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Imagine you’re driving on the road, lost in music or lost in your thoughts, and the person sitting next to you suddenly yells “watch out!”—and you wake up from your slumber and slam the brakes.
Whoa! Quite a scene, yeah? In a matter of seconds, you are dragged into reality, where you realize that you weren’t aware of what you were doing, yet you were doing it—just like any other day.
This is what the word “intention” feels like for most of us. A simple word that underlies an even simpler question: “What do you want?”
Yet, for most of us being asked this question, it feels like we were forced to slam the brakes on our lives.
The kind of life that most of us lead is a life of convention. There isn’t a handbook of what to do and how to do it, yet there is.
When we enter the world, we enter with a blank slate—a tabula rasa. As young beings, we depend on the adults around us to help us make sense of the world. The safety and security that we get from them are all that we need to grow into this big, scary, unknown world that has so many shapes, colors, patterns that we know nothing about.
As infants, we are physically, emotionally, and intellectually dependent on the experienced adults around us. We rely on them for our basic care, support, nurturance, and guidance—and most of all, to make sense of who we are and the place that we occupy in this big world. We need them to help us make sense of what we are capable of, which direction to take, what goals to achieve. They are our GPS that helps us to navigate through life.
We see ourselves and the world through their lens. Whatever they choose to write on our blank slate becomes the truth or the reality for our naïve, fragile mind.
What we can or can’t do, what we should or shouldn’t do, is heavily influenced—and in some cases, completely shaped—by their perception of us and the world. As we continue to grow, we also begin to imbibe the values, habits, beliefs, and ways of living that our adults begin to hand down to us.
We are told and expected to lead our lives the way they have lived it. We become a part of the tradition that our family members have set up for us. Right from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the subjects we should study to the careers we should pursue—everything is laid out for us.
That’s only fair because, as children, we need a secure base from which we can explore the world. We need the comfort of familiarity, of knowing that we are in the presence of someone who knows what it’s like to grow up. While we are given rules, structures, and guidelines, many of us aren’t given the opportunity of being asked: “What do you want?”
For some of us, life is all about walking down an already laid down path, and in that process, intention gets left out.
And it takes intention to create a meaningful life.
It takes courage to ask ourselves: “Am I happy with my life, and what I’m doing? Is there something that I want to do differently?”
It takes effort to start recognizing our own thoughts and emotions about our own life and choices.
It takes willingness to be able to initiate a change.
After all, as Wayne Dyer said, “It is our intention that creates our reality.”
Are you willing to define your intent for your own life?
This is an excerpt from Damini Grover’s book The Intentional Being.