Intense. Focused man working.



Live as intensely as possible, burn your candle of life from both ends.


Time to get your game face on.

Intensity is one of those qualities that can be hard to characterize. It can be positive or negative, depending on its source and how it manifests, and it can easily be misinterpreted as arrogance or impatience. Being intense can often have an impact on our effectiveness, and it is important to be aware of that. Intensity can be a part of someone’s everyday emotional makeup, or it can be something that comes up occasionally when the situation warrants it. Some people are never intense, while others seem to always be intense.

So what is intensity? To me, it’s a quality that allows us to cut to the chase; we get rid of anything that is not immediately relevant and get right to the heart of the matter. This can be interpreted literally or figuratively—intensity can manifest as actions or as an attitude. Through a sense of urgency, intensity can also result in increased efficiency. Intense people cut out the unnecessary and focus on what is required.

Is it good to be intense? It can be. It’s possible to be intense and, at the same time, respectful, inclusive, and even patient. The good version of intensity can manifest as passion, excitement, and enthusiasm. It involves listening to what someone is saying and running with it; an enthusiastic meeting of the minds and the potential for making progress on a shared idea. It can also involve impassioned debate, where both sides are open-minded and true to their values and ideals.

Is it possible to be intense and still be mindful? I think it’s hard to be intense in a positive way without being mindful. Intensity can result in enhanced insight and observation. When we combine intensity with serenity, we can be intense and mindful at the same time—a powerful combination.

Intensity is often paired with ambition. It’s natural for intense people to gravitate toward leadership roles—they tend to feel they know what is best and what direction should be taken. Like intensity, ambition can be either positive or negative. Joined together, ambition and intensity can make a powerful combination. But it’s also important to understand the motivations behind our ambition and make sure they’re consistent with our ideals and values.

Intense ambition can be very positive when it is tied to an increased ability to make a difference and to accomplish goals. But it is also possible to be ambitious without understanding why. There are those who strive for power or money for their own sake. While they may be successful, they’re unlikely to be happy if their goals aren’t meaningful to them. Ambition can also be positive if it puts people in a position in which they have the flexibility to do what they are passionate about or to challenge themselves.

I tend to become intense when I’m engaged in something that’s very important to me—when I have strong opinions and a deep desire for a particular outcome. My intensity can manifest in irritability when things don’t go the way I want or don’t happen quickly enough. My intensity can also result in my coming off as a know-it-all—someone who’s not willing to hear and consider other opinions.

However, the intense times in my life have also been the times when I’ve felt most keenly alive and part of something big and important. They have also been the times when I’ve felt that I’ve risen above my usual eloquence and ability. The urgency that I feel during my intense moments translates to the increased speed and agility of my thoughts. So I’m faced with a challenge: How do I keep the positive aspects of my intensity while minimizing or eliminating the negative ones?

How can we be intense and still be nice people? By not allowing our intensity to get in the way of our core values; by not allowing our intensity to change who we are. If we’re nice people, we can incorporate the positive elements of intensity and remain nice—and intense.

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