Chasing Slow (Online) + a GIVEAWAY!

Thinking Living

 

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Erin Loechner's Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path. I receive a lot of books in the mail, but I only write about them here in special cases -- and this is definitely one of those cases. I'd seen the book around online for weeks, popping up in various Instagram feeds and mentioned in articles and podcasts, but I wasn't sure if it was a book for me. I've loved Erin's work on Design for Mankind for years, but I was nervous that the religious elements of the book wouldn't resonate with me, a childless, agnostic atheist. But as I kept noticing it more and more places -- and kept getting drawn to the title and the book's beautiful, simple aesthetic -- I decided I needed to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. 

Not only is the book beautifully designed, including beautiful photos and little journal prompts throughout, but it's also incredibly inspiring, especially for anyone who spends a lot of time online (like bloggers) or on your phone (like most of us). The book covers a variety of topics -- blogging, success, motherhood, mindfulness, work/life balance, and more -- but one of the topics that resonated most with me is the topic of social media. You might have read my post, Inspired Unfollowing: A Week of Conscious Content Choice, earlier this year, and so you know I'm thinking a lot social media and how it can impact the amount of positivity in your life. 

In the book, Erin writes about how she learned that "thinking about living is not the same as living." Those words -- particularly in relation to social media -- really hit home with me. When we're online -- whether it's reading blog posts, checking email, scrolling through social media, reading news, etc. -- we're, for the most part, thinking and consuming, rather than living and doing. Through the book, Erin brings up the question What am I looking for? and when I read those words, I was stopped in my tracks because one thing I love about my online life is the looking. I love that I can find almost anything I'm looking for at almost any time. I love that, in that looking, I've found newness: new friends, new items, new ideas, etc. I love the hunt. But, as Erin so wisely writes:  

The same hunger that seeks community, togetherness, discovery, and expression also roars with pride — with self-doubt, comparison, envy, loneliness. Online, we fed ourselves both.

For every force, there is an opposing force. Though the online world is amazing and inspiring at times, it's also uncharted and overwhelming at times. It's both wonderful and terrible. We spend so much time looking, and, as Erin writes, "Sometimes, when we're looking for what we want, we find what we need." In reading Erin's book, that's what happened to me. When I picked up the book, I was looking for information on how to take some of the stress out of my life, but I found something else: and important reminder and incredibly insightful wisdom on how I'm using technology in my life. 

Her words on Pinterest -- my most popular social media platform -- were particularly eye-opening for me. (If you're not a Pinterest fan, imagine that this is about a different platform, or whatever aspect of life you turn to to see what "perfect" looks like.)

Pinterest has, in a few short years, become an addicting escape, and impossible standard, an invaluable resource. A synonym for perfect... Who could've seen the downside as we pressed our noses to the screen, eyes widening with wonder, watching as our dreams scrolled by, pin after pin after pin? Who could've known that more isn't what we truly need? You could've known that more would make us feel like less?

Seeking more -- more information, more followers, more inspiration, more perfection -- almost always makes us feel like less because, after all, when you're seeking more, you're essentially saying, Right now is not enough. And, on a more personal level, I am not enough. 

This feeling becomes amplified when you work online. You begin, as Erin writes, "to see yourself as one dimensional, a girl on the screen." For many bloggers and online creators, there's a huge gap between the images on the screen and the real person behind those images (as anyone who knows me in real life knows well!). To keep up with what we do, bloggers need to be online and on social media. But finding balance (particularly for those like me, who have strongly addictive personalities) online and on social media is incredibly challenging. 

When your personal identity is so intricately linked with your online presence, this becomes even more complex. Erin writes, "Identity is a powerful force. We rarely see ourselves as others do, and we often view the world — our own, someone else's — through a distorted lens." We want to believe that who we are is not what we do online, but the more time you spend online, the more the line between our identity and our technology becomes blurred. At one point in the book, Erin is writing about Adam and Eve and she says, "In the pursuit of knowledge, they lost wisdom. In the pursuit of themselves, they lost themselves." To me, this says a lot about who we are now, at this point in society. So many of us are seeking some validation or understanding of ourselves online, and, frustratingly, we still feel misunderstood. Erin writes: 

I do feel misunderstood, but the one doing the misunderstanding is me. The one doing the misunderstanding is the one who wrongly assumed my social media profile and smiling square image must perfectly capture who I am. That my presence online must perfectly match my present off-line. That who I am is what I do, that my outsides match my insides...

...But what do we know of comparing our self to ourselves? What do we know of comparing our richest reality to the one-dimensional screen? What do we know a flattening our identities so they can be cropped, manipulated, forced into one-liners and profile explanations?

This whole online world -- and how it relates to who we are and who we'll become as a society -- is still so new, relative to the whole of humanity. But, with the ever-growing online world, something honest, something true is being lost. When I read these words in the book -- "On a good day, I tell the truth on Instagram.… But on most days, I don't write what I think in that moment. I write what I think others expect me to think in that moment." -- I found myself sighing deeply in recognition. As Erin puts it, "Our culture is prone to concealing what is.… Under-the-rug sweeping is the default." Social media only exaggerates this tendency of ours to push away the imperfect. Social media is often criticized for being an addictive, mindless, time-suck, but, as Erin puts it, that's not the true danger: 

The dangers of social media or far subtler than the distraction, than the addiction, than the habits we form by scrolling through screens multiple times a day... social media has encouraged us to crop out the contradictions in ourselves. It has caused us to airbrush the parts of our lives we don't love about ourselves. It has caused us to sweep our personalities — whether too big or too small — under a Moroccan Pinterest rug in the name of a consistent social media presence. In the name of online optimism.

The most worrisome aspect of social media isn't the time we spend on it or even the sometimes soul-crushing comparisons we make between the screens and our real lives. The most problematic aspect of social media is what it does to our personal identities when it encourages us to crop and summarize and condense who we are into a limited amount of space. Social media can feel spacious -- a variety of platforms from which we can see the world and connect globally -- but it's actually incredibly restrictive. We are not flat, square images. We are not black text on a white screen. We are endless shapes and colors and moods and feelings. We are complex and intricate and mysterious. We are gloriously imperfect shades of gray. Erin writes: 

Excepting that we are gray, that we are flawed, that we are a great many things, is one of the most difficult parts of today's information society. We are taught that knowledge is power, that what we do not yet know can be explained and placed in a box on the shelf, lid sealed until further notice. We spend our time on social networks attempting to condense our personalities into tiny profile boxes, trying to verbalize intricacies within flattened screens.

The intricacies of who we are as people cannot be accurately conveyed through a screen, no matter how many images, words, or videos we share. Our truest selves will always be present only in real life, and only in the ever-shifting day-to-day interactions and thoughts and emotions we have. We can do our best to tick of boxes and define who we are, but no definition will ever be enough to encapsulate the whole of who you truly are. As Erin so wisely puts it: "We are not either/ors. We are both/ands."

All of this online / social media stuff is just one aspect of this amazing book. In reading it, you'll not only gain insights into Erin's story (which, I feel, many people will relate to in some way -- whether it's as a blogger, a parent, a friend, a spouse, or just a person trying to make the most of what she's been given in this life), but you'll also gain tons of unexpected inspiration. I really enjoyed reading it, and I'm so glad I picked it up. (A reminder that, just because something doesn't necessarily tick off all of the boxes you identify with, it doesn't mean it won't teach you amazing things.) I'd highly recommend you read it, and I'm so thankful that Erin's publisher has agreed to give away a copy! 

  Chasing Slow


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
  • Winner will be chosen + notified on February 27, 2017
  • Giveaway open to US residents only

 


The Great 8 Challenge + 8 Years of Blogging!

 

See Something
 

February 14 marks eight years since I wrote my first blog post on Positively Present! It's been an amazing ride so far, and I can't wait to see where things go from here. In celebration, I'm going to be sharing eight great things that have happened since that day I wrote my first post. But first, I wanted to challenge you to do something this week. Don't worry -- it's easy, and it'll actually feel really great! 

 

THE GREAT 8 CHALLENGE

As I was writing this post in celebration of the past eight years and reflecting on how grateful I am to have this experience, I was reminded of my ultimate goal (as a writer and as a human): to somehow make the world a little bit better. I know I'm not alone in this. Most of us want to make the world better, but sometimes that task can feel daunting.

If I've learned one thing over the past eight years, it's that little things can make a big difference. This week, I encourage you to give the Great 8 Challenge a try. It's simple: all you have to do is give eight compliments. Yep, that's it! If you see someone wearing something you like, tell him/her. If you read something that inspires you, email the author. If you you spot a post on Instagram you love, write a comment. 

It might seem small, especially in a world where we need grand gestures of kindness and compassion, but a positive word has a ripple effect. After all, think about the last compliment you received. Didn't it just feel so great to hear someone say something nice to you? And think about the last time you gave a compliment. That felt pretty great too, didn't it? Those great feelings can multiply. A compliment might feel like a small thing, but it ultimately can have a great big impact. 

This week, if you see something beautiful / inspiring / amazing / cool, say something. Aim for eight compliments, but go for more if you can! 

 

POSITIVELY PRESENT'S GREAT 8

And, now, on to eight great things about Positively Present!

Now, this might seem like I'm tooting my own horn, writing about eight great things about my own blog, but here's the thing: a blog is bigger than the person that writes it. As much as I use this platform as a tool to share my words and art, it's been greatly influenced by the readers. When I'm writing, I'm thinking about you. In fact, when I'm living, I'm often thinking about you, imagining how I can turn my life into something more positive, more present, more self-loving to share with you. So, yes, there's an element of horn-tooting here, but none of these things would have happened without your engagement, interest, and input. 

Here are eight great things that've happened (and I've learned from) since February 14, 2009. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being with me and helping making these things happen. I hope that reading about them will inspire you, too! 

 

  1. PP GOT ME OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. 

    If you've been following since the beginning, you might recall how shy I was at first. It took me two months to even mention my first name! I'm not a shy person in real life (though I am incredibly introverted!), but online it took a lot of courage for me to come out of my little comfort zone and open about who I was. Since then, I've come a long way -- sharing more personal information, opening up about tough topics, and connecting with readers in real life. I still struggle with venturing out of my comfort zone at times, but Positively Present continues to inspire me to try new things. 


  2. PP PROVED ALL THE HATERS WRONG. 

    I don't have a lot of haters, but there are some people in my life (and even a little voice in my own head) who didn't think I could do what I'd always wanted to do -- be an independent writer not answering to a boss or going into an office every day. Through the power of the internet, I've been able to make my ideal work scenario a reality. I used to spend nights crying about going into the office, and I remember one guy in particular saying something along the lines of, "That's life. Get used to it." Because of this site, I didn't have to get used to living a life I hated. 


  3. PP MADE MY LIFE-LONG DREAM COME TRUE. 

    Not only did Positively Present give me the opportunity to live a work life outside of the box, but it also provided a platform on which I was able to make my life-long dream come true: publishing a book! Not only did I write and publish a book, but so far I've written six of them! If you want to check them out, here they are: Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, The Positively Present Guide to Life, Living in the Moment, Gratitude, Compassion, and Forgiveness. Plus, I'm working on a new one right now and I'm SO excited to share it soon! 


  4. PP TAUGHT ME TO FAIL + BE OKAY WITH IT. 

    As with any career path, I've had some major highs and lows. Because this isn't a traditional job, it's been a lot of trial and error (and it's still a work-in-progress!). I've spent hours and hours on e-books that no one bought. I've poured my heart and soul into blog posts that few people read. I've spent money on ideas and products that never quite gave me a return on my investment. Working for myself is hard. There are lots of failures that, thinking about now, make me cringe a bit. But I've learned to bounce back, to be resilient, and to learn from the failures. 


  5. PP INSPIRED ME TO LEARN NEW THINGS. 

    And, speaking of learning, one of the absolute greatest things that's happened as a result of this blog is the opportunity and desire I had to explore graphic design. It was something that had always interested me, but I never thought I could do it since I hadn't studied it in school. Because of Positively Present, I sought out online classes, spent countless hours learning, and now have my own little design business! If you want to work with me, check out DaniDiPirro.com for more info and my portfolio. 


  6. PP CONNECTED ME WITH AMAZING PEOPLE. 

    One thing almost every blogger can agree on is that blogging is an amazing opportunity to connect with people around the world. Whether it's someone from across the globe emailing me about a blog post I wrote or connecting in real life with people in my blogging industry, one of the most amazing things that's happened as a result of Positively Present is that I've created meaningful connections with so many wonderful, creative, soulful, inspiring people. I will be forever grateful for everyone I've met as a result of this site. 


  7. PP HELPED ME BECOME MORE ME. 

    One of the most thrilling aspects of running a site that is 100% my own is that it's an on-going act of self-love and self-exploration. In sharing my words and work with you, I'm learning more about myself every day. Through Positively Present, I've been given a unique opportunity to help others improve their lives while also greatly improving my own. With every blog post, I learn something new. With every Instagram post, I discover a new kind of creativity. Every lesson learned is a gift I'll be forever thankful for. 


  8. PP CHANGE HOW I SEE THE WORLD. 

    Of course, most importantly, Positively Present has changed how I see every single aspect of my life. While, admittedly, I'm not positive and present every moment of every day, I strive for it constantly and I'm always asking myself, "What would I tell my readers?" This question is simple, but it's had a profound impact on my life. It's helped me enjoy and embrace life's highs, and it's helped me survive life's lows. The work I do impacts my mind (and life!) every single day, and that's certainly not something I expected when I started it eight years ago! 


This site has changed me for the better in so many ways, and I'm thankful for it every single day. More than that, though, I'm thankful for YOU. Thank you for reading, for engaging, for being with me today and in the past. I know how many options there are when it comes to reading online content, and every moment you spend on this site is kind of a miracle. Thank you for being here, for reading this, and for taking the time to make your life a more positive, present place. 

Now, get out there and spread that positivity with those eight great compliments! :) 

 

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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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Why You Should Read Your Horoscope (Even You Think It's Nonsense)

 

Stars

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved any and all kinds of fortune-telling. As a kid, I’d dutifully read my horoscope in The Washington Post before I went off to school each morning. Every time my family ordered Chinese food, the main attraction for me was the fortune cookie. (I’d always take the first one I touched or saw, reasoning that it must be the one meant for me.) I'd peruse the Astrology aisle at Super Crown and B. Dalton, flipping through pages until I found information on my sign. (In later years, I'd do the same, making sure to check the sign of my latest crush as well.)

Though I'm older and (a little bit) wiser now, I'm still fascinated with all kinds of fortune-related things: astrology, tarot cards, fortune cookies, and even psychics (I've yet to visit one, but every time I drive by a sign, I feel a little tug of curiosity...). As much as I'm fascinated by these things, I've also spent most of my life flip-flopping on the validity of them. In my heart, I want to believe horoscopes are written by people who understand deep meanings held in the stars, but my logical brain reminds me that horoscopes are written every day around the world and certainly not all of these people could have some sort of deep understanding of how balls of fire in the sky relate to human lives. 

And, yet, even with all of the knowledge in the world, I can't quite turn away from horoscopes. I can see both sides: the logic and the heart, a tell-tale trait of my Leo/Virgo cusp star sign, haha! (I wrote this line as a joke, but then when I found a link to explain it, I was once again blown away with how accurate it is, which, I suppose, brings me to my point...) I believe individual, daily horoscopes are fictional, but I'm not entirely sure that astrology as a whole is completely made up (here's an article with arguments as to why it should be taken seriously).

Regardless of whether or not I believe in the validity of astrology, I still reach for them constantly, and with excitement, which is an odd thing to do since everything else I read is clearly marked as fiction or fact (or, at least, it seems that way for the most part). The whole "fact" concept has gotten a big makeover lately, with all kinds of untrue or inaccurate things being published, and it's made me think a lot about what it means when it comes to things like astrology. As I was reading my horoscope last week, I had to pause and ask myself, “Why am I doing this? What do I get out of it if I don't really believe it's true?” (After all, this is my Year of Self-Love, and I’ve found that one of the most important, self-loving things I can do is pay attention to things I do and try to discover why I might be doing them.)

Every time I read my horoscope, I’m torn between the between facts (I know it’s been written by a normal human just like me, even if that person does know more about astrology than I do) and feelings (there’s just something so satisfying about reading something that makes you feel understood or provides guidance seemingly tailored for you!). I’ve never really known what do about this “facts vs. feelings” inner dialogue so I’ve mostly ignored it, reading my horoscope when I wanted to, taking from it what I needed, and shushing the part of my brain that piped up, “But this is just nonsense some random person wrote!” All this changed a couple weeks ago when, in the midst of a little self-love reflection, I had one of those a-ha! moments.

I finally understood why I love horoscopes and fortunes so much — and why it actually doesn’t matter that they’re not factual. The reason many of us love horoscopes — regardless of whether or not we believe in them — isn’t because of the specific guidance or insight they provide. It’s because, no matter what is written, we take away from it what we need. Horoscopes provide insights not because they’re so insightful, but because they prompt us to think about how the words — whatever they might be — apply to our lives.

Horoscopes get us thinking about our lives in ways we might not when reading, for example, the news or a fiction book. They claim to be tailored to us specifically and, as a result, we’re constantly looking to agree with or disagree with them. And that alone — the desire to find meaning or to discredit them — is a unique kind of soul-searching, introspective experience. It tells us more about what we feel, what we want to believe, or what we think is true than if we didn’t pause and read them. Of course, we can get these benefits from reading other things as well— self-help or inspirational books, in particular — but not everyone will take the time to do that. (I know you probably would, since you’re reading this article, but not everyone has the time or interest for soul-searching, even though everyone benefits from it.)

So, here's my thinking. We should read horoscopes, even if it's just for the opportunity to do a tiny bit of soul-searching. If you already read your horoscope, use tarot cards, see a psychic, etc., keep at it — but strive to be mindful of your responses what you read, see, and hear. (Remember: your responses tell you much more than the words or images ever could!) Rather than simply taking the words and moving on with your day, sit with them for a minute and ask yourself why you agree or disagree with what’s in front of you. Doing that is where the value is — not in the content itself.

And if you don’t read your horoscope because you think it’s made up (it is), you think tarot cards are for witches and hippies (stop judging!), or you believe psychics are just scammers (perhaps...), consider giving it a try and see how you feel. Remember the value is not about what’s in front of you; it’s about how you react to it. As Shakespeare once wrote, "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." We control our destinies, but we can actually learn more about what we want that destiny to be by looking at messages from the stars. 

For those looking to expand or begin a fortune-seeking practice, here are a few recommendations:

  

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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

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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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