Conscious Living by Gay Hendricks


“We seek, we wonder, we invent, we make mistakes and learn from them; the quest goes on. When the questing spirit lives and breathes in us, we are safe to be around. We inspire creativity by our very presence. We are good times waiting to happen.” – Gay Hendricks
I take this as you know you are living fully when people are getting inspired with you just being around.


“Once I had committed myself to the path, I discovered an unexpected form of magic. A field of grace seems to form around us when we commit ourselves to something that satisfies our souls. Invisible pathways open up through the universe.”
There are a few more quotes from other authors that Brian Johnson quoted. One about how Thomas Edison announced that there will be light by the end of the year, even though he had no idea how, and how John F Kennedy talked about a man on the moon by the end of the decade, even though some of the materials and technology have not been invented. This is definitely something that has happened to me before – though not as extreme. It was back when I was in AIESEC, and I claimed to everyone that I will get a spot going to the largest international conference the organization hosted. Everyone was skeptical, bringing up various reasons why that might not be the case. I wasn’t even sure how I was going to make it happen at that time, but by the time the conference came along, I was on the plane headed for Taiwan.


“We keep ourselves so tied up in regretting the past and fearing the future that we don’t have any energy left to figure out who we are and what we want to create right now.” – Gay Hendricks
Maybe it’s because I have a bad memory (I’m sure it’s more because I subconsciously let go of the past), but I hardly ever let the past bother me. It’s something that can’t be undone, and worrying about it now does not get you anywhere. So consciously let go of the past and keep doing so until you subconsciously do it. It’s another habit that you can build up (but of course, accept what’s happened and learn from it).


“We are designed to be one-selved organisms. When all of the multitudes we contain within us are embraced in the fullness and oneness of our core selves, we are happy.” – Gay Hendricks
As I alluded to in the last heading, to be one-selved means to become aware and accept the other parts of yourself that you might initially dislike.


“The Stoic ideal was simple: live in harmony with the way things are. Let yourself resonate with your feelings and honor the feelings of others, then act from the open space beyond all your feelings.” – Gay Hendricks
For those who might not know what exactly Brian is trying to get at here, think of the quote by Epictetus: “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”


“We choose how gently we get our lessons by how open we are to learning. Life teaches us with a sledgehammer if we refuse to pay attention. It administers the same lesson with a feather tickle if we show a willingness to learn.” – Gay Hendricks
The 5 required lessons are:

  1. Feel all your feelings deeply – embrace all your feelings, even those that you might feel ashamed of. This is still something I’m not very good at, but definitely a lot better than I was a year ago.
  2. Seek your true self – find yourself, know yourself, then stay true to yourself
  3. Let go of the uncontrollable – once again, accept when something is out of your control
  4. We are all made of the same thing – we are all humans, with the same feelings, just with different up bringings
  5. Life is fullest when we’re most true to ourselves – don’t waste your time doing something that makes you dread getting out of bed


    “To live a full life we must be open to the Mystery and live a purposeful life within its spacious context.” – Gay Hendricks
    Do you ever get asked if you’re only focused on the end goal or the experience? I have and I have answered with the end goal for most of my life. But it’s only up until recently that I subconsciously started enjoying the ride. Now, with this concept, it once again, changed my paradigm. There is no reason to want both – to work towards a goal and to enjoy the ride along the way.
    A great quote provided by this PN is by Tal Ben-Shahar: “Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”


    “Ninety-nine percent commitment is not possible. We are either 100 percent or not committed at all.” – Gay Hendricks
    Another really powerful idea. I know there are a lot of things in my life that I am just not 100% committed to – for example, in the past, flossing my teeth was just something I do when I remember / feel like it. In fact, even this very moment, I have a project that I know that I’m not fully committed to. It’s not to say that I should drop it this very moment, but I do need to rephrase the benefits of the project, or redefine the scope. Otherwise, days will continue to go by without any progress, wasting my own brain time.
    Another example is my morning routine: meditation, work out, read and summarize a PN. Within it, I know I’m 100% committed to meditation (which is why I haven’t missed a single day for about 50 days now), but working out and summarizing a PN are things that have been left behind when days get chaotic.

    My Take Aways

    Man, this PN was hard for me to complete in an hour (actually, I didn’t complete it before going to work). There are so many things that I had to reread, internalize and reflect on before I could even type. But that also means that I’m learning a whole new way of thinking / reflecting that I don’t normally do! There are really two concepts that I will need to continue to internalize: wanting both the ends and means, and commitment. With the goals, I think what I need to do is continue to be open to trying new things and re-defying what the end goal is. When it comes to commitment, it’s about clearly breaking down larger goals into milestones that has the appropriate scope.

    I think books like Conscious Living are really out of my realm of understanding, but if Brian really resonates with Gay, to the point that Gay is a part of PN, I feel like there’s a lot for me to learn. That said, this is now a book that is on my to read list. I also know that I have not done this PN justice so I highly suggest you read the PN yourself (by signing up for Philosopher’s Notes at $10 USD / month) or to read the book yourself (please note that I will be getting a small amount from Amazon, though it does not affect how much you pay – Amazon just makes less money than if you were to go onto the website yourself).


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