Intentionality is Everything.

Time is Finite. What Will You Do With Yours?

 

Over the last decade I have tried to be intentional (not always successfully) about certain things - my physical health and keeping depression at bay. However, intentionality always wasn't a priority in other areas of my life. 

Going through the motions. Get up. Go to work. Respond to emails. Go home. Cook, Clean. Play with the kids. Laundry. Sleep. Repeat. We sometimes begin doing these things with a bit of intent, but it can slow succumb to a mindless routine. 

A routine that can often
leave us feeling neutral or depleted at the end of the day. 

Things started to change for me after I had my baby (she was 2 last June). I was 41 years old with a newborn. Clearly I wasn't a spring chicken anymore. I had this overwhelming sense of urgency that I didn't want life to keep ticking by the way it had been - just going through the motions - hoping for change, but doing nothing to instigate it. 


During that time I watched a video that compares the days we have in an average life to a big box of jelly beans (I posted the link here - WATCH - it's powerful).

When we're young it seems like we have an endless supply of jelly beans (days), until we realize we don't. Our lives are finite. 
I often feel like an awkward 15-year old, yet clearly I'm not 15 anymore. I am officially middle-aged. Yikes. I know I look young for my age & I certainly feel young a lot of the time (except when I'm chasing my two-year old around the grocery store), but the truth is I have spent close to half of my jelly beans. 

I spent several months wrestling with this profound realization. It was a difficult time. Really difficult, but important. I'm grateful for it. When I was contemplating what I should do with the rest of my jelly beans, one of my friends told me about the book The Desire Map, and said "Go Big, or Go Home!" That phrase stuck with me.

It's been a big motivator for what I am doing now. 

I made a commitment during that time to be more intentional with my time. 

I'm practicing intentionality now, not all the time - sometimes I catch myself going through the motions, not paying attention, but it's getting much easier. 

I still have a lot I want to do, experience, and feel. My story's not finished yet, and I want to be the one who chooses the ending. 



A Desire Map Workshop


This workshop is all about Intentional Living. It's about creating intentionality about how we want to feel & using out feelings to create a GPS for our life. It is a program that really helped me to learn what to say YES to and walk into an intentional life. It's also been helpful in figuring out what to say NO to. My jelly beans are limited and I want to use them up doing what I love, not what I feel obliged to do!

If attending a workshop like this seems like a good fit for you - email Jenn@LuminateWellness.com
Don't miss out!

For more information check out this page - Desire and Self-Compassion


The Intentional Life. 

If we often find ourselves going through the motions when do the things that take up the bulk of our time - like when we drive to work, clean the house, eat a meal, what happens if instead we stop and take note of why we are doing these things? 

When I drive to work I choose to think about what I'm going to do, who I am going to spend time with or support in some way or another. I think about what drew me to that job, and even if some of my job feels like drudgery, what lights me up about it. I guarantee there is something however small. 

I'm cleaning my house as a service for my family, for me. As much as they sometimes bring me to my wits end, I love them wholeheartedly. I'm giving to them, when I clean the house. I also feel more content in my soul when my home is clean. I am practicing mindfulness or stillness in my mind as I wash dishes, sort laundry or vacuum.

When I eat, I think about how I am nourishing my body. I think about how this food will make me feel after I eat it. I stop to enjoy the tastes, smells and textures. 

To practice more intentionality, pause before doing something.

Be still, even for a second.
Close your eyes if you can.
Ask yourself some questions; 

Why am I doing this? 
What is the deeper purpose behind the why?
Is it inline with how I want to feel? 
How will I feel after I do it? 
What happens if I decide not to do this? 
Am I doing this out of kindness or compassion for others, or myself? 


Intentionality With Words...

When speaking (or writing); 


What are my intentions with what I am about to say/write? 
Am I saying them out of anger, frustration or malice?
How do I think I will feel after I say them? Will I feel good or bad?
How do I think the words will be received by the person I am speaking to? 
How will these words affect the relationship? 
How will uttering these words affect me, and my perceptions of the world?


These are the first little steps in creating an intentional life. 
 


Multiple Truths–Beyond the Absolutes of Right & Wrong

“You’re going the WRONG way!”

This pops in my head often when I’m a passenger and a friend is driving a different route than I would normally take. Thank goodness I usually (not always) have enough social intelligence to keep that thought to myself, but it’s still often there.

The thing is that it’s natural to think that “our way” is the right way.

We live in a culture that thinks in absolutes.

We learn at a young age that there is a “right” way to do something and a “wrong” way.

Well, I have calculated out that my route is the fastest, most direct route to our destination. Plus I drive that way all the time, so it feels weird to go a different way. So I must be right…right?

Yes, I am right.

My friend might not be interested in the quickest or most direct route. Maybe she prefers to avoid a certain intersection, or a left turn into busy traffic. Perhaps there is a special tree or plant that is in bloom that gives her joy when she drives past it. Who the heck am I to say that she is wrong?

She is right too.

Obi-Wan : " So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view. "   Luke : " A certain point of view? "   Obi-Wan : " Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. "

Obi-Wan: "So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view."

Luke: "A certain point of view?"

Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

Whoa. In a culture of absolute thinking, how do we make sense of this? The logical response to me being “right” is that you are “wrong.” How can we both be right and have almost opposite thoughts about the same thing?

This might sound a bit silly when we think about it in simple terms like what route to take to get to Starbucks, but this kind of thing happens ALL the time about much bigger things – like politics, religion, parenting, relationships, how we should live. With a big election coming up in both Canada and the US, social media is, and will become even more bombarded with everyone expressing their strong opinions about who we should vote for.

Everyone has an opinion about most things.

 

I have been on a journey of changing my “either/or” thinking to “both/and.” I admit that sometimes it’s really, really hard. Especially when I believe strongly in something…which if I’m being honest—is most things.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the idea of worldview. A worldview is basically the lens through which we see the world. It is composed of ALL of our life experiences:

  • The city we grew up in. Was it rural or did we grow up in the city?
  • The country we lived in.
  •   Our cultural background.
  •  Our religious background.
  • How our parents raised us.
  • Our birth order in our family. Did we live with both parents?
  • Our family’s socioeconomic position.
  • Our experience of death.
  • Have we experienced abuse or bullying
  •  What access to the media have we had, what books have we read?
  • What kind of education did we have?
  • What's our experience in the workforce?

The list goes on and on.

We all have a reason for believing what we believe based on our worldview.

All of us do.

Often we hold onto absolutes to try to make sense of the world. So we put things into categories—categories created around our particular worldviews.

Our brains naturally make judgments. Simple, yet important ones like how to get to work—if I needed to use my GPS system to get to work every day, that would be a problem. Thankfully I don’t have to read the instruction manuals on how to use my iPhone, computer, TV, stereo or stove every day. Relearning how to use those things every day, would be a real problem. Getting anything done would be nearly impossible, because I would be consumed with figuring out how to live over and over, every single day.

So our brains “just know” some things. Without having to be particularly mindful about them.

Putting things into categories and living on auto-pilot is a big problem when we become mindless about people, relationships, and communication. Have you ever put someone into a category, or have you found yourself labeled a certain way by someone? Once that happens, it’s pretty close to impossible to break away from that label. That label sticks, until we are mindful about honouring multiple truths.

When we label someone as always _________ (you fill in the blank)…That person will  ALWAYS meet those low expectations for you.

We see what we look for.

 

So our negative thinking and gets reinforced over and over again… “See, I knew that person was ________.”

I would have to say that labeling someone as in a good way is much better, as long as we don’t put them on an unrealistic pedestal that could come crashing down…but that’s another blog post.

I’ll explain in a bit more detail what I mean…You see someone’s behaviour, then your perception of the behaviour gets filtered through your worldview. If it doesn’t fit with the what you perceive as being “right”, then you give the person a general label. Usually those labels aren’t good. You know the ones I’m talking about – reckless, manipulative, impulsive, always needing to be right, uptight, dramatic, intense the list goes on and on…

Ellen Langer (Professor of psychology at Harvard) says, “the things that are happening to me are a function of my view on them.”

 

I’ve been labeled before and it doesn’t feel very good. Again those labels are based on the perception of a small amount of data. It’s impossible to know what is going on under the behaviour. Everyone has a story—a lot of which is unspoken. To think that we know what’s happening for someone else is based purely on our assumptions. Unless they have chosen to open up to us, and even that is a just a piece of the whole puzzle.

The truth is that everyone’s behaviour makes sense to them at the time, or they wouldn’t have done it.

So where do we go from here?  

Another thing that Ellen Langer talks about is universal uncertainty—you don’t know, and I don’t know. When we think we know, or someone else knows “the answer”, conflict almost always ensues.

There’s a hilarious scene from Napoleon Dynamite where Napoleon, Kip and Uncle Rico are watching an old home made video of Uncle Rico throwing a football around. To be honest, I watched that movie, but I found most of it kinda annoying…but this is still a good little clip.

Napoleon says, “this is the worst video ever made.” Kip retorts, “Napoleon, as if anyone could ever know that.” That line often comes up in my house , and it always brings a deep laugh to the conversation. The thing is that it’s kinda true. There’s a lot in life that is grey, ambiguous, left up for interpretation…

Have you ever gotten caught up in reading online debates on facebook or other social media pages about silly things that people get so adamant about. The comments people make can be so hurtful and destructive—so absolute.

I believe that this whole idea of worldview, and honouring multiple truths can change the way the world responds to conflict.

After all conflict in and of itself isn’t really the problem that creates disconnect in relationships, it’s how we react to conflict that’s the problem.

 

Embracing this type of thinking is indeed a process. I’ve been on this journey for a while, but I still have much to learn, and I find myself learning more every day.

These are the ideas that are helping me become more mindful and open to holding multiple truths;

  • Realizing that what I know, think and believe is a function of my worldview.

  •  Everyone else has a worldview that they also feel strongly about, for good reason.

  • When I make a judgment I need to realize that I’m filtering it through my worldview. Be mindful of the reasons why I am thinking the way that I am.

  • I need to suspend my judgment and be open to hearing other people’s perspective and why they think they way they do.

  •  Remember that I see what I’m looking for. If I’m looking for someone to screw up, I will see them screw up (and likely miss all the things they do that deserve celebration).

  • Know that there is always more to someone’s story than I will ever know.

  • Let go of the need to be “right.” I don’t have to change my mind on what I think, but I want to be open to the other person’s perspective. I don’t need to feel compelled to make believe what I believe.

  • Be open to expanding my thinking. When I listen with the intent of understanding, not changing the other person, I can expand my thinking.

  • I want to be aware of words that communicate an absolute. Words like “you always”, “you’re right”, “you’re wrong” the list goes on...

  • Celebrate differences! Rename negative behaviours to something more positive. For example, turn “reckless” into “spontaneous.”

  • Be aware of the power of words, labels and categories.

A wise friend of mine once said, “if both of us think the same way about something, one of us is redundant.”


There is immense beauty when we are able to see a situation from a different perspective, and honour multiple truths.

 




The Process

Success is About Enjoying the Ride, Not Achieving the Goal

Last week I painted my kitchen table. It’s been seven years since I painted it last, when our oldest daughter was a baby. Needless to say the table was in desperate need of a new paint job. It had marker stains, hair dye stains (from yours truly), and the shiny gleam of the finish had long ago worn off from all the endless scouring and scrubbing that inevitably happens when you have a white table and small, rather messy children.

So in a spontaneous moment, at least six years in the making, I painted it.

These are the things I thought about as I rolled the crisp, white, shiny paint on my sad neglected table.

The first coat of paint;

Here is my freshly painted table filled with Truthbombs. It looks so CLEAN!

Here is my freshly painted table filled with Truthbombs. It looks so CLEAN!

I find this stage of painting quite annoying. Frustrating even—like an act of futility. The paint barely covers the marks and mess underneath it. I could still see the dark hair dye and the leftover bits from my kids’ art projects. I wished so badly that I could skip this stage and move right into the second and third coats. That would feel so much more satisfying.

The truth is that I had to do the first coat of paint on that decrepit table to get to the second and third coats. As frustrating as that is, the first step is an absolutely NESSESARY part of the process, and if I shifted my thinking, I could begin to see the beauty in the first coat.

We live in a culture of quick fixes.

We want things done NOW!


We want the fastest wi-fi speeds possible. We want recipes for delicious meals made in fifteen minutes or less. We want to feel all zen-like, without doing the deep inner work. We want to learn how to lay kitchen tiles by watching a ten-minute youtube video. We want the most lucrative return on investment in the shortest time possible. We want to build successful businesses and organizations—serve the most people we are capable of serving, giving the least amount of time we can manage. We buy videos that promise us rock hard abs in just four weeks.

Western culture is so focused on results, results, results. We reach for the stars, create goals and focus on outcomes.

There are so many sayings and mantras out there that remind us of this push to achieve more; “the end is in sight,” “this is all leading somewhere,” “keep your eye on the prize.”

I don’t know about you, but I have realized that life is shorter than I would prefer it to be. I don’t want to waste it trying to get somewhere. I want to enjoy every moment, every stage, every life lesson—even if it’s that awkward first coat of paint stage.


I facilitate five-day train-the-trainer workshops fairly often. Five days is an abundant amount of time to spend with a small group of people doing intense growth work. One of the realizations I have had through this work is the reliance on the process. No matter how the workshop is facilitated, the first day is the most challenging. By the fifth day the group is very connected, minds have been blown, paradigms shifted, and we all leave feeling so inspired. I have always struggled with that first day. It sometimes doesn’t’ feel “right,” you know. People are becoming acquainted to some new thoughts, new styles of learning, new people. I have always noticed this awkwardness, and for a while I continually batted around ideas on how I could facilitate the day differently to make the day feel better for people.

A few months ago after a training, I had a huge aha moment. The awkwardness of day one is necessary to lead into the paradigm shift that happens later on, and the inspiration people feel on the last day. It would be a disservice to people to not let them travel through the process. The awkwardness, and questioning that comes up as a result of the awkwardness, is as valuable as any other stage.

When we choose not to run from discomfort and lean into the process, we will learn and grow.

I’ve been contemplating why we are so goal-focused. We are trained by society, and hard-wired to be dissatisfied, and feel discontentment. Society tells us what success is, and we are constantly being sold “solutions” to make our lives better.

The truth is that the majority of people won’t achieve the kind of success the media tells us we can. Which doesn’t mean we can’t be successful.

We need to change our definition of success.


We naturally compare ourselves to others—people in the media, neighbours, friends on Facebook (who are only showing their good side), we look at our lives and see them as “less-than”, and we have a strong desire for a “better” future. Sometimes this happens without us really realizing that it’s happening.

We find ourselves feeling disconnected from ourselves, from those around us, and from the journey or the process, because we just can’t wait to get to that mythical place where “all is right with the world” and we have achieved success.

I don’t think contentment is possible when we live in a “success paradigm”, but we can be content when we are enjoying the ride.

When we are giving our all to achieve a goal, what happens when we meet the goal? The good feeling slowly dwindles away and we need to move on to the next success “fix” to get that feeling back.

Success occurs when we enjoy the process, savouring it—the thrilling moments, the growth, the satisfying stages, the discomfort, the fear and the failures.


Success is NOT about achieving a goal.

The truth is that the thing we get when we achieve a goal, whether it’s a job, a certificate, a house, or whatever is—a symbol. It shouldn’t be viewed as the be all, end all. It merely represents the transformation that occurred to get there.

The transformation—the moulting and regrowth, is the real prize.


I believe that as a culture we have forgotten the beauty and richness that comes from leaning into the process.



Here are my four tips to enjoying the journey/the process:

 

1.    Lean in—don’t fear discomfort

It seems that the natural reaction to feeling discomfort is to run from it. "Oh crap, this feels wrong, I’m outta here!" When we are in touch with our selves, sometimes walking away may be the right thing to do, but it’s often in our best interest to sit with the discomfort.

I will venture to say that discomfort is always when growth is happening. Think of any example of growth in your life or a new skill you've learned – I bet you felt discomfort. It goes with the territory of "new."

Next time you get that urge to run when you're trying something new, challenge yourself to sit with the feeling, start to accept that discomfort is OK, make friends with it. It won't hurt us, in fact it's quite the opposite - it means that growth is near.

2.    Trust

Trust the process. Don’t push it, or rush through this time. Get in touch with how accepting and leaning into the process is feeling within your body. This one can be hard for me sometimes. I totally notice that when I allow things to unfold, I am often surprised, in a good way, by things I never expected to happen.

Trust in the process. Trust yourself. Trust in God, the universe or whatever spiritual power you might believe in.

3.    Know how you want to feel

I have spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about how I want to feel. Joy, Freedom, Grace and Abundance are big for me. So the choices I make every day are around helping me to feel those feelings. If something doesn’t sit right, or reflect my core desired feelings, I don’t do it.

I have noticed since I have shifted my thinking to focus on how I want to feel, I have been able to enjoy the process a lot more. I have been savouring each step of my journey. I’m thankful for The Desire Map in helping me to distill my core desired feelings, what I think of as a GPS for my life.

4.    Be grateful & celebrate

Gratitude is huge. I find that when I look at my life with the worldview of being thankful for where I’m at, grateful for the people in my life and for what I have, I am really free to enjoy the ride.

I used to find myself almost obsessively wishing and wanting for other things – a bigger place to live, more money, but when I made the shift to gratitude, I started to see beauty where I had missed it before. That's not to say that I don't still think about moving someday. I also have a strong vision for the future, but I'm enjoying getting there, and I realize that things might unfold differently than I might expect, and that is OK. I'm seeing the beauty along the way. 

When we are feeling thankful and content, we are also less likely to compare ourselves to others. Comparison is such a total waste of time. There is always someone out there who is further ahead and comparing ourselves to them to them feeds the feeling of discontentment.

Last, but not least—CELEBRATE! Make a big deal out of things! Notice new and old things. Smell the flowers. When something good happens—throw a party! Treat yourself to something fund every day. When we switch to a paradigm of gratitude there is a lot out there in the world that is worthy of celebrating!