JLY month : how to love your mind + a giveaway!


This post is part of Just Love Yourself Month, an exciting new addition to the Positively Present! This month of self-love is inspired by my new workbook, Loving Your Self, which was designed to empower and inspire self-love. Learn more (and pick up your copy!) here


One of the topics I discuss in detail in my Loving Your Self workbook is how to love your mind. The thoughts you have create the life you live so it's important to direct thoughts to a positive, productive place. Learning to create a loving mindset (and loving your mind even when it isn't so positive) is an essential aspect of self-love. How you think — and speak — about yourself is vital to creating a love of who you are. Positive thoughts and words impact your mental, physical, and emotional health in a big way. One of my favorite quotes goes something like this: “If you realized how important your thoughts are, you’d never think another negative thought.” What you think about shapes your world and, in particular, it shapes who you are.

Your mind is the most powerful weapon you have when it comes to the battle of self-love. If used properly, it can be a tool for fighting off negativity and keeping self-depreciation at bay. Use it wisely and it can transform the way you see yourself — and the way you see the world. Your mind is always with you (hopefully!), and because of that, you always have the power to choose self-loving, kind thoughts.

Choosing a positive mindset can be a challenge, which is why I've rounded up some of the best ideas for loving your mind. 



Being aware of what triggers negative or unloving thoughts won’t remove the thoughts, but having awareness of people, places, or situations that invoke negative thinking gives you a chance to challenge the thoughts with positivity. Knowing what triggers negative or self-deprecating thoughts also gives you an opportunity to avoid these people, situations, or environments. The more you're able to be aware of and address negative thoughts, the more power you'll have over your mind. And the more in control you feel when it comes to your mental state, the easier it is to love and accept your mind. 



With the words “I am,” you define yourself to the world. Those two little words have a big impact when you state them (both to yourself and to others). They are concrete and, when used honestly, a valuable definition of who you are. Become aware of what you say (or think) you are. The thoughts you have about how you define yourself have a major impact on how you think, feel, and interact. When you pay attention to what you think you are, you'll either realize that you're not, in fact, those things or you'll confirm that you are absolutely able to say "I am [fill in the blank." Either way, the awareness helps you create a deeper acceptance of your thoughts and your self. 



So much of the negativity and stress in our minds comes from worrying about what has happened or fretting about what could be. Create a more peaceful place for your thoughts by doing your best to stay in the moment. Remember this: the past is over and the future is fiction. The more you remind yourself of this, the more likely you'll be to stay in the moment. You'll realize that what matters most is what's happening right now and that's the stuff that deserves your mind's attention. Whenever you find your mind in a place that you don't want it to be, bring it back to the now and see if you can ground it in the present. 



The mind is one of your most important tools and, like any tool, it needs to be cared for. You can do your best to keep your mind in a positive place, but that's not going to do much good if your mind isn't in good shape. Exercise your mind the way you would your body by trying new things, playing thought-provoking games (go old school with things like Scrabble or check out some popular apps like Lumosity). The important thing is to get your mind thinking in new ways, challenging it a little bit. The more your stretch your brain muscles, the stronger your mind will get. 



Think, for a moment, about the things you read and watch and listen to. Are these things (the books, the magazines, the shows, the radio stations and podcasts) positively impacting your mind and helping it to grow and learn? There's nothing wrong with binge-watching a trashy reality TV show now and then, but it's important to pay attention to what you're feeding your mind. Are you giving it nutritious content that will help it flourish? Or are you feeding it only junk food? One of the best things you can do is feed your mind healthy, positive content. Read inspiring books, pick up a motivating magazine (see below for how you can win a subscription to a great one!), watch a fascinating documentary. Do what you can to provide your mind with positive resources!



I'm offering one lucky guy or gal a chance to win something that definitely brings me some happy moments: a one-year subscription (six issues) to Live Happy Magazine! This magazine weaves the science of positive psychology through inspiring features, relatable stories, and sage advice to help people discover their personal journey of happiness in life, at work, and at home. Every time I read it, I feel more inspired and uplifted and I'm sure you will too! See below for details on how to enter this giveaway! 


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

    * Friend PositivelyPresent on Facebook
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2. Leave a comment below, including:

    * Where / how you entered (every follow / like / tweet / etc. counts!)
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* Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
* Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances
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* Winner will be chosen and notified via email on 9/21/15



JLY month : 5 tips for loving your body



This post is part of Just Love Yourself Month, an exciting new addition to the Positively Present! This month of self-love is inspired by my new workbook, Loving Your Self, which was designed to empower and inspire self-love. Learn more (and pick up your copy!) here


Your body, at its most basic, is an amazing thing. It helps you breathe and move and talk and think. It takes you where you want to go, and it allows you to express who you are. But despite all of this magic that goes on inside of us, we often take our bodies focusing our attention on what we think we should be instead of celebrating what we already are

Loving your body is hard. No matter what you look like, you've probably had moments (or years...) when you don't feel love for your body, when you wish you could look like someone else. And it's no wonder! We’re all inundated with images of the “perfect” body. From films to TV shows to advertisements to the ever-popular fashion blogs, we’re surrounded by people and images of what bodies are “supposed” to look like. But look around you in the real world. How many “perfect” bodies do you see? How many people do you know who are completely (and truthfully) in love with their bodies?

You probably don’t encounter many people who look (or feel) perfect, and that’s because most people (yes, probably — or maybe even especially — the gorgeous models you see in magazines) struggle to love the physical parts of themselves. It is a challenge for everyone to practice loving his/her body, but it’s a challenge worth taking on.

No matter how you feel about your body right now, it’s important that you try your best to love and accept it for what it is, flaws and all. It is the only body you have, and it deserves your love and respect. Loving your body can be laborious, but if you don’t do it, you’re going to have a very hard time loving yourself — or your life. Your body is a big part of who you are — like it or not — and if you don’t make an effort to find a sense of love for it, you’re missing out on a deep and lasting acceptance that will transform the way you see your world for the rest of your life.

Loving your body is such an important aspect of self-love, so we’re going to look at five things you can do right now to promote body love. 



One of the main reasons we struggle with loving our bodies is because we compare what we look like to what others look like. This is a slippery slope to self-loathing. You will never look completely like someone else (just take a look at some of the people who have had major surgeries to look like celebrities — yikes). You will always and forever look like you. But, in spite of this knowledge, you probably compare yourself to other people. This is normal, but not useful. Consider, for a moment, what you would think about your body if you had no other bodies to compare it to. It would be pretty interesting, wouldn’t it? Try to look at your body in isolation, without comparing it to anyone else (or to what it used to look like). When you do this, you'll notice that your body is what it is; it isn't something to be judged, but something that can be observed and appreciated for its current state. 



If you want to fully love your body, it’s important to try your hardest to put an end to complaining about it. There are probably parts of yourself that you don't love (and may not have loved for a long time) and sometimes complaining about them becomes a default. For example, if you hated your nose as a child, you might still look in the mirror and say, "Ugh. My nose." But do you really dislike it? Perhaps you've come to accept it, but just keep complaining about it because you've done so all your life. Or, if you haven't accepted it, what good has it done you to complain about it? None. All it does it bring down your mood and negatively influence the way you feel about yourself — two things that are never good for you. Often we get so used to complaining about certain aspects of ourselves that we don't even realize it. These complaints just become part of our inner monologue. But all of these little complaints add up. Every complaint you make is a choice to focus on the negative over the positive, an act that makes it very difficult to love your body.



Whenever you find yourself feeling unhappy with your physical self, that's the best time to remind yourself of your good traits. We all have them — parts of our bodies that we really love, even if we never tell a soul that we love them. It doesn't matter what it is that you love about yourself (it could be anything from your shapely physique to the softness of your earlobe!). What matters is celebrating that positive trait and choosing that celebration over complaining about the parts of yourself that you don't love so much. If you have time, write up a list of 10 things you love about yourself and keep it near your mirror. Every time you start to feel doubt about your appearance, look to that list and be thankful for the positive traits. Also, when you find yourself hating on your physical appearance (and we all do that from time to time), remind yourself that you're great at [activity/job/etc.], and focus on the non-physical aspects of your awesomeness. You are so much more than just what you look like!



The ultimate (and hardest!) part of self-love comes when you embrace your flaws. Accepting them doesn’t mean you don’t want to change them; it means that you acknowledge them for what they are while trying your best to refrain from (too much) judgment. For example, let’s say you think you’re too scrawny and you’d like to gain some more muscle. Saying, “I accept my body as it is and I love myself for the size I am right now” doesn’t mean you won’t try to build muscle in the future; it means you are embracing your less-than-perfect self for where you are right now. Consider these questions: What don’t I love about my body? How can I change that? If I can’t change it, how can I begin accepting it? If you can't (or won't) change a physical flaw, you'll benefit a great deal if you choose unwavering acceptance. Strip that flaw of all societal standards and internal judgments. Don’t compare it to others or rate it on a scale of good/bad. Your flaw is what it is. Your body is what it is. Accept your own flaws the way you would accept a dear friend’s imperfections. Your flaws make you who you are, and if you can’t change them it’s much better to embrace them! 



Think about the words you use when thinking or speaking about yourself. Are the words often negative? Do you think of yourself in a positive light? And do you speak positively about yourself to others? Thinking and speaking of yourself positively is more difficult than it sounds. Most of us tend to be critical of ourselves (and especially about our bodies!), skewing toward the negative when it comes to our word choices. Pay attention to the words you use and, whenever possible, try to replace them with more positive descriptors, even if that means completely countering your current thoughts. For example, if you find yourself in front of the mirror thinking, "I look frumpy today," switch your thinking to, "I look fabulous today." It might sound silly or untrue, but it'll shift your focus from a negative to a positive place. Transforming your thoughts might make you see the good in the way you look, making you realize that maybe you're not looking so bad after all. For more on this, check out my post Using Positive Words to Promote Self-Love (with a free download!)



These five tips have helped me to learn to love my body when it was tough to do so, and I hope they help you too! It's important to remember that, though physical appearance is important — unfortunately that’s just the way society works — but it’s not everything. The more you realize your total worth as a person, the easier it becomes to love and accept your body because you're not valuing it more highly than other aspects of yourself. If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this mantra: I am more than what I look like



Want to empower yourself with some serious self-love? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

loving your self : a brand new self-love workbook



There’s only one relationship you’ll have every single day of your life for the rest of your life — the relationship you have with yourself. It’s one of the most important relationships you possess, but many of us don’t take the time and effort to make it a loving, empowering experience. Most of us fail to prioritize self-love because we don't know we should or we struggle so much with it that it feels easier to avoid the hard work. But loving yourself is essential for living a positive, present life, a life in which you can experience true happiness, acceptance, and peace.

Loving yourself means accepting mind, body, and heart. As important as the concept of self-love is, it’s not always something we strive for because, unfortunately, many things stand in the way of self-love. One major roadblock that blocks the path to loving ourselves is how we think about self-love. Many of us don’t love ourselves fully because we’ve been led to believe that self-love is selfish, greedy, or indulgent. Or we’ve been raised in an environment (or a society) that doesn’t promote self-love and, instead, encourages judgment, comparisons, and self-criticism. Or, in some cases, we’re afraid to love ourselves because achieving a deep sense of love for the self would lead to a greater sense of peace and happiness — two things that sound wonderful in theory, but that could potentially change the way we view ourselves and the world. Even the most positive of mindset shifts can be intimidating. 

But if you want to make the most of your life — if you want to have a deep and unconditional understanding and respect for who you are, who you've been, and who you will be in the future — you have to learn to love who you are, inside and out. Having struggled with self-love myself, I know how difficult it can be to achieve it. It's an on-going process and it requires dedication and determination, but, wow, is it worth it. 

Once you cultivate a strong love for yourself, anything is possible. I know how much learning to love myself has changed my life, and I wanted to share all of this self-love goodness with others so I created this absolutely comprehensive guide to loving yourself. The Loving Your Self workbook will take you on a journey of self-love filled with encouragement, inspiration, and exercises to spark true and lasting love for yourself. If you’re hesitant at all about embarking on this journey, keep in mind some of the most important reasons to love yourself:

  • Loving yourself improves your relationship with others
  • Loving yourself creates an overall more positive outlook
  • Loving yourself increases your self-respect (and respect for others)
  • Loving yourself opens you up to pursuing passions and meaningful work
  • Loving yourself makes it easier to find the goodness in others 

As you can see, there are many reasons self-love is essential for creating a more positive, more present life. In the workbook, you'll be challenged to uncover truths about yourself and about your life. You will be asked to look deeply at what matters most to you (and you can do more of that with the Finding Your Self workbook). If you take the time for self-love, you open yourself up to improving every single aspect of your life. 



Loving Your Self is a empowering workbook designed to teach, inspire, and increase self-love. The instant-downloadable PDF is a go-to resource for learning about self-love, engaging in exercises that increase self-love, and discovering more about the various ways you can (and should!) love who you are. The workbook features innovative, inspiring, and empowering activities to help you uncover a deep, lasting love of yourself. The workbook is broken down into four sections: 

  • Loving Your Mind: insights on how to break negative thought patterns, how to master the art of positive self-talk, and how to understand the power of "I am";
  • Loving Your Body: insights on how to love your body, how to embrace your flaws, and how to put an end to comparisons;
  • Loving Your Heart: insights on how to reclaim your muchness, how to let go of the past, and how to forgive yourself and others; 
  • Loving Your Life: insights on how to focus on the positive aspects of your life, how to cut out complaining, and how to establish boundaries with others. 

In addition to these four sections — each of which is loaded with information, activities, and worksheets — the Conclusion features:

  • A set of self-love reminders to print + post up wherever you need self-love boost
  • self-love cheat sheet to fill out with your top self-love reminders
  • A list of self-love resources featuring my favorite self-love websites + books 

If you've been struggling with self-love (or just want to reinforce your current self-love practices), this workbook is exactly what you need. As I was creating the workbook, I went through some difficult situations. I found myself answering the questions and doing the exercises as I was creating them, and it was amazing what it did for my self-esteem, self-respect, and self-love. The very act of creating (and working through) this workbook had such a positive impact on my life, and I'm so excited to share that experience with you. 


I've created a lot of things since I started Positively Present — Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively PresentThe Positively Present Guide to LifeFinding Your Self, The ABC's of Self-Love, and many other e-books — and this has been one of my favorite projects to work on. Self-love is so, so important. It provides the foundation for your relationships, your work, and your life. It's something every single person should be able to do and I hope this workbook will help anyone who is struggling to love him or herself. If you're looking for more love, peace, acceptance, and meaning in your life, this workbook is for you. Click the box below to grab your copy and begin the amazing experience of loving who you are!



32 and still growing up: what I know so far



Yesterday, I celebrated my thirty-second birthday, and reflecting on the past 365 days has reminded me what a crazy good/bad year it's been. I faced a big-time break-up last August. I moved to a new apartment in November. I attended my first meditation retreat in January. I learned about loving without expectation. My book was published in March, which was a lifetime dream come true.  I underwent surgery in July. I had some serious disappointments and some majorly uplifting moments. It's been a year of big change, of feeling like a grown-up and also feeling like I don't know when I'm ever going to be an adult. The ups and downs of my thirty-second year tie in quite perfectly with one my favorite songs, Taylor Swift's "Innocent":

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not what you've been
You're still an innocent
It's okay, life is a tough crowd
32 and still growin' up now
Who you are is not what you did
You're still an innocent

Since that song debuted (back in 2010!), I've always felt a connection to those lyrics, wondering where I would be and how I would feel when I turned 32. While those were written about Kanye West and his infamous interruption of Taylor's acceptance speech, I've always felt connected with that notion that, even in my thirties, I wouldn't feel like a grown-up. I would have some regrets, yet I would still be an innocent in many ways. And that's pretty much exactly how I feel. 

Listening to the song on repeat lately as inspired me to think about what I've learned over the past 32 years. So many ups and downs in this crazy thing called life, and the good and the bad have taught me so much about myself and the world. I know I've still got so much to learn, but today I've drafted a list of what I know so far...


1. YOUR DEFINITIONS WILL CHANGE. (Thanks, J, for inspiring this one!) I've learned that what you think of big concept words (like "love" and "career") will change over time, and will constantly keep changing. What the word "love" means to you at 20 isn't what it will mean to you at 30. 

2. GRATITUDE IS EVERYTHING. It might sound cliche, but gratitude is emphasized often for a reason. The more you focus on what you have, the harder it is to waste energy on what you don't have. Every time I've focused on feeling grateful, my attitude (and life) has changed for the better. 

3. SLEEP IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL. I've always been a big believer of sticking to a bedtime (even in college, when the word "bedtime" has lost all meaning for most students), but the less I sleep, the less positive I'm able to stay. I also feel like I learn a lot from my dreams, too, and you can't have those without sleep! 

4. IT'S OKAY TO ACT LIKE A KID. Having a childlike sense of wonder is, sadly, something a lot of adults lose as they get older. I've tried to hang on to mine as much as I can, indulging in as many kid-like activities as I can get away with. Being a kid is fun and it doesn't have to stop when you're a grown-up. 

5. BEING ALONE CAN BE GREAT. As an introvert, I've never had trouble being alone. In fact, alone-time is necessary for me to recharge after spending time with others. I used to feel like time spent alone wasn't quality time when I was younger, but I've learned to embrace the moments of solitude.

6. CLOSE FRIENDS > LOTS OF FRIENDS. I've found that it's more important to have fewer close relationships than to have lots of superficial friendships. This might not be the formula for everyone, but, for me, connecting on a deep level with people is rewarding, and it means focusing attention on the most important relationships. 

7. IF YOU'RE UNSURE, IT'S A NO. Though I'm still working on mastering this one, I have noticed a pattern: when I'm not sure about something (a situation, a relationship, etc.), it's usually because there's something that's not right about it. Doubt is there for a reason and it's important to listen to it. 

8. PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Another one I'm still working on is putting my phone down more often. Whenever I have my phone tucked away, I have more fun, better conversations, and more meaningful interactions. It's hard to step away from technology sometimes, but it's the only way to really embrace the tangible, IRL moments. 

9. IF YOU'RE UNHAPPY, LEAVE. I've been in many relationships and friendships in which I was unhappy and I just stayed where I was because it was more comfortable than changing. This is not a good plan. If you're not happy for a long period of time and for good reasons, leave. Life is too short to waste it in unhappy relationships. 

10. IT'S OKAY TO SAY NO... Never one to shy away from stating how I feel, I generally don't have trouble saying no when I need to, but there have been some situations in my life when I said yes and I should have said no in an attempt to please others. Don't do this. Saying no is saying yes to yourself. 

11. ... BUT SOMETIMES SAY YES. However, on the flip side, I've said no to a lot of invitations because they would've put me out of my comfort zone. I've learned to be more open-minded and to say yes to invitations even when it would be easier to say no. Sometimes you have to push yourself a little. 

12. YOU KNOW THE ANSWER. One of the most important lessons I've learned is to trust myself. Deep down, I always know what's best for me. A lot of the time I ignore that voice that has the answer and do what feels good in the moment and that doesn't always go so well. Trust — and listen to — yourself. 

13. YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU LOVE... I've been so fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. As a writer and designer, I spend my days creating content and (hopefully!) inspiring others, which is what I've always wanted to do. No matter what your dream is, you can do it (if you're willing to put in the work). 

14. ... BUT DREAMS WILL COST YOU. Working for myself is hard. There are challenges I never anticipated. There are highs and lows (like any job), but these are closely tied to my whole life, not just a day at the office. I had to (and continue to) sacrifice a lot to do what I love. It's worth it, but it's work. 

15. TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY. You deserve the same respect and careful consideration that you'd offer to others. This is your one life, I've learned, and it's up to you to take it seriously and make the most of it. This isn't to say you shouldn't have fun, but it's important to take yourself (and your future) seriously. 

16. YOU CAN'T CONTROL IT ALL. No matter how many times life has taught me this lesson, I think I'll always struggle with it. I enjoy being in control, but there's a lot of life that is out of our hands. We cannot control it all. Learning to let go of control is the best way to handle life's unexpected ups and downs.  

17. YOU'RE BRAVER THAN YOU THINK. This year in particular, I've learned that I'm stronger and braver than I thought I was. When faced with difficult situations, you'll be surprised at how brave you're able to be. Courage comes out when you need it, and it can be surprising sometimes. Embrace that bravery.

18. IGNORE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Whenever I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I've either learned something important about myself or had a really wonderful time. It's still hard to do this sometimes (I love my comfort zone!), but the older I get, the more I realize how much I can benefit by stepping out of my routines. 

19. NOTHING IS FOREVER. This might sound depressing, but it's actually inspiring. The good times don't last forever so you better enjoy them. And the bad times don't last forever so you know you'll get through them. Sometimes I want things to stay as they are, but this lesson is one of the greatest things I've tried to learn.

20. FORGIVENESS BRINGS PEACE. If someone has hurt you, it can be so hard to forgive, but I've learned that forgiveness is the key to peace. The sooner you forgive, the more peace you'll have. In a related lesson: forgiveness doesn't equal acceptance. It's about freeing yourself, not others. 

21. EMBRACE WHAT YOU LOVE. Who cares if your favorite day is Halloween or you want to fall asleep to the sounds of 30 Rock each night? Embrace what you love, even if others don't get it. When I like something, I tend to really like it. Some people think this is silly, but I've chosen to embrace my enthusiasm rather than try to stifle it. 

22. AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE. It took me a surprisingly long time to learn this one (perhaps because for so long I was pretty negative myself), but it's so, so important. Avoiding negative people (or limiting the amount of interactions with them) can change your life in the most amazing ways. Life should not be wasted on those that bring you down. 

23. GO OUTSIDE MORE OFTEN. I'm not what you'd call an outdoorsy girl, but I do love nature. Too often, I enjoy nature from the other side of a computer screen, but I've learned that I benefit a lot from going outside (even if it's just for a little bit!). Real life nature cannot be replicated and it's so inspiring.

24. YOU CAN CHANGE. For so long, I was set in my ways. I never thought I could change the things that made me unhappy, and for that I suffered. When I opened up my mind to the possibility that maybe I could change, that was when good things started to happen. Changing is hard, but it's always possible if you believe in yourself. 

25. DOGS ARE LIFE-SAVERS. Dogs have literally saved my life on more than one occasion. I cannot imagine my life without them. Not everyone is a dog-lover, I know, but those who are know just how healing and important they can be in your life. They are so good at staying present, too, which is always so inspiring. 

26. TRY TO STAY IN THE NOW. The desire to stay present is one of the reasons I started Positively Present in the first place, and it's still a challenge for me. I know how important it is, but it's hard to stop my mind from wandering to the past or the future. But the point is: I keep trying. It's hard work, staying present, but I've learned how important it is and I keep at it. 

27. MISTAKES WILL BE MADE. Like all of us, I've made mistakes. Some I still shudder to think about, but that's a part of life, isn't it? We all do things we're not super proud of, but it's important to accept these mistakes, try to learn from them, and do the best we can not to make them again. There are no erasers in life, but we can change what we write in the future. 

28. YOU WILL GET OVER IT. No matter how terrible the loss or heartbreak, you will get over it. Time truly does heal all wounds. Sometimes it takes a long, long time, but one day you look up and the pain isn't so clear anymore. Day by day, it fades a little bit. It's important to remember this when times are tough. 

29. MAGIC IS FOR REAL. There are things that happen in life that are truly magical. You never know when these moments will happen, but when they do, it's pretty amazing. Shooting stars. First kisses. Unexpected rainbows. Little bits of magic happen all the time, and I've learned to keep an eye out for them.

30. BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS. I've learned that what you think about is what your life becomes. Your thoughts make up your world, which is why it's so important to be aware of them. I've learned to pay attention closely — and to choose to redirect my thoughts to a more positive path when necessary. 

31. KEEP AN OPEN MIND. One of my most popular blog posts is this one, and I think it's for good reason. Having an open mind is very beneficial. It changes you — and the way you see the world — for the better. It can be challenging to do at times (especially with long-held beliefs), but I've learned that it's always worth the effort. 

32. FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF. This is perhaps the most important lesson I've learned over the past 32 years: self-love is the foundation for all of your relationships. If you don't love yourself, it's impossible to love someone else. Self-love means respecting and caring for yourself. Doing these things (always!) will improve every aspect of your life. 




Want to spend some time thinking about what you've learned in your life so far? Start your own soul-searching experience with the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

coloring is the new meditation + free coloring pages!


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All my life I've been obsessed with coloring. As a toddler, I loved it so much, I even took to drawing under the dining room table (something I'm sure my parents loved). Even as a teenager, when I was way more into boys and parties than being creative, I still loved to color. In fact, I can remember coming home after a night of partying and sitting cross-legged on my bed with my best friend, crayons and blank sheets of paper scattered around us. As an adult, I've found solace in coloring. It's something I return to again and again, especially when I'm struggling to stay in a positive state of mind. 

Coloring has always been a go-to activity for me, but these days I'm not alone. Coloring has become quite the craze for grown-ups, with adult coloring books popping up all over the place. In fact, the number one best-selling book on Amazon right now is this coloring book: Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book. Pretty crazy, huh? Who would have thought an adult coloring book would be the top-seller? 

I'm not entirely surprised, considering the rising attention paid to mindfulness and the ever-increasing stress in adults' lives today. With so much of our time spent online and at work, it's no wonder we're reverting to childlike, mindful activities to ease some of the day-to-day stress.  As noted in this article, the practice of coloring "generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity," which is just what most of us grown-ups need. 

Despite all of the de-stressing benefits, coloring really isn't a substitute for meditation or true mindfulness. (Check out this article for some reasons why.) However, I've received so many positive benefits from spending time with a coloring book, and, whether it fits into the traditional concept of meditation or not, I believe coloring does quiet the mind, reduce stress, and promote creativity — three things that encourage more positively present living. 

Here are some of the reasons I think that, while it will never replace the true mindfulness of meditation, coloring could be a great de-stressing exercise to add to your life: 



Unless you're in a creative field, you probably don't have a ton of opportunities to be creative as an adult (at least not in the same ways you did as a kid). Coloring offers a chance to pick up the pencils, markers, or crayons and explore the more creative side of yourself. And the great thing about coloring (rather than drawing) is that you don't have to consider yourself a creative person to do it. All you need is a coloring book and some tools!

My favorite tools? Crayola Colored Pencils, Le Plume II Double Ended Markers, Sakura Micron Pens, Copic Markers, Prismacolor Pencil Sharpener, Mini Colored Pencils, and some of my favorite coloring books...


Some of my favorite coloring books right now: 
Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book / The Mindfulness Coloring Book / 
The Mindful Mandala Coloring Book / Creative Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book



Coloring has some tangible health benefits too. According to this article, the act of coloring exercises fine motor skills and trains the brain to refocus, two things adults probably don't spend enough time working on. As kids, we do all kinds of things to practice find motor skills while at school, but (depending on your job) as an adult, there aren't many opportunities to hone this important skill. Coloring is great option for cultivating stronger fine motor skills and helping you work on focusing too.



The most important benefit of coloring, I've found, is that it really does quiet the mind. Once you get into the coloring zone, whatever you're stressed or worried about really seems to take a backseat to focusing on colors (and staying in the lines!). When I was awaiting my surgery, I spent a lot of time coloring to distract myself from worrying about the upcoming procedure and it really helped. There's something very soothing about coloring and it feels in some ways like a kind of meditation. 



One of the things I struggle with when it comes to meditation is that I feel like I'm doing nothing, which is really, really hard for me to do. That's why, for me, coloring is a better calming activity. Even though coloring in a page isn't really all that productive, it feels like I'm doing something and that sense of accomplishment (however unwarranted) makes it easier for me to stick with it in a way that I've always struggled to do while attempting meditation. 



Another great benefit of coloring is that encourages personal expression. We have lots of ways we can express ourselves on a daily basis (what we say, do, wear, etc.), but, by they time we're settled into our adult lives, we pretty much know what we like and believe in and stick to those things. Coloring gives you a chance to choose how you see the picture in front of you. The colors you choose and your creative choices with them are a wonderful way to express yourself, which is always a positive thing. 


If you want to try your hand at coloring to see if it benefits you, I've created three coloring pages for you to get started. Just click the image below to download your FREE coloring pages