My word of the year has been intentionality. Over time, I’ve been guilty of living at just above a functional level. To be alive is a blessing. Isn’t there a wise aphorism by someone great stating that as long as there is life, there is hope? I’m in agreement; however, I can admit to allowing extended periods of doing things all wrong.
Living is much more than going to bed and waking up. It’s greater than checking off a long to-do list of chores, obligations, bills paid, and work. It’s taking the time to appreciate fully the time we’ve been given. Mindfully experiencing pleasure, pain, and mediocrity is the work of the living. It’s in this space that we find purpose and joy.
Just think, what would happen if you made it a practice each morning to set an intention for your day? How would life look if you took the reins from the beginning and purposefully made peace, hope, charity, etc. top priorities?
As a [Wo]Man thinketh, so is [s]he. Right?
How do we do it? How do we carve out time to create the mental space to allow us to choose our experiences and truly be present? Here is a list of ways that I choose to start my day with intention. I hope at least one will interest you and assist in living more mindfully.
Prayer and Meditation
Depending on your faith, this practice can look a number of ways. I am a Christian, so I choose to use this time in prayer and thanksgiving along with scriptural reference. This can take the form of a verse of the day, a favorite Bible passage, or a formal devotional or guided study. I love to get up early, grab a cup of coffee, mostly cream 😉, and snuggle into my cozy spot in the middle of my living room sofa and reflect on God’s goodness and the wonderful things I’m so fortunate to have in my life.
If this is not within your comfort zone, guided meditation of a non-spiritual realm is readily accessible via apps, podcast, YouTube videos, etc. Try any one of these resources to help you get into the practice of being quiet or directing your energy.
Spending some time writing down thoughts, experiences, or gratitude lists has many benefits. It’s a way to unload, to clarify thoughts, ideas, and feelings, or just celebrate the life we’re living. Journaling improves and increases self-awareness and encourages reflection. It’s one the cheapest therapies out there.
I especially enjoy making lists of prayer requests and goals and coming back later in the week, month, or year and seeing evidence of how I’ve been blessed as different desires are met over time. Journaling helps to chronicle the growth that sometimes seems stagnant. Think of it as a literary progress shot.
Besides the fact that early morning exercise gives your metabolism a little kick in the butt, decreases blood pressure, improves the likelihood of strength gains, and encourages a better night’s rest, getting moving first thing improves your mood, focus, and productivity. You’ll get all of the benefits related to exercise, but beyond that, you’ll
feel good about doing something good for you. So, get up and get moving and be prepared to be in a better headspace all day.
Eat a Good Breakfast
There are days when we’re on our go-go-go schedule. Those days are great for slurping down a protein shake or grabbing a piece of fruit to go. But when we can slow down, I sit down with my girls and we talk over breakfast, coffee, and milk.
My favorites include Greek-inspired omelets with tomatoes, olives, feta, and greens, a bowl of loaded oatmeal, or toast with tomatoes and hummus along with a little fruit. Take the time to plan your breakfast as carefully as you would your lunch and dinner. Prepare the night before if necessary and create the time and space to enjoy nourishing your body.
I am a morning person. No, not by nature, but by habit. I have discovered that there is an immense peace in the early morning hours that I can’t seem to replicate at any other time of the day. As a result of my personal biases, this is written as suggestions on ways to start your day with intention. But I don’t see any reason why these habits can’t be implemented at any other time and serve the same purpose.
This is a judgment-free zone and I’d never lead you to believe that there is a singular way to experience anything. These are my favorites and I would love to hear some new ideas. How do you set intention in your life and create the space to be more present?