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    "Our life is what our thoughts make it"
    - Marcus Aurelius, philosopher

    In many ways, the life that we all had and knew so well is gone forever. There are many changes that have already taken place for all of humanity that some times it becomes difficult to recognise our world any more. It is a kind of common loss that we are all grieving in our own ways.

    And if you are like most people, you may be struggling with all kinds of difficult emotions as you try and accept these changes. You may be struggling in different ways. Whether it is to nourish your body with the right kinds of foods, focusing on your work or even being able to see the beauty that is present in our world even when it is broken in so many ways. 

    And you realise over time that nothing stays the same. Not even our thoughts and feelings. Over time as we come to terms with reality and accept what is happening around us we may learn to make peace with it in some way. We find that even in the midst of these turbulent times, there are ways to find JOY. It is woven into the very fabric of our lives if only we are able to look for it. 

    DECIDING TO BE HAPPY

    We are often conditioned to believe that a LOT has to change in our lives in order to for us to be truly happy. As a result, we are forever seeking happiness outside of us. However, it starts with you deciding to be happy. It starts with you training your mind so that you start looking for those moments of joy in your life that already exists. 

    When you start focusing on what you already have in your life, you are able to start inclining your minds towards being open to joy. You become more open to the possibility that joy already exists in your life. This is not to say that you will not encounter negative emotions, difficult situations or that you will not try to improve your life or situation. It is just that you are training yourself to look for joy in your life as it is right now.

     

    INTENTIONS ARE A FORCE TO CONTEND WITH

    An intention exists behind every thought and action even if you are not aware of it. Intentions are like roadmaps that can guide you as move through life if choose to become aware of it. They are different from GOALS though. While goals are driven by external motivators, intentions are guided by your core values such as compassion, acceptance, courage).

    Amongst other things, consciously setting intentions can help you to focus your energy on what you want to see more of in your life, help you prioritise your activities so that you spend more time with the people that you love and also protect you from activities that do not serve you well.

    Intentions are also always in the present moment. This is yet another way that it differs from setting a goal. With an intention, there is no required result. You are simply connecting to a direction that you want to move towards- you cannot FAIL at this. This frees you up from having some kind of benchmark while setting intentions. This also helps you avoid the pitfalls of thinking that you have somehow “failed” at keeping an intention. In that sense, intentions have a kind of suppleness that allows you to change things around by changing your actions if something does not turn out well. It allows you to experiment with a certain amount of curiosity.

     

    INVITING HAPPINESS

    Ultimately, intentions serve to guide you, action by action so that you can become who you were meant to be. It can help you align with your purpose and bring meaning to your life. Setting an intention primes your brain to start paying attention to what you want to see more of in your life- in people, places, surroundings and situations. 

    In the same way, by setting an intention for inviting more happiness trains you to start paying attention to what is already present. However, simply by setting an intention does not MAKE this happen, it simply ALLOWS you to be more present when circumstances and opportunities present themselves. Over time, you may find that it soon becomes a way of living.

     

    SETTING INTENTIONS

    If like me you are struggling to focus on what is right for your body in these challenging times in terms of food or exercise, focus on your work or even be more present with your family, then practice setting an intention.

    First thing in the morning is one of the best times to set an intention for that day or even for the entire week. Doing this practice first thing in the morning allows you to set a tone for the day.

    Find out what your intention is.

    The questions below can help you bring some clarity as you think about your activities for the day-

    How can I show up today that is in line with what I want to achieve today?

    What do I want to see more of today? (good news, wonder, acts of kindness, joy)

    What is my heart's desire at this moment?

    How do I want to feel?

     

    I have shared some of my favourite examples below

    I WANT BE ABLE TO FORGIVE MYSELF FOR TRYING TO EASE MY PAIN AT THIS TIME THROUGH FOOD

    I INTEND TO ALLOW MORE JOY INTO MY LIFE EVEN DURING THESE DIFFICULT TIMES

    I WANT TO BE MORE CALM, ACCEPTING, FOCUSED IN SPITE OF WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH

    I WANT TO SEE MORE OF BEAUTY, WONDER, ACTS OF KINDNESS, GOOD NEWS, THE GLASS HALF FULL

     

    NOURISH YOUR INTENTION

    Setting an intention is a conscious practice which needs to be repeated regularly so that you can start seeing the fruits of your efforts. In that sense, it is very much like a sapling that you have to tend to every single day so that it can start blooming one day. You cannot rush the process or simply will it to happen. 

    Some things to keep in mind (Source: The Mindful Day by Laurie J Cameron)

    • Set time aside as a part of your morning to do this
    • Make it a daily practice
    • Focus on what you want to see more of (beauty, kindness, forgiveness)
    • Focus what you want to be (more calm, generous, forgiving?)
    •  Focus on what you want to do more (pause more, listen or even have fun?)
    • Write it down in your journal or on a notecard and put it somewhere to remind you of your intention throughout your day

    In the words of the Zen teacher Jon Kabat Zin

    Intentions remind us of what is important…..intentions inform our choices and our actions….

    Our intentions serve as blueprints, allowing us to give shape and direction to our efforts...and our lives

    You can also LISTEN to the latest episode of my podcast on this very topic. In this episode, I take you through a guided meditation which can help you to frame your very own set of INTENTIONS.