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Copyright © 2015 by Mallika Chopra

Jacket art copyright © 2015 by Yumi Sakugawa

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing
Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

Harmony Books is a registered trademark, and the Circle

colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data

Chopra, Mallika.
Living with intent : my (somewhat) messy journey to purpose,
peace, and joy / Mallika Chopra. — First edition.
pages cm
1. Self-realization—Religious aspects. 2. Intention. 3. Conduct
of life. 4. Spiritual life. 5. Chopra, Mallika. I. Title.
BL624.C47685 2015

ISBN 978-­0-­8041-­3985-­4
eBook ISBN 978-­0-­8041-­3986-­1

Printed in the United States of America

Book design by Meighan Cavanaugh

Illustrations by Yumi Sakugawa
Jacket design by Jess Morphew
Jacket art by Yumi Sakugawa

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

First Edition

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It’s 6:30 a.m., and I’m awakened by pop music. “I came in

like a wrecking ball; I never hit so hard in love . . .”
Is that Miley Cyrus? I wonder blearily, as I reach to turn
of f my iPhone alarm. My ūberenthusiastic nine-­year-­old
daughter, Leela, changes the song almost daily—­which
means I’ve been jarred f rom slumber by everyone f rom
Lorde to Drake. Not what I w ould choose, but Leela’s
selections make me smile.
I jump out of bed to walk our dog, Yoda, while the girls
get ready. We rush to school. I l ike to walk them in, but
we’re running late, so I just wave good-­bye from the curb.
The next few hours are a whirl of activity: meetings, errands,
lunch on the go. There’s never enough time, and I’m always
feeling guilty about giving something short shrift. Either I
don’t make it to school for a class project or I skip a business
meeting to help out at school; each makes me feel bad, so

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I push myself to do as much as I can on both the work and

parenting fronts. I survive by keeping my sugar and caff ine
intake high—­lots of tea, a double macchiato (or two) daily,
and chocolate. I must have my chocolate.
As I sit in the carpool line, I dream about a blissful state
of being well rested and energetic, eating healthy f oods,
exercising daily. I envision finally losing the extra ten pounds
(OK, fifteen) that have hung around my waist for the last
decade, and meditating so I c an be more mindf ul in my
activities. I imagine myself connecting with friends, having
quiet dinners with my husband, and spending agenda-­f ree
time with my daughters, Tara and Leela. I also see myself
volunteering in my community, feeling more connected to
the larger world, and making a m eaningf ul contribution.
But that imagined reality is often shattered before the kids
pile into the car and we rush to soccer practice. I sigh as I
realize I forgot to pick up Yoda from the groomer and still
need to get groceries before cooking dinner.
When I put the girls to bed, I’m exhausted. I catch up
on e-­mails, check social media, surf the Web for news, and,
yes, peek at celebrity gossip sites. More often than I like to
admit, I crawl into bed wondering what I did all day.
Am I nurturing my body, my mind, my soul?
I think about what’s going on in the world and wish I
could do more to give back.
What is my purpose? How can I serve? Am I living with


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Asking such questions has been a part of my life even if

I have not always lived the answers to their fullest potential.
When we were young, my f ather encouraged my brother
and me to start every day by consciously thinking about
what we wanted. We had a t radition in our house af ter
meditation: my f ather would ask us to say the f ollowing
phrase from A Course in Miracles:

I am responsible for what I see

I choose the feelings I experience
And set the goals I will achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

Then he would ask us the question that still echoes in

my mind:
What do you want?
Being kids, our responses included things like a n ew
computer game, tickets to the Celtics, and a trip to Hawaii.
My f ather would listen patiently and acknowledge our
material desires and then he would gently ask:
“How about love? Compassion? Connection? Inspira-
tion? Purpose?”
We were taught at a very young age to ask daily for the
qualities in our lives that would make us feel happy, loved,
secure, energized, and purposef ul. And through this pro-
cess we began each day setting an intention, a d esire or


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dream that we wanted to pursue, and actively seeking the

emotional and spiritual connections to make it happen.
Now, many decades later, I f eel an urgent need to get
back to that practice. Starting was a first step.
The website gives me and other members a place to share
our aspirations, receive support, and, ultimately, transform
our dreams into reality. Over the years, I’ve discovered that
when you ask people what they want, what they truly want,
they usually answer with some variation of these themes:
love, connection, health, purpose, inspiration, and signif-
It’s reassuring to realize I’m not alone in questioning
whether there is a less bumpy path to more joy and purpose
in my life. As I l isten to those in my community—­f ellow
moms and dads, work colleagues, members of,
or people who attend my speeches—­I hear that many are
stretched too thin. Whether single, married, looking f or
work, working parents or stay-­at-­home moms or dads, peo-
ple are often doing too many things, feeling guilty or inade-
quate about what they’re not doing, and desperately hoping
f or a renewed sense of purpose. They are also of ten not
making time to nurture themselves as they pursue ambi-
tions and care for others. And they, like me, are passing on
the same nonstop-­doing mode to their children.
I do believe there is hope for all of us to live a life that
is more meaningful, inspiring, and fun. By identifying our


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intentions—­the seeds of our deepest longings—­stating

them and ultimately pursuing them, we’re more likely to
find the path to happiness, meaning, and relevance in our
world. Intents help us create the lives we want to live. More-
over, when we consciously set an intent, we put in motion
a process to make it happen. We become more aware of
people who can help us, and we take advantage of encoun-
ters and opportunities. We notice coincidences and attract
teachers, allies, and guides. We start behaving as if what we
want will really happen, and often it actually occurs.
This book is a chronicle of my intention and search to
find more meaning, more joy, and more balance in my life.
My hope is that by telling my story, I can share some of the
wisdom I have gathered from friends, experts, and family as
well as inspire others with my own successes (and failures).
Along the way, I provide a practical road map for how we all
can move from thought to action to outcome—­and realize
our intentions. I devote a chapter to each step on my jour-
ney and each piece of my INTENT action plan: Incubate,
Notice, Trust, Express, Nurture, and Take Action.
As you read this book, I h ope you will be motivated
by the changes I ma ke and are inspired by others’ stories,
intrigued by some of the fascinating scientific findings, and
encouraged and supported by the insights you come across
along the way. I also hope you will share your intents and
experiences on or our Intent app.


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Beyond all else, my heartfelt intention is for this book

to spark a global conversation about living with intent, one
that provides hope to those who f eel dissatisfied, encour-
ages those who are eager to discover their own passions,
and gives us all the opportunity to support one another in
our quest for balance and purpose, connection, and joy.


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