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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The Ultimate Book Gift Guide

 

Books-Are-Magic

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Like these words? Download I Believe Books!)

 

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

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

  

FOR ADULT FAMILY MEMBERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR KIDS AND TEENAGERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR YOUR FRIENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR YOUR COLLEAGUES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

I-Believe-Books


How to Make Your Life Uncommonly Good

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

A-Wear-Ness: Mindfulness + What You Wear

 

Awearness
 

When you think of mindfulness, your wardrobe probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind, but your fashion choices (even if you don't think your attire falls in the "fashion" category) impact your life more than you might realize. Like it or not, what you wear influences how others see you and how you feel about yourself. “Enclothed cognition” is the scientific definition for how your style and clothing choices reflect and affect your mood, health, and confidence. And, of course, those things — mood, health, confidence — greatly influence how you see the world and how you live your life. 

Fashion has always been of interest to me (I even contemplated on majoring in it in college before I transferred to a school that didn't have a fashion program!), but I've avoided talking too much about it because it seemed too materialistic or superficial for Positively Present. A few weeks ago I read an article on The Numinous, "Fashion as Self-Love," about KE7H3R designer Janelle Corpuz Hethcoat, and it made me realize that fashion and mindfulness are, in fact, very much related. 

Fashion — just like all aspects of our lives — can (and should!) be a mindful practice. I've been thinking about the correlation between fashion and mindfulness a lot lately and I've decided to call this mindful practice of buying and wearing clothing a-wear-ness. I even created a little acronym (W.E.A.R.) to help you understand and practice a-wear-ness in your own life. 

 

WEAR WHAT SPEAKS TO YOU

In this first aspect of a-wear-ness, it's important to consider your personal style and your lifestyle. (I wear sweatpants 90% of the time, but that certainly wouldn't work if I had a typical corporate job!). This step also involves carefully considering what (and how often!) you're purchasing new things. Yes, buying something new feels great, but that feeling is fleeting. Instead of seeking that brand-new-outfit rush, be thoughtful about what you buy and strive to purchase only the things that truly speak to you.  

"Fashion becomes a self-love practice when you can honestly answer the question: does wearing this make me feel like I can be myself?" said Janelle Corpuz Hethcoat, and I couldn't agree with those words more. What you wear impacts how you feel, which is why it's important to wear things that make you feel good (regardless of whether they're cool or on-trend). First and foremost, pay attention to what styles you like and what's comfortable for you, but also be open to new styles, too. (No one ever feels that great when they're stuck in a fashion rut!)

Personally, I'm all for following fashion trends (these days I almost always have a choker on, I've got a new bomber jacket on the way to me right now, and I'm definitely on board with the fanny pack!), but I don't believe in wearing something just because it's on-trend. If you like it and it happens to be a trend, go for it! But if you want to focus on a-wear-ness, it's essential to wear only the things you love — things that make you smile, feel comfortable, or give you confidence — regardless of how "fashionable" they are. 

 

EVALUATE AND EDIT

Vivienne Westwood once said, "Buy less, choose well, make it last." Those are some very wise words, and they go hand-in-hand with the concept of a-wear-ness. 

Over the past few years, I've been hearing more about the capsule wardrobe, which consists of a owning fixed amount of well-made pieces that can be worn interchangeably rather than a closet filled with items you might only wear once. While I've yet to personally adopt this fashion model, I do edit my closet each season, getting rid of the items I no longer love or wear and donating them to someone who might make use of them.

Choosing a minimalist approach to your style and consciously curating your wardrobe means you're attention is on what you have instead of constantly seeking out new items to buy. This is not only good for your wallet and peace of mind (fewer options = less time stressing about what to wear), but it's also a great way to practice gratitude too because you learn to deeply appreciate the items you already possess rather than seeking new ones. 

If you're not sure how to do this, start by making a list of the clothing you actually wear often and take note of why you wear it. Does it feel comfortable? Does it make you happy? Did it come from a meaningful place or person? Take note of the styles, colors, fabrics, etc. you're drawn to (and the ones you're not, so you know what not to purchase in the future!). 

A great way to put this into practice is to create fashion vision board, like my Closet Cravings board on Pinterest. Doing this serves two important purposes: (1) it gives you great insight into your personal style, and (2) it provides a place for you to save items you like without immediately purchasing them. Pin them to your board and then come back later to see if you do, in fact, feel they are items that will add to your a-wear-ness

 

ASSESS THE SOURCE

Where your clothing comes from is important, and contemplating the creation and manufacturing of the items you purchase is a big part of a-wear-ness. The energy that goes into the clothing you wear can have an impact on you, whether you realize it or not. As Janelle Corpuz Hethcoat put it:

Think about the energy that is put behind creating what you are placing on your body as your expression and reflection of yourself. Everything, even fashion, is a transference of energy. When you choose products that are made ethically, you are showing loving concern for the world, which in turn is an act of self-love — because in saying that the rest of the humans on this planet deserve better you are also saying you deserve better.

While I won't deny that I love a good fast-fashion find, I also realize how important it is to consider where your items come from and do your best to make conscious choices. Cultivate a-wear-ness by researching wear your clothing is made and how it is done. And, if possible, try to buy from local or small businesses.   

Also, it's very important not to buy items that feature designs stolen from small businesses. There's been a huge, unfortunate trend of big brands stealing from smaller designers (see Shop Art Theft), and I'm pretty sure stolen designs aren't going to have the best karma. Putting things on your body that are made ethically (and not stolen from others!) is a great way to cultivate a-wear-ness. 

 

REVAMP WHAT YOU OWN

This last point ties in with the second one. If you choose to have a wardrobe filled with a thoughtfully curated selection of items you love (and actually wear!), you might, at times, get a bit bored with your wardrobe. But a-wear-ness doesn't have to be boring! The trick is to learn how to revamp your wardrobe in little ways so it feels fresh even when you don't go out and buy every new trendy item on the rack. 

First, it's important to make sure you care for the items you own and repair them when you can. It can be really useful to know how to sew and mend so you can revamp your items if they wear down. (If you're not the mending type, identify where you can take items that need to be fixed so you can keep them looking nice instead of purchasing new ones). 

In addition to keeping your items it tiptop shape, you can also revamp your wardrobe in a big way with small accessories. Accessories allow you to change-up your look without buying a brand new set of clothes each season, and they give you a bit of customization that allow you to share a little bit of  personality with the world. Not sure how to customize? First, check to see what you already own and consider how you might wear it with different outfits. If you're in the mood to add a little something to your closet, consider adding a pin (like my Less Hate, More Love one!) to your collar or investing in jewelry that has interchangeable elements (i.e., different watch bands or charms on a necklace).   

Revamping your wardrobe with little things is not only a great way to cut down on clothing costs, but it's a great way to practice a-wear-ness by tapping into your creativity and identifying items that refresh your look. 

 

Whether or not you give much thought to what you wear, I hope you enjoyed learning about the concept of a-wear-ness. Fashion might sound frivolous, but what you wear does matter, both in the greater ethical, environmental sense, and in the personal, self-love sense. Appearances aren't everything (it's what's inside that really matters!), but fashion is a great way to express your personality, play with your creativity, and increase your confidence. The more a-wear-ness you practice, the more mindful and self-aware you'll become. 

 

 

A big THANK YOU to the sponsor of this post, Fanny Factory! Fanny Factory is a fashion company on a mission to bring back the fanny pack! They have taken the classic 90s-era fanny packs and made them cool again with a huge variety of fun patterns – from tropical pineapples, to flamingos, to retro paint splatters and pink florals – there’s something for everyone! Perfect for music festivals, exercising and traveling: the fanny pack is back! Get your new favorite accessory at FannyFactory.com. 

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SLT: 4 Steps for Using Song Lyrics as Therapy

 

Lyrics-Emotional-Postcards
 

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

 

Song Lyrics

 

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

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

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

  

STEP 1:
COMPILE A PLAYLIST 

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

 

STEP 2:
GET INTO THE GROOVE

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

 

STEP 3:
WRITE THE WORDS

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

 

STEP 4:
MAKE TIME TO REFLECT

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

 

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

 

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

 

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