I’m so glad that we’re all, slowly but surely, starting to realize our role as individuals and how our existence impacts the world. We see it in movements like women’s rights, minimalism, veganism, corporate social responsibility, and environmental awareness. We got here by making conscious choices, demanding transparency, being thoughtful, and kind. Industries are even evolving to accommodate and prioritize healthier choices. Which leads me to the topic of intentional living.
What is Intentional Living?
Intentional living is a practice where one lives according to their values and beliefs. It’s such a simple concept in theory but much harder to grasp in practice - Practice being the key word here.
Leading a life with intentional choices requires practice and repetition. We choose certain things not once or twice, but every single day.
It's a lifestyle that challenges passiveness and encourages us to question our decisions with the idea that an expanded consciousness leads to better, healthier, and kinder life choices.
I was inspired by an excerpt of Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters by John Maxwell, combined with a few podcasts episodes on this topic. It made me realize that we all strive to create a better life true to our values, no matter what our background is, and we have the capacity to do so, but first, we need to discover the reason behind our life, the purpose that runs through our veins, and then, become aware of the benefits of adopting a better lifestyle. If we all knew how beneficial it is to lead a life with intention, it would be much simpler to ease in the process and introduce better choices into our lives.
Intentional living is perceived as the road to a life of significance and quality. One that aligns with the things we value and creates a positive impact on ourselves and the world.
Some may consider this a “luxury” or something that is not always attainable or left only to those with higher status or power, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you look around, our over-connected lifestyles require so much from us. We’re constantly being pulled in different directions with increasing responsibilities and we often make choices based on convenience. It’s more convenient to eat processed foods instead of whole foods, it’s more convenient to have others tell us what to do instead of us taking initiative, it's more convenient to skip a workout. As you can see, the best choices in life take an extra effort and they’re not linked to any social status. So how do we move from convenience to quality?
How to Practice Intentional Living?
We unleash the power of significance - that raw hunger to create a life worth living. A life that you feel proud of and a life that has a positive effect on people.
The first step is to explore your beliefs and the life story you want to create. This reaffirms your values, finds your voice, and develops your character. Here's a Ted Talk you might find useful: Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk: Start with Why
The second step is to compile a list of actions (as small as they can get) to live by every day following your fundamental beliefs. For example, I value health and believe that there’s a powerful connection between health and quality of life, and between well-being and nutrition. I make conscious choices every single day to eat whole foods that I prepare in advance. This is a small but deliberate action that reflects my true values.
The third and most important step is to find the courage and willingness to change your behavior and actively participate in your life instead of letting it happen to you.
As Maya Angelou wisely said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage”.
The fourth and last step is to understand that intentional living goes beyond ourselves. What I mean by that is that it’s not only about making better choices - that’s called being proactive and taking action - intentional living adds an extra layer by making good choices that have a clear purpose behind them and that positively affect the people around you.
What are the Benefits of Intentional Living?
As John Maxwell said, “A passive life does not become a meaningful life.” Here you have the number one benefit to living intentionally, a meaningful life that aligns with your true values.
Secondly, leading a life with intentional and conscious choices creates freedom. Living by your own rules and true to your beliefs is the single most important thing you can do to open the door to freedom. You’re no longer functioning based on external expectations but purely based on the essence of your core values.
The third benefit is thoughtfulness. When you are aware and informed about the issues in the world, you’re more inclined to act.
When you’re aware of the world’s food waste issue, you’ll make an effort to plan meals ahead so you don’t waste food in your household or share it before it goes to waste, when you’re aware of the benefits of recycling, you’ll have two trash cans at home, when you’re aware of the physical and emotional benefits of meditation, you’ll download an app and start practicing. You get the point.
And finally, one of the most important benefits of intentional living is that once you make changes in your life (as little as you may think they are), they create a profound ripple effect.
You’ll inevitably inspire others or at least get them curious about your new lifestyle. I get questions about my vegan diet all the time! It’s been years now but my family and friends are still curious about how I balance my diet and how I adapt recipes. And they try it too!
At this point, it’s probably worth noting that my overall intention with this website/space is just that, to move us from convenience into quality, and that’s why I’m so passionate about well-being and helping people make healthier choices.
We make choices every single day and we blindly rely on our judgment to choose between A & B. Are we then being good guides to ourselves? Are we being responsible for our choices? Are we making the best effort to be informed and change our behaviors?
The bottom line is that even if the answer is “No”, we are still 100% capable of changing that.
What is the one thing you do (or want to do) every day that reflects one of your values?