5 Intention-setting Ideas for Individual Growth

Celebrating the Month of Love

When we think about the month of February, it often brings up thoughts of Valentine’s Day.  It is also a month to honor American Heart Month and Black History Month.  And this year happens to be a leap year as well!

I believe what ties all of these occasions together is an opportunity for individual (mental, physical, emotional) growth.  When world challenges loom so large, we might feel helpless or even hopeless, which hurts our hearts.  Yet, if we create space to turn inward, to look at what needs tending in our own gardens, whether our physical health or weeding out old beliefs that are choking our ability to flourish, then we can find some peace in knowing that our individual growth will contribute to the evolution of the collective consciousness of the world.

Below are some intention-setting ideas for consideration to support your journey inward this month:

  1. Be kind.   A good starting point for individual growth is to be more kind towards yourself.  Consider ways (i.e., thoughts, actions) that you might offer yourself kindness this month.  Perhaps write them down and put them in a place that you can see your list each day, maybe by your bathroom mirror or stuck to your computer screen.  Remember, the universe gets confused by the word “No” and all other forms of it (i.e., not, can’t, won’t, isn’t).  So when constructing your Be Kind list, make sure the statements are framed in a positive format.  For example, saying “I won’t criticize myself.” is interpreted by the universe as “I criticize myself.”  A possible reframe might be “I offer myself compassion more when I make mistakes.”
  2. What matters most.  If we know what matters most to us, it becomes the rudder in the storms of life.  Consider taking some time this month (maybe under the new moon on 2/9 or to celebrate the Year of the Dragon on 2/10) to sit and write down what matters most to you.  Perhaps expand on the items you might identify with the “Why” it is important to you.  If you might want a starting point to support this effort, a list of values (from Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead) can be found here.
  3. Make a difference.  Once you have a better sense of what is important to you, let it guide you towards spaces that support focusing your energy in making a difference, whether to others or the planet.  Those spaces can be any size, not just large spaces.  Remember, if we all focus on our individual growth, trust that the collective growth will be HUGE.  So consider taking small steps and know it is enough, you are enough!
  4. Express gratitude.  Taking time to identify those people, places, actions and things that you appreciate creates space for joy to present and grow.  Reflecting on those moments of gratitude allows you to savor the experiences.  Exercising your gratitude muscles on a regular basis begins to tilt the natural tendency of the brain away from the negative and towards the positive, so we are better equipped to deal with adversity when it arises.  Consider options of starting a gratitude journal or identifying 3 things each evening before going to bed that you are grateful for.  If you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble going back to sleep because the mind gets active, perhaps try and give it a bone by focusing on the three things you were grateful for from your day.
  5. Celebrate.  If you do try any of the above, it is important to take time to notice your progress and change and celebrate it!  Consider visualizing how you felt in the past when you took a positive step forward on your individual growth journey, no matter how small it might have seemed at the time.  Maybe it was finishing that book you had been reading for awhile or it was after you spent the day volunteering at an organization you align with.  Can you now visualize how you might congratulate yourself for taking that step forward?  Celebrate you everyday, not just on your birthday!

5 Intention-setting Ideas for Raising Happy and Healthy Kids

“It takes a village to raise a child.” ― African Proverb

Many of us may not have children or our children may already be grown, yet it doesn’t mean that we can forget about our parenting skills, because we never know when our “parent part” may be called upon to assist in raising happy and healthy kids.  And, if you are a furbaby parent, as I am, the following intention-setting ideas are appropriate for our four-legged kids too.

So, in honor of Purposeful Parenting Month, I thought it was critical in order to raise the vibration for all children – the “little one” inside all of us, the ones we may have the honor of raising directly now or in the future, and the ones that we may find ourselves interacting with in a less direct relationship – that we reflect on some ways that we can foster the development of trusting, loving, and healthy kids.  Below are some ideas for consideration:

  1. Set Boundaries.  It’s important to set rules and boundaries for our kids, whether two-legged or four-legged.  We all need to know how to behave in a respectful manner when interacting with others and it is up to us, the responsible adults, to model and teach our children what that means.  It is also important to be consistent once a boundary is set, otherwise, we will create confusion.  Children look to adults for protection and direction and setting healthy boundaries goes a long way toward making them feel safe and calm.
  2. Make Time for Play.  Play is a basic human need – no matter how old our bodies get!  Embracing this need allows us to prioritize fun in our lives and include our children.  Research has also shown that it is important to play with your animals if you want to improve their behavior.  Playing with children is not only good for them, but good for you as it allows you to stay connected with your own “inner child”, that part of you that wants to express its sense of creativity, stay true to your authentic self, and pursue goals with passion.
  3. Catch Them Doing Something You Like.  Positive reinforcement has been shown to be the most powerful motivator as it makes us feel good about ourselves and more connected with others.  Expressing appreciation and gratitude towards your children when you observe them doing something that brings you joy, especially when it is not expected or tied to achievement, can be especially powerful.  For example, simply thanking your child for sharing with or showing kindness to another person can plant a seed for similar behaviors in the future.  When it comes to our four-legged kids, a simple pat on the head when they sit down next you quietly or come to you when you call them, will create the connection that invites them to repeat such responses.
  4. Love Equally and Uniquely.  It is important to not show favoritism, even if you feel it at times.  So, recognizing that our children have different personalities and other qualities that will draw us towards and away from them at different times, find a unique way to express your love to each of your children that fits with them.  Then, set the intention to use those unique expressions of love at least once a day with each child.  This guidance can also be applied to our furbabies.  Maybe one four-legged is a “morning” or “sunshine” baby while the other is a “nighttime” or “moonshine” baby, so you can plan to spend time with them when they most need it.
  5. Make Eye Contact.  Providing  our little ones – both human and furry – with a loving gaze produces a biochemical response that strengthens the connection, or bond between you and them. The level of the hormone oxytocin has been shown to increase in both humans and dogs after spending time looking into each other’s eyes.  Oxytocin is also known as the bonding or cuddling hormone and is sometimes referred to as the love drug. It is associated with trust and that warm, fuzzy feeling when you are close to another.  So, if you want to give yourself a boost of love or a sense of connection, slow down and LOOK to make eye contact with your children!