#AtoZChallenge | Awareness

A swan swimming with it's image mirrored on the water.
Image by Krzysiek from Pixabay


Awareness is a state of having knowledge or consciousness.

Whether it’s being aware of your surroundings or of your own self, it does take mindful effort. Unlike the Zen masters who are trained to be in a perpetual state of awareness, the average person is not.

That’s mainly due to the disciplined instruction those masters undergo and the lifestyles they lead. I doubt that a day in the life of a Zen master looks anything like ours!

However, we’re all capable of learning to be more aware.

Self-awareness means being aware of your own identity, which is unique to each person. Our abilities, thoughts, and experiences make up who we are and how we see ourselves. Our minds store information about past events that condition how we feel and react to similar things in the future.

It’s important to notice these responses and identify any preconceptions or conditioning. Only then can we make the necessary changes to become more self-aware.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” ~Abraham Maslow

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of the best-seller Emotional Intelligence (EI), believes that self-awareness is the key to EI. Being able to manage our emotions and thoughts as they occur enable us to act consciously versus reacting passively.

Studies have shown that self-aware people are generally more mindful and self-reflective, as well.  


So, how do we become more self-aware? There’s lots of great advice out there, but I found the following items helped me when I was seeking to know myself better:

  • Honesty – It’s crucial to be impartial when doing a self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses; you must be honest.
  • Journaling – Recording daily events and how you react to them, noting the accompanying emotions. This can help identify reactionary patterns that may need adjusting.
  • Mindfulness in communications – Becoming a better listener to yourself and others. This includes body language and any “automatic” responses…without judging. 
  • New perspectives – The goal is to gain clarity of the relationship you have with yourself and other people.

Know Thyself

The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” is a challenge for everyone. We all possess a particular worldview, shaped by societal factors such as: economics, religion, education level, family size and structure.

Changing that worldview isn’t easy and was years in the making. It took a life-altering event to realize that I didn’t truly know or appreciate myself. The choices I made were based on preconceived notions of who I thought I was. Comparable to peeling away layers of wallpaper, it was a joy to finally reach the real “me.” Unencumbered with the old fear and doubt, I was able to grow in wonderful ways.

I bought the framed aphorism above, which states “gnōthi seauton” (know thyself) and placed it in a prominent spot. This is my daily reminder that self-awareness must be ongoing in order to live an authentic life.

And anything less than authentic is phony.


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Gratitude Journal – Prompt #4

food

Photo credit: Krzysztof Puszczynski/StockSnap.io


Day #4 – What food are you most grateful for?

30 Days of Gratitude

The answer to Day 4 of  the 30 Days of Gratitude Prompts is whatever food that I happen to be eating, at any given time. In other words, I’m grateful for all the food that I’m blessed to have!

So many people in our world go without a proper diet, let alone those who are starving. We see these tragic faces on the news reports, as well as in our own neighborhoods. 

It’s incomprehensible that in a world as advanced as ours, there are still people who go without the basic necessities of life. When we see the excess lifestyles of the “rich and famous,” we’re reminded of the vast inequities that exist. 

Yes, there are those people who make bad choices and end up addicted and dependent on the government. But, not all these folks are responsible for their dire straits. Some are victims of terrible circumstances beyond their control, like former veterans, displaced workers, and people with devastating illnesses. We also have a serious mental health crisis that further adds to the problem. As a society, we have a huge amount of work to do in order to alleviate these problems. 

syrian-boy_r

Then there are the countries whose leaders don’t care about the quality of life of their citizens. The most brutal of these are actually responsible for the torture and killing of their own people.

I believe we have a responsibility to be aware of who needs help and do what we can. This could mean donating money or food items to organizations that work to end hunger and poverty. It could mean volunteering for a local food bank or the various events held to raise money.

A good place to start is the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information. This website offers advice on how to avoid charity scams and what to check before making any type of donation.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just a few months away, the Salvation Army bell ringers and other charitable groups will be out in force. Feeding the hungry and caring for the less fortunate is the message of the season. 

homelessness

As we hurry about shopping for our groceries and Christmas gifts, I would urge everyone to be mindful of those living a life of poverty. Rather than judge them without knowing their back story, perhaps we can simply offer them a hot meal or help in the soup kitchen. I don’t have much to give, but I give what I can.

And by doing so, my own foods tastes a whole lot better! 

Carpe diem!