With all the free time we have on our hands during this quarantine period, it’s so easy to be looking at someone else’s life, and at the same time, so hard not to be comparing it to our own. For the past few months, I have come across moments like these when I just couldn’t help myself but wonder: “if only I were good at cooking”, “if only I were good at make-up”, “if only I pursued fashion design”, and endless bickering of “if only ‘s”. This heightened another episode of existential analysis, especially as my birth date was approaching.
For the past years, I have done so much in my life in my pursuit of passion and purpose. As you may have known, I have spent my years in the life moments industry and the sense of fulfillment I get from being an events host, a life coach, a trainer, is immeasurable! But the internal cries to do soul-searching (and the limitations to do one due to the quarantine) are deafening. Thoughts like, “what am I here for?”, “what is my calling?”, “why am I doing this?” keep me awake. You know what I mean.
Anywhere we look at, whether in the virtual or physical world, we are being told that we are not enough. This affects us in not a good way that we chase the wrong things to fill in the void. Some of us buy items or spend on ventures that we misunderstand as wants for needs, without fully understanding the purpose.
Recently, I came across the art of intentional living: “a lifestyle based on an individual or group’s conscious attempts to live according to their values and beliefs. These can include lifestyles based on religious, political or ethical values, as well as for self-improvement.” I was graced with the wisdom of Hadassah Patrick of Hadassah Patrick Ministries as she shared what Intentional living is about.
“Intentional Living has a lot to do with focus. I believe we act based on what we focus on. What we focus on in life is what we get. If you focus on trouble, it would develop into more trouble. But if you focus on peace, you will get more peaceful.”
I could say that this pandemic has brought out the best and worst in us. There are just so many things that are happening in the world today that keeping focus seems to be a challenge.
As Hadassah Patrick stated:
“SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
- Do you love your life, or do you just endure it and you are just trying to put up with it?
- Do you ever wish you ever had someone else’s life?
- I wish I came from your family.
- I wish I had your colour.
- I wish I had your shape.
- Do you often say or think I will be happy when…?
- I will be happy when I get married
- I will be happy when I walk out of this marriage
- I will be happy when I get a new job
- I will be happy when I buy a new house
- I will be happy when I have kids, and then you will say, these kids give me real big troubles.
We will always find something to be unhappy about until we learn how to be happy intentionally. Your happiness is no one’s responsibility but you!”
I’m sure you’d agree with me that what she said was relatable. In one point (or more) in our lives, we said those “I will be happy when…” lines. It was the same exact phase I went through as I was nearing my birth date. For some reason I was thinking, “am I doing enough for the past 36 years?” I felt like I’m running around like a headless chicken: busy and tired doing a lot of things but nothing important. I wanted to be more and offer more to the world, but I felt so helpless (yet again, after a long time). The words “not enough” getting plastered on my head.
This situation endeared me more to the concept “Intentional living”, and I happened to watch this Ted Talk entitled “Living with Intent by Mallika Chopra. As Mallika mentioned Eckhart Tolle in her Ted Talk, “intent is a most powerful concept”. For me, it’s the intention on why we do the things we do that matter. We tend to be so caught up on someone else’s successes and on what others would think of us that we forget why we do something in the first place. I remember telling one of my learners a few days ago, ‘if the intention is good, then there’s nothing to worry about’. It’s funny how the pieces of advice we give to people backfire to us don’t you think?
That advice resonated to what Hadassah added, “Having exposed to Intentional Living really helps me put my life in order. I do things because I have to to do them, not because I feel like doing them.”
And knowing what we want to do with our lives begin with self-discovery. Affirming what we want to do and what to become helps us in setting those intentions which in return can push us to the path we have visualized for ourselves. It’s hard to know the answers if we don’t have the “why” to begin with.
That Ted Talk by Mallika stirred emotions in me for sure. And the questions she left on that video echo to me, which I find to be useful for us in setting our intentions:
- Who am I?
- What do I want?
- How can I serve?
All we need to stop undermining ourselves is to stop talking and start listening. If there’s anything good that this pandemic has brought, is that it has forced us to be still and be in the moment. Acknowledging our current state makes space in our heads for other things like goals, creativity, and above all else, gratitude.
Our brain can be tricky sometimes that no matter how happy we are, its circuits are going to start sparking again, bringing us to a state of assessment and evaluation – like how our bosses at work do performance review on us from time to time. Once it does, I hope you take the time to sit down, stop whatever you’re doing, revel in the noise or the silence, let the Brain ask away:
“What am I here for?”, “What is my calling?”, “Why am I doing this?”, “Will I be happy if only I were…”, “Do I wish to be in someone else’s life?”, “Am I enough?”
Let’s acknowledge its need to be heard. Let it talk to us. This endless existential analysis means we are alive. All this thinking means that we are human.
And the answer to the question “am I enough” cannot be answered by anyone but ourselves. As Eckhart Tolle said, “Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem…. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
Let’s focus on whatever it is that feels right for us and on what we intend to do. We may feel like headless chickens to be staying at home, or physically fatigued with all the work that needs to be done, or mentally exhausted from wanting to save the world. But whatever intentions we have set on our lives, these are defined by what we are, what we want and how we want to serve. The others may judge or critique, but this is what we wanted to focus on; therefore, only the purest of our intentions knows that it’s the best of who we are and the best of what we can do at this stage in our lives.
…only the purest of our intentions knows that it’s the best of who we are and the best of what we can do at this stage in our lives.
Stay loved and blessed, everyone!
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Follow Hadassah Patrick to learn more about Intentional Living and spiritual devotions on:
Reference materials mentioned in this article are:
“Living with Intent” Ted Talk by Mallika Chopra
“A New Earth: Awakening to Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle