Wind. The powerful and invisible force that comes and goes whenever and wherever it wants. It shows up in your life and it shakes things up. Sometimes it’s a welcome break from the heat and sometimes it’s the disruption that whips around us, stopping conversations and carrying on. It can be wonderful and it can mean destruction. Continue reading
Our Intent community is pretty great about transparency and vulnerability. They are honest about their process and where they are going, the change they want to see.
If you were to welcome change into your life, what would it look like?
Consider some of these areas of your life: Continue reading
We started off the year with high hopes.
We were going to find love!
Start new jobs!
Let go of old hurts!
Now that it’s March, it’s time to do an evaluation.
Are you any closer? Are you have the sort of realistic conversations with yourself that are going to stop you from repeating the same old, same old? Or are you still back in 2013?
I hope as you’re reading this that you are thinking back on the short time since the turning of the year and you’re already proud of how far you’ve come, but in case you aren’t, here are some ideas to help you get back on track.
1. Time to affirm your intent. Remember the feeling and place you were in to make you set a big intent in the first place? Maybe you were worn out. Maybe you were on fire with the passion of a new idea. Even if you’re not in the same place you were when you originally made you’re intent, affirming it means you’re still saying “yes!” to that idea. Regardless of where you are today, you are just as committed to your dream.
2. Set visual reminders. I’m not above taking a page out of a teen girl’s book and leaving decorating my walls with reminders. Whether that’s notes on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator to remind myself of a new mindset or empty boxes in my bedroom to remind me to finally purge my closet of all the things I don’t need, a visual reminder is a tangible shift from seeing things the way they’ve always been.
3. Make an appointment with yourself. A boss I had taught me how invaluable it can be to make appointments with yourself, especially living in our fast-paced culture. You have someone asking you to get coffee (not necessarily a bad thing) and so you look down at your calendar and find an open place. If you’re like me, this might happen half a dozen times in a week and so you keep filling up the open places in your calendar with meaningful conversations and meetings. But then you arrive at the end of the week and realize you’ve left no time for your own plans or progress. Before you make it to Monday, sit down and find a block of time that can be added to your calendar that is reserved for the tasks that are hanging over your head. Writing? Organizing? Going to the gym? Sometimes it feels selfish to save time for you, but you would never tell a friend that making their own positive progress was selfish, so why is it for you?
So where are you getting started?
It’s possible you don’t feel progress being made because you never set an intention to begin with.
Check out this Year of Intent intention made my Mallika Chopra:
(click the image to see the entire intention)
Since originally posting about her new book, Mallika has been updating, affirming and responding to the comments left by other users. It keeps her motivated and, most importantly, focused on accomplishing a satisfying task- her newest book.
If it’s March and you lasted a good week on your resolutions and intentions, that’s fine. We’re here to get you started again.
So, again, I’ll ask where are you getting started?
What’s it going to take to get going?
You buy a brand new television and keep it in the box in your garage.
You buy plane tickets for a vacation to Bali and then never pack or go to the airport.
You get engaged and then married to a person you don’t even really like.
If you did any of those things, my hope is that the people in your life would say “hey, what’s up?” They’re trite examples, I get it, but we do it all the time with our own lives.
Everyday people are posting their intentions on Intent.com.
People are wanting support as they embark on new business ventures, lifestyle choices, or general adventures.
You can intend to change your eating habits.
You can intend to ignore fear.
You can intend to make a fresh start.
But what happens the moment after you make an intention?
Don’t ignore the other half of setting an intention which is seeing it come to fruition. What is the point of spending money on plane tickets to Bali if you never plan on getting on a plane to begin with? What is the point of wanting to conquer fear if the moment you voice that desire, you immediately forget it? Our hope is to see people empowered to live the lives they dream of. If you want to conquer fear, then our hope is that you absolutely will.
So, check this out.
Mallika posted an intention about committing to her health.
But now what?
Does she go back to ordering fast food? Does she stay up late and wake up early?
Instead, she came back and affirmed her choice. She reminded herself of her goal.
She found support and advice from other users left as comments.
She updated us on her progress. Now, I say it was for us, but honestly, it’s just as much for her. It’s written on the stones of time (or just the internet) and she can keep moving forward while being able to see how far she’s come.
So if you haven’t been yet, it’s time to be serious about taking the TV out of the box.
You’re breathing, so you have everything you need to get the process started.
There’s no promise it won’t be hard work.
There’s no promise it won’t mean going against your instincts for self preservation or that you won’t have to cut things out of your life, a pruning of sorts. But what is more worthwhile?
My mom always says “the time is going to pass no matter what.”
Sometimes we don’t take on challenges because it’ll take forever.
We don’t want to go back to school. We don’t want to get back in the gym.
Purely because the results will be a long way off, we don’t start.
But the time is going to pass no matter what.
Whether it’s 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, wouldn’t you rather be on the other side of it a little (if not a lot) closer to where you dreamed?
It’s Monday, to day is a good day to follow through.
There’s a really wonderful song by a group called Gungor.
The chorus says:
“You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us.”
There’s so much hope in those lyrics. There’s something about knowing that growth can happen out of dust. It means it’s not too late. That in whatever destruction our lives have seen, there is still space for something beautiful to grow out of it.
It’s no surprise that around the end of the year, so many people are reflecting on where they’ve been and where they’d like to go.
Being different takes time and bravery.
Sometimes your growing things out of dust and sometimes it feels like you’re getting nowhere, but if you plant the seeds, you’re further ahead than you might think. Because hope has a way of springing up.
So what would you like to see change in your life?
What have you been waiting on?
What would you hope to be at this time next year?
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You.”
-“Beautiful Things”, Gungor
So the month of December is officially the month of “Why Wait” here at Intent.
In our newsletter last week, we wrote that there is nothing special about January 1.
Nothing magical will happen to you at the stroke of midnight of 2014 that will magically give you the empowerment or will power you never felt like you had in 2013. If you want to make a change, if you want to take a step out courageously, then there’s no need to wait for January 1. You can and should do that today!
Needing some inspiration?
Here are some of Intent users that could use our support:
- Raising money to build Ayurveda Orphanages worldwide
- Letting go of past hurts
- Deciding to focus on strengths to make moving forward possible
So here are some questions to ask yourself-
1. If you could have any life, no limits, what would it look like?
In the brainstorming process for ANYTHING, it’s important to let yourself imagine everything as a possibility- large or small. Don’t try and edit yourself while in the brainstorming process. It only slows you down. Instead let yourself think outlandishly. Imagine yourself as an astronaut. Imagine yourself only needing to sleep 3 hours a day. Whatever life you could dream of, give yourself unlimited freedom for a short amount of time to really push the limits in picturing it.
2. What has to come? What has to go?
After you decide whether or not it’s practical (ie- “I want to be Harry Potter. Like, real Harry Potter. I want a magic wand and an archnemesis with no nose), then ask yourself what things would have to enter your life to make it a reality. Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make some of those things realities? If so, move forward. If not, cross those things off the list. The things you’re passionate about are going to be worth your time and energy. By the same token, some things are going to have to go. You’ve always wanted to paint, but your evening are filled up with every activity but that. If you love those other activities, that is one thing. That might require you use a little bit of calendar rotation. But, if your calendar is filled up with things that you are less than jazzed about, start taking steps to pull back and slowly phase out of them. How do you know which things you don’t love? They’re normally the things that make you say “Tonight I have [insert activity]. UGH.”
3. Set some big goals.
In the past I’ve talked about how we give ourselves small goals so we don’t fail. You want to get in shape so you set a goal of going to the gym once a week. That’s not bad, right? You’re currently going to the gym zero times a week, so that’s 100% improvement, right? Wrong. What happens when the day you picked gets slammed with a last minute meeting? What happens if you get sick that day? I say, with life changing goals, aim high. Say you’re going to the gym 5 times a week. If you end up missing one or two or three of those days, you’re still getting greater motivation to get up and out the door. You’re still going to see results of 3 days working out versus just 1. And I say that’s worth the effort.
So what are you waiting on?
What is the life you’re dreaming of?
Why is it that change gets some of us so worked up?
My mantra to my son is “change is good for me.”
I guess it’s the fear of the unknown that creates fear in us, the what if’s, I don’t know how to, what if they don’t like it/me, what if I’m not good enough?
Whether we are changing jobs, countries, homes, new schools or simply a new brand of pasta, it is still change. Some of us face it head on and others take the longest route via procrastination to get there because change can be a scary thing!
Even though I have moved countries a few times, I am still faced with that familiar pang in the inner recesses of my solar plexus! How will I find my way along that new road, what if I get lost, I don’t know how to speak that language, I feel exhausted just thinking about how my brain picks and re-picks at the same saga. At these times I try to remember Louise L Hay’s words; “It is only a thought and a thought can be changed”.
I have had to learn to face it more truthfully since having children. If I tell them “change is good for me, well then I better demonstrate it myself! Children in themselves bring remarkable change to us and in doing so teach us to observe ourselves more authentically and with more awareness. I have come to understand that it is just my fear that holds me back. One of my most well etched memories of “practicing what I preach” was at a library where they had a conservationist bring harmless snakes for the kids to see and touch. I told my son who was afraid of the snakes, “the snake won’t bite it’s a harmless brown house snake”. I then had to put my fears aside and hold the snake so that he could see that it wouldn’t bite me. So I did, and overcame my fear of them too. I have to say that some fears are easier to overcome than others and it differs from person to person.
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym.
The easiest way to embrace the mantra “change is good for me” is to let go of your fears and your inhibitions and go with the flow of where life takes you. We have to start trusting ourselves, although it might seem difficult, trust is all about surrendering. You might find that when we are not trying to control every aspect of our lives, we invite opportunity, interesting experiences and change happens almost seamlessly, it’s as though we begin to see things more clearly, differently with less trepidation. I have come to understand that when I coined the mantra to help my son it not only served him, but it taught me to go with the flow too.
It’s a quiet evening in the Gobes household. The autumn sun sets early as the rich aroma of Barefoot Contessa’s boeuf bourguignon peaks our appetites. With a click of the mouse, my cozy, quiet, comfort-food kitchen is suddenly infused with emotion as my family quickly transitions from hunger to contemplation to tears to determination to inspired action.
My children and I are wrapped around the sound of a news story aired by NPR online, brought to living color by Paula Bronstein’s stirring photo of a Filipino expressing his raw suffering after Typhoon Haiyan.
For a long moment we four are suspended in stillness as we connect with his suffering. His tears flow through our eyes as we watch the computer screen in silence.
I break the hush and spend a few minutes talking about what it means to be human. This man is a stranger. He is thousands of miles away, but his pain is as familiar to us as our own breath.
My youngest children are 9, 7, and 5. They know suffering, or at least they think they do. Their low points are dredged up by missing sneakers on gym day, by two green brussel sprouts on a dinner plate. But their imaginations are fertile and their capacity for compassion is immense. They examine the man’s expression and begin to list emotions he might be feeling. They, too, feel those things. They connect the dots. He’s just like us.
“How can you help him?” I ask.
“We can send him blankets!” suggests one.
“He’s not cold, he’s wearing short sleeves,” says the other. “How about pillows?”
“How can we get the pillows to him?”
Maybe the best way to help him from so far away is to raise money. He can use it to import what he needs,” I suggest.
“Can we color him a picture, Mommy?” my little one requests.
“You bet, babe.”
My 9 year-old seems to be experiencing a paradigm shift. She picks up the house phone and begins to dial with great urgency. She’s recruiting her besties to lead a fundraising effort – a good old fashioned coin collection. Empty your piggy banks, fellow third graders! The people of the Philippines need our pocket change! She disappears into her bedroom, chittering quickly, hashing out details and coordinating collection locations.
My 7 year-old has settled back into her book Big Nate, but upon absorbing her big sister’s charitable enthusiasm, she ditches the read and picks up a marker. “How do you spell typhoon?” She churns out several posters as I type emails to friends soliciting support for the children’s mission.
My 5 year-old is on the edge. He’s constructing cannons out of Tinker Toys and monitoring the commotion cautiously. “Mommy,” he ventures, “Can I ask Jack and Billy to give quarters to that man?” I respond in the affirmative and hear his barely audible, “Yessssss.” He continues to quietly play with his cannons.
“Can you believe that a 5 year-old boy like you can do something important like this? You have the power to help a grown man feel better. You’re like a superhero. What do you think about that, buddy?”
“Good,” he mutters, not lifting his head. But I can see past his long bangs that he’s smiling. The enthusiasm for this project is contagious.
Big sister returns to the kitchen, placing the cordless on my desk. The plan is a go. The primary players are enlisted. We decide to collect change until Thanksgiving and have a coin counting party on #GivingTuesday. They’re excited to be part of such a special day.
Dinner is hot and it’s time to eat. I take a moment to reflect. In the time it took a pot of stew to boil, my children adopted a cause and took action. I’m reminded of a quote by Seneca, “It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste of a lot of it.” No wasted time here. Giddy-up.
Give what you can, how you can, where you can. And be sure to give your all on #GivingTuesday.
Continued from Part 1, here are the final 3 steps to take charge of your wellness:
Step 3: Identify Harmful Patterns
To change your negative habits, you have to know what they are. Some bad habits, like smoking and excessive drinking, are obvious, but others may be less so. Sitting all day is damaging to your health, even if you get half an hour of exercise or more before or after work. Depriving yourself of eight hours’ sleep for even a short period is also hard on the body in ways that sleep researchers are just beginning to fully recognize.
Forming a new habit takes repetition and focus, and if your attention is elsewhere you may have a harder time adjusting to new behaviors. For that reason, some experts advise against planning big changes if you are going through a particularly stressful period. I think that reasoning is wrong. Although it’s true that you are likely to have more setbacks at such times, it’s just as true that people change as a result of meeting challenges and crises: “Aha” moments occur quite often when somebody hits bottom.
Visualizing your desired outcome is a useful tool in your journey. “Seeing” yourself as you wish to be has helped smokers quit, obese people lose weight, and sports champions achieve their goals. In order to change the printout of the body, you must learn to rewrite the software of the mind. This truism is reinforced by brain scans that show a decrease in certain higher functions (making good decisions, following reason over impulse, resisting temptation) when a person falls into a pattern of giving in to a wide range of lower impulses, such as fear, anger, or simply physical hunger. You need to implement a healing regimen that encourages and rewards your good choices if you want brain pathways to follow suit.
Step 4: Make Steady Changes
Even though you are working on the big picture, for psychological reasons a series of small victories is desirable. In essence, you are training your brain to succeed. Most of us, having been defeated by old conditioning, take the course of least resistance, not realizing that we are training our brains into pathways that rob us of free will over time.
So begin with a victory you can define and which means something to you. Skip red meat for a week. Take the stairs, not the elevator. If you’re very out of shape, walk 10 minutes every day and gradually build up your time. Put down your fork halfway through your meal, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself if you’re still hungry. If you work at a desk, make it a rule to always stand or pace when you’re on the phone. Over time, what seem like baby steps produce new physiological changes in every cell of the body. Trillions of cells are eavesdropping on your every thought and action. Instead of pretending that your body doesn’t know what you’re doing, make yourself the gift of delivering good news to your cells.
In my view, the most important victories occur in awareness, however. If you tend to procrastinate, be aware of the reasons you do it. We get comfortable in our warm, fuzzy old routines, and making changes, even small ones, feels threatening psychologically, as if even a positive change is a risk. Predict when you will procrastinate and invent a strategy to outmaneuver your future self. For example, if you know you’ll be tempted to hit the snooze button instead of getting up for an early morning jog, put your exercise clothes across the room from your bed—with your alarm clock on top.
Step 5: Reinforce Good Decisions
Sometimes brain research underlines the obvious, but it is a breakthrough to observe MRI scans and see for yourself that good decisions “light up the brain” in ways that are different from bad decisions. In the larger scheme, when you undertake a wellness program, you will be faced every day with the choice to stay the course or abandon your mission. How does your brain make choices, then?
Executive control, which means choosing a thought or action to meet an internal goal, is managed by the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala play roles in regulating decision-making based on the memory of feelings. Regions of the midbrain in which the neurotransmitter dopamine is predominant also influence decision-making. Some of the choices that trigger dopamine’s release: eating sweet foods, taking drugs, having sex.
We may overindulge in chocolate cake because we tend to value the short-term outcome we know (deliciousness) over the long-term outcome we have never experienced (weight loss and increased energy from better nutrition). One way to break that cycle is to reward ourselves in a different way. Instead of eating cake, we can go play a game or listen to music.
How long does it take to form a new habit? An average of 66 days, according to a 2009 study from University College, London. Repetition and giving yourself time to adjust are the main factors in forming a new behavior pattern.
For more information go to: www.deepakchopra.com
Originally published February 2012
A basic outline for prevention has existed for more than thirty years, but wellness has had a hard time making real headway. Old habits are hard to break. Our society has a magic bullet fixation, waiting for the next miracle drug to cure us of every ill. Doctors receive no economic benefit from pushing prevention over drugs and surgery. For all these reasons, compliance with prevention falls far below what is needed for maximum wellness.
Rather than feeling gloomy, my focus has been on getting the individual to take charge of their own wellness. This can be a considerable challenge, since we are each unique in our bodies but also unique in our pattern of bad habits and poor lifestyle choices. More than 40% of American adults make a resolution to live a better life each year, and fewer than half keep their promise to themselves for longer than 6 months. Conditioning is hard to break, but the key is that the power to break a habit belongs to the same person who made it – the turnaround amounts to giving up unconscious behavior and adopting conscious new patterns.
Once your mind begins to pay attention, your brain can build new neural pathways to reinforce what you learn. Much is made of the brain’s ability to change and adapt – the general term is neuroplasticity – but I think science has been slow to catch up with wise experience. It has always been true that applying awareness in any form, through such things as resolve, discipline, good intentions, and mindfulness, has the power to create change. The practical dilemma is how to use your strengths and motivation to help yourself remain committed to wellness as a lifetime pattern.
Step 1: Set Goals by Baselining Your Health
The first step in taking control of your well-being is to set goals, and a sensible way to do this is to “baseline” your health. Gather some basic facts that realistically inform you about your body: weight, height, family history, exercise habits, general diet, and a self-assessment of your stress levels at work and in your home life.
Some experts would add medical measures that only a doctor can fully determine, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and other lipids levels, and bone density. My difficulty with these tests is that they encourage worry. Being in an anxious state is a bad motivator for most people. It can motivate you for as long as you remember to be afraid, but after that, people tend to give in to impulses, make erratic choices, and increase their own stress levels. With that in mind, I go against the grain of standard medical advice, at least partially, by saying that heeding these medical markers should come second, after you have already set yourself on a good wellness program for at least six months. Give consciousness a chance before you undermine it with potential anxiety.
How do you actually set your goals? Start thinking about the big picture. Changing poor lifestyle habits is rarely easy, especially if they comfort you, as smoking or overeating do for many people. You need a strong vision of what you want to achieve in order to succeed. I’d say the strongest vision comes from knowing about a simple trend: the latest research shows that more and more disorders, including most cancers, are preventable through a good wellness program. The benefits are increasing with every new study.
Step 2: Set Priorities
Making lists of your hot spots and your sweet spots will help you to set your personal priorities. The hot spots are weaknesses, the sweet spots strengths that crop up during an ordinary day. You can’t attack every bad pattern all at once; it’s good to achieve a series of small victories at first.
Hot spots: List the times you feel unhappy or most agitated—fighting a futile battle to get a good night’s sleep, perhaps, or recriminating yourself for ordering dessert when you were already full. Identify with clear sights your biggest challenges, such as getting to bed on time, reducing food portions, resisting sweets, choosing the couch over the treadmill, and so on. Doing this will help your mission take shape and direction.
Sweet spots: List the things that give you joy and satisfaction, for instance, spending time with your family or enjoying a favorite hobby. Recapture in your mind what it feels like to resist ordering dessert or to spend half an hour walking outdoors. Appreciating the sweet spots in your life is a source of strength as you embark on your habit-changing mission.
Steps 3, 4, & 5 coming up in the next post!
Originally published February 2012