Self-Awareness: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
Everyone is talking about “self-awareness” these days, but why is it important and how can we all take simple steps to improve our hectic lives? Although millennials are highly aware of how they appear to others, just take our social media presence for example, are we truly aware of our individuality?
Despite our tendency to post selfies online, and shape ourselves around the lifestyles of others, we can become aware in a way that will allow us to live happier, more meaningful lifestyles. So how can we bring more awareness into our lives when we can barely keep our own schedules in order?
10 Tips for Living a More Self-Aware, Happy Life
1. Stay focused on your own goals.
With Instagram profiles and other social media platforms, it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else seems to be doing. Sometimes it can be tempting to feel pity for ourselves when the people we follow are flaunting their successes online.
We may have the ability to see how our peers are leading their lives, but that shouldn’t play a large role (or any role, ideally), in how we choose to conduct ourselves. Stay focused on your own goals, even if it means writing them down on a sticky note and posting it in clear view.
2. Ignore your phone.
Even if only for 10 minutes a day, ignore the constant emails, text messages, and push notifications that come soaring your way. Each time you stop to respond to a text or favorite a tweet, you are pulling yourself farther away from the task in front of you.
If you can, try completing an entire homework assignment without reading a text or checking your Facebook notifications. You may be surprised by how quickly you can accomplish your work, and how gratifying it feels to focus intently on one task until completion.
3. Spend some time alone.
In fact, spend enough time alone to become comfortable with it. Are you craving a burrito on your lunch break, but can’t find any coworkers available to join you? Try walking to the local Mexican restaurant on your own. At first, it may seem strange to be alone in public settings when you would ordinarily be with friends, but doing so can allow you to become more comfortable with yourself and your own desires.
This isn’t about the gratification of getting a chicken tortilla after a long morning; it’s about taking the time to recognize what you want, and that you can accomplish your goals on your own.
4. Breathe mindfully.
Sit with good posture, practice a steady breath, and let thoughts escape your mind. This simple meditation exercise may sound easy, but try it for just 10 minutes and you may be surprised by just how difficult it is to let go and just “be” for a few minutes a day. You may also be surprised by the benefits of engaging in such an activity.
[For You: The Art of Mindfulness]
5. Be productive.
We all have guilty pleasures of binge watching Netflix specials and going out for happy hour after work, but don’t let yourself get into a habit of sloth. Be productive, even when you’re not on the clock.
What makes you excited? What brings more meaning to your life? It might be exercising, reading, knitting, cooking, or trying different wine. Find whatever that is, and go do it.
6. Take up walking.
Clear your mind, breathe in the outdoor air (even if it’s muddled with city smog), and enjoy the simplicity of walking for the mere pleasure of the activity. Not only is walking good for your health, it can help you to clear your mind and refocus on what’s important.
7. Alter your mindset.
This may be easier said than done, but never underestimate the power of a strong mindset. When faced with unsavory circumstances (say, having to cancel your plans and instead work all weekend), it can be tempting to mope and feel upset. Instead of resenting your job, thus allowing the hours to drag by, be thankful that you have work at all. In short, focus on the good in life, even if it’s hard to find sometimes.
8. Be health conscious.
Drink lots of water, prepare healthy meals, and exercise multiple times a week. With a busy schedule, it may seem impossible to find time for a run, but never underestimate the benefit of even twenty or thirty minutes of physical activity. Be conscious about getting enough sleep each night, and play a crucial role in increasing the quality of your day time hours.
9. Clean up after yourself.
Do you leave dirty dishes in the sink and laundry on the bed? Do you have a cluster of coffee mugs filling with dust on your desk?
Clean it up! Not only are you creating an eyesore (and perhaps a tripping hazard) for those around you, you’re also doing yourself a disservice. Being aware of your own messes, and having the initiative to clean up after yourself right away, is a sign of maturity.
10. Savor every moment.
Eat slowly and savor every bite. Pat attention to the consistency and flavor of your food. Note the distinct airiness of dish soap bubbles as you rinse out your bowl. Feel the way the wind hits your neck when you walk out to get the mail. Notice the small things each day and savor the sensations that arise, no matter how minute they may seem.
Self-awareness is about leading your own life in a meaningful and impactful manner. It’s about enjoying the little things, finding good in the bad, and ultimately focusing on what brings you joy. Never underestimate the tremendous impact that small steps can have on the quality of your life.