Have you ever felt completely at peace? Imagine for a moment what it would be like.
Imagine being able to just sit, and watch the world go by – no nagging thoughts, no need to fill the silence, no need for anything, except this moment, right here, right now.
Do you feel like this very often? I know I don’t. But I’m trying to figure out how to get there more often. I think I might know how.
I’m on a mission to live with intention.
A balancing act
Every single thing that crosses your path throughout your day – everything you have your attention on, whether consciously or not – has an effect on you. Each thing is bringing you closer – or taking you further away – from that peaceful state that you imagined a moment ago.
The people in your life, the objects that surround you, the responsibilities and obligations you feel, even the town you live in… none of these things are ever neutral in their effects on you.
However – and this is key – whilst all that is true, the solution is not as black-and-white as “if you want to be happier, bring in more positive things, and get rid of more negative things.” You see, each individual thing is not merely “a positive or a negative” – each individual thing is itself a combination of positives and negatives, a balance of blessings and curses.
What’s more, each individual thing affects each individual person differently. Whilst some things are more universally good or bad, it’s way more nuanced than that. What bothers you might delight me, and vice versa.
Living with intention means looking at the things you have let be in your life, and measuring the net effect they have on you personally – when you weigh its benefits against its drawbacks, does each thing overall make you more happy, or less happy? From this vantage point you can then decide what to keep and what to get rid of, or never to allow in in the first place.
Maximalism vs Minimalism
By default, we are, unfortunately, maximalists. This means that we tend to – unconsciously, of course – err on the side of letting into our life anything that might bestow upon us some kind of benefit. We act on the premise that if it has some positive aspect, it must therefore be positive, and therefore if we don’t have it in our lives, we are somehow… losing something.
The problem is that if you look hard enough, almost everything has some kind of positive aspect to it. Hitler was a vegetarian. Enough said.
Minimalism, on the other hand, is simply a little being more discerning and discriminatory, and looking at the bigger picture. Playing 3D chess instead of noughts and crosses.
It means weighing up the balance of positives and negatives of a thing – calculating the net effect of bringing something into our lives. A thing can have as many positives as it wants, but if they don’t outweigh the negatives, it’s gone. Simple.
You can be more intentional
Sure, you can’t choose everything, you can’t control everything, you can’t make everything bend to your will. But you can certainly put the numbers on your side by being a little more discerning.
You can decide what the overall effects of having something in your life are – whether the positives outweigh the negatives, or vice versa – and start to lead a more intentional, deliberate life.