I like to think of each one of us like a branch on an enormous tree. We are a part of something bigger than each of us, yet we are a part of creator/spirit/universe. Because we are a tribe of one, and individually, a part of the whole, our ability to create our life is astounding. (In other words, if we are a part of everything, we are also spirit... and therefore a creator ourselves!)
The problem is, we're so often not paying attention to what we are creating. That means that we often create by default.
So what does it take to consciously create our lives? It starts with paying attention. You can't just tell yourself to pay attention. That, like willing yourself to start exercising if you don't feel like it, will only get you so far. You have to build the muscle of being here now, the discipline of focus.
I have a very simple exercise to get you started. Try making a meal focusing only on what you are doing. The chopping of the vegetables, feeling the crunch as the knife comes down on them, smelling the different smells. How does the knife feel in your hand? Touch the vegetables. What do they feel like? Some are rough under your fingers, others are smooth. Who grew these vegetables? Thank them for their efforts.
This does not need to take any more time than the usual time of making a meal. I don't mean you have to stop and meditate on your vegetables! I just mean, when you touch them, feel them. When you move from counter to stove, notice the pan heating up, your footsteps to walk there. Just be super, uber present.
When other unrelated thoughts come to mind, release them and return to the effort at hand. You will find this extremely difficult if you are really paying attention. You'll catch your mind drifting constantly. I often use my cooking time to think, but when you want to practice mindfulness, it's a great exercise.
This is an exercise to flex the muscle of mindfulness. You can do it anywhere. How many times have you been driving and so distracted you don't remember traveling a certain distance? We are prone to doing that, especially with monotonous chores. However, really trying to focus on the present moment allows us to experience life more fully - which includes paying attention to thoughts, feelings, decisions, actions.
(Remember my acronym? TEA party: Thoughts = Emotions = Actions.)
By being present, you are not allowing your thoughts to rule what is going on in your mind. You're controlling them. I can't remember who originally said this (because it has been used many times over) but truly, remind yourself that "you can't allow yourself the luxury of a negative thought." If your future is initiated by your thoughts - then learning to control them is imperative to changing your life!
So, if you remember that by being present you will be the one in charge of creation, instead of being just reactive to life around you, you really can create the life you want. Mindfulness is an essential step to that.
Pause. Look at where you are and backtrack to how you got there, as best you can. It's like looking at your own footprints behind you in the snow. Looking back at how you arrived at this moment can tell you a lot about how you're living. Don't dwell on that past, but examine it. Then make the conscious decision that you will live a more mindful life in order to create the life you desire