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February 2017

Why You Should Read Your Horoscope (Even You Think It's Nonsense)

 

Stars

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved any and all kinds of fortune-telling. As a kid, I’d dutifully read my horoscope in The Washington Post before I went off to school each morning. Every time my family ordered Chinese food, the main attraction for me was the fortune cookie. (I’d always take the first one I touched or saw, reasoning that it must be the one meant for me.) I'd peruse the Astrology aisle at Super Crown and B. Dalton, flipping through pages until I found information on my sign. (In later years, I'd do the same, making sure to check the sign of my latest crush as well.)

Though I'm older and (a little bit) wiser now, I'm still fascinated with all kinds of fortune-related things: astrology, tarot cards, fortune cookies, and even psychics (I've yet to visit one, but every time I drive by a sign, I feel a little tug of curiosity...). As much as I'm fascinated by these things, I've also spent most of my life flip-flopping on the validity of them. In my heart, I want to believe horoscopes are written by people who understand deep meanings held in the stars, but my logical brain reminds me that horoscopes are written every day around the world and certainly not all of these people could have some sort of deep understanding of how balls of fire in the sky relate to human lives. 

And, yet, even with all of the knowledge in the world, I can't quite turn away from horoscopes. I can see both sides: the logic and the heart, a tell-tale trait of my Leo/Virgo cusp star sign, haha! (I wrote this line as a joke, but then when I found a link to explain it, I was once again blown away with how accurate it is, which, I suppose, brings me to my point...) I believe individual, daily horoscopes are fictional, but I'm not entirely sure that astrology as a whole is completely made up (here's an article with arguments as to why it should be taken seriously).

Regardless of whether or not I believe in the validity of astrology, I still reach for them constantly, and with excitement, which is an odd thing to do since everything else I read is clearly marked as fiction or fact (or, at least, it seems that way for the most part). The whole "fact" concept has gotten a big makeover lately, with all kinds of untrue or inaccurate things being published, and it's made me think a lot about what it means when it comes to things like astrology. As I was reading my horoscope last week, I had to pause and ask myself, “Why am I doing this? What do I get out of it if I don't really believe it's true?” (After all, this is my Year of Self-Love, and I’ve found that one of the most important, self-loving things I can do is pay attention to things I do and try to discover why I might be doing them.)

Every time I read my horoscope, I’m torn between the between facts (I know it’s been written by a normal human just like me, even if that person does know more about astrology than I do) and feelings (there’s just something so satisfying about reading something that makes you feel understood or provides guidance seemingly tailored for you!). I’ve never really known what do about this “facts vs. feelings” inner dialogue so I’ve mostly ignored it, reading my horoscope when I wanted to, taking from it what I needed, and shushing the part of my brain that piped up, “But this is just nonsense some random person wrote!” All this changed a couple weeks ago when, in the midst of a little self-love reflection, I had one of those a-ha! moments.

I finally understood why I love horoscopes and fortunes so much — and why it actually doesn’t matter that they’re not factual. The reason many of us love horoscopes — regardless of whether or not we believe in them — isn’t because of the specific guidance or insight they provide. It’s because, no matter what is written, we take away from it what we need. Horoscopes provide insights not because they’re so insightful, but because they prompt us to think about how the words — whatever they might be — apply to our lives.

Horoscopes get us thinking about our lives in ways we might not when reading, for example, the news or a fiction book. They claim to be tailored to us specifically and, as a result, we’re constantly looking to agree with or disagree with them. And that alone — the desire to find meaning or to discredit them — is a unique kind of soul-searching, introspective experience. It tells us more about what we feel, what we want to believe, or what we think is true than if we didn’t pause and read them. Of course, we can get these benefits from reading other things as well— self-help or inspirational books, in particular — but not everyone will take the time to do that. (I know you probably would, since you’re reading this article, but not everyone has the time or interest for soul-searching, even though everyone benefits from it.)

So, here's my thinking. We should read horoscopes, even if it's just for the opportunity to do a tiny bit of soul-searching. If you already read your horoscope, use tarot cards, see a psychic, etc., keep at it — but strive to be mindful of your responses what you read, see, and hear. (Remember: your responses tell you much more than the words or images ever could!) Rather than simply taking the words and moving on with your day, sit with them for a minute and ask yourself why you agree or disagree with what’s in front of you. Doing that is where the value is — not in the content itself.

And if you don’t read your horoscope because you think it’s made up (it is), you think tarot cards are for witches and hippies (stop judging!), or you believe psychics are just scammers (perhaps...), consider giving it a try and see how you feel. Remember the value is not about what’s in front of you; it’s about how you react to it. As Shakespeare once wrote, "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." We control our destinies, but we can actually learn more about what we want that destiny to be by looking at messages from the stars. 

For those looking to expand or begin a fortune-seeking practice, here are a few recommendations:

  

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Positively Present Picks : January 27, 2017

 
Truth


Quote-of-the-week

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

 

Links-I-Love

Curing Chronic Self-Righteousness : the importance of compassion

Neon Soul : just pre-ordered this and I cannot wait till it comes out!!

15 Unforgettable Haruki Murakami Quotes : such powerful, inspiring words

My Favorite Protest Sign : sooo many good ones, but this is just too adorable

What I'm Trying to Say : these little postcards are great to have on hand

Art Is Theft : a great little (beautifully designed) video about art + creating 

The Importance of Selfishness : it has a negative connotation, but it's useful!

One Page at a Time : wanna up your creative game? you need this little book

Real Is Better Than Perfect : such wise (beautiful!) words from Made Vibrant

Top 30 Positivity Blogs + Websites : I'm honored to be included in this list :)

How to Stay Calm : advice on keeping your cool from a bomb disposal expert

Is Your Day Going Down in Flames? : 35 experts on how to get back to happy

Create a Journaling Practice : I've started this + it's such a positive experience

The Key to Peace : it's all about letting go of what you think "should" be

Defeat the Winter Blues : this time of year can be tough for staying cheery

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!


"Castle on the Hill" — Ed Sheeran
"T.B.D." — Hanging Valleys
"Don't Make Me" — Matt Kali
"Heaven" — Troye Sivan
"Bite My Tongue" — The Beach
"On + Off"— Maggie Rogers
"Dangerous" —The xx
"Patience" — Eden Fox
"Get Lucky" — Daughter
"Motion Picture Soundtrack" — Shallou

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

Nightbird
Alice Hoffman

The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Corrections
Johnathan Franzen
 

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness*

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*
 

Some links may be affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page. 


Inspired Unfollowing : A Week of Conscious Content Choice

 

Inspired Unfollowing

 

Most of us spend a great deal of time online, in our in-boxes, and on apps. While I'm a huge fan of technology and the connectivity that comes with it (after all, I wouldn't be able to do what I do for a living if it weren't for the amazing power of blogging and social media!), sometimes it takes away from being positive and present. And, quite frequently, it takes away from the concept of self-love, my primary for focus for 2017 (and probably the rest of my life as well!).  

I've read countless articles about taking a social media break or limiting it to a certain amount of hours each day, but I believe those ideas are just putting a bandaid on the problem. If you need constant breaks from something or have to limit it because it's unhealthy for you, it's important to look at why you need to break/limit yourself. What is it that you feel when you're online or on apps? Are those feelings positive or negative? Do you want to keep feeling them? 

As I move through this year of self-love, I'm striving to get more in touch with how things make me feel. I tend to be very logic-oriented, and sometimes I forget that feelings are just as important as logic (even if they're not always as easy to identify!). When you have awareness of the feelings that come with certain experiences, people, things, etc., you can then make choices that help you to create a more positive, mindful, and self-loving life. Awareness is the first step toward change. 

This year, I'm striving to create more of that kind of awareness in my life (and make changes accordingly), and this week I'm turning my attention to social media, apps, and the places I spend time online. Specifically, I'm turning my attention to getting rid of those that don't create feelings of love, positivity, and inspiration.

 

WHAT IS INSPIRED UNFOLLOWING? 

What we surround ourselves with -- both in real life and online -- has a great impact on how we feel and live every single day. It's all too easy to fall into patterns, to do something you've always done simply because you've always done it, but I think it's a big mistake to be passive when it come to online consumption. There are a great many things we cannot control in this life, but one that we can is what we look at on our computers or phones. 

To create more self-love and positivity in our lives, we have to consume consciously (I know, that sounds like something Gwyneth Paltrow would say, but hear me out!), especially what we consume visually and electronically. Because I've come to realize how important this is, I came up with the idea of Inspired Unfollowing, a week of reflecting on what I've been consuming online so I can actively choose whether I want to continue doing so. I hope you'll join me this week in taking control of what you consume. 

As you do this, it's important to think critically. There are some things that fall obviously in the "unfollow" category -- the websites that drive you crazy with too many emails; the acquaintance on Facebook constantly ranting; the brand who posts negative memes on Instagram -- but there are many other, less obvious, reasons you might want to unfollow. Here are just a few example of less obvious aspects you might want to look out for: 

  • Unfollow unrealistic representations of beauty making you feel bad about your body
  • Unfollow memes or jokes that might be amusing but focus mostly on putting others down
  • Unfollow images of a "perfect" lives that cause you to feel overly envious or jealous
  • Unfollow brands promoting items you cannot afford that make you feel unsuccessful
  • Unfollow companies that don't support your personal beliefs (do your research!)
  • Unfollow people / brands that no longer interest or inspire you (we change and that's ok!)
  • Unfollow celebrities that don't inspire, uplift, or empower you in some way
  • Unfollow accounts you started following years and years ago but no longer enjoy

It all comes down to how something or someone makes you feel. The more you surround yourself with sites, apps, people, and accounts that uplift and inspire and inform, the more uplifted and inspired and informed you'll feel. And we only have so many hours in a day to look at social media, and there's soooo much out there, so it's up to you to choose consciously what you want to see. 

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Surrounding yourself with positive, inspiring social media does not mean avoiding things that might evoke negative emotions (i.e., upsetting but important news stories) or people whose beliefs differ from yours. One of the worst things any of us could do at a time like this would be to avoid people who are different from us. In fact, I encourage you to find some accounts and websites that don't hold your views and visit them periodically to open your mind to a new perspective.  The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows, nor is it filled with people who believe exactly what you do, and avoiding all negativity is not good practice. There's a big difference between things that add value -- such as news, even if it's not positive news, or people who share opposing views, but who do so in a kind, thoughtful way -- and things that make you feel terrible without providing useful information.

Okay, now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let's jump into the plan for the week!  

 

THE WEEKLY PLAN

The plan is basically to go through the various accounts, sites, apps, etc. and decide which ones you benefit from and which ones you could do without. As you're working through each one, ask yourself: Does this account -- directly or indirectly -- make me feel worthy of love? That might sound a bit cheesy, but, really our lives come down to two very basic feelings: love and hate. Everything you encounter directly or indirectly promotes one of those two states of being. (If something feels neutral to you, dig deeper. One of those feelings is there!)

 

Monday / Email Subscriptions

First up, our in-boxes! How many emails do you get each day? How many of those are email subscriptions you signed up for but no longer want? (Or were signed up for but never wanted in the first place?) Even if you don't end up reading these emails, you have to spend time and energy deleting them each day. Set aside time today to go through your email and unsubscribe from those emails you no longer want to receive. If you don't want to do it manually, there's an awesome site call Unroll.Me that'll do it for you! 

 

Tuesday / Facebook

Facebook can be a tricky one because, for a lot of us, we're follow (aka, "friend") people we know. We might worry that it would be offensive to unfriend someone on Facebook (even if that person is just an acquaintance). The great thing about Facebook is that you can unfollow someone without unfriending him/her. (Read this article for specifics.) You can (and should!) choose what you see on Facebook without causing offense to friends, family, or acquaintances. 

 

Wednesday / Instagram

Instagram is often more of a mix of family/friends and brands/celebrities. Unlike Facebook, you can't unfollow someone politely without unfriending him/her, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't curate an Instagram feed that brings more positivity and self-love into your life. While sorting through your "following" list, ask yourself, "Does this person / brand make me feel less worthy, unhappy, or negative when I see their posts?" If the answer is yes, click that "Following" button so you no longer see those posts. 

 

Thursday / Twitter

Twitter is my go-to spot for staying up on the latest news. If you want to know what's happening right now, Twitter is the place to go. But, over the past few months, I've realized that it drains me and drags my emotional state down -- and that has a lot to do with the people I follow. I love comedy and follow a lot of comedians, but, unfortunately, a lot of comedy can be negative. This week I'm clearing out the negativity! 

 

Friday / Pinterest

Pinterest is one of my favorite online spots and, for the most part, I love the people I follow and feel inspired and uplifted when I spend time on Pinterest. But, I've been on Pinterest for a long time and there are some people I followed years ago that are no longer adding value to my life. They might not be especially negative, but they're not inspiring either. Because there's so much wonderful content out there, you've got to make room for the great by getting rid of the "eh." 

 

Weekend / Websites + Apps

What websites or apps do you open on a daily basis? And, more importantly, why do you open them? Sometimes we have great reasons for opening these, but often we do it just because we've always done it. It's habit; not choice. Over time, I've cut down on certain websites I visit (especially brands that made me long for items I hadn't even known existed before I'd opened the sites or YouTubers who made me feel I needed the latest lipstick shade), but I'm now also cutting down on the apps I keep on my phone as well.

Remember: just because you have a Twitter / Facebook / etc. account, doesn't mean you need instant access to it at all times. Taking an app off your phone can be a great way to be more conscious about your content consumption. It's often much more difficult to log-in to an account on your phone or to go to your computer than it is to click an app open, making it more likely that you'll think before doing it, rather than just absentmindedly clicking while bored! 

 

I've already started on Inspired Unfollowing, a little bit at a time, but I'm excited to see how I feel at the end of this week! If you're going to join in on this, but you're a bit unsure about unfollowing certain accounts, I recommend writing them down somewhere and then unfollowing. If you keep thinking about them or miss them, you can always go back to your list and re-follow. (But, believe me, I bet if there's any doubt in your mind whether or not you should be following an account, you probably don't really need it in your life.) As a bonus, you can take note of the accounts you're consciously choosing to follow and seek out more accounts like those! We have a certain amount of time for social media, and that time should be filled with consciously chosen content! 

  

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