By Fred Kofman
Philosopher and Vice President at Linkedin
[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Nathaniel Branden”]Living consciously is a state of being mentally active rather than passive. It is the ability to look at the world through fresh eyes. It is intelligence taking joy in its own function. Living consciously is seeking to be aware of everything that bears on our interests, actions, values, purposes, and goals. It is the willingness to confront facts, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the desire to discover our mistakes and correct them… It is the quest to keep expanding our awareness and understanding, both of the world external to self and of the world within.[/pullquote]
What tastes good is not always good, and what is good does not always taste good. That’s why you need a science of nutrition. If you eat automatically, guided by instinct, you will get in trouble. To grow healthy and strong you need to eat consciously.
What feels good is not always good, and what is good does not always feel good. That’s why you need a science of action. If you act automatically, guided by instinct, you will get in trouble. To grow happy and successful you need to act consciously.
Conscious or Unconscious?
The opposite of consciousness is not unconsciousness but automatism. Acting unconsciously means acting like a robot, programmed by instinct or rote.
Have you ever been going down the highway engaged in a conversation or daydreaming, only to realize that you missed your exit? You didn’t literally lose consciousness, but you focused your awareness on something other than driving, trusting your instinctive “autopilot”. Relevant details, such as your location and the actions needed to reach your goal, receded to the background of your mind. Your eyes were open, but you didn’t see.
This is a poor way to drive—and an even poorer way to live.
Consciousness is the ability to experience reality, to be aware of our inner and outer worlds. It allows us to adapt to our environment and act to promote our lives. All living beings possess consciousness, but human beings have a unique kind. Unlike plants and other animals, we can think and act beyond instinctual drives and conditioning. We can be autonomous (from the Greek, “self-governing”). While this autonomy is a possibility, it is not a given. We must develop it through conscious choices.
To be conscious means to be awake, mindful. To live consciously means to be open to perceiving the world around and within us, to understand our circumstances, and to decide how to respond to them in ways that honor our needs, values, and goals. To be unconscious is to be asleep, mindless. To live unconsciously means to be driven by instincts and habitual patterns.
When we are more conscious, we can better perceive our surroundings, understand our situation, remember what’s important to us, and envision more possibilities for action to attain it. Consciousness enables us to face our circumstances and pursue our goals in alignment with our values. When we lose consciousness, we are swept away by instincts and habits that may not serve us. We pursue goals that are not conducive to our health and happiness, we act in ways that we regret later, and we produce results that hurt us and those we care about.
In this video you will see the introduction to the Linkedin’s Conscious Business Program, a program that will help work and live more consciously.
Find more exercises related to mindfulness at work here.