Thursday Thought: On Intentional Living
There is so much potential running through the human race, wouldn't you say? Guys, we can't even help it, because it's in our blood. We are made of the same greatness that causes the rivers to run deep and the mountains to rise high. It pretty much lights a fire in my soul just thinking about it!
I feel this incredible connection to the earth and other living things. I marvel at what other species are capable of or have overcome, and it serves as a reminder that we are dang incredible too! People were made to do amazing things, but we don't always live up to our potential for so many different reasons.
From what I've experienced, one way of understanding and tapping into that potential is through intentional living, and here are a few things I've applied to my little self that remind me of the possibilities:
| Appreciate Living Things | I have to spend some time outside every day or, as I've discovered, I get grumpy. I need to feel the world under my feet on a mountain trail or sift through the dirt in my vegetable garden, or show some TLC to my flowerbeds. It puts me in my place in relationship to other creatures, and I often discover reminders of the relatively fragile state of living in this big wide universe. Understanding mortality and that lovely circle of life puts things into perspective for me and encourages me to do my best in this little life I can offer to the world. Likewise, when working with the earth, I also find examples of hardiness and survival that are just as inspiring. People are amazing! We can do hard things. I mean, really really hard things. I try to not be intimidated because it seems like the bar has been set pretty high. Appreciating the life I have been given, seeing myself with an eternal perspective, and understanding my role in relationship to other beings is something I've found essential in living my life with real intention.
| Reevaluate Traditions | I don't know about you, but our family has some pretty silly traditions. Some have deep roots that have been passed down for generations, and some are just little seedlings that we're experimenting with. From how I see it, the purpose of a tradition is to act as a reminder of and important event, feeling, or person. Not all traditions need to be serious, but we constantly reevaluate them to make sure there is a higher purpose or meaning behind them. If not, we adjust so that it can be a meaningful metaphor or ritual.
| Find the Potential in Others | There's nothing quite like seeing what other people can do to make me feel inspired! I love seeing others overcome obstacles or achieve awesomeness through hard work. I find that when I let others know how much greatness I see in them, I feel the greatness growing inside of me too. Sometimes this means giving someone a boost of confidence or a shot of courage right in the butt to get them moving on the path you see them on in the future. Goethe said, "If you treat an individual as (s)he is, (s)he will remain how (s)he is. But if you treat him(her) as if (s)he were what (s)he ought to be and could be, (s)he will become what (s)he ought to be and could be." True dat, Goethe, my man.
| Live a Simple Life | Guys. There is so much darn distraction in this crazy modern world. I try and keep my life simple as in I don't go places that I know will make me feel dissatisfied with what I already have (like the mall). I frequent places that uplift and help me be a better person (like the library). I keep my tech to a minimum (confession: I've only had texting for 6 months!) and don't allow myself to feel obligated to follow the newest trends even though I can appreciate them. I regularly get rid of things I don't need or use to keep clutter from accruing. I grow and preserve my own food. I make things by hand. I go hiking. I love camping! (So shoot me if you must.) I spend lots of time with our nutty family. These are all good things. I realize that any one of these things could make me seem super uncool, but I have no apologies because I feel like these things help me have a purposeful life. Each person has a different definition for simple living. The key is to find what is distracting you right now and a way to simplify it. Increase or adjust simple living practices as needed.
| Savor | This goes back to appreciating living things but is more general. Savoring a moment doesn't mean it has to be a super happy experience to appreciate its value. There is deep value in all kinds of experiences, especially if it turns out to be of the learning variety. A common practice I do is to visualize (even though it's cheesy and reminds me of exercises I did in elementary school.) Close your eyes and memorize what the air feels like. What temperature is it? Is there a breeze? What sounds do you hear? What olfactory goodness is wafting your way? Who are you with? What other tactile treasures did you not realize you were experiencing? What is truly important for your life in this moment? How can you ensure it remains important? Then open your eyes and soak it all in!
I'm not claiming to be a hardcore minimalist, and I understand that each person has slightly different needs. Taking the time to really think about why and how you are living, though, can be life-changing. So, yeah. This is what I've been thinking lately, and I'd love to hear any other thoughts on the subject. Please share!