Living a conscious life?

manchester skyline may 1st

I hadn’t really considered that I might be living my life in a conscious way. But the more I look into it, the more I see the difference between my life previous to my brush with death.

So what is a conscious life? A life which is deliberate and thought-out, by listening to yourself and making conscious choices.

There’s no absolute, but rather a number of common elements which point in a certain direction. After some research and thought here’s a small incomplete list.

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Feel comfortable with saying no
  • Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others
  • Ignore the messages of the mainstream
  • Live in the moment
  • Be choosy
  • Focus on what you have
  • Practice a life with gratitude
  • Don’t let your ego lead
  • Spend your time and resources wisely
  • Let go of negativity and judgement

Its easy to see how all of these can seem either obvious, patronising or some hippy spiritual nonsense? I get it, maybe 10 years ago I would be thinking a similar thing. Maybe its just one of those things which you are ready for or not?

So how does this manifest in my life?

Happy Programmers

Do what makes you happy

I pretty much do what makes me happy and ignore much else. Its not out of ignorance but rather feelings of overload. I guess this is why I can sleep well at night? Don’t get me wrong, there are feelings/tensions about this being selfish but I tend to balance it out in my head by helping people when possible.

Help takes many forms but trying to encourage more people to be a little more conscious is something I quite like. Although I guess in retrospect, it can seem like I’m pushing my ideology on to others? Of course its about balance and also if the person is receptive to the advice.

Going back to doing what makes me happy. My trip to Japan was a great example. I got much advice about where I should go and visit from a great number of people & places. Although I took them on-board, I spent most of my time in Tokyo wondering the streets of different prefectures of the city. I visited every single roller coaster park except the Disney ones. I did what made me happy and still ended up trying new things. So this isn’t about the filter bubble. Its not uncommon for me to end up in the middle of a new city and just go exploring, alone or with others. Usually on a quest for the best cocktail establishment in that city.

This also applies to what I see and experience. This does unfortunately means making some tough decisions about places, things, friendships, etc…  Doing what makes me happy also means I tend to go and do things which others wouldn’t do alone. Its not unknown for me to go to the cinema, city, dinner, holiday alone. I’m quite comfortable with my self and don’t need others to reaffirm my happiness.

Feel comfortable with saying no

Following on from the previous one, saying no and personal happiness are connected. Saying no means theres less guilt and less mental pain. Saying no does mean being honest and rejecting people, but in the long run, its a much better place to be. Its great being strong willed too, great for the character. This has also stopped me from ending up in places/doing things I honestly wasn’t happy about.

Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others

This is something I learned very early on, maybe back when I was in primary school to be honest. I was taken out of class to go up to a special room, where a teacher/specialist would give me tests for dyslexia. That combined with being one of about 3 black kids in the school, all this made me less focused on comparing myself. I also wasn’t the most photogenic person in school, but it didn’t matter so much to me. This followed through into later life and

I’d argue this also fits well with not letting your ego rule, because what others do with their lives doesn’t concern me much. Its only when it affects others or myself I start to wonder.

Every once in a while people near me, have said they are jealous of one thing or another. I always say,

“don’t be jealous, focus on how your going to get better”

I try and get people to rethink the situation by turning that early stage envy around. Be happy for the other person and use them as a pointer. This does require some re-framing but is important and directly fits with the notion of being conscious not just reactionary.

Live in the moment

I alluded to dyslexia and links to living in the moment, but honestly my personally has expanded quite a bit to seek out more opportunities, now I notice them more. Its one of the big noticeable differences after my brush with death. Lisa Upton talked about it too, so did Derren brown’s in the secret of luck and of course there was what happened at TedxManchester3 with  Carrie Green.

Funny enough I recently found where the coffee conversation with Carrie went; into her book She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur.

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

I also remember a while ago hearing about smutslam and decided to give it a try. During the course of the evening, I decided to give it a shot. I ended up winning 2nd place. Totally living in the moment, just going with the flow.

Practice a life with gratitude

Been thinking about this one quite a bit, especially since I attended Sarah Raad’s workshop at Thinking Digital Newcastle. The benefits are huge for such a simple practice.

There are many gratitude apps and platforms, I’m just trying to pick one which contains all the things I respect like being opensource, decentralised, multiplatform, etc.  Currently I’m drawn somewhere between using Mastodon and trying Micropub.

What ever I decide, I’ve started writing weekly in Standard Notes, which also has a nice little micro blogging system called listed.

Let go of negativity and judgement

This is a big one. It was a workshop talk from Bobby from the happiest which unfortunately closed not long afterwards. (still like to see a distributed take on happiest); which got me thinking about negativity and how much we hold on to it (or it holds on to us?). He said something like 65 million thoughts we have everyday, 85% are negative. Although maybe not right, it got me thinking quite a lot about the possibility of changing our thought process.  Could we learn to accept and let go? Why do we hold on to negative feelings so tightly?

For me the totally irrational fear of injections was overcome by conscious thoughts of the same mind which was hosting that fear.

Although still fearful, I do feel much lighter because I was able to let go.

The endless pursuit for happiness

Had a great lunch conversation with Laura about her change of career

It’s scary as hell to not have a model of what that looks like yet but it begins with following the truth in my heart and my intuition.

I’ve given in my notice. Just 1 month left until, well to be quite honest I have no idea what will follow. Only that it’s the right time for me to look deep within and embrace the fear, and do my best to transform it into excited energy that will fuel my unknown future.

We got talking about following her heart and there were a number of things I wanted to throw into the mix while we were talking. Luckily Laura’s new medium blog has enough pointers.

Surely life is about the journey?

I sense a deep amount of dissatisfaction in people in respect to their lives and jobs. Most of us are focused on building an awesome career, getting bigger houses and nicer cars. But it’s never ending and often unfulfilling. We are as a culture focused on living for this awesome happy future but when we get there we have no idea we are there or how to appreciate it as we already focused on the next goal.


I can’t tell you how many people I know who just work to get money. I’m not saying its wrong, just not really what I want my life to be about. I have to admit I’m one of those lucky people who is doing what they love. Don’t get me wrong its not always sugar and sunshine but I can’t really imagine doing something else. If I wasn’t getting paid to do this, I would do it anyway somehow.

I don’t agree with Laura on this point…

So as I think you can tell, I ’ve decided to give up a great job and a career with lovely people and company.

You can still have a great job and ultimately career. But also follow your own path, thats where the risk comes. Somebody once said to me I was a bit of entrepreneur within the BBC. I usually rejected that, only because it conjures up visions of  solo activity working to make the most money. But when thinking about it again in the light of social  entrepreneurship, it makes more sense. I guess the senior firestarter job reflects this a little.

I got use to the idea that I will have to carve out my own career a long time ago. That career is full of collaborations and passionate people with similar goals and aspirations. I didn’t want to make a choose between the two, so I combined them.

Laura’s aspirations, (Happiness Documentary Series,  School of Life style Social Enterprise and Wilderness retreat) could be a collaboration and a career in themselves. She’s going about it the right way but its a easy mistake to think of them in a exclusive way.

Unfortunately there’s no manual for this kind of personal quest but I’m hoping sharing my story will connect me with others who have or are in the process of changing their lives.

Following your own path is the key here and I think there is something big about documenting the experiences. I started blogging 12 years ago and I still do it, not just because of the halo effect but its useful to rationalise my own very busy connected thoughts to myself and sometimes to others.

The journey and the experiences/stories I collected along the way, really form my personality and  its important to never waste your life living someone elses life.

Si Lumb always says something like… “If there’s an opportunity to experience something which will make a great story and it won’t put you or somebody else in danger… you should do it

This drive to live life for the opportunities is powerful and transforming. I look forward to hearing how things progress Laura.