What it means to live a conscious life (for me)
To put it simply, conscious living is taking control and making a conscious decision in every aspect of our lives. What does it mean for you?
This November, I’m challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the “Shorts” category, where each post should be around 500–1k words. Think of them as “less polished” than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 14.
A conscious, examined, intentional, or thoughtful life... You must have heard from at least one of them once before. What's the difference? Perhaps it's just the semantics. Personally, I believe they are almost similar in that it's about being aware and taking control of your life (whether it is your immediate environment, challenges, society, consumption, etc!) by making deliberate decisions that are not influenced by external factors. I'm dedicating this post to conscious living since it resonates with me more. To put it simply, what it means to live consciously is making conscious and informed decisions that are not influenced by impulse or external influences. It's helpful because knowing the reason you do something gives a stronger drive to continue doing or not doing it. For example, being conscious of what you consume. It's not only food, but anything that's consumable with your senses (watch, read, listen to) such as social media, the things you buy and so on. What makes you want to buy a new pair of fancy shoes? Have you been eyeing it for ages and it's finally now on sale, is shopping a way to cope with stress, or is it just another way of signalling that you're a sneakerhead, hip, or rich? Be aware, be your own judge and try to look at the bigger picture. From there, you can determine whether your decision feeds your mind and body that's best for you. Listen to your mind and body rather than what others say.
Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up opened the doors to conscious living for me when I read it back in 2017. It didn't start like that though. I began with minimalism (not the aesthetics of minimalism, but the concept of it), then I dived into slow living and sustainable living. I finally discovered conscious living. If these ideas were arranged in a Venn diagram, living consciously would probably fit right in the middle. When I'm about to buy something, say, a new shirt, I'll ask myself earnestly:
- Do I really need it?
- What's the reason for the purchase?
- Do I intend to use it in the long run?
This ties back into Marie Kondo's definition of minimalism, which encourages you to surround yourself with things that only bring you joy, which may help reduce clutter in your life. It also relates to sustainability too because the best tip for sustainability is not to buy the shirt at all if I don't need it or at the very least, if it's something I'll be wearing for a long time. It's not about getting the right storage boxes; it's rethinking the way you buy things in the first place. That's just one example, but living a conscious life really means thinking about your daily choices and all aspects of your life, from consumption to loving and connecting with yourself and others. Many times, it's the small decisions we make in life that can add up to make a big difference. If it's something you think you'd like to try, I highly encourage you to! Practising it may help you discover yourself, know what you want, and maybe even appreciate life a little bit more. Don't worry about being perfect. I'm not either, and I still give in to the urge to over-consume from time to time. That is, however, one step closer to living a more conscious life. It takes time, but by taking the first step and making your best effort, you should hopefully see a difference in living a more conscious life too.