While the phrase “conscious living” can lead to a complex discussion of everything from carbon footprints to how my abdomen feels when I breathe, I prefer to keep things simple. To be clear, I do not claim to be a sage or scholar, or even an accomplished “conscious liver,”  but to me, “conscious living can be reduced to the daily work  of making incremental self-improvements, despite the many forces working against us.”

The necessary and difficult first step is to find or create a bit of time each day to slow down long enough to simply observe how we are reacting to the flood of incoming stimuli. This could be anything from how we react to a comment from a friend or partner, or how we make food choices at a buffet table. These reactions are often habitual and don’t always lead to living better.

Rather than becoming overwhelmed by trying to tackle all of them at once, search for one thing to change that can impact other things further downstream.

For example, dieters who weigh themselves every morning lose more weight than those who do not. That simple morning routine can subtly influence whether we choose the marinara or the Alfredo at dinner.

The same is true for food journaling. The simple act of writing down a list of everything eaten in a day, even just one day a week, will set up better food decisions throughout the day, and result in progressive weight loss.

So find yourself some quiet time, pay attention to what motivates you to act, then choose a new response. Decide each day to do that thing until it becomes a new habit. If that makes life better in some incremental way, keep it and move on to the next thing. If not, let it go and try something else.

Living the good life happens when we are in control of our responses and actions. Conscious living is the means to that end.

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