There are seven levels of awareness. These categories are areas in your life that if shaped correctly, will directly result in an improved quality of life. We will describe each level and how it relates to your ability to reach your goals. They are: Animal, Mass, Aspiration, Individual, Discipline, Experience and Mastery. Let’s take them one at a time.
The Animal level of awareness centers on your fight or flight response. This is an instinct that is in response to external stimulus. There is not a whole lot of thinking involved here, or none at all actually. You are relying on your physical senses. You are reacting rather than responding. You may do it in a more elegant way than an animal, but you experience the same basic animal reaction to things. If your natural reaction to any sort of resistance is to cower and quickly relieve the tension by compromising your ideas, this will have a prolonged effect on your well being.
Let’s take a scenario of turning your annual salary into your monthly salary. You think: “Wow, that would be fantastic! What a great idea.” So the first thing you do is you go to your spouse and explain your idea. Your spouse likes it and you feel relieved. You weren’t too sure about this new idea that you had been toying with so you feel as though you’ve dodged a bullet by getting an initial positive reaction. “That’s great, my spouse supports me.” Well, then as you are telling your wonderful new idea to a friend, you notice a skeptical look come over his or her face, which becomes more cynical as you continue. Your enthusiasm in now beginning to wane and by the time you are done talking, you are starting to doubt yourself. The anticipated first words of their response come in the form of a sarcastically delivered: “Good luck with that.” Now you are thinking: “Well yeah, it was probably a silly idea anyway.” And so you back off and you lock that dream away and go back to doing the same old thing. What you have just experienced is a flight response to criticism. The first sign of difficulty and you fled.
But if you believe in your ability and you believe in the possibilities of life, there is no reason why you cannot achieve this goal. Your reaction was an automatic interpretation that happened instantaneously, without you having to think about it. If you had your ideas and beliefs rooted strongly, and you were instinctively willing to defend your ideas, your reaction would have been to fight. I don’t mean you would have taken a swing at your friend for daring to disagree with you, I mean you would have fought for your idea by sticking to it and putting it into action. There are certainly instances where your flight instinct will be right, but by realizing the possibilities for you in this life, you will not so quickly discount things that although they may be difficult to achieve, are in fact entirely achievable and definitely worth pursuing.
The second level of awareness is called Mass. This means not really thinking and just blindly following the crowd. You are born into this world as a unique individual, but raised into conformity. The moment you become aware of the value of your uniqueness, is the moment you can bring value and great things into this world. We have touched on this notion previously, but it certainly bears repeating. If you let others decide your future, you will likely only realize an average future. The people that are willing to let their unique ideas flourish in this society are the people that lead the most fulfilling lives. Do not be so quick to let what is the most popular idea and the most agreed upon solution be your guide.
Mark Twain poignantly scribed in a notebook that, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” Or in this unsent letter to a friend, “When you set aside mere names and come down to realities, you find that we are ruled by a king just as other absolute monarchies are. His name is the majority. He is mighty in bulk and strength…he rules by the right of possessing less money and less brains and more ignorance than the other competitor for the throne, the minority. Ours is an absolute monarchy.” Mark Twain, the brilliant writer and consummate thinker, had a way of colorfully illustrating a point, which could not be more evident in the context of the majority as we relate it to the mass level of awareness.
Aspiration is the third level of awareness. We are speaking of the desire to be, to do and to have more—but never do! Desire without action. In this category we find forever dreamers. They dream and yet their dreams are never internalized to the point where they translate them into action. Remember when you were in school and rather than paying attention to your teacher’s lesson on the branches of government, you were staring out at the nearby football field and dreaming of playing in front of thousands of screaming fans someday? Suddenly, your teacher snapped you back into reality: “Stop daydreaming and pay attention!” While I can appreciate the frustration of your teacher in trying to educate you while you were off in another place, there is nothing wrong with having dreams.
Daydreaming, however, automatically seems to suggest that there is no reality attached to your thoughts. Well, for most people that certainly holds true. How do you turn your passion into prosperity? Action! You must get the wheels in motion and realize that without action, you have no positive results. Make no mistake, you will get results without action. Just not the results you had intended or that you desire. There are positive results and there are negative results, but they are results just the same. It starts with a thought, but action is the key ingredient that turns your vision into tangible positive results and a life of fulfillment.
The next level of awareness is Individual, where you start to express your uniqueness. There is only one of you with your specific potential. Your potential is unlimited, but is also specific to you. Someone else has a differing unlimited potential specific to them. Realizing this fact is where the breakout starts to form. Remember the conscious mind and the subconscious mind? Well, this is where you begin to use your conscious mind, your thinking mind. Here is where you begin to question the present. “Is this all there is?” This is where you start wondering what you want in your life. “Wouldn’t it be great if…?” Right now your life may be on automatic pilot. You may be just going through the motions. The same routine, day in and day out. And you begin thinking: “Is this how it should be?” Well the moment you realize that you are unique, that your unique thoughts and contributions are essential to this world, is the moment that you can begin to achieve great things.
Discipline is the fifth level of awareness. In this case, we are not talking about a form of conditioning or punishment. We are concentrating on the ability to focus on your goal despite distractions and competing influences. You must use your will to keep out the distractions. And when someone or something knocks you down, get right back up. Keep moving forward. Keep growing. Follow through. I don’t know to whom this quote can be first attributed, but remember, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” You must be focused and disciplined in your approach, but do not give up because the road is not always smooth and easy to navigate. You are going to encounter some rough terrain once in awhile, expect it, but your ability to show discipline in the face of inconvenient and difficult circumstances will set you apart. You always have room to analyze your situation as you go along, and interpret your results, but staying disciplined will enable you to gain momentum and avoid being thrown off course, or coming to a screeching halt.
The sixth level of awareness is the all-important Experience. There is a substantial difference between learning and experience, studying and doing, and preparing and executing. To learn something is often to be based in theory, while to gain experience is to have acquired real world applications. Let’s say I was to tell you that it gets hot in the summer in Phoenix, Arizona. You could appreciate this fact and be able to understand that the temperatures in that area exceed those in other areas. Okay. Fine. Now compare that to having actually gone to Phoenix in August when the temperature was 117 degrees. When you come out of your air conditioned hotel room in the morning, you are hit with a blast of air that makes you squint and makes you stop in your tracks. When you get to your car, the door handle is so hot it literally burns your hand. Your flight home is delayed because it’s so hot that all of the planes are grounded. So, when you call your spouse to explain that you will be home late because it’s hot in Phoenix, which party do you think has a more in depth understanding of the temperature in Phoenix? That’s experience.
When it comes to life, there is no substitute for experience. Getting involved, taking action and taking part in this world is an exciting, valuable and fantastic journey. You can be book-smart and there is nothing wrong with extensive study, but you have to get out there and experience life. You can do all the preparation in the world, but as important as preparation is, you have to make things happen. Experience is a tremendous way to improve your overall awareness. As you experience things, you will see new opportunities that had been previously hidden. Learning to apply experience will set you apart and take you further in your quest for a life of fulfillment.
The last level of awareness is called Mastery. This is the point at which you truly begin to respond. You are no longer controlled by habit. You have mastered your paradigms. You use your intellectual faculties to control your thoughts, and thereby your actions, and ultimately your results. This is what you are striving for. Mastery of your mind is the way in which you will be able to reach the pinnacle of life. When you finally are able to overcome your fears, you will quickly begin to see signs of progress toward your goals. Your subconscious mind will not be filled with doubt, but with optimism and possibility.