Becoming Aware Of The Importance Of Being Aware
Contrary to popular belief - I'm still here - in the middle of moving house. So apologies to anyone concerned about my sporadic communications recently.
Contrary to the header image, nothing is impossible!
Here are a few thoughts on the subject of being and becoming more aware. Some might find these thoughts patronising. I understand that. If that's you, please forgive me.
Everything we ever decide we want to achieve is at first dependant on us becoming aware! As has been said many times, we don't know what we don't know. Becoming aware opens doors to knowing stuff. Without a degree of awareness, we achieve nothing, neither deliberately nor accidentally.
Whether it's to do with wealth, health or happiness, awareness is the first key, to getting started on anything.
- Friends who have earned money on the stock market have first become aware of the possibility ... did I do the same? No, perhaps because I didn't believe them.
- Friends who have become aware that health and fitness start with activity and the food we eat have thrived. Did I do the same? Yes, but perhaps, not enough nor persistently.
- Friends who became aware that happiness is in the mind stayed happy. Did I do the same? Well yes to a large extent. I'm lucky with this one perhaps.
Ironically, within the WA membership, I suspect I'm preaching largely to the already converted; people who are already largely aware. But I think (stealing this idea from somewhere else, sorry I can't remember the source); like cleaning teeth, awareness requires daily attention.
Questions Of Awareness
There is a cycle of continuous improvement that is dependent on our level of awareness:
- Start with: "What do you want to achieve?"
Those who start by thinking about what they're trying to achieve, as specifically as possible, tend to become much more aware of opportunities as they arise.
- Then become very clear on: "Why do you want what you want?"
Any pursuit will most likely fail unless you have your own clear reason to pursue it. Not someone else's reason, just your very own.
- Followed by: "Where can you learn what you need?"
Who is already doing what you want, well? Develop the skills that other experts have already developed and you'll go far. Again, awareness is the key!
Study the best. In reality, only about 4 to 5% of people achieve what they really want. If you can't find the World's best then start with whatever you can!
- Then: "How much is talent and how much is developed skill?"
Most people assume when they study successful people that you can learn everything they need from others. It’s not entirely true. We can’t learn talent. For example, I can’t come up with the same stories as Rudyard Kipling even if I try (yes, I've tried). But I can learn how to write like an expert. I can develop the skill by studying others who write well.
- And when it comes to the experts: "What are the principles they applied?"
To get to where they got to, all experts apply basic principles of continuous improvement. they:
a. figure out what they want to achieve and why!;
b. figure out what they need to learn, and how to achieve what they want;
c. then create a plan (sometimes just the first step);
d. take action;
e. most importantly, regularly review progress. (They learn what works and what doesn't and use those learnings).
It's a never-ending cycle.
So first become aware of - well, just about everything - yourself, others, the World and the Universe (perhaps exaggerating a little, but I suspect you get the point).
Then develop a belief in the process of continuous improvement as roughly outlined under question 5 above.
Both sets of disciplines take practice.
Above all, awareness is essential at any moment in time. Without awareness, even tested processes followed blindly can fall apart.
The skill of awareness, helps us adjust our behaviour (i.e. what we think and do).
So what's the best way to improve awareness?
I can only talk about my personal experience. I use a type of meditation that helps tremendously in improving awareness; it's often referred to as mindfulness. I use it many times throughout the day. Sometimes for up to 20 minutes and more often for perhaps a couple of minutes at a time.
Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness is not about focusing exclusively on one thing. It's more about focusing on everything at once and learning to ignore what we don't want at the moment. It's about developing enough awareness to be able to recognise interruptions for what they are and turning them off as appropriate.
By practising that level of awareness we become much more sensitive to what really matters.
To me, it's about focusing on the here and now. It's about focusing on what our senses are communicating. When we become aware of thoughts (subconscious interruptions), it's about simply ignoring them and continuing to monitor our senses.
If you want to improve awareness, in my opinion, the best way is to start using mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness, when practised consistently leads to more peace of mind, in line with an improvement in general awareness.
We are our own worst enemy. We often sabotage ourselves with negative thinking patterns. They are usually simply a less than useful habit. A key to avoiding such unhelpful habits is to be more aware of when they start and deliberately stop or change the pattern.
Persistence is key to the improvement of any discipline. Persistence requires remaining aware!
As you know, nothing will improve if you quit practising. A key to making progress is to be very clear about why you want to do something. When things get hard, you think, “Why on earth am I doing this?”
Someone who practices awareness is more likely to recognise those thoughts, for the disruptors that they are, as they arise. With awareness, you'll allow thoughts to run their course and be ignored, or acted upon if appropriate.
So the overall process is:
- Become aware ...
- Decide what you want and why!
- Figure out How and create a plan (or at least figure out the first steps).
- Implement the plan.
- Review, learn, implement improvements and persistently repeat the cycle.
If you agree or not, please say what you think!