take a look at what it means to live consciously, what prevents us from doing so, and what we can do to achieve it.

What does it mean to live consciously?

To live consciously is to know what you are, who you are, your place in the world, and your place regarding the other people around you. It’s about remembering your responsibilities, your qualities, your virtues, and also recognizing your negative side.

This brings us back to the concept of dasein, by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Dasein is ‘being in the world’, being situated in it dynamically, experiencing and living. In short, it’s a relationship with one’s own being.

At the same time, recalling the great Spanish thinker José Ortega y Gasset, conscious living has to do with us and our circumstances and what we do with the world in which we live. 

What prevents us from living consciously in the present?

In addition to the distractions of everyday life, overworking, and other activities, certain attitudes affect us and are signs that we’re not living consciously in the present moment.

Some of them are the following:

  • Resentment: Resentment is a negative emotion about a bitter memory, due to an offense or injury that we believe we’ve received undeservedly. It has to do with feelings of anger and sadness.
  • Fear and anxiety: We’re afraid of danger, of dying, of getting sick, of something bad happening to our children. When we fall prey to fear, we stop living fully. Both fear and anxiety produce feelings of anguish, insecurity, and uncertainty about the future.
  • Excessive self-esteem: A certain amount of self-esteem is positive, too much becomes a bad thing. An exaggerated ego prevents us from connecting with the world and with people.
  • Evasion: Being aware of what we are implies accepting our reality. Living in the past, in seemingly more pleasant moments, or imagining an idealized future may provide temporary relief, but it’s not the solution.
  • Distraction: Living fully is only possible if you pay attention to yourself, your circumstance, and your present moment.
  • Boredom: If you’re bored by what you’re doing and what you have in front of you, it’s because you may wish you were doing something else right now. But if you’re always bored, it’s a bad sign.
A man who's bored while watching TV in the dark.
Boredom has the ability to take us out of the present moment and prevents us from enjoying what’s going on around us.

Be sure to read: A Person’s Greatness Lies in the Small Details

Tips for living more consciously

Although we assume that living mindfully in the present is necessary, not all of us know how to focus more on the here and now. We have to train the mind to experience each experience. We have to relearn what we have unlearned.

1. Meditation

Meditation is the beginning of conscious living. When we meditate, we do nothing else but be here, in the present moment, living in the moment.

Evidence has been found that meditation has beneficial biopsychosocial effects in different areas of human life, both concerning emotional states and in cognitive processes and general health. It even influences the symptoms of chronic diseases.

Thus, developing the practice of meditation as a habit helps us to live consciously and to stop thinking with anxiety about what’s to come or with resentment about what’s already happened.

2. Yoga and exercise

Yoga isn’t only a series of stretching exercises for the benefit of the body. Above all, it works on the connection between mind and body.

In fact, several studies mention that physical activity and yoga are stress-reducing agents and promoters of a better quality of life, concerning physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual aspects.

3. Abandon judgments and expectations

Setting expectations leads us to be unable to accept. Similarly, this belief that things should be different exhausts us and prevents us from seeing what’s around us.

Of course, we can change for the better and try to improve. Acceptance does not mean you have to agree with and settle for everything as it is. Rather, it means leaving aside the attitude of denial and the eternal battle against the world.

At the same time, the judgments we make about ourselves or the fear of others’ judgments take us away from our reality, creating a distorted idea of what we expect or what others expect from us.

4. Avoid negative emotions

An attitude of trust in the present is living consciously. But having confidence in the present implies letting go of fear, anguish, and anxiety.

The same goes for anger, rage, and resentment. They chain us to negative moments, preventing us from seeing that there’s something more.

5. Practice acceptance and gratitude

Our life may not seem perfect, but no one said it had to be. There are moments or events that we find unpleasant.

And yet, for every detail that we dislike, there’s another that makes up for it. If we notice the former and not the latter, it’s because we focus too much on the bad.

We can’t simply live one joyful moment after another. However, we can’t live among constant sadness either. French writer Albert Camus once said that one can neither be permanently happy nor permanently unhappy.

At the same time, when we’re grateful, we see what we have and forget what we lack. This is precisely the essence of living consciously.

A woman meditating on the beach at sunset.
There’s no one way to meditate. Everyone should find the one that best suits their lifestyle.

6. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is related to being in touch with the reality of the present moment, in full awareness of what you’re doing, without thinking or wishing for anything else. Living consciously and with mindfulness are as inseparable as two sides of the same coin.

Several studies show that mindfulness is effective in the treatment of stress and other psychological problems, to the point that it’s already been introduced in several psychotherapy programs.

Developing mindfulness is something we can achieve through practice, avoiding everything that distracts our minds from what we’re doing and striving to maintain our concentration on a single task.

Several activities help us in learning the difficult but necessary art of mindfulness and conscious living. Among these, we have the following:

  • Listening to soft music
  • Reading
  • Drawing or painting
  • Playing chess
  • Walking in the countryside

The benefits of living consciously in the present

If we don’t allow ourselves to experience the life we’re living, we won’t obtain the knowledge that each experience implies. The learning will be null and we’ll be condemned to repeating the same mistakes.

When we go through life consciously, we’re more open to learning from what surrounds us and from ourselves. We handle suffering and stress better.

Being able to live consciously in the present is within our reach. Our future existence will depend on it; much more than on the other things we can’t control.

We can free ourselves from unnecessary suffering. All we need to do is leave the shell in which we’ve taken refuge, lower the volume of the noise coming from outside, open our eyes to what we have inside, and dare to truly live.

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