There is plenty of literature about how to be ‘in the moment’ and enjoy the ‘now’. In some ways I can see it’s easy to do, but often tricky to maintain consciously all the time. Perhaps we actually can’t sustain it all the time, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to goal set, have dreams for the future, reflect on the past and how we can grow from what we’ve learned. It’s a hard concept to crack when there is so much busy-ness in our lives, things we can dwell on, worry about, stress over, consider multiple outcomes for, we deliberate or procrastinate over, and other people or events wanting and needing our attention at times. Here is a way of making the ‘now’ notion easier to digest, so you can start to embrace it.
What I practice is bringing intention to what I do, when I am doing it. From the words I speak to the actions I have. I consider what, and why I am saying it, at the time – so flippant words don’t fly out of my mouth and injure or embellish what I am discussing. I am aware of what I am doing, for example, washing the dishes could be seen as a chore to some, instead I see it as looking after myself and belongings – by having clean plates to eat from, and adding a touch of gratitude that I actually have clean plates to eat from.
I also try to avoid my natural tenancy to multi-task or embrace distractions. If I focus on the one thing that requires my attention at that time, I find that I can achieve its desired outcome in a more efficient way. I often set myself a time limit on tasks for work or household chores, and turn off distractions like my mobile, internet and email. Another interesting way to test intention is to focus on the conversation you’re having, and not check phone messages, take calls or even let your eye wander to the passerby. It’s difficult!
Having intention takes training and observance. Some days I am fantastic at it. It’s usually when I’m kicking goals, feel energised and been authentic to the needs of others and myself. Other days I fall short. Where I coast along unaware, and those are the days where I don’t get a sense of purpose, satisfaction or achievement.
I end up asking myself, ‘what happened today?’, ‘sheesh, I really missed the point’, or just feel I wasted time. Intention forces you to understand what you’re doing and why. It may sound like hard work, but really it’s not. It’s a check-in that may only take a few seconds for smaller things, or a little more digging and decisiveness for more important choices, but with more practice you’ll get better.
I am a big believer in the theory that our thoughts directly affect our behaviour and emotional state. And this point is crucial for being able to set and monitor our intentions. I read this excerpt the other day, 'people forget that happiness is as much a learned skill as anything else. Most people walk around expecting they should feel it without any effort, despite the fact their recurring internal dialogue is miserable. You can't expect your brain to be good at producing feel-good chemicals if it's repeatedly hearing you whinge!' It really struck a cord with me. It’s important to reflect your intentions on multiple levels, so that your self speak is motivating and therefore gets reflected in the way you behave.
Experiment a little…
How can you start to practice bringing intention to your smaller daily tasks? Can you include bringing intention to your thoughts and be aware of how they affect your subsequent actions and feelings?