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Are you living consciously in an unconscious world?

Are you living consciously in an unconscious world?

You may have noticed that our world is something of a chaotic place lately. Loud. Noisy. Frantic. Angry. Violent. Fearful. Just watch the news. Actually, don’t. And by ‘world’, I mean the physical world we inhabit, not the self-created one inside our head. Although that can be a pretty awful place too. When we let it be.

    A Personal Search

    For me, a large part of the last decade has been something of a personal expedition beyond the world of logic, academia, business, conventional thinking, religion and even (the traditional approach to) personal development. While all of those things serve a purpose and have value (of course), I wanted to see what lives beyond them. After all, sometimes terms like ‘logic’ and ‘common sense’ are just euphemisms for fear and not-knowing-any-different. And, to be completely honest, sometimes success doesn’t feel very, er, successful.

    If you know what I mean.

    A Realisation

    I arrived at a point in my life where I had an overwhelming sense that, despite my reasonable education, mildly successful career and alleged knowledge and intelligence, I was missing out on something that could be fundamental to my existence, my future and to my potential growth. I wanted to see what existed beyond my programming. Beyond my (then) ‘current world view’. My social conditioning. My default setting. My comfort zone. My formal education. My self-limiting beliefs. My expectations. My fears. And my prejudices.

    I considered the notion that maybe my concept of how the world and all its intricacies ‘worked’ (life, death, people, relationships, spirituality, wealth, happiness, misery, success, failure, fear, destiny, etc.) was the very thing which held me back. I also considered the notion that perhaps my over-thinking mind was, ironically, my barrier to learning, understanding and enjoying a new way of being. I wanted to learn more about my non-cerebral self.

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    Could it be that in some ways, with some issues, I was missing the point? Could my mind possibly be a handicap (with some things)? Could it be that I’ve been taught things – perhaps many things – which simply aren’t true? Or maybe, not true for me. But surely if enough people believe the same thing, it must be true?

    Much of the information (teaching) you and I receive (from about kindergarten onwards) tells us that success, and therefore happiness, is largely about what we can accumulate, do, achieve, control, own and look like. I decided to explore what success might look like working from the inside-out and not the other way around (the conventional model).

    A Glimpse of What Might Be

    Have you ever had an experience, perhaps a brief moment in time, when a door to a different world was opened for you? Perhaps a moment when you got a glimpse of something more than your current perception of reality? A time when you secretly (or maybe openly) questioned everything you’ve ever thought, believed and known? A time when you realised that maybe there is a different way to ‘do’ life? A different way to experience, think (or not think), feel and be?

    For me, there came a stage when I realised that the way I saw the world was just that: the way I saw it. My version of reality. And that in itself can be a limitation. Doesn’t have to be, but can be. This realisation, this awakening, was the beginning of my journey towards consciousness. Or, should I say, a more conscious version of me. I committed to becoming more aware, more open and less ‘right’. Damn that need to be right.

    I determined to stop thinking that I knew so much, to stop assuming and to stop finding comfort and safety in the familiar and the cerebral. And no, I didn’t have any plans to become some kind of soft-speaking, all-knowing, sandal-wearing mystical, magical, enlightened guru living in a cave and writing sacred texts on parchment (although, I don’t mind a good sandal and I do like a nice piece of parchment) but rather, just a simple and hopeful desire to become a more conscious, aware and humble person.

    A Parable

    Imagine you’ve spent your entire life in a medium-sized town (probably not a stretch for some of you). And living in that medium-sized town, your parents have always warned you, no, they have ordered you, not to venture down certain streets or to go into certain areas. For your own good. You’re told not to go down those streets because it’s dangerous. Unsafe. You might get hurt. Bad things happen there. Since you were a kid, you were taught that all you ever needed for happiness and security existed in ‘your part’ of town.

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    Strangely, nobody in your part of town ever seemed to be particularly happy.

    Then one day you’re an adult and you make a bold decision to talk to your parents about life beyond the safe-zone. You’ve been curious for a long time but nobody ever discusses it. Ever. You wonder why. You feel you’re now old enough to know exactly what lies beyond those safe and familiar (and let’s be honest, boring) streets. You want to know more. To have some insight into a world beyond the only one you’ve ever experienced.

    You muster up the courage to ask your father exactly what it’s like down those forbidden streets. You want details. You tell him it’s time. You ask the question and he stares at you blankly. He says nothing. He looks a little guilty and sheepish; two looks you’ve never seen before. You ask again. More silence. Your stomach sinks a little as you begin to realise something. Something big. You look to your mother. She shrugs her shoulders and looks to the ground. Your stomach churns. You realise they’ve never been there. They have no answers for you. Only fear. Fear of the unknown.

    They’ve trained you to be terrified of something they know nothing about. Just as they themselves were trained.

    In desperation, you run to the phone and dial your grandfather: the wise old family patriarch. He will know. He knows everything. Two minutes later you put down the phone. Shattered and disillusioned, you walk slowly to the window. You feel physically ill. You stare out and wonder what lies beyond your familiar surroundings. All of a sudden, those streets you know so well have come to represent something else. In a heartbeat you make a decision to take a trip. You tell your concerned parents you’re going on a journey. They panic. They protest. Scared of the unknown.

    They have built their own prison. And you decide you’ve been an inmate for too long.

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    You fill a backpack with some supplies and prepare yourself mentally. You’re not really sure what to pack because you don’t know where you’re going, what you’ll find or when you’ll return. Or even, if you’ll return. You walk out of the house and, as you do, you close the door on a lifetime of fear, control, pointless repetition, repression and self-limiting beliefs. You love your parents and they love you but, despite your respect for them and appreciation of them, you don’t want to become them.

    As you begin your walk, your heart is filled with hope and possibilities. In a moment of clarity and insight, a small voice tells you that an important part of the journey ahead is really about what you’re leaving behind: insecurity, fear, self-doubt, self-limiting thinking, crazy rules and destructive beliefs.

    As you reach the outer limits of the ‘safe-zone’ your irrational (but understandable) childhood fears have been replaced with curiosity and excitement. Before long, you have travelled further than ever before and to your surprise and delight, the new place is not terrifying at all. In fact, it’s beautiful. And magical. Even though you’ve never been there, you feel like you’ve come home. For the first time ever, you feel like you belong.

    Knowledge Beyond Education

    It’s my belief that in the process of life we often allow ourselves to become disconnected from our inner intelligence. From the ‘knowing’ we have beyond our experiences. Beyond our education. Beyond logic. Beyond what we’ve been told to believe and trained to do. I believe we’re all born with an intelligence and a consciousness that’s hard-wired into our DNA. There are things we ‘just know’ without ever having been taught them. In animals we call this instinct.

    We humans have no problem believing in the ability of animals to just know certain things. However, when it comes to us very educated, intellectual and over-thinking humans, we often find ways to discount things such as inbuilt knowledge. Or human instinct. Some call it genetic intelligence. And sadly, for many of us, if we can’t see it, touch it, measure it, graph it or explain it, we won’t believe in it. Or even consider it.

    Sometimes science is a limitation. As is knowledge.

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    Being a fundamentally flawed (but eternally curious) alpha-male, I’m still using my training wheels to explore the realms of consciousness and enlightenment. My ‘L’ plate is firmly fastened around my neck as I learn, grow and continue to ask questions. I know next-to-nothing but what I do know, excites me. The ideas of ‘tuning in to’ my genetic intelligence and becoming a more conscious being are things that simply feel right for me. Overdue even.

    Choosing to live consciously in an unconscious world presents many challenges, opportunities and lessons. It also presents me with a chance to experience life beyond those old familiar streets of my own medium-sized town.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Published on July 15, 2019

    10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

    10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

    Habits are an important part of the direction you take your life, and — as I’ll share with you shortly — there are certain daily habits you can adopt right away that are guaranteed to improve your life.

    Think back to when you were just six or seven years old…

    At that age you probably didn’t have many habits. But, as the years went by, you picked up more and more good and bad habits.

    You may not have thought about it before, but habit forming never really stops.

    That’s why it’s never too late to change your habits and transform your life.

    So, if you feel burdened by your bad habits, start kicking them into shape by replacing them with these 10 positive, life-changing strategies:

    1. Go to Bed a Little Earlier and Wake up Earlier 

    Starting tonight, get yourself to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. And, then make sure you get up tomorrow morning 30 minutes earlier, too. This small change can have a BIG impact on your day. 

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    Instead of furiously rushing in the morning to get ready for work, the extra time will give you a golden opportunity to start your day off on the right note. You can drink a smoothie while sitting on your porch, spend 10 minutes exercising and stretching, and still have time to read a few pages of an inspiring book.

    2. Be Grateful for the Good Things in Your Life 

    Setbacks and obstacles are inevitable in life. But, with a positive mindset, you’ll be able to overcome most of these. And, when you do, you’ll boost your self-confidence. 

    This is something you can definitely be grateful for. 

    However, if worst-case scenarios are playing out in your life, then sometimes, to stay strong, you’ll need to keep your mind on the good things that are happening to you. For example, your relationship with your partner might be crumbling, but your career is continuously getting stronger. It’d be easy to feel downtrodden and miserable about your relationship problems —  but, it would be much healthier to keep your mind and gratitude on these things that are going well, such as your career.

    3. Drink Water All Day Every Day 

    I’m sure you’ve heard the advice of drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, but are you following that advice? If not, you’re robbing your body and mind of essential hydration. 

    With the right amount of water intake a day, you’ll be amazed how good you feel — and how good you look!

    4. Take 15 Minutes to Set Goals for the Day, and Then Tackle Them One by One 

    This strategy will put your life into a new stratosphere! And, it’s very simple to do. 

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    Simply spend 15 minutes in the morning (either at home or at work) planning what you need and want to achieve during the rest of the day. Once you’ve listed your tasks, the next step is to put them into order of priority. 

    For instance, you have three things to do: catch up with your emails, write a project update, and prepare a briefing for your CEO. It’s best if you put these in order of importance. In this example, your emails can probably wait until you’ve created your CEO brief and updated your project documentation.

    5. Turn Off Your Cell Phone (or Put it on Airplane Mode) When You’re Focusing 

    A 2012 study found that even looking at a cell phone or feeling it vibrate in your pocket can significantly distract focus and reduce your ability to complete complex tasks.[1]

    It’s no surprise really, as our thoughts are subconsciously drawn towards checking our phones when they’re switched on. It’s a bad habit — but one that most of us have. However, when you need 100% focus (like I do when writing my articles), then switching your phone off, or at least putting it into airplane mode, will free your mind and supercharge your focus. Try it and see!

    6. Walk as Much as You Can 

    Have you noticed that most people’s lives are sedentary? They drive to work, sit in front of a screen all day, then drive home and binge on the latest Netflix series. It’s no wonder there’s a growing epidemic of obesity and mental health issues. 

    Our bodies are made to move — so we should move them! This can be as simple as walking up the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator, and going out for a walk around the block at lunchtime. In the evening, instead of arriving home and crashing on the sofa; spend 20 to 30 minutes walking around your block.

    When you make these things a habit, you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel. You’ll have less stress — and more energy.

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    7. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

    How often do you stop, think and appreciate the “here and now”? I’m guessing not very often. But, I understand why. Modern life is demanding and fast-paced. There’s precious little time to appreciate the small things. 

    But, if you want to live a healthy and happy life, you must break out of this trap. You can do this by allocating 15 to 30 minutes each day for mindful meditation. This could be in a park, in your garden, or even in your lounge. The trick is to focus 100% on your surroundings. 

    For example, if you’re outside, watch how the leaves on the trees blow around in the wind. By keeping your focus on this movement, you’ll clear your mind from your usual stresses and strains. This will give you brain a much-needed break. And, as well as improving your mental health; you’ll find your creativity gets a boost, too.

    8. Ask for Help When You Need It 

    No one can know or do everything. Which is why you shouldn’t be embarrassed to delegate tasks to others when needed, ask questions when you don’t have the answers, and work with partners and colleagues to clarify intentions. 

    When I first set up Lifehack, I tried to do everything myself: blog writing, website creation, marketing, financial planning, etc. However, I quickly learned that it was much better to hire some help. Not only did this inject some fresh ideas and inspiration into Lifehack — it also made the whole operation way more enjoyable!

    9. Practice Self Care 

    Are you looking after yourself as well as you should? If not, then take steps to improve your diet, exercise more, and to speak to yourself with encouraging words and thoughts. 

    The latter suggestion is often overlooked. But how you speak to yourself determines how you feel, what you believe, and what you achieve.

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    10. Embrace Learning 

    You cannot transform your life without learning something new. That’s because the process of change forces you to adapt. But, many people stop learning as they get older, as they find the learning process boring and bothersome. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be fun and rewarding. 

    Whether you decide to learn to play guitar or study the basics of accounting — embrace learning, and begin changing your world for the better.

    I’m sure you’ll agree that these 10 strategies are simple enough for you to start putting them into action in your life. (I suggest you begin today!) 

    Nevertheless, you’ll probably need to use some extra willpower for the first 30 days or so, as this is the typical length of time it takes to create a new habit. After that, these strategies will be part of your day-to-day life, and you won’t need to think about having to do them. In other words, they’ll have become habitual actions.

    If you need any further encouragement to get started with the 10 strategies, then consider this:

    Even just adopting one of the strategies can turn the tide in your favor. But, when you implement all 10, you’ll create an unstoppable trend towards success, health and happiness.

    So start making your life better — today!

    Featured photo credit: Javier Garcia via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Deborah R. Tindell and Robert W. Bohlander, Wilkes University: The Use and Abuse of Cell Phones and Text Messaging in the Classroom: A Survey of College Students

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