It Is A Deliberate Life
Summary: A deliberate life is a chosen life with consideration of how it fits together as whole.
“Deliberate Living” versus “Intention or Intentional Living”
It seems to me Intentional Living (in a community or not) is about your aims. It is about the goals you have for the way you want to live, that is what are your intentions. It is about being true to your values, to who you want to be. It is about expressing your internal sense of yourself. That is you can live intentionally without considering others unless your values are focused on your relationships, without taking account of feedback or advice, without thinking about the consequences of your actions in any of your relationships. Millionaire, billionaires, celebrities and people living quiet livesof what some might call mainstream middle class invisibility are all living to their intentions. They are fulfiling their intentions, just not the intentions of those who consider themselves living in intentional communities.
Deliberate living is about a process, about how you live, how you shape your intentions, how you make decisions, how you translate intentions into behaviours. It is a process that happens in relationships. “To deliberate” is to consult, to consider, to take time to think and feel your way into the past, present and possibilities for future consequences. It is the best use of all your faculties – your intelligences, intuitions, self-reflect and challenge, communication, analysis, creativity, and relationships.
Central to Deliberate Living is to take your time, slow down. You consider consequences; you consider advice so that your intentions, goals and methods for getting you where you want to be in your life are the best you have available, and they happen in your context, your natural, physical, cultural, personal and relational environment.
Living from your intentions seems to isolate to me. It looks like the Platonic, Descartes, Christian and yogic ideas and presuppositions that the mind/spirit is separate from the body/material world, from the relationships that define me. It reminds of that expression “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Intentional actions are those from your point of view which is an important place to start, but it is only the starting place.
Deliberate actions include that solo point of view, but also you step outside yourself to take into account the points of views of others, of nature, of society, of your loved ones. It doesn’t mean they make the decision; it doesn’t say they take responsibilities for your actions. You are still in charge of yourself and your efforts. It is true that you honestly and realistically share the ownership of consequences. It is likely that you will be less surprised by the responses to your behaviours because you considered the whole range of possibilities, likely and unlikely.
After proper deliberation, you might still decide on a course of actions that others disagree with, that some of your friends and intimates, even society may feel is hurtful or insane or wrong. But if you do it deliberately, you’ll be better able to explain, justify and support the relationships as you take your time, show empathy and compassion as you go. You will have less need to defend it because your actions will be aligned with your values and who you are. This clarity will mean that those most important you, who share your values, and beliefs will get what you are doing and why.
Some come to being intentional through wanting to apply mindfulness to themselves, to their relationships and behaviours. You can still do things fast, thoughtlessly, absentmindedly, ignoring advice and be mindful. In the West, the most commonly taught version of mindfulness is inwardly directed. A lot of Eastern (mainly Indian) and pre-modern (in the West) texts of spiritual practice – meditation, contemplation, mindfulness, prayer, philosophy – suggested that the eternal world of the senses was delusional, dangerous and impure.
There were good reasons for this. The world was an unpredictable terrifying place. One of the problems with the romance of living close to nature, without the complexities and crowds of advanced technological societies residing in cities, is that nature doesn’t care about people as individuals or as a species. The weather, insects, microbes, and the ground we walk on can’t be relied on to do what we need to feed and shelter ourselves and our loved ones.
Nature doesn’t care about our intentions. Even other people don’t care about them; they care about what you do. It is true that the law cares about the intention behind your actions because it decides the meaning of how society reacts. For example, if you kill someone, your intention determines whether it is murder, manslaughter, self-defence or accidental. From nature’s point of view, someone died.
Our survival is dependent on cooperating with other human beings. If you live with one point of view on the world and keep it local in small communities, then you are subject to the vagaries of nature – weather, earthquakes, disease etc. Whereas when you are a part of a large society, spread out over a significant area, identifying together as a nation, allows the willing sharing of resources so we can adapt to natural disasters, famines and sometimes conflicts (when they are small as opposed to “total war” which is the worst aspect of modern social identities like ‘nationality’).
When you look at the definition of “intentional”, then you find “deliberate” is one of the words used and vice versa. To do something deliberately is to have a clear intention. To have thought is through, for your actions to be aligned to with your values and goals, to be effective and efficient, so that minimum effort gets the maximum effect, to minimise unintended consequences.
To live deliberately doesn’t mean you have to be serious all the time, in so much control that you don’t have fun. You decide everything you do and say, how you think, your attitudes and presuppositions change your feelings which effects your non-verbal communications and the subtle presence you give off.
Humour can be smart and exciting; it can be passive-aggressive, it can be aggressive, it can be humiliating, and self-deprecating, even educational. All of these variations, if they work, are entertaining. Humour can promote intimacy, help develop closeness or push people away. Its pleasures can raise people, based on insight, speaking truth to power, bring the high and mighty down and raising the low, or it can arise from the pain of the powerless.
Fun for many people is when they convince themselves they have let go of control, you never really do. They feel they have something they can blame for their behaviours that seems reasonable to themselves, their peers, their culture and society. They feel free to be irresponsible, insensitivity, thoughtless in all its meanings, inconsiderate. It is about escaping from apparent helplessness, powerlessness, from the consequences of half-conscious decisions made to appease others, to avoid conflict, avoid discomfort, avoid uncertainty and ambiguity. For them, it is the opposite of conscious living.
If you live a deliberate life, you don’t need escapism. You do not need for diversion, to run away from your life because you are living the way you want to. You don’t need to defend yourself with boundary empathy. Empathy only applied to those who are part of your tribe and family but not offered to those who are different, who remind you of the problems with your life, whose powerlessness make you feel safe to attack them.
In a deliberate or purposeful life, fun is about flow, letting go to creativity, to purpose, to love and friendship, to the enjoyment of accomplishment, to confidence and intimacy, to absurdity. Fun is play that expands your sense of self, that is the intense focus you give by choice to do the things you love.
Fun in a deliberate life is expansive, not diminishing.