These days there is so much stimuli coming at us all the time…not just information…stimuli…all kinds of pokes and prods and prompts chiding us to react. And the more we become accustomed to it, the more we become desensitized to how it conditions our response. Can I have my facts with a heaping helping of hyperbole, please?
The key to keeping grounded in objective reality? Intention: thinking, acting and feeling in deliberately purposeful ways. Operating metacognitively. Refusing to react. Forcing reflection. Insisting on awareness. Choosing to be mindfully engaged.
This is becoming increasingly difficult in an age where everything is cased in context…emotionally-charged, reaction-inducing, prepackaged context. It’s so pervasive, it’s easy not to pick up on it. And it’s so enticing, we tend to surrender to it. Knee-jerk reaction is easy; it gives into our most base assumptions, biases and preferences. It reinforces what we want to believe, not what we know. It is intellectually lazy.
Intention puts us in tension with how others want us to live. It requires us to stop and forces us to think…not react. It’s not easy; it goes against our natural attraction to those things that reinforce our personal preferences. Intention is hard, but I can condition myself to be intentional, much in the same way outside influences condition me to be reactive. I frame my own reality. I own it. It is mine.
The payoff is, when I am intentional, I retain the power to choose my own thoughts, my own decisions, my own happiness. It insulates me from any outside influence unobtrusively attempting to permeate my sense of what is real and right for me.
Intention is my ticket to authenticity, to being my genuine self, living my genuine life. Without filters. Without static. Without the undue influence of anyone else. Because, in the final analysis, no one else is responsible for my happiness. No one else can get me where I want to be…where I belong.
Practice intentionality in everything you do. Ask yourself why, and then make yourself justify the answer. Know your truth…and accept nothing less than your truth in your life. Teach yourself to be intentionally you…intentionally fulfilled…intentionally happy. As T.S. Eliot implores in Ash Wednesday: “Teach us to care and not to care; teach us to be still.”