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positive change: wild sister magazine



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 post features a new magazine, Wild Sister, launched by Jen of My Smiling Heart. [Full disclosure: I'm an Assistant Editor for the magazine and you can find one of my articles in the first issue.]


I'm a big fan of magazines -- both the online kind and the hard copy kind -- so I was thrilled when I learned about Wild Sister, a new online magazine created to inspire women. The magazine features artists, poets, writers, travellers, coaches, nurses, and bloggers and it focuses on inspiring and empowering women everywhere. When Jen came to me to tell me of her new venture, I was thrilled to be a part of it. Empowering women (and people in general!) is so important to me -- as is offering words of wisdom and inspiration -- so it was a no brainer to decide to get involved in Jen's project.

So what is a wild sister? According to Jen, the term "wild sister" can be summed up like this:

Being wild means embracing your light, and your dark, to be your complete, beautiful, perfectly imperfect self. Being a sister means connecting with your kiup, sharing your truth, and standing together. Being a wild sister means listening to your heart and following your dreams.

It means living your passion, loving yourself unconditionally, and being a force of good in this world. It means believing in yourself, no matter what others say or how many challenges the world throws at you. It means letting go of the past, embracing the present, and trusting that everything happens for a reason. It means facing your fears, making mistakes, and creating your own path in life.

It means speaking your truth, and liberating others to do the same. It means being real, authentic, and free. It’s standing barefoot on the grass, dancing amongst the trees, singing from your soul, chasing rainbows, and howling at the moon. It’s jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down. It’s all this, and so much more.


The first issue of the magazine -- which can be yours for only $2 -- features articles that support Jen's idea of what it means to be a wild sister. Articles like "10 Ways to Fly Beyond Creative Dream Fears and Frustrations," "Claiming Sacred Space: Living in the Here and Now," and "The Art of Listening to Your Heart" will leave you feeling inspired and motivated to live out your life as a wild sister.  

Wildsistermagazine issue1 What I love most about Wild Sister is the magazine's ability to combine the wildness we all feel from time to time -- a restless, almost insatiable passion for living -- with the need to be close and committed to one another in a bond of sisterhood. For many women, there is often a struggle between the wildness and the sisterhood, but Jen's magazine, thanks to all of the great contributions, brings these two forces together and shows us how that can coexist rather than contradict. 

If you're interested in downloading a copy (and you should!), check out the Wild Sister website. It's a $2 definitely worth spending! And come be wild with me and the other sisters on Twitter, Facebook, and via the Wild Sister Newsletter

it's TIME for some optimism: the scientific pros of positivity




When I spotted the June 6 issue of TIME on the shelf at the airport magazine stand, I was instantly intrigued by the cover's bold title: The Science of Optimism. Written by Tali Sharot, author of The Optimism Bias, the article takes a scientific look at why our brains lean toward positivity in spite of the all of the negativity around us. According to Sharot, "The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is the optimism bias." It's because of this that, though we can collectively grow pessimistic, "private optimism, about our personal future, remains incredibly resilient." 

As Sharot argues, "overly positive assumptions can lead to disastrous miscalculations...but the [optimism] bias also protects and inspires us; it keeps us moving forward rather than to the nearest high-rise ledge." Though viewing everything through rose-colored lenses can actually be a negative thing, focusing more on the positive actually has quite a few scientific benefits. According to the article, here are some of the benefits for those embracing an optimistic outlook: 


The Benefits of an Optimistic Outlook 

  • Optimists are motivated to pursue goals because they can imagine alternative, better realities and believe these realities can be achieved. 

  • Optimists earn more money (probably because they work longer hours) -- and they also save more money too. 

  • Optimists are not less likely to divorce, but they are more likely to remarry (which is, as the article says, "the triumph of hope over experience").

  • Optimists are more likely to have less stress and better physical health. They are more likely to take vitamins, eat low-fat diets, and exercise and, as a result, typically live longer. 

  • Optimists have a chance to live longer. In a study of cancer patients, pessimists were more likely to die within 8 months than their more optimistic counterparts. 

  • Optimists expect positive things to happen -- and, even when positive things don't happen, optimists tend interpret misfortunes in a positive way

  • Optimists value and affirm their decisions so their lives are not filled with second-guessing and constantly wondering, "What if....?" 


From personal experience, I know there are a lot of benefits for being positivity. Really, if I'm completely honest with myself, embracing the idea of a more positive attitude (even if I admittedly don't always put it into practice) has changed my life immensely for the better. Since I started focusing on positivity (aka, when I created Positively Present back in February 2009), I've reaped tons of rewards in my life. Here are just a few of the things that have happened to me since I made optimism a priority in my life: 


My Personal Positivity Pros 

  • Though I am a self-diagnosed shopaholic, over the past two years I've saved more money than I ever could have imagined

  • After years and years of relationship ups and downs, I found the love of my life about a year and half ago. (A direct result, I believe, of a new-found love for myself.)

  • Every day for the past 2+ years, I spend time doing what I love -- writing -- which is something I used to keep in the "someday" file in my mind. 

  • Since focusing on living a positive life, I've stopped partaking in negative activities and stopped spending time (or as much time) with people who bring me down. 

  • About a year ago, I was hired at a new company. Though the transition wasn't initially smooth, I now actually enjoy my job and like going to work every day (ok, most days). 

  • Though not perfect by any means, my relationships with friends and family have improved since I embraced a more positive life. 

  • By enjoying my life more and looking for the positive things in every single day, I've become generally happier and focused on the present moment

  • I now believe in a brighter, happier future for myself and the ones I love, something I definitely didn't do before. 


Whether you look to the science explained in the TIME article or to the ramblings of an online optimist like myself, it's hard to deny that there are some pretty serious benefits when it comes to being optimistic. I really used to think the idea of a positive attitude was just nonsense, something people said to keep themselves believing that this god-awful existence was worth something. But over the past few years I've found that all of that "nonsense" has some serious value. And apparently, according to TIME, I'm not the only one benefiting it. If you're looking for a one-way ticket to a better, happier, and apparently healthier life, I'd recommend giving optimism a go. You don't lose anything by giving it a shot -- and, hey, look at all that you might gain! 

words to live by: looking for alaska

Lookingforalaska ()

She turned away from me, and softly, maybe to herself, said, "Jesus, I'm not going to be one of those people who sits around talking about what they're gonna do. I'm just going to do it. Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia." 

"Huh?" I asked.

"You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present." 

I guess that made sense. 


After constantly seeing references to it on Tumblr, I finally indulged myself in reading Looking for Alaska. I'd picked up the book countless times in the bookstore and, for one reason or another, put it back down again. A few weeks ago, I finally purchased it and realized what all the fuss was about. It was a great book. Inspiring and, despite the premise, oddly uplifting. Above is one of my favorite passages from the book, a conversation between Alaska and the boy who loves her. It made me realize that, really, so many of us use the future to escape the present. We keep thinking someday will be the day we'll do something -- instead of doing it today. This passage -- and this book -- is a great reminder of how we all should live in the present and stop using the future as an excuse. 


"Words To Live By" is a segment on Positively Present that features my favorite quote or lyrics from the week. Every Sunday I post a quote or lyrics that have inspired me with the hope that they'll inspire you too. Comments will be closed on these posts, but feel free to tweet the post if you enjoy it or contact me via Twitter


4 steps for conquering emotional muggers


I bet you got pushed around,
Somebody made you cold,
But the cycle ends right now,
You can’t lead me down that road,
You don’t know, what you don’t know...

Someday I’ll be living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so mean?

Taylor Swift


A while back, I came across Martha Beck's article, How to Stay in a Good Mood and I bookmarked it because I knew someday I would need her tips. That someday has arrived. Lately I've been dealing with a very difficult coworker. For whatever reason, she has taken a dislike to me and belittles me with her dismissive attitude, unresponsiveness, and snide remarks. In addition, she brings almost everyone around her down with her constant negativity. No matter what anyone says, she has a pessimistic point to make.

Try as I might, I cannot find a way to coexist with this particular coworker. I've grown increasingly frustrated with the situation, and it's causing me quite a bit of unnecessary stress. Fortunately for me, I stumbled across Beck's article earlier today and it helped me to realize that I'm dealing with an emotional mugger. What, you might ask, is an "emotional mugger"? According to Beck, emotional mugging is this: "You're going along minding your own business, and suddenly, when you least expect it, you're faced with a shocking attack on your mood or peace of mind. Being emotionally mugged can be crippling, but because the damage is so often invisible, few of us are ever taught self-defense."

Well, with the help of Beck's advice, it's time to change that. I'm learning emotional mugger self-defense, and I'm going to use it every chance I get. Much as I would like to, I can't escape from this mugger -- but I can figure out the best way to deal with her. After reading Beck's article, I came up with a four-step plan to deal with this cranky colleague -- and tomorrow I'm going to put it into action. 

Avoid an Attack: 4 Steps for Conquering Emotional Muggers


1. Create a peaceful and happy mindset for yourself. Emotional muggers, just like regular muggers, typically hang out in bad neighborhoods. Don't make your mind a place for them to do their dirty work. Fill your mind with inspiration and positive thoughts and it will be much harder for them to bring you down. Only you can control what you think -- don't let them taint your positive thoughts with negative ones. 

2. Know what you're dealing with.
There are apparently six types of emotional muggers. Learn to identify them and master the tactics that tackle each one. After reading Beck's article, I learned about all six and how to deal with each one. I'm pretty sure I'm dealing with a puppy-kicking, deflecting dementor. Yikes. Here are the six types you might be up against: 

Puppy Kickers: People who are super stressed out in their own lives or dealing with some sort of emotional overload and lash out at others (often those they care about most). 
How to deal: Find someone else to hang out with or, better yet, as the kicker if you can do anything to help him/her deal with the stressfulness. 

Exploding Doormats: People who keep all of their emotions to themselves, harboring hostility and then they explode (often at a small thing) when they can't take any more. 
How to deal: Have an open discussion with this person (post-explosion, after s/he has had a chance to calm down) and help develop ways to address the issues. 

Deflators: People who find negative in everything and always manage to bring you down -- no matter how happy you are -- with a pessimistic comment. 
How to deal: These don't do well with discussions so it's best to happily reject their negativity. If they say "you can't," you say, "I can and I will." 

Secret Keepers: People who freak out or overreact over seemingly small things because they are actually keeping secrets from you. Their outbursts seem very surprising and dramatic.  
How to deal: If something seems off, don't ignore your instincts. Do what you can to figure out what's really going on -- look for clues, ask questions, and trust your gut.   

Cannibals: People who bring you down constantly, only calling you when they have terrible news or want to complain about their bad day. They instantly suck any positivity out of your day. 
How to deal: Don't give into these positivity vampires. Challenge their negativity with a quick, positive comment and move the conversation forward. Don't let them dwell and don't waste time comforting them. 

Dementors: People who thrive on causing others pain because they are incredibly unhappy. They don't care who they hurt as long as someone else is in pain. 
How to deal: Distance yourself from this person as fast as you can. If that's not possible, do what you can to emotionally distance yourself.  


3. Don't dwell in victim mode. Recognize the negativity in the situation belongs to the mugger -- not you. It can be tempting to wonder what you did wrong and worry about the situation. Don't. Emotional muggers are not worth your time or energy. Figure out what you're dealing with, handle them as best you can, and move on to more positive things. 

4. Watch out for future muggers. Keep an eye out for future muggers. I'm guessing that the more you encounter them, the easier they will be to spot. When you're interacting with people, listen to your instincts and pay attention to how you feel when you are around them. If they bring you down, stay away. Far, far away. 


Emotional mugging is the kind of thing that happens with people even realizing it. Sometimes it can be so quick and surprising that you even fully understand the hurt that comes along with it until much, much later. But whether it's happening to you right now or it's happened to you in the past, you know how much emotional mugging can affect your life. It's frustrating, unsettling, and painful -- and it's not something you have to put up with in your life. So use the steps above to handle the emotional muggers in your life and start avoiding those emotional attacks ASAP!

live and let live: how detaching can improve relationships



In the latest The Oprah Magazine, there's a great article by Martha Beck about how you can improve relationships with others by not caring what they do. Sounds like it wouldn't work, right? How can you have a good relationship with someone and not care what they do? According to Beck, you can both not care and love someone; in fact, she argues that not caring is a great way to love someone. By not caring, we can stop trying to change those we love. We can fully accept them for who they are and, as a result, be at peace with whatever they do. Beck advises that we do the following: 


The 4 Steps for Detaching from Loved Ones

Step 1.
Choose a person you love, but about whom you feel some level of anxiety, anger, or sadness. 

Step 2. Identify what this person must do to make you happy, but using this sentence: "If _________ would only __________, then I could feel ____________."

Step 3. Delete the first part of the sentence, so it reads: "I could feel _____________." Realize that this is the only honest truth in the sentence and know that you have the power to feel that way no matter what anyone else says or does. 

Step 4. Shift your focus from controlling others to creating your own happiness. 


These four steps create an environment for those around you to feel loved and accepted -- no matter what they do -- and they also create an environment in which you can be happy and at peace with those you love. Now, much as I love Beck's advice, these four steps can be really hard. If you are dealing with a family member that has an outrageously abrasive personality or a loved one who is battling an addiction, for example, deleting that first part of the sentence (in #3) can be really difficult. Especially if you are around the person often. 

Detaching yourself from others' behaviors is great, in theory, but it's a difficult thing to actually do. It takes a lot of personal strength and mental bravery to recognize that you can be happy and positive no matter what other people do. It's completely possible -- it's just hard. Which is why I think these additional tips will help anyone trying to master these steps. 


  • Find your own unique sources of happiness. Relying 100% on one person is a big no-no when it comes to having a happy relationship. It's key to find some activities/people you can enjoy outside of the relationship you have with a significant other and/or family member. 

  • Surround yourself with external support. If you're struggling to understand someone you love or having trouble dealing with his/her actions, it's essential to have some support outside of your home environment. Find a close friend or a therapist you can talk to. 

  • Remember that you are powerless over others. This is such an important thing to remember if you want to improve your relationships (or just live a positive life in general). No matter what you would like to believe, you have zero control over others. Realize this and you will free yourself from a lot of mental anguish. 

  • Focus on the positive things about your loved one. If you're struggling to deal with a specific behavior from someone you love, a great exercise to combat any negativity you might be feeling is focusing on the positive things you love about that person. Most likely you've been ignore a lot of positive things!

  • Focus on the positive things about yourself. Remember that there are a lot of positive things about you too. Sometimes when we're dealing with an upsetting behavior, we forget to focus on the positive things about ourselves -- like our strength or our resilience. Remind yourself of your awesomeness. 

  • Know that who you are is not defined by who you love. Sometimes it can be really hard to deal with a family member or loved one's behavior and it can be even harder to separate ourselves from it. We sometimes take it to be a part of who we are -- but it's not. Who you love (or are related to) is not who you are. 

  • Communicate your intentions with the ones you love. If something really bothers you about someone you love, ignoring it can be tough -- as can changing that person. In my opinion, it's best to communicate that you love the person, you don't love the action, but you're going to do your best to accept it.


The idea of "live and let live" is a tough one to abide by. As I mentioned, in theory it sounds great, but it's hard to keep it in mind when you're dealing with loved ones who, let's face it, can drive you crazy at times. It's incredibly difficult not to be influenced by the people we surround ourselves with and, unfortunately, we can't always choose who we have around us. And, for that reason, we have to make the most of the relationships in our lives. It's tempting to be critical and to want to change others, but remember that change must come from within and it's not up to us to change other people. Hopefully Martha Beck's exercise and my additional tips will help you (and me!) deal with the difficult behaviors of others, making our relationships -- and our lives -- more positive. 


Have you had to deal with difficult behaviors in your relationships? 
How have you handled them? Detachment? Confrontation?
Has the "live and let live" motto worked for you?  



Wondering how you can stay positive and present on a daily basis? Check out my book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, filled with daily tips, advice, and inspiration for making the most of every day. Stay Positive is available in Paperback and PDF. Learn more about the book (and watch the video!) at