Today's post is part of a segment on Positively Present called "Positive Change." Posts labeled "Positive Change" are featured periodically on Positively Present and will highlight the people, websites, and organizations that are striving to make the world a more positive place. Today's feature is an interview with Jen, creator of My Smiling Heart, a site dedicated to Jen's journey toward a more positive life. Her story is inspiring and her site is a great resource for anyone struggling to live a positive life.
1. What does it mean to you to have a "smiling heart"?
Having a smiling heart means being so completely happy that you can feel every part of yourself smiling, as though the sun shines in you and through you, touching every part of your life. It’s about knowing what makes your heart smile, and making sure you include those things in your life as much as possible.It means being your true, authentic, raw self, embracing life and everything it brings you, and focussing on the positive.
2. What inspired you to create the site My Smiling Heart?
I created My Smiling Heart after a very tough period in my life. Within a few months I had moved to the other side of the world, lost my job, fell ill and was bed ridden for a month. It resulted in me living in a constant state of fear and anxiety. I felt as though my life was in ruin, and there I was sitting amongst the pieces, frantically trying to put everything back together again before anyone realised how much of a mess I had made.I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, and I completely lost the positive outlook on life that I once had. I stopped caring for myself and allowed myself to become trapped in a negative mindset.
One night during this time, I started writing. I sat at my computer and just released everything that was making me afraid, anxious, unhappy and unhealthy. As I wrote, I started to think about how positive I used to be. I always believed that we could choose happiness, so why wasn’t I choosing it for myself? I decided then that I would do whatever I could to live a happy and healthy life again. That night, I went to bed feeling light, relieved, and the most relaxed and focussed I had been in months. That’s when I realised the healing power of writing, and the next day I started My Smiling Heart. My Smiling Heart was my light at the end of a very dark tunnel. And it has been brightening my life every since.
3. What advice would you offer someone who is down on his/her luck?
Don’t give up; obstacles and setbacks do not equal failure. Create your own luck by staying positive, surrounding yourself with positive things, and taking small action steps towards happiness every day.There are so many things you can do to improve your happiness, and there are hundreds of resources available that can help you maintain your happiness every day. But the most important thing is to stay positive in how you think, act and feel.
See every challenge as a lesson learned, as an experience that will only make you stronger, as a vehicle for growth. There is something to be learned in every experience, and in everyone you meet. And remember, anyone can be positive when things are going well. It takes real courage and strength to stay positive when things are falling apart.
4. How have you made an effort to cultivate more positivity in your own life?
Just like our physical health, happiness and positivity needs to be maintained every day, so I make sure I do the things that make my heart smile as much as possible. Here are some of the things I do to stay positive:
Reading blogs is a relatively new love of mine. There are so many awesome positivity blogs out there, and I have subscribed to just about all of them! I get so much inspiration from them and have even made some friends a long the way.
Music is so uplifting, so I sing along to my positivity playlist almost every day.
I also watch funny movies and television shows, because laughter really is the best medicine.
I made a positive printout, which I have stuck onto my walls, along with inspiring quotes, artwork and photos of my favourite people, to make a vision wall.
I only spend time with people who lift me up rather than bring me down, and I do my best not to get caught up in other people’s unnecessary dramas.
One of the best things I do is so easy but so effective – smile! It feels great, looks great, and there is so much evidence that suggests that smiling is an immediate mood booster. Whether I smile at a friend, a stranger, or even at myself in the mirror, it’s guaranteed to lift my spirits.
5. What websites inspire you to live a more positive life?
Positively Present, of course! Others that I follow religiously are Tiny Buddha, The Kind Life, The Happiness Project, I Want Her Job, The Bold Life,Kind Over Matter, Operation Beautiful, The Mad To Live, the Oprah website, and so many more! I also love the amazing photos and art on tumblr. Yes, I am slightly addicted to reading blogs, but I learn so much from all of these amazing women that I wouldn’t have it any other way!
6. Do you have any positive role models? If so, who are they and why do they inspire you?
Anyone who creates their own path in life and follows their bliss, no matter how many people tell them it can’t be done.In the media, I admire Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. Online, I admire so many amazing women, such as Gretchen Rubin, Alyssa Milano and Alicia Silverstone. In writing, I love Elizabeth Gilbert and Eckhart Tolle. In music, I admire Alanis Morissette and India Arie. In art, I adore Frida Kahlo.
In my life, I admire every one I know. My family, friends, even people I only know online, they all have qualities that I admire, they all teach me more about myself and encourage me to live the life I know I deserve.
7. If you could choose one quote or phrase to sum up your website, what would it be?
“Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clear away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver.” - Ketut, from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love
8. What are your favorite posts on your website and why?
My favourite posts are the ones that I write spontaneously, I just start writing from my heart, and what results is a raw, authentic piece that brings me closer to who I am and connects with so many people. My favourite posts are:
9. How has your life changed since you chose to embrace a positive attitude?
Every aspect of my life as changed since I made the decision to choose happiness. It started in my blog, and then flowed into every part of my life, and it continues to grow every day. I am the healthiest and happiest that I have ever been. The choice to think more positively and seek out positive things leads to more confidence, better decision-making, so much more clarity, and fuels a desire to continuously improve and be better than you were.
It has also lead me to so many amazing opportunities, new creative projects, and to connecting with some very amazing women from all over the world. My Smiling Heart has grown into a community, and it has given me an amazing sense of purpose that I have never felt before, because I am helping people through my writing.
10. Has your love of art helped you to be more positive? If yes, how so?
Absolutely! Art is such a deep passion of mine, and there are so many times it has brought joy into my life, from drawing pictures of rainbows and butterflies as a child to seeing my paintings exhibited in an art gallery last year. Having a passion for something (anything!), and acting on it, is so vital to leading a happy, positive life. Ignoring our passions suppresses who we really are, and true happiness is only possible if we are true to ourselves.
To learn more about Jen and follow her journey to positivity, check out her site My Smiling Heart, follow her on Twitter @smiling_heart, or become her fan on Facebook My Smiling Heart. Today Jen has created an awesome positive printout for you. When you're in need of some additional inspiration, print out the PDF below and post Jen's inspiration where you need it most!