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Struck Out Making Resolutions? Try Intentions Instead

Posted by Laurie J Cameron

Did you know 43 percent of women rank stress and anxiety as a negative influence on their health? Some 55 percent of millennial women say stress and anxiety are at the top of negative factors affecting their health, compared to 44 percent of Gen-Xers and 33 percent of baby boomers, Denise Maher writes in “Stress and Anxiety Sabotage Personal Wellness, Women Say.” And while men may react differently to stress than women, research indicates they are more vulnerable to developing depression as a result of stress.

Given the high levels of stress so many of us live under, finding better ways to manage it might be at the top of many of our New Year’s resolutions lists.

A bit of good news from 2017 that still rings true in the 2018: mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain. That frees your mind to do more of what you want brings you meaning and purpose, such as create, design, build and collaborate.

Mindful meditation is a smart investment of your time, offering returns such as being less reactive, less stressed, and more aware, grateful, and content. It can even help you to make changes you might have tried and failed to achieve in the past.

So how can you resolve to practice mindfulness in 2018 for more calm, less stress and greater awareness of yourself and those around you? Start by setting an intention.

Want to get straight to the how-to? Click here.

Intentions are the source from which your actions spring. They bridge your desire to live from your core values such as compassion, acceptance and generosity, with your daily activities. They also shape how you choose to interpret the world. In short, intentions help you create a life that is aligned to what matters most to you.

Unlike goals, intentions are not something you attach to an expectation or measurement (such as I will work 20 percent more until I get a promotion, or I will exercise three times a week until I hit my target weight). Goals often put us in a mindset of striving for control. Intentions, on the other hand, encourage us to let go of control, flourish in uncertainty, and allow possibilities to unfold.

A specific, rigid goal you try so hard to make happen might not serve you as well as living from an intention that keeps you open to something you might not even predict.

You can set intentions as part of your mental training in mindfulness. Setting intentions is a conscious practice — one you can do at a dedicated time, such as part of your morning routine, or integrate into your daily activities.

A client in Chicago set an intention to be more present for his loved ones. When I asked what this might look like, he said he wanted to find daily ways to connect with his wife alone, and he would aim to listen to his kids without interrupting.

You might decide to set an intention to be more open. That could mean striking up a conversation with a stranger at the gym wearing a T-shirt with a slogan from another political party instead of staying in your own bubble. Or it might mean listening with curiosity to a proposed solution from a colleague with whom you usually don’t see eye to eye.

Purpose is your “why” — your reason for directing the arc of your life and work in a certain direction. Intention is the focus of your attention on making something happen. Intentions guide you, action by action, toward a life that is aligned with your larger purpose.

Both purpose and intentions come from within; they come from your own values and strengths — the things that give you meaning. Mindfulness is about paying attention to the insights that arise when you are present and aware. From these insights you find your larger purpose, and your intentions help you get there. Join me next time as we explore how to make setting intentions part of your mindfulness practice, and how to make that a conscious part of your life every day.

Start your daily habit of setting intentions right now.

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