It’s a powerful habit to develop: intention. Over the past 10 to 15 years, people on both sides—spiritual and scientific—have come to agree that when people recognize the benefits of setting and following through on intentions, their attitude, health and well-being improve.
Here’s a great example. A large hotel chain conducted a study of several hundred housekeepers as part of a “help initiative.” When the group was polled, the number-one complaint was that there wasn’t enough time to exercise, so they were gaining weight and experiencing lackluster energy levels. Study researchers decided to track a select group of participants to see how many calories they were burning while going through various cleaning tasks. The result: The workers were burning hundreds of calories daily. And once the workers were told this and that they should be proud of their activity level, they reported a better mood and began to lose weight—all because researchers planted a seed of intention and pointed out that the physical work was actually delivering positive benefits.
This is the power of intention: the power of how we can go out and create what we’re looking for. But sometimes it’s something good that we’re already doing. And when we recognize that, the results are beautiful.
When I see patients, I say, “Tell me all of the things that you’re doing great at right now.” Often there is a pause, but then they begin to open their mind to things that are positive, such as “I got out and walked three times this week” or “I always try to turn my computer off by 7 p.m.” When they listen to themselves acknowledging their actions, they become more intentional about following through on those actions. I’ve seen patients’ body language and mood change, and amazing life transformations happen over periods of time.
In our present times, it’s easy to lose ourselves and not find a space of grace in all of the good we do. Here are five simple ways to focus on intention every day.
- When you come home from work, feel free to be intentional about leaving the day and its possible stressors and challenges behind by taking a lap around the neighborhood, around your house or even around your car.
- When you’re with a loved one, make sincere and ever-present eye contact to be more intentional about increasing compassion, empathy and common humanity.
- First thing in the morning, be more intentional about lowering stress by connecting with yourself, your heart and your loved ones, rather than beginning your day with media.
- To be intentional about increasing your chances of sleeping well, eating better, lowering stress and increasing your likelihood of success, write down five things you’re grateful for before going to bed.
- Shut your phone off an hour before bedtime, with the intention of getting a better night’s sleep.
Dr. James Rouse has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. He is an inspirational speaker, personal coach, author and the cofounder of Skoop, a line of plant-based superfoods.