The experience of being alive feels beautiful when we are doing what we intend to do in any given moment.
If we’re playing on our phone and that’s what we intend to be doing in that moment, it feels like pure and lovely leisure.
But if we’re playing on our phone and we intend to be studying or working in that moment — there’s dissonance. We’re at war with ourselves.
I was reminded of this recently, by one of my favourite Youtubers, Ali Abdaal. He described the way in which he feels aligned when, “at any given time of the day, I am doing what I want to be doing.”
We feel a lot better when we are doing what we intend to do.
That doesn’t mean that life feels better with non-stop leisure. Life feels better if we’re doing what we feel like we ought to be doing in any given moment.
So, if we feel like we ought to work, and we’re working, it feels great. But if we feel like we ought to work, and we’re not — it doesn’t feel so great.
The opposite is true as well — if we feel like we ought to be relaxing, but we can’t stop thinking of work… it’s a bad time. But when we’re fully relaxing, and not thinking about work in the back of our minds, the joy of the relaxation can feel like utter bliss.
In moments where we feel an internal tension, we can consider checking in with ourselves. We can ask ourselves whether or not we’re doing what we intend to be doing in any given moment. And if we’re not doing what we intend to be doing, without beating ourselves up, we can gently adjust towards doing what we intend to do in that moment.
That doesn’t mean that we can always do exactly what we want to do. What we want to do isn’t the same thing as what we intend to do. We may not want to work, but we may still intend to work anyways, because the future exist.
Most of us don’t have the privilege to spend our days doing the things that we truly want to do in every single moment. But most of us do have several hours a day of discretionary time. During those hours of the day, especially, we can make the most out of the time that we truly control by adjusting towards doing what we actually intend to do.
By keeping this framing in mind, we can spend more of our time doing what we actually want to do — what we intend to do.
What we intend do, with the time that we control, is up to us.