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Embracing Summer With Intention

By Olivia Lynn Schnur | Summer 2022 Inspire(d)

Northeast Iowa-based mental health counselor, Olivia Lynn Schnur, shares ideas for embracing a mindful summer... with intention.

Welcome to the heart of summer. The prairies are decorated with wildflowers and the woodlands are full of life. Long nights and sunny days leave us feeling filled to the brim with energy. Many of us are busy with projects, plans, and the prospect of bright days ahead. 

Yet, at the end of this glorious season, how many times have we found ourselves thinking, “Where did the summer go?”  

The following pages are an invitation to enter summer with intention; to slow down, pause, and appreciate all this moment has to offer.

Setting intentions mental health illustration
Shutterstock / davooda

Setting Intentions 

Intentions may help us to develop greater meaning in our lives; they allow us to approach our daily tasks with a positive mindset. 

Many people confuse intentions and goals. Others may consider them synonymous. There is a subtle – yet distinct – difference between the two. Goals are concrete, measurable, and specific. A goal requires tasks to be accomplished in order to meet a specific outcome. For example, “I will run a 5K by the end of summer.” 

Intentions may help us accomplish a goal, but they are less about the end point and more about the process. An intention sets the tone for our way of being. An intention is a gentle reminder about who we aspire to become, and how we choose to live. In line with our earlier goal, an intention might sound like, “I intend to lead a healthy life that makes me feel strong and energized.” This intention still allows us to meet our end goal, but it changes our relationship with the goal. 

Living with Intention 

Living with intention is a daily choice. It determines the way we approach each day, each task, and each moment. 

If our intention is to live a healthy life that makes us feel strong and energized, we will make choices to support those goals. We will choose foods that fuel our day. We will engage in activities that build our strength and endurance. At the end of each day, we will go to bed with a sense of accomplishment. In this moment, we may have not yet met our goal, but we can still feel healthy, strong, and energized.

Values are often the driving force behind our intentions. They are the personal motivators related to what we desire and need, and they create a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. For example, someone may choose to set intentions related to wellness because they value health and happiness. Alternatively, another individual may value love and family and wish to be healthy in order to spend as much quality time with their loved ones as possible. We may be led to discover our values by asking the question, “What does my ideal life look and feel like?” 

When we set intentions in accordance with our values, we exponentially increase our sense of happiness and fulfillment in life. This is why it is so important that our intentions feel meaningful to us. When our intentions are connected to something bigger than ourselves, we rise to the occasion. We may not have reached our end goal yet, but we feel like we are already there because we are living with intention. This motivates us to make choices that get us one step closer to becoming the person we intend to be. 

positive mindset mental health illustration
Shutterstock / davooda

Choosing to Set Intentions with a Positive Mindset 

Many of us are driven by our thoughts. Society does not teach us that we are separate from our thoughts. Instead, we believe that if we have a thought it must be true; it must be who we are, what we feel, and how we operate. We interrupt this process by practicing mindfulness. 

Mindfulness allows us to observe our thoughts without acting on them or assigning meaning to them. We can begin to view thoughts as the weather of our minds. Sometimes the weather is dark and scary. Other times, the weather is bright and hopeful. Just as we accept that the weather will change, we must come to accept that our thoughts will change as well. 

If we have a day where we do not live in alignment with our intentions, we may experience storm clouds. Our thoughts may tell us we are lazy, or we will never accomplish our goals. If we choose to believe these thoughts are true, we will fall back into problematic behaviors. 

Yet, when we remain mindful, we allow those thoughts to exist without accepting them as true. Instead we remind ourselves, “I did not make choices today that made me feel healthy, strong, or energized. But I can make the next best choice.” Or, “Tomorrow is another day.” 

This is called reframing, a process of looking at our thoughts from a different perspective. If the weather of our minds is dark and stormy, we can choose to observe this without judgment, saying, “That’s just a thought,” and then returning to our intention to begin again. 

Mindful Intentions 

mindfulness muscles mental health illustration
Shutterstock / davooda

But how do you tap into that mindfulness? There are many ways to start, from Mindfulness Meditation to Grounding activities, to Mindful Movement to Loving-Kindness Meditation. Check out the following worksheet for tips to build your Mindfulness Muscles. Each moment may call for a different form of mindfulness. The more we practice mindfulness, the easier it becomes to know what we need in order to continue moving in the right direction.

Walk the Earth with Intention 

Intention setting allows us to live in accordance with our values and remain connected to our purpose. When we remain mindful of our intentions, over time our perspective of the world changes. We are able to cope with the ebb and flow of life through the lens of awareness, so we may exist as we are truly meant to be. 

Mindfulness teaches us compassion for ourselves. As the summer swells around us, let us set a collective intention to move with greater awareness. Together, we can change the world. But we must start by finding love, peace, and healing within. 

Olivia Lynn Schnur’s writing is informed by her career as a mental health counselor and yoga teacher. She is passionate about wellness, and she enjoys helping others cultivate healthy and happy lives. To learn more, or to book a yoga session, visit oliviaschnur.com

Mindfulness Worksheet