5 Actionable Steps to Living More Intentionally
Living more intentionally takes commitment and resolve. It isn’t a “push a button and everything goes away” kind of a problem. In fact, it doesn’t even have a single, one-size-fits-all answer. If you’re feeling that you’re struggling to be aware of your surroundings and intentional in your actions, you may need to address several areas of your life in order to regain the ability to live in the moment.
Steps to Living More Intentionally
Here are a few of the best steps you can take to help rein in those runaway thoughts and restore purpose and focus to everything that you do.
Reclaim Your Environment
There are many ways to set up your home intentionally with the express purpose of creating a living space focused on the here and now.
For instance, minimalism has continued to remain a popular option for those who tend to suffer from a messy house and, by extension a cluttered mind. By adopting minimalist principles for your living space, you can reduce the chaos and ease the stress and distractions that a cluttered space can have on your thoughts. This can naturally free you up to focus more on the present.
If you’re not interested in a clearer decorating style such as minimalism, you can also find an intentional focus for your living spaces by shifting to the Hygge life as you set up your home. While it’s technically untranslatable, Hygge is a Danish word used for the art of living “comfy and cozy.” While a Hygge space can often feel full of things, each item is meant to add to the overall warm, cozy feeling of your environment.
A properly set up Hygge living room, for instance, can utilize candles, a fireplace, warm blankets, rich, dark colors, and comfortable areas to lounge, sip mulled wine, and socialize — all of which are focused on being intentionally in the present.
Of course, there are many other options besides these two dramatically different decorating styles. The greater point, though, is to reclaim your spaces by setting them up to encourage an attitude of attentiveness and intentionality when you’re actually existing within them.
Reclaim Your Mind
It should come as no surprise that living more intentionally requires some brainpower. It was Albert Einstein who said (via Pesta Karen’s paraphrasing) “When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.”
If you have a busy, action-driven mind it can be difficult to slow your thoughts down and actually appreciate where you currently are. If you’re washing the dishes, do you notice the water running over your hands or are you busy thinking about work tomorrow? When you mow the lawn, do you pause to smell the fresh-cut grass, or are you busy thinking about changing the oil on the car?
If you strive to reclaim your thoughts and slow down your mind enough to reclaim your mental state, it becomes much easier to be intentional and aware of your surroundings. One of the simplest ways to reclaim your thoughts and reduce anxiety, in turn, is to practice mindfulness. Focus on that smell of the grass and then let it pass peacefully to the next thought. Mindfulness is letting your mind be free to fully experience each thought or feeling as it’s happening.
Reclaim Your Body
Along with your mind, it’s important to consider your physical and emotional condition. If you feel out of shape, sick, or emotionally exhausted it can be difficult to be either happy or present. Make an effort to evaluate the following:
- Your diet: Are you eating healthy food in healthy quantities?
- Your exercise: Do you exercise regularly in some form or another?
- Your sleep habits: Do you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night?
- Your emotions: Are you feeling in control of your reactions to emotional stimulation?
As you assess your current physical and emotional condition, it can help you gain back some control of your health and wellness, and by extension, it can allow you to be aware of — and thankful for — each day, hour, and minute that you’re alive and well.
Reclaim Your Belongings (or at Least Your Attitude Towards Them)
It’s easy to get into a materialistic mindset where everything that matters is earning more money. If something breaks, just buy a new replacement, right? Except, if you want to start living more intentionally, it doesn’t help to constantly be replacing your belongings.
Instead, try to foster an attitude of gratitude for the stuff you already have. Rather than treating each item as if it doesn’t matter, try to care for and maintain everything from your car to your least favorite pair of socks.
Along with trying to get more life out of your belongings, look for ways to reuse and repurpose things once their initial purpose is complete. Turn old worn-out shirts into a shirt quilt, start a compost bin, and save scrap paper rather than throwing it away. When you finally can’t use something any longer, try to donate it rather than simply tossing it in the trash.
If you can strive to extend the life and purpose of your belongings, it can help you make more intentional decisions on a regular basis. This is living more intentionally at its best.
Reclaim Your Activities
Finally, make an effort to reclaim your activities. It’s easy to feel controlled by life. Jobs, parenthood, and social commitments can fill up your schedule until you feel like your time is simply spent going to the next thing, regardless of what you actually want to be doing.
In order to break this cycle, think about what you actually want to do, and then plan it into your schedule ahead of time. If, for instance, you’ve wanted to go camping for the last few years, start prepping your camper, buying supplies, and booking a campsite months in advance to ensure that you can take the time to slow down and intentionally engage in the activity when the time comes.
Finding Intentionality in Life
Whether you’re reclaiming your mind, your body, your activities, your environment, or your belongings, there are many ways to go about living more intentionally.
The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you go about making the changes themselves with intention and purpose. Only then will you be able to establish genuine new habits that enable you to slow down and intentionally enjoy each and every moment that you’re alive.