5 Secrets to Living a Joyful Intentional Life

Intentional living – is it even possible in our present day?

The average American worker gets up in the morning, commutes to work, spends most of their day at a hectic job, and then fights traffic home. They may have kids’ activities to attend after work, dinner to prepare, and then maybe some free time before bed, if the kids go down on time.

Weekends are filled with scheduled events to attend, and life is whizzing by faster than you can find time to live it. If that sounds like your life, don’t worry, there’s a way to slow it all down, and make your days feel more intentional.

What is intentional living?

Intentional living is a life focused on your core values and interests. Its about surrounding yourself with people, activities, and habits that bring you joy.

Joy is contagious.

When you pursue things that give you joy and fulfillment, your happiness will spread to those around you. When you spend time on your personal passions and hobbies, you will not feel as robbed by the things you must do that maybe don’t give joy.

Living intentionally is about finding a balance.

Studies reveal that spending time on things that bring you fulfillment and meaning in your life has positive effects on your mental well-being. The highlights of one study reveal the following:

  • More daily value-based actions are related to greater daily psychological well-being.
  • More daily value-based actions are related to lower daily psychological distress.

So how exactly do we living an intentional life that brings joy? Let’s talk about some easy ways to take steps toward intentionality.


prioritize self-care

First you must carve out time for yourself – its a necessity so you can show up for those you love when its their turn. That could be as simple as taking a walk, or something more elaborate like planting a garden and tending it.

I’m learning how to draw wildflowers because I want to be able to draw beautiful little things in my bullet journal.

Sometimes I watch Youtube channels that inspire me like Honeyjubu and Jenna Pierce. I find that keeping a blog makes me happy. Honestly, its just little things that all add up to a happier existence.

I buy fresh flowers and arranging them in a vase. I love the way it brings my home to life and adds a pop of color.

Sometimes I make hot tea and drink it in the evening while I write down lists in my bullet journal of new stuff I want to try when I have time.

What are some projects and hobbies that you have been putting off because you’re too busy working or shuttling kids around to their activities?

What kind of activities bring you joy? Think about the types of hobbies or interests that cause you to lose all track of time. The kind of pursuit that you can fully immerse yourself in.

Try signing up for a class in an area of interest, or carve out some dedicated time for you to pursue hobbies or events of interest to you. You’ll find that you have more of yourself to give when you don’t ignore your own needs and wants.


daily walks outside

Fresh air is intoxicating and a daily walk, preferrably surrounded by nature or a park, is essential to mental health and wellness. It doesn’t even have to be a brisk walk. Stop and smell the flowers, or find a park bench and read a book or bring a sketchpad to scribble or paint a picture. Take your journal and write while you’re immersed in an inspirational setting.

“A morning walk gives the body a chance to forgive the trials and tribulations of yesterday, to shed its rubbish and mental clutter.”

-Terri Guillemets

If you are interested in walking for physical wellness, Harvard Health claims there are 5 benefits of this activity:

  • Counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes
  • Helps minimize a sweet tooth
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer
  • Eases joint pain
  • Boosts immune function

In addition to these benefits, many claim that walking can improve your mood and boost your brain function. These are all great reasons to spend some time walking outdoors.

Roam the woods, traipse through a garden, or follow the concrete sidewalk in a pretty neighborhood. Fresh air and a brisk walk will do wonders for your mood.


establish family rituals and traditions

Family rituals give you and your family a sense of security, identity and belonging. The rituals that you establish will have special meaning for your children, and be passed on to future generations. They are a part of your legacy on earth, long after you are gone. Think carefully about how you want to be remembered and celebrated through family traditions.

What the French Know

Recently I’ve read several books on the French lifestyle. They put a great deal of importance on rituals in France. I mean, an entire country sits down to dinner at the same time every single day. How’s that for ritual? Rituals ground the French people and bring deep meaning to their culture. We Americans have much to learn from the French on this topic.

The French value family above all else. They cherish family relationships and celebrate them with cultural traditions. Food and wine are central to life at all socioeconomic levels, and much socializing is done around lengthy dinners in French households.

Think of some ways you can bring more ritual and tradition into your family routines. Whether its daily, weekly, or every full moon, plan some activities that your kids can count on and look forward to on a regular basis.


  • A monthly cookout, hike, or visit to a fun destination.
  • Inviting friends and family over for an annual cookout.
  • Rituals around holidays like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or whichever holidays are important to your family.
  • A weekend reading hour or movie night with popcorn or a special snack.
  • Hot cocoa and a fire after the first snow or cold evening.
  • Full moon camp out and stargazing.
  • Volunteer with your kids at a soup kitchen, food bank, children’s hospital, or charity of your choice.
  • Think up your own great rituals to enjoy with your family based on your personalities, interests, and values.

Build intentional habits

My family spent 8 months living on a sailboat in the Caribbean. When we returned to land, I vowed that I would live differently this time. I would take time to do things that mattered to me.

I would make my house beautiful and surround myself with things that inspire me.

Every Saturday I water the plants, and spend time tending my little garden. I grow herbs that I use to cook delicious meals on the weekend.

I find fun recipes to try that sometimes take hours on a Saturday or Sunday – just because I enjoy it. My family reaps the benefits when its time to eat. Tonight I’m cooking a poblano corn chowder that I’ve never tried before – I hope it turns out well! (post-edit: it was absolutely divine).

I make overnight pickles and prepare foods to fill my daily bento box with for lunch. I scrub the kitchen counters and tidy up because my kitchen is beautiful and makes me happy when its clean.

I’m slowly decorating my house and making it an aesthetic paradise. Cleaning the house is now more about restoring that paradise, and feels less like work to me. It also keeps me active and I love that aspect of the work.

I find a lot of joy in scrubbing. It may sound strange, but I really get into it and try to find new areas to scrub that I normally wouldn’t notice. Those spots you don’t see until its time to move out of your house, and then you’re horrified by the baseboards or doors you never noticed were dirty.

How you can make this happen

Intentional habits are chosen by you and enable you to live a life on purpose. Not a life that happens TO you, but one of your choosing.

Make cleaning the house fun. Put some music on, dance your way through the chores. Reward yourself with a fun activity when its done, and relish in your clean environment.

Build the lifestyle that brings you joy, and to those who share your space and time. Teach your children to build intentional habits, and they too will experience the joy of living.

yet another vital secret to living a joyful, intentional life:

Deal with Money Issues

Financial struggles can suck the joy out of anyone or family. Having extra cash goes a long way when investing time with your family so you can buy the ticket to the show. You can afford the ingredients to make a special recipe. To be able to splurge on the fancy cheese once in a while, or indulge in a treat.

If you can’t keep up with your current cost of living, you may have to buckle down for a while and pay off debts. Paying down credit cards will have a huge impact on your money situation because credit card interest is expensive.

Lower your spending by looking for things you are paying for but not using, such as gym memberships or subscriptions.

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Let’s Recap

Living a joyful, intentional life is good for your mental health. Focus on spending time with people you enjoy, and on activities that you can immerse yourself in.

Self care means allowing yourself personal time to pursue your interests, or tend to your own mental well being.

Daily walks are good for your physical health, and are known to boost moods. Take time to smell the flowers.

Establish family rituals and traditions that anchor your family. They will be passed down to your children and will become part of your legacy when you are gone.

Build daily habits that enable you to live the life you want. Habits can bring structure and happiness to your life if you embrace them and focus on the joy they bring you.

Deal with your money issues, especially if they are holding you back from doing any of the above.

All of these suggestions are ways to increase your joy of living. Of living an intentional life focused on your values that are aligned with who you are. And who you want to be.

what works for you?

What are your suggestions for living an intentional life? Share some habits or activities have brought you greater joy in the comments below.

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