7 reasons to buy the positively present guide to life


Note: If you're reading this in your email or in a reader, be sure to click over to the site today and check out the new look and feel of PositivelyPresent.com. I did some design updates over the weekend and I'm pretty excited about the updated look!


It's been about two months since my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life, debuted, and the launch has been a whirlwind of excitement and hard work. It's been such an amazing feeling to see the book on shelves and to sign books for Positively Present readers in person. (Two more signings coming up: Arlington 6/14 and Towson 7/19!) Honestly, cliche as it might sound, it really is a dream come true. My whole life I've dreamed of seeing my book in the bookstore, of being an author, and now it's real!

I'm obviously thrilled to have a dream come true (who wouldn't be?!) and I'm so overjoyed about the book's success so far, but I do have one little problem when it comes to this book launch stuff: I'm not all that great at promoting. Whenever I talk about my book, I feel like I'm bragging or rehashing some lame sales pitch, and I tend to downplay the excitement I feel and the desire I have for people to check out the book. Inside I'm so proud of what I've created, but I hesitate to vocalize it because I don't want to come off as boastful. 

However, too do well in the ever-shrinking book industry, you have to sell, sell, sell. These days, authors aren't just writers; they're marketers and PR agents and designers and social media experts. They write, but they also sell. I see some authors' websites — filled with sales-y jargon and buzzwords meant to get you to make a purchase — and I cringe. I don't want to be like that. I want people to want to buy my book not because I tricked them into it with some proven sales tactic but because they actually want to buy my book

Of course, I want you to buy my book (after all, it's how I make my living!), but I want you to buy it because you're drawn to it and you think it will help you make your life a more positive, present place. As the author, of course I think the book is awesome. I spent years working on it, and I'm still kind of in awe when it hold in my hands. But sometimes I take for granted the fact that I know why it's a worthwhile read, and I forget to actually tell people about why they might think it's worth buying. 

So here we go — my attempt at an honest look at why The Positively Present Guide to Life deserves a spot on your bookshelf — based on both my personal feelings about the book and on some of the wonderful feedback I've received from readers who've already purchased the book. 




Okay, so I'll be honest: there are a lot of self-improvement books on the market and a lot of them are really great. In my line a work, I read tons of them and think most of them have something of value. However, the trouble with some of them is that they don't always show you how to take their ideas and make them work in the real world. The Positively Present Guide to Life does things a bit differently. In the book, I write about thought-provoking topics, but I do my best to bring them to the reader in a practical way. Staying positive and present is lovely in theory, but in practice it's hard. That's why I offer tactics, tricks, and tips that provide accessible advice for you to use in your real life: at home, at work, in relationships, in love, and during times of change.



One of my favorite features of the book is that it's very organized, featuring 30 clearly defined chapters spread across five sections (Home, Work, Relationships, Love, and Change). Though the book flows nicely if you decide to read it in order, the awesome thing about it is that you can read it any way you want. If you feel like you need some inspiration for coping at work, start with the Work section. If you're having trouble staying positive at home, begin with Home. If your relationship could use a little boost, check out the Love section first. Whatever area of your life needs a bit of a pick-me-up, you can just flip to that section and discover insights and inspiration for your current situation. 




In addition to the advice and tips mentioned in #1, the book features 30 unique, inspiring (but easy-to-do) activities that you can do to put the advice into practice. Of course, you don't need to do these to get the full impact of the book, but I'm so glad these were included because they give readers an idea of how to take concepts from the book and actually put them into practice. And the extra-cool thing about these activities is that many of them have accompanying worksheets you can download for free! You can even download the worksheets right now and have a look (though they do work much better when you have the book as a guide). I love these worksheets, and I have a feel you will too! 



So, you're obviously reading PositivelyPresent.com and hopefully you think the site is filled with inspiring, interesting, and motivating insights and information. The Positively Present Guide to Life is like a tangible, curated version of the website. If you're looking for information on a specific topic, it's much easier to grab a copy of the book and flip to the Table of Contents then it is to search the PositivelyPresent.com archives to find what you're looking for. Let's say you need a little help staying positive at work. You could search the archives for posts that relate to your current situation, or you could purchase the book and have everything you need to know about staying positive at work right at your fingertips, including easy-to-do exercises and illustrated inspiration! 




And speaking of illustrations... one of the absolute best features of the book is that it has pictures! Creating the illustrations was one of the highlights of making this book, and I think the added dose of inspiration really helps to spread the messages from the book. Even if you're not all that into illustrations, you can't deny that there's something useful (and more memorable) about seeing an inspirational image. It's likely to stick with you longer than word-laden paragraphs of text, which hopefully means you'll keep the wisdom tucked somewhere in your mind for a time when you need to access it. The illustrations add another element to the book that you don't see in many self-improvement books these days, and I really think they help make the content more memorable (and prettier too!). 




I can't tell you how many times I get asked, "How did you get into this?" or "How did Positively Present start?" In various interviews, I've talked briefly about how the site began (back in 2009!) and what inspired me to create it, but in The Positively Present Guide to Life you get the full story of why I started thinking about living a more positive, present life, why I decided to create a website, and how it lead to a full-time job (and a book deal!). Even if you're not all that interested in my personal journey, it's always kind of fun to read about the backstory of someone else. It was really interesting for me to reflect on the beginning of Positively Present and share the full tale of how it began, and that part of the book ended up being one of my favorites. 




Yes, you can access inspiration online on your smartphone at anytime, but there's something really great about having a book you can carry around and reference at any given moment. And I absolutely love the size of The Positively Present Guide to Life (5.8 x 7.8 inches). The size wasn't up to me (the publisher decided on that), but as soon as I saw it, I was in love. (Book nerd alert!) It's small enough to tote around with you (as I so often do!), but it's not so small that it's tough to read or lacking in substantial content. Even though real, in-your-hands books are rarer these days, there's something quite wonderful about having a book you can easily keep with you for instant inspiration and motivation — and that's just what this guide is!



Hopefully you can see now why I love the book so much and am so proud of all the hard work that went into creating it. If you want to learn more about the book, watch the book trailer video, or download the free worksheets, check out DaniDiPirro.com/Books/Guide. And if you're feeling inspired to pick up a copy of the book, you can find it at your local bookseller or at these online retailers:  




Already have a copy of the book? I'd love you forever if you left a review on GoodReads or Amazon! And if you want to spread the word about the book, here are some sample messages you could share via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform: 


Check out @positivepresent's inspiring new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life! http://amzn.to/1QMrXEY


I loved reading @positivepresent's inspiring new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life! Get your copy here: http://amzn.to/1QMrXEY
Need some inspiration in your life? Check out @positivepresent's new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life: http://amzn.to/1QMrXEY


Also . . . THANK YOU to anyone who has bought a copy of the book or spread the word about it! If you're unable to make it to one of my DC-area book signings, I have some FREE bookplates I can personalize, sign, and mail to you. (Check them out here.) Just email me your mailing address and who you want me to make it out to and I'll send you one! 

wonderland wisdom: 8 life lessons from alice

Make-Sense-AliceAll images / GIFs © Disney


For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I fell in love with the animated Disney film as a girl and have since fallen in love with the book and the live action film. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the book's publication, and there's been lots of buzz about the big anniversary. (For example, in some super exciting news for the design nerd in me, one of my favorite designers, Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. is illustrating a version of the book later this year. Seriously a book-dream-come-true!)

The 150th anniversary seems like a perfect time to revisit one of my favorite stories and see what lessons I can uncover. The older I get, and the more times I read the book or watch the film, the more I learn from it. Maybe it's just where I am in my life at the time, but I always seem to find new lessons each time I return to Alice and her adventures. 

Back in 2010, I wrote about Alice in Wonderland's Wisdom: 5 Life Lessons from Alice's Adventure. It's one of my most popular posts, and it indirectly led me to sign a book deal for my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. I'll save that story for another time, but, if Alice didn't already hold a special place in my heart, her story certainly does now!

It's pretty fitting that, five years after I first wrote about Wonderland's wisdom, I revisit it during the book's 150th anniversary and uncover even more wonderful (and somewhat wacky!) lessons from Alice. The first article I wrote focused on the actual book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but this time around, I'm going to look at my favorite version, the one created by the one and only Walt Disney. 

Join me for a little journey down the wisdom-filled rabbit hole as I explore eight new lessons from Alice and her adventures in Wonderland... *Note: this is the first time I've used GIFs in a post. If you scroll over them, you'll see them move! Yay, Internet!*



 Alice: "After this I should think nothing of falling down stairs!"

When Alice goes tumbling down the rabbit hole, one of the first things she says is, "After this I should think nothing of falling down stairs!" It's kind of a crazy thing to say (after all, who wouldn't be panicking while falling down an incredibly long hole in the earth!), but I kind of love it for it's positivity. Rather than complain about how long or unsettling the fall was, Alice thinks about how she can use this unpleasant experience to put smaller troubles in perspective. (Though, to be honest, it's a little odd that "falling down stairs" is something she relates to. How often has she fallen down the stairs?!) Either way, I think we can all learn a thing about taking difficult situations and using them to shed a more positive light on smaller troubles. Having perspective is important, and one way to do this is to recognize, when things are tough, just how great it is when things aren't so bad (like, you know, when you're falling down stairs instead of rabbit holes). 



 Alice: "For if one drinks much from a bottle marked 'poison,'
it's almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later."

When Alice discovers a bottle labeled "Drink me," she pauses before putting it to her lips, thinking aloud: "For if one drinks much from a bottle marked 'poison,' it's almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later." Wise words, Alice, but, unfortunately not all poisons are marked "Poison." We have to be careful about what we consume and know what we put in our bodies. This lesson speaks to me a great personally since I've been sober for almost five years, and, for me, alcohol is a poison that only brings negativity into my life. Of course, that might not be the case for you, but most of us know what things we should or shouldn't put in our bodies to make ourselves feel good. Even if something feels good at the moment, it's important to consider how it will feel later. As Alice says, consuming what's poisonous to us is "almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later."    



Alice: You can learn a lot of things from the flowers.

To be honest, the flowers Alice encounters in Wonderland's garden are actually pretty bitchy. They're kind of like a mean little clique and, when they discover that Alice isn't one of them, they treat her pretty badly. That is definitely not the lesson you can learn from the flowers. What you can take away from these floral-focused scene is that, if you really pay attention to nature -- to the world around you -- you can learn a lot of things not only about the world, but about yourself as well. Where I live right now, it's springtime and everything is blooming and beautiful. When life's busy (and when isn't it?), it's easy to rush by everything and forget to pay attention to the beauty of nature. There's so much we can gain by observing the beauty around us and making a little bit of time to pay attention to nature.  



Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people!  

Throughout her adventures in Wonderland, Alice encounters a lot of crazy characters from the disappearing Cheshire Cat to the bitchy flowers to the March Hare and Mad Hatter to the angry Red Queen. In a world where she's unfamiliar with the customs, Alice tries to go with the flow and, for the most part, she's pretty patient with all the wackiness she encounters, but there are quite a few moments in the film when she puts her foot down, and decides she's not taking any nonsense. Though she's just a little girl, she has some wonderful moments where she stands up for herself and makes it clear that she's not interested in putting up with others' craziness. This is one of the great lessons we can take away from this film: set up your boundaries and don't let other people push past them. You know what you will and won't tolerate and it's important to make the dividing line clear to others. 



March Hare: "If you don't think, then you shouldn't talk!" 

The next bit of Wonderland wisdom comes not from Alice, but from the crazy March Hare. When Alice is accused of starting trouble, she begins to apologize with, "But really, I didn't think...," and the March Hare quickly (and pretty irrationally) interrupts, "If you don't think, you shouldn't talk!" In the context of the film, it's a ridiculous statement, but in the real world, it's a pretty great point. It's so tempting to just say whatever you want whenever it comes to your mind (particularly if you're in a situation where you're competing to be heard, like an argument or an animated discussion), but it really does pay to take a moment to think about what you're going to say before you actually say it. Words are incredibly powerful and, once said, can't be unsaid (even if you retract them or apologize). Thinking before speaking is very good advice. 



Alice: Oh, dear. Everything is so confusing! 

The GIF above pretty much sums up how I'm feeling personally about my life right now. There are a lot of areas in my life that are unclear and the future is quite uncertain so I know just how Alice is feeling when she bemoans, "Oh dear. Everything is so confusing!" Feeling uncertain can be tough sometimes, but it's a part of life. No matter how much you plan or prepare, you're never going to know exactly what the future holds. This can be a challenge to wrap your head around, especially if you're a bit of a Type A, control freak like myself, but it's a very important life lesson. Like it or not, a lot of things in life are out of your control and, unfortunately, not everything that happens makes perfect sense. Hard as it is to do sometimes, it's essential to be okay with not always knowing what's going to happen next. Embrace the mystery! 



Alice: I just wanted to ask which way I ought to go.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you ought to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn't matter, as long as I...
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn't matter which way you go.

One of the most iconic scenes in the Disney film is Alice's interaction with the Cheshire Cat. She wants his advice about which way to go, but she doesn't really know where she wants to go, which makes it pretty hard to ask for directions. A lot of us can probably relate to this. We often want directions before we even know our exact destination. What we can take from Alice's situation is that it's important to know where you want to go before you start making plans to get there. Sometimes figuring out a destination can be tricky, but it's good to at least have some idea of where you're headed. Life is full of surprises so the path you're on might change, but when you're starting out, it's always a good idea to know where you're going. It might sound obvious, but so many of us just head out with no direction in mind. But if you don't know where you want to go, you're probably not going to end up where you want to be. 



Alice: I give myself very good advice. But I very seldom follow it.

Since I was in high school, this scene has been my favorite. It's such a sad scene, featuring the song "Very Good Advice" (click to watch the video), but I don't think I'm the only one who can relate to giving good advice that I don't necessarily follow. Most of the time, we know what the right thing is to do in any given situation. Especially the older you get, the more knowledge you have about how situations typically play our and how certain interactions make you feel. That being said, sometimes it's hard to take your own advice, especially when you're living in the moment and trying not to think about the consequences. However, I find that it's really helpful to ask yourself, "What would I tell a friend in this situation?" and then try to follow that advice. It's hard, believe me, I know, but if you really listen to yourself, you'll find yourself in much more positive situations and feeling much happier about the choices you've made. 


Even if you're not an Alice in Wonderland fan (I know some people find it a bit scary or weird), I hope you enjoyed the lessons I took from the film. I spent a lot of time analyzing Disney films in graduate school so it's kind of a passion of mine, and I think there's a lot to be learned from the films. Though they were created for children, they are filled with lessons that we can apply to our adult lives. We might be all grown up, but we're always learning. We're always in search of wisdom, and, if we pay attention, we can find it even in the most unlikely of places. 




Want more wisdom in your life? You can start by discovering what already lies within you! Get to know yourself better, discover more about what you value, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.

word of the month : change (+ habits!)



This article is part of the 2015 Word of the Month series, based on the monthly theme featured in the Every Day Matters 2015 Diary I designed for Watkins Publishing. In the planner, each month has a theme highlighted in the weekly illustrations, quotes, and activities. This month's theme is CHANGE. 


I was thrilled when Gretchen Rubin sent me an advanced copy of her latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, not only because I've been a fan of hers for years, but because I find the topic of habits fascinating and it seemed like the perfect book to read along with this month's theme of change.

We all have habits — and most of us have trouble with them. Whether it's trying to make new (good) habits or quit old (bad) habits, we all have stories about our habits and how we've started, kept, or failed at them. In her book, Gretchen makes it clear that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to starting, keeping, or breaking habits. Her key insight is this: To change our habits, we must first figure out ourselves.

One of the aspects I liked most about the book is the Four Tendencies concept. (Want to know your Tendency? Take the quiz here.) I am right on the line of Rebel and Questioner and, with that in mind, I was able to see how some of the various habit strategies in the book would or wouldn't work for me. There are a lot of habit-related books out there, but most of them just focus on one strategy. The great thing about this book is that it shares insights from a variety of various sources, which gives the reader a range of options. The more options, the more likely you'll be to find a strategy that works for you! 

To delve into the strategies, you'll have to check out the book, but I'd like to share some of my favorite insights (and my thoughts about them and the topic of change) with you here. Whether you're working on starting / quitting a habit or you're coping with / initiating change in your life, these insights might help you handle the change in your life. 


"We should start the way we want to continue." 

This is so incredibly true. If you want to start a habit, you should begin the habit the same way you want to continue the habit. For example, if you say, "I want to read for an hour every night in bed," don't start off by reading for ten minutes on the couch, telling yourself that tomorrow you'll move to the bedroom and read more. Begin the way you want to continue. After thinking a bit about this, I realized it not only applies to habits, but also to relationships as well. Try to start your interactions with others on a positive note. 


"I just think, 'This is what I'm doing today.' Trust the habit. I take that first step, over and over and over." 

Sometimes the idea of starting a habit can be overwhelming if you think to yourself, Ugh, I'm going to have to do that every day/week/etc. The word "every" can be very discouraging. However, if you tell yourself that you're just going to do it today and then say that the next day and the next day it becomes so much easier to do (or not do, if you're trying to break a habit). I do this all the time with drinking. Instead of thinking, I'm not going to drink ever again, I think, I'm not going to drink tonight. I say that night after night and this summer I'll be five years sober!


"By giving something up, I gain." 

When it comes to giving up a bad habit, I think this is one of the best ways of thinking about it. Instead of thinking about what you're going to lose — all the cigarettes you'll miss smoking out on the porch with your friends or all those donuts you'll miss devouring on your way to work — it helps to think about what you'll gain when you give something up. In both of those examples, you'll gain better health and, particularly in the case of cigarettes, more money in your pocket. Reframing the loss of a bad habit in a more positive way makes it easier to get started and keep at it. 


"A stumble may be helpful, because it shows me where I need to concentrate my efforts in order to do better next time." 

If you're quitting or forming a new habit, it can be tough when you slip up. I remember when, after eight months of sobriety, I drank. It felt awful and as if all my hard work was for nothing. But the next day, I realized that this was a lesson and my stumble helped me realize that I needed to be aware of situations that were tempting for me. I used what I learned to avoid certain situations or handle them in such a way that I would be able to stay sober. Stumbling doesn't feel great, but it's a great opportunity to learn. 


"Make sure the things we do to make ourselves feel better [like rewards, treats, etc.] don't make us feel worse." 

This was one of my favorite lines from the book. If you're trying to quit a bad habit, it can be tempting to replace it with something that makes you feel good, particularly if the habit is really hard to quit. For example, if you're giving up cigarettes, you might start rewarding yourself with hefty portions of dessert each night. Those treats might make you feel good in the moment, but over time, they might prove to be more negative than positive (if, for example, they cause you to gain more weight than you'd like or you feel unhealthy after eating them). Rewards can be useful, but only if they truly make you feel better. 


"The very words we choose to characterize our habits can make them seem more or less appealing." 

Words are immensely powerful, especially when it comes to something we're trying to convince ourselves to do or not do. About a year ago, I wrote a post about the power of speaking positively about yourself but until I read this book, I'd never thought much about how much words can impact the habits we have or don't have. If you're trying to start a new habit, positive language might not be as difficult because, at the beginning a new habit can be exciting. But when trying to quit an old habit, it's important to be mindful of the words you use and try to frame the change in a positive way. 


"We can build our own habits only on the foundation of our own nature."

This sentence really is the crux of the book, which builds on the notion that we have the best chance of creating and breaking habits when we use tools and tactics that appeal to our personal nature. One of the great things about the book is that it helps you think about your natural tendencies with the Four Tendencies and then it provides insights on how each tendency might do with specific tactics. The better you know yourself, the more likely you'll be to discover the best ways for you to create (and keep!) good habits. 


"We must guard against anything that might weaken a valuable habit."

Once we have a good habit in place, sometimes we take it for granted and that's when it can be at risk of being interrupted. For example, I've been doing yoga almost every day for the past six months or so, and I've gotten so confident in the fact that I'll do it frequently that I've let myself take more days off recently when my workload has felt heavier. This could be weakening my habit, and I need to guard against rationalizations of why I could skip my daily dose of yoga. 



As with her other books, Better Than Before focuses on Gretchen's personal experiences while offering an array of strategies for the reader to choose from, some she's created and others she's come across in her research. The book provides outlets for new self-knowledge in the realm of habits and provides a variety of options (with examples) that might inspire you to make positive, life-changing habits in your own life. Even if you're not really thinking about changing your habits in particular, this book is great for coping with change and getting a better understanding of yourself. 




Want to learn more about yourself so you can have a better understanding of how you might want to incorporate change in your own life? Now is a great time to discover more about yourself and what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.

the positively present guide to life!

Book Published

Tomorrow is a very exciting day for me. It's the official debut of The Positively Present Guide to Life, a book I've been hard at work on for over two years!

Back in 2012, I left my full-time job in Marketing to pursue writing and blogging. Since then I've self-published a book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, as well as written a variety of e-books, but this in my first in-the-bookstore, traditionally published book and I couldn't be more excited about its launch! 

If you're already as excited as I am about it and want to order your copy ASAP, you can grab a copy on Amazon or check in with your local bookseller to see if it'll be in stock tomorrow. If you're not sure if this is the book for you, here's what you need to know about the book... (and scroll down to the bottom of the post to check out the bonus freebie!)



Ok, so, there are tons of self-help books on the market, but this one is different. First and foremost, it blends serious content with inspiring illustrations, something you don't see too often in the self-help space. And, more importantly, it's not a book about achieving happiness (though happiness is a lovely by-product of living a positively present life) and it's not about perfecting your life. Instead, it's about learning to live positively in present — no matter what the present moment holds. This is the book you need to face whatever challenges you currently have in your life, to create the relationships you want to have, and to learn how to make the most of every moment. 

Featuring five inspiring and insightful chapters on home, work, love, relationships, and change, the book provides practical advice for creating a nurturing home, building a fulfilling career, developing great relationships, appreciating true love, and embracing change. It also includes 30 easy-to-do exercises to inspire action, create transformation, encourage positivity, embrace the moment, and achieve fulfillment. And it has additional features such as inspiring illustrations and access to additional online content like free worksheets to use in conjunction with the book (see here).

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to stay present, live positively, and make the most of every moment.   




Obviously, as the author and illustrator of the book, I think the book's awesome, but you'll have to be the judge of that yourself. Here are some exciting things to know about the book. These are the things that really make it unique and inspiring, and I hope these features will help you feel motivated to live a more positive, more present life. 

  • FREE WORKSHEETS: If you visit DaniDiPirro.com/Books/Guide, you can download free PDFs of worksheets that accompany the content in the book. The worksheets aren't necessary, but they are a great bonus if you're the type of person who likes to have everything organized (and color-coordinated with the book) and wants to really engage in the activities from the book. 

  • INSPIRING ILLUSTRATIONS: This is one of my absolute favorite parts of the book, and I think it's one of the things that makes it so unique. To accompany the content, I created illustrations throughout the book to offer additional inspiration and motivation. These illustrations, paired with quotes, have been created to keep you inspired as you read. 

  • EASY-TO-DO EXERCISES: One of the most important things to me when I created this book was to make it a practical guide for living positively in the present. For that reason, each section of the book has a practical activity that will urge you to apply the topic in your real life. As I wrote about recently, self-awareness isn't enough. Action is where real change happens. 

  • POSITIVITY REMINDERS: In the book, you'll learn about the six essential Positively Present Principles. These are the vital foundation for living a positive, present life. To help you keep these in mind, I've featured reminders throughout the book that highlight how a particular principle is relevant to that particular topic. 

  • STEP-BY-STEP ADVICE: Of course, the most important thing about the book is the content. In each of the five sections, you'll find six chapters with insights, inspiration, and step-by-step advice for tackling life's many challenges. The advice I offer comes from my own personal experience. It's worked for me — and I know it'll benefit you too!


I've worked so hard on this book and I really think you'll love it! Tomorrow (March 10, 2015)  the book will be available in select bookstores. You can purchase a copy online at AmazonBarnes & NobleAmazon UK, or IndieBound. If you purchase the book and would like to leave a review on Amazon or GoodReads, I would be forever thankful! And if you'd like to help spread the word about the book via social media or to friends and family, that would be ah-maz-ing. 



Want a PERSONALIZED, SIGNED bookplate (aka, pretty sticker signed by me to put in your book)? Email me (dani [at] positivelypresent.com) with the name you'd like on the bookplate (yours or a friend's) along with your mailing address and I'll send signed bookplate your way! Bookplates are perfect for gift-giving (and they also make the copy you get for yourself feel like an extra special gift!). Note: There are limited quantities available so be sure to send your request soon! 

self-awareness isn't change (+ a book giveaway!)

Self Awareness


[Hey there! Want to win a personalized, signed, advanced copy of my book The Positively Present Guide to Life? Scroll to the end of this post to enter to win!]


While scrolling BuzzFeed the other day, I came across this article: The Self-Awareness at This Year's Oscars Is Not a Substitute for Change. The author, Alison Willmore, made some great points about the Oscars, and she also got me thinking about self-awareness in general. In particular, she got me thinking about how self-awareness, useful as it is, isn't enough. For self-awareness to become self-improvement, it must be paired with change.

If you're reading this site, you probably have some level of self-awareness, an understanding of your character, feelings, strengths and weaknesses. This awareness is awesome; being aware of yourself can provide you with a greater understanding of how you interact with the world and with others, which is an essential first step to improving the self.

However, many of us (including me!) achieve self-awareness in some aspects of our lives and think that is enough. Self-awareness can be a difficult process so it sometimes seems as if the work is done once we identify aspects of ourselves. But awareness shouldn't always be the end goal. While there are are many aspects of ourselves that we can simply be aware of, there are also many aspects of ourselves that need to take that awareness to the next level and prompt change. In those situations, awareness shouldn't be the final achievement, but should instead be one step on the road to change. 



This all sounds a bit abstract so let me use a personal example. I consider myself an introvert who would like to be more social. Most of the activities I love doing (reading, writing, drawing) are solitary, but I realize that, much as I claim to be antisocial, I actually receive a lot of positive benefits from interacting with others. Over the years, I've come to really identify with the notion of being an introvert who should probably socialize more. At one point, I was proud of myself for coming to the realization that I should push myself to be more social. The "I should be more social" mantra became part of my identity and I embraced it. I would make self-aware jokes about spending more time with dogs than people; I'd laugh about how I should get out more while resigning myself to the fact that I would probably end up staying in.

I was aware — and accepting — of the fact that I was an introvert-who-should-get-out-more. This acceptance felt like a badge of honor. I was recognizing that I needed to change! I was aware of my socializing preferences but was willing to concede that I should push myself out of my comfort zone! I was proud of my ability to be so self-aware, to accept myself for what I was. This acceptance was all well and good — aside from the fact that I identified with it so much that I backed myself into a solitary (and sometimes lonely) corner. I was so pleased with the fact that I was aware (and accepting) of my I-should-get-out-more mentality that I never stopped to ponder whether or not I should actually do something with this knowledge of myself.  

Being aware of some aspect of ourselves is important, but taking action (and making a change if necessary) is much more important. Awareness is a great first step, but action is where it's at. In my case, I believed awareness of my antisocial tendencies was such a breakthrough in my thinking that I allowed myself to just accept that notion of who I was without taking action. But more recently I discovered that being aware of something that needs changing isn't enough; that awareness needs to spark action. 



Changing is rarely easy, but it's essential for self-improvement. For example, I'll probably always lean towards introversion (and I'm okay with that), but simply laughing this off and identifying myself as an introvert who should probably get out more isn't self-improvement. I often joke about how I'm introverted and like to stay at home, knowing full well that this isn't 100% true. Yes, I do enjoy my alone time, but I don't always want to be alone. Being able to joke about it means I'm aware of it, but it's not changing the fact that I want to be more social.

Instead of questioning the statement I made frequently — "I should get out more" — I accepted it as part of myself and, as a result, it became part of who I was, a running joke with friends that I'd be unlikely to attend an event because I liked being at home, an absence of invites because everyone who knows me well knows I won't [drive that far/go out in the snow/leave my dog for long periods of time].  

My self-awareness allowed me to accept the notion that I wanted to be more social, but instead of doing anything about it, I just laughed it off, choosing to stay in over accepting invitations to get out, identifying with the notion of introvert-with-extrovert-dreams. I thought that if I was laughing about it — if I was aware enough about this aspect of myself to make fun of it — I was in some way enlightened. But that kind of enlightenment will never lead to self-improvement. 

If I wanted to be truly self-aware, I'd have to recognize that my desired level of social interaction doesn't fit in one of two boxes (introvert vs. extrovert). I'd have to come to accept that, while I might enjoy alone time a bit more than others do, I'm not content with being alone all of the time. And, most importantly, I'd have to use this deeper awareness to initiate change, to push myself out of my comfort zone and actually get out more, instead of simply saying I should. 

And so I did. I reached out to more people and initiated social activities. I accepted more invitations (even when it was cold and I would have much rather have snuggled down in my apartment with my dog). I pushed myself to drive farther, stay out later, say yes more often. I took my self-awareness and I used it to initiate change. I embraced change (albeit in small bits), and I turned my awareness into action. 



Choosing to step past awareness and take action wasn't a simple feat for me. It meant removing the labels I've placed on myself. It meant putting myself in situations that made me a little bit uncomfortable, but that pushed me to actually have a better understanding of myself. Making changes isn't easy, but the longer we talk about them without taking action, the more difficult the change will be.

We all have aspects of ourselves we'd like to change. Some of them we're very aware of and others we've yet to identify. The trouble is, sometimes we are so aware of — and identify so closely with — some aspect of ourselves (for better or worse!) that we don't actually think to make a change. Sometimes it's because we don't think of change as an option; sometimes it's because we keep putting it off (as I did — thinking I'd somehow magically be more social one day without trying); and sometimes it's because, deep down, we don't want to change because we're afraid of who we might be without that aspect of ourselves. 

It's important to step past self-awareness and into a place of change. Of course, some aspects of the self won't need to be changed, but for those that aren't quite right (you'll know them by the fact that they don't feel authentically, truly you), acknowledging them isn't enough. If you want to create a positive, present environment for yourself, you have to take what you know about who you are and make changes where necessary. You have to take your self-awareness and use it as a stepping stone for self-improvement. Changing the way you think about yourself is important, but changing the way you act is essential. 

A great way to be proactive about your self-awareness is to feel inspired and motivated to take action. In my new book (out next week!!!!), I share insights and inspiration for creating a positive, present life. Want a copy? See below for details on the book and how to enter to win!  




I'm offering one lucky guy or gal a chance to win an advanced signed copy of my book (available for pre-order now and in stores and online March 10!), The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is an inspirational, two-color hardcover beauty, filled with specific, action-oriented advice for embracing positive thinking in everyday life to: create a nurturing home, build a fulfilling career, develop great relationships, appreciate true love, and embrace change. To enter to win a personalized, signed copy of the book, see below! 





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