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A Year of Living Consciously

365 Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose

A Year of Living Consciously by Gay Hendricks
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Embrace Each Day

We all want to live authentic, self-aware, and successful lives. How do we go about it? Where do we begin? In a daily map full of wisdom, inspirational quotes, and transformational exercises, bestselling author and psychotherapist Gay Hendricks sets us on a fantastic journey to personal and relationship success.

In bite-size portions, Hendricks encourages understanding, self-awareness, and honesty-all vital elements in a conscious life. A Year of Living Consciously teaches us to relish the journey that results in greater self-esteem and emotional literacy, achievements that can only come from leading an examined life. Quotes from historical and literary figures reinforce the timeless importance of honesty and self-knowledge. By helping us see, comprehend, and ultimately embrace the secrets we often hide from ourselves. A Year of Living Consciously brings us into accord to create clearer understanding, genuine change, and self-realization.

HarperCollins; June 2009
400 pages; ISBN 9780061913037
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: A Year of Living Consciously
Author: Gay Hendricks

Chapter One

January 1

Beginning the Path of Conscious Living

The journey of living consciously begins with a single moment of commitment, saying yes to the impulse within you that wants to grow, to expand, to embrace your largest possible self, to make your largest possible contribution to the world.

Saying yes does not mean you know how to handle each moment of the journey -- and it certainly does not mean you (or anyone else) know how the journey will turn out. What you do when you say yes to the desire to live a more conscious life is to create a field of possibility around you and within you. As a child, my obesity was a problem my family tried to help me with -- from special diets to experimental growth-hormone injections. I found myself in my twenties still struggling with the same problem. One magic day I realized I had never made my own commitment to having a healthy body, so I took a vow to get the weight off -- no matter what it took. Within a month, I'd lost almost thirty pounds, with seventy more coming off over the next year. It was never easy, but it had never even been possible before. Now, twenty-five years later -- 61" and I90 rather than 6'1" and 320, where I started -- I'm more sure than ever that it was that first step that did it. This field of possibility, opened by thousands of people for thousands of years, often has the effect of making life seem richer and more exciting, but always know that the field was opened by your willingness to take that first step.

A conscious living practice for today

On New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, many of you make resolutions. You vow to lose that extra ten pounds, to start exercising, to save more money. I want to urge you to do those things that you know are necessary or worthwhile for you, but here, now, I am urging you to make a different kind of resolution. It is one that some might say is completely without merit, but I know better. Today, I urge you toward the following resolution: This year, I commit to living consciously, and I commit to having fun as I do. I commit to expanding my consciousness and my capacity for fun every minute of this year.

January 2

Learning something new is the bestest thing in the world.
-- Andrew Harper, Age Seven

What can I learn today?

Think of your journey of conscious living as a learning project, not as a healing project. A learning paradigm offers certain advantages over a therapy or healing paradigm. In the healing and therapy paradigms, you have to think there's something wrong with you before you can get better. In counseling people over the past thirty years, I've watched people struggle with receiving feedback, both from others and from the experiences in their lives. The big problem is that you flip into thinking "What's wrong with me?" when you get some feedback, and then you get defensive or start feeling bad about yourself. In the end, you don't get the message. A learning paradigm does not presume anything is wrong with you; it says simply that there are things you can learn to make your life and work more easeful and productive. In addition, the therapy paradigm often focuses on past events, presumably so a more positive present can be attained, While this may occur, the therapy paradigm often keeps people in thrall to the past, perceiving themselves as victims. The learning paradigm invites you to take full responsibility for your life, to make commitments in the present, to practice those commitments, and to identify goals for the future. The act of doing these things may pull past events to the surface, but they will emerge in the context of a forward-looking journey to the future, not in reference to the past.

A conscious living practice for today

As you go through your activities today, return often to the question "What do I most need to learn right now?"

Realize that your journey is not about being right or achieving anything; it is always about learning what most needs to be learned.

January 3

All the best responsibility is taken.
-- Anonymous

The power of healthy responsibility

You all have seen and felt the unpleasant power of unhealthy responsibility. When a martyr takes on the burden of someone else's responsibility, that's unhealthy. And when a blamer places responsibility on somebody else's shoulders, that's unhealthy. The journey of conscious living is a journey of getting the responsibility formula just right TOO percent for you and 100 percent for me.

Healthy responsibility is defined as taking 100 percent responsibility for yourself while inspiring others to take 100 percent responsibility. Healthy responsibility can be contrasted with two forms of unhealthy responsibility -- the condition of less than 100 percent (perceiving yourself as a victim) and the condition of more than 100 percent (perceiving others as victims and you as their caretaker).

A conscious living practice for today

Today, mount a vigilant search for any ways in which you are thinking of yourself as a victim or thinking of others as victims. Begin your inquiry by saying these statements out loud, trying them on like you'd try on a new wardrobe:

  • I know how to make clear agreements with others.
  • I enter into agreements initiated by others clearly and consciously.
  • I can be counted on to do what I say I will do.
  • I can be counted on not to do what I say I will not do.
  • I know how to handle instances when I break agreements.
  • I know how to handle instances when others break agreements with me.
  • I know how to change agreements that are not working.
  • Others keep their agreements with me.
  • I take healthy responsibility for my life and the projects in which I'm involved.