We have intentions behind all the things that we do. When we wash the dishes, we intend to keep things clean; when we drive to work, it’s because we need to make a living.
But a lot of the time, we simply fall into the habit and forget why we do those things in the first place.
What if we repeated our intention before we did things? “What if you washed the dishes, but first said you are doing this as a service to your family, to make them happy, and as a form of meditation for yourself, to practice mindfulness? Doing the dishes would suddenly take on much more importance, and would cease to be boring.”
If we remind ourselves of our original intention of what we’re doing, we see the meaning in it and enjoy it more.
A simple practice of intentionality: before you do the next action online or at work, pause a moment, close your eyes, and mentally say your intention. Why are you doing this? Is it out of compassion for others, or yourself? Is it to make someone happier? To improve the world? Out of gratitude for the work and kindness of others?
Lovely. We do tend to forget why exactly we do things, even if they’re important to us. Our brain settles into the habit and we do the thing at hand, but the idea of why we do it rarely crosses our mind.
I think the why is important, because sometimes, these habits can become tedious and annoying, and things we don’t want to do. But if we remind ourselves of the meaning, we can refocus and remember our original meaning.
This might even work with things other than habits. Maybe it might work for work you’re putting off, or a phone call you’ve been needing to make for a while. Maybe that phone call is to a friend who you haven’t talked to for a while. Thinking about the intention—improving your relationship with that friend and making both your days better—might make you inspired enough to go ahead and make that call.
This is a way to refocus on the meaning behind what we do. That meaning is sometimes hidden since we optimize our thinking to think about the what, which is usually “I have to do a bunch of work”, and less of why, which tells us the reason that doing that work is worth something.
Also, a nice thing that comes from this is that we have to actually think about the intention behind something, which can tell us whether it’s worth it or not. Sometimes we mosey along and do things that aren’t really worth much, but we do them anyway because of impulse or whatnot. And this might be a good way to filter those things out of your life.