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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The Ultimate Book Gift Guide

 

Books-Are-Magic

 

If there's one thing I love, it's books (as you might have seen my recent YouTube video: 10 Books That Changed My Life!) I believe books are, as Stephen King put it, "uniquely portable magic." I meant to simply post a list of books I would recommend, but as I was scanning my bookshelves and my GoodReads page, I couldn't help but think about all of the book beliefs I hold. Here are just a few of them...

 

I believe books can transform the way you think about the world -- and yourself. They shape your values. They provide guidance and inspiration and a safe, healthy form of escape. 

I believe a little part of every book I've ever read stays with me forever, even if I don't always remember the exact words I've read. The meanings we find in words stay etched on our souls. 

I believe a space without books is lacking not only in knowledge, but in beauty as well. Some of my favorite sights are the straight, colorful spines of books. 

I believe the best books can (and should!) be read over and over again. Every time you read a book you love, you can learn something new about who you are.

I believe the best books for you won't always be the ones topping the best-seller list. I believe there're little bits of word magic found on garage sale tables and in the nooks of used book stores.

I believe we are all book-lovers at heart, even those of us who claim not to adore them. Each of us is a story-teller, and each of us loves a story well told. 

I believe you can fall in love with characters and authors and fictional places you've never been; I believe this kind of love is just as real as the heart-pounding, palm-sweating kind. 

I believe every book we read is unique to us; the reader, as much as the writer, crafts the story or explores the knowledge with her imagination and insight.

I believe there can be nuggets of goodness even in a bad book, but I don't believe in continuing to turn the pages just to reach an end. If you hate it, put it down. 

I believe a great book can make you feel less alone;  in the words on a page, you can find compassion, love, and forgiveness. A great book can be a mirror both for who you are and who you want to be. 

I believe you shouldn't believe every word you read; just because it's in print doesn't mean it's true. Books can lead to truth, but not all of them are filled with it.

I believe reading can help you to remember, and it can also help you to forget. It's up to you to choose which mindset you happen to be in the mood for. 

I believe books are a pathway to freedom. With one in your hand, you can become and learn and see absolutely anything; there are no rules inside of a book. 

I believe the best books never actually come to an end. The words continue to be read and re-read in all the words you think and speak and feel. 

I believe there will never be an end to the list of books I want to read, but I will keep doggedly plowing through my to-read list for the rest of my life. 

(Like these words? Download I Believe Books!)

 

And, most importantly, I believe everyone -- even the "I don't really get into reading" types -- can benefit from reading a great book. So here's a list of some of my favorites, along with some thoughts on who these books might be perfect for (they might speak to you or they might make perfect gifts for that holiday season that's just around the corner!)  

I've tried to sort them in to some sort of order, but truly I recommend looking through the whole list because you never know what might spark your interest (or sound perfect for someone you know!)

  

FOR ADULT FAMILY MEMBERS

For literally anyone related to you or who has a family... 
It Didn't Start with You / Mark Wolynn

For your uber-opinionated and vocal grandfather...
The Joy of Argument / Albert Navarra

For your too tough-and-cool for self-help uncle...
10% Happier / Dan Harris

For your memory-hoarding mother... 
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up / Marie Kondo

For your self-involved (but secretly sweet) teenager... 
Tiny Buddha's 365 Love Challenges / Lori Deschene

For your not-quite-on-the-same-page spouse...
The Five Love Languages / Gary Chapman

For your romance-novel-reading mother-in-law...
Other People's Love Letters / Bill Shapiro

For your hilarious (and a bit odd) aunt...
Furiously Happy / Jenny Lawson

For your sibling with a kid who's struggling in school...
Thinking Organized / Rhonna Gordon

For the dad who thinks feminism is for women only...
Feminism Is for Everybody / bell hooks

For your aunt and uncle who're constantly bickering...
Blamestorming / Rob Kendall

For your health-conscious, foodie brother-in-law...
In Defense of Food / Michael Pollan 

For the mother who puts everyone else first... 
Too Nice for Your Own Good / Duke Robinson

For your brother who needs a bit of inspiration...
This is How / Augusten Burroughs

For your father-in-law who loves a good mystery...
Knights in White Satin / Philip DiPirro

For your sister who's against ever marrying...
Spinster / Kate Bolick

For your aunt who's self-identifies as a dog mom...
Inside of a Dog / Alexandra Horowitz

For the cousin still working on that novel...
On Writing / Stephen King

For the niece struggling through her 20s...
It's a Wonderful Lie / Emily Franklin

For the aunt who loves daily bits of insight... 
Stay Positive / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your spouse (read it together!)...
Love 2.0 / Barbara L. Frederickson

For the sibling you've not-so-subtly resented for years... 
Forgiveness / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your parent who's curious about self-improvement...
The Positively Present Guide to Life / Dani DiPirro (me!)

 

FOR KIDS AND TEENAGERS

For your slightly neurotic niece or nephew...
Owl at Home / Arnold Lobel

For a teenager at odds with her mother...
The Runaway Bunny / Margaret Wise Brown

For the child who's not like his/her siblings...
The Trumpet of the Swan / E.B. White

For the teen who doesn't like standing out... 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky

For the little toddler who's always a bit grumpy...
Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? / Carol McCloud

For the little one who's always daydreaming...
Once Upon a Cloud / Claire Keane

For the middle-schooler adjusting to a new place... 
I Capture the Castle / Dodie Smith

For the teen with a potentially self-destructive friend...
Looking for Alaska / John Green

For the teenage girl who love the broody boys...
The Wind Blows Backward / Mary Downing Hahn

For the girl who needs some modern advice...
Girl Talk / Christie Young

For the little girl who wants a place of her own...
Mandy / Julie Andrews Edwards

For the creative teenager who needs a pick-me-up...
Pick Me Up / Adam J. Kurtz 

For the deep-thinking, graphic-book-loving teen...
Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi

For the teenager always snapping Insta pics...
A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book / Elsie Larson

For the super creative (and a little spooky) kid...
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick / Chris Van Allsburg

For the kid who loves animals more than people...
Guardians of Being / Eckhart Tolle

 

FOR YOUR FRIENDS

For the friend who's a (not so) secret badass...
Bad Girls Throughout History / Ann Shen

For the friend going through a really tough time...
Loving What Is / Byron Katie

For the always-judging-others friend...
Compassion / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the friend sighing, "I should try meditating..."
You Can Master Meditation / David Fontana

For the friend who needs to dump him/her ASAP...
The No-Contact Rule / Natalie Lue

For the friend who cancels plans to read instead...
Quiet: The Power of Introverts / Susan Cain

For the friend struggling to get pregnant...
The Fairy Rebel / Lynn Reid Banks

For the friend who's scared of (but needs to) change...
Start Where You Are / Meera Lee Patel

For your super creative, artistic, cool friend...
In Progress / Jessica Hische

For the friend who constantly seeks external approval...
I Need Your Love: Is That True? / Byron Katie

For the friend who recently said goodbye to a pup...
Dog Heaven / Cynthia Rylant

For the buddy who's constantly worrying...
The Power of Now / Eckhart Tolle 

For the friend with a rocky mother/daughter relationship... 
Boundaries / Anne Katherine

For your sassy friend who needs a happiness boost...
How to Be Happy, Dammit! / Karen Salmansohn

For your whimsical friend who loves a bit of magic...
The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern

For a friend who seems like she's really lost...
Wild / Cheryl Strayed

For the friend that still keeps a diary...
The Folded Clock / Heidi Julavits

For the pal that needs to figure out what she wants...
The Desire Map / Danielle LaPorte

For the guy who's always crying over his ex...
The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald

For your feminist friend who feels all the feels...
I Am an Emotional Creature / Eve Ensler

For your buddy who's always searching the next rush...
Hector and the Search for Happiness / François Lelord

 

FOR YOUR COLLEAGUES

For the creative-but-frazzled coworker...
Calm / Michael Acton Smith

For the coworker who needs to follow her passion...
The Crossroads of Should and Must / Elle Luna

For the too-creative-for-this place coworker...
Big Magic / Elizabeth Gilbert

For the coworker who's always super stressed...
Living in the Moment / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the colleague always around adults...
The Little Prince / Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For someone who needs a bit of motivation...
It's Not How Good You Are... / Paul Arden

For the coworker who's always complaining...
Gratitude / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the a stylish guy/gal who loves soul-searching...
Style Statement / Danielle LaPorte

For the coworker getting his kids a puppy...
The Puppy Primer / Patricia B. McConnell

For the guy always yelling in his office...
Emotional Agility / Susan David, PhD

For that colleague always looking for gossip...
PostSecret / Frank Warren

For that guy always looking for a project...
The Happiness of Pursuit / Chris Guillebeau

For the colleague always finding the bad stuff...
You Can Be an Optimist / Lucy MacDonald

For the coworker who should run her own business...
#GirlBoss / Sophia Amoruso

For the HR guy who loves analyzing people... 
The Social Animal / David Brooks 

For your colleague who can't choose a lunch spot...
The Paradox of Choice / Barry Schwartz

For the boss who's perpetually stressed out...
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work / Richard Carlson

For the trivia-loving data dude in IT...
The Visual Miscellaneum / David McCandless

For the admin who needs to pursue her dreams...
Now Is The Time To Do What You Love / Nancy Whitney-Reiter

 

Phew! That's quite a list, huh? I'd love to keep adding to it -- it is the Ultimate Book Gift Guide, after all -- so feel free to leave me a comment below or send me a message on social media about the books you'd include on this list. I'm always looking to add to that never-ending pile of to-read books! :)

If you liked the words above and would like a FREE PDF to download and print, click here or click the image below to download a PNG file, perfect for saving to Pinterest or keeping on your computer! :)

I-Believe-Books


How to Make Your Life Uncommonly Good

 
Good Life
 
 
We all want to live good lives, but what does a "good life" actually mean?
 
It's a hard concept to nail down, since we all have different values and goals. What one person might consider a great existence -- a high-powered job living in bustling city, or a cozy life spent raising a handful of children, or a solitary existence spent writing in the mountains -- others might think of as very unpleasant. What "good" means is relative, especially when it comes to creating a well-lived life. 
 
Still, I believe there are certain things we all need to have a good life. I've been thinking about this topic a lot recently, and I happened to stumble upon a Forbes piece featuring ten golden rules for living a good life from the book The Ten Golden Rules: Ancient Wisdom from the Greek Philosophers on How to Life a Good Life.
 
These ten golden rules really resonated with me so I thought I'd share my versions, along with my thoughts on them, here. For the most part, these are the same as the ones referenced in the article above, only I've tweaked them a bit and the thoughts below are my own. 
 
 
 
RULE 1: 
EXAMINE + ENGAGE IN LIFE
 
The first rule of living a good life is knowing how important it is to explore the world and be curious about your environment. We instinctively do this as children, but it should be a lifelong practice. You can't live if a good life if you're not really living. To me, this means both examining and engaging in life outside yourself (by playing games, making art, trying new foods, etc.), and also examining and engaging in your inner world too. 
 
 
RULE 2: 
(TRY TO) WORRY LESS
 
Worry is, unfortunately, a part of life, but how much you worry -- and what you worry about -- can impact how good your life is. It's important to try your best to worry only about the things you can control. Learning how to quickly identify what you can control vs. what's out of your hands is one of the best ways to minimize worries. Someone living a good life knows she can't control everything; she can control her reactions to everything. 
 
 
RULE 3: 
CHERISH FRIENDSHIPS
 
As humans, we crave connection and affection. Whether you're the type of person that has countless friends or you prefer a few close pals, friendship -- and the connections and life lessons that come along with those relationships -- are invaluable. No amount of wealth, power, success, fame or any other measure of success can beat the positive benefits of a good friendship. Someone living a good life knows to treasure and care for his friendships
 
 
RULE 4: 
FOCUS ON TRUE JOY
 
In life there are plenty of things that make us feel good, but not all of those things should be the focus. Living a good life means avoiding shallow, meaningless, or fleeting pleasures and instead focusing on meaningful, deep joys that have lasting effects. For instance, consider the feeling of eating a giant slice of cake vs. the feeling of having an inspiring conversation. Both feel good in the moment, but the long-term impacts are very different.
 
 
RULE 5:
KNOW WHO YOU ARE
 
Personally, I think this should be number 1! To live a good life, it's essential to know yourself, to be self-reliant, to cultivate self-love. Equally as important is focusing on what's true, not what's convenient. Self-deception is all too common for many of us, but it does us no good to convince ourselves of things that are untrue. If you struggle this this rule, here are some good resources to check out: My Life Story So FarLetters to My Future Self, Finding Your Self, Loving Your Self.
 
 
RULE 6:
FIND BALANCE + HARMONY
 
As you might already know, too much of anything (even the good stuff!) can be a bad thing, which is why, to live a good life, it's important to avoid excess. In all areas of life -- home, relationships, love, work, etc. -- it's a good idea to strive for balance. Overindulging in the good stuff can lead to what I think of as a "happiness hangover," but depriving yourself of fun (and a little bit of bad behavior!) it's great either. Find what balance means for you and strive for that. 
 
 
RULE 7: 
ADHERE TO POSITIVE VALUES
 
This rule really comes down to one basic concept: be a decent human being. When you've done wrong, accept responsibility. Whenever possible, be honest with yourself and with others. It's vital to be accountable for your choices and actions. What you value is up to you, but figuring out those values and sticking to them throughout your life is one of the best ways to ensure you're living a good life. (Also: be open-minded and, if need be, change your values as you grow and learn.)
 
 
RULE 8: 
PROSPER WITH CAUTION
 
With any luck, you'll have an wonderful opportunity to prosper in this life, to flourish financially and achieve great success. If this happens (and I hope it does!), be cautious and thoughtful in your choices. I imagine it's difficult not to get carried away, but one of the keys to living a good life is being rational with your resources (whatever those might be!). Many prosperous people become foolish and delusional. Personally, I think this is a great place to focus on gratitude over gains. 
 
 
RULE 9: 
DO HARM TO NO ONE
 
This might sound like an obvious rule for a good life, but it's an important one. To live well, strive to harm no one -- including yourself. Hurting others hurts you too (even if, for whatever reason, you feel as if they deserve to be hurt). Speak with kindness, focus on forgiveness, have compassion, embrace empathy, and, above all, try to cultivate as much love as you can for your fellow humans. (I also recommend extending this rule to animals and nature, too!)
 
 
RULE 10: 
BE ENDLESSLY KIND
 
The last rule goes hand-in-hand with the previous rule. Kindness is mandatory for living a good life. Not only does kindness make the world a better place, but every time you're kind, you feel good. Also, regardless of whether or not you believe in karma, if you pay attention to how kindness plays out in your own life, you'll find that your kind deeds are often rewarded or returned in some way. Whether it's something small -- like sharing your water with your dog on a long walk or sending a friend a bag of cheer -- or something huge, being endlessly kind will always lead to a better, happier life. 
 
 
 
These words of wisdom are nothing new (after all, they were inspired by ancient philosophers!), but there's a reason we're still writing about these concepts today. They are vital for making the most of your life, regardless of who you are, what you have, where you live, or what you do. Follow these rules and an uncommonly good life can be yours! 
 
 
 
UncommonGoodsA big thanks to UncommonGoods for sponsoring this post! If you're looking for unique gifts, jewelry, home decor, and more, UncommonGoods should be your go-to spot. Not only do they sell meaningful products that create a positive impact on the world, but they also have amazing personalized gifts (see here), which I think are the best kinds of gifts! Plus, awesome filters on their site allow you to search by categories like birthdays (here), anniversaries (here), bridal showers (here), etc. Honestly, I feel like I could shop there for every occasion for years and years and never run out of creative gift ideas! Learn more about the cool story behind UncommonGoods here.

Let the Dead Leaves Drop : Lessons from Autumn on Letting Go

 

Dead leaves drop

 

This week my favorite season, autumn, officially arrives! I know how basic it sounds, but I seriously love everything about the season. In particular, I love the changing of the leaves. Not only are the vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges my favorite, but I find something comforting in the fact that the trees are at their most beautiful when they are in the midst of letting go.

For most of us, letting go is hard. It's a struggle to release people, things, or emotions we've grown accustomed to having in our lives. Some people are better at letting go than others. I, for example, have a terrifically terrible time letting go of people, but when it comes to letting go of material things, I have absolutely no trouble saying goodbye. Others don't seem to cling to people the way I do, but ask them to get rid of a dress they wore once in high school and they act like you're asking them to sell their soul. We're all different when it comes to letting go, but I bet that no matter who you are, you have a hard time letting go of something.

But you know what? That's okay. It's okay to have a hard time releasing what matters to you. Whether it's things, people, or thoughts, it's difficult to give up something you once thought of (or still think of) as yours. But just because it's hard doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. When you keep things you don't need (and, yes, this includes people), you create emotional (and sometimes physical) mess. Extra things create clutter in your home, and extra people create clutter in your heart. Personally, I'd rather not have any clutter in my life -- and the only way to do that is to learn how to let things go.

It's not always easy to release things, the way the trees always seem to graciously let go of their leaves each autumn, but it's up to you to choose to stop clinging to the things that you no longer need in your life. No one is going to do it for you, but I've got some tips for how to make it happen. Ready? Okay, let's go let go! 
 

  • Decide what's really important. When you take a step back and think about what's truly important to you, you'll realize that many of the things you're holding on to aren't as essential as you once thought. What's essential is being healthy, positive, mindful, and living your life to the fullest. If you are clinging to things or people, you're not really at peace with yourself or your life. Step back and assess what really matters to you, and letting go will become a lot easier.

  • Assess what benefits you're getting. One of the reasons we hang on to things or people is because we believe they add value to our lives. But is that actually true? Think about it -- and I mean really think about it. Are you benefiting from the clutter (emotional or physical) in your life? Is your life richer because you are surrounded by negative people? Probably not. Take a moment to list the benefits you think you're getting and you'll probably have a short list. Use this to motivate yourself to release what no longer serves you.

  • Recognize that you're overvaluing it. You're the one placing high value on a person or thing you're holding on to unnecessarily. More often than not, you're idealizing that person or thing and telling yourself that, for whatever reason, you need it/him/her. However, that's not true. If there's any part of you saying "let go," that means let go. What you need in your life is you. You also need things that are bringing you up, not down. If something isn't bringing you up, it's bringing you down. Stop overvaluing it and let it go.

  • Be brave enough to release your grip. It really does come down to the old Nike slogan, "Just do it." No matter how hard it is, no matter what obstacles stand in your way, sometimes you have to just suck it up, be brave, and release your grip. I know this is much easier said than done, but, honestly, it really is the only way. You owe it to yourself to be brave; to release the things that you no longer need. A remember: the hardest part is the release; once you're brave enough to take that first step, you'll soon see that you're just fine without it. 
     

As much as you might think you need something or someone, keep in mind that "need" is a very strong word. What you really "need" in your life is very different from what you "want." Keep in mind that, deep down, you know what's best for you. If there's something telling you to let go, listen to that instinct. Your gut feelings will let you know what's right and what's wrong. You just need to open your mind and listen to them. And then, when you hear that voice telling you that you need to let something go, have the courage to really listen and to take action.

Letting go isn't often easy, but you can make your life so much more positive if you take inspiration from the beautiful trees in autumn and just let the dead leaves drop. And, yes, you might go through a tough time -- a winter, if you will -- but that will pass, and you'll grow stronger and healthier in the process, just like bright green leaves and flowers do each spring. 

 

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SLT: 4 Steps for Using Song Lyrics as Therapy

 

Lyrics-Emotional-Postcards
 

Last week, I posted the image below on my Instagram feed, and people seemed to really love the concept. It's one of my most popular posts -- and, though the concept is positive, the lyrics I wrote about aren't typical of what I usually share on Instagram (aka, not the most inspirational!).

 

Song Lyrics

 

The attention this photo received definitely piqued my interest so I thought I'd write about the process of what I like to call Song Lyric Therapy (or SLT, for short). Even though it's fairly obvious how it works -- find lyrics, write it down, reflect -- sometimes it's helpful to have all the steps in front of you to motivate you to actually do it. 

Music is an incredibly powerful force in my life, and lyrics in particular have always had a profound impact on me. For 20+ years I've been practicing SLT and it's pretty amazing. And it works no matter what emotional situation you're in. I've done it when I'm falling in love, when I'm going through a break-up, when I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I've also combined with Quote Therapy, which follows the same general process, but instead of lyrics, you use quotes. Sometimes I even get crazy and combine the two, haha!

If you're a lyric lover like I am, here's how you can use SLT to get in touch with how you're feeling:

  

STEP 1:
COMPILE A PLAYLIST 

You might already have some songs that you're listening to on repeat, or you might want to create a special playlist just for your specific situation. I originally to made playlists in iTunes, focusing on specific situations, like: The Positive Breakup, Staying Sober, Single at Christmas, etc. I then started making my weekly playlists on YouTube so you guys could listen too, and now I've finally gotten Spotify and I'm making lots of themed playlists over there (some recent ones include: Autumn Woods, Be Here Now, Hang in There, Love Yourself, Positive Vibes, etc.). Where you create your playlist is up to you -- just make sure it's somewhere you can listen often and easily add songs if needed. 

 

STEP 2:
GET INTO THE GROOVE

This step is all about listening closely to the words. Listen to your playlist over and over again. Some people (like me!) are super lyric-focused and can't help but listen to the lyrics and try to apply it in some way to their own lives. But some people aren't as into lyrics and in this step they've gotta step up their listening game. There are no right or wrong lyrics to look for; the key is to pay attention to the words that speak to you, that give you a feeling of, Wow! that sounds just like what I'm experiencing right now! If you pay attention to songs you're drawn to, you'll realize that you love them so much because you relate to them in some way.  

 

STEP 3:
WRITE THE WORDS

After listening to your playlist frequently, it's time to document those words. I prefer to handwrite the lyrics and add color, doodles, etc. to make the process a bit more fun, but you can write yours in an form you like: in a notebook, on your computer, in a note-taking app on your phone. Whatever method is easiest and most inspiring for you, do that. As you're listening to the songs, aim to pinpoint one or two lines from that song that really speak to you. While you can write down huge chunks of a song (or the whole thing!), I've found it most useful to really narrow my focus to one or two lines so that I can go deeper on those in Step 4. 

 

STEP 4:
MAKE TIME TO REFLECT

After writing down your lyrics, set them aside for a bit before coming back and re-reading them. You can highlight words that really speak to you (as I did above). As I'm reviewing the lyrics, I ask myself, Why did this line resonate with me? What about these words makes me feel something? What does this particular phrase say about how I'm feeling? Sometimes I just answer these internally and reflect on them, and sometimes I write down my replies. Either way, reflecting on the lyrics provides not only better understanding of the situation, but also of how you feel about the situation. And knowing your feelings is key to choosing how you think, act, and react. 

 

I've been using SLT for as long as I can remember, and I find it incredibly useful. If you're looking to do some soul-searching, if you're feeling uncertain about some aspect of your life, or if you're just curious about connecting with your feelings, I highly recommend giving this a try!

 

Want me to make a playlist for your situation?
Leave me a comment below or send me an email,
and I'll create a Spotify playlist for you!  

 

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