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How being fully aware can help us worry less and live more.
If things in our lives aren’t the way we want them to be, perhaps they’re not as they seem.
"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."
This quote is often attributed to Mark Twain and frequently appears in articles like this one, encouraging us to worry less and live more. It serves as a handy shortcut to lend credibility to our message.
But here’s the kicker: Mark Twain never actually said this. And that misattribution leads us to a crucial point about awareness—a heightened understanding and perception of our thoughts, emotions, and surroundings.
How real are the things bothering us right now?
Could they be figments of our imagination, driven by fear?
That looming presentation—the one where we’re convinced everyone will burst into laughter at our woeful performance. Our partner whom we’re certain is upset with us because they used our towel and left it on the bathroom floor. Or the whispers we believe are still circulating in our family about how drunk we got at last year’s family barbecue.
These situations and ones like them feel awful, don’t they?
Except they exist only in our heads.
So here’s how we can worry less and live more.
Every day, we must work on our awareness.
By bringing ourselves more in tune with the situations we find ourselves in, the events we’re part of, and the people who populate our lives, we enrich the fabric of our existence.
One of the great joys of life is seeing things as they are, not as we fear or want them to be.
As we cultivate awareness, we begin to both absorb and radiate more positive energy. This inner glow not only changes how we feel but also how we present ourselves. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus did indeed say:
"We cannot control the external events around us; we can only control our reactions to them."
Transforming our perspective through heightened awareness is the key to a fulfilling life.
By becoming more aware and in tune with our surroundings, we more fully appreciate the positives in every situation, making daily life more fulfilling and meaningful.
Striving for greater awareness is an ongoing journey, and here are some ways that work:
Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness daily helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment.
Journaling: Recording our thoughts and experiences provides insights into our behaviour and mindset.
Active Listening: Being fully engaged when interacting with others enriches our relationships and deepens our understanding of different perspectives.
Observation: Regularly observing situations, processes, and systems helps us understand the bigger picture.
Self-Reflection: Taking time to contemplate our thoughts, actions, and experiences prompts questions like, "Why did I react that way?" or "What can I learn from this?"
Reading Widely: A diverse reading list can expand our awareness and understanding of the world.
Soliciting Feedback: Don’t hesitate to seek feedback; it provides another perspective and helps us grow.
Physical Health: Exercise and nutrition positively impact our mental state, aiding in the cultivation of awareness.
Cultivate Empathy: Understanding things from other people’s points of view broadens our own perspective.
Stay Open: Maintain an open mind to be more receptive to increasing awareness.
Let’s make it a practice to regularly assess and improve our awareness. It’s a journey well worth taking, one that will enrich not just our lives but also the lives of those around us.