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stay positive : positively present's first book!

PBOOK007It's here! The first book by Positively Present! 

I'm so excited to announce the launch of Stay Positive : Daily Reminders from Positively Present! The book, available for sale here, contains 365 daily reminders for anyone striving to live positively in the present moment. If you enjoy Positively Present, you're gonna love this book! 

The book has twelve monthly themes—Positivity, Relationships, Inspiration, Acceptance, Self-Love, Motivation, Productivity, Beauty, Change, Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Happiness—and each month is filled with insight and inspiration on that topic. You can dive into the book any day of the year—and it's also a perfect way to kick off 2013 positively! 

Want to learn more about the book (and watch the video!)? Visit the Stay Positive website:


And stay tuned for lots of excitement coming up on Positively Present. We'll be featuring amazing giveaways and positively awesome promotions for the next few weeks to celebrate the launch of Stay Positive!


Spread the Word!


Love Stay Positive and Positively Present and want to help spread the word? Below are some tidbits you can copy and paste to Twitter, Facebook, your email, and anywhere else where you think people would be pumped to hear about this new book!


Want to live a positive life 365 days of the year?
Check out the new book, Stay Positive

Positively Present's book Stay Positive just launched!
Grab a copy here:

So excited about Positively Present's new book Stay Positive!
Pick up your copy here:

Start living positively every day. Read Stay Positive daily.
Available in paperback and PDF.

the 4 stages of learning to think positively



Remember on Friday when I said I had big news for you this week? 

Well, it's almost here!

On Wednesday I'll be featuring an extra special, mid-week post
loaded up with all the exciting details!

Stay tuned -- and stay positive! 



For most of my childhood and young adult life, I believed a positive attitude was a genetic trait, something you were either born with or had to do without. I thought some people (like my mom) just sparkled with positive thinking and others (like me) walked around, Eeyore-like, under a cloud of negativity. Because I thought it was ingrained in me, I embraced negativity. I catered to it and let it bubble to the surface whenever positive thoughts started to come my way. I adopted the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude when it came to negative thoughts. 

It wasn't until I reached my mid-twenties that I had this life-changing revelation: positivity isn't innate; positivity is learned. (Happiness, on the other hand, is a little more complex, with studies showing that 50% of our happiness is set from birth, 10% is impacted by our circumstances, and 40% is influenced by our own actions.) Positivity is part of that 40% of our happiness, the part we have control over, and a positive attitude is something that can be taught, just like any skill. 

When I was younger, I didn't realize the difference between happiness and positive thinking. Happiness you don't always have control over. Positive thinking, you do. For some, positive thinking comes easily -- it's a skill they're born with and don't have to think much about. For others (like me), positive thinking is initially a struggle. It took me awhile to get from being the kid that was given Eeyore stuffed animals as gifts to being the woman who recently received the gift of a shopper bag with the words "Think Happy. Be Happy." stitched on the front. 

A lot has changed for me -- especially over the past few years -- and it's made me see that positive thinking is, for many people, a learning process. It's a skill that must be learned. While reading Peace, Love & Foster's "What You Don't Know" article the other day, I realized that the four stages of learning Juliana wrote about apply not only to dog training (and learning in general), but also developing the skill of thinking positively.


The Four Stages of Learning to Think Positively

The four stages of learning (or competence) were developed at the Gordon Training International, possibly by Abraham Maslow. According to good ol' Wikipedia, "The Four Stages of Learning provides a model for learning. It suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, then consciously use that skill. Eventually, the skill can be done without consciously being thought through, and the individual is said to have unconscious competence." 

I don't know if these stages will be true for everyone who struggles with learning the skill of thinking positively, but they certainly were for me. It took me decades to get through these four stages -- and now I feel like I may be at the fifth stage, a debated and more recently added stage know as reflective ability, or "conscious competence of unconscious competence," meaning I'm aware of being unaware of my ability to think positively. Now that I've reached this stage, I'm able to see how I got through the other stages (and share my thoughts on how you can get through them if you, too, are struggling to think positively).  


Stage 1: You don’t know what you don’t know. 

When I was younger, I had no idea a positive attitude was something that could be learned. I thought it was just something other people had -- something I usually didn't even want because their cheeriness irritated me. Not knowing I could, if I wanted to, create my own positive attitude made it very difficult for me to believe that I could someday see the world through a lens that wasn't clouded by negative thoughts. Stage 1 is the most difficult stage when it comes to learning to think positively because you don't know how much power you have over your thoughts. 


Stage 2: You do know what you don’t know. 

At some point -- I'm sure through reading articles on happiness and taking a more proactive interest in my personal development -- I started to realize that positive thinking could, in fact, be learned. Happiness, at least half of it, might be something people are born with, but a positive attitude could be created and cultivated. Of course, coming to this realization didn't mean I suddenly had a positive attitude. It meant only that I knew I could have one. Getting from Stage 2 to Stage 3 -- from realizing I could be positive to actually being positive -- was the tricky part. 


Stage 3: You do know what you do know. 

In this stage -- the hardest and probably most exhausting stage -- I got to work on creating a positive outlook for myself. I did this by studying other people, people oozing with positivity. I did this by reading articles and books on positive thinking. I did this by practicing. In therapy, I learned that our brains could be changed. The patterns of thinking that had once seemed so hardwired could actually be reworked. I worked hard at reworking my brain, spending endless hours reading (and writing) about positivity. Even when it was hard, I practiced, practiced, practiced. 


Stage 4: You don’t know what you do know. 

In time, the act of thinking positively -- even when I didn't necessarily feel positive -- started to come naturally. When I faced a difficult situation, my initial thoughts were no longer to give up or give in. Instead, I looked for the good in the bad. I started to see the silver linings (even though I often had to squint to see them). I might not feel (or even act) positive at all times, but my thoughts are now reflexively looking for the good, striving to make the best of any situation. Back in Stage 1, I didn't even know it would be possible for me to escape from underneath a cloud of negativity, but now it would be a struggle for me not to seek out a silver lining. 


Changing the default setting in your mind from negative to positive doesn't happen overnight. It, like any skill you aren't innately blessed with, takes some time to master. In many ways, it comes naturally to me now, but not always. I still have to work on it, to constantly sharpen my skills. It's like that with most learned things, I think. You have to keep after it. There's that old saying: "you never forget how to ride a bike." Sure, you might never forget how to ride, but you're not going to be very good at riding if you never practice it. Practicing positive thinking is the only way you'll ever get to stage four, to making it an almost effortless part of your life. 


Are you getting excited for Wednesday and the big news coming from Positively Present? You should be! Exciting things are coming your way. Get pumped! In the meantime, keep practicing that positive thinking! 

yes is more : 5 reasons to say "yes!"


“Probably some of the best things
that have ever happened to you in life,

happened because you said yes to something.
Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.” 

 Danny Wallace, Yes Man


I've never been a "yes!" person. I've always thought this worked in my favor. I never said "yes" to going out with guys I didn't like. I never said "yes" to activities I didn't want to participate in. I never said "yes" to taking on tasks that wouldn't suit me. I never said "yes" to spending time with people I didn't enjoy. A lot of people (women in particular) say "yes" so often that they are drained emotionally and mentally. They commit themselves to do too much, to help too many people, to make everyone else happy.

Having seen the negative impact of saying "yes" too often (no time for yourself! feeling constantly stressed! doing what you don't want to do!), I'd always been determined to be the kind of woman that didn't say "yes" when she really wanted to say "no." Sometimes I'll do things I don't want to, I'll help people out when they really need it, I'll go to those events that I should go to -- but I don't make a habit of these things. I've always prided myself on knowing when to say "no" -- and having no problem saying it. 

But last night something happened that made me think about my yes/no philosophy differently. I watched Yes Man

The portrayal of main character Carl (played by Jim Carrey) in his pretty apartment spending night after night watching TV on the comfort of his couch while making up excuses about why he couldn't attend events with his friends really struck a chord with me. In fact was me (the only key differences being that I have a great guy and a cute pup sitting on that couch with me). These days, I'd much rather say in than go out. After all my years of partying, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I actually have more fun staying in -- and I've learned to be okay with that. But I've also started to use it as an excuse. An excuse to say "no." 

But I don't want to look back on a lifetime of excuses. I don't want to look back and realize I missed out on things because I said "no" when I should have said "yes."

Watching the movie last night, I had a revelation: I need to start saying "yes" more. I don't have to say it all the time (as I know that leads to living life for others and not doing what I really love most), but I need to at least make it part of my vocabulary. I've been so dead-set on not becoming one of those women that does everything for everyone else (and nothing for herself) that I've become the kind of person that ends up missing out on life's "yes" moments. But it's time to change that. It's time I stopped saying "no" and started saying "yes." 


5 Reasons to Say Yes (Even When No Seems Easier) 


1. Experience something new or different. New experiences and people can be difficult for those who don't love change, but the more you open yourself up to the idea of saying "yes" the more you'll start to see that new experiences are actually quite fun. Saying "yes" doesn't always lead to new or exciting things, but it can. And staying in the same routine day after day, saying "no" to invitations and offers, is pretty unlikely to lead you to anything new or different. Even when it seems tough to say "yes", remember that you never know where a simple "yes" will lead you ...


2. Find unexpected opportunities. Anyone who has seen Yes Man knows just how powerful yes can be when it comes to finding unexpected opportunities. If you don't say "yes" sometimes, you're missing out on things you don't even know you're missing out on. In the film, Carl found opportunities in all sorts of crazy places -- all because he said yes. Of course, not every "yes" will lead to something wonderful and unexpected, but you never know what you might find if you start saying "yes" instead of saying "no." Unexpected opportunities don't always just drop into your lap; sometimes you have to go find them. 


3. Overcome fear and insecurity. Part of the reason most of us "no people" say "no" is because we're scared. We're scared of new people or new experiences. We don't want to break from our routines or try something new for fear that we won't enjoy it or we'll look silly doing it. But the more you say "yes," the more you'll face those fears and insecurities head-on. And the more you face them, the less intimidating they'll be. Every "yes" is a step away from fear and toward the freedom of feeling comfortable in any situation. Saying "yes" (even when it's a scary thing to say) is basically the same thing as saying "no" to fear, doubt, and insecurity. 


4. Meet new people (and future friends!). If you're like me, you might be thinking, I already have friends. I don't need any new ones! But remember: you probably would have said that same thing before you met your current best friend. Some of my best friends have come into my life as a result of saying "yes." I said "yes" to attending a happy hour I didn't really want to go to and connected with one of my favorite people that night. I said "yes" to job offers and met two of my best friends. So many friendships begin on the basis of random coincidence. You never know who will be on the other end of that "yes."


5. Venture outside of comfort zones. Much as you might love your comfort zone (I sure love mine!), venturing outside of it can do a lot of good. It keeps you mentally sharp, teaches you new life lessons, and introduces you to things you might someday consider comforts. If you struggle when it comes to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, remember that saying "yes" is a good way to get started. Say "yes" to something that scares you. Say "yes" to an activity you automatically turn down without any good reason. Say "yes" to breaking your daily routine (even just for a day). 


While doing some research for this article, I came across so many articles on the benefits of saying no, on how to say no, on why we should start saying no. There are clearly a lot of people out there in the world who struggling with saying "yes" when they really mean "no," but I bet there are also a lot of people out there who aren't saying "yes" when they should be. It's not about saying "yes" to everything (as Carl did in Yes Man); it's about knowing what you need more of in your life. Some people need more "no," some people, like me, need a lot more "yes," and some people need to start saying "yes" and "no" to the right aspects of their lives. 

Whether you're a Yes (Wo)Man or a No (Wo)Man, it's time to think about why you are what you are -- and if you really want to be that way. When you say "yes" or "no," be conscious of your choices. Are you responding that way because that's how you always respond? Or are you letting fear or obligation take the reins? Life should be a balance between saying "yes" and saying "no" and, if you're anything like me, it's time to start realizing that yes can actually be more.