Chasing Slow (Online) + a GIVEAWAY!

Thinking Living

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Chasing Slow


How to Enter

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


Giveaway Details

  • Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
  • Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances
  • Winner will be chosen + notified on February 27, 2017
  • Giveaway open to US residents only

 


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

 

Health Wealth
 

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

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

 

TRY YOGA / MEDITATION. 

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

 

KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. 

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

 

FOCUS ON CAN, NOT CAN'T. 

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

 

REST. AND THEN REST SOME MORE. 

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

 

DO RELAXING THINGS. 

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

 

ALLOW FOR A MINI-MELTDOWN.

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

 

BE OPEN TO NEW SOLUTIONS. 

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

 

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

 

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

   

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Inspired Unfollowing : A Week of Conscious Content Choice

 

Inspired Unfollowing

 

Most of us spend a great deal of time online, in our in-boxes, and on apps. While I'm a huge fan of technology and the connectivity that comes with it (after all, I wouldn't be able to do what I do for a living if it weren't for the amazing power of blogging and social media!), sometimes it takes away from being positive and present. And, quite frequently, it takes away from the concept of self-love, my primary for focus for 2017 (and probably the rest of my life as well!).  

I've read countless articles about taking a social media break or limiting it to a certain amount of hours each day, but I believe those ideas are just putting a bandaid on the problem. If you need constant breaks from something or have to limit it because it's unhealthy for you, it's important to look at why you need to break/limit yourself. What is it that you feel when you're online or on apps? Are those feelings positive or negative? Do you want to keep feeling them? 

As I move through this year of self-love, I'm striving to get more in touch with how things make me feel. I tend to be very logic-oriented, and sometimes I forget that feelings are just as important as logic (even if they're not always as easy to identify!). When you have awareness of the feelings that come with certain experiences, people, things, etc., you can then make choices that help you to create a more positive, mindful, and self-loving life. Awareness is the first step toward change. 

This year, I'm striving to create more of that kind of awareness in my life (and make changes accordingly), and this week I'm turning my attention to social media, apps, and the places I spend time online. Specifically, I'm turning my attention to getting rid of those that don't create feelings of love, positivity, and inspiration.

 

WHAT IS INSPIRED UNFOLLOWING? 

What we surround ourselves with -- both in real life and online -- has a great impact on how we feel and live every single day. It's all too easy to fall into patterns, to do something you've always done simply because you've always done it, but I think it's a big mistake to be passive when it come to online consumption. There are a great many things we cannot control in this life, but one that we can is what we look at on our computers or phones. 

To create more self-love and positivity in our lives, we have to consume consciously (I know, that sounds like something Gwyneth Paltrow would say, but hear me out!), especially what we consume visually and electronically. Because I've come to realize how important this is, I came up with the idea of Inspired Unfollowing, a week of reflecting on what I've been consuming online so I can actively choose whether I want to continue doing so. I hope you'll join me this week in taking control of what you consume. 

As you do this, it's important to think critically. There are some things that fall obviously in the "unfollow" category -- the websites that drive you crazy with too many emails; the acquaintance on Facebook constantly ranting; the brand who posts negative memes on Instagram -- but there are many other, less obvious, reasons you might want to unfollow. Here are just a few example of less obvious aspects you might want to look out for: 

  • Unfollow unrealistic representations of beauty making you feel bad about your body
  • Unfollow memes or jokes that might be amusing but focus mostly on putting others down
  • Unfollow images of a "perfect" lives that cause you to feel overly envious or jealous
  • Unfollow brands promoting items you cannot afford that make you feel unsuccessful
  • Unfollow companies that don't support your personal beliefs (do your research!)
  • Unfollow people / brands that no longer interest or inspire you (we change and that's ok!)
  • Unfollow celebrities that don't inspire, uplift, or empower you in some way
  • Unfollow accounts you started following years and years ago but no longer enjoy

It all comes down to how something or someone makes you feel. The more you surround yourself with sites, apps, people, and accounts that uplift and inspire and inform, the more uplifted and inspired and informed you'll feel. And we only have so many hours in a day to look at social media, and there's soooo much out there, so it's up to you to choose consciously what you want to see. 

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Surrounding yourself with positive, inspiring social media does not mean avoiding things that might evoke negative emotions (i.e., upsetting but important news stories) or people whose beliefs differ from yours. One of the worst things any of us could do at a time like this would be to avoid people who are different from us. In fact, I encourage you to find some accounts and websites that don't hold your views and visit them periodically to open your mind to a new perspective.  The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows, nor is it filled with people who believe exactly what you do, and avoiding all negativity is not good practice. There's a big difference between things that add value -- such as news, even if it's not positive news, or people who share opposing views, but who do so in a kind, thoughtful way -- and things that make you feel terrible without providing useful information.

Okay, now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let's jump into the plan for the week!  

 

THE WEEKLY PLAN

The plan is basically to go through the various accounts, sites, apps, etc. and decide which ones you benefit from and which ones you could do without. As you're working through each one, ask yourself: Does this account -- directly or indirectly -- make me feel worthy of love? That might sound a bit cheesy, but, really our lives come down to two very basic feelings: love and hate. Everything you encounter directly or indirectly promotes one of those two states of being. (If something feels neutral to you, dig deeper. One of those feelings is there!)

 

Monday / Email Subscriptions

First up, our in-boxes! How many emails do you get each day? How many of those are email subscriptions you signed up for but no longer want? (Or were signed up for but never wanted in the first place?) Even if you don't end up reading these emails, you have to spend time and energy deleting them each day. Set aside time today to go through your email and unsubscribe from those emails you no longer want to receive. If you don't want to do it manually, there's an awesome site call Unroll.Me that'll do it for you! 

 

Tuesday / Facebook

Facebook can be a tricky one because, for a lot of us, we're follow (aka, "friend") people we know. We might worry that it would be offensive to unfriend someone on Facebook (even if that person is just an acquaintance). The great thing about Facebook is that you can unfollow someone without unfriending him/her. (Read this article for specifics.) You can (and should!) choose what you see on Facebook without causing offense to friends, family, or acquaintances. 

 

Wednesday / Instagram

Instagram is often more of a mix of family/friends and brands/celebrities. Unlike Facebook, you can't unfollow someone politely without unfriending him/her, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't curate an Instagram feed that brings more positivity and self-love into your life. While sorting through your "following" list, ask yourself, "Does this person / brand make me feel less worthy, unhappy, or negative when I see their posts?" If the answer is yes, click that "Following" button so you no longer see those posts. 

 

Thursday / Twitter

Twitter is my go-to spot for staying up on the latest news. If you want to know what's happening right now, Twitter is the place to go. But, over the past few months, I've realized that it drains me and drags my emotional state down -- and that has a lot to do with the people I follow. I love comedy and follow a lot of comedians, but, unfortunately, a lot of comedy can be negative. This week I'm clearing out the negativity! 

 

Friday / Pinterest

Pinterest is one of my favorite online spots and, for the most part, I love the people I follow and feel inspired and uplifted when I spend time on Pinterest. But, I've been on Pinterest for a long time and there are some people I followed years ago that are no longer adding value to my life. They might not be especially negative, but they're not inspiring either. Because there's so much wonderful content out there, you've got to make room for the great by getting rid of the "eh." 

 

Weekend / Websites + Apps

What websites or apps do you open on a daily basis? And, more importantly, why do you open them? Sometimes we have great reasons for opening these, but often we do it just because we've always done it. It's habit; not choice. Over time, I've cut down on certain websites I visit (especially brands that made me long for items I hadn't even known existed before I'd opened the sites or YouTubers who made me feel I needed the latest lipstick shade), but I'm now also cutting down on the apps I keep on my phone as well.

Remember: just because you have a Twitter / Facebook / etc. account, doesn't mean you need instant access to it at all times. Taking an app off your phone can be a great way to be more conscious about your content consumption. It's often much more difficult to log-in to an account on your phone or to go to your computer than it is to click an app open, making it more likely that you'll think before doing it, rather than just absentmindedly clicking while bored! 

 

I've already started on Inspired Unfollowing, a little bit at a time, but I'm excited to see how I feel at the end of this week! If you're going to join in on this, but you're a bit unsure about unfollowing certain accounts, I recommend writing them down somewhere and then unfollowing. If you keep thinking about them or miss them, you can always go back to your list and re-follow. (But, believe me, I bet if there's any doubt in your mind whether or not you should be following an account, you probably don't really need it in your life.) As a bonus, you can take note of the accounts you're consciously choosing to follow and seek out more accounts like those! We have a certain amount of time for social media, and that time should be filled with consciously chosen content! 

  

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5 Tactics for Coping with a Meltdown

  Okay

 

Did anyone else have an existential crisis, freak-the-hell-out meltdown last week or was it just me? 

It was sure a rough week for me, personally and professionally, and, though I wanted to curl up on the couch and escape the world with a book (really loving The Animators right now!), I knew this was a perfect time to put the words I write each week into practice. I knew I had the tools to figure out a way to make the most of things, even though I was feeling pretty helpless, so decided to give them a shot. Here's what I did to cope this week. Hopefully these tips will help you if you're feeling meltdown-y, too. 

 

CRY IT OUT

Like most adults, I'm not a big crier. Crying is generally reserved for heartbreak or loss (or seeing roadkill on the side of the road -- if there's any sort of animal death/pain, I will cry), but this week I had a good ol' cry. I'm talking about the shoulder-shaking, sobbing-like-your-pet-just-died kind of cry, the snotty, ugly cry that necessitates more than one nose-blowing after you're done. It wasn't pretty, but it actually felt good.

Most of the problems I'm currently facing aren't new; I've just been avoiding them for so long that it felt good to acknowledge to myself (in the form of tears) that things aren't going well. It's unpleasant, but acknowledgment is the first a step on the path to making things better. I'm certainly not going to cry every time something goes wrong, but this week I really took note of how good to feels to physically feel your pain and release it in a way that, even though it hurts, ultimately feels good. 

 

TALK IT OUT

After I allowed myself that cry (and, yes, it was an allowance -- so many times I want to cry, but I don't because it tell myself it's a waste of time or insist to myself that I should strong), I decided to open up a bit and talk it out. Usually when things aren't going well -- especially professionally -- I tend not to talk about it with anyone else. One of the downsides of running your own business is that it's somewhat an extension of you in a way that doesn't happen with other jobs. If my business is failing, it feels like I'm failing as a person.

I'm sure others feel this way about their work, too, but there's something about running the show (and being the sole performer in the show!) that makes the professional deeply personal. So I generally keep it to myself when there's trouble, and do my best to find a way to work it out. But this week I decided to open up a bit more, sharing my struggles with friends (and now with you, in a way!). None of the talking resulted in immediate solutions or major a-ha moments, but it felt good to open up, to get feedback, and to not keep everything in my own head. 

 

DANCE IT OUT

Okay, this one might be a personal preference, but when I'm feeling low, one of my go-to moves is to put on a great, upbeat song and have a little dance party by myself in my apartment. (Putting that in writing, I'm now wondering if that's an odd thing to do, but I'm pretty sure I can't be the only one who does that, right? Also, by "dancing," I mean "awkward flailing that usually scares my pup, ha!) If you don't like dancing or listening to uplifting music, I bet there's something that instantly puts you in a positive mood, no matter how low you're feeling. 

Post-cry-session, I decided I was going to flip the mood by turning on the songs I'm loving and getting moving. (Exercising probably does the same thing, getting those endorphins going!) Of course, this doesn't solve any of my problems, but it certainly improves my mood, putting me in a more level-headed state where I can make more positive decisions. I decided to make a little playlist for you, if you're feeling like you need to dance it out. Find Dani's Dance Party here on YouTube

 

LAUGH IT OUT

Laughter, for me, really is the best medicine. Watching something hilarious has always been one my best strategies for coping with pain, and this week it served me really well. I spent a lot of time seeking out things that made me laugh -- silly YouTube videos, comedy specials on Netflix, funny friends. Like dancing, laughing doesn't really fix anything, but it does shift your mindset from pain to pleasure, and in that more positive state, I feel like my thinking is clearer. 

Apparently, laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and triggers the release of endorphins, which promote an overall sense of well-being and even temporarily relieve pain. So, even though laughing might seem frivolous, it has some major physical and psychological benefits, all of which can help a great deal when it comes to having a mental meltdown. 

 

WORK IT OUT

Once I got through some of the emotional stages of my meltdown, it was time to get to work. If things aren't going well and they're within your control (unlike, say, the loss of a loved one -- though any sort of emotional reaction to that is more about the pain of loss than it is about meltdown), it's up to you to take action to make things better. Having a meltdown is cathartic and all, but if you don't use that emotional freakout as a catalyst for change, it won't be long before you find yourself again in Meltdown Town. 

So I got out my laptop and I got to work on planning how I'm going to fix the multiple messes I've found myself in. These aren't the kinds of things that'll be fixed over night, but they'll never be fixed if I don't start trying to repair them. It felt good to admit to the problems, to feel them, and to start taking positive steps to rectifying them. There's still pain and I know it goes deep because I'm currently shaking off a horrific nightmare that was so obviously, perfectly symbolic that I woke both scared of and impressed by my own mind. But I'm ready to make progress now. And, really, isn't that what a meltdown is for, to shake us up, to get us to pay attention to what's not working so we can transform it to something that is? 

 

As I was finalizing this post, I heard Shonda Rhimes' voice coming from my TV screen. She said, "The idea that there's suddenly no plan is breathtaking in its terror." That sentence so adequately describes how I'm feeling right now. It's a terrifying place to be, but terror is freeing in a way. When nothing is determined, anything can happen. It's tempting, when plan-less, to imagine the worst, but if anything can happen, then that means amazing things can happen, too. 

  

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What Do You Really Want? (+ Worksheet!)

 

What Do You Really Want Positively Present
 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

Wanting

Click here to download the free PDF!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

  

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