Ok, so what exactly does it mean to be intentional? Is it just another buzzword or is it actually helpful? Is this practice one more thing we need to put on our to-do lists?
Living with intention simply means to be thoughtful about the way you do life. It means to pause in the middle of the hustle and bustle to evaluate if what you’re doing, thinking, and feeling is really paving the way for where you’re going and who you want to be on your journey to get there. Here are a few ways you can forget busy, think intentionally, and be deliberate in your day to day life.
Living with Intention: 8 Ways to Move Forward with Purpose
1. Know Your Power
Pulling from the findings of leading scientists around the world, Lynne McTaggart, an international bestselling author writes in her book The Intention Experiment: “evidence suggests that human thoughts and intentions are an actual physical ‘something’ with the astonishing power to change our world. Every thought we have is a tangible energy with the power to transform. A thought is not only a thing; a thought is a thing that influences other things.”
There is continued scientific evidence that illuminates the power we have within ourselves to live our lives more fully. That directly influences our environment and those around us. Life isn’t just something that happens to us.
2. Create Your Choices
John Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School says, “What is more, we are also only partially aware at best of exactly what we are doing in and with our lives, and the efforts our actions, and more subtly, our thoughts have on what we see and don’t see, what we do and don’t do.”
Being more fully aware, instead of partially aware, gives us the power to make more informed and intentional choices with work, parenting, relationships, and life as a whole. If you need some guidance on how to navigate your choices, this article has actionable steps to be more present and mindful.
3. Know Your Body
If we are intentional about the way we carry our bodies we can feel more at ease because we know our bodies more intimately. We can more easily release anxiety or address pain and we don’t just go through the motions of being involved, ignoring the way we physically feel.
We have the presence of mind to see what’s on our to-do lists and take action with design, rather than simply doing things by default. It can be helpful to ask yourself, “How do I physically feel right now?”
4. Calm Your Body
When you’re running on auto-pilot you may not be in tune with your body. When you calm your body you are able to notice areas where you are holding tension and therefore you’re more effectively able to release it.
If you pause you may notice your shoulders are stiff with stress and causing your headaches. Those headaches are preventing you from being present with your toddler when he asks to play. When you reflect for a moment you might realize you’re practicing slouchy posture, causing your back to ache, which distracts you from finishing that task you’re working on with that looming deadline. Calming your body creates the chance to make a different choice.
5. Quiet Your Mind
When you quiet your mind you are more able to be in the moment and fully take stock of how and what you’re feeling and thinking. Your brain may be whirring with things you need or want to do, fix, read, write, or say. But if you pause and take a deep breath, you’ll see that yes you have a lot to do, but you can prioritize which things need to get done now and which things can wait.
Next time your mind is humming, try reflecting right where you are without your phone or any other device for just a few minutes. Technology is convenient for so many things, but it’s tough to quiet your mind when your notifications are dinging, tugging for your attention.
6. Embrace Your Discomfort
When we are still, sometimes it’s uncomfortable because things surface that we may not want to think or feel or deal with at the time or maybe even ever. Often times we have crammed calendars, so it takes a lot of effort to slow our pace and also to stop and practice mindfulness or simply be still.
Is there a conversation you need to have with your teen? Do you need to forgive a friend who hurt you? Would you like to pray because it’s been a long time since you talked to God?
7. Settle Into Your Stillness
One interpretation of “be still” is to “cease striving.” It doesn’t mean we don’t do anything at all; it means calm down about all the things we think we need to do so we can take inventory of what is really important at that moment or for that day.
As always, if thoughts or feelings surface that are difficult to identify or process on your own, please seek help from a trusted family member, friend, or professional therapist. There are websites like this one and others to help you find someone to talk to if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help as you sort through things that arise. It can help to ask yourself, “Do I need help dealing with this?”
8. Choose Your Path
When we stop filling our calendars to the maximum capacity and operate each day with more purpose and intention we can feel better about who we are becoming, who we are to those we love, and where we are going on our journey. We may also be able to accomplish more meaningful things, even if means we don’t check off every single item on our list.
About the Author, Ashley Byard
Ashley is a freelance writer and artist for hire who lives with her husband, toddler, and tripod rescue cat. As a freelance writer, she enjoys writing about counseling, self-understanding, personal growth, and all sorts of other topics. When she’s not writing or making art you can find her baking or chasing her sweet, wild child. You can also find her online at rooted226.com or on Facebook & Instagram @rooted226.