6 self-love lessons from alice in wonderland (part I)


All images © Walt Disney Studios

I'm a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland -- the book, the films, and especially the 1951 Disney film. I've written about it quite a few times  Wonderland Wisdom: 8 Life Lessons from Alice, How to Reclaim Your Muchness, Revisiting Your Muchness: 5 Steps to Reclaim Who You Were), and it was even the reason I published The Positively Present Guide to Life! (My publisher originally discovered my site via one of my Alice articles. So awesome!) Not only did my love for Alice enhance my career, but it's also had a pretty important impact on the way I think about life. (As have many other Disney films -- fun fact: I wrote my graduate school thesis on Disney films!)

With the release of the new Disney film, Through the Looking Glass, I've been planning to write another Alice-themed article for months. And, after recently releasing my self-love stickers, I've had a love of self-love on the brain so I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find any good self-love lessons in Alice's adventures. I was pleasantly surprised to find tons of them, but I narrowed it down to the top six. Here are some of the best bits of wisdom from Alice's tumble down the rabbit hole.

(Note: these are all from the Disney film, which varies a bit from the original book. If you haven't seen the film or aren't familiar with the story, the general idea is this: Alice, a restless young girl, falls down a rabbit hole and enters a magical world. There she encounters an odd assortment of characters, including the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar, and a garden of talking flowers. The tale focuses on Alice's adventures in Wonderland and, ultimately, on her quest to find her way home. If you're interested in reading/watching Alice, check the end of the post for links to my favorite Alice-related works!)





Alice: If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

At the beginning of the film, Alice sits with her cat, Dinah, musing about what it would be like if she had a world of her own. She's restless and bored with her school lessons and longs for a world with more fancifulness and magic, a world in which things would be very different from how they are in the real world. How many of us have had a moment like Alice's, where we sat imagining how things could be different? While we might not have daydreamed about talking flowers or cats wearing trousers (but, let's be serious, clothed cats sounds pretty adorable...), we've imagined how we might want things to be different. And, believe it or not, this is actually an act of self-love. Yes, self-love does involve acceptance and staying in the present moment, but it also includes envisioning what we'd like for ourselves in the future -- what an ideal life would look like. Imagining a life we want to lead is actually a very brave act because it means facing the fact that things aren't always perfect and, if we'd like to be fulfilled and happy, we might actually have to make some changes (gulp!).

A great lesson we can all take from Alice is embracing our imaginations, considering what an ideal world would look like for us -- and, most importantly, going after it. While I wouldn't recommend following a rabbit down a rabbit hole, as Alice did, it's interesting to consider how Alice's daydream turned into a reality when she took action. Also worth noting is that not everything Alice envisioned turned out to be how she imagined it would be (See Lesson 4!). So, while it's important to tap into your imagination, envision what you'd like your world to look like, and take action toward your goals, it's also a good idea to recognize that things won't always turn out how you imagined (or, if they do, they might not be as fulfilling as you would have thought). This idea isn't meant to discourage you from pursuing your dreams, but to inspire you to find a balance between bravely envisioning the future and realizing that the future, however it arrives, will require acceptance. 





Alice: Well, after this I should think nothing of falling down stairs.

Maintaining a positive attitude when the world around you feels crazy is quite challenging, but Alice is one of the best examples of someone who faces strange and unusual adversity while remaining optimistic and hopeful. Can you imagine tumbling down a rabbit hole, through a seemingly endless tunnel filled with furniture and knickknacks and books and thinking to yourself, "After this, I should think nothing of falling down stairs!" I don't know about you, but I'd probably be screaming, eyes shut, and thinking to myself, "I'm going to die when I hit the ground. This is the end. Oh my god. Oh my god." Not Alice though! She's not only completely trusting that she'll land on her feet (despite never having fallen down a rabbit hole before!), but she's also thinking about how this strange experience will help her stay positive the next time she goes through something less challenging: falling down the stairs. (The fact that she has this idea at all is a bit concerning though. I mean, how often does she fall down stairs?!)

In this scene, and countless others in the film, Alice is faced with adversity and strangeness. Rather than get upset, frustrated, or angry, she generally tries to see the good in the situation and take a positive stance on whatever she's experiencing. She notes something positive in the present moment or, as she does in this particular scene, she takes note of how she could use her current experience to stay positive in the future. While she does have moments where characters or situations test her patience, throughout the film she generally remains hopeful and optimistic -- in spite of having just fallen down a rabbit hole into a strange land where nothing makes sense! The next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, try to imagine how Alice would look at it. How would Alice view the difficult coworkers you have to cope with? How would she cope with the nonsensical aggression of a driver on the road? Though we don't live in Wonderland, a lot of what we encounter in everyday life can seem confusing and frustrating. When tough situations (or people!) come your way, ask yourself, "How would Alice find the good in this?" Because, when it comes down to it, positivity is an act of self-love. 




Alice: Better look first, for if one drinks much from a bottle marked "Poison," it's almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later.

After arriving in Wonderland, Alice is encouraged by the Doorknob to drink from a bottle. Though Alice is only a young girl, she paused before taking a sip, reciting the quote above. What inspired me about this scene is Alice's mindfulness about what she's consuming. When it comes to our bodies and minds, we often have control about what we consume -- and what we consume can have a big impact on how we feel, think, and act. Whether we're talking about the food we eat, the substances we intake, or the media we watch/read, everything we consume contributes to the way we feel about ourselves. Though Alice probably isn't aware of this when making this statement, the words "better look first" are powerful when it comes to self-love. 

Before you consume something -- eat a meal, uncork a bottle, swallow a pill, pull up a website, open a book, turn on the TV, or make a purchase -- think about how it will make you feel. Will you feel better after you consume it? Will it make you happier, more fulfilled, more successful, more at peace? And, for how long will it do that? Some things make us feel really good in the moment, but terrible later. While I'm all about staying present, sometimes you have to consider how you present consumption will impact your future emotional state. Taking a moment to pause before consuming and consider the consequences can lead to more positive choices and more self-loving acts.


Clearly, Alice knows a lot about self-love! I bet you had no idea you could learn so many great self-love tips from a Disney character, did you? The best tips are still to come. Stay tuned for PART II next week! And, if you haven't seen / read Alice in awhile and want to check it out, here are some of my favorite Alice-related things:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (original 1865 edition)

Through the Looking Glass (original 1872 edition)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Rifle Paper Co. illustrated edition)

Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland (Little Golden Book edition)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Salvador Dali illustrated edition)

Disney Alice in Wonderland score (the weird, wonderful soundtrack!)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Yayoi Kusama illustrated edition)

The Annotated Alice (annotated and illustrated edition)

Alice in Wonderland (1951 animated film)

Alice in Wonderland (2010 live-action film)


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positively present picks: may 20, 2016

Image via Buzzfeed on Snapchat (Follow me @positivepresent!)



“If you do not change direction,
you may end up where you are heading.” 

Lao Tzu

Self-Love Stickers!! : so happy about the response on these! get yours here

6 Experts on True Happiness : honored to be considered an expert! ;) 

Good Vibes Tank : absolutely love this shirt from newly-launched Oui Fresh

Dating Troubles? : here's why you might not have met the one yet

This Moment is Enough : how to deal with feelings of not-enoughness

5 Ways to Stop Overthinking : so you can make good, quick decisions

The Honest Kitchen : sent me a ton of dog treats + Barkley lovvves them 

Top 50 Inspiration Blogs : also so honored to be on this list :)

Celebrate More : guess what? you're not celebrating enough

How to Silence Your Inner Critic : less negativity, more self-love

Is Staying In the New Going Out? : very interesting NYT article

Amazon Handmade : had no idea Amazon sold handmade things. cool! 

10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Right Now : love #2 especially

The Face Everything Technique : hard to do, but so worth it 



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Can't Stop the Feeling" — Justin Timberlake
"Next Escape" — Viceroy
"U-Turn" —Tegan and Sara
"Hurt Me" — Lapsley
"Moon" — Beth Orton
"Swimming Pool"— Emmy the Great
"Magic" — Paperwhite
"Never Know" — Golden Vessel
"Talking to the Sun" — CRISTALLIN
"Yearning & Calling" — 4am



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling

It Didn't Start with You:
How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
and How to End the Cycle

Mark Wolynn

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present
Dani DiPirro

what do you need to unlearn? : 5 steps to get started



A little while back, Leann Rimes posted this Richard Rohr quote on her Instagram account: "Transformation is often more about unlearning than learning," and, as I was scrolling through my feed, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I love learning and I spend a great deal of my time, especially here on Positively Present, trying to learn more about myself and the world. But I rarely think about unlearning something -- and, now that I'm pondering it, it seems like it could be just as important as learning! Unlearning really is the key to transformation, to making those big changes in your life that can help you feel more positive and present. 

We all have things we'd be better off unlearning -- bad habits, negative thinking patterns, etc. -- but, as you might already know, unlearning is actually much more challenging than learning. Instead of simply absorbing new information, you have to remove what you already know (or change the way you think about it) and that's hard. Especially if it's been something you've been doing or thinking for years and years. 

I've outlined some steps below for how to tackle the tricky art of unlearning. I'm definitely going to be putting these steps to use myself on some behaviors that I'd like to change, and I hope you'll do the same. True transformation happens when you let go of what you no longer need, allowing space in your life for more positive, empowering habits, mindsets, and experiences! 



First, you've got to identify what you want to unlearn. What habits do you wish you didn't have? What behaviors would you love to change? What people / situations would you rather not be around? Knowing what needs to change can be challenging if you've been engaging in a behavior or way of thinking for years and years. Sometimes we're so used to doing or thinking something that it doesn't even occur to us to change it. But pause for a minute and look at the question below. What's the very first thing that comes to your mind? That's the thing you really want to unlearn -- and that's what you need to fully commit to undoing. If you don't fully commit to the unlearning process, trust me, it'll never work. 




This step goes hand-in-hand with Step 1, and it's equally as important. True growth and unlearning can only happen if you're fully committed -- and to be fully committed, you have to dig deep to answer the question: Why do I want to unlearn this? When you get to the "why," you'll have a motivating factor to keep you going when the unlearning gets hard. For example, let's say you want to unlearn negative thinking patterns related to body image. The reasons why you might want to do this could include: to feel better about yourself, to cultivate more self-love, to become a better role model for your children or friends, to be more a peace with who you are, etc. When you have that "why" question answered, you'll be able to come back to that whenever you struggle with unlearning and encourage yourself. You might even want to post this up somewhere so you can continue to feel inspired: I WANT TO UNLEARN _________________ SO THAT I CAN FEEL / EXPERIENCE / BE _________________.



One of the most difficult parts of unlearning -- or even learning! -- can be feeling so overwhelmed by a large, perhaps emotionally draining, task. The best way to handle feelings of overwhelm is to break down the problem into small steps. Make a list of small things you can do to move forward in the unlearning process. Unlearning things is hard work, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen overnight. The best way to make lasting progress is actually to start slow and keep moving forward at a gradual pace. Spend some time right now listing out ways that you might be able to start unlearning right now. For example, some steps to unlearn a habit of smoking might include: research how others have quit smoking, buy an anti-smoking patch, ask friends and family to hold you accountable, find a healthy habit to replace the bad one, etc. 


Once you're making small, positive steps in the right direction, it's time to identify what triggers you to engage in what you're trying to unlearn. While you're going about your day, pay attention to what makes you want to return to what you're trying to change. Do certain situations make you feel more anxious and lead you to negative thinking? Do certain people make you want to take up a habit you're trying to quit? Do you find yourself reacting when faced with certain emotions? Paying attention to what triggers you to behave or think a particular way is crucial for making positive unlearning progress. Once you're aware of these triggers, you can either avoid them completely or figure out ways to cope in those situations so you're less likely to return to old habits or patterns. 



One of the most positive things you can do for yourself when trying to unlearn something is offer yourself rewards whenever you make positive progress. Every time you resist doing that which you wish not to do, treat yourself. A treat might be something as simple as looking in the mirror and saying, "Good job, not doing X! You should be proud!" or it could be something like treating yourself to a new book, taking a day off from work to go to the spa, or planning a vacation. Whatever works as a reward for you, use it to reinforce your own positive behavior. Unlearning stuff is hard work and you deserve recognition! 


The act of unlearning won't come easily, but that doesn't mean the effort isn't worth it. As the quote above says, I really do believe that so much growth and transformation can come not just from learning new things, but from riding our lives of the things, habits, mindsets, and people that are no longer working for us. In many cases, unlearning needs to happen because these things are bringing negativity into our lives, but in some cases, it needs to happen simply because we have outgrown these elements. Whatever the reason, unlearning can have a powerful (and positive!) impact on your life, and I highly recommend giving these five steps a try to get started on transformation. 


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positively present picks: may 13, 2016

Image by Adam J. Kurtz. Check him out here


“Conversation enriches the understanding,
but solitude is the school of genius.”

Edward Gibbon


Self-Love Stickers!! : check them out + treat yourself to some

Give Back by Listening :  if you're a compassionate listener, check this out

Honor Your Limits : what an inspiring read about boundaries

10 Simple Ways to Learn to Like Yourself : cultivate that self-love

Radiant Life Summit Interview : listen to my thoughts on gratitude + more

Wink Pins : I met Mari this week + her pins are even cuter in person ;)

3 Reasons Why It's Okay to Let Go : it's hard but sometimes necessary

Yoga to Detox from Your Desk Job : definitely need to do some of this

Self-Love by Astrological Sign : love this little zodiac-focused breakdown

It Didn't Start with You : reading this book + it's absolutely fascinating

The Best You Interview : loved being interviewed by this magazine!

10 Ways to Lift Your Spirits When You're Having a Bad Week



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Can't Stop the Feeling" — Justin Timberlake
"Next Escape" — Viceroy
"U-Turn" —Tegan and Sara
"Hurt Me" — Lapsley
"Moon" — Beth Orton
"Swimming Pool"— Emmy the Great
"Magic" — Paperwhite
"Never Know" — Golden Vessel
"Talking to the Sun" — CRISTALLIN
"Yearning & Calling" — 4am



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Do Big Small Things
Bruce Poon Tip

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling

The Good House: A Novel
Ann Leary 

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present
Dani DiPirro

6 benefits of self-love + STICKERS



Love yourself. You've heard those words before (and not just in an amazing Justin Bieber song!), but have you ever paused to ask why you should embrace self-love? There are many reasons to love yourself, not least of which is summed up in the quote above: loving yourself changes your whole outlook on life. 

Self-love is one of the most important topics I write about here on Positively Present. I firmly believe it's the foundation for creating a positive, present life because, if you don't have love and respect for yourself, what incentive do you have for staying optimistic in the moment?

I'll go into more detail about why self-love is absolutely essential below, but before I do, I have some very exciting news... I've released my first non-book product: STICKERS




This might sound like a small thing, but I am beyond excited about this new release. For one, I've never released a non-book product before and, two, I absolutely love purchasing stationery items that make me feel inspired, so it feels amazing to have created something that will hopefully inspire others!

Here are the details about the stickers, which can be found on my Etsy shop, Twenty3:  



The 5x7 self-love sticker sheet is perfect for anyone looking for self-love and inspiration. It's also a great gift for a friend who might need a little self-love boost!

This sticker sheet features an extra special mirror sticker. Stick it on your shirt or jacket and look in the mirror for the sticker's uplifting message to be revealed!

Printed in full color, these kiss-cut stickers are perfect for planners, diaries, notes, letters, or any other place you might need a positive pick-me-up. :)

Each sheet is packaged in a cellophane packet to keep your stickers nice and clean until you're ready to use them. One (1) sheet per pack. Each sheet has eleven (11) stickers.

I'm particularly pumped about the mirror sticker idea I came up with. I've never seen a sticker designed to be read in the mirror, and I think it's an absolutely perfect way to reflect (get it -- mirror, reflect, ha!) on self-love and encouragement. I really hope you'll check out the stickers and treat yourself (or a friend!) to a bit of self-love. Go get 'em over at Etsy and come back to read more about self-love... 


... okay, now back to the benefits of self-love! I'm sure you've probably read plenty on how to cultivate self-love (if not, read some articles here), but sometimes it can be extra motivating when you know about the benefits of doing something. For example, one of the ways people stay motivated to exercise is because they're aware of its many benefits and, when they don't feel like doing it, they remind themselves of all the ways staying active will help them. Same goes for self-love. When you keep self-love's benefits in mind, you're more likely to practice it -- and it'll be much harder to treat yourself badly (or tolerate anyone else who does!). Here the the reasons you should practice self-love as often as you can: 



First and foremost, when you love yourself, you have more emotional stability (which is a very important foundation for almost every other aspect of your life). When you're focused on loving yourself, you won't seek validation or approval from others (or from society in general). As a result, you live your life according to your rules and, though others will impact the way you feel at times, you won't spend your life reacting to and being dependent on others' desires. You'll also be much more attuned to your own needs and will prioritize them. (And, no, this is not selfish. Read why here.)



In addition to the invaluable emotional stability self-love offers you, it also has the added benefit of promoting positive thinking. The way you think (and talk) about yourself greatly influences how you feel and act, even if you don't always realize it. If you're thinking wonderful, encouraging things about yourself, it's easier to have positive thoughts about others and the world around you. Additionally, maintaining a strong sense of self and cultivating self-love makes it much more difficult for negative thoughts to take over; your self-loving mind will challenge them and strive to neutralize them with positive thinking. 



You've probably heard the saying "like attracts like," and it's never been more true than when it comes to self-love. When you love who you are, you're much more likely to surround yourself with those who also love themselves -- people who are inspiring, encouraging, and empowering. Self-loving individuals don't have a need to judge or bring down others, and they don't spend time with those who do. The more you focus on loving yourself, the more you'll attract those that love themselves, and those are the kinds of people that will motivate and inspire you. 



Not only does self-love help you attract positive, inspiring people in general, but it also serves as a important foundation for romantic love. Want to attract the right kind of partner? You have to be the right kind of partner. It's going to be very challenging for others to love you if you don't love you. Additionally, self-love impacts how you treat others. The more you love yourself, the more loving you'll be -- and you'll be less like to settle for anything less than loving interactions with others. When both people love themselves, they're likely to have a more productive, positive, and meaningful relationship.  



Anyone who watches the news knows that there is a lot of violence throughout the world. :( Violence is almost always a result of inner pain, which is frequently caused by a lack of self-love. If everyone in the world loved him or herself, hate, intolerance, and violence would be minimal (if nonexistent). People who love themselves don't need to put others down, commit acts of violence, or act aggressively toward others. Even if you don't experience violence in your own life, you've probably experienced negative emotions like envy and jealousy (and maybe even hate). These feelings dissipate and disappear when you cultivate self-love. 



With self-love in place, you're more likely to have professional success for a number of reasons. For one, self-love makes you more confident, and people, particularly in the workplace, are attracted to confident people. People will put their trust in you, and that trust will motivate more work hard, which is the true path to success. Additionally, the more you love yourself, the less likely you are to be governed by others' expectations. You're also more likely to find and follow your passion, which is one of the best ways to find lasting success.  


Clearly there are many self-love benefits, but self-love, useful as it is, isn't always easy. It's important to practice it every single day and incorporate it into all aspects of your life -- from your relationships to your career to your thought patterns. Surrounding yourself with people who love themselves and putting yourself in positive situations are two great ways to do this. It's also helpful to have inspiration and encouragement around you in the form of books, websites, and, yes, even little things like stickers. ;) The more inspired you feel (and the more you're reminded to love yourself!), the easier self-love becomes. 




For all of you who've placed an order, thank you so much! You'll have your stickers soon, and I know you're going to love them. If you have any questions or need any additional info, you can always reach out to me via email or social media