Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive, I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. – The Dalai Lama
To make the most of your life, to nourish the causes of happiness for yourself and others, it takes strength, clear intentions, and persistent effort. This two-part essay explores how to establish powerful intentions and sustain the commitment to see them come true.
Setting Clear Intentions
As humans evolved, stacking one floor above another on the neuroaxis in the brain, our horizons expanded. We gradually extended the time between stimulus and response, and the space between our own actions and their outermost ripples. The wider your view, the wiser your intentions. So it’s good to ask yourself: How wide is my view? It’s natural to spend most of your time focusing on what’s right in front of you, but every so often it’s worth considering questions like these:
- What good and bad effects will my lifestyle today have on me 20 years from now?
- What do I do that helps and harms my planet?
- How do my love and my anger affect others?
- What could be the long-term results of intensifying my psychological growth and spiritual practices?
And how high is your aim? One time at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, my spiritual “home base,” my friend and teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, silenced a room full of several hundred people when she asked a simple question: What about enlightenment? She went on to point out that the Buddha, like all the great teachers, always encouraged people toward the most complete realization possible. Whether or not you connect with the notion of enlightenment or related ideas like union with God, each one of us has a sense deep down of the ultimate possibilities of a human life. If you haven’t taken those possibilities seriously and gone after them, why not start now? Is there truly a good reason not to?