People tend to live life automatically. Our habits, as well as the habits of our culture, often stop us from being ourselves and from living fulfilling lives. We also fill up our attention with attitudes, behaviours and objects that don’t truly matter to us; we are therefore being wasteful and unsustainable. Whilst there may be evolutionary explanations for this tendency, it doesn’t mean we have to be this way. Just like any other dysfunctional tendency that people have like aggression, greed and laziness we can overcome our inveterate lives by living more deliberately.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

To live deliberately means to live thoughtfully with eyes, and mind, wide open. Living deliberately means that we are really paying attention, really sensing and participating in the world around us. We try to remain awake in our minds so that we make good choices and thereby live authentic lives.

We will be aware of our motivations by examining our hearts and minds carefully. We need to know which of our attitudes and reactions are genuine and which are apish, artificial and flawed.

What does a deliberate life look like?

First, a person living deliberately tends to enjoy what they do. People who make good choices based on self-awareness and consideration for others and the wider world open themselves up to a good life. If you live deliberately you are more likely to enjoy each moment or at the least you will recognise and accept the moment. We can’t always have the jobs of our dreams but we can always strive to serve ourselves, our families and the wider world by doing the best we can.

A person living deliberately tends to enjoy and be content with what they have. We can’t always have what we want but then it’s called well-being and not well-having. If we can be happy with only what we need then everything else that comes along is a bonus.

A person living deliberately is usually trying to be healthy. Again this is about self-awareness and being attuned to the condition of our our body and our health. Our bodies constantly tell us about how they are, listening to our bodies is always a first step in being well.

A person living deliberately will delight in the world. Like a child. They will laugh and they will cry because if they are really paying attention and participating in the world around they are free to live authentically without fear.