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Health / The world

Is living intentionally the key to true happiness?

How often do we find ourselves drifting through life? Things may be fine but then suddenly we’ll feel stressed, anxious or angry as though out of the blue! Perhaps we’ve fallen into a life of contentment and while this is no bad thing, could things be better?

Are you someone who thinks there are good and bad feelings? Is happiness good and sadness bad? Is joy positive and anger negative? Would you prefer to feel calm rather than anxious? What if you could consider all feelings to have purpose and meaning and be grateful for the signals they provide?

Living intentionally isn’t about overthinking and planning every step to the enth degree but it’s about being purposeful in how you live your life; knowing what you want to achieve and making choices that help you make progress. It’s about believing in yourself and understanding your capabilities and being proactive rather than reactive. It’s about accepting things as they are rather than fighting against them and being the person you’re meant to be.

How do you live intentionally

It’s more likely to be a journey rather than a destination!

Listen to your values

Find the longest list of core values you can and read them through without judgement. What stands out to you? Try not to think about what anyone else would think or what values you want to have. Are there any surprises? Are there any values you’ve been hiding? Living by what you consider to be valuable needs to be a priority.

Are there any clashes? For example, you may value peace/quiet and family time. By prioritising your values it does not mean one is more important than another, it means you know what’s important.

Let go of guilt and shame

By working out what is important you’re giving yourself permission to prioritise these things. Society may tell you to prioritise family but if quiet time is important, do not let society guilt you into letting go of this value.

Just as it is ok to value you certain things it’s also ok not to value certain things. Journaling may be useful to remind yourself:

  • “I have permission to value myself”
  • “Valuing x brings me joy”
  • “I can value x and y equally”

Realise there is no perfect time to let go

When developing a deeper understanding of yourself, it may be helpful to have a bit of a clear out, a de-clutter. This can include unhelpful habits, belongings and relationships. If you’re trying to change for the better and people around you are holding you back, what changes need to be made?

Letting go (of anything) can be incredibly hard and takes huge courage.

Make compromises where necessary

Any change is hard and you’ll need to make small steps. We all have responsibilities that need to be kept, it would be unreasonable and selfish to say “walk away whenever you fancy”. It’s important to make choices and find balance.

So, how does all this feel?

Does the idea of living intentionally feel exciting or does it provoke anxiety? If it does, this is good! Whatever emotion it evokes tells you something. Read more about listing to our emotions here. Anger tells you something is important, that you feel passionately about something. Anxiety tells you to feel alerted, that clear thinking is necessary. When you feel these emotions that are usually perceived as negative, you don’t need to let them run away with you. These feelings are no bad thing, they can help you to act intentionally!