What does it mean to live consciously? According to Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta, it’s about “taking control of your life, about thinking about your decisions rather than making them without thought… If you’re drifting through life, or feel out of control, or don’t know how you got here, deciding to live consciously could be the single most important thing you do.”
Adolescence is the perfect time to develop conscious living skills because tweens and teens undergo brain changes that make them better at metacognition. Sometimes called “thinking about your thinking,” metacognition allows teens to be more aware of their thoughts, feelings, habits and behaviors and their power to change them. It can help teens make good decisions, choose healthy habits and live with greater self-awareness. Here are just a few of the ways conscious living benefits teens:
- They know what matters most.
As teens begin to invest more in relationships with peers, they may feel pressured to go along with others over staying true to their own values and beliefs. Living consciously reminds teens that external approval doesn’t matter as much as feeling good about themselves. Above all, conscious living keeps teens aware that they always have a choice: they can consider all their options and make decisions based on what matters most to them.
- They get goal-oriented.
The opposite of conscious living is going through life on autopilot, feeling lost or powerless to direct the course of your own life. It’s natural for teens to feel like they lack power at times, and many struggle to find a sense of direction and purpose. Conscious living empowers teens with tools to set goals and become more independent, responsible and self-motivated. They can define what success and fulfillment look like to them and chart their own course, one step at a time.
- They can take charge, and let go.
Living consciously means taking charge of the things you have control over and letting go of the things you don’t. Teens learn that they are in charge of their own thoughts, words, behavior, choices and mistakes, and that they can’t control the thoughts, words, behavior, choices or mistakes of others. That helps them recognize when to take action and where they can change things. Then they respond to challenges by acting on what they can control, instead of getting frustrated by the things they can’t.
- They grow their social-emotional intelligence.
Being self-aware helps teens become more aware of others, too. Teens who practice conscious living are more likely to develop compassion, empathy and the ability to regulate emotions. Strong interpersonal skills help teens build healthy relationships and find a sense of belonging. Research shows that these solid connections with others provide powerful protection from depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders in teens.
- They find an inner sanctuary.
Living consciously teaches healthy habits that help teens stay grounded in themselves, no matter what is going on in their outside lives or the world around them. From mindful breathing and positive self-talk to exercise and spending quality time with friends, teens learn to prioritize self-care and return to stabilizing routines whenever life gets tough. Having an inner sanctuary builds emotional resilience, protects teens’ mental health, and locks in positive practices they’ll take with them into adulthood.
…and here are some self-care tools we include in Lucero to help
To make living consciously a daily habit, teens need self-care reminders just like the rest of us. That’s why we built Lucero, a gamified wellness app built for teens and tweens. It includes personalized, teen-focused, therapist-approved suggestions for self-care, like:
- watching calming ASMR videos
- taking breaks to be active or go outside
- writing about a stressful situation and turning it into confetti
Each time teens try out a new self-care suggestion, they add more tools to their conscious living toolkit and build lasting healthy habits.