Many of us are asleep at the wheel.
We follow routine and schedules and patterns we’ve created and refined over the years.
We are going through the motions, doing things in life and relationship with little forethought.
Contrast this with the idea of an intentional life: everything is done with consciousness, fulfilling a core value (compassion, love, serving, to name a few).
It’s true that many things we do have some sort of intent — I wash the dishes because I don’t want a messy house; I drive my kids to school because they need to learn. But after repeating these actions every day, the intent kind of fades into the background so we are barely aware of them. We’ve figured out the intent long ago so there’s little need to think about it anymore.
What if that changed?
What if you became very aware of your intention for your actions?
How would that transform the action, and your life, and your marriage?
What if next time you wash the dishes, first say you’re doing this as a service to your family, to make their life a little better, and as a form of meditation for yourself? This would be practicing mindfulness. And doing the dishes would suddenly take on a different importance, and would cease to be boring.
The difference is intention.
What if driving to work was done after mentally declaring an intention to help others at work, to do a good job today, to find satisfaction through work? The drive may be much happier, and you might be less likely to get irate if someone cuts you off in traffic.
This is the intentional life.
I’m working to practice this in bits and pieces — not all the time, but increasingly.
When I do it, my life is different. More purposeful, more consciously lived, more content with my actions.
A simple practice of intentionality: before you do the next action online or at work, pause 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?
Then, as you do the action, keep mindful of your intention.
This is a small step, but in those few moments, you’ll be living an intentional life.
This idea also works when it comes to interactions with your spouse and family. Imagine how much deeper connection you’ll experience when you live the intentional married life?
Taken and adapted from Leo of Zen Habits
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