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In our quest to build a better future, we often lost track of the present. Here are 2 simple steps to live more intentionally and enjoy your present.
Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming. – Alice Walker.
We hear people say they desire to live intentionally, aware of their purpose and passion, fuelled by the knowledge that a busy life is not the answer to a well lived life. We want to do that too, live well, less rushed, more centred and steady, but many a times in the daily rush of our lives we feel flustered and lost, unable to slow down, unable to reflect on what is important in our lives. We don’t know what our dreams are; we don’t know how we could live better.
A client of mine, a young woman of 35 told me she desired to live well, and yet there was no push, no urgency to begin. Yes, there was a desire. She kept coming back to thinking about how much she would love to do something more meaningful with her life, with her evenings after work. But then, she didn’t know what she could do and felt uncertain about changing the way life was for her now.
What she experiences is a steady desire that does not seem to translate into action, not yet at least. This not knowing what to do, and feeling stuck by an already established way of life, become a part of the equation, keeping us where we are at – unhappy and simply hoping.
In an effort to live well we figure that perhaps having personal goals of getting fit, or reaching a certain work goal will make us happy. Reaching a goal in the future will make us happy, we decide. What this does however is pack our already busy schedule with goals we force ourselves to reach. A life of rush, of busy overload continues.
Some days we feel a burning desire to do more with our life and on other days we just want to sit on the couch and flip channels and eventually zone out. The little flame within to do more, live better, never goes away though, if you know what I mean. You feel it as you sit at the couch and flip channels, you feel it as you work at a dead end job, you feel it-that desire to do more, live more intentionally.
So the little flame is little, the push doesnt make us “do”, but this little voice is very much alive. I propose we listen to it, honor it, take small steps that acknowledge both the fear and the courage within to live more intentionally.
A simple practice of journaling allows us to honor the ebbs and flows of our life. It allows us to see what we are experiencing. The process of journaling opens our universe to the world of seeing clearly what is going on within us and how we could gently move into a more intentionally lived life.
Writing as a personal process has saved me as a new mother. I took up the practice to clear my mind, reflect on the changing nature of womanhood and what it meant for me to live more intentionally now, upon becoming a mother. Today, as a working mother, I steal a couple of minutes here and there during my breaks and before my kids wake to write, clarify and bring myself back to mindfulness.
I invite you to explore intentional living by getting yourself a small journal and exploring the questions below to start indentifying and thus living the way you desire to:
1. A daily check-in: Living intentionally is far simpler than we make it out to be. Rather than running after a purpose that eludes us, living intentionally is in fact a daily practice. When we tune ourselves to the wisdom of living intentionally in the life that is ours right now we slowly also uncover our passions-the little & big things that resonate deeply with us.
The daily check-in practice essentially entails carving space at the beginning of the day or whenever you get a chance during your day to explore different aspects of your day and your state of being.
In your journal write about:
Keep this journaling note simple and practical. The idea is to check-in about your day, about where you’re at-emotionally, physically and mentally and to gently move towards what resonates with you at that moment.
I may want to feel energetic and ready to party in the evening but given that I am completely spent from a long day at work, perhaps feeling calm and relaxed is more doable – that is, practical. I am keeping in mind the feeling state I am in now and making the little adjustments to experience a more intentional state of being.
A daily journal entry like this provides space for reflection, for truly accepting where you are at and where you desire to go. The actionables you write are small, doable and gently encouraging. It allows us to become conscious of our habitual patterns of being and gently guides us to states of being that feels more intentional.
With a life filled with two kids, activities around home and work, I often come back to the desire to feel calm and centred in everything I do. Identifying this desire has led to exploring activities and work that helps me experience this state of being. It has also led to intentionally live this way in the more mundane experiences of my every day, like driving, doing the laundry and cooking.
2. What makes you happy? On a certain day, pause and look at what made you happy that day. And again, by happy I don’t mean jumping with joy happy (yes,it can be that too) but the kind of happy that often slips our awareness because it is so small in comparison to our mega problems and urgency, like the warm snuggles with the kids in the morning, a beautiful flower blooming in the yard, the husband’s caressing. Make it a point to write about it.
When you do this for a week you start to notice these tiny moments of “yes!”, of happy; allow yourself sink to in it for a few minutes. Enjoy it. These moments of happy helps us notice how intentional living can be insanely pleasurable even when you don’t know what you want to do with your life, or haven’t found your “purpose”. And it is a special gift if you have indeed found your calling.
These moments helps us adjust our sail, makes us want to keep going and enjoy the little gifts of life.
With these two practices we can begin to embrace the block between want and action, we can begin to gently accept the rhythm of our lives and allow the ease of living intentionally pervade in everything we do. In this state of acknowledging our life as it is unfurling right now, we start to connect with a deeper wisdom that guides us towards our purpose, and what’s more, we start taking tiny steps towards living intentionally, even when we want to but can’t seem to act on it.
mindfulness image via Shutterstock
Aarathi Selvan is a clinical psychologist, Mindfulness guide and a Contemplative artist. Trained in the
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