Do you feel you are living with intention? Are you constantly in search of more peace? It may be time to take some inventory! No, not in the pantry, your garden seeds, or the medicine cabinet. Let’s inventory what’s going on in your brain! Read 5 Tips for Living with More Intention and Peace
There’s simply too much coming in and not enough going out. Is it possible that we’re adding to our own stress and becoming more sensitive to pain just from the overload of information to our brains? Have you noticed:
- that your intention to get something done often gets hijacked by a social media app
- Making a phone call to someone gets put off because your newsfeeds all have notification badges, and you don’t want to miss out on something?
- That downtime consists mostly of scrolling on your device time?
- How many things can you learn on the internet?
- How sleep time seems to be more about what-I-didn’t-get-done-today time?
Smartphones and Devices Are Devouring Our Time
There’s a common denominator here, and it’s called a smartphone or device with apps galore. Even if you don’t have a smartphone that does everything except the dishes, your computer or laptop can be a real source of visual clutter, distraction, even irritation. The news continually vies for our attention. Multiple tabs and apps increase the jumble our eyes must sort through every time we look at a screen. Reminders are continually making noise or popping up on our screens. I recently saw a t-shirt with this inscription: “My brain has way too many tabs open…4 of them are frozen, and I have no idea where the music is coming from.” It would be funny if this weren’t our current reality. It’s difficult to find balance and peace in our hectic lives.
Wishing For a Simpler Time
You know it’s pretty bad when you’re home alone, a friend calls, and you feel like they’re intruding on your social experience! I think back to my great-grandparent’s lifetime and how they lived. Up at dawn, feeding livestock or cooking breakfast, then going about the day’s tasks until darkness put a stop to everything that couldn’t be done by the glow of a kerosene lamp. Doesn’t that seem like a quieter, simpler time? A lot more physical work involved, for sure, but it seems there was a lot more intention to get the day’s chores done before nightfall. Do you think they lived with more intention and peace?
Let’s Take a Tally
Think about a typical day in your life and tally up a list of these things; select all that seem to fit or apply:
☐ insomnia (blender-brain or pain-induced) from 3-4 am
☐ grogginess, when your alarm goes off at 6 am
☐yelping in agony when back (or some other body part) pain stabs you
☐ grabbing an empty-calorie toaster tart and a travel mug for the mad dash to the bus stop or subway
☐trying to concentrate on your job behind a desk and under the influence of a nasty headache
☐ wolfing down a sandwich on the way to the gym over lunch hour
☐ juggling three phone calls or people at your door
☐ you shush your kids or your spouse because you are on an important Zoom meeting, again
☐ groaning as your pain threatens to overtake you
☐ cursing the lack of work you’ve accomplished when the clock reads 4:30 pm
☐ being jostled by multiple lanes of traffic or shoppers in a hurry to get dinner started
☐ considering what medication or liquid might relieve the constant pain
☐ dealing with the whining and frustration of hungry kids
☐ blocking out the emphatic drone of TV newscasters recounting the latest disasters or political tug-of-wars
☐ scrolling through your social media newsfeeds
☐ pulling a load of laundry from the dryer at 10 pm and refusing to fold it because you’ve GOT TO GET TO BED!
☐ trying to fall asleep while your head refuses to slow down
Reimagine Your Day
It’s no wonder we have trouble finding balance, sleeping, feel frustrated with the list of things we don’t get done, long for real-people contact, and feel wholly deprived of purpose! Let’s do something fun. Close your eyes and imagine a day in the life of you—just the way you want it. You get to design it. But not in 2021. Imagine yourself living in a simpler time with fewer interruptions, fewer gadgets, fewer options, more intention. Grab a pen and paper and take down some notes. Now, transport yourself back to the early 1900s:
- What time do you get up, and what is your first task? Who is with you?
- What do you think of when you witness the brilliant sunrise?
- What’s the view out your window? What are you talking about, and with whom?
- What is your job? If it’s a weekend, what activity are you enjoying?
- What’s for dinner, and who’s at the table with you? How would you describe your human interaction?
- As the evening sun slides westward, what occupies your time?
- How does your bed feel when you drop into an exhausted slumber?
- Did you wake during the night, or were you surprised when the rooster crowed at 5 am?
Write down the details of how you feel as you imagine yourself living in a simpler time with less stress and interruptions. Can you imagine what it might feel like to live with fewer things competing for your attention? Do you feel more peace? Do you want to live with more intention and peace?
Make Your Re-imagined Day Reality
Now go back and re-read the paragraph above with components of a typical day in 2021. Count the frustrating and frantic emotions or sensations you feel — insomnia, groggy, grabbing, dashing, struggling to concentrate, snatching, groaning, feeling rushed, juggling, cursing, racing, jostled, hurried, blocking, stressed, emphatic voices, frustration, exhaustion, scrolling, trying, failing.
It won’t be easy to recapture that quieter existence or slower pace, but there are ways you can purge the frenzy and annoyance from your daily life. You do have a choice. You get to decide. Set your own intentions. What is it you want in your life? Social media platforms can be rabid piranhas of your time and rob you of your peace. There are not enough hours in a day for everything to be urgent or immediate, for you to give free rent to negative thoughts or to do everything perfectly. You have to let some things go. Time to live with more intention and create more peace in your life.
Read for practical tips to live with more intention and peace
Here are 5 tips for living with more intention and peace:
Try some of these ideas to increase your tranquility and decrease the dissonance and pain. The result will be a life filled with more intention and more inner peace:
- Plan your day. Start each day with a 5-minute assessment of what you want to accomplish in your free time. Think about what you are grateful for, what your attitude will be, or how you will reframe any difficulties. Make sure not to confuse projects with tasks that take a few seconds or minutes to do. Keep projects and long-term goals on your radar, but limit your obsession with them to what you can do in a short amount of time — pace yourself by doing a few things each day towards a big goal. Checking off a couple of easy-to-accomplish tasks early in the day will help you feel accomplished and nourish your vitality. Use your smart device to your benefit. Set up a daily bedtime routine on your phone or device to automatically go dark or quiet, allowing you to naturally slow down and end the day, ensuring you get adequate sleep. Adequate sleep is so essential to managing chronic pain.
- Quiet your space. Keep a whiteboard/bulletin board, clipboard (with scratch paper handy), or notepad in an often-frequented area to write down your intentions for the day. Remove clutter and create a more peaceful space. Reminder and list apps are great organizers, but you must open them and pay attention to the badges and alerts, adding unnecessary noise and interruption to your day. Use them more to jog your memory. Write important reminders in that visible reminder space. Once you get in the habit, this feels less insistent than a jarring bell or whistle, a lot more friendly than an alarm. Anything you can do to replace the noise or interruption with quietness will reduce fragmented nerves and pain.
- Slow down. Evacuating the building when the fire alarm goes off or pulling over for an ambulance requires a quick response, but most things in life aren’t an emergency. It’s easy to forget how to turn off the panic button. Knowing how you allow something to affect you—how you feel and respond—can help quiet the alarms. Time-based pacingis the best way to be productive without causing a pain flare that puts you down for several hours or days. Diaphragmatic breathing is also a great facilitator of calm, as it quiets the nervous system almost immediately and allows us to think clearly. Watch this video of how to do diaphragmatic breathing.
- Be more than Do. In a world of doing everything faster, we often find ourselves expecting problems and challenges to have immediate fixes, but we might extend our fixing to other people. Once in a while, you will meet someone who exudes a sense of calm and patience. Watch that person and learn. Take time to question the truth of your self-talk and the reality of what you think you know. When someone you love is struggling, are you able to just listen, or do you suggest a bailout? Does your involvement communicate faith in their resilience or give them the message that they’re weak and needy? Both impatience and taking on another person’s problems create stress that is not productive or good for pain.
- Choose or purge. Life is full of choices. According to this article, studies say adults make 35,000 decisions per day! Jump to the end for 6 tips when faced with too many choices. Easy ones include what to eat for dinner or whether to spend money on something you want or need. But we forget that we can choose much bigger things all the time: our friends, the time we spend doing any number of activities, our thoughts, how we treat ourselves, and whether we focus on fears and anxieties or our strengths and gratitude. Take an inventory of your thinking and habits. Do they increase your pain or bring it down a notch? Will they continue to brighten your life, or can they be tossed out? The more deliberate you are with your choices, then the more peace you will find in your days. But it does take effort.
Ready to live with more intention and peace?
If we are not intentional about our life, we fill it with actions without asking why. “Action fills the void nicely,” says author David Amerland, but it “makes each day feel tiring and leaves us without a sense of purpose.”
How will you choose to live your life? Will you continue to allow others and your devices to dictate how you spend your time? Or will you take the necessary steps to put yourself back in charge?
Thank you for reading 5 Tips for Living With More Intention and Peace. Want more tips on mindfulness? Read 10 Ways to Reduce Fear and Anxiety in 2020