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  • David R. Edwards

Why Does Awareness Matter?

Awareness is an authentic attempt to become conscious of what is within and around you. It is a relaxed and interested attention to what is happening. The opposite of being aware is to be ignorant, blind, oblivious, or simply unaware.

Just thinking about this in everyday life are you better off being aware while you are driving, or blind? How about when you are playing the new Halo game, do you need to be aware of what is going on around you? What about when you are speaking with someone you care about? I hope you can see that in each of these instances, and many more, awareness matters.

Awareness is something that takes effort on your part and intention. You must want to do it. It is particularly important to consider both your own thoughts and feelings and those of others. In Halo this can be superficial and transactional, though no less intense (Is an Elite sneaking up behind me with an energy sword?). In a relationship, either personal or professional, it is much more critical. Your desire to have a respectful and, at work productive, relationship depends on your awareness of how the conversation and relationship are going.

Now, you can obviously slide by without much awareness. You will also struggle to enjoy deeply satisfying relationships, struggle to meet even simple goals, and not find life very satisfying or meaningful. Please know that your natural state is to be growth oriented and knowledge seeking. That is the default state of every person. If this does not describe you right now it is likely due to environmental factors e.g., how you were raised, friends you hang out with, stress, substance use, et cetera. Please know that you can, through your choices, get back to that natural state despite these pervasive conditions.

Finally, if you have a desire to end up at a certain place the second thing you must know is where you are right now. Try this, it is fun. Open a map, paper or electronic it does not matter. Ideally of a large town you are not familiar with. Choose a place you would like to see, a great restaurant for example. Now, without awareness of where you are at plot a course to that place. How is that going? It simply does not work. If you are trying to get to the west side of town, and you don’t know if you are on the west side, north side, or wherever it simply does not work. You must be aware not only of where you want to go but also where you are. This is the same in the rest of life, goals, and relationships. You simply must be aware of your starting point.

So, being aware is essential for both meeting goals and healthy relationships. It also supports living consistent with your values and thus your happiness, meaning, and well-being.

How do you become aware?

In my book I challenge you to pause sometime during the week. There might be a natural moment when you already have a pause built in, like on the bus, at a break, or in the evening. If you have such a moment, you likely fill it with something, like on your phone.

I recently listened to a talk where the woman speaking got the impression during a moment of pause that she should not look at her phone while in line at the store. Her natural habit was to get her phone out and look at it when she was in line. She followed this prompt, and the next time she was in line she simply looked at the people around her. Being aware of the people, and even making eye contact, a senior citizen in front of her told her that today was his birthday. She was able to wish him a happy birthday and have a brief conversation. She had a tender experience because she took a moment to be aware of herself and her surroundings.

If you don’t already have a pause habit built in like prayer, meditation or journaling you will be well served to build one in. It can be as simple as taking 2 minutes of focus away from the din of thoughts and environment to focus on your breathing, to list three things you are grateful for, or noting when you did something right today. It does not require a special place, clothing, or money. It only requires your desire and willingness to replace one low-value activity with a new better one. If you start once per week, you will likely feel the desire to experience that time for reflection and awareness more frequently. I find a daily habit to be very useful and doable. I have confidence that you can set aside a couple of minutes daily for reflection and awareness.

Was there some insight in this post you found helpful? If yes, please comment, I know others will benefit.

In my next blog I will discuss feedback, you know, like a report card or performance review or your friend yelling at you. It will be fun.


David R. Edwards is the author of the new bestseller, "New You! Who Knew?". You can find out more on his web site.

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