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Want To Lead A Fuller Life? Set These 10 Intentions

Get started on the path to fulfillment.

Inspiration

If you were to ask another person or even yourself what a full life means, you will probably get a million different answers. As for me, I used to think that a full life just consisted of a life with a lot of material things. You know the six-figure salary, designer bags, shoes, and cars. But as I grow and evolve, I realize that a full life to me is more than that. I think we all can agree that a life where we are happy, fulfilled, loved, and have no regrets is the ultimate goal. I recognize that if I am happy and live life with no regrets, those other things like my dream job, dream closet, and dream man will undoubtedly come too. For example, I'm shown time and time again that if I practice gratitude for what I already have, I am constantly blessed with more.

So, how do you lead a full life? Well, I've found that setting intentions for myself helped get me started on the path to fulfillment. Intentions can be set daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. It's truly up to the individual. To get started, first think about who you are at this very moment. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made but, are we operating as such? Oftentimes we are not. Now, think about who you want to be and how you want to show up in this world. This is where intention-setting comes into play. Intentions are simply hopes and manifestations of who you know that you can be and who you truly are. By setting intentions and then operating as such, you open yourself up to a deep sense of inner fulfillment that cannot be touched.

So no matter what your definition of a full life may be, these 10 intentions are sure to be a great start on the path to the full life that you were destined to live.

1. "I intend to forgive myself and others."

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If you're anything like me, you probably find it easier to forgive others than yourself and that's saying something because I have been known to hold a grudge or two. But listen, it is so important to give yourself the grace that you so graciously extend to others. Some of us can be our own worst critics. You made a mistake. It's not the end of the world, no matter what it is. Learn from it, grow from it, forgive yourself, and release it.

As for forgiving others, it's indeed more for you than the person that needs forgiving. Holding anger and grudges in your heart isn't good for you. Forgive. Practice this intention until it becomes second nature.

2. "I intend to love myself unconditionally."

This may be cliche but self-love really is the best love. This intention is one I set for myself daily and sometimes multiple times a day as it can be easy to forget as we move throughout the day. Vowing to love yourself no matter what sets the tone for your life and your life's experiences. I once heard someone say that self-love is the bridge to where you want to go in life and how you show up, and I couldn't agree more.

3. "I intend to not let fear stop me from trying new things."

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My good sis Beyonce said it best when she said that none of her fears can go where she is headed. So many amazing things are on the other side of fear. Last November, I decided to move to a new city. I had been in my previous city for almost 20 years. It was scary leaving the city that I was so familiar with and where all my friends lived to a city where I knew a total of about three people. This decision turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made in a long time. Set the intention to try a new thing every day and watch your life transform.

4. "I intend to practice gratitude."

I believe in this one so much. I feel that when you practice gratitude, it immediately puts you in a better mood because you are no longer focused on what you lack but instead focused on what you have. Also what better way to tell the universe that you are ready to receive more than to be thankful for what you already have.

5. "I intend to see the goodness around me."

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It can be hard to see the goodness around you when there are so many things going on, especially this past year. We've had to deal with so much in 2020; COVID-19, death, sickness, quarantine, political unrest, inequality, and racism just to name a few. But despite all the negative things going on in the world, there is still so much goodness. You just have to look for it. I know that some days will be harder than others to see it but I promise it's there. Set this intention and begin to see all the good that is happening all around you.

6. "I intend to be happy."  

Happiness is a choice. Tough times and not so great things are a part of life and often out of our control. It's how we choose to respond to them that is up to us. It is human to be down or sad about the things that happen in our lives. But it is up to us how long we stay in that place. When I am going through a tough time, I allow myself time to feel my feelings but then I set the intention to be happy regardless. I surround myself with the people, places, and things that make me happy. If you set the intention to be happy, you will be happy.

7. "I intend to listen better and not just react off of emotions."

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This one right here. Pray for my strength, y'all. I have a bad habit of listening to respond instead of listening to understand. I know, I know, I'm working on it though. We all think that what we have to say is more important than what the other person has to say. But I have to admit that I have learned more by listening than by talking. Not to mention, setting this intention will make you a better friend, employee, employer, spouse, and/or partner.

8. "I intend to let go of the past and things that I cannot change." 

It happened. You can't go back and change it no matter how much you wish that you could so you might as well make peace with it. Setting this intention will save you a lot of anxiety. Trust me. Learn from it and then release it.

9. "I intend to trust that I am where I am supposed to be."

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The world can sometimes make you feel like you are behind but please trust that you are not. There is no magic age for getting married or having kids. Nor is there an age limit on finding your passion. Setting this intention is a beautiful and necessary reminder that what is meant for you won't ever miss you and will happen when it is supposed to happen.

10. "I intend to appreciate and enjoy life."

If I've learned nothing else in 2020, I've learned that life is precious. Set an intention to be appreciative of the life that you have and actually enjoy it. Too often we forget that life is meant to be enjoyed because we are so laser-focused on work and building empires. Don't get me wrong, those things are important too but you can't forget to live. I once read an article that talked about some of the regrets that people on their deathbed had. One of them was that they wish they hadn't spent so much time working. Enjoy yourself from time to time. Work will be there when you get back.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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