How many times have you reached the end of the day, only to find that you’re exhausted? Then, upon reflecting, you realize your day was such a blur you can barely even remember what happened to result in such fatigue. We’re constantly on the go, and while we’re so busy living life, we’re hardly experiencing it at all.
When you look around you, you can see that there’s a whole lot of overstimulation going on out there. We carry on conversations through texting, social media and the person in front of us simultaneously, not giving our full attention to any of them. We’re struggling to juggle countless activities in an attempt to make our lives fuller and more meaningful, but as a result, only end up drained.
Bottom line: we’re doing it all, all the time and it’s affecting our quality of life.
There’s a problem here that needs to be solved, and the solution involves being more present, thoughtful and focused on how we live our lives. To put it simply, it’s about living deliberately.
Living deliberately can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s stepping back and appreciating the small things. For another, it might be making more deliberate choices when nourishing the body. For most of us, deliberate living is a combination of many factors.
Deliberate living is the art of learning and giving yourself permission to be thoughtful about how you’re living your life. It’s about taking the blinders off and living an immersive experience while realizing that everything’s connected. In essence, it’s really about becoming consciously aware of our thoughts and actions.
Amazing things start to happen when people put even a little effort into living more deliberately. They start to feel more connected to the world around them, they feel a greater sense of happiness and inner peace because they know they’re living their life intentionally and accept personal responsibility for their own fulfilment.
Bottom line: It feels better to live deliberately than it does to live by default.
Becoming More Deliberate
Deliberate living is a habit. It’s important to mention this because it’s easy to say “yes, I’m going to live more deliberately today,” and then have all your best intentions fall to the side once the reality of the day sets in. Just like any habit, good or bad, deliberate living takes some time to cultivate. It’s best to start small and nourish it until it’s infused naturally into your life.
When making any new changes in your life, it’s important to start by asking yourself a few questions. Doing this helps you see your intention more clearly and helps to identify obstacles that might get in the way. Your first deliberate act should be to sit down with a journal and reflect on what living deliberately means to you by answering these questions.
- Why is deliberate living important to me? We could go on for days about the benefits of deliberate living, but the only answer that means anything is the one that comes from within you. What are you hoping for and how do you see your life changing?
- Do I feel that there’s always a choice and that I have the personal power to make thoughtful decisions? This is a big one. It’s incredibly easy to feel like life is unfair, or that you don’t have control over stressful situations. The truth is you always have a choice in how you act or feel, it’s all about where you spend your energy. Living deliberately helps us learn this very difficult life lesson.
- Is there a consequence for every action? We all know about the big stuff, but here, think about the small things. Put your thoughts on this subject in writing, and then revisit the question after living deliberately, and see if your perspective has changed.
- Do I live with regret? What have you said, done or not done that has left you with feelings of regret and why? Honestly, deliberate living isn’t a cure for regret. You can still live deliberately yet make choices than upon later reflection weren’t the best. But, it’s usually easier to let go of regret and move forward when you don’t feel powerless.
- Can I accept that I won’t always get the result that I want? You know how you exercise to get healthier and sculpt your body? There’s a set path there, and if you stay on it, it’s pretty certain you’re going to see the results you’re expecting. Deliberate living doesn’t always work that way. This isn’t about getting your way, it’s about being fully present and seeing the value of an experience, even when the outcome wasn’t what you expected.
Building Deliberate Living into Your Life
So, how do you get started? Well, the beauty of deliberate living is that there are plenty of areas to focus on and where you start is completely up to you. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Media Detox: Most of us have our vices. If it’s not social media, it might be constantly checking the news or mindlessly binging on stream television. On one hand, social media helps to keep us connected, but with all of this, it’s important to really look at quality over quantity.
For example, do you really feel more connected to your 500 Facebook friends by scrolling through your feed several times a day? Or, when you’re binging on your favorite show, are you distracted or end up feeling guilty because there are so many other places you could be spending the energy? It’s ok to enjoy these things, but it’s time to start enjoying them deliberately. This means it’s time to start with a clean slate and reevaluate how you really feel about the media overload.
Start with a media detox. Go one day without social media and slowly work up to a week. Go cold turkey if you can. Put down your phone and turn off the television every night for at least an hour before you go to bed. Use the time to do things that are more purposeful, like calling a friend, playing a game with the kids or picking up that book you’ve always wanted to read.
Live Well by Eating Wisely: There’s advice on how to eat coming at you from all directions. There’s paleo, keto, whole foods, fasting, etc. The list goes on, but then a trip to the grocery store leaves you bombarded with marketing geared towards processed foods that are completely void of any nutrition. Everyone has an opinion on what you should be eating, but only you know how to nourish your body.
Keep in mind that this isn’t about going on a “diet.” Instead, it’s about learning how to best nourish your body. Stop listening to all the fad diet advice and start listening to your inner language to make smart, thoughtful food choices.
Nourish your body with clean, wholesome foods that will give you energy and support good health. It’s also a great idea to think about where your food is coming from. Making deliberate choices that support local farmers and healthy, sustainable food practices is good for your body, the economy and the environment.
Practice Less is More: We have a huge overconsumption problem in this country. We spend way too much money on things we don’t really enjoy, hoping that they’ll provide some level of happiness that never actually happens. There’s been a lot of focus lately on different cleaning techniques. Maybe you’ve heard about the Japanese style of decluttering, or the somewhat morbidly named “death cleaning.” These are hot topics right now because we’re tired of being suffocated by our own stuff.
Deliberate living means we give more thought to what we welcome into our lives, as well as what we’re willing to keep around. Try looking first at your home.
How much stuff do you have that you never use, don’t need or just don’t appreciate the way you once did? Unless you’re already living simply, there’s probably more than you realize. Start by going through your home, focusing on one area/subject at a time and deliberately decluttering your life. Keep only the books you love and only the dresses that you feel fabulous wearing. Get rid of emotional clutter that’s wearing you down and have a goal of living in an environment where everything around you is there because it provides some sort of value in your life.
Once you’ve decluttered, start being more intentional with purchases. Ask yourself if you really want or need something before you purchase it. What value will it add to your life? Then, consider how your purchase will affect others. Purchase with the environment and sustainability in mind.
There’s Always Time for What Matters: The next time you're about to turn down an invitation or say no to someone you care about, stop and think before you answer. What has you so busy, and what consequences will your choice have? There’s really nothing more important than relationships with the ones you care about and love. Start making conscious, deliberate choices to nourish them.
Instead of taking a rain check on lunch, reprioritize your day, deliberately putting the most important things first. The same is true for spending time with your family. Life is short, don’t make the mistake of prioritizing the wrong things. Instead, live with love, compassion and a touch of wild abandon.
Start Small: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and expecting instant change is only putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Work in small steps, start with little deliberate choices that have a big impact. For example, making time for a healthy breakfast every morning, or choosing skin scare product with natural, nontoxic ingredients that are great for your skin, and the environment too.
There are a million small ways to start living more deliberately. What’s really important isn’t where you start, just that you do. Deliberate living is contagious, and soon it will infuse every area of your life, and maybe even those around you. There’s a beautiful world out there, take the time to enjoy as much of it as you can.