Intentional Living: Creating the Life You Love
by Lauri Bunting
Do you ever feel like you’re falling into the same traps or repeating the same mistakes? Perhaps life feels like a treadmill; you’re constantly moving yet making no progress. Or maybe you’ve been swept away by the current of life, unable to pause long enough to ask yourself if where you’re headed is where you actually want to go? This is what my life feels like when I’m not living intentionally.
CHOSEN OUTCOMES AND REALIZED DREAMS
Intentional living is the anchor that grounds me each morning and the compass that points me to where I want to go. It helps me define my dreams and disregard thoughts and fears that pull me away from those dreams. Intentional living can cast its magical spell in all areas of life including health and wellness, athletic endeavors, career, parenting, and love. It works on the premise that our beliefs drive our thoughts, behaviors and outcomes.
OUR THOUGHTS CREATE OUR REALITY
Intentional living combines eastern philosophy with western science. Studies in neuroscience have proven what the ancient yogis long ago intuited—that our thoughts and underlying beliefs create our reality. Repeated thoughts create neuronal pathways in the brain much like ruts on a mountain bike trail. The more frequently a thought is echoed, the deeper the rut. Well-rehearsed thoughts become the default mode of thinking and the automatic response to emotional triggers. Our thoughts create the difference between success and failure, a recognized or a missed opportunity, and the decision to persevere or quit.
WE PERCEIVE WHAT WE BELIEVE
When our beliefs, thoughts and actions align with our goals, we sense ease in the flow of life. Everything seems to be moving in the same direction. On the contrary, our life journey feels bumpy when we desire one thing but our beliefs, thoughts and actions point us in another direction. We are left in a frustrating limbo between reality and dream. Our beliefs prime our minds to see what we believe and reject or ignore information that contradicts such notions. The psychological term for this is confirmation bias.
AFFIRMATION TO THE RESCUE
The nature of the mind is movement. You can test this by pausing for one minute and attempting to hold your mind still. Unless you are an enlightened yogi sequestered away in a cave, it’s likely that thoughts will have entered your mind. In our day-to-day lives, most of these thoughts are unconscious; quiet affirmations about what is possible and what is not. We make decisions based on these affirmations. Furthermore, our entire persona is affected by these deep-seated beliefs. Imagine entering a job interview fully confident that you are qualified for the position. You will conduct yourself much differently than if you deemed yourself deficient in experience, knowledge, personality or skill. When we live intentionally, we bring our thoughts under the light of awareness and learn to discern between those that empower and those that limit. It is important to choose affirmations that align with our dreams and discard the rest. As we repeat them daily, we begin to recognize a reality that aligns with these deeply etched convictions and act accordingly.
A SIX-MINUTE PRACTICE: CREATE THE LIFE YOU LOVE
This simple daily practice can be done as a meditation or journaling.
Upon waking, close your eyes and simply breathe for one minute. Focus on each breath flowing in and out, and most importantly, notice the pause between breaths. If a thought enters your mind, release it with the next exhale and return to the breath.
Bring to mind three things for which you are grateful. Make sure to include all of your senses, enabling this gratitude practice to be a full mind, heart and body experience. This establishes the lens through which to view the day, naturally searching for the nuggets of goodness.
Ask yourself, “What three action steps can I take to make today great?” This simple question empowers us to take control of our destiny. We learn to differentiate between what we can control and what we cannot. Rather than being paralyzed by perceived obstacles, we keep our eye on the goal and forge the path one step at a time.
State your affirmation, a concise declaration that defines who you want to be. Repeat it to yourself three times in the present tense, accepting it as manifested truth. An affirmation reflects the qualities that allow you to thrive in every aspect of your life. For instance, if you are focusing on healing, your affirmation may be, “I am strong, resilient, healthy and whole.” Perhaps you are focusing on a loving relationship: “I am worthy of giving and receiving unconditional love.” Lacking purpose? “I live each day with passion and purpose.” Through repetition, we become what we believe and we pull into our lives the elements that support those beliefs.
At the end of each day, celebrate your wins. This reinforces what is working and supports the old adage that success breeds success. This positive focus is also a great way to initiate a conversation with friends and family setting the tone and likely outcome of smiles and elevated spirits.
Ask yourself, “What would have made today even better?” This is your free pass to travel back in time and insert one thing that would have created beneficial change. This might be, “I nourished my body with healthy food,” or “I performed a random act of kindness and brightened someone’s day,” or “Rather than snapping at my spouse, I paused, stepped into her shoes, and viewed the situation through her eyes and a compassionate heart.”
TAKE THE LOVE YOUR LIFE CHALLENGE
While it may be hard to believe that the key to changing your life is to simply change your mind, it’s worth a try. Accept the role as protagonist in the story of the life you wish to live; be vigilant throughout each day ensuring that your thoughts and beliefs align with your dreams. Take the Love your Life Challenge and set aside six minutes each day to CLEAR, THANK, ASK, AFFIRM, CELEBRATE, and REFLECT.
Lauri Bunting is a wellness coach and yoga instructor in Ketchum, Idaho. To learn more about Lauri’s offerings, please visit Lauribunting.com