By Jullie Jeine
For a very long time, I felt I was going through the motions of life. My actions were dictated by society’s unlimited pressures, cultural biases, and my own personal expectations of how I had to live. But I wasn’t questioning whether those things had any meaning behind them, and I am sure a lot of people can relate.
So I decided to make a change and shift from living a conventional life to a more intentional one. This meant living a life based on my values, my purpose, and my priorities. When you live intentionally, you live in a higher state of consciousness, where every decision is centered around what is most important to you. Now, I know this all sounds a bit utopian but bear with me.
The goal with intentional living is to develop a new mindset that takes you from where you are to where you want to be. Obviously, this will have a different meaning to everyone, because we aren’t programmed the same way, but I wanted to share four things that have helped me tap into what is most important to me and avoid living on autopilot.
Protecting my peace
The first thing I had to do was find ways of protecting my peace and quieting the noise. We live in an era of constant technology. We listen to podcasts, music, audiobooks, scroll through social networks, and so on. And sometimes, when we are taking in so much information, we cannot hear ourselves. We cannot hear our own thoughts, our own ideas, or even our own dreams. Therefore, to start learning more about ourselves, we need to quiet the noise to fully identify what brings value to our lives, without being influenced by what we saw someone else doing or what we were told we should be doing. For me, this entailed significantly reducing my screen time by disabling all of my notifications and setting downtimes on my phone, which disables specific apps and notifications for a set period of time.
Asking yourself the right questions
The next thing I did was ask myself a single question: What is it that I live for? At first, I found it hard to come up with a genuine answer—it is, admittedly, a deep question. So, I drew a straight line on a sheet of paper. On one side I listed the things in my life that brought me joy, and on the other side, I listed the things that did not bring me joy. Of course, some unpleasant things are necessary and must be done like folding laundry or grocery shopping (my least favorite chore). However, by visualizing these two lists, I realized I urgently needed to start implementing more elements of the “things that bring me joy” list into my life. This does not mean that an intentional life is a perfect life, but it is a determined one. It’s about finding the courage to let go of things that no longer serve you, even when it goes against convention, and to pursue things that will make you thrive in life and not just survive. You might sacrifice things, but when you live with intention, you know what you’re giving up and why.
I created habits that would allow my life to align with the things that brought me joy. This entailed redefining daily routines and eliminating the things that did not benefit me. One habit I had to get rid of was doom scrolling. Unusual, I know, but as a documentary binger, I would sometimes find myself avidly researching disastrous events in history and willingly falling into a terrifying vortex of unsettling information. Replacing such a habit with new habits that brought me joy, such as online Pilates classes and a form of meditation (drawing mandalas is my go-to), literally saved my sanity. These two practices have helped me become more present and intentional in what I’m doing and thinking about.
The fourth and final piece of advice is practicing gratitude and taking the time to notice and appreciate what is already there. As cliché as that sounds, taking the time to be thankful for life and the way your day has gone is primordial to living a more purposeful and intentional life. We have this unhealthy tendency to only remember the bad things that happen to us, and we forget about the good things that present themselves, whether big or small. But what we don’t realize is that complaining prevents all the right doors from opening. I have learned to find opportunities in all situations and train my brain to become more sensitive to the quest for positivity. I must admit, I practice this in a fragmented way, and I’m trying to gradually become more consistent. But when I do practice gratitude, my life feels different. Everything I undertake has more meaning and is done with more contentment, allowing me to move forward even when I do not feel my best. It’s all a matter of perspective.
All in all, intentional living is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your loved ones. As you nurture the relationship with yourself, you can then make time to nurture the relationships with the people that are dear to your heart. Living intentionally is not a practice that you will achieve overnight, so be patient and enjoy the journey to regain control over your life. There are many ways to go about it, but I trust that these steps will lead you in the right direction.
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