Intentional Living – Mindful Habits for Everyday Happiness

Intentional living has the ability the shape us, grow us, and transform our lives. When we move with intention, we are creating the life we desire, rather than letting our lives sweep us by.

Intentional living is doing things with purpose, clarity, and presence. It is infusing meaning into every task, big or small. When we move with intent, it gives us an opportunity to appreciate every aspect of our lives, dive into self-discovery, and question that which may not feel aligned.

Living with intention is a daily practice, and like anything, will take time to develop. That being said, the more one makes decisions with intention, the more it will become second nature and truly change one’s life. 

What Is Intentional Living?

There isn’t a rulebook to define what intentional living is, as each person has their own unique way of expressing and living an intentional life. I see intentional living as two phases that will continue to happen throughout one’s life: processing and following through.  

It is about living purposefully and being mindful of how we use our time, energy, and resources. Intentional living requires self-reflection and a deep understanding of what truly matters to us personally. Intentional living is an ongoing practice that requires self-awareness, reflection, and ongoing adjustment. By consciously aligning actions with values and priorities, individuals can create a more fulfilling, purpose-driven, and meaningful life.

A father holding his son on his shoulders - Intentional Living - Gone Minimal
A father holding his son on his shoulders

Intention Living: The Process 

In order to live an intentional life, one must first look at every aspect of their life and see how one truly feels about each. The best way to do this is to start asking yourself questions, such as: 

  1. What excites me in life? 
  2. Am I taking care of myself; mentally, physically, and spiritually? 
  3. Do I enjoy my job or find satisfaction/purpose in it? 
  4. Do the people I surround myself with encourage me to be a better version of myself? 
  5. What does my inner spirit desire? 
  6. What steps am I taking, or can be taking, to pursue my dreams/goals? 
  7. Am I happy in my relationship with my partner/spouse? 
  8. Am I allowing myself time for creativity and inspiration? 

The most important part is discovering that which feeds your soul, inspires you, and makes you feel truly alive and connected to the world around you.

I’ll be the first to say that answering and exploring these questions isn’t easy, and it can feel quite uncomfortable. If any of these questions make you feel uneasy or uncomfortable, that’s a sure sign they need to be looked at, because it means they may not be aligned with what you truly desire. 

This process is scary, and it requires immense courage and strength to face the parts of one’s life that one isn’t happy with. I believe this is where people, myself included, get stuck. There’s a blooming inspiration inside oneself, and they want to change their life. But, when it comes to actually diving into what one wants, and what one has to change, many bulk at the challenge. It is far easy to stay where one is then it is to take the scary steps of change. 

A man simply standing on a path - Intentional Living - Gone Minimal
A man simply standing on a path

I know this process well, and it required a dark night of the soul for me to finally discover who I was, and what I wanted. The process led me on a journey of discovering my path, which I also realized didn’t always look as I thought it would. That being said, my path has the foundation of my values and intent, so I know I can fully trust in my path. 

Some people don’t resonate with following “their path” and that’s okay, as intentional living will look different for everyone. The most important part is discovering that which feeds your soul, inspires you, and makes you feel truly alive and connected to the world around you. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that you might have something nagging at the back of your mind right at this moment as you read this. Maybe it’s something you’ve been trying to ignore but it keeps coming back up, asking for you to visit it. Maybe not . . . but if so, this is your permission slip to explore it, whatever it may be. 

A man walking on railroad tracks - Intentional Living - Gone Minimal
A man walking on railroad tracks

Intentional Living: The Follow-Through 

Now that you have gone through the hard questions, and know what you would like to change or do, it’s time for the follow-through. Intentional living requires action and commitment. For example, you know that your job doesn’t serve you or your goals, so what are you going to do about it? 

Now, just because you know it isn’t where you want to be, that doesn’t mean you should all of a sudden quit your job. Be intentional about it. What steps can you take to change your job? Does it require a shift in careers, positions, or a shift in perspective? 

Some changes, like a job, are bigger and may change one’s life quite dramatically. Some changes aren’t as big, such as recognizing that you need to take more time for self-care and creativity. With this, you can be intentional with your time and set 30 minutes aside in your day to do some yoga, drawing, or journaling. 

Practicing simple yoga in a minimalist room - Intentional Living - Gone Minimal
Practicing simple yoga in a minimalist room

In fact, I recommend starting with small changes first. Notice the areas in your life where you can be more intentional, but don’t require a drastic lifestyle change, and start with those. Then, after you’ve gained trust for yourself through your commitment to those small changes, addressing the big ones won’t be as scary. Well, they may still be scary, but you’ll have confidence and trust in yourself, and your path, that you have the courage to face them. 

Day-to-Day Intentional Living 

The above process can be quite intensive, so it’s helpful to know how one can live an intentional life in the normal day-to-day. Here’s an example of what I’m faced with that I would like to change so I can be more intentional with my mornings: 

I’ve noticed a pattern that when I wake up, the first thing I do and think about is checking my phone. After checking my notifications, I immediately start scrolling through social media. I give the excuse in my head, “it helps me wake up.” I know that’s a lousy excuse, and I don’t think it benefits my morning or mindset. Plus, it takes me out of the present moment.  

Living intentionally is something everyone can do, and it is shaped by daily habits and choices.

Going forward, I would like to be more intentional with my mornings by not checking my phone first thing. Rather, I would like to get up, look out the window, and get in touch with myself and the world around me. Because looking at my phone has become a pattern, I know it won’t be easy to change it, but I can fill myself up with intention the night before and in the morning.

In my groggy state, I know some mornings I won’t follow through on my intention, and that’s okay. Living an intentional life isn’t about perfection and never messing up. It’s about following through on one’s values, purpose, and believing in one’s self. I have confidence that I can change the pattern with my phone because I live an intentional life. 

Being intentional during the day-to-day is about being present with your tasks, thoughts, and attitude. Start by simply noticing how you move through the day, what thoughts arise, and how you view the world. 

A woman simply looking out a window - Intentional Living - Gone Minimal
A woman simply looking out a window

What are the Benefits of Intentional Living?

The greatest benefit of intentional living is that you now shape your life, rather than letting it shape you. Instead of just “going with the flow” you play a role in every decision you make. The decisions you make are based on your values and what you want in your life, rather than what other people may want for you, or what you think you need to do in order to fit in with society. 

When one makes intentional decisions for themselves and the life one wants to live, it’s likely they’ll be making decisions that benefit their health, both physically and mentally. 

It’s no secret that to live a long and vital life, it’s important to eat well and exercise often. When one lives a more intentional life, they’re more in tune with their bodies, so they’ll make decisions that benefit them rather than harm them. This means working out and stretching more often, and eating healthy, organic meals with lots of vegetables. 

A woman working out in a minimalist room - Intentional Living - Gone Minimal
A woman working out in a minimalist room

Simply put, intentional living promotes a healthy lifestyle. 

Plus, when one makes decisions they feel good and confident about, it leads to less stress and feelings of self-betrayal. One study from ScienceDirect states, “more daily value-based actions are related to greater daily psychological well-being.” 

Living intentionally also gives you more resilience when hard times come. This is shown through a scientific study published by PubMed that demonstrates college students who live with “daily purposeful actions” promote more resilience in the face of stressful life events.

Intentional Living Books 

The subject of intentional living is worth exploring deeper, and one way to do that is by reading a book about it.  Here are some to check out: 

Check out this video from the last author on the list, Mallika Chopra, who shares a story about what it means to live intentionally: 

Related Insights

What does being intentional in life mean?

Being intentional in life means making decisions based on your values, goals, and purpose. 

What is simple and intentional living?

Simple and intentional living is about being present and doing things with thoughtfulness. 

Choices That Real People Make To Live Intentionally

Living intentionally is something everyone can do, and it is shaped by daily habits and choices. I was curious to see how my friends and family live an intentional life, so I asked them to share with me one choice they make often to live intentionally. Here’s what I discovered: 

How People Choose To Live IntentionallyTimes Selected
Being thankful whenever I see beauty 13%
Spending less time on social media12%
Daily reflections on life’s purpose/my calling13%
Being present. 50%
Being thankful for everything I have and the beauty around me. 12%
Simple choices real people make to live intentionally

Other Resources:

I know from firsthand experience how magical and amazing life can be when it is lived with intention. That being said, it’s not an easy process, but the reward is a life where you feel truly alive and connected. My hope is for you to feel the same, and so I ask, what is one small thing you can do, starting today, that you can do with intention? 

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