Personal growth and recovery do not happen by accident, but as a byproduct of intentional living. A life of recovery is a life that is lived on purpose, mindful of our moment-to-moment intentions. Growth occurs by making a conscious commitment to living for a higher purpose in harmony with Reality.
As humans we have spiritual needs for meaning, purpose, and the sense of being a part something greater than ourselves. We do not live merely to exist and have a series of pleasurable experiences. We also have needs to contribute, to serve, to fix things, and to create. We have a need to love.
An intentional life is one in which we consciously, intentionally, work to fulfill both our basic needs as well as our spiritual needs. We do this by intentionally choosing to do what is true, right, and good, moment to moment. We consciously choose and commit to the practice of several lifelong and life-enhancing habits. These habits make up our way of being, seeing, and doing.
Spiritual Practice: We schedule time at least twice a day for reflection, silence, and stillness. We also practice mindful presence throughout the day so as to cultivate connectedness and clarity. These intentional practices open our eyes to Realty. Though attending without thought to the Now, we taste unity. Clarity comes from seeing before thought, which then leads to the thoughts that arise out of stillness. These are the most important of all our thoughts, for each thought out of stillness contributes to the fabric of our spiritually-based philosophy of life. We open our eyes to the sacredness of this moment, seeing that all things and all beings are sacred. We see that life is a miracle, and our consciousness a mysterious gift. We see that life is precious, resilient but fragile, and fleeting. We see that this moment, whether painful or pleasurable, shall pass. We develop the understanding that our own best interest is selflessness. We see that we are accountable to the world upon which we depend. We see that love begets love. We see that in each moment we have a choice to live out of love, or out of hurt, anger, and fear.
Living for something greater: We intentionally serve our higher purpose in all that we do. When we eat, we eat that we might benefit others. When we work, we work to contribute. When we wash the dishes, we do it for the benefit of our family. We nurture and savor life in all the ways that are uniquely our own.
Surrendering, accepting, and letting go: We respect and honor the perfectly imperfect whole of Reality. We see our proper place in the order of life—as a part of a greater whole upon which we depend and which also depends on us. We let go with humility of any expectations that people or situations should be any different than they are. We change what we can and then accept what we cannot change.
Renouncing harm: We renounce doing anything to harm ourselves or others. This includes freeing ourselves, through the process of recovery, of all addictions and destructive habits. It also means knowing, accepting, and taming our dark side. We renounce selfishness, in which we act for ourselves at the expense of others. We renounce manipulation, coercion, intimidation, exploitation, gossip, and all other behaviors that harm others. When we do harm, we make amends and repair the harm done.
Living in harmony: We practice tolerance, patience, nonjudgment, consideration, sensitivity, empathy, kindness, and respect. From these practices we cultivate the conditions for forgiveness and compassion to arise. We also listen carefully and respectfully to the feedback of others so that we can regulate our behavior to be in accord with the needs of others.
Contributing: We give more than we take. We provide more than we get paid for. We practice doing everything to the best of our ability.
Optimizing integrity: We resolve the conflicts and contradictions within us in order to maximize the coherence of our experience, understanding (philosophy), and actions. This harmonizes our brains. We walk our talk. We demonstrate safety, reliability, transparency and accountability with others. We insure that our intentions and our actions correspond to each other.
Practicing respectful authenticity: We allow ourselves to be exactly who we are. We honor what is in us, that which comes from beyond us. We are spontaneous, yet appropriate. This requires courage and complete self-acceptance along with a deep faith in our goodness.
Loving: We renounce self-centeredness and attend carefully to others and to the world at large. We dedicate ourselves to be a channel of love by which we help others and make the world a better place. We help, support, validate, nurture, and affirm others, giving specific praise when such praise is warranted. We work to make people’s lives better because of us. Loving also includes holding others accountable, having high-but-realistic expectations of others, and not enabling others (allowing for or supporting the regressive or destructive behavior of others).
Intentional living entails the patient and persistent practice of these positive habits over a lifetime. Through these practices we cultivate the opportunity for the miracles of growth, recovery, and transformation to occur. We live intentionally in our search for self-realization. While self-realization may not come to us through seeking, it only comes to those who seek.