“If we can find ways to awaken the full power of awareness, we could enter a new phase of human evolution and revitalize ourselves and our world.” –Tarthang Tulku
Have you ever completed a daily commute and realize you hardly remember any of it? Do you sometimes finish a lecture or podcast and can’t recall the topics later that day? Do you feel like you are going through the motions of life on autopilot? If any or all of these apply to you, perhaps it’s time to increase your awareness.
Awareness is the ability to perceive and become conscious of one’s inner world while still taking notice of external surroundings. Improving our awareness provides great benefits to our lives such as creativity, growth, connection, and mental health. Becoming more mindful of how we proceed through our day is the antidote to feeling like we’re running in circles. And, it can help you change habits you may not currently be aware of. Here are a few things you can work on daily to increase your awareness.
Make ‘unplugging’ part of every day. It’s no wonder that awareness levels have dropped when you consider the constant distractions most people face. While technology connects us, it also distracts us and can keep our minds from fully engaging in whatever task is at hand. Get your head out of your apps and into a conversation, a shared meal, or an experience instead. Many people set boundaries for screen time on their children’s phone, but don’t think twice about the example they’re setting with their own screen time habits. Consider setting guidelines (and perhaps an alarm) for yourself, and do your best to keep mobile devices out of reach at bedtime.
Focus on one thing at a time. Studies have found that tasks take 50% longer with 50% more errors when multitasking. Another study by Stanford researchers found the brains of people who multitask work less efficiently even when they’re not multitasking. Instead, identify your priorities and work on them one at a time. Time management isn’t about doing more things, it’s about doing more of the important things.
Slow down. Living in such a fast-paced world can make us feel like we have to be constantly on the move and rush through tasks. However, this can only lead to stress and exhaustion. Instead, slow down and enjoy the process, whether it’s writing a report, drinking a cup of tea, or cleaning out closets. Deliberate and thoughtful attention to daily actions will help you feel better about your health, yourself, and your life, both now and in the future.
It’s so easy to live our life on autopilot, but breaking out of that cycle will allow you to enjoy life more and discover new things about yourself and the world around you. May is National Photo Month, so you could work on refreshing your awareness by finding images, shapes, emotions, or colors around you and document them with your camera. As you practice intentionally looking at the world around you, it will start to become a habit.