I have a handwritten sign in my house that says, “Live with Intention.” I see it every morning as I brush my teeth and it is an affirmation to consciously choose what I do today. There is a process to intentional living. It beings by slowing down to consider my thought patterns and my speech, and experimenting with the way I use language. This increases my self-awareness of how I may choose to live.

Each one of us has the privilege of choosing how to live and what to do. Does this mean we get to do whatever we want? Of course not. I am almost certain, dear reader that we both have jobs, bills to pay and other obligations to meet. By living with intention we can choose the attitude with which we approach our jobs, bills, and obligations.

Intentional living has a lot to do with the words we use. Have you ever noticed how much of your thought patterns and speech are automatic? Slow down and notice. By using certain words and avoiding others, we make micro changes to the way the brain works. We can change the brain from negative thinking to positive thinking. Empowerment follows. Stop and think about things you do and how you choose to do them. By using words like “I can’t,” or “I have to,” we take away our power to choose.

We can choose to feel obligated and indebted to our obligations, or see them as choices we make. Looking at your obligations from a positive perspective may help you to feel empowered about your existence.

Try it for yourself! See what works and what does not. I would love to hear about your experimentation with this idea. How do you live with intention? What other positive phrases can you come up with to replace the negative?

Here are six words to avoid using, and the positive replacements that facilitate intentional living:

Negative            Positive

Can’t                I won’t, I choose not to, It isn’t a priority right now

Need to           I want to, I am going to, I will

Have to           I am going to, I will

Must                I want to, I made plans to, I said I would

Ought to         I want to, I will

Should            I would like to, I intend to

My work as a Gestalt counselor focuses on choice, personal responsibility, and living in the present moment. I can help facilitate the transition from distraction to intention.


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