Buster, the five-year-old male Jack Russell Terrier wakes up. He gets out of his bed under the stairs and stretches, opening his mouth and curling his tongue like he does every morning. He spots his guardian, Janet, and heads over to greet her and gets a head rub from her. She then pours his breakfast in his food bowl while Buster waits impatiently, occasionally letting out an excited bark with his tail wagging like a mad flag in the wind. After breakfast, Janet takes him for a 30 minutes-walk in the park before heading off to work. Buster returns to his bed, contented, and waits for lunchtime when Janet will be back to let him out for a wee and quick stretch. He has then left on his own again for the next few hours.
Buster muses himself by tugging at his favourite nylon ring and ‘killing’ his stuffingless duck before retiring to his bed waiting for his guardian to come home. When she does, they go for a 1-2 hours walk before his dinner and settling in his favorite spot, on the couch beside Janet, watching the latest episode of Tiger King. Wake up, eat, run, sleep, play, eat, chillout, sleep, and repeat. That is Buster’s daily life. It also happens to be his weekly, monthly, and incidentally, yearly life too. His daily routine is his entire life in miniature.
What is your daily life like? Are you aware that your daily life is your entire life in miniature? How you spend your day can be extrapolated to how you spend your life. Are you living consciously?
Many people are on autopilot. They wake up, check their mobiles, go to the toilet, have breakfast, go to work (or take care of their children which is immensely harder, in my opinion, while their partner [if they have one] go to work for a break!), come home, have dinner, sleep and repeat. Maybe on weekends, the routine changes a bit. Some activity is planned and carried out before the week starts on Monday again and the routine is repeated. I, for one, certainly know how that feels. I have done it for so many years. Before you know it, the day next week becomes the day last week. Without you realizing, a week passes, a month passes and a year passes. After five to ten years, you may look back and wonder, ‘What happened?! What have I done? What do I have to show for? Where did the time go?’
Sure, you have gotten older and hopefully, wiser (don’t count on it!) but have you lived your life consciously? Have you lived your life as you planned? Did you even have a plan in the first place? There is much advice on life offered by people with great intentions. Advice like these, “Life will sort itself out”, “Don’t worry, be happy”, “Things can only get better”, “Study hard, get a good job and you will be sorted”, “As long as you are happy, it’s ok”. It can be easy to listen to that advice and feel as though you do not need to focus on living or live consciously.
“But I’m young. There is plenty of time. Why do I need to be so serious? Do I really need to live consciously?” Once you understand that life is not an entitlement but a privilege. When you realized that you have an expiry date, you merely do not know when. How you spend your day is really how you spend your life. You may think differently. You certainly do not have to choose to live consciously. After all, you have heard others say that you should not take life too seriously, right?
Being conscious is not the same as being serious. Being conscious is properly living and not merely existing. Being conscious is living life intentionally, savoring every moment, feeling, experience, smell, touch, contact, and interactions with the external world and your inner self. It is truly living your life the best you can. You will never get it perfect. No one does. That is the fun of it. It is made up of constant experimentation, tweaking, optimizing, and improving. Without a doubt, it will allow you to maximize your potential, expand your mind, and get another step closer to developing a better version of yourself. It is your life, not anyone else’s. You do not owe anything to anyone else. However, you do owe yourself that.
There are three sorts of people in this world. One sees things happen, the other makes things happened and the last type wonders, “What happened?” You do not choose your future. You choose your daily habits and your habits choose your future.
“But it takes too much effort!”, you may protest. Of course, it does. It is much easier to go on auto-pilot. It takes less brainpower and less need to find out more about yourself. Living consciously requires thinking. Henry Ford said, “The hardest thing in the world to do is think and that is why people do so little of it.” Consider the alternative. Many people die in their twenties and only get buried in their eighties. Their last breath is merely a formality.
How do you start? I will suggest three simple steps… N.B. Just because they are simple, it does not mean they are easy. One, have very specific goals. When you have goals, you can ask yourself the question in your day, “Am I doing things that is helping me to reach my goals?” It is hard to live intentionally if you have no intentions in the first place! Two, master your morning routine. How you start your day set up how the rest of your day would go. Messy morning, late to get up, waking up tired will lead to a whole day of catching-up, which is definitely not intentional! Three, spending 15 minutes before sleeping to reflect your day and ask yourself, “Have the activities done today brought me closer to my goals? Did I enjoy doing them? Have I improved from yesterday?” If you answer ‘No’ to any question, reflect and find ways to change that to a ‘yes’ for the next reflection session. Do not be discouraged if you find yourself saying ‘No’. You will not be the only one (I, for one, will join you from time to time). At least you are asking the questions.
Buster may live his exact day daily but he is also practicing to be faster (to chase the squirrel), be braver (to approach cats!), and smarter (to train Janet to give him more food and walks!). He will optimize his life until he dies. What about you? Are you ready to push your past your existence into living consciously like you so deserve?
‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’ – T Harv Eker