What are the actual benefits of becoming more conscious? Why would anyone care to do this? And what the heck does it even mean to raise your consciousness anyway?
While raising your consciousness can certainly enhance your spiritual development, this isn’t really a spiritual issue at its core. It’s really about hardcore mental development.
What does it mean to become more conscious? I define it as the progressive realization of conscious mastery over your mind. This includes all of the following:
- making careful, intelligent, and deliberate decisions
- maintaining a positive emotional state regardless of circumstances
- developing empowering beliefs while purging disempowering ones
- understanding your own thought processes, emotions, and behaviors
- staying focused on what’s most important while tuning out distractions
- building an accurate and effective model of reality
All of these are skills that we develop across a wide spectrum. Traditional education teaches us basic skills and basic knowledge, but it does little to show us how to develop our conscious minds. We aren’t taught how to intelligently make the biggest decisions of our lives, how to cultivate a burning desire for what we want, how to know if our beliefs are inaccurate and need to be changed, how to concentrate, etc. But over the course of your lifetime, these skills will prove far more significant than anything you learned in school.
People whose conscious minds remain underdeveloped often suffer from cluttered and unfocused thinking. Needless worries, trivial distractions, inaccurate observations, false beliefs, and negative emotions run rampant through their thoughts, and most of the time they aren’t even aware of it. It’s like being stuck in a mental fog. When you talk to such people, you can sense they aren’t fully there. The lights are on, but no one’s home. Ask them an important question like, “What overall purpose have you chosen for your life?” and you’ll likely get a blank stare in response. Because they don’t really have control of their minds, they live reactively instead of proactively. Such people are virtually powerless. They essentially do what they’re told and try to stay out of trouble, mistakenly assuming this condition is the best they can expect of themselves.
In contrast highly conscious people own their minds. Their thinking is clear and focused, and they select and direct their thoughts deliberately. They retain conscious control over their emotions, and they don’t easily succumb to distractions. When you talk to such people, you can detect depth and clarity. Ask them, “What’s the purpose of your life?” and you’ll likely get an intelligent and thoughtful response. These people live proactively and are emotionally resilient, rising above their circumstances instead of being victimized by them. They possess an inner strength that is undeniable. They exhibit both courage and compassion, and they know that this level of being is how humans were truly meant to live.
The difference between these two groups is that the first group has settled for the default mental operating system installed by their upbringing and social conditioning. Call it Human OS 1.0. They accepted whatever programming they initially received. The second group, however, challenges themselves to continuously improve upon that initial programming, embarking on a lifelong quest to design a more intelligent mental operating system. And they succeed. So while group one is stuck with a shabby and outdated mental OS, group two continues to upgrade its version, enjoying compounding benefits year after year. It doesn’t matter whether they’re currently using Human OS 1.1 or Human OS 7.0 — it’s the process of frequent upgrading that matters most, not the particular version number being used.
The main reason I devote so much verbiage to the idea of raising your consciousness is that there are some serious practical benefits to this pursuit. Specifically, here are 14 notable benefits of developing your conscious mind:
1. Increased Sensory Awareness
As you become more conscious, your perceptual awareness expands. You start noticing things you never noticed before. You’re more attuned to sights, sounds, smells, and other input. It’s like getting a sensory bandwidth boost. Your environment seems richer because you’re noticing more than you used to. It’s not that your sensory hardware gets any better — rather it’s that more useful data flows into your conscious awareness. You just seem to have more mental RAM available for consciously observing the information coming from your senses. Being able to extract more useful information from your sensory input is a huge benefit.
I’ve found this benefit most helpful when communicating with people. For example, when I give a speech, I’m starting to notice subtle body language from the audience that tells me I should speed up, slow down, add more humor, or make other on-the-fly adaptations. Even though I’m actively running through my presentation, I’m still able to remain conscious of what I’m observing in the room. Again, it’s as if there’s more mental bandwidth and RAM available than there used to be.
2. Increased Self-Awareness
Your internal senses become more finely tuned as well. You begin to see yourself more objectively. You become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This enhanced self-understanding makes it easier to understand other people as well. Human behavior (your own as well as that of others) begins to make more sense. You succeed more often in your undertakings because you understand your capabilities more accurately than ever before.
Becoming aware of your own blind spots is very important for your personal growth. When you’re struggling and you don’t even know why, you’re stuck. But when you become aware of your weaknesses, you move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence. That’s a very key step on the way to conscious competence. Sometimes you will choose to overcome your weaknesses, while other times you may simply accept and work around them. For example, I decided to overcome my fear of public speaking, but I chose to accept and work around my colorblindness. I think it’s more important to be aware of your weaknesses, even if you choose not to overcome them, than to pretend to be perfect. Highly conscious people learn to accept their imperfections with no loss of self-esteem.
3. Enhanced Mental Clarity
As you raise your consciousness, you’ll experience periods of confusion as you take the next “quantum leap” in front of you, followed by periods of deepening mental clarity. Another term for these periods of confusion is the Dark Night of the Soul. This is when your whole reality makes very little sense to you, and you become uncertain of everything. It is a time of massive cognitive restructuring. Your mind is refactoring its code to complete the jump to the next level. It has to scramble the old patterns in order to make room for the new.
However, once you complete one of these leaps, you enter a period of incredible clarity. Everything in your life starts to make sense on a whole new level. It’s like someone adjusted a focusing dial on your mind. You’ll find a full article on this process here: Raising Your Consciousness.
4. Enhanced Problem-Solving
Raising your consciousness is like getting a RAM upgrade for your mind. It will feel like your conscious mind can hold more content at once. This can make you significantly better at problem solving, especially where there’s a large set of relevant information to consider. Designing a complex computer algorithm is a good example. The more conscious you are, the better you can understand all the details of the problem, and the more mental horsepower you can throw at the problem.
For me the most important problems I was able to solve were personal ones, like figuring out what kind of person I should strive to become and what I should do with the rest of my life. The challenge was finding an answer that made sense on all four levels: physical, mental, social, and spiritual.
5. Emotional Mastery
Consciousness and emotional intelligence go hand-in-hand. First, you gain a deeper understanding of your emotional constitution. You begin to clearly understand why you feel the way you do.
Secondly, you develop the ability to control your emotional state. With practice you can learn to maintain a positive emotional state regardless of external circumstances. By feeling good and acting from within that framework, you’ll gradually release the sources of negativity from your life and replace them with positive ones. Not only will you feel great, but you’ll start to generate positive results that resonate with those feelings. Your life will be an expression of joy instead of the pursuit of it.
Thirdly, you’ll develop empathy. By mastering your own emotions, you’ll better more understand the emotions of others.
You’ll find people opening up to you more and more. You may even notice strangers trusting you with intimate details about their lives during the first few minutes of conversation. They’ll often say to you, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I just felt I could trust you.” It may initially surprise you to notice people trusting you so openly, but this will happen because you’ve become a person who will honor that trust.
A good way to know whether or not you’re trustworthy is to observe how well you trust yourself right now. What level of responsibility are you comfortable with? Do you trust yourself enough to tackle a grand purpose, or do you stick with menial labor only? As your consciousness expands, you’ll begin to trust yourself to handle more meaningful responsibilities. And this in turn will build your trustworthiness and thereby attract the trust of others.
A side effect of trustworthiness is the ability to influence others, not because you hold a position of power over them but because they know they can trust you. You’ll also feel good about your power of influence because you know you’d only use it for honorable purposes.
Erin is an absolute master at this. People are frequently drawn to tell her their deepest secrets even if they’ve only known her for a few minutes. Often such people don’t even understand why they’re doing it — they can’t seem to help it. But I think it’s because people really crave deep, soulful connections with each other, and trust is the enabler that makes it safe to proceed.
7. Better Relationships
As a result of your enhanced perception, self-knowledge, empathy, and trustworthiness, you’ll become better at relating to other people. This can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your relationships. Instead of feeling you must comprehend a baffling set of complex social dynamics, you’ll begin communicating naturally and effortlessly, whether with strangers or old friends. People will seem less threatening and will want to connect with you. Human interaction will just seem to make a lot more sense. Your deeper understanding of people will boost your confidence in social situations as well.
I used to be very introverted, but I gradually became more extroverted as I worked on my conscious development. On the Myers-Briggs test, I actually shifted from an INTJ (I = introvert) to an ENTJ (E = extrovert). Old family and friends have a hard time believing some of the things I’ve done, such as performing in a couple comedy improv shows — these actions are totally incongruent with my old introverted personality. But now I feel like I’m an extroverted introvert. I can draw energy from spending time alone or with others; neither activity drains me.
The ability to consciously control your thoughts is the ability to discipline your mind. Many problems that seem very challenging can be easily overcome with sufficient self discipline. Can you get yourself out of bed each morning at a time of your choosing? Can you keep your physical environment in good order? Can you get yourself to do what needs to be done without procrastinating? For the disciplined mind, these problems are almost trivially easy to solve. But without sufficient self-discipline, frustration and failure is the more likely outcome.
If you’re interested in developing your self-discipline, you may enjoy reading the six-part Self-Discipline Series.
9. Better Health and Fitness
After improving your awareness, problem-solving, and self-discipline, you may turn your attention to your physical body and decide to take better care of it. You’ll develop more conscious eating, exercise, and health habits, experimenting to discover what works best for you rather than mindlessly accepting the advice of overweight doctors (especially those who write diet books, cough cough). You may not wish to become an Olympic athlete, but you’ll find an equilibrium that feels right for you.
It’s important to accept that you aren’t just a disembodied consciousness floating through the ether. You do in fact have a physical body, and its health will have a significant impact on your life. So accept that fact, and take good care of it.
10. Financial Abundance
If you so desire, you can apply your consciousness to the creation and enjoyment of financial abundance. By keeping your thoughts focused on what you want and by conditioning empowering financial beliefs, you can attract more money into your life. Nearly all of the benefits of expanding your consciousness can become powerful assets in the business world. They’ll enhance your ability to create value for others, which is the core of business success.
One of the key financial goals was to put myself in a position where I wouldn’t have to do any work I didn’t enjoy just to make money. It took many years to reach this point, but I’m able to do what I love and enjoy abundant income (more than double my expenses). The great challenge here was unlearning all the crippling financial beliefs that were socially installed. I had to learn that I don’t need a job, I don’t need a boss, I don’t need an office, etc. All I really needed was a computer, my mind, and $9 to buy a domain name.
11. Heart-Centered Power
As your consciousness expands, you’ll strengthen and balance your courage and your compassion. You won’t become a wimpus maximus who always runs away from conflict (too yin), nor will you become a jerkus obnoxio who runs roughshod over others for personal gain (too yang).
Building your courage will help you to avoid living like a wimpy coward. Insults will bounce off you like bullets off Superman’s eyeball. You’ll be drawn to do things you previously feared. First, you’ll develop the courage to gradually face your fears, and eventually you’ll reach the level of fearlessness where courage is no longer required. For example, you may move from being afraid of communicating with the opposite sex, to courageously summoning the nerve to do it, to doing it comfortably with no nervousness.
Building your compassion means you’ll avoid living like an insensitive jerk. You’ll have a clear conscience and a genuine concern for the well-being of others. You’ll start treating people the way they should be treated. As your consciousness continues to expand, you may begin to feel compassion for animals and the environment as well. You care about things you previously dismissed as “someone else’s problem.” You’ll become a true citizen of the world.
Courage and compassion must develop synergistically. You cannot maximize one without the other. If you only develop your compassion, you’ll begin notice a lot of things you could do to improve the world, but you’ll be too much of a wuss to do anything about it. This in turn will make you want to tone down your compassion to avoid feeling so powerless.
On the other hand, if you only develop your courage, you’ll behave like a self-centered dufus most of the time, and your relationships will become shallow and competitive. You’ll lose the support of others, which can drive you towards loneliness and hardness (which will only lower your consciousness).
However, the combo of courage and compassion, working together harmoniously, means that your conscience will show you what needs to be done, and you’ll have the inner strength to do something about it. Because your heart’s in the right place and you’re bold enough to take action, others will be drawn to help and support you. The courage-compassion balance is the essence of true leadership.
Erin and I have helped each other tremendously in this area. When we first met, I was all courage, and she was all compassion. Over the past 12 years of our relationship, we’ve both become much more balanced.
12. Inner Peace
A feeling of centeredness is a natural byproduct of raising your consciousness. You’ll feel well-grounded and comfortable with the realities of your life situation. Meditation can help you achieve this state temporarily at first, but eventually it will become your natural state of being.
13. Psychic Development
As your basic five-sensory awareness improves, your sixth sense will begin to develop as well. Initially this may take the form of enhanced intuition. You’ll start noticing that your gut feeling is becoming more accurate, which will encourage you to pay more attention to it.
As you continue on this path, you may experience occasional flickers of your latent psychic abilities. Perhaps you have a premonition about the future that turns out to be accurate… or you have an irreconcilable explosion of highly improbably synchronicities one day… or you experience your first (probably terrifying) astral projection. Things start happening that lie well outside your normal everyday experience — things your previous framework of reality cannot adequately explain. This is your mind’s way of letting you know that your consciousness has expanded to the point where you now have access to new abilities. From this point on, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you wish to develop them.
Many people try to deny these experiences, but I think that’s a mistake that will only lower your consciousness. I recommend you seek guidance and advice from others who’ve already gone down this path. You may be shocked but then comforted to meet others who consider your unexplainable experiences routine. But old friends who haven’t yet reached this point will be of little or no help to you. They just won’t be able to relate to what you’re going through. They may become excessively demanding that you prove your experiences to them. But how do you prove to a deaf person that you can hear, especially when you can’t hear that well yet?
Depending on your previous beliefs, you may need to do some soul-searching to decide whether you want to cling to your old beliefs or update them to be able to take fuller advantage of your new abilities. If you wish to progress in this area, be open-minded in your explorations, but don’t be so gullible as to blindly swallow others’ ideas without careful consideration.
14. Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming is when you have a dream and become conscious and aware that you’re dreaming. You know who you are and that your physical body is asleep on your bed. This awareness gives you the ability to do anything you want in the dream world, including flying, psychokinesis, walking through walls, summoning dream characters, etc.
Lucid dreaming is a skill that can take many years to develop, but it’s one of the most enjoyable benefits of developing your consciousness. Nighttime becomes a fantasy playground for your mind. When you’re fully lucid, your dream world will seem just as real as your waking world, except that you’ll know it’s a dream and that you can control all of it with your thoughts.
If you want to learn lucid dreaming for yourself, listen to Podcast #010 – Lucid Dreaming, which will provide you with a 12-minute overview on how to get started.
This is a pretty serious benefits package, wouldn’t you say? None of these benefits are binary either — they all develop gradually across a wide spectrum. Every step makes a difference.
Now you may be wondering… OK, these are great benefits, but HOW do I become more conscious? Stay tuned, and I’ll write about that soon enough…. But just as a teaser, the first thing you can do is to intend to become more conscious and aware. Just decide to upgrade, and your subconscious will begin the process for you. This decision is the key that opens the door.