And is about the only thing that separates us from animals… and from our own animal instincts.
What is intentional living
Intentional living is:
- In the words of Abraham Lincoln “…adding life to our years and not years to our life”. It is about not wasting our most precious gift, time.
- Is more than mindless goal setting and busyness. It is about focusing on the really important things in our life instead of the urgent. It is about attaining a deep and gratifying sense of fulfillment instead of a numbing emptiness and the “is this all there is to to life” feeling.
- Becoming more secure in yourself because you are growing in the real sense every day.
- Being authentic. Trying to be someone else is draining and renders you ineffective and less powerful in your interpersonal relations.
British philosopher Colin Wilson’s ladder of selves is a great way to visualize our levels of consciousness and their impact on us.
How to live more intentionally
1) We are made of three brains: our lizard brain, our mammalian or emotional brain and our newest the pre frontal cortex or PFC.
Scientists have established that the PFC is the seat of all our higher level functions from planning and goal setting to motivation, from emotional management to self discipline.
Strengthening our PFC will raise our consciousness from animal to human faculty.
We can strengthen our PFC through meditation.
2) Goal setting. This can be a terrific tool for intentional living if you can get it right. When I was a kid some of my goals included getting to the movies on time, hardly a life shaking goal. Here is a great time management template I follow up from Stephen Covey’s book “First Things First”.
3) The ‘B Alert’ mnemonic. Authors Jack Canfield and Les Hewitt describe a great technique to wake up and live intentionally in their book “The Power of Focus”.
B – Blueprint. Start the day with a plan.
A – Concentrate on the most important activities first.
L – Learn. Expand your knowledge through reading, listening, observing, etc.
This is a DIY job, one that never ends.
Even for the more successful amongst us.
#1 – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Those who know are ultimately much more confident in any arena than those shrouded in ignorance. Use your spare time to read up on the things that interest you, on the things that you are curious about, and build up a solid base of knowledge and critical thinking. The more you know, the more sure of yourself you will be in any situation.
#2 – EXPERIENCE
Uncertainty is the biggest drain on your self-confidence. Succumbing to doubt ensures you will never believe in yourself. The more often you do something, the more certain you become. With certainty comes confidence.
#3 – CARE-FREE ATTITUDE
Try to walk through your day with as easy and care-free of an attitude as you can muster, because someone who is it ease with him or herself is someone who is confident. Build unstoppable confidence by not getting hung up on the petty issues and minor irritations that help wear you down.
#4 – HONEST SELF-ASSESSMENT
Take stock of yourself. Brainstorm for a bit and compose a list of your good qualities and bad, the things you excel at and the things you need to improve upon, and once you have a clear picture of yourself much of the uncertainty that breeds doubt will wash away.
#5 – ANALYZE
Take the time to properly think through every problem, and the confidence in your skills will grow.
#6 – BE THOROUGH
Try to be as complete and thorough at every task you attempt. Completing tasks builds confidence in your ability to always see projects through to their proper conclusion.
#7 – IDENTIFY YOUR LIMITS, AND EXCEED THEM
Once you have assessed yourself, make a list of goals you wish to accomplish, and get to work. You now know your true limits, so the only thing left to do is push beyond them and set your sights on new frontiers.
#8 – BE OPEN TO HELPING OTHERS
Don’t close yourself off to friends, acquaintances and coworkers. The more you put yourself out there in business and social situations, the more quickly you will build confidence in your ability to navigate these sometimes tricky waters.
#9 – COMPOSE YOURSELF
Dress well, groom yourself, compose your identity as a person who is well put together, and you will feel confident when meeting new people and doing new things.
#10 – BE DECISIVE
While it is okay to take time to analyze and think situations through, the time comes when you must be decisive and act. Decisive people are confident; not confident people are decisive.
#11 BE COMPLETE
Know yourself fully, wash away your own doubts about yourself, your identity and your capabilities, and present every aspect of yourself in every situation and you will have no reason to doubt your confidence. Become your full, real self.
“I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding, they learn by some other way — by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!” — Richard P. Feynman, Noted Physicist and Author
First let me clarify, this self help article is not about metaphysical concepts such as the meaning of life. Nor is it about concepts that you understand but don’t do for any reason, maybe because they are hard or inconvenient. This article is about the importance of acquiring a true understanding of what we learn and a few tips from my personal experience on how to do just that. What I have to say here will help you acquire a true understanding of whatever you learn at work, school and in life itself.
How wonderful it would be to get a true understanding of everything you learn (sic!) versus just knowing it superficially. For me it is the difference between being aware of concepts in the mind but not in the heart. A concept is simply the way we organize and interpret our experiences. The problem is most of us are not aware that we hold concepts in our mind. Whether we understand them or not our concepts reveal to ourself in our daily actions. Once we understand this, our daily actions become explainable. It is like seeing with an additional eye.
Take for example the concept of death.My father died in front of my eyes when I was about 6 or 8. I knew he was dead. I knew he was never going to be a part of my life from there on. I knew it. But I did not get it. Only years later when I was a teenager did it finally dawn on me what it meant and felt to have no father. A river of emotions swelled in my heart and I grieved for him. I relived the precious few memories of him and of our once complete family. Memories obscured in the mists of time.
In his book “Awakening The Buddha” by Lama Surya Das is told the story of Milarepa, a famous Tibetan yogi who lived in the 11th century, and one of his prize students, Gampopa, a physician and monk. After many years of studying with Milarepa, it was time for Gampopa to part from his teacher and he asked for one final teaching, one instruction he could carry away with him. At first, Milarepa seemed reluctant, saying that what was required after all these years was more effort, not more instructions.
Then, as Gampopa started on his way, crossing the narrow stream that parted him from his master, Milarepa shouted out, “Hey Doctor-Monk, I have one profound secret instruction. It is too precious to give away to just anyone.” As Gampopa joyfully looked back to receive this last teaching from his beloved guru, Milarepa turned around and bent over, pulling up his flimsy cotton robe. Milarepa’s buttocks were as callused and pockmarked as a horse’s hoof, toughened from all those hours and years spent in seated meditation on hard rock. Milarepa shouted, “That is my final teaching, my heart-son. Just do it!”
I am not pretty handy around the house. I tried putting down a wood floor and messed it up so badly that the mere act of walking on it loosened up the boards. Just in case you thought it was too ambitious a project I am a dunce even when it comes to installing curtain rods. The same sad story prevails with my attempts to green my lawn or plant shrubs.
But give me a problem to solve at work any problem and I will have it solved and ready for you. This sounds like a brag but I am so good with systems analysis and problem solving that I once solved a problem estimated to take 6 weeks to resolve by a simple 2 minute workaround. I am a pretty decent writer as my friends would have it.