When I read some books about meditation or mindfulness earlier. I often come across a key word – awareness. I’m curious to know what exactly awareness is. Does awareness mean knowing what I’m doing or how I feel at the moment? Is awareness a state that only guru like Yoda can get there? Am I ever aware for a nanosecond?
I find a simple answer from the book Awareness by Anthony de Mello. In Anthony’s spiritual point of view, awareness is suddenly you get another perspective on life. Wow, that sounds effortless and all of a sudden. My follow up question is: how to get there SUDDENLY?
Anthony’s 4 steps to wisdom might be the pathway to get there. From his book Awareness, he said “Put this program into action, a thousand times: (a) identify the negative feelings in you; (b) understand that they are in you, not in the world, not in external reality; (c) do not see them as an essential part of “I”; these things come and go; (d) understand that when you change, everything changes.”
I put this “program” into action and it goes like this: (a) I have a negative thought that I feel lonely at my new workplace; (b) I understand that this feeling is only inside me, not inside my new colleagues or other people; (c) I don’t see the loneliness as an essential part of “I” as it comes and goes; (d) I understand that when I make new friends at the new environment, everything will change.
As I’m an introvert, it takes me long to build new relationships in a new environment. In my new office, I work on a project alone and do everything alone most of time. When I overhear my colleagues talking, I can’t find a perfect timing to say something to engage in conversation. And I seldom take the initiative to start a conversation. One of my colleagues senses that I’m bored working alone. She gives me a snack, prawn crackers, and chats with me. At this moment, I’m aware. That’s love!
We’re surrounded by love or reality, like the fish in the ocean, but we have no notion about it.
I love a simple, concise and nicely written A5-sized book about self-awareness. It’s published by Harvard Business Review Press. Although it’s a small book, it covers a lot of topics like emotional intelligence, passion, core value, data-driven path to know yourself, feedback, and growth mindset, etc. It’s a good book that can save your time as it summarizes many good books in one, like a hot pot with great ingredients.
If you would like to dig deeper into self-awareness, I suggest reading the book Insight by Tasha Eurich. Her definition of self-awareness is the will and the skill to understand yourself (internal) AND how others see you (external). After reading her book, I get a new perspective on life. I see myself and others in a new light. According to Tasha, there’re 3 types of unawareness as follows:
Let’s take me as an example. I used to be unaware and refuse to wake up. I didn’t accept critical feedback. I couldn’t take the perspective of others. I was hurtful to others without realizing it. I was unaware of what I did and my impact on others. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The worst-case scenario!
Aware don’t care
Again, let’s take me as an example. I’m aware internally and externally that I’m slow on every level. I talk slow, think slow, eat slow, swim slow but fall asleep fast (That’s the only thing fast). My brother always persuades me to play video games to train up EQ and fast response. But I refuse to change through his favorite hobby. So I keep being a sloth and enjoy slooooooooooowing thiiiiiiiiiiiiings doooooooown.
Last but not least, let’s take me as an example again! This time, I’m unaware that I’m not a generous person. When my family spots that to me, I’m surprised. Giving more is counterintuitive to me. For example, I don’t want to give more money to my mum for housekeeping when I earn more. But I have to because my mum will nag (or nudge) me until I do so. With a few nudges and the will to change, I give more (or give in).
I’m aware that I’ve reframed my personal stories from a miserable perspective to a positive perspective, after editing my draft a few times. I feel better at the end of the writing process. That’s the power of journaling. What’s more, I gain another perspective. That’s awareness! Are you aware that I’m unaware of how you feel while you’re reading this post? Let me know your thoughts. 🙂