How would you answer this question? Maybe with your name and occupational? Perhaps with a regional descriptor (Northerner, Southerner, European)? Perhaps with a physical description, or marital status? You might even include organizational, religious or political affiliations!
But, Who am I (or you), really? At a very basic level I might say I am my body, my mind, or my thoughts. But the fact that I am aware of my body and thoughts says there must be something more to me than that.
I have been fascinated by this question since early childhood. (You already knew I was weird). I remember at age 6 coming to the realization that “I am me”. It hit me like a bolt of lightning. It unsettled me because I couldn’t figure out what it meant!
This question has puzzled philosophers for centuries. So please forgive the hubris as I take a crack at the answer. You and I, at the most basic level, are simply awareness. In fact, not only are we aware, but we are aware that we are aware. That in a nutshell, is the key attribute of life! Without awareness, we cease to exist, at least to our self.
Here is why I brought this up. Placing more attention on awareness is essential to increasing joy and meaning in our life! We take awareness for granted, yet our life is a story of where we chose to place awareness. The key word in that sentence is chose. We are free to choose and this, more than any particular circumstance, determines the quality of our life.
Let’s take an example. Say I am exhausted and I’m trying to get some sleep because I have to wake up early in the morning. But, lying in bed I hear a faucet dripping. The more I try to ignore it, the more I can’t ignore it. What’s going on here? I have pointed awareness at the faucet! So how is that going for me?
Let’s take another example. Let’s say you spend three days putting together a 1000-piece jig saw puzzle, but there’s a piece missing. How does that make you feel? Are you focusing on the 999 pieces that are there or the one piece that is missing?
Where we choose to focus our awareness has a major impact on our emotions and well-being!
Awareness is like the operating software of a smart phone. It runs in the background unnoticed. Every once in a while, our phone “pings” us with a notification of a software update that improves functionality and increases virus protection. We can similarly “ping” our awareness. Rather than ignoring it, we can upgrade it to improve our life!
This will be a central theme for future posts.