Health Is Wealth : How to Cope When You're Feeling Poorly

 

Health Wealth
 

For the past nine days, I've had a headache, a dull, persistent pain that will not go away, no matter what I do or what pills I take. The only thing that's brought me any relief is lying on my back with a warm compress on my head, a position that doesn't lend itself well to working, playing, socializing, or pretty much anything. (You might have noticed the Positively Present Picks were missing on Friday. This is why.) It's been an incredibly boring and frustrating time and, to be honest, it's been challenging my positive, present mindset quite a bit. But, of course, it's when we struggle to be positively present that we need positivity and mindfulness the most. 

So, with a throbbing head and an oddly positioned laptop (in order to better balance the compress on my head), I'm going to share all the tactics I've used to cope over the past week or so. 

 

TRY YOGA / MEDITATION. 

I kind of got out of doing yoga for a while, but this week I decided to pick it up again and see if they could help me feel better. It did! I've been doing Yoga with Adriene every day this week, and I really feel like it helps. I also did a little bit of meditating (I struggle with it so much!), and that also helped. I generally am more of a pill taker when it comes to coping with pain, but I'm really starting to see the benefits of holistic, natural activities like yoga and meditating.

 

KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. 

At the beginning of the year I started using my Every Day Matters diary as a gratitude journal, and it's been so amazing, especially this past week. I know I talk about gratitude a lot, and I know it's kind of a cliché topic in the personal development community, but it really does work. Thinking about all of the things I have and the things that make me happy has been such a useful tactic for a combating The stress of not feeling well.

 

FOCUS ON CAN, NOT CAN'T. 

One of the most important things I've done over the past week is focused on shifting my thoughts from what I can't do to what I can do. Since I've spent most of the week lying down, almost everything I do becomes a small little victory. So, while it was incredibly frustrating not to work all week, instead of focusing on that I would focus on the things I could do, no matter how small. 

 

REST. AND THEN REST SOME MORE. 

I'm a big fan of resting, but it can be frustrating when it's not a choice and you have to rest. Still, rest is so so important and I've done my best to make it a priority this week. Even when I started feeling a little bit better, I did encourage myself to keep resting, and I really feel that resting is some of the best medicine you can give yourself.

 

DO RELAXING THINGS. 

Because I was so stressed about not feeling well, I knew I had to make relaxation more of a priority or I would start to feel panicky at the thought that I might be sick forever. (Dramatic I know, but that's how my mind works!) relaxation is a very individual practice. For me, a book and a bath tub works wonders, but it's important to do whatever feels relaxing to you.

 

ALLOW FOR A MINI-MELTDOWN.

When you're unable to do almost anything, and you have to lie down for days at a time, you're bound to be pretty frustrated. I did my best to stay as optimistic as possible, but I also gave myself a pass to having a little bit of a meltdown. It's OK to get frustrated to cry and to not be 100% positive every second. Allow yourself a good cry, and you'll feel a lot better! 

 

BE OPEN TO NEW SOLUTIONS. 

If you're dealing with something that's not easily fixable, it can be really aggravating when traditional treatments don't seem to work. Over the past week, I've been doing my best to open my mind to new possibilities. Rather than focusing solely on pills, i've been giving essential oils a try. I'm certainly not going to stop following the doctor's orders, but I feel much more open to exploring new solutions as well. An open mind is important in life, and it's extra important in health.

 

I also found a new solution to my inability to write for long periods of time. This whole blog post was dictated into my phone and then copied into the website! Obviously it's not the same as actually writing, at least for me, but it's an example of finding a solution when you can't do what you've always done.

 

PS: If you have any suggestions for coping with chronic headaches, let me know!

   

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What Do You Really Want? (+ Worksheet!)

 

What Do You Really Want Positively Present
 

After declaring this the Year of Self-Love, I've been doing a lot of thinking about it -- like, way more than I've ever done about any topic before. When you start looking for something (or, in some cases, the lack of something), you see it everywhere. That's what's been happening to me over the past few weeks. Self-love (or lack of it) is in everywhere, connected to everything. It impacts every single aspect of life in every single person, which is pretty crazy, as far as writing topics go.

At times it can feel overwhelming, the idea of transforming (or trying to transform...) every aspect of the self. But it's also kind of liberating as well. There's a freedom that comes with knowing that, though you don't have control over so many aspects of your life, there are still things you can positively influence. 

That being said, it's still a ton of things to work on, and the only way to take on a huge project, in my opinion, is to break it down into manageable bits. So that's what I'm planning to do -- to pay attention to the parts of self-love that jump out at me each week and share them in some way here (while, of course, bringing positivity and awareness into the mix!). What's been coming to the forefront this week is wanting

The word "want" has two main definitions: (1) have a desire to possess or do something; and (2) lack or be short of something desirable or essential. 

That feeling of desire -- and of lack -- is one of the things that stands in the way of self-love. And the more I started paying attention to the idea of wanting, the more I realized how much I was doing of it all the time. I started keeping a list, writing down all of the things I thought or said I wanted over the course of a few days, and it was kind of astounding how lengthy it got. Here's a sample of some of the things I wrote:

 

  • I want a the newest iPhone.
  • I want to see wolves in the wild.
  • I wish I had this cute sweatshirt.
  • I want to declutter my apartment.
  • I want a German Shepherd.
  • I wish I had better filming equipment.
  • I want the new Ban.do products.
  • I wish I had a new book contract.
  • I want to read the book Chasing Slow
  • I want to make more money. 
  • I wish I had some Tate's cookies.  
  • I want this shirt in my size. 
  • I wish I could afford this class.  
  • I want to create a newsletter.
  • I wish I had these silver sandals.
  • I want to donate more money. 
  • I want all Adam J. Kurtz's stuff. 

 

Most of these desires were "someday" types of things -- "I want a German Shepherd one day" or "I could really use a new phone so I don't keep getting that damn 'Storage Almost Full' message" or "I'm trying to keep only healthy food in the house but I could really go for a cookie right now" -- and some aren't even inherently bad. But, even if it didn't feel as if my life was majorly lacking without those things (i.e., I wasn't really bemoaning the fact that I couldn't get a new dog at that moment), I had to wonder:

 

What is all this wanting doing to how I feel about my life and about myself? Do these thoughts -- even if they don't make me feel as if I'm lacking as a person -- have a negative impact on my sense of self? And, more importantly, would I have wanted these things had I not seen them online, by complete and utter chance? 

 

We all see so many images all day, every day, and many of them make us want something other than what we have -- whether that be a physical product (like this cute notebook!) or an abstract concept (like love, success, etc.). I know not everyone might be exposed at the level I am -- I'm a bit obsessive with social media and follow tons of brands and people who create cool things so I see a lot of stuff and ideas every day -- but I still think most of us have those "I want..." or "I wish I had..." thoughts at least once a day. 

All wanting isn't bad, but the idea that I'm wanting so much, all the time, even in subtle little ways, seems very at odds with the notion of loving one's self. Instead of celebrating all that I have, I find myself looking for new things to desire, and, while the desire itself isn't negative, it's often misdirected (and often does so in a way that negates self-love, positivity, and mindful acceptance). Desiring things absent-mindedly or by default isn't the best way to create a life you love. 

So, what do we do about this? We're obviously going to want things (and by "things" I also mean people, ideas, jobs, achievements, feelings, etc.), and I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all -- so long as we're wanting them for the right reasons and so long as they will, in fact, provide us with what it is that we desire. And that's where the solution comes in. We have to examine what we're wanting and we have to determine if it's real

 

Wanting

Click here to download the free PDF!

 

Actually figuring out what we want (and whether we'll get it from the thing we desire) isn't always the easiest, but it doesn't have to be too tricky. I made the worksheet above to help me sort through my own wants this coming week, and I'm sharing it with you so you, too, can track what you want. 

My challenge to you (and myself!) this week is to do the following, using the worksheet:

  1. Pay attention to every time you find yourself thinking or saying, "I want" (or some version of it, like "I wish I had..."). Write what you want in the first column. (If possible, try to keep the list private so that you feel free to write whatever you've been wanting without any fear of judgment.)

  2. Reflect what you wrote in column 1. What makes you want that thing? What do you think will happen if you get it? If you don't? Is it something that will have a positive impact on your life? 

  3. Dig deeper. Consider whether this is something you do, in fact, really want or if it might be a reflex or habit. (For example, if a beloved brand comes out with a new line of something, do you actually want it or do you just think you do because you always get the newest items.). Also, assess whether the desire yours or if it's based on what you think you should want or what someone else wants. And, of course, consider whether this item is, in fact, a symptom of something bigger that you want. (For example, you want a new lipstick because you want to feel pretty because you want to be confident. Could it be possible to desire -- and pursue -- confidence directly?)

  4. Contemplate whether this item is a solution to a problem. For example, let's say you want a new notebook because you think it'll be a great inspiration for keeping organized this year. The last column is where you can determine if that specific notebook is, in fact, necessary to get the result you want. Do you already have a notebook you could use? Is there a notebook that might fit your needs even better? Is this really about a notebook or is it about motivation or organization or something even deeper? 

 

Reflecting on -- and, in many cases, adjusting -- our wants is an essential aspect of self-love. What we want (even if we don't end up getting it) influences how we feel and think and act. For me, it's often a default setting. I see something cool and my first thought is, I want that! I don't always (or often...) purchase something simply because I want it (as I used to, when I was younger and hitting up the mall on an almost daily basis), but that reflex is still in place, and I honestly don't think it has a very positive impact on me. 

I thought learning to control my spending impulses was a great act of self-love and I feel proud of myself every time I don't spend frivolously. But I think I can -- and should -- take it further, to break not just the habit of mindless spending, but also the habit of mindless wanting. Hopefully this worksheet is a start of a new way of seeing my desires -- and, if you're like me and struggle with the conflict between wanting and self-loving, I hope it'll help you, too! 

  

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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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100 Things to Be Thankful For: Part I

Things-Im-Thankful-for-Positively-Present

 

It's going to be a bit of a crazy week here in America, so I thought I'd direct my attention to what helps me most whenever I'm feeling anxious or stressed: gratitude. Seven years ago I wrote a list featuring 100 Things I Am Thankful For and, to this day, it's still one of my most popular posts!

This year I thought I'd revisit and update that list. I did this without looking at the list, and then I went back to see how many of them ended up being the same after all this time, which was kind of awesome. It's kinda cool to write about things you're thankful for and then go back and see how the list has changed over the years -- I highly recommend it!

Here's my round-up for this year. Stayed tuned to next week for Part II! :)

 

  1. BOOKS

    Books are one of the few things I don't know if I could live without. My shelves are filled with novels I adore, non-fiction works that changed the way I see the world, beautiful images, creativity and inspiration so life-changing it leaves me speechless. Dramatic? Yes, perhaps, but I love books. I'm also super thankful that I've had the opportunity to write quite a few

  2. FREEDOM

    Freedom is something I highly value, and I'm so incredibly thankful for the many ways I experience it. Here in America, I have the freedom to do, say, wear, be whatever I want. I'm also grateful for the freedom I currently experience as a childless, unattached woman. I can do what I like (and I do!). 

  3. MUSIC

    Ah, music! It's up there with books in terms of things I cannot imagine life without. I'm particularly thankful for lyrics, the carefully crafted phrases that somehow put into words all of the things I always want to say. The thrill of finding a new song that speaks to your emotional state is truly unparalleled. 

  4. TECHNOLOGY

    On more than one occasion, I've exclaimed, "I love technology!" And I really do. I don't take for granted how fortunate I am to live in this technological age of iPhones and MacBooks and the internet (oh, how I love the internet!!). And that's to say nothing of medical technology, for which we should all be so incredibly appreciative.

  5. CANINES

    Dogs. Wolves. Foxes (not technically canine, but still!). I love them all. Animals in generally tug at my heart in a way that humans don't seem to do (sorry, humans!). There's something so magical about being able to connect with a creature that doesn't speak your language, that is so different from you. I can honest say, as well, that dogs have saved my life, and I will forever be thankful for them. 

  6. METANOIA

    This word (which I just discovered!) is the journey of changing one's mind, heart, self, or way of life. I'm so grateful for the ways I've changed my life -- learning to be more positive and present, giving up on bad habits, choosing to love myself (even when it's so challenging). This journey is on-going, and I'm so lucky to be living it. 

  7. KNOWLEDGE

    Think, for a minute, about all of the things you know. It's pretty amazing, isn't it? We start gaining knowledge as soon as we're born (maybe before that?) and, if we're open to it, we keep learning and growing up until the day we die. There's always something new to know, which is pretty darn amazing. 

  8. EMOTIONS

    As a pretty emotional person, I tend to swing high and low (middle ground isn't somewhere I spend a lot of time). While this can be frustrating at times, I'm still so thankful for these emotional ranges. As much as I hate going low sometimes, it really balances out those highs, and I'm thankful for the array of emotions I experience. 

  9. SOLITUDE

    Alone time is my jam. It might sound odd, but I adore being alone. I love the freedom that comes with it, the moments of insight, the opportunity for me to wind up my yo-yo, and the little adventures I get into on my own that no one (aside from Barkley...) will ever know about. All you introverts out there probably know just how thankful I am for time spent alone. 

  10. FAIRYTALES

    I'll admit that I'm partial to the kinder, Disneyfied versions of fairytales, but I appreciate the originals as well. Not only do I love the stories in and of themselves, but I'm honestly in awe (and appreciative) of the ways writers use characters and plots to explore intangible concepts and morals. Writers of all kinds do this, but there's something especially magical about the way it's done in fairytales.

  11. BEAUTY

    The word "beauty" is so broad, but I'm grateful for its many representations. I love tangible beautiful things. I love the intangible beauty of ideas and others' hearts. I honestly believe in the notion that everything is beautiful in some way, and I'm thankful for the fact that beauty can be found everywhere. 

  12. CREATIVITY

    I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have a career that allows me to explore my creativity through writing, illustrating, and designing. In addition to being thankful for my own creativity, I'm also so appreciative of others' creative work as well. One of life's best moments is seeing someone's work and thinking, wow, that's so creative! 

  13. HEALTH

    As a relatively healthy person, this is something I often take for granted, but there is nothing better than being in good health. Over the past few years, I've had some health struggles (and surgeries!) and they've reminded me how important is to be thankful for good health -- both my own and that of those I know and love. 

  14. EPIPHANIES

    You know those "a-ha!" moments, where you realize something so clearly or think of an idea you've never had before? Those are amazing and rare and I'm thankful that I've experienced a few in my life. I'm sure there will be more as I gain knowledge (and age...), and I can't wait to experience them. 

  15. LOVE

    Love, in its many, many forms, is something I will also be grateful for. I've fallen in love many times and each time has been an amazing whirlwind of emotion and excitement. And, of course, I've been fortunate to have (and give) the constant, unwavering love of friends and family. I am so lucky, and I don't take that for granted. 

  16. SUNLIGHT

    Right now there's a line of sunlight seeping through the blinds and onto the carpet. It's beautiful and it's comforting. Even when days are short and skies are cloudy, I know the sun will always return. It's consistency is something for which I am so thankful; its brilliant, life-giving force is astounding and much appreciated. 

  17. PRODUCTIVITY

    You know those days when you just keep crossing things off of your to-do list and you feel like an absolute boss? Those days are amazing, and I'm so grateful for the productive moments in life. It feels so good to get things done, to feel as if you're moving forward in a positive direction, making progress. 

  18. FAMILY

    I love my family more than words could possibly express. We're different in so many ways, but we are still connected in by the ways we love another. Like all families, we have our imperfections, but I really do feel like I lucked out in the family department, and I try my best not to take that good fortune for granted. 

  19. COLORS

    Color is something I can't seem to get enough of. I'm always drawn to it (especially orange!), and I love the emotional reactions it evokes in me. From my spot on the couch right now I can see almost every color of the rainbow, and I couldn't be more appreciative of the differences and beauty of each individual hue. 

  20. PHOTOGRAPHS

    Not only do photographs capture the really special moments in life so we can look back on them later (a rare way to make yourself happy in the present by referring to the past!), but they are also amazing ways to experience other perspectives, cultures, and places. Just think about all the things you know about from photos alone!  

  21. SLEEP

    Sleep might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but I'm so appreciative of every hour I get to rest and recover from the day before. I'm also fascinated by dreaming, and it's such a cool experience to live through things in your mind that you don't actually experience in real life. 

  22. BRAVERY

    I'm grateful for the moments I've been brave in my own life, and I'm also grateful for all those whose bravery has impacted me in a positive (brave soldiers who fight for America, brave people who stood up for my rights and the rights of those discriminated against, etc.). We're all brave in unique ways, and I'm so thankful for that. 

  23. HYGGE

    I've only recent discovered this word, which has many meanings, but the one I most closely relate to is: "creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people." To me, it's coziness and candle light, feeling snug and warm with those you love. I'm so thankful to experience hygge!

  24. ENTHUSIASM

    Generally I'm a pretty enthusiastic person. When I'm into something, I'm into it! I love being enthusiasm and I'm thankful for that quality in myself. I also really appreciate when other people are enthusiastic about things, and find it so fascinating when that enthusiasm is something I can't personally understand. YAY for enthusiasm! 

  25. FRIENDS

    Whether you have a few close buddies or a whole squad of pals, friendship is something we can all be thankful for. Every moment spent with friends is a gift and, even though I do prefer being alone, I'm filled with gratitude for all of the friends I've had throughout my life, and especially for the few life-long ones I have. 

  26. ORGANIZATION

    Being organized is one of my favorite things. I know it's not everyone's preference, but, for me, organization is essential to a peaceful state of mind (and life!). I love sorting things (especially by color!), and I'm filled with thankfulness when everything is in its rightful place. 

  27. MYSTERY

    While I'm not a fan of scary mysteries, I do love the fact that there is so much we don't really know about life. The unknown elements of the future (and, in some cases, the past) make life exciting. Sometimes, yes, I would love to have all of the answers, but more often than not, I'm grateful for the mysterious nature of what's to come. 

  28. QUOTES

    Did you know I love quotes? Haha, I bet you did! I'm so thankful that I can easily find quotes that speak to me, and that I have the opportunity to share my favorites with you via this site and on Instagram. There are few things I love more than a perfectly worded sentence that makes me think about things in a new way. 

  29. LAUGHTER

    Laughing is honestly one of my favorite things to do, and I've been told I do it a lot. When it comes to experiencing true joy, a long, tear-producing belly laugh is up there on the list. Laughter's been called the best medicine, and I believe that to be true (aside from, ya know, actual medicine). I'm grateful for every single giggle, every single laugh. 

  30. WONDERLAND

    A fictional place might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been my favorite for decades, and writing about it actually led to my first book deal. My love of Wonderland literally changed my life, making it something for which I'll be always grateful. 

  31. NATURE

    I'm pretty far from "outdoorsy," but I actually love nature in a very deep way. I'm fascinated by it, and grateful for the bits of it that I'm able to experience. Whether it's pausing to stare at a perfect spiderweb or looking up at the leaves changing color on the trees, I never find myself not in awe of nature. 

  32. OPTIMISM

    Optimism is tough, and admittedly I'm not always as positive as I'd like to be, but focusing on optimism has changed my life. Choosing positivity over negativity makes things better, no matter what's happening. It took me decades to realize the value of an optimistic outlook, but I'm so happy I finally came around to bright side. 

  33. SOBRIETY

    For six and a half years, I've been sober. It's challenging, it's isolating, and it's hard as hell sometimes, but my sobriety is something I'm so thankful to have experienced. Not only has it improved my life, my mindset, and my relationships, but it's taught me things about the world I never would have known without it. 

  34. BALTER  

    It was only recently that I discovered this word, which means to dance recklessly without grace or skill but with enthusiasm, but it's something I've been doing for as long as I can remember. Rarely does a day go by that I don't have some silly little dance party in my apartment, and I'm grateful for those wild, private moments that always end in me laughing at myself. 

  35. HOLIDAYS

    As a big fan of celebrations (and raised by a very festive mom!), holidays always bring me such happiness. There's something about the return of them, year after year, that's both soothing and exciting. My favorite is Halloween, but Christmas is a close second. I'm thankful for those who help make the world festive each year! 

  36. STARRY SKIES

    There's rarely a night when I don't go outside and turn my eyes to the sky in search of the stars. Even after over three decades of standing on this planet, gazing upward, I'm still in awe of them. Once I read that they are the sky's freckles, and that image has stayed with me. They are magical, glittery reminders of how small we are. 

  37. KINDNESS

    Kindness -- especially the kind that's given with nothing expected in return -- is flat-out amazing. We don't ever have to be kind to one another, and yet we continue to be. Yes, we're also shockingly unkind at times, but so often life's kindnesses are overlooked. My heart swells with gratitude for every kind thing others have done for me, themselves, and others. 

  38. FEMINISM

    I don't talk about this much on Positively Present, but "feminist" is a huge part of my identity. In college, I learned what it really means, and it impacted me so much that I went on to study gender in graduate school. I know the word often has negative connotations, but I'm grateful for it (and for the freedom to embrace it, a freedom not everyone in the world is granted). 

  39. DESIRE

    Longing for things (or people) can be frustrating at times, but it's also kind of lovely, wanting for something you don't already have. Can you imagine what life would be like if you already possessed everything you wanted? How boring and bland it would be! I'm thankful for the excitement desire brings to my life. 

  40. INSPIRATION

    Inspiration is almost everywhere, if you know how to look for it. Since I started this site, I've been constantly on the lookout for inspiration and I'm never let down by how much of it there is. Whether it's a motivating quote, the sight of something beautiful, or a book filled with new ideas, there's no end to how much I can be inspired, and I'm so grateful for that. 

  41. SELF-LOVE

    Self-love is a constant work-in-progress, but the work is always worth it. I don't know when exactly I learned about the notion of self-love, but it's transformed the way I think about myself and, in turn, the world. Gratitude is an act of self-love and self-love is act of gratitude. 

  42. ACCEPTANCE

    This doesn't always come easily -- especially when times are tough or you're unhappy -- but whenever I've been able to cultivate acceptance, I've felt so much more fulfilled and at peace with myself. It's hard to accept things we cannot change about ourselves or the world, but I'm thankful for the moments I've been able to embrace what is. 

  43. WORK

    I'm so incredibly luck to do something I love for a living -- to write and create and share it with you! -- but that hasn't always been the case. Not only am I thankful for the work I have now, but also for the work that brought me to where I am now. And, on a basic level, I'm so grateful to have skills I can use to provide for myself. 

  44. CUTENESS

    An odd thing to be thankful for? Perhaps. But there's nothing quite like seeing something that's adorable. It's cliche, but the sight of something cute makes me want to squeal with excitement. I'm so filled with thanks for every single cute puppy, kitten, illustration, etc. that I've seen. They're small things, but they make my heart happy in a big way. 

  45. MINDFULNESS

    Though I write about this constantly and it's part of my career, mindfulness is still a struggle for me. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it's hard not to focus on the future or worry about the past, but the more I practice staying mindful, the easier it gets. I'm thankful for every moment I've been fully present. 

  46. MUSEUMS

    As a kid, I took access to so many free museums in Washington DC for granted, but, as an adult, I realize how amazing it is to be able to see such beautiful art and history housed in beautiful old buildings. I still don't go to museums as often as I should, but I love every moment I spend in them. 

  47. QUIDDITIES

    A quiddity is someone or something's distinctive or peculiar feature, and it's something I'm hyperaware (and appreciative!) of. Everyone I know has something about him or her that is 100% unique to that person, and that's pretty amazing if you think about it! I probably have a few quiddities myself, and I'm thankful for my own uniqueness. 

  48. FASHION

    I love fashion (it was even my major for a year in college!), and I'm so grateful for the ways we can explore self-expression through what we wear. I loved writing A-Wear-Ness: Mindfulness + What You Wear this year, and it really helped me think even more deeply about how grateful I am for fashion (even if I do spend most of my time in sweatpants!). 

  49. DANDELIONS

    It's for many reasons I love these sweet, strange little weeds: (1) it's my nickname, so I'm a bit partial to them; (2) they transform into such beautiful, wispy things, and (3) they're made for wishing! I love how they provide a moment for us to pause, take a deep breath, and think about the things we long for. 

  50. SEASONS 

    While I'm very much drawn to autumn (and winter!), I'm so thankful to live in a place where I can experience all four seasons. Each one has pros and cons, and it's so wonderful to know that, regardless of what season it is, in a few months it will be different. I love the continual reminder of the power of transformation. 

 

I hope these inspired you to think about things you're thankful for. It's not always the easiest thing to do at a time like this, but it's honestly one of the best ways I've discovered to combat stress and anxiety. Stay positive this week! And stay grateful too! Tune in next week for Part II. :) 

  

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2016 Gratitude Photo Challenge + Giveaway!

 

Gratitude Challenge Prompts 2016


Let’s ignore, for a moment, that today is the best day of the year (hooray for Halloween!) and focus on the fact that tomorrow is November! This year has flown by and now it’s time for the SIXTH annual Gratitude Photo Challenge. This is one of my very favorite aspects of Positively Present. It’s so fun to come up with daily prompts, direct my attention to gratitude all month long, and see all of your amazing photos. It’s become such a special part of my year.

This year’s Challenge is extra special because it’s a collaboration with the amazing, inspiring Caroline from Made Vibrant. Caroline has her own Challenges of the Month, featuring monthly themes and daily prompts for becoming brighter in your life, your business, and your creative spirit, and this month we’re teaming up to focus on gratitude!

If you’ve done this before, you know the deal. But if you’re new here, welcome! :) Keep reading details, prompts, and info on the a-m-a-z-i-n-g giveaway Caroline and I have put together!



THE DETAILS

  • “Challenge” is just a word.

    The goal of the Challenge is to take and/or share a photo every day using the prompts to help you feel more appreciative. Feel free to get creative, make up your own prompts, etc. And don’t feel pressured to take perfect pics, either. Thankfulness is what it’s all about; no need to be a professional photographer!
  • Join in at any time.

    The point of the Challenge is to focus on staying thankful for thirty days. You can start the challenge on November 1 and do it for the whole month (as Caroline and I are doing), or you can start the challenge any day that works for you and follow along at your own pace.

  • Use hashtags #Gratitude30 and #MVcoloryoursoul.

    Sharing your pics on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.? If you tag them with these hashtags, others can see them and you’ll be entered to win the super fun giveaway Caroline and I have put together! (Scroll down for more on that!)

  • Print out a reminder.

    Keep up with the prompts by downloading the photo above (save it to your phone, perhaps!) or, if you’re more of a IRL type, print out a version to post wherever you'd find a reminder helpful by clicking here.

 

THE PROMPTS

Day 1: Color

If there’s one thing Caroline and I can’t get enough of, it’s color! A day doesn’t go by when I don’t feel thankful for life’s beautiful colors. Use today’s prompt to focus on gratitude for your favorite color or to explore how colors play a role in your life.

Day 2: Love

Love is one of the most amazing experiences life has to offer. Life is filled with all kinds of love, and each one is deserving of our gratitude. Today, think about how you experience or give love in your own life, and share what the word means to you.

Day 3: Nature

Whether or not you consider yourself an outdoorsy type or not (I certainly am not!), nature is one of life’s great gifts. Pay attention to the nature around you and how it makes you feel. Is there an aspect of nature you feel particularly thankful for?

Day 4: Home

When you think of the word “home,” what comes to mind? For some of us, home is a place. For others, it’s a person or a feeling. Focus your attention on whatever home means to you and consider the very best parts of it.

Day 5: Knowledge

Since the day you were born, you’ve been learning. Most days, I bet you learn something new. Use today to reflect on what you’ve learned (maybe focusing on the past year) and share that knowledge with someone you love.

Day 6: Music

Music has always played a huge role in my life, and I’m immensely thankful for all the words and notes I’ve been able to hear. Today’s the perfect time to reflect on the beauty of music. (Love music? Check out my weekly playlists here.)

Day 7: Weather

I’ve always been greatly influenced by weather, and I know I’m not alone in this. Whether it’s good weather or bad, I’m thankful for the variety I get to experience where I live. Today, focus on the weather you’re thankful to experience.

Day 8: Friendship

The friends we make in life are priceless, and today’s the perfect day to be grateful for those relationships and think about how they’ve improved your life. (Special shout-out to Caroline, one of the amazing online friends I’ve made!)

Day 9: Wonder

When you stop and think about it, life is pretty crazy. Out of all possible scenarios, here you are, in this life, being you. Spend time today pondering the wonder-filled things in your life.

Day 10: Art

Another topic Caroline and I are both passionate about: art! You need not be an artist to appreciate art -- either in the traditional gallery sense or in everyday life. What does the word “art” mean to you? How do you experience it?

Day 11: Memory

I usually try to keep my mind in the present, but there’s something wonderful about looking back on positive experiences. Today, turn your focus to one of your favorite memories and reflect on why it’s so meaningful for you.

Day 12: Work

If you love what you do, this one will come easily, but even if you don’t enjoy your career, it’s possible to make the connection between work and gratitude. Use today to focus on the positive aspects of the work you do (even if it’s just a paycheck!).

Day 13: Kindness

Today -- World Kindness Day -- is the perfect time to focus on how thankful you are for the kindness you’ve experienced (or shared!) in your life. In addition to snapping a photo today, consider adding a kind act to your to-do list.

Day 14: Joy

What brings you joy might completely different from what make me happy, but that’s the beauty of pleasure, isn’t it? We all find it in unique places! Consider, today, what brings you joy and why you find it so enjoyable.

Day 15: Gift

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes -- from a thoughtful present given to you by a friend to a unique talent you possess. Contemplate the gifts you’ve given and received and highlight your favorite.

Day 16: Comfort

Regardless of the form in which comfort arrives, it’s always such a welcome guest.  Today, focus on your favorite form of comfort. Do you love the physical comfort of a hug or a blanket, or is emotional comfort (a good listener, wise advice) your go-to?

Day 17: Peace

Peace is something we all deserve, but it’s not always easily attained. Consider the last time you felt truly at peace. What made you feel that way? Could you recreate that feeling today?

Day 18: Routine

As you might know, I’m a huge creature of habit, and I’m very grateful for the routines in my life. What routines do you stick to? What do you love about them? Appreciating the more mundane aspects of life can be a great mood-booster!

Day 19: Stillness

Most of us live pretty busy lives, and stillness isn’t always something we make room for. Take a moment for stillness today and pay attention to how it feels. Focus on things, people, or situations that make it easy for you to stay still.

Day 20: Beauty

If you pay close attention, you can find beauty almost anywhere. Today, make seeking beauty your goal. Strive to find something beautiful in every situation, and share as much beauty as you can with others.

Day 21: Challenge

The struggles we face makes us stronger and better. Today, be grateful for the challenges you’ve encountered in your life, and, if you’re in the midst of a difficult period, be thankful for the lessons you’re learning.

Day 22: Health

Health is one of the obvious “you should be grateful for…” things, but that’s because it really is so easy to take it for granted. Consider and be thankful for all of the ways in which your mind or body is working well today.

Day 23: Progress

You’ve come a long way since the day you were born, and today is a great day to think about all of the progress you’ve made. What are the accomplishments you’re most proud of? What have overcome or survived?

Day 24: Family

No matter what “family” means to you -- whether it’s blood relatives, a partner, your friends, or all of the above -- it’s a wonderful thing to have. Be thankful for your families today and, if possible, share that gratitude with them.

Day 25: Nourishment

What nourishes your mind, body, or spirit? Pay attention to the things that provide you with energy, enjoyment, or excitement, and be appreciative of the ways they have added value to your life.

Day 26: Wisdom

We all encounter wisdom regularly, but what is some of the wisdom that sticks with you? Where do you gain the greatest insights? Direct your attention to (and celebrate!) the wisdom you’ve come across.

Day 27: Season

Just like the weather, the seasons can have a great impact on us emotionally. In which season do you feel as if you thrive? Observe life’s seasons today, and be grateful for those you’ve been able to experience.

Day 28: Pleasure

So much of what we’re fortunate enough to have in our lives would be considered a luxury in many places. Focus, today, on something that you enjoy purely for pleasure, and be thankful for life’s little indulgences.

Day 29: Attitude

You have the power to choose your attitude at any time, no matter what the circumstances. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Be grateful for your own attitude-choosing abilities and reflect on the attitude you’d like to experience most often.

Day 30: Self

No matter where / what / why / when / how, the one thing you can always count on having in your life is yourself. Spend the day reflecting on your positive traits and embracing the amazingness that is YOU.

 

THE GIVEAWAY

So excited to announce that this year’s Challenge includes an amazing giveaway! Here's what you can enter to win. See the rules below! 

  Gratitude Giveaway 


How to Enter

Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry!   


Giveaway Details

  • Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
  • Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances
  • The winner will be chosen + notified on December 1, 2016
  • The winner will receive the items shown in the image above