How setting an intention to ‘simply be’ became an ALS goal

These strategies help me stay mindful and live in the present moment

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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Is anyone else bombarded by social media messages to set goals, make New Year’s resolutions, or create a bucket list for 2024? I sure have been. In my pre-ALS days, I heeded the reminders. I looked forward to breaking in a brand-new desk calendar and filling it with my activities and goals for the coming year. Heck, I even had three- and five-year goals. But now, like most other ALS patients, I plan my life one month at a time.

However, I have found success with a unique twist on goal-setting, a practice I began at the beginning of 2022. I challenged myself to simply be. To be in the present moment, to be aware of myself and the people and things around me. And to not get pulled into the distractions or negative vibes I might encounter.

A simple intention, and one that I soon discovered to be a darn difficult thing to accomplish.

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What happened?

Lest you think I spent the year of my personal challenge leisurely swinging in a hammock, or that my face held a perpetual Zen monk’s grin, distractions were constant and everywhere. But I was determined to keep at it another year, so I created several small strategies to help me get through 2023.

Recalling my days as a former yoga instructor, I incorporated the concept of effort and ease. If I felt frustrated by how much effort was needed to do even simple things, I’d find solutions to make them easy again. An electric toothbrush and Velcro closures on my shoes conserved the energy in my hands. This meant I could use my hands for my favorite activities, like knitting or typing this column. The time spent doing enjoyable things was time I didn’t spend distracted thinking about my ALS.

When I began worrying that time was slipping away and I wasn’t keeping up with productive projects, I explored the mental state of flow. Whenever I noticed that I’d lost focus or wasn’t paying attention, I used personal flow awareness practices to bring my mind into the present moment.

Finally, because so many who live with ALS expect things to go wrong and so focus on the negative, I decided to begin noticing when things went well. In between the usual daily calamities and near calamities, I looked for moments of calm. There were so many more than I’d anticipated. What a gift not to miss these gems hiding all around me.

End-of-year results

Was it worth it? You bet it was. I credit these strategies with helping me achieve more time being mindful and in the present moment. I felt less stressed, stopped unnecessary worry, and maintained a positive attitude about my life.

The funny thing was that I realized my simple intention transformed itself into a full-fledged goal and is now a permanent part of my day. That’s how just one small change, one small step of daily progress, can become a habit.

Try setting an intention to “simply be.” It’s one more strategy that will help you learn how to live well with ALS.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Paula avatar


YOu are an inspiration. Please keep sharing your strategies.

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you Paula. Best wishes to you in the New Year for health, happiness, and to simply BE. ;-) Dagmar

Joyce Hutchins avatar

Joyce Hutchins

Dear Damar -
I want you to know that I look forward to your ALS writings as they so apply to life in general. At age 87, my neuropathy legs don’t work as they used to, my heart is not as healthy as it once was and Lymphoma (though in remission) lurks overhead. However, I love life!! I try to correspond with those less fortunate healthwise and send greetings on birthdays and holidays. I have the most thoughtful kids and grandkids living close by and the great grandkids love my pumpkin bread so I make sure they get some often. Tonight as I write this my husband and I have a light case of Covid because we listened to our Dr. and got all of our shots. As long as the doctors can keep us on this “maintenance “ program, I will do my part to keep this machine going!!!! I wish you the best in 2024 and look forward to your next writing! Love you and the memories! Blessings, Joyce

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Hello Joyce, thank you so much for your kind words about my columns. It gives me pleasure to know that what I write is helpful and inspirational for you. Yes, regardless of our individual health status', we all share the experience of being human - - and having to navigate ourselves in this world the best we can. I join you in deciding to be positive and keep on going forward. Best wishes to you too in 2024. Dagmar

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