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50 Intentions for a Happier, Healthier, and More Peaceful You in 2016!

On New Year’s Eve we are all excited about our resolutions and promises to make this year the best yet. Well, it’s almost the end of January and how many of us have stuck to our resolutions? In my opinion, that’s the problem with resolutions; they are hard to keep. In fact, they may even cause us more stress because we set our expectations so high and then when we don’t keep our resolutions we feel like a failure. Resolution sounds a lot like the big “c” word – commitment and we all know that we don’t have time to commit to one more activity in our busy lives. In fact, the very word “resolution” actually means “to make a firm decision to do or not do something or the action of solving a problem.” Thus, to set a resolution each year declares that there is something broken in our lives and we need to fix it.

Recently, Richard Rohr posted a quote on his Facebook page that really resonated with me: “Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God; and at its core, it is love itself. Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming.” I like this quote because it implies that while indeed we are wonderfully and perfectly made by God, we are also human which means we are a work in progress; “who you are still becoming.” Human life is not static but rather continually growing and changing. We are not broken and in need of fixing but rather we are in transition, still becoming who we are supposed to be. Since we are not yet finished growing and becoming, it makes sense to yearly pause and reflect on our progress. Are we still moving towards love?

Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, I prefer to create and dream about “intentions” for my life. Discerning an intention is simply a more loving and personal way to set a direction for our lives. Someone (not sure who) once said that we are what our heart wants. It follows then that if we set intentions according to what we desire most (the longings of our heart) then we are more likely to strive towards achieving those intentions. Because an intention comes from a place of love, it does not declare that we are broken but rather that we choose to better ourselves because we love ourselves.

The following is an easy and prayerful way to practice setting an intention. Try it for yourself or maybe lead a group of youth through the process.

  1. Begin with sitting quietly
  2. Say a short prayer asking God to help you identify places in your life where you are in need of growth, change, or more peace.
  3. Next spend at least ten minutes (more if you like) sitting in silence. You could do this anywhere but I prefer to find a quiet spot and sit outside.
  4. After sitting and meditating, take out an empty journal and begin writing. Set a timer and write without stopping for 15 minutes. Write anything that comes to mind – even if it does not make sense in that moment.
  5. Then, read over everything you have written. Don’t make any judgments like “that’s a stupid thought", or "wow, I’m brilliant!” Just read over what you have written.
  6. Next, on a clean, blank sheet of paper begin to create a list of intentions for yourself (keep it simple). If your intentions truly come from your heart you will be reminded of them each time you come to spend time in prayer. In this way, your prayer life will actually help you in keeping and achieving your intentions. Listen to your heart, it will gently urge you to create intentions for your life that will make you happier, healthier, and more of the person God wants you to become.

Need some inspiration for your intentions?

Read through this list of possibilities and see if anything sparks your interest. These are merely a few of my humble suggestions. Maybe you already set your resolutions for the New Year and it is going great - awesome! But in case you didn’t and you still desire to understand yourself on a deeper level (it’s only January!) perhaps try setting an intention this year.

50 Intention Suggestions for 2016

  1. Download a few new Catholic Apps on your phone, tablet or other smart device and use them regularly. Try the Pope App.
  2. Eat more real food – local and organic not packaged and processed junk. Treat your body as if it were a vessel for the Holy Spirit (Because it is!)
  3. Learn something new. Watch a documentary film at least once a month. Here are two of my recent favorites... “Which Way Home” directed by Rebecca Cammisa and “India’s Daughter” directed by Leslee Udwin. Both available on Netflix (warning not suitable for children).
  4. Give your family the gift of more time together. I’m referring to time away from anything electronic.
  5. Start your own “Gratitude Journal” and daily write in it the things you are thankful for. At the end of the year you will have a great book to read.
  6. Practice accepting that you are enough just as you are. Try saying it to yourself while looking in a mirror once a day. While you’re at it, say “I Love You” to yourself.
  7. Challenge your body and your mind – every day.
  8. Listen to the wanderlust callings of your heart – plan a vacation. Travel opens so many possibilities.
  9. Make your bed every morning. Experts say this simple task is the most important thing you can do to set the direction for your day.
  10. Get involved in your parish community. You have gifts to share.
  11. Read a book for 15-30 minutes a day. Think of how much you can learn by just reading a short time each day. This one is on my list of intentions. I have so many books I want to read but I never get to them because I think I need hours of time to read. If I just spent a few minutes every day then I could read several books a year.
  12. Create your own bucket list and actively work at completing it. No regrets in life! What would you really love to do?
  13. Indulge in pure, fair-trade dark chocolate – not the chocolate filled with refined sugar and corn syrup. Need some? Visit Catholic Relief Services' Fair Trade webpage.
  14. Be mindful of how much meat you eat. Did you know it takes 1,850 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef? The amount of meat the world consumes is not currently sustainable for our planet. Eating less meat is one way you can help protect God’s creation.
  15. Create and implement a strategic plan for your ministry area (or parish). Help your ministries grow by having a vision – something that guides your ministry in the direction you would like for it to grow.
  16. Be like St. Francis - go outside for a minimum of ten minutes every day.
  17. Stop eating so much refined sugar – too many reasons to list but I encourage you to research the effects of consuming too much sugar for yourself. Start with kicking the soda habit.
  18. Try fasting from the internet 24 hours once per week.
  19. Do something kind for a complete stranger every opportunity that you can.
  20. Get your R&R - Go to bed early and rise early.
  21. Start or end your day with 10 minutes of prayerful meditation.
  22. Say “I love you” every day to the most important people in your life.
  23. Treat yourself once in a while to a long hot soak in a tub. For added benefits, especially if you have sore muscles, pour some Epsom salts to your bath.
  24. Organize your family photos. Many of us have old photographs stashed away in a shoe box somewhere. Make this the year that you go through and organize your family’s pictures. This is a great activity to do with your children – they love seeing old pictures of mom and dad!
  25. Pray for peace act for justice.
  26. De-clutter your home and office. More stuff won’t make you happier just more stressed about the clutter. Start your day with a clear desk and see how productive you can be.
  27. Apologize to the people you have hurt. Then forgive yourself.
  28. Save 10% of your paycheck and give another 10% away to a charitable organization.
  29. Drink more water but please do not drink it from a disposable plastic bottle.
  30. Limit your “to-do” list to three important things a day. Feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of your day by completing three important tasks.
  31. Smile more! Look for the “joy” in your day.
  32. Take a friend out for coffee or tea at least once a month. Friendships are relationships that need nourishment in the form of quality time together.
  33. Do not look at your smart phone while at the dinner table. Instead, look into the eyes of those you are sharing meal with.
  34. Volunteer once a month in your community. Discover something you are passionate about and go make a change in the world.
  35. Pick up a paint brush, colored pencils, clay, or any other art supply and express yourself. There are no mistakes in art.
  36. Fuel-up your day. Eat 20-30 grams of protein for breakfast (most cereals only have 1-6 grams of protein).
  37. Bless your children by making the sign of the cross of your children’s forehead as they leave the house.
  38. Hang-up bird feeders in your back yard and let nature entertain you.
  39. Say “thank-you” to every person that serves you something to eat or drink.
  40. Create time for meaningful conversations with those you love.
  41. Make friends with people who inspire you and help you to be the best you can be. Let go of friendships that leave you feeling mistreated or unhappy.
  42. Try and only speak positive words about others – stop negative gossip.
  43. Discover a spiritual practice (something that leads you closer to God) and practice! A spiritual practice can be taking a walk in nature or reading a spiritual book or joining a prayer group.
  44. Adopt a rescue pet or volunteer in a shelter if you cannot have a pet.
  45. If you are unhappy in your job find a new one.
  46. Just as you would brush your teeth every day, make exercise a daily habit.
  47. Call or visit your parents at least once a week (assuming you do not live with them). Grandparents too!
  48. Say “yes” to every good opportunity that knocks on your door.
  49. Write a letter to yourself to be read one year from now. Include all your dreams, hopes, and wishes.
  50. Explore your Catholic faith with the help of CMD! Take a group of middle school or high school youth on a Just5Days (middle school) or Young Neighbors in Action (high school) mission trip. Make your job easier by subscribing to Youth Ministry Access's ready-made youth ministry sessions. Become a more successful youth minister or volunteer by completing the Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies. Empower the youth in your parish or school to be a leader by hosting YouthLeader in your diocese. Need a quick ministry boost? Attend one of the annual workshops in your area.

Let’s make 2016 the best year yet for ourselves, our ministries, and our church!

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