I've been writing about this idea of "conscious living" for awhile now. Sometimes I worry that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. Then I remember that the only thing that really matters is how we live. It's only when we are each living in accordance with our values and actively taking steps every day to live those values out that the world can be improved.
Conscious living is an old idea that has been hashed and rehashed. It has gone by different names over time: Deliberate living, a life well lived, the examined life. All of these refer to the core idea of living a life that you're proud of and of living as vibrantly and authentically as possible. In my own lexicon, I refer to the idea as living a life beyond external decision makers.
For many people, life is nothing more than the mindless meanderings caused by factors outside their control. The T.V. tells them to dress like this, so they do. Society tells them to think like so, so they do. People say to act like this, so they do. When we constantly look around, instead of inside, ourselves for guidance on how to live we have given up on living consciously.
All of this talk seems intrinsically selfish at first. I seem to always be encouraging people to improve themselves, to find themselves, to focus on themselves, and to better themselves. An astute observer could probably criticize me as being overly concerned with individual action when we actually live in a very social world. I would agree with that critique, except for one point.
Everything that happens in this world, for both ill and good, happens because of individuals. Sure, organizations like governments and companies may be the seeming actors, but reduction from there always ends at individual people. Individual people that may or may not be living consciously. People that may or may not be trying to live closely aligned and authentically with their values. Everything can be brought back to the individual. In my opinion, this is a very fortunate realization because the only thing we have control over, is ourselves. The individual.
Lack of consciousness at the individual level results in an overall feeling of malaise. Of feeling like we aren't living up to our potential or taking the greatest advantage of our situation. When that feeling is multiplied across many individuals the result is organizations and groups that lack consciousness. Extrapolated even further, I believe nearly every social ill we currently struggle with as a country and even as a planet, can be traced back to an individual lack of consciousness that is multiplied into social lack of consciousness.
Poverty, obesity, political apathy, violence, underperforming schools, and nearly any other social problem you can read in the newspaper every morning or hear on the tips of every person's tongue is a result of a social lack of consciousness. Social consciousness is simply the summation of individual consciousness.
My dream is that by improving ourselves we will improve the world. Truly, improving ourselves is the only thing we can do. By improving ourselves we will improve the organizations, the companies, and the social groups that we all belong to.These are the agents for massive change and massive improvement.
So please, be selfish. Focus on yourself. Improve yourself. Live more consciously. Myself, your neighbors, and the world will all thank you.