If you are alive, you are at least semi conscious, and this is basically true for all beings, but where humans differ from other species is in the ability to be truly mindful of being conscious.
A Facebook friend shared a story about an otter he had as a pet once. It seemed the otter actually liked this person, he would hold the otter and it would fall asleep in his arms. It would lick his hand and take food from it. One day as the otter was eating out of a bowl, this person took the food away before the otter was finished, the otter bit and scratched his hand, so much for liking the individual. The otter was conscious and also mindful his food was being taken away, but it ended there. There was no mindfulness of who was actually taking the food, his food was being taken away and he didn’t like it. This is how many humans react to situations, they like people as long as they don’t take away what they like.
For one to get beyond this mindset, there must be awareness of it. This is where we as humans differ. Other species don’t have this ability to be truly mindful, but if you look around it would seem most humans don’t have this ability either. What will have to transpire at some point in one’s life for this to change is truly being conscious of being mindful; noticing what arises when what is liked is taken away or just naturally changes. This is key if one isn’t going to be drawn into labeling what’s changing. Suffering comes from not being conscious of being mindful of what’s changing, by being controlled by what is liked. When there is mindfulness of what arises, one can be conscious and mindful of it, but not attach to it, thus one is free. What you like will still be taken away at times, but hopefully you won’t bite or scratch when this happens.