I once tweeted “Live Consciously” and a friend re-tweeted by asking me what I meant. That led us to a kind of debate on the art of living consciously.
Almost every personal development expert will tell you that the best thing that can easily improve your life is to live consciously. For me, living consciously simply means thinking before you act. As simple as this may sound, it is rather pathetic that many people don’t abide by it. In other words, they don’t give any thought to their actions. They then end up with regrets.
Everything is a matter of practice. When you live a conscious life, you are actually living deliberately. You are considering your steps. You are thinking before you act. If at all you end up taking the wrong decision after giving an issue the required thought, you will, indeed, feel happy within. Your mind will say to you that you actually tried your best to take the best decision, but it just happened not to be the best. This, you will agree with me, is much better than you rushing into something and coming out of it with regrets. I can almost guarantee that when you live a conscious life, when you try to be aware of your steps; you are almost sure of doing the right thing most of the time.
Who doesn’t want that kind of a life? We all want that, don’t we? We want the kind of life where we don’t regret. We want to take the right decisions. We want to do the right thing.
As I said, it’s all a matter of practice. All you need do is to start with the simple things in your life. Take a second to think about the soda or coffee you are about to drink. Stop to think about the money you are about to spend. Apply the break for a couple of seconds before dialing that number. Ask yourself a quick question about that shirt before wearing it to the party. Take a second to think about that agreement you’re about to sign. Keep practicing; keep thinking for a few seconds. Before you know it you would have started living consciously and happily too.
One of the strongest instruments that we possess as human beings is our tongue. It is a double-edged instrument. It can make, and it can mar. This tool is so powerful that it can build a city within a few minutes, yet destroy a whole generation within a second. Nothing is ever achieved in human race without the active contribution of this very small, yet extremely powerful weapon. Because of its powers, the tongue must be properly controlled. And it can be controlled.
Just before you talk at any time, take a few seconds – just few seconds, not minutes – to think about what you are about to say. It took me some time to master this habit but it has now become a part of me. I give my tongue a very quick test every time I’m about to say something. I ask my weapon of speech four basic questions and if it passes all of them, I release it to talk. Otherwise, I hold my peace.
One, I ask if what I’m about to say is true. The tongue should say the truth, nothing but the truth. If it is not, my tongue should not go ahead; I must swallow the statement I’m about to make.
Second, I ask if I must say what I’m about to say. Is it absolutely necessary that I talk? Am I under any obligation to say something? If not, I’m at a liberty to keep quiet. This will prevent me from becoming a chatterbox, and my credibility is ever preserved.
Third, will the listener gain something from what my tongue is about to release? Will it strengthen someone’s self esteem or bring him down? Is it something that adds value to the other party? If not, I drop the statement. Our words should build, not destroy.
Fourth, if roles were reversed, would I take kindly with this statement? Is it something that I can take? Is it a statement I can make anywhere and continue to stand by it? If someone should say the same thing to me, would I be happy? If yes, the tongue can proceed to do its job. Otherwise, silence becomes the best master.
Life will be much better if we can all take this quick test before talking. Now I know why Apostle James enjoins us to “…be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” That very short period of slowing down to think about what to say can make a big difference in your life.