If you’re anything like me — plagued with indecision — you probably find choice to be completely suffocating. I can barely imagine that there was a time when people longed for more choices — in cars, restaurants, cleaning products. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of advantages to being able to choose, but, as a consumer, it can be exhausting.
What if we made a promise to the world and then committed to that promise as our guiding principle to help us navigate decisions -- simplifying the process every time and directing us to the right choice? That’s conscious living, my friend. Well, it’s a lot more than that, but decreasing the pool from which I have to choose is just my favorite side effect. Conscious living is existing with intention in an attempt to make a positive impact on the world around you.
What if we made a promise to the world and then committed to that promise as our guiding principle to help us navigate decisions -- simplifying the process every time and directing us to the right choice?
Take, for instance, vegans. They have made a commitment to not eat or wear animal products because they don’t agree with the killing of animals for their personal gain. Is their singular lifestyle enough to make an impact on the world? Most likely not, but they can feel better knowing they aren’t contributing to animal cruelty. Furthermore, one can argue that their collective actions are in fact making an impact on the meat and fashion industry.
We all can take small steps to live a conscious lifestyle that collectively changes the world. Here’s how to start.
Set an Intention
There’s no need to end with only one, but it’s a good place to start.
About eight years ago I made the commitment to be a vegetarian. In addition to not actually enjoying meat, I had learned a lot about agriculture in the U.S. and decided I no longer wanted to contribute to the cruelty inflicted upon animals and the carbon footprint produced by the meat industry. I wanted to live an existence disassociated from those effects.
A couple years later, I started reforming my home practices to reduce the waste produced by my household — I stopped using paper towels for small messes, starting packing reusable shopping bags, and educated myself on how to be a better recycler. More recently I decided to switch out my cleaning and beauty products for chemical free options, and am becoming more aware of how my fashion decisions contribute to sweat shop labor.
Phew! That’s a lot, but all you need is one intention to serve as your guiding principle — self care, people, planet, animals. Recognize that in a lot of cases, your intention is in protest of something you don’t agree with, and that’s ok. Be sure to set your intention on the positive outcome of your shift, and not the negative that you’re protesting. Focus on the positive -- now and always.
Identify Your Limits
A group of ten people could set the same intention but still find ten different ways to bring it to life. Decide what this intention means to you and your family. Consider your household budget, schedule, and location to figure out how far you are willing to go for your promise.
And since we’re focusing on the positive, don’t worry if what’s possible for you isn’t enough in your eyes. This is a personal decision and shouldn’t be the subject of comparison to others. There will always be someone doing it better than you, there’s no point in dwelling on it. It’s admirable enough you’re making a sacrifice for a greater good.
Shift Your Attitude
For some, this may be the hardest part of living consciously.
You will need to learn how to go against the grain to uphold your commitment. Figure out how you will own it. Personally, I’m the woman who carries her own reusable cup to the coffee shop and refuses shopping bags. I jangle on the way home from work with a bag full of empty mason jars because we don’t keep plastic containers. I even bring my own meal to Thanksgiving so I can properly indulge like the rest of the family, but in a more plant-based manner.
It has taken some time and refinement, but I’ve learned how to kindly state my preference in a way that doesn’t offend others.
Do Some Research
Odds are, someone out there is already living a version of your intention and has some really good advice to share. Check out their blogs and YouTube channels to learn how they live and how that applies to your new life of purpose.
Evaluate your regular purchases to see if they fit in with your intention. If they don’t, research some alternatives. Read the labels and recycling codes on the food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries in your home to see if they’re up to par with your promise to the world. Where products fall short, find replacements that meet the criteria.
Design a Plan for Growth
Not unlike any other goal you would set for yourself, you should make a plan for growth and development.
Once you have an idea of how to restock your home with intention-friendly goods, decide what this conscious lifestyle will look like for your home for the next month, season, and year. What new ideas will you challenge your household to adopt? Meatless Mondays, counter-top composting, cooking classes, volunteering at the local soup kitchen?
Remember, we could all set the same intention and achieve it in different ways. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for your lifestyle and in what ways you’re willing to adjust.
In what ways are you already living consciously? If not, what would your intention be for a more conscious lifestyle?