What Are The Consequences of Your Actions?
By Art Ramsay, PhD

 The word 'consequences' has been used as long as I can remember in a very negative way. Such as "if you do/say (fill in the blank), you will suffer the consequences." A synonym for consequence is penalty. However, I would rather use the word 'result' since a consequence is merely the result of some action. In terms of 'cause and effect' , a consequence is the effect.

 There have been a number of movies created in the past decade that graphically illustrate how a single action ripples through our lives in sometimes astounding ways. Looking back on results or effects of a single unplanned or even unintentional act can reveal how profound everything we do is for ourselves and others.

 Most of us have little awareness of what a single, seemingly insignificant change in our daily routine can have on at the end of our day. For example, suppose you wake up late and have to rush so that you won't be late for work. You might miss breakfast, or not take a shower, or drive faster and reckless in order to 'punch in' on time.

 Any changes at the beginning of your day as cited above could lead to very different effects throughout your day. Driving faster could result in a ticket, while driving recklessly could result in a collision. Dozens of variations could be played out as results of a single unplanned action waking up late.

 Even though I gave negative results for the example above, 'positive' results could also occur, such as arriving upon an 'accident' scene in which you might have been involved had you left on time. Or maybe meeting an 'old friend' stopping for a quick snack and latte on your way to your office.

 Even if we have actually planned our day, in part, or from start to finish, we really don't have total control of every step we take, because many other people are involved. But we can become more aware of the actions we take and the words we speak throughout any given day.

 Does that sound like a huge job? Well, yes it can be when you first start, but eventually you will live your life in an aware, or mindful, state of mind. Why would that be necessary? Because your life, and that of others may depend on it; it is that important. How do you get to a place of mindfulness or awareness? As I have noted in other articles, it takes practice.

 We are habitual beings, going through each day roughly like the previous one. This can serve us so we don't forget to shower, or brush our teeth, or eat nutritionally, but it can also move us into a rut. Remember, if we want change in our lives, doing the same thing everyday will not get us there. It is only when we make a commitment to ourselves to go through with the anticipated change process, that it will happen.

 Have you ever gone back over your day to determine what early action led to the outcome you are now experiencing? If not, it might be an interesting 'game' you can play to begin raising your awareness to how one action causes a number of results leading to the latest one experienced.

 The idea here is to get to a place where you are more mindful/aware of your every action. What it takes is using a technique or two of honing your awareness, and practice. It is one thing to trace the results for a planned action, it is quite another to look back on an unplanned action. Try both.

 Two techniques I have used to raise mine and others' awareness/mindfulness are these 1. stop complaining for 21 days, and 2. eat your meals mindfully (start with one). Why these two and how do they help? When we complain it is often out of habit so that we aren't even aware we are complaining. Purposely looking for complaints throughout your day automatically raises your awareness of the activity.

 Similarly, mindfully eating a meal puts you in touch with your body going through the motions of eating. A practice might be to pick up a morsel of food with your fork, smell its aroma as it reaches your mouth, feel the texture as your chew it, taste the flavor(s), and so on. This can heighten your familiarity with food so that you become more mindful of other experiences.

 Begin each day with intentions and gratitude for what they will bring to your life. End each day going over your accomplishments and giving thanks for what you have experienced. When we open our awareness to what we are thinking, saying, and doing, our lives take on a new meaning.

 If you are ready to take charge of your life, instead of letting 'circumstances' run it, then I suggest exploring some of the ideas I have written in this article. It is only when your clear intentions are put into equally clear actions that life works as you desire.

 If you do nothing else, be like a fly on the wall and observe your life as you live it. You will learn some amazing things about you. I guarantee it.


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