The Power and Pleasure of Intention
Happy New Year!
Traditional New Year’s resolutions—losing weight, finding a relationship, or quitting a bad habit—are often ungrounded wishes that originate from our beliefs about we what think we should do, should have, or should be.
This year, consider setting intentions by focusing on what lights you up. Ask yourself, what is my dream?
We have so many reasons to believe in our ability to create sustainable, positive change in our lives based on research and practices taught by neuroscientists, esteemed mindfulness teachers, and New York Times best-selling authors in the field of personal transformation.
Mike Dooley, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers international tax consultant, is the New York Times best-selling author of Infinite Possibilities. His advice? Follow these two crucial steps:
- Define what you want in terms of the end result. Mentally, in your mind, in thought, imagine that you’ve already received, done, or become that which you now desire.
- Show up, every day, moving in the direction of your dream. Physically, to any degree you can, do something. These are the baby steps. They always seem futile…Do it anyway. If you have absolutely no idea of which direction to move in, move in any direction.1
By spending a few moments each day following these two steps, with patience and perseverance, you might be surprised by the ways in which your life starts moving in the direction you intended.
The truth is, when we decide to make a big change, it takes time, mental focus, and daily action. It is not always a linear path, and at times we might slip back into old mental or physical patterns.
Elisha Goldstein, PhD, cofounder of the Center for Mindful Living, advises that this is natural, “Whenever you fall prey to bad habits, you can expect the brain to default to voices of inadequacy and unworthiness. The best strategy is to forgive yourself for going astray—it’s expected.”2
Along with forgiveness, gratitude plays an important role in navigating your way through setbacks.
“In over one hundred studies to date, researchers have found that people who have a daily gratitude practice consistently experience more positive emotions…[and] accomplish personal goals,”3 says Linda Graham, MFT, author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being.
One way to cultivate a daily gratitude practice is to keep a gratitude journal by your bed, and each night write about someone or something you are grateful for. Then, take a few deep breaths to release tension while allowing the feeling of gratitude to sink in.
And, remember, you are allowed (even encouraged) to enjoy the ride. As you move in the direction of your dreams, what would it feel like to smile now, to be grateful now, be celebratory now?
“Lasting happiness starts with one question…what can I celebrate?” asks Michael Beckwith.
The power and pleasure of intention are the means by which we can shape our life experience. New Year’s intentions that begin with our thoughts can become reality through practices of nurturing our vision and taking steps to support it day by day.
- Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion (2015, Simon & Schuster)