5 Ways I Lived More Intentionally in 2016
So in 2016 I got really into what the interwebs are calling intentional living. Essentially intentional living is living based on your values by making conscious decisions that design a lifestyle around what you believe. Originally, living the kind of life I truly believed in seemed unattainable for me. For me my ideal life would entail consuming less and working toward being zero-waste, eating healthier and higher quailty food, buying from exclusively from sustainable/ethical/local businesses, living slower and being more present in every moment of everyday, committing to and developing my hobbies, and the list goes on and on... For years I was under the impression I couldn't attain all that I just listed either because of finances, time, or a combination of both. Because let's be honest being "green" or buying organic is expensive, and as a twenty-something who largest expense is paying off an education she completed years ago, there isn't a lot of space in the budget for this dream lifestyle. To quote Donald Trump (the only time I ever will btw): WRONG.
There is a way to start easing toward your dream life and living more intentionally. You don't have to buy what society is selling you. Yes, it takes a lot of time self-educating to find alternatives to what is out in the mainstream. And again, yikes!, the money. But if you are like me and are looking for a different way of living, maybe a simpler, slower more conscious one? Then here are 5 ways I have begun building that intentional lifestyle I am truly proud of.
In 2016 I started calling myself a minimalist out loud for the world to hear. Minimalism was the beginning of a major perspective shift for me a few years ago, but I always kept it quiet for fear of being judged as not "minimal enough". But this year I learned being a minimalist isn't about the absence of things or being able to keep a tally of every item. It is about having only what brings me value and joy and being content with just that. It means trading in things that weigh me down, for experiences that brighten my life and encourage me to grow. Minimalism is about gratitude for what I have earned, not yearning for what I must indebt myself to own.
A lot of people say this but I truly believe it, minimalism looks different for everyone because it is about your values and your choices. No one can ever tell me I am doing it wrong because, although I still have a lot of things compared to some people, I am happy and my "stuff" works for my life. 2016 was the year that I became finally became completely content with being my kind of minimalist. One with more plants that can be counted on two hands and a disorganized collection of craft supplies. And once I accepted that my way of living with less should look different from anyone else's I become more comfortable in my home and with my finances. In the past I have had times where I got the urge to impulse buy and then feel guilty later, but now even my "impulse" purchases are in line with my lifestyle leaving me regret free (if that makes sense?). Honestly I could write a whole post (or many) about my minimalist journey, but I have to say last year was a turning point that has solidified this way of life for me!
2016 was also a year where I began to recognize the importance of mindfulness and self care. I have always been the type of person who prides herself on productivity over almost all things. And fortunately up until this year I could work myself non-stop without any repercussions. But this year the stress of working too much began to manifest in physical ailments (nothing too serious) but enough to force me to slow down. I have been Buddhist for 12 years, but I took up meditation to learn about mindfulness in a different way. I wanted to learn how to listen to my mind and body (and hopefully see the warning signs of burnout before it happens!). This mindful meditation has opened my eyes to so many other things that are important to me, like being present with the people I surround myself with and taking out time in the day for myself. And an added bonus, once I became more mindful of each days moments I took little steps to make the day more enjoyable like walking the longer but more peaceful route to work (talk about intentional changes!)!
A big change for me, and one I thought most unattainable, was how I spend my money. I have always wanted to be able to buy sustainable, support great brands that are doing things right but I have always though that would be out of my reach because of my budget. But with the help of minimalism and needing less I found my budget started to loosen up and I could focus on buying a good quality coat made in the US versus having several from my former favorite fast fashion chains. Same goes for household and beauty products. I began carving out time to research natural alternatives in my beauty routine and around the house. And now when shopping for groceries we cut back on meats and focus on great quality produce. To stay on budget I prepare a lot more from scratch (which again takes time), but somehow I have found the time as this became a greater priority for me. By focusing on the power of my dollar and buying things I truly love, from clothes to food, I have gained an even greater respect for what money can do. Everyday better products are becoming more accessible and that is the inertia I want to support.
Hygge (aka hooga). I totally hitched my cart to this bandwagon and have fully committed to the lifestyle. If you have yet to hear, hygge is the Danish philosophy of coziness. Discovering hygge and prioritizing comfort has validated my inner introvert in the most beautiful ways. Last year I made it a point to embrace my moments at home to make them restorative and peaceful. And when hosting I was constantly on the look out for what would make for the most hyygelig experience!
The last way that I found I lived more intentionally in 2016 was by not taking my city for granted! As a New Yorker I tend to overlook the fact that I have access to so many amazing things: culture, public spaces, food, other people! But I took notice last year and took conscious efforts to see new places and get out of my usual routine. In part I was motivated to scratch my chronic travel itch, which I realized from my meditations I shouldn't push aside. It's like they say, YOLO - you only live once so you really have to prioritize the living part! My heart has grown even wider for my city and I have so many new favorite places because of it! So to sum up this post of how I live more intentionally, I will leave you with three of my favorite places I intentionally visited in NYC during 2016!
- The stunning Dia Beacon just a train ride along the Hudson
- The lush and sprawling Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
- And the architectural wonder, Grace Farms
I look forward to what 2017 brings. Tell me, what do you think of living intentionally? Are you into this concept or do you practice it in your life? I would really like to know!