Living Consciously Takes Work – By Amy Nolet

The alarm hit me like a ton of bricks last week when it went off at 5:45 a.m. I was in the middle of a dream, when suddenly the glaring sound of BEEP BEEP BEEP came through to my consciousness, and the only reason I decided to get up was because I felt guilty about waking my husband up early if I wasn’t even going to get out of bed. The alarm went off so I would go for a run. I love going on runs—or at least I love the feeling I get after a run—but I have a really hard time motivating myself to get going.

This made me think that living consciously is not always about finding a quiet space to reflect or observing what makes you tick. Sometimes living consciously means getting up and doing something you really don’t want to do but knowing it will be good for you. Like running. Or eating an apple because you know it will make you feel better when really what you want is that donut.

One thing I find hard to do is to stop my mind from chattering on about what might “go wrong”.  For instance, this summer I had been working hard with my son, who has been diagnosed with autism, to help him understand his frustration and anxiety. I wanted him to be able to cope with these feelings when they came up at school. I had several things in line to help him, such as reading him social stories about what to do when your anxiety gets too high, having a therapist come to the house several times a week to work on these issues, and taking him to his new school so it wouldn’t feel foreign when the school year started.

Well, we did do some of this—indeed, most of them—but instead of celebrating the fact that he has been having a good school year so far, my mind goes to “we didn’t do enough, what if something goes wrong and he has as meltdown?”. When my mind goes to this negative space, I don’t feel like I am living consciously, or even in a self-aware manner. Being self-aware means accessing all parts of myself—the good, the bad, the in-between.  Sometimes, when I am nervous or when I feel depressed for whatever reason, I have to make a concerted effort to really access the good. I have to make myself really “see” that my son is doing quite well in school and that just maybe it was because of the work we put into him this summer.

And let’s just say he wasn’t doing well at school. Do I really need to go into a negative spiral and think with dread that his life is ruined? My energy would be better placed at accepting what is and working at changing what can be changed. Some people believe that everything happens for a reason. Even if you don’t think this way, you can’t change what is. What is just is. If you can accept it, you will feel more at peace with yourself and the world. And then you will be in a better space to be able to change the future in a positive way.

Even though thinking this way takes a lot of work (and it’s a lot easier for me to go down that negative spiral),  ultimately, I am living a better life if I walk away from the negativity and focus on accepting what is. And sometimes, that’s not so hard after all.