5 Hang-in-There Holiday Tips

 

You Are Not Alone


I love the holiday season (if you couldn't tell, from all of my holiday-themed posts!), but with all of the joy, glitter, and fairy lights also comes a level of stress and pressure that's unprecedented during the rest of the year. Even if you're in a great place emotionally, financially, and mentally, the holiday season is bound to present some challenges that aren't present during the rest of the year. And, if we're honest, most of us aren't in that perfect emotional / financial / mental place so, around the holidays, whatever troubles we're currently facing are compounded by a number of factors:

 

  1. memories of past holidays (both good and bad),
  2. recollections of those no longer in our lives and a kind of re-mourning for them,
  3. increased financial expectations in the form of gifts and holiday-related obligations,
  4. stress related to trying to give (and hoping to receive) the perfect gifts, and
  5. societal pressure to suddenly have the most merry, festive, Instagrammable life ever.

 

Top all of that off with the end-of-the-year thoughts about what we did (or didn't...) do over the past year and the looming expectations to make the coming year the "best year yet!," and it's no wonder most of us have trouble staying positive during the holidays! Even for the most positively present person, these additional stressors can cause a lot of emotional challenges, and they can be even harder to cope with when it seems as if everyone around us is embracing the holiday spirit. 

The holidays can be -- and often are -- a really wonderful time of the year, but it's important to recognize the level of additional stress and pressure they bring to our lives, and make sure we're addressing it (rather than convincing ourselves that we should be enjoying every single moment). Here are some of the best ways to do just that. 

 

  1. Take note of what's working out. When it comes to the holidays, it's tempting to think everything has to be just perfect. For some, there are annual traditions to adhere to. For others, holiday parties to look picture perfect for. And, as you're probably well aware, life doesn't always go according to plan. With so many expectations around the holiday season -- buy the perfect gift! wear the most festive outfit! kiss your partner in the snow! wake up to a Lexus in your driveway! -- some of them are bound to be unmet. And that's okay. Instead of focusing on what didn't go as planned, direct your attention to what is working. Maybe you weren't able to afford a new, sparkly dress for a party, but you were able to get your nephew that hard-to-find gift he really wanted. During the holidays (and in general!), it helps to keep expectations low and to celebrate the things that are going right. 

     
  2. Know you're not alone in how you feel. The holidays -- through advertising, celebrity culture, and social media -- make us feel like we should be happy 24/7 all throughout the month of December, but it's important to remember that what you see online (and even in real life) isn't the whole story. All of us go through bouts of stress or loneliness or sadness or discontent at some point during the holiday season, and that is completely normal. We're being sold picturesque images of the perfect holiday everywhere we look, and it's no wonder that we sometimes feel disappointed that our lives don't look like the ones we see online. Remember: not everyone is falling in love, unwrapping the most fabulous gift, surrounding themselves with laughing, happy friends, or joyfully riding in a horse-drawn sleigh. 


  3. Make the holiday what you want it to be. Think, for a moment, about what a "perfect" holiday would look like. What you're picturing is probably an amalgamation of images you've seen online, watched in films, or read in books sprinkled with a bit of your own unique holiday experiences. It's important to remember that your holiday is yours. It doesn't have to look like what you see everyone else doing. Most of us (myself included!) do what we're expected to do around the holiday season because it's what's socially expected. But don't forget that you don't have to do what everyone else is doing. If you're into the traditions, the events, the decking-of-the-halls, go for it. But don't feel like you have to do all of the expected holiday things just because everyone else is doing them. 


  4. Shift your focus away from consumerism. Gift-giving is one of my favorite things to do, and always has been. There are few things that thrill me more than finding the perfect gift for someone I love. But, in case you missed it, the holidays are extremely consumeristic. From the gifts to decorations to sparkly attire to hostess gifts to festive fare and more, there are so many things to purchase around this time of year, and, even if you're super into it all, it can be a lot. One of the best ways to combat the consumerism is to make time to give back. Whether it's a donation to a charity, time spent at a soup kitchen, or simply helping a neighbor hang lights, there are countless ways you can give back. Doing so will help remind you what the holiday season is supposed to be about: love, giving, kindness, and joy. 


  5. Pay attention to what's real. With the holiday season comes a great deal of fantasy -- images of reindeer flying overhead, two people falling in love beneath the mistletoe, unwrapping an amazing gift, having the most fabulous time at a party are a few that come to mind -- but it's important to remember that, as magical as the season feels sometimes, we're still living in real life. People are going to be imperfect; situations are going to be flawed. The more we focus on the fantasy, the harder it becomes to appreciate the little joys in reality. If you're focusing on what things should be, you're missing out on what they are, and that's almost certain to cause discontentment. (Read more about this in Why You Need Lower Expectations.) When it comes to the holidays, expect less and you'll enjoy so much more. 

 

As wonderful and festive as this time of year is, it can also be such a challenge because most of us expect so much. We want every holiday to be the best ever, which is a lovely goal to have, but that goal can also cause a lot of distress (especially if it's literally impossible, such as when you're facing the first holiday after the loss of a loved one or if you're going through a very difficult time emotionally). If you're struggling, remember that you're not alone. There are many, many people who are going through difficult situations and, while you cannot necessarily remove yourself from pain, here are some things I've written in the past that might help: 

 

  

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How to Share Your Beliefs (Even with People Who Don't Agree)

  Positively-Present-Beliefs
Like this list? Download the free PDF here.

 

Since the election, I’ve been writing and writing and writing. It’s what I do when I feel overwhelmed, when I feel like I have a lot to talk about but am not sure how to speak it aloud. I’ve been writing blog posts, then re-reading them and thinking, I don’t know if I should share this. I don’t want to offend people. And, even worse, I’ve been thinking, Maybe I shouldn’t share this because they might not like me after they read it. (Ugh, that ego!)

Like many people around the country (and the world), I’ve been torn between two sides of myself the one who wants to focus on the positive, keep the peace, and maintain my loyal following of readers, and the one who wants to use my blog for change, shake things up, and finally open up about controversial topics.

For the past two weeks, there’s been a war raging in my head between these two sides. Over the past few days, there’s been a new voice piping up, a slightly more rational, less-ego-driven voice, asking things like, Is there a way to be positive and share your beliefs? Is there a way to voice your opinion and still keep the peace? Is there a way to talk to people — especially those with opposing views — and not fight?

The answers to these questions are situational. If you’re dealing with someone who is violent, judgmental, or narrow-minded, you’re going to have a hard time discussing tough topics (politics, religion, sexuality, race, etc.) with him or her. However, if you can find people who are open-minded and willing to listen and talk about contentious issues, I do believe it’s possible to share your beliefs in positive ways. Will the peace always be kept? Probably not. Will conversations be completely fight-free? I can’t guarantee it.

What I can guarantee is that you’ll feel a lot better when you speak up for what you believe in. I know it’s hard. I know it’s scary. And I know that, if you’re surrounded by a lot of people who don’t share your beliefs, it can be intimidating. But, over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that one of the worst things you can do is be silent. You don’t have to agree with everyone  and not everyone has to agree with you but silencing yourself is an act of self-hate, shame, and fear. And you deserve better than that. We all do.

Okay, so, you’ve got some beliefs. You’re feeling brave (and safe) enough to share them. How do you go about doing it without putting other people off? How do you do it in a way that might actually make a difference? I’ve been thinking (and reading) a lot about this and practicing it my own life (many people close to me voted for the candidate I vehemently opposed and I’ve had many productive, positive conversations with them since the election) and here are some of the best ideas I’ve found for talking about your beliefs with people who don’t share them.

 

KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE.

It might sound obvious, but a lot people aren’t actually certain about what they believe. Many people flip-flop on certain issues, have beliefs based on one-off op-ed pieces (rather than real facts), or base their beliefs on those held by the people surrounding them. Before getting into any serious discussion (especially with people with opposing views), do your research  both the fact checking and the soul-searching kind. Carefully consider the issue, taking stock of what you know and what you might not know.

Just as importantly, consider how you feel really about it. It's incredibly tempting to jump onto the bandwagons, to join groups, and to identify with the labels, but remember: you are complex human being with unique experiences, insights, and ideas. We all want to belong, but think carefully about what beliefs you align yourself with. Before declaring, “I’m a _______________________,” or “I believe in _______________________,” ask yourself if that’s 100% true. It may very well be true, but it’s important to check in with yourself and make sure that you not your peers, not your family, not a portion of society you aspire to be like  do, in fact, hold these beliefs.

Also, it’s important to keep checking in with yourself periodically to see if you still hold the beliefs. We are ever evolving, changing creatures and what you believe at one point in your life will not be what you believe later. Because sometimes we get lazy, we might cling to beliefs we’ve had for a long time because we think we still believe them, not because we actually do.

 

SCRUTINIZE YOUR SOURCES.

It is so very, very important to check your sources, and then check them again. So many people hold — and speak about  beliefs not based on facts. With the incredible rise of the Internet, you’re able to read this article and countless other things that literally anyone can post online. Sometimes this is amazing — different viewpoints!  unique perspectives! — and sometimes this is just insane — fake news sites created just to get clicks, opinion pieces skewed with untrue claims, etc.

Not only is important to make sure the facts you have are, indeed, facts, but it’s important to be aware of how greatly biased the Internet is. A recent Fast Company article made me see this more clearly than ever. The Internet, as the article states, helps us take sides. We’re encouraged — by the sheer nature of how the Internet is set up — to cultivate either/or mindsets.

Every day we are given a choice to pick one thing or the other: like or dislike this post, agree or disagree with that article. Social media, while it does allow for comments and more lengthy explorations into "gray" territories, often encourages us to choose one thing over the other, usually in a yes-or-no, black-or-white dichotomy.

And here’s the scariest part: what we choose is constantly reinforced with algorithms designed to personalize our content. We are given more content that aligns with what we like, less that showcases what we don’t like. Most of us don’t actively realize this, so it starts to seem like everyone and everything supports our views.

Unlike in the old days, when people all saw the same images on TV and then disagreed or agreed with those images, we’re now shown images that support the ideas we’ve told the Internet we like. What we see online is meant to appeal to us — which can definitely be nice sometimes — but, as the Fast Company article argues, this is creating little individual bubbles where we’re all seeing the things we want to see, having our beliefs and preferences reinforced (often without even seeing information from the other side).

When you pause and think about this for a moment, it’s pretty crazy how much power the Internet has over what we see and think — and it’s pretty important to keep in mind as you’re gathering data and information to support your beliefs (or counter someone else’s). Do your best to go out of your way to find new sources, to find unbiased articles, to even reach out to those who hold opposing views and ask them for their thoughts.

Bonus Tip: When discussing tough topics (or having hard conversations in general), it’s useful to focus more on “I” than “you.” For example, “Based on what I’ve read, I believe…” or “What I’m hearing you say is…”

 

CHANNEL YOUR COURAGE.

Speaking up about the things you believe in can be extremely challenging sometimes, particularly if you’re speaking to someone who doesn’t share your perspective, but having courage is so important. It’s something I’ve personally struggled with a great deal, especially here on Positively Present. Because what I do and say must reflect my brand, I often feel restricted in what I can and cannot write about, and it pains me to have to withhold some of my beliefs and insights.

I have been afraid to talk about a lot of things because I’ve been afraid of people disliking what I have to say. I’ve been afraid of alienating readers. I’ve been afraid of, pathetic as this is to say, people being mean to me.

Here are some topics that matter a great deal to me, but that I never write about because I’m scared people will judge me, stop reading my work, or be hostile to me: feminism, agnostic atheism, sexuality, choosing not to marry or have children, money, and the list goes on. Most of these are things we're taught, from a young age, not to talk about because it's rude, which makes it more difficult to speak up about them as an adult. In addition, because what I write about is directly tied to my income, it’s even more difficult for me to write about things that might offend readers. My livelihood literally depends on the words I write. 

But here’s the thing: if you believe in something, you should talk about it.

There’s obviously a right and wrong way to do this. The initial post-election articles I wrote for myself —  filled with quite a bit of sadness, pain, and some pretty aggressive feminism that I’m pretty sure the average reader would be overwhelmed by — were not the best way to go about it. Some people might have responded well to those articles, but the negativity, anger, and in-your-face language used to evoke strong emotions would likely have shocked many people.

Now that a little time has passed, I’m able to think a bit more clearly and realize that what we need now is not more anger and negativity. What we need now is someone who is brave enough to speak her mind, but thoughtful enough to do it in a way that (hopefully) won’t offend or alienate her audience.

In the future, I do plan to tackle some of these topics that I’ve been afraid to touch —  especially those related to feminism and gender, which I studied in graduate school and feel particularly passionate aboute —  but I’m hoping to find a way to do this bravely but gently. I know longer want to place arbitrary restrictions on what topics I will or won’t tackle, but, unlike the day-after-election Dani, I know it’s not right to take this site —  a curated place of positivity, awareness, and self-love  and turn it into my personal feminist soapbox…

 

BE CLEAR AND HONEST.

…which leads me to my next point! When it comes to talking about difficult topics or beliefs, one thing most of us don’t do often enough is begin the conversation by being clear and honest. Too often, we are driven by strong emotions and triggered by the words of someone else rather that striving to be levelheaded and thoughtful in what we say and do. I know this is much easier said than done, but imagine what it would be like if you opened up a conversation like this:

“Hey, I know we have totally different views on this issue, but I’d really like to talk about it. I’m going to do my best to share my point of view calmly, and to listen and keep an open mind to what you have to say. I know neither of us will probably change our minds on this issue, but I think it’s important enough that we should talk about it.”

When starting a conversation with someone of a different political background or belief, it can be helpful to make it clear that you’re not necessarily trying to change his or her mind. One of the reasons we have such heated debates about politics is because it often feels like the opposing side is saying, “You’re wrong. Here’s why.”

Or, if you are trying to change someone’s mind, what if you were honest about it? You could say something like, “You know I feel really passionately about this topic. It’s very important to me, and I’d really love it if I could change your mind about it so that you could see it the way I do. I know that might not be possible, but would you be willing to listen to what I have to say? After I share my thoughts, I’ll be more than happy to listen to your point of view too.”

The key takeaway from this point is this: you’re never going to transform someone else’s mindset through trickery, bullying, or manipulation. (Okay, you might be able to, but is that the kind “win” you want?) You’ll get a lot farther —  and probably have a more positive conversation —  if you’re honest and clear about what you want to talk about and what your end goal for the conversation is.

 

SPEAK WITH COMPASSION.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote Campaigning for Compassion: 8 Essential Tips We Need Now, which is a must-read if you’re going to be talking about any tough topics with people who have opposing viewpoints. Compassion is a word we hear often, but its actual definition isn’t always clear. Compassion is about recognizing another's pain and desiring to alleviate it in some way (regardless of whether or not you agree with that person's beliefs).

When you’re passionate about a topic, it can be hard to channel compassion in the way you speak and react, but it’s important to do so  not only for the other person’s benefit, but for your own mental state as well.

For the most part, I see a lot of compassion from the people I follow online (and from the people who follow me), but the day after the election, I saw a lack of compassion that was, quite frankly, astounding to me. On Instagram, someone wrote to me, “Your positivity sickens me.” The person who wrote this was a young girl. It broke my heart to read that comment, to see how society taught her that, in order for progress to occur, we must be negative.

On the contrary, we need optimism. And, just as importantly, we need compassion  especially for those who display aggressive, angry, and hateful behavior. Without compassion, we’ll never be able to find our way in this shadowy, complex jungle of political discourse. Compassion is our flashlight in the dark. It, alone, is not going to get us from point A to point B, but it sure as hell is going to make the path easier to see.

As I wrote in my article on compassion, defending what you believe and having compassion for those who think differently are not mutually exclusive. You can be passionate and compassionate. Remember this when you’re speaking with someone who has completely different views and you’re struggling with compassion. (Also, try your best to go into the conversation with a compassionate mindset!)

 

LISTEN – REALLY LISTEN.

Listening isn’t just about opening your ears to the sounds coming from someone else’s mouth. It’s also about paying attention to body language, tone, facial expression. It’s also about looking past the words and considering what someone might actually mean, instead of just focusing on what they’re saying. Often, below the surface, it's clear that "I voted for ______________" really means "______________ is really important to me and that candidate really seems to represent that."

Will it be challenging to listen to other people talk passionately about what they believe in when it’s completely different from what you believe? You bet. But, if you want people to be tolerant and accepting of your views, you have to show others the same courteousness. If you want people to listen to you, you must listen to them. And when I say really listen, I mean it. It’s so tempting to assume you know what someone is going to say or to take a stand on it before it’s even been said, but don't allow yourself to make assumptions. Listen with your ears, watch with your eyes, and pay attention with your mind. 

Also, even if others' beliefs might sound crazy to you, don’t punish them for their honesty. Never forget that listening isn’t just about opening your ears — it’s about opening your mind as well. The point of talking about difficult issues with someone of differing beliefs is to open the lines of communication. 

 

RESPECT BOUNDARIES.

Not everyone is going to want to have passionate discussions with you, and that’s okay. It may be frustrating not to be able to talk to people about what you want to talk about, but it’s important to respect others’ boundaries. If someone makes it clear that s/he doesn’t want to talk to you about an issue, respect that. (Also, consider finding some people who do want to talk to you.)

Here are some other times you might want to respect boundaries — your own and those of the people around you — and not bring up, or keep talking about, tough topics:

 

  • When the other person is emotionally unready or unwilling to hear what you have to say. You’ve probably seen lots of pictures of people around the country in tears post-election. If you encounter a Hillary supporter curled in a ball sobbing, that’s probably not the time to bring up your list of reasons why Trump deserved to win. This isn’t to say you can’t talk about it at some point, but assess the emotional state of others and determine if it might be better to choose a different time to talk. Also, on a less dramatic scale, consider the general emotional state of yourself and the other person. If you (or s/he) had a terrible, long day at work, maybe it’s not the best time to get into a heated political debate.

 

  • When violent acts might be committed against you. This is not a reason for a whole group to be quiet (if it were, we’d still have horrific institutions like slavery), but in one-on-one situations where you would be in great physical or emotional danger if you were to speak your mind about a certain topic, it’s best to remain quiet until you can find a way to communicate without harm coming to you or someone else. Please be safe when it comes to speaking up.

 

  • When you’ve honestly, openly stated your beliefs with kindness and compassion, and you’re receiving only hatred, judgment, and accusations in return. Some people are just not open to listening and talking. This is sad and it can be painful, but it’s just the way it goes. Once you’ve said what you wanted to say, repeating it over and over (however nicely!) will no longer be productive.

 

  • When a large group of people is ganging up on you. Again, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t speak your mind —  I used to do it all the time in college, boldly stating my feminist thoughts in roomfuls of hyper-masculine athletes who, for the most part, had zero interest in feminism, resulting in the lovely nickname "Beliefs" — but sometimes it’s better to speak up when you either (a) have at least one person on your side or (b) can have a one-on-one with individuals of the group, instead of speaking to the group as a whole.

 

Regardless of what you’re talking about — or who you’re speaking to  it’s very important not only to respect others’ boundaries, but to take care of your own boundaries as well. If you’re unsure about whether or not to keep talking, ask, “Would you like to keep talking about this topic?” If you’ve gotten to a point where your own boundaries are being threatened, say, “I’m glad we were able to start this conversation, but I feel it is no longer productive, and I think we should stop talking about it for now.” 

 

TAKE POSITIVE ACTION.

Actions speak louder than words, they say, and it really is true. You can talk yourself blue in the face about what you believe in, but if you don’t support those words with actions, it’s going to be much less likely that people will take you, and your beliefs, seriously. Here a few ideas for how you can take positive action on your beliefs:

 

  • Donate to a cause that supports what you believe in
  • Volunteer for an organization you support
  • Share (legitimate, fact-based) information on social media
  • Offer to organize an event or fundraiser for a cause
  • Watch a film about the topic with someone who opposes it
  • Research the issue and consider new ways to offer help
  • Give (well-researched) books on issues you support to skeptics
  • Vote for the people who support what you believe
  • Call Senators / people in Congress and ask for change
  • Ask experts on the issues for ideas for how to help
  • Join local (or online) groups who share your beliefs
  • Read up on what others are saying (and gather facts!)
  • Shop at stores that uphold your beliefs (don't know? ask!)

 

It may seem like this action-taking isn’t a necessary step to talking about what you believe in, but it’s actually essential. Anyone can say they believe in anything, but to really have those beliefs heard (and have them matter), action is necessary. You might also want to see if you can have someone with opposing views take part in the action in some way. Sometimes people don’t realize what they believe until they see a situation for themselves.

 

FIND A CREATIVE OUTLET.

Finally, one of the best ways I can think of to share your beliefs is to find a creative outlet. This, of course, might not be for everyone (though I do think we all have the power to be creative and share that creativity, even if you don’t consider yourself a creative type!).

Talking about what you believe in is great, but sometimes it can be really useful to share your ideas through some other medium. Ideally, you want to share your creativity with others —  to encourage those who think the same way you do and to provide a new perspective for those who think differently —  but you can also just use this step as a way to cope with your own internal thoughts on the topic, which will ultimately make you better at sharing your beliefs with others.

For me, the creative outlet I’ve been channeling is a new Instagram account, This Uncommon Life. For weeks, I’ve been working on this little secret project —  a creative way to explore some of my thoughts around living what I consider to be a pretty uncommon life as an unmarried, child-free, sober, agnostic atheist, INTJ feminist. I know I’m not alone in living this life, but sometimes it feels lonely.

I started the Instagram account as a way to explore these feelings, to share some of my beliefs. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever actually make it public, but, for me, it’s important not just to have a creative outlet for my beliefs, but to share it as well. (Even though I'm honestly kind of scared about how people will react to it!)

If curious about what this little project is all about, go check out This Uncommon Life on Instagram. (Warning: it's not always positive and it's not always family friendly.) I basically take words I've found in old magazines and arrange them, ransom-note-like, into what I hope are thought-provoking phrases. It's been really fun, therapeutic, and inspiring for me, and, even if you don't care for that kind of thing, I hope seeing how I've channelled my beliefs into an outlet will inspire you to do the same. 

Whether you share your creativity or just keep it to yourself, Having a place to channel your thoughts and openly write, draw, paint, sculpt, etc. about your ideas and beliefs can be hugely beneficial when it comes to sharing those beliefs with others. And if you’ve found a creative outlet for your own beliefs, or plan to create on now, I’d love to see or hear about it!

 

Phew. That was quite the long post. If you’ve made it all the way down here, thanks for reading!! I hope these tips and tactics will help you feel confident in sharing your beliefs with those who don’t share them. And don't forget to download the free PDF here to keep these tips in mind as you share your beliefs. I know it’s scary, but if I can do it, you can do! Now, go out there and be brave!

  

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100 Things to Be Thankful For: Part II

Things-Im-Thankful-for-Positively-Present 

 

All week I thought about postponing this post and writing instead about the election, an event that has deeply impacted America, the world, and me personally. I've spent hours and hours writing about it, but I haven't yet found the right words to share here. It is important, and I know I cannot stay silent about it, the way I often have when it comes to politics. 

But, for now, let's focus again on the importance of gratitude. (For Part I, click here.) No matter what is happening in the world, or in your own personal life, gratitude should never be taken for granted. It is a powerful force, and it is one of the quickest and most effective ways to combat stress or anxiety. I highly encourage you to write your own gratitude list this week, to focus on the things you're appreciative of. 

 

51. NOURISHMENT

Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who thinks of food more as necessary nourishment than as enticing enjoyment, but I do have a few favorites (pizza! cookies!) and I'm thankful for the joy I experience when I eat the things I love. I'm also grateful for the nutrition I receive when I eat the things I know I should. ;)

 

52. MAGIC

While I don't believe in actual magic, I'm so entranced by the concept of it. I love imagining that there could be magic, allowing myself to let go of reason for a moment or two. I see magic in many places -- a shooting star, a close call, a kiss -- and, even though I know it's not real, I'm thankful for it all the same. 

 

53. CONNECTION

Connecting with other people feels pretty good, doesn't it? Whether we're talking about sharing a laugh with a stranger or a bed with a loved one, the moments we look at someone else and feel connected and understood are kinda amazing. Almost magical. ;) I'm so thankful for everyone I've ever connected with. 

 

54. IDEAS

I have a lot of ideas. Like, a LOT. Sometimes I'm frustrated by how many ideas I have, all of the glimmers of what-could-be written in notebooks or jotted on scraps of paper, but I'm also thankful that I never, ever fail to have more and more and more ideas. Yes, most of them will simply remain words on a page, but I love that they're there nonetheless. 

 

55. ARTWORK

Isn't art just amazing? There are so many mediums, so many kinds, so many outrageous and astounding concepts. I don't think there's nearly enough time for me to see all of the art I want to see in this lifetime, but I'll settle for whatever I can. Every piece of artwork is beautiful in its own way, and I consider an honor to experience it. 

 

56. DAYDREAMS

I don't daydream as much as I'd probably like (who has the time?!), but it's such an interesting and fun experience to let you mind wander to places far away from reality. I'm thankful for the daydreams I've had and, more importantly, for the fact that daydreaming is even possible! 

 

57. INDIVIDUALITY

Imagine what the world would be like if we were all exactly the same? It would be absolutely awful! So boring! So banal! I love being uniquely me, and I love that everyone I know is uniquely him/herself. When you're younger, embracing individuality can be tough, but the older I get, the more I happily embrace it.

 

58. HOME

My favorite place to be? Home. I'm a total homebody, and I'm so grateful for the fact that I get to spend a lot of time at home (with my pup!). For some people, home is just a place to crash at the end of the day, but, for me, home is my safe place, my recharging station, my cozy spot filled with things I love. 

 

59. WHIM-WHAMS

... and speaking of things I love, I love me some whim-whams. Also know as trinkets, these are those small, decorative objects you have around the house. I don't have many of these things (often people walk into my home and exclaim about how bare it is!), but the ones I do own, I love feverishly. 

 

60. TIME

I don't know how much time I have left (none of us do for sure), but I'm grateful for the 33+ years I've been given so far. Time is such a strange thing -- sometimes it drags, sometimes it flies -- but we're all so lucky to have whatever time we can. I hope I'm able to have lots more time, but I'm thankful for whatever I'll be given. 

 

61. SNAIL MAIL

Snail mail is my favorite kind of mail. It's so incredibly day-brightening to receive something in the mail that isn't a bill or a marketing ploy. It's great to receive fun mail, but I love sending it even more. I'm thankful to have so many wonderful people around the world to send snail mail to! 

 

62. ENERGY

Mornings are all about energy for me. Because I don't eat as healthfully as I should (I'm working on it...), my energy tends to drain as the day goes on. Still, I'm so thankful for those jolts of vitality early in the day. Just thinking about the difference between the end of the day and the beginning makes me so grateful for bursts of energy! 

 

63. SWEETNESS

Speaking of not eating so well... I love sugar and sweet treats. I know, I know -- sugar is pretty bad for you (especially the artificial, non-natural kind), but I have such a sweet tooth. I love a good chocolate chip cookie or piece of candy, and even though I try not to over-indulge, I'm glad for life's sweet treats.  

 

64. PAIN

This might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but imagine how odd life would be without pain. It might sound, in theory, like a good thing, but then I think about how much I've learned from pain, how much stronger I've become because of tough times. Pain sucks, but I'm thankful for what it's taught me. 

 

65. RAINBOWS

Every time it rains and I see the sun trying to push through the clouds, I race outside and scan the sky for rainbows. There's nothing more beautiful to me than the sight of every color painted in an arch across the sky. Plus, I think rainbows are such amazing metaphors -- without both the sun and the clouds, we'd never see their beauty. 

 

66. VELLICHOR 

Another new word I recently uncovered is vellichor, or the strange wistfulness of used bookstores. I'm so incredibly thankful that, just this month, I discovered an amazing used bookstore near my house (check out my haul here). There's something so sad and beautiful about books that've been read and released back into the wild. 

 

67. INTIMACY

I'm not the best at intimacy -- it's a bit hard for me to open up to people sometimes -- but when I do, it's such a thrill to be truly connected with someone else. Intimacy is connection on a different level and, whether it's sharing intimate secrets with a friend or getting physically intimate with someone, I'm grateful for the times I experience it. 

 

68. FORGIVENESS

To forgive is the greatest form of freedom, and it's taken me a really long time to realize how powerful it can be to let go of anger and pain. It also feels great to be forgiven when you're truly sorry for your actions. I'm thankful, too, for the opportunity to write Forgiveness this year and explore the topic in detail. 

 

69. STILLNESS

Stillness isn't my forte, but I try to at least have some time each day when I'm not doing anything (including looking at my phone...). It's so nice to just be still in this ever-moving world we live in, and I'm thankful for the moments I've been able to stay still, breathe deeply, and appreciate the moment. 

 

70. GIVING

Giving gifts is one of the most fulfilling activities in life, in my humble opinion. It's so fun to think about someone you care about and imagine what s/he might want as a gift. It feels so good to make someone happy, even if it's just with a small package. I don't have the means to give as many gifts as I'd like to, but I'm thankful for the ones I'm able to give. 

 

71. ENCOURAGEMENT

How amazing does it feel when someone encourages you? Or, better yet, when you encourage someone else? It's downright awesome is what it is. One thing I'm so grateful for is my ability to channel my enthusiasm into encouragement. Nothing feels better than motivating someone else! 

 

72. MANICURES

As a former nail-biter, manicures have special meaning for me. I bit my nails (badly) for over 30 years, and to have stopped that terrible habit is something I consider a great accomplishment. It might not sound like a big deal, but I have some major self-control issues so it's huge for me, and I'm thankful for my polish-ready nails. 

 

73. RESEARCHING

An odd one, for sure, but researching is something I love doing, especially online research. It makes me so happy when a friend asks me about something and I have to go searching for it (an example: this week my aunt asked me to search for young adult books taking place in Hawai'i!). I love, love, love the hunt!

 

74. EMPATHY

Being able to share another's feelings isn't something we're all able to do and, admittedly, I struggle with it at times, but I'm thankful for the moments I've experienced and for the moments others have been empathetic toward me. It's hard to let ourselves feel so much for others, but it's a wonderful, connecting experience. 

 

75. FOOLISHNESS

I've made a lot of mistakes (who hasn't?), and sometimes I bemoan my own foolishness. But, if I'm honest, some of life's really fun moments are the result of foolish decisions. No, we shouldn't do every foolish thing that comes to mind, but a bit of foolishness isn't such a bad thing. And it surely leads to great stories after the fact. 

 

76. TRYSTS

I'm a sucker for a good tryst. I'll spare you the details of my personal experiences, but I'll tell you this: even when they're bad news, they're still so good. A mixture of secrecy, lust, and sometimes can lead to disaster (believe me!), but I wouldn't trade the in-the-moment rush of a good rendezvous. 

 

77. RACONTEURS

Who doesn't love a good story? And, just as good, a good storyteller? You know those people who can captivate a room, even while telling a pretty banal story? I love those people. I love that charm and charisma, the way it draws people in and makes everything seem interesting. I'd love to be someone like that, but I'll settle for thankfully listening to them. 

 

78. SMILING

As Elf says, "Smiling is my favorite!" Not only am I thankful for the ability (and desire) to smile, but I'm even more grateful for every smile that's been sent my way. How great does it feel when someone smiles at you? So good, right? Here's a little smile for you right now... :)

 

79. IMAGINATION

I have a pretty wild imagination and, while this can lead to unnecessary anxiety, it's also pretty fantastic sometimes. I'm glad that I'm able to vividly play things out in my mind, especially things that could never happen in real life. It's a bit odd sometimes, but mostly awesome. 

 

80. MISTAKES

Just like pain, I'm thankful for the mistakes I've made. If I could click undo on some of them, would I? You bet. But, since the past cannot be changed, I find it really useful to try to learn something from each mistake and move forward. Making mistakes isn't always the most fun, but you sure can learn a lot from them! 

 

81. GOOD VIBES

You know how you just feel good around some people? I love that feeling, especially when it happens with someone you don't know well. It might sound a bit woo-woo and mystical to talk about people's "vibes," but I really do feel like people give off energy in some way and it's awesome when you encounter another's good energy. 

 

82. SERENDIPITY

When something good happens that you weren't expecting, that's serendipity. When you find something amazing when you're not looking for it, that's serendipity. Not only is it a beautiful word (so fun to say!), but it's also a beautiful concept to experience. I'm thankful for every serendipitous thing that's ever happened to me. 

 

83. MEMORY

Memory can be both the illness and cure. Obviously, painful memories aren't my favorite. But I'll take them if that means I can sometimes daydream about the great experiences I've had. Also, on a basic level, I'm thankful that I can remember things because I imagine the loss of memory is terrifying. 

 

84. ALLITERATION

Perhaps it's because I was born with alliteration on my tongue -- Danielle DiPirro -- but for whatever reason, I really love it. (See: Positively Present) Language in general is fascinating to me (so jealous of you linguistics out there!), but there's something so soothing and musical about alliteration. 

 

85. EARTH

If there were no Earth, there'd probably be no us. It's honestly kinda insane that I'm writing this from a giant globe spinning around in the sky, to be honest. I'm so thankful to be here though, and I'm thankful you're all here with me. It's a crazy time for humanity now, but we're all here in this place, which is pretty amazing.  

 

86. SOCIAL MEDIA

It might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but if it weren't for social media, I would never be able to do all the things I do. Online, I've met so many people I never would have met otherwise. I've connected with people all over the world. Information overload can be a problem, yes, but I believe the more informed we are, the better. 

 

87. CONVERSATIONS

You know those amazing (usually late night) chats you have with those you love, the ones that delve deep and leave you thinking about the world in a new way? Those are the kinds of conversations I'm grateful for. They are rare, but they are incredibly wonderful. 

 

88. SAFETY

I'm so fortunate to live in a place, surrounded by decent people, in which I feel safe most of the time. Yes, there are moments when safety is evasive (one of the downfalls of being a woman...), but most of the time, I feel protected and loved. Most of the time I live without fear, and I don't take for granted my good luck to know safety. 

 

89. GLITTER

Put glitter on something and I'll most likely love it. It's such a small, superficial thing, but when it hits the light and glimmers and shines, it really does seem like IRL magic. As the holiday season approaches, more and more things are covered in glitter and I'm thankful for each and every sparkle I see. 

 

90. ACCUBATION

This one is a bad habit of mine, but, man, do I love indulging in a bit of accubation (aka, eating or drinking while lying down). Give me a good book, a snack, a blanket, and my bed or couch, and I'm in accubation heaven. I know it's probably not ideal health-wise, but it sure is cozy. 

 

91. HEALING

Whether we're talking about emotion or physical healing, I've done a lot of it over the past few years. It's hard work, but it's also kinda miraculous, the way time often eases pain and heals us. I'm so fortunate that I've been given opportunities and environments that are so conducive to healing. 

 

92. WEEKENDS

Friyay! We all love it when the weekends roll around, don't we? Weekends, for me, don't mean what they used to because I usually work seven days a week, but recently I've been trying to actually relax on the weekends (... as I type this on a Saturday afternoon, haha). Whatever the day of the week, the weekend vibe is something for which to be thankful. 

 

93. TRANSPORTATION

Having a car (and convenient public transportation) is something I take for granted far too often. It's usually only when something's wrong with my car that I notice how lucky I am to have access to one. Being able to get to and from places independently is something I'm truly grateful for. 

 

94. CHANGE

To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of change. I love the comfort of consistency. And yet -- I learn so much, I grow so much, when things change. It's not easy to do (or accept) sometimes, but change is, cliche as it sounds, one of life's only constants, and I'm thankful that I'm getting better at embracing it. 

 

95. KISSING

Kissing is pretty great, isn't it? If we could all do some serious making out every day, I bet we'd all be a lot happier. But maybe the fact that we don't usually do it daily is one reason it's so great. Either way, I'm a big fan of a great kiss, and I'm thankful for every smooch I've received or given. 

 

96. LEARNING

Nerdy as it sounds, I love learning. When I was younger, I didn't appreciate how lucky I was to go to good schools, to have encouraging and intelligent teachers, to be surrounded by people striving to better themselves. Now I realize how fortunate I have been, and I hope I am forever learning new things. 

 

97. AWARENESS

How cool is it that we're aware of ourselves and the world around us? It's something we often take for granted, but it's pretty crazy that we are so aware -- both in a literal and metaphorical sense. I work on my personal mindfulness all the time and, in doing so, I have an opportunity to be thankful for the awareness I've developed. 

 

98. WORDS

Someone once asked me, "What's the one thing you couldn't live without?" Without thinking, I exclaimed, "Words!" I still stick by that statement. I love books, I love lyrics, I love writing. Words have power beyond almost anything else, and I revere (and am so thankful for!) them. 

 

99. GRATITUDE

Can you be grateful for gratitude? I'm gonna say yes! I'm thankful that I'm able to feel grateful, and I'm thankful for the gratefulness I see in others. Gratitude, I'll be honest, has changed my life in so many ways, especially in relation to anxiety. It's almost impossible to grateful and anxious at the same time, and I'm thankful for that. 

 

100. YOU!

I'm so incredibly thankful for YOU! Thank you for reading this list. Whether you're a new reader or you've been around for the past 7+ years, I'm honored to write for you and share whatever I can with those of you who are willing to read my words. Thank you for reading my words and, more importantly, thank you for simply existing out there, being you. :)

 

When things are difficult (as they are for many of us right now), staying thankful can be a challenge, but never forget that, no matter what, gratitude will only improve a situation. Stay positive. Stay grateful. Doing so won't necessarily change anything, but it will change your attitude, and that can make all the difference in how you see, and interact with, the world.

  

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