so, my friends, what does living intentionally mean to you?
i did a little research as i was thinking about that question myself + there is a lot of stuff out there on living intentionally. it is, in fact, a pretty hyped up buzzword these days. but, as “fad”-y and trendy as it may be, i believe that it is an appropriate thing for us to think about in our fast-paced twenty sixteen society.
so, here are some thoughts that i put together:
let me start off by saying that i believe that there is no one definition of intentional living really. but, there are some themes that seem to run through all of the different ways to live intentionally. how that looks in each person’s life, though, varies. it’s up to each one of us to decide how + why we want to live intentionally, if we so choose to.
first up, is my paraphrased definition of intention: a goal, purpose, or plan. an aim that guides an action. something that is deliberate, decided, and acted upon.
so, my understanding is that an intentional life is a lifestyle based on a conscious attempt to live according to one’s values and beliefs. it is a way of living, but it is not just what we do, it is also who we are.
it feels like i could ramble on and on in describing what i think living intentionally is,so to spare you (and me) all of that, i’ve decided on a few key words that i believe make up what it means to live an intentional life. and i’ll let those key words, those patterns + themes, do the defining + describing.
6 words that are a part of living intentionally
aware // we are all awake, but are we aware? are we paying attention to what’s going on inside of us and around us? are we living in the present moment? are we taking the time to truly focus on what is happening right here, right now? do we see, hear, and feel others around us? do we listen to our own thoughts + feelings? do we observe and soak in our environment, our surroundings? basically, do we stay caught up in our own lives and forget that there is a whole world out there? are we just living out of habit, doing he same things the same ways just because that’s how it done? do we live with open eyes, minds, ears, and hearts?
conscious // a sister to awareness, consciousness to me means that we are fully taking part in what we do, think, decide. how we are, act, and behave. being conscious means that we are awake. we are mindful. we are thinking about and keeping ourselves alert.
vision // living intentionally means that i have vision of how i want my life to be. how i believe that life should be, how i believe that the world should be. it is what i am aiming at in life. generally, the vision is shared by people who wish to live intentionally. it’s a life of meaning and justice. it’s a life that makes a difference instead of just existing. and it is so much more too…. but that is up to you and me to define for ourselves.
purpose // there is a reason for everything that we do or are when we live intentionally. buying organic vegetables from local farms instead of just any old vegetable? there is a reason behind that choice. making time to meditate every morning? there is a purpose behind that choice. in fact, living intentionally is a purpose in and of itself, i believe. it is choosing to fully live life. to engage in life and to not just exist. to know that we are all part of something bigger and that we are not simply here to be born, grow up, go to school, have relationships, make money, and then die. there is much, much more to life than that. a deeper, richer, higher purpose. what that looks like, how that plays out, for each of us is different.
choice // do you believe that you are in control of your life? an intentional life is one that knows that life is made up of choices, and that in any situation we have the power to choose. even in those situations where we feel like we have to just surrender and accept what is happening, i dare to challenge us to see things differently. we always have a choice. it may not change the situation, but we have the power to choose how we react to what is going on around us. if we had no choices, then i’d say let’s just give up + let life swallow us whole. but, i reject that idea. instead, i draw upon the belief that no matter what, i can choose something. even if it is just to choose to keep breathing. bottom line: it is up to me how my life turns out. it is taking control of one’s own life – of having that vision + purpose, and making that shit happen. living intentionally is choosing to live intentionally.
individual + global // living intentionally is a personal choice with a global impact. this is the hippie part of living intentionally. this is a core belief, i think. it means that what i do, how i live, and who i am makes a difference to not just me, but also to my family, my friends, my surroundings, and yes, the entire world. the decisions that i make + how i choose to live my life empower me and affect the world because we are all truly connected. even if we can’t see or feel the effects of how we live, every little thing we do, sends out ripples and vibrations across the entire globe. literally + metaphorically. our energy, our money, our food choices, our work choices, our religious choices… they make a difference. they really do. we become better people, and in turn, the world becomes a better place.
simple, minimal, authentic, organic, spiritual, real, mindful… // there are so many ways you can choose to live intentionally. we can choose to practice a spiritual or religious discipline. or we can choose to focus on the environment. we can choose to live more simply, without consuming so much. or, we can live more health-consciously. or we can combine all of those things and simply choose to be as aware and conscious as possible.
however we choose to live intentionally, we begin with waking our selves, our souls. we become conscious + aware. and create a vision for our life, which gives us a purpose. and then we choose, again, to live that out in our everyday lives.
how i want to live intentionally
for me, intentional living is slow living. it is living in the world, but not of it. it is embracing and loving this crazy mess of the world, because there is beauty in every single thing, in every single person. but, being aware that there is much more that we can collectively do and be, which can improve the living conditions of others and create an even better, safer, more just, more equal, more peaceful world.
but, instead of getting overwhelmed by all that has to be done, i choose to see that my role in this co-creating as starting with myself. it has to start with ourselves, with our own lives. and it has to also start within. for me, living intentionally first means living spiritually. connecting to the wisdom and peace and love that is within us all, and then letting that inspire all that i am and all that i do.
then, my intentional living is spirit-filled and it is lived out practically in the everyday decisions that i make.
how to start to make it a lifestyle
now, i am not perfect at this at all. and i have so many more ways that i could learn to live intentionally, but part of this journey is also knowing that it is a journey. that it is a constant learning process. and that i can always live more intentionally.
does it all feel to big and too holy and too unreachable to you? lofty and dreamy and hippie? well, i understand if it does. but, i dare you to try to see it as a way to live life more authentically. more in the present moment. and i dare you to take one tiny little step. remember, intentional living is all about simplicity.
here’s a practical process of how to incorporate living intentionally into everyday life: before you do something, anything at all, pause for a moment, close your eyes, and mentally state your intention. why are you doing this? is it out of compassion for others, or yourself? is it to make someone happier? to improve the world? out of gratitude for the work and kindness of others? is it just to be present in the moment? is it to
and then, as you do your action, simply be mindful of your intention. just be aware of what is going on. of why you are doing what you are doing. how it feels. soak up the moment. breathe. and just be. and know that in those few moments, you will be living an intentional Life.
that’s it. it really is that easy.
do you have a vision for your life, or even just for this year? what is it? what do you need to choose to be + do in order to make that decision a reality? maybe your vision, your intention, is to simply be awake and aware. maybe your intention is to create a vision for 2016, or for your life. maybe your intention is to begin to choose to live the life that you want. or maybe you intend to study something, change jobs, drink ecological, fair trade coffee, spend 5 minutes a day in meditation, learn how to paint, travel to a new place, stop looking at your smartphone in bed, reduce your consumerism, start a family…
these intentions are a big and lofty or as tiny and simple as you want them to be. it’s up to each of us which arrow we wish to choose, which path we want to take in order to take aim at the life that we dream of. and it is your life, my friend. so, get out there, every single day, and choose to make it exactly what you want it to be. that, my friends, is living intentionally.