The Quality of Your Life and Your Thoughts

The quality of your life is directly proportional to the quality of your thoughts.

That statement is perhaps more profound than you are likely to give it credit at first pass. After all, you’re probably thinking: “We all have tens of thousands of thoughts every day and there’s no way we can control them!”

Or is there?

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Quality of your life

The Quality of Your Life and Your Thoughts (continued)


The ability to control our thoughts

17th century French philosopher, Rene Descartes famously said: “I think, therefore I am,” implying that the proof of our consciousness or existence lies in our capacity to think.

This ‘proof of existence’ went unchallenged for some three hundred years until another philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, suggested that being aware of the fact that you are thinking (rather than the process of thinking alone) is what proves our conscious existence. In other words it is more accurate to say: “I am aware of the fact that I think, therefore I am”.

This may sound to you like playing with words, but the difference, though subtle, is significant.

The implication is that our consciousness exists separately, at a higher level, than our thinking. Put more simply,  we are more than our thoughts … and we have the ability to control our thoughts.

Conscious and unconscious living

In the New Insights life coach training we refer to what we call ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ living. I’ll unpack what this means before making the link to the quality of thoughts.

To live ‘unconsciously’ is to exist as if you have little or no control over the direction of your life.

Basically, you go with the flow, trying to navigate an uncertain world and survive the various challenges and obstacles that life throws at you. Your responses to various stimuli and events are largely automatic (or learnt) rather than carefully planned or considered.

If that speaks to your life right now, know that you’re not alone.

The great majority of people in the world live like this, often feeling inconspicuous, irrelevant and impotent to bring about change in a crazy world where life itself feels like one massive challenge to get through.

A coping mechanism

Living unconsciously is, for many, a coping mechanism.

I’m reminded of a certain period during my corporate life where I endured waking up at 5.30am, commuting for four hours each day and getting back home at 8pm long after my young kids had gone to bed. Most days I could hardly remember the commute. I had put myself into ‘auto’ mode to cope as best I could with the dreaded and dreary daily routine. I was simply going through the motions hoping for better days.

Taking control of your life

Living consciously, on the other hand, means to take control over your life and its direction. You understand the saying: “If it’s to be it’s up to me” and you handle events and situations by consciously evaluating your options and taking those actions that are in your best interests.

When you live consciously, you feel energised and alive. Life has meaning because you give it meaning through the decisions and choices you make. You see challenges as opportunities and obstacles as temporary. You feel in control.

Personally, I remember well the feeling that came after setting up and starting my own business. At first I was  wholly unaccustomed to the experience and felt nervous and fearful. But as I began to grasp the fact that I was now the master of my own destiny, I began to relish the experience, feel more vital and more considerate of the implications of my actions in furthering my interests and those I loved.

You have a choice to take a passive or active role in your own life

When you live unconsciously – or choose to take a passive role in your life – your thoughts are far more likely to be dictated by your situation or circumstances.

If  life feels like you’re running on a treadmill to nowhere, your thoughts are likely to be dominated by statements like “If only I could win the lottery and put all of this behind me” or “If only something or someone else would do something to change this awful situation” or “If only I can hang on long enough to get to retirement.”

On the other hand when you live consciously – or choose to play an active role in your life – your thoughts are far more likely to be about how you can make the most of opportunities that come up or find creative ways to make more out of what you have.

For example: “How can I use this new development to make my life even better?” or “What is it about this situation that I can learn from?” or “What actions can I take that will add even more value for my customers?”

Determining the quality of your thoughts

Living unconsciously generally brings on disempowering thoughts. In other words, you allow yourself to give your power away to other people or things. Your future, your success and your happiness then become dependent on other people, situations or outcomes of events.

You submit to life.

When you live consciously, however, you tend to think empowering thoughts – thoughts that give you the power and put you in control of your future, your success and, more importantly, of your own happiness.

You create your life.

Let me be clear that living consciously, or taking control of your life, is very different from being controlling.

Surprising though it may seem, people who are controlling (they seek to control the lives or actions of others) are often living unconsciously. Controlling others can be an automatic or learnt reaction to the uncertainty they experience and struggle to deal with in their own lives.

So much more fulfilling

When you live consciously you become more understanding and appreciative of others who do likewise. You get to realise that taking control of your own life is so much more fulfilling when you allow others the freedom to do the same with theirs.

When you finish reading this post I invite you to take some time to observe other people around you. Ask yourself whether they are generally living consciously or unconsciously? Are they consciously creating the life they desire or are they simply coping with what’s being ‘thrown’ at them?

How about you?


This is the official Blog for New Insights Life Coach Training. Find out more about life coaching and becoming a life coach here:



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  1. Nicki
    Apr 6, 2017

    Great read, and I also needed this reminder today.
    I would like to add that I think fear also causes a lot of people to live unconsciously. If you allow it to, it shuts down the belief in possibility of breaking free of the matrix, being on auto-pilot, enduring things because you don’t believe you are capable of other options. You give your power away by thinking it’s less fearful letting others “choose” for you.

    Thank you! 🙂

  2. Neveron
    Apr 5, 2017

    Hi Bill, thanks for The provoking thought, quality of your life and your thoughts. I do believe that our thoughts are the main mechanism to our freedom, wellbeing and growth. Thanks Bill, this thought has shaken to focus on my consciousness on a higher level, appreciated God bless Neveron

  3. Kele
    Apr 5, 2017

    Thanks Bill! Having a lot of money without budgeting for it made me to spent unconsciously without no direction. Since I lost everything because of that lifestyle I started to live consciously being responsible for each and every cent that I spend and that has taught me a lot to take control of my life so that I shouldn’t fall for anything

  4. Roger
    Apr 4, 2017

    Thanks for more helpful insights, Bill. I often offer coachees the distinction between “Unconscious Drift” versus “Conscious Commitment” to have them reflect on what you describe as “unconscious” versus “conscious” living. The former, as you suggest, is usually more “reactive”, while the latter invites us into “choice”.

  5. Chris Fyfe
    Apr 2, 2017

    Thanks Bill, Only today I have taken out the manuals, to brush up on my coaching. I am one of the unconscious thought people, we have just finished a series of sermons on faith in our church, procrastination is a thief of time.

  6. This came at the perfect time, Bill! I am starting a 30 day elimination diet tomorrow and this was a fantastic reminder to focus on the benefits, not on what I can’t indulge in. If it’s to be, it’s up to me!

    • Bill
      Mar 29, 2017

      Good luck Tania!

  7. Cherri
    Mar 29, 2017

    Thanks for this Bill. The unconscious and conscious living can be linked to an External and Internal Locus of Control which helps us to move from victim-hood to courageous and responsible living.

    • Bill
      Mar 29, 2017

      Absolutely! Thanks for this Cherri!

  8. Annie
    Mar 29, 2017

    Hi Bill
    I have noticed quite a few times when I’m in conversation with people that they have become ‘victims’ to life and what is ‘thrown’ at them. Where conscious living can change that. Love Sartre, my favourite philosopher. Thanks for the blog

    • Bill
      Mar 29, 2017

      Thanks Annie. People easily get sucked into a downward spiral caused by the vicious cycle of disempowering thoughts, negative emotions and more disempowering thoughts that manifest in an ever more unenjoyable life 🙁

  9. Karen
    Mar 29, 2017

    What I love most of all about your blogs, Bill, is that I am encouraged to keep asking questions and my awareness is sharpened. It is then up to me to take the next step by self correcting. Thank you, Bill. This is a powerful one!

    • Bill
      Mar 29, 2017

      Thanks Karen – your ongoing support is very much appreciated!

  10. Portia
    Mar 29, 2017

    I’ve recently started my own business and I can relate with being more alive. I never realised that I was on auto the whole time, the degree to which I allowed mediocrity to rule my life is astounding. I am now more present in thought and action. I have a new pespective and I am more aware of my surroundings . The realisation that I am the CEO of my own life is just so liberating. Thank you.

    • Bill
      Mar 29, 2017

      Thank you for sharing your real life example, Portia!

  11. Cor Streicher
    Mar 29, 2017

    Live in the Now. Reserve a small part of thinking to observe what you are thinking. Be like standing outside of yourself and looking onto your own actions/reactions. That is consciousness! Thanks Bill for reminding me once again of this important truth.

    • Bill
      Mar 29, 2017

      Thanks Cor!

  12. Charmaine Gilmour
    Mar 29, 2017

    So true and so rewarding when you start to live your life consciously.

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