We’ve all probably experienced times when we felt bounced around by too many stressors and we struggled just to keep our balance. In stressful times, we may be happy just to make it through the day, have something nice to eat and a little entertainment to relax with. But the predominant messages of our culture can influence us to see this as a way of life – one in which making a living and having some pleasurable experiences constitute success and happiness.
If we don’t have some clear sense of what we really want to do with this life, it’s easy enough to fill our time with all the sense-stimulating experiences our modern world offers. This is why we chose to practice living with intention as we enter a new year: to clarify the overall purpose we hold for this lifetime and the way we want to carry ourselves through each day.
We may have many goals during our lives like earning a degree or buying property, but naming an overall intention influences both the formation of our goals and how we pursue them. This intention also becomes a useful tool for evaluating the many smaller choices we must make on a daily basis.
I like to ask myself the question, “Is the way I am using my time and energy in harmony with what I really value?” The clearer I become about what is most important to me, the easier it is to say no to the many activities that may be interesting but not meaningful.
I recommend reflecting on deep questions like these, jotting down ideas about what you most want for this life, and forming a simple statement that rings true for you. Then keep that written statement where you’ll see it regularly to remember the big picture along with the daily duties.
In addition to an overall purpose, we can benefit from adopting an intention to practice some teaching for a period of time. While I may hold an intention to awaken fully to the Light within, I can also practice cultivating compassion, generosity, contentment or non-violent communication, intentions that support my overall vision.
Having such an intention in our hearts breathes spiritual life into the day. Remembering again and again a higher purpose frees us from being captive to the consumer-oriented messages of our culture. I pray that by practicing this way, we all grow more aware of the source of deep peace and love that is ever-present within.