Intentionality and Happiness | How life choices are impacted by purpose


When you reflect on the major life choices that you have been making over the past few years can you identify a theme?

what purpose are you trying to achieve?

Lately, I have been observing the interplay of intentionality and happiness… the relationship between the two variables is very often symbiotic or reciprocal = Increasing intentionality can lead to greater happiness and greater happiness can free us up to act with greater intentionality.

The interesting observation that I have found with friends and clients is that often these variables can be prioritized in a manner which makes them detrimental to each other = people favor happiness at the expense of intentionality or people favor intentionality at the expense of happiness…

The intention of this post is to encourage self-reflection – for simplicity’s sake let’s break this into three categories

1.) balance – my actions concerning intentionality and happiness seem to be in balance with one another – My level of intention serves to benefit my happiness, and my choices to be happy do not negatively impact my ability to live with intention.

2.) intentionality – I favor Intentionality at the expense of happiness – my life is predictable and consistent with a high degree of reflection and planning… threat, fear, impulsivity, chance, and chaos are minimal, but there is a deficit of joy in my life.

3.) happiness – I favor happiness over intentionality – I have joyous experiences and enjoy flexibility and spontaneity –  positive experiences and connections are bountiful, but there is a deficit in predictability, security, congruence, refection, and planning (and possibly purpose and fulfillment)


ultimately this surrounds the existential concept of fulfillment and of feeling congruent with the life we live (and corresponding actions)…

there isn’t an objective moral truth surrounding options 1, 2, and 3 – there is not an option which is universally ‘best’ … instead, there is an opportunity to choose and adjust your life accordingly based on your own subjective preference.

here are some over-generalizations concerning the existential truths and other value/belief systems relevant to each choice:

Intentionality – Fulfillment is attained by achieving concrete goals. The purpose is the final project more than the process of completing the project. The destination is more important than the journey. All choices, emotions, thoughts, and actions are reflected upon – the unconscious is relentlessly attacked with the goal of one-day achieving total control. Life is somewhat mathematical, and it is fulfilling to impact probability. Morals and Values tend to be more objective and less relative. There is a fulfillment in making the unknown known. linearity is effectively utilized. Understanding is more important than engagement in an experience. life it put into categories. The future is extremely important. The past is very important to investigate as doing such increases the probability of control in the future.

Happiness – Fulfillment is achieved during an experience. Emotions and abstractions are more important than concrete results and truth. The journey is important and often the destination is irrelevant. Spontaneity and intuition guide the actions of the moment. Because the truth is elusive an/or non-existent, reflection is often irrelevant. Commitment to the experience is favored over trying to control the experience. the unconscious is often labeled as intuition – and tends to be a great friend that is allowed to exist without a need to be fully understood. Everything is relative. engagement is more important than understanding. Life is free from categories. Neither the past nor the future is particularly important – the moment is favored. Control and progress are not important goals. potential future consequence and reward are not heavily contemplated.

Balance – Intentionality is used to maximise fulfillment and to create planned strategies that would significantly positively impact long-term happiness. Happiness is achieved whenever possible by allowing immersement and freedom in the moment – yet, the actions of the moment are influenced by a value system and are taken with a consciousness of the future. Intentionality does not overly disrupt the joy of the moment… and happiness in the moment does not disrupt fulfillment in the future.












William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

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