What Does Intentional Living Look Like?
If you think intentional living sounds confusing and complicated, you're probably not alone. It does sound quite intimidating, but it's a way of life and you can use it to build a better one. You have maybe seen it discussed online or even overhead people discussing the concept. It's all over the place these days, but what on earth does it really mean? What does intentional living look like? Can anybody do it?
Of course! It's simply living your life with purpose. Before you can do that, though, you need to identify what you want your life to look like. When you boil intentional living down to its basics it is about living a life that reflects your values and beliefs. It's about commanding your life and being proactive instead of being reactive, always battling against the latest firestorm.
Living with intention looks different for everyone because everyone has different values. For you, it could mean taking long walks with your partner because you prioritize quality time and movement. For your friend, it could be scheduling their favorite activities because their highest value is self-care. Maybe your other friend prioritizes spirituality so they make a habit of going to church every week.
Why It Matters
There are plenty of benefits to living intentionally. First and foremost, when you live a life of intention you respect your values and beliefs, which has two major interlinked benefits. Intentional living helps improve your mental health and one of the reasons for this is it is an excellent stress management tool.
If you live a life of purpose that reflects your deeply held beliefs you don't need to stress out over every decision because you have your values as a guiding light. And a reduction in stress is positive for your mental health. You're also going to be much happier, partly because you're less stressed and enjoying better mental health, but also because you will feel more at peace with how you are living your life (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212144721000296).
Living with intention gives you agency, it helps you tap into your inner power, and it supports present living. It can be profoundly satisfying because it helps you lead a fulfilling life.
What It Looks Like
It's important to know that even though it's a powerful choice to make, living intentionally won't bring you constant joy or peace. It isn't always easy, particularly at the start. It will probably be awkward, it might feel challenging. But isn't any major change in your life the same? The more you persist with it the more it will become second nature.
Why is it so hard at the start? A lot of your values and beliefs will be a result of your upbringing. For many people, it's difficult to process that these values you picked up from your culture, family, or religion no longer serve or resonate with you. You need to give yourself the space and grace to deal with this at your own speed.
The world is all about distraction and that can easily tear you from your intentional journey. You can't let anything deter you from the journey you choose for yourself. You need to learn how to shut out or at least turn down the noise.
Then you need to identify your values because they are the foundation of intentional living. If you already have your values nailed down, then you're ahead of the game. It's worth taking the time to understand why your values are important to you and what activities tie into them. Do they share anything in common?
So, what does intentional living look like? It looks different for everyone, but there are certain tips you can carry with you regardless of the values that best reflect your beliefs.
· The Morning Intention
How do you take an intention and break it down to daily living? You can start with a morning intention – it can be a sentence or just a few words. It might be a reminder of how you would live to make choices or behave. Make this part of your morning routine and tie it into a ritual like meditation. It will be as routine as a morning cup of coffee in no time.
You don't have to start over, change your entire life, or walk away from everything you know to live intentionally. You can bring intentional living to how you live currently. For example, while you cook dinner try to tap into all of your senses. When you run errands or do chores try to connect the why. So, you're washing dishes so you can provide meals for yourself and your family. You're doing laundry, ironing, and cleaning to care for yourself or create a peaceful home. You can also pay more attention when you move your body – notice how it feels. And when you exercise, you can tie it into an intention such as choosing yoga to feel more profoundly connected to your physical self.
Little changes like this are a useful way to refocus.
You can create small shifts that will eventually make a big impact. Scale back on social media use before bed. Create a morning ritual to connect to yourself and savor quiet time rather than rushing about stressing. Schedule a weekly call or meet up with friends to nurture your relationships.
You start your morning with intention and you should end the day in much the same way. Bedtime is an excellent opportunity to recount the way your intention contributed to your day. You don't need to journal this, you can simply think about them. If your number one value is compassion, then you can quietly think about all the times you were compassionate throughout the day.
Intentional living looks like living your values. It means taking action that aligns with those values and making decisions that reflect your beliefs. It's an everyday practice, and if you make a decision out of alignment, you can always do better tomorrow. It takes time to get into the swing of things, but as long as you aim to stay true to your values, you're doing the best you can.