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positively present picks: february 28, 2014



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"The optimist is right. The pessimist is right. The one differs from
the other as the light from the dark. Yet both are right. Each is right from
his own particular point of view, and this point of view is the determining
factor in the life of each. It determines as to whether it is a life of
power or of impotence, of peace or of pain, of success or of failure."

Ralph Waldo Thrine, 1910


image from www.positivelypresent.com8 Self-Love Strategies : I discuss my favorite strategy in the list

On Changing Dreams : this article is so inspiring!

Type Nerd Poster : this poster totally put a smile on my face 

Animals Growing Up : adorable collection of before + after pics

Dog Charms : these are awesome (Barkley needs this one!)

Inspiration Fasting : this is such an interesting concept

15 Quotes to Help You Smash Negative Thinking : go on! smash it!

Printable Oscar Ballot : for those of you watching on Sunday

Positive Thinking : a lovely little infographic of inspiration

Oyster Books : unlimited books for $10/month? sounds awesome to me!

Fennec Fox Necklace : this little guy makes me happy  

Beat the Almost-Spring-But-Not-Quite Blues : fun ideas from Gala Darling

Oversized Landscape Pop Art : this looks like it'd be fun to make!


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Check out this week's
   Positively Present playlist on YouTube  

"Fight to Keep" — Run River North
"Beating Heart" — Ellie Goulding
"If I Could Change Your Mind" — HAIM
"Crocodile" — Canon Logic
"Cross My Mind" — Twin Forks
"Run Run Run" — Celest Buckingham
"Oh CA" — Bootstraps
"Jumanji" — Glass Towers
"The Walker" — Fitz & the Tantrums
"Drunk in Love" — Beyonce feat. Jay Z
"In the Air Tonight" — Kelly Sweet
"Babylon" — David Gray
"Same Changes" — The Weepies

The Witch of Little Italy
Suzanne Palmieri

The Enlightenment of Work
Steve Nobel

3 steps for achieving sophrosyne



I'm a bit of a word nerd, and when I came across this image on Pinterest last week it really got me thinking about this word I'd never heard before (a word that doesn't really even translate into English): sophrosyne. According to the photo on Pinterest, it's "a healthy state of mind, characterized by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one's true self, resulting in true happiness." On Wikipedia, I found it described as "a Greek philosophical term etymologically meaning healthy-mindedness and from there self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance."  

Usually when I pin something, I don't think too much about it, but for some reason, I found myself coming back to the pin again and again, contemplating the meaning of the word. For me, it seems to mean the adoption of moderation leading to a greater state of well-being. It means knowing when your needs are met and choosing enough over excess

I hate to admit it, but moderation is not my strong suit. If I enjoy something—whether it be a person, an activity, a color (orange!), a food, a TV show, etc.—I want it constantly and I want to know all I can about it. I become a little...well...obsessive. This obsessiveness has been made so much easier by the ever-expanding internet, where I can search endlessly for anything and everything relating to my latest interest. This isn't such a big deal in some cases (such as my recent infatuation with the TV show The Big Bang Theory), but in others (such as alcohol consumption), my inability to moderate has been a problem (to say the least!).

In the past, after failing miserably at moderating, I came to the understanding that I'm an abstainer; I have to completely stop doing something if I don't want to do it excessively. (Hooray for 3.5 years sober!) As St. Augustine so wisely said, "To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation." I always related so much to that quote, thinking moderation was just not in my nature, but learning about the concept sophrosyne has made me think a bit differently about what moderation might mean, and how embracing it might lead to a more positive, more present life. 

Rather than focusing on moderation as an absence of full-on indulgence in something, sophrosyne seems to consider moderation as the act of knowing one's true needs, recognizing when those have been met, and choosing not move forward in excess in order to achieve a better sense of well-being and happiness. While that might sound a bit complex, the more I think about it, the more I realize it's actually quite simple: avoid excess, achieve balance. Simple as it sounds in writing, it's not always easy for me to achieve in reality (which is why I often go the abstinence route when needed!), but after spending some time contemplating this concept, I think it's really worth embracing, and here are some of the best ways I've thought of to start incorporating sophrosyne into my life:  



Most important is knowing what needs moderation. Most of us have a few things we tend to over-indulge in, either because we love them so much or because they provide us with some sort of emotional outlet. While it's okay to do these things (unless they are detrimental to your well-being or the well-being of others), it's not okay to do them in excess, to the point where you feel as if you are no longer in control or you feel negative emotions associated with your choices. We all could do with a little moderation in life (unless you're one of the lucky ones who is already super good at moderating, lucky duck!), but it's important to first pinpoint the areas that really need moderation. For example, I could really do with moderating my sugar intake (I love sweets!), turning off the TV a little more often, and putting a little distance between me and Pinterest. Knowing where I really need to moderate is key to getting started on actually moderating things. For me, this seems a bit overwhelming (I could stand to moderate a lot of things!) so I'm choosing to focus on one thing at a time, with the hope that the more I master moderation in one area, the more easily it will be to master in other areas. 



This is where I feel I've struggled in the past. Instead of choosing to turn off the TV for a few hours, I've thought to myself, I have to turn the TV off every night starting at 6pm. Setting these extreme moderation limitations for myself made me a lot less likely to do it (also, I tend to be a bit of a rule-breaker so if I set rules for myself, I have a really hard time not wanting to break them). Instead of thinking, I'm going to moderate my TV watching every single day for the rest of my life, I think it helps to think more specifically about individual choices, such as moderating my TV watching today. For some reason, I tend to act like whatever I'm obsessing over is going to disappear the moment I stop engaging with it, so I try to absorb as much as I can for as long as I can. But this isn't reality. In reality, the TV's still going to be there tomorrow. The candy I want to eat a whole bag of is still going to be in the cabinet tomorrow. There's no need to obsessively do everything immediately. Instead thinking everything should be done/eaten/watched/etc. today, moderation is about making wise choices in the moment without fretting about what will happen in the future. 



Part of the problem I have had with moderation in the past has to do with the way I think about it. I've always thought of it as a bad thing, something you do because you have to, not because you want to. Having always been the type to enjoy excess, it's a bit of a foreign concept to think that people actually choose—and enjoy choosing!—moderation. Of course, the more I think about sophrosyne and using moderation as a tool to create a more positive, more present life, the more I realize that moderation doesn't have to be a negative thing. It doesn't have to be about giving up something. It can be about gaining something—wisdom, patience, time. A shift in thinking can be so transformative and I've really started to shift the way I think about moderation, realizing that it doesn't have to be a negative experience. Yes, at times it might be a challenge, but ultimately I think embracing moderation helps to create better knowledge of oneself, which can only lead to better, more fulfilling experiences (which I think is what sophrosyne is all about!). 


On the surface, sophrosyne might seem as if it's simply another word for moderation, for avoiding extremes, but it's much more than that. It's about understanding yourself, knowing when you've had enough (something that can actually be hard to know sometimes), and maintaining a sense of balance between extremes. Achieving sophrosyne means striving for a life of balance and well-being, knowing the difference between need and want, and making choices that will strengthen your understanding of self. That's quite a lot packed into one little word, but it's a word worth learning, a concept worth considering. I know it won't be easy for me to embrace it, but I think it's just the kind of thing that helps to create a more positively present life. 


positively present picks: february 21, 2014



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"Never cut a tree down in the wintertime.
Never make a negative decision in the low time.
Never make your most important decisions
when you are in your worst moods.
Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass.
The spring will come."

Robert H. Schuller


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7 Habits of Happy People : totally agree with all of these

What's Your Favorite Position? : Lauren Conrad is awesome

20 Interesting Facts about Love : some of these are quite intriguing!

15 Things You Must Give Up to Be Happy : #3 is my fav

Sophrosyne : loved learning about this word this week

Happy Sweater : love this! too bad it's $445!

7 Ways to Clear Your Mind of Negative Thoughts

A Dapper Golden : this puppy is just too cute

Do What You Love Conundrums : great read on doing what you love

101 Steps to a Simpler Life : some awesome advice here


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Check out this week's
   Positively Present playlist on YouTube  

"Winds of Change" — Fitz & the Tantrums
"History's Door" — Husky
"Nothing But Trouble" — Phantogram
"Flames" — Cinder Sky
"Favourite Thing" — Yuna
"Lucious Life" — Patrick Watson
"I Wanna Get Better" — Bleachers
"Light" — Sleeping at Last
"Now, Now" — St. Vincent
"Celebrate" — Empire of the Sun
"It's Alright Now" — Bombay Bicycle Club
"Girls Chase Boys" — Ingrid Michaelson
"Breaking Free" — Cathy Heller

Comeback Love: A Novel
Patrick Golden

The Enlightenment of Work
Steve Nobel