Finding Paradise in Living with Intention
Words by Birte Kurbjeweit – Rebel Book Club Member.
Paradise has been described in many different forms. In some religions, paradise is the perfect place that we go to when we die. For travellers, paradise might be another picture-perfect horseshoe bay. There are paradises for outdoor fans, foodies, and book lovers. In this special time, for some of us paradise might simply be when schools reopen and take care of the kids for a good chunk of the day. And finally, of course there are the many kinds of paradise promised by marketing gurus if we just buy that one more product. Considering that there are so many kinds of paradise, which seem to be highly subjective, I suggest going with the Oxford dictionary definition closest to ‘bliss’: “a state of perfect happiness.”
Now we only need to know what makes us happy
Jevan Pradas seems to argue in “The Awakened Ape” that our hunter gatherer ancestors’ way of living resembled paradise, true to our purpose. To me, there seems to be something missing though, as I love all the options and the intellectual stimulus that modern life offers. Our freedom of choice might be our best chance to reach happiness or paradise, but we must use it wisely to not be overwhelmed. Funnily, living in London under lockdown has made me wonder what a modern, happy life might come down to…
Once the wheels of London and most of the world stopped turning, I noticed how overwhelming the noise of the outside world can sometimes be. And by noise I refer to more than the actual noises of the city, but rather the constant background noise of a busy life. There are so many expectations with regards to what we should achieve or how we should spend our time – by ourselves, but also by others and, it seems, society in general. Plus, with the constant exposure to (social) media, to the lives and opinions of other people, it can very quickly become very difficult to distinguish between what is our voice and view and what’s the voice and view of others. In some cases, the experiences and judgement of others and the simple information on options we have might be helpful, but in many cases, it seems to confuse and overwhelm us.
The experience of lockdown – and with it the exclusion of many of the outside voices, views, and stimuli – made me wonder how we can create more ‘silence’ and ‘slowness’ in our lives. Not the literal silence, but in the form of peace, balance, and intentionality. Could paradise be when we live consciously? Spend our time, energy, and money in line with our values and true sources of happiness? And so, I started to look into what I could find out about practical tips and resources on slow, mindful and intentional living.
Slowing down to go forward
Let us define paradise as slowing down by using mindfulness to understand our intentions so that we can live each day with purpose. Or in simpler terms, to live every day so that we feel truly good about it. We know that fast living has a catastrophic effect on the environment as well as the livelihoods of many people. It also entails a huge risk of mental illness, with 10.7% of the world population already struggling with mental health. The WHO estimates this number will only increase further. Taking a step back, connecting with the people around us and the planet that supports us, might be the first step towards finding our happiness, bliss, or paradise.
Every aspect of our lives can be shaped by intentionality: how we eat, shop, dress ourselves, take care of ourselves, earn money, travel, interact with each other, spend our free time, and create. I found many different tools that can help to live intentionally, to cut through all the outside noise to what our voice is really saying and to check in with ourselves how we’re feeling at the moment and what we really need.
For example, Minimalist Joshua Becker describes two phases that help to start living with intention:
1. Lay the foundation:
- Realise that your life is made up of choices
- Evaluate the environment that surrounds you
- Get to know yourself and your passions, talents, abilities, and weaknesses
2. Add practical steps:
- Live your own life instead of comparing yourself by others
- Define a purpose and what you want your life to contribute
- Set goals that are in line with your purpose
- Stay focused to hold onto your intention and voice
- Learn from others
Coming out of the lockdown, I will certainly try to live more intentionally. I want to feel freer, like I have more time and self-determination. I have already started to connect more with family and friends and coming out of this also want to connect more with strangers. Having spent so much time in a city flat I have also realised that I want to spend more time in nature.
Does this resonate with anyone else? Are there any changes that you would like to make? Are there any resources, tips or tools that have been helpful to you?
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