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Play the Hand You're Dealt : Life Lessons from Solitaire



Whenever I'm super stressed and anxious (particularly when I have upcoming doctor's visits or surgeries scheduled), I've noticed that I tend to turn to games like Solitaire, Scrabble, and Boggle. Unlike zoning out with a show or YouTube video, games keep my mind engaged and I have to be paying attention to them (instead of my nagging anxiety-ridden thoughts). I'm actually in a bit of a Scrabble phase right now, but for a good chunk of 2017, I was all about Solitaire. 

And, of course, being me (creator of this fine site that you're reading today, haha), I started noticing some good life lessons as I was playing — and there ended up being a lot more than I would've imagined! 

You can be dealt a bad hand, and still end up winning. You can be dealt a great hand, and still end up losing. 

There's strategy involved, but also a heck of a lot of luck in what cards you're dealt.

You can't focus only on the card you need now; you have to look at the whole game.

Playing a card the first time you see it isn't always the right move. 

You — and only you — are in charge of what you do with the cards you've been dealt.

Sometimes you take winning for granted. More often than not, it's pretty anticlimactic.

A high score is nice, but it's better when you play for the joy of it.

You've got to play the cards you're dealt, whether you like them or not. (Though you can start a new game at any time.)

When you don't rush while playing, you make a lot fewer mistakes. 

Sometimes you know you're going lose, but you just keep playing. (You usually shouldn't.)

If you look, you'll find patterns, but if you're not paying attention, it'll seem like random chaos.

You often lose when you have too many of the same color or number; sameness doesn't win. 

Pay attention how you feel when you win or lose. Your reactions aren't always what you'd expect.

One card can change everything. You can be on the verge of losing, and draw a game-changing card.

I thought about writing more details for each point, but I'm guessing you can figure out how these lessons might apply in real life. (And if you can't, dig deeper — you're just as wise as I am!) And if you haven't played Solitaire (or any other game) in awhile, I highly recommend giving it a try. It can give you mind a break from the incessant thinking (or is that just me?!), while not allowing it to completely zone out, the way it might do with endless Netflix episodes or some other candy-like brain food. If you already are a fellow Solitaire-lover, did I miss any lessons? Anything you've noticed while playing? 


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Positively Present's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide!



After encountering hours of Black Friday commercials (love you, Hallmark Channel, but I could do without the incessant selling!) and watching a video entitled "How Likely Are You to Die in a Black Friday Sale?," it's pretty hard for me to deny that the holiday shopping season is upon us.

I've always been a huge fan of gift-giving, but, the older I get, the less impressed I am by the ever-growing fervor of holiday shopping. It's a wonderful feeling to find a perfect gift for someone you care about, but so much of this gift-giving feels forced, feels like it's becoming less of a want to and more of a have to

It could just be my age (after all, this is my 35th Christmas) or maybe I'm just changing what matters most to me, but gift-giving feels different now than it once did. For this reason, I decided to make a holiday gift guide of my own. No sales. No special deals. Just gifts that you can give anytime, and to almost anyone. 


for the friend who feels uncertain right now : encouragement

for any single person you encounter today : love

for the incredibly frustrating family member : compassion

for the boss or colleagues or who count on you : energy

for the parent or sibling who's done you wrong : forgiveness

for the friend or partner who remains faithful : trust

for the stranger filled with road rage or hostility : empathy

for the child who wants to show you what s/he can: attentiveness

for the partner who is always there by your side : intimacy

for the person who's beliefs seem almost insane : tolerance

for the introvert (or teen) who would love alone time : privacy

for the coworker who goes above and beyond : recognition

for the best friend who's had a really tough year : comfort

for yourself, because you deserve this, always : self-love

for the one you haven't spoken to in far too long : honesty

for the go-getter who appears to be a bit stuck : inspiration

for the person who asks you what you really think : advice

for the passing stranger in the hallway or on the street : connection

for the loved one who gives his or her heart to you : passion

for those who are so different from you in so many ways : acceptance

for the ones you want to cling too tightly to : independence

for those you've kept at a distance for no valid reason : affection

for the children who want to feel like they're all grown up : responsibility

for the person who cuts you off in line or on the road : kindness

for the pal who isn't yet sure which path s/he should take : reassurance

for the child (or pet. or adult.) that makes you feel crazy sometimes : patience

for the person who always finds a way to make time for you : time

for the one you've worked with who's looking for a new opportunity : endorsement

for the partner you may have been neglecting a little bit lately : romance

for the person (or Virgo) who's always, always on time : punctuality

for the friend you always do the exact same thing with every time : adventure

for the person who is rushing or speeding or in your way : consideration

for the ones who are heartbroken or hurting or all alone : tenderness

for the loved one who has never, ever stopped lifting you up : support

for the fellow human beings, who are just doing the best they can : vulnerability


Of course, most of of us (including me!) will still buy physical gifts for those we love, and there's certainly nothing wrong with gift-giving. (In fact, I wouldn't be at all mad if you wanted to gift someone a copy of The Positively Present Guide to Life or the Every Day Matters 2018 Diary or Gratitude or Compassion or Living in the Moment or Forgiveness...) But I hope this post has inspired you to think outside the box when it comes to gift-giving, to remember the wise words from Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas: "Maybe," the Grinch thought, "Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."