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the top 6 benefits of having an open mind

Open mind

 

Even if you consider yourself a well-rounded, nonjudgmental person, being open-minded can be a challenge at times. When we’re young, we’re taught a set of beliefs and values and, throughout our lives, we tend to surround ourselves with people who share the same values and beliefs. This presents a challenge when we're faced with ideas that conflict with our own and, though we may wish to be open-minded, we may struggle with actually doing it from time to time.

Having strong beliefs can be a wonderful thing, and it’s important to stay true to your values, but having strong beliefs doesn't have to mean closing your mind to what others have to say. In fact, closing your mind to others’ beliefs is a sure sign that you don’t feel confident enough in your own. An open mind can mean standing firm on what you believe in, but also being willing to hear what others have to say. It means knowing what you value while appreciating what others value as well.

When your mind is open, you have the opportunity to reap many rewards ¾ new perspectives, new experiences, and even new friends. There is much to be gained from opening the door to your mind and letting new ideas and beliefs in. Here are just a few of the benefits you can experience when you choose open-mindedness:

 

FREEDOM FROM CONTROL

An open mind frees you from having to be in complete control of everything you experience. By allowing for new points of view and new experiences, you open yourself up to new thoughts, and you challenge the beliefs you currently have. While this might sound a bit unnerving (particularly if you feel very strongly about your beliefs), it’s actually quite liberating to experience the world with an open mind.

 

NEW, LIBERATING EXPERIENCES

Keeping your mind open to new ideas almost always keeps your heart open to new experiences. This doesn’t mean you’re going to engage in acts that counter your current beliefs, but it does mean you’re likely to experience things you’ve never encountered before, and these new experiences will either help shift your current beliefs or remind you why those values are so essential to who you are.

 

VALUABLE VULENRABILITY

Vulnerability sounds intimidating, but it’s actually one of the greatest things you can experience -- and it’s often the result of having an open mind. By opening your mind to the world around you (and others’ points of view), you’re admitting that there are possibilities you may not have considered before. This admission -- while terrifying at times -- is liberating and exhilarating.

 

FRESH MISTAKES

Mistakes probably sound like something you don’t want to have more of in your life, but they’re, in fact, a wonderful side effect of opening your mind. Striving to see life from others' perspectives allows you to not only recognize potential mistakes you’ve made in the past, but also to be open to the idea that you may make more mistakes in the future. Mistakes are part of life, and the acceptance of them is one of the greatest benefits of open-mindedness.

 

INNER STRENGTH

An open mind provides a platform on which you can build, piling new idea on top of old. It allows you to learn and experience new things, and these experiences can build on (and enhance) old believes. Every experience you have strengthens who you are and what you believe in, but it’s very difficult to experience novel things if you don’t keep an open mind.

 

STUNNING CONFIDENCE

Those who are open-minded have the greatest confidence. Why? Because they possess a strong sense of self. They are not confined by their own believes, but, instead, are open to their own values, as well as those of others. And the more open-minded they continue to be, the more they come to understand themselves and the world around them. If you want to be confident, stay open-minded.

 

Even with the knowledge of these brilliant benefits, keeping an open mind can be a challenge. For some, it comes as effortlessly as breathing. For others, it may be something they have to work hard to attain. This often has a lot to do with how you were raised (as well as what your personality type is), but regardless of your background or personal traits, don’t give up on open-minded thinking. There are so many advantages to living life with an open mind, and the effort it takes to cultivate open-mindedness will be well worth the rewards you will reap.

  

Finding-Self-Cover

Open-mindedness towards others starts with having an open mind toward yourself. If you're looking for some more soul-searching inspiration, check out 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.


5 reasons to nix the negativity in your life

Negativity-is-Boring
 

Note: I'm writing today's post in honor of my mom, whose birthday is tomorrow and who is one of the most positive people I know. Happy birthday, Mama Bear! I love you to the sky and back! 

 

Obviously I strive my hardest not to be negative and to remove negativity from my life, but even I can't deny that negativity is oddly alluring sometimes. Negativity can come in many forms -- from a critical thought about yourself to an energy-draining individual to something as seemingly harmless as a joke -- and it's not always as easy to identify (or resist!) as you might think.

Negativity is sneaky. It creeps up on you when you're feeling down; it tries its hardest to pull you away from the positive when you're feeling good. And sometimes it even comes in the form of disguise, such as some kinds of humor. (Just because it makes you laugh doesn't mean it's positive!) We all battle negativity (both internally and externally) from time to time, but one of the best ways I've found to combat that sneak little devil is to remind myself of why negativity does absolutely no good. 

We all know that, generally speaking, negativity is bad. We cannot control others' negativity or negative situations, but we can control our own negative thoughts and reactions. Of course, this is often easier said than done. To combat negative thinking, I've found that  that reflecting on why negativity is so unhealthy and unproductive actually helps me keep the negative thoughts at bay. When negative thoughts, people, or situations try to plague me, I reflect on these five important truths about negativity: 

  

NEGATIVITY IS BORING. 

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, it's easier to be negative than to be positive. It's very tempting give into (and even embrace) negativity, particularly with so much negativity surrounding us in the media (and sometimes in other people). And particularly because other people will often join in on negative commentary. (Just think of how often you've heard someone at work moan, "How is it only Monday!?") Negativity it commonplace. It's boring. It's the easy thing to do -- whining about the bad weather or complaining that you're stressed -- and giving into it can feel like a quick fix. It gives you a little rush to vent or whine, but it negativity is so common that focusing it not only makes you less happy, but it also makes you incredibly average. You're better than average and you know it! 

 

NEGATIVITY IS UNATTRACTIVE. 

Though people do sometimes feed off one another's negativity, people (especially the kind you want to be around!) are also drawn to happy people. Positivity, while not the same as happiness, generally makes you happier and more enjoyable to be around. Think about this: would you rather be around someone who is grumpy and moping and complaining, or would you rather spend time with someone who is always looking for the good in a situation? You aren't attracted to negative people and positive people certainly won't be attracted to you if you're negative. It's cliche but true: you attract what you are. If you want to attract positivity, you have to be positive. 

 

NEGATIVITY IS POINTLESS. 

Much like that old saying worrying, negativity is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere. (Erma Bombeck thought of this great analogy!) While it's fine to prepare unpleasant outcomes (i.e., backing up your computer files in the event that your computer dies), there's nothing to be gained from dwelling in negativity. For example, if your computer were to breakdown, it does no good to complain about it, moaning, "Everything always goes wrong! That thing was a complete waste of money!" What would do good is focusing on the positive (a chance to get a new computer or, if that's not possible, an opportunity to spend time with a friend while you borrow theirs). Positive thinking won't fix negative situations, but it will help you make the most of them. (Unlike negativity, which adds nothing of value to any situation!)

 

NEGATIVITY IS TIRING. 

Think about something that makes you happy. Now think about the last sad thing you saw. Which thought was more draining? Negativity is emotionally and physically draining. The more you do it, the more of a toll it takes on your mind and body. While it sometimes feels easier to go with the first thought that comes to mind ("ugh, it's raining again!"), the quick-fix negative thought will ultimately cause more harm than good, particularly if you start out with negativity as you begin your day. You invite one negative thought in and it takes it as an open invitation to bring all its friends ("it's rainy," "I'm so tired," "I have so much to do today," "I'll never get it all done," etc.) One negative thought can lead to another and before you know it, you are emotionally drained from thinking thoughts that make you upset, sad, or angry.

 

NEGATIVITY IS TIME-CONSUMING. 

Because negativity is so emotionally (and physically!) draining, it takes much more of our time than positivity does -- even if positive thoughts are sometimes more difficult to conjure up than negative ones. Also, if you allow yourself to think about what might go wrong in a situation, it's very likely your mind will wander to all of the other possible aspects of life in which something could go wrong. You'll then begin to worry about those scenarios and your mind won't be able to help trying to come up with solutions to those nonexistent problems. Before you know it, you'll have spend loads of time stressing out and analyzing a situation that might never happen! Negativity not only wastes time and emotional energy, but it also often causes you to live in the future, a place that is completely fictional!

 

Clearly there a lot of reasons not to be negative, but what do you do if you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts? One of the best tactics for preventing negativity from dominating your mind is simply being aware of your thoughts. Often we think without thinking (sounds weird, but consider how much you've thought about today without really thinking about it!). Thinking-without-thinking can cause your mind to dwell on certain (often negative) things. Pay attention to your thoughts and, without judging them, try to nudge them in a more positive direction. This will take time, effort, and practice so don't be hard on yourself if it's not easy to do. I still struggle with this all the time, and I write about positivity for a living! Whenever you're struggling to stay positive, try to remember the five reasons why negativity is so not worth it, and you'll find that it's just a bit easier to direct your thoughts in a more positive direction. 

 

 

Loving-Your-Self

Nixing negativity and focusing on the positive is an amazing act of self-love. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? 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.


8 tips for creating a positive career

 Positively-Present-Career-Advice

Download the Career Advice PDF here!

 

This coming Friday I have the honor of being the keynote speaker at my high school's Career Day! To be honest, I've put off writing my speech for weeks because I'm quite nervous. I've spoken in front of plenty of adult-filled rooms before, but something about this feels different. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized the big difference between this speaking event and others is: I really want to positively impact these girls -- and think I have an opportunity to do so more than I would with adults. I remember how I was at that age and, even though I often came off as couldn't-care-less, too-cool-for-this, high school was a time of great learning and change, and the things I did, read, and experienced had a big impact on me. 

As most adults do, I wish I could tell my younger self all the things I know now (and have her actually listen to my advice!). This speaking opportunity is, in some small way, a chance to share what I've learned with young women who will be sitting just where I once was. I'm grateful that I'll have a chance to speak to these girls, to tell them what I know, especially about building a career that brings fulfillment to my life. I'm sure some of them will roll their eyes or zone out (I know I might have), but I'm hoping some of them will tune in and feel inspired by what I have to say. Though I still haven't figured out exactly what my speech will sound like, I've narrowed my focus to eight key ideas, which I thought I'd share with you in case you're (a) a teenage girl reading this and wondering what to do with her or life, or (b) a regular ol' adult who longs for a career that's inspiring and fulfilling. 

 

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LIKE

The first (and most important!) step to creating a career you'll actually enjoy is figuring out what you like. This sounds kind of obvious, but most of us aren't taught to pay close attention to what we enjoy doing. We're asked what our favorite subject is, but not necessarily encouraged to dig deeper. Let's say your favorite subject is English. Why? Because you like to write? Because it's one of the few courses where you can be creative? Because you enjoy reading? Understanding why you like something is so important to carving out a career path because it gives you guidelines but doesn't limit you to only one path. Imagine your ideal career. Why do you feel drawn to that? What about it is most appealing (i.e., freedom, ability to travel, creativity, income, etc.)? It's important to know what things interest you, but also why they interest you.

 

TAKE YOUR TIME

And this is where step number two comes in: taking your time. Whether you're a high schooler or a middle-aged adult, it's important to take your time when reflecting on building a career. (And, yes, adults can change careers! It's never too late!) It's okay to take time to figure out exactly what you want to do (and why you want to do it). In fact, it's a good idea not to rush into one thing, assuming it's going to be perfect for you. Until you really get into something (a career, a relationship, etc.), you don't know exactly what it will be like. So go slow. And pay attention. Pay attention to how you feel when you're doing something (for work and for fun). Are you truly enjoying yourself? Are you unaware of how much time has passed? Are you bored or wishing you we somewhere else? Taking your time allows you to take note of how certain activities make you feel. Very few people have the "perfect" career right off the bat; most successful people take time to explore what will really work for them.

 

TRY NEW THINGS

Hand-in-hand with taking your time is the next step: trying new things. People of any age can (and should!) try new things, but this is especially true when you're in high school and college. Those are some of the best times to get out of your comfort zone and experiment with different activities, groups of people, and interests. Schools are such great resources for information and opportunities, and it's a great idea to take advantage of all they have to offer while you can. Sign up for random clubs, try out for a play, volunteer with classmates, sit with a different crowd at lunch -- do whatever you can to have new experiences as often as possible. You probably won't love all of them, but you'll learn something about yourself. And the better you know yourself, the better equipped you are to choose a path that's best for you.

 

MAKE MISTAKES

While I won't advise you actively go looking for mistakes to make, I will recommend being open enough to new experiences and situations to risk making a mistake or two. After all, I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't taken the big risk of leaving my regular job to do what I love! The worst thing you can do when trying to create an inspiring career is avoid taking any risks. When you get out of your comfort zone and try different things, you're bound to make mistakes. But making mistakes is how you learn, and from the errors you make come endless insights into what does and doesn't work for you. For example, you might take a job in an industry you're not sure you'll love. After awhile, you might grow to dislike the job. Rather than think to yourself, What a mistake. I never should have accepted this job! consider what you've learned and take those lessons with you when you move on to a new job.

 

NEVER STOP LEARNING

Continual learning is absolutely vital for creating an amazing, positive career. Even if you've found your dream job and you love what you do, keep learning -- about your industry, about other industries, about life in general. The more you know, the more you'll be able to create a more ideal career situation for yourself. And, you might discover that there are other things you might enjoy doing as well. When I left my full-time job to pursue Positively Present, I had absolutely no idea I would end up launching my own graphic design business! And the only reason this happened was because I signed up for a few classes to see if I could improve some of the design on my site. As soon as I mastered the basics, I realized how much I loved graphic design and illustrating and now it's a huge part of what I do. You never know what will happen when you open yourself up to learning new things, and there are so many great online resources to keep learning even if you're no longer in school. You can take online courses in almost any subject of interest (you can even get an MBA in healthcare administration!), which is pretty amazing.  

 

LOVE WHO YOU ARE

Cultivating self-love is more general life advice than it is career advice, but self-love actually plays a big role in creating a great career. For one, the more you love and respect yourself, the less likely you are to settle for a career path that's only ho-hum. Self-love tunes you in to your unique talents and abilities and makes you confident enough to want to share these with others through your work. Additionally, a strong love for yourself will prevent you from ever settling for poor treatment at the workplace (or anywhere!). You teach others how to treat you, and if you treat yourself with love and respect, you'll form more positive relationships at work, and those will always help you (even if you don't love your current job). Self-love also discourages you from comparing where you are to where others are, which can sometimes be a problem in the workplace. With a loving attitude toward yourself, you'll focus on your own work and you won't waste time comparing yourself to others. 

 

WRITE YOUR OWN STORY

When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I always envisioned myself working for Vogue or writing novels. I never, in a million years, imagined I'd write on my own site (blogs were barely a thing back then!), publish a book filled with my own (positive!) advice, or have the opportunity to be creative through graphic design. No one ever said to me, "You can be a writer and a graphic designer," but, here I am, doing both. We all have the power to write our own stories -- in our careers and in life in general -- and you don't have to do what everyone else is doing or do it the same way others do it. Look to those who have careers you admire and use them as inspiration, but don't feel you have to do just what they do. Remember: you're the author of your own career, and you can write your own unique story, even if it's a tale that's never been written before. 

 

LOOK FOR THE GOOD

Looking for the good is another piece of advice that applies to life as well as work. No matter what situation you find yourself in career-wise, strive to make the best of it while you're there. Unless you're extremely lucky, you'll probably have some jobs you don't love. And that's okay. Try to enjoy them the best you can while you're there and use them as opportunities to learn what you do and don't like. Even if you're fortunate enough to do what you love (and I hope you are!), you'll have to do things you don't enjoy, and there will be days you feel drained of all energy and inspiration. These are the times you'll need to look hard for the good, but an optimistic outlook is always worth the effort. Whether it's at work or in life, the only thing you have 100% control over at all times is your attitude. It sounds cliche, but choosing a positive attitude can be transform the way you see your career -- and the way you see the world.  

 

Whether you're thinking about a future career or you're looking to make a career change, I hope these tips inspire you to do some soul-searching and figure out what you really want. It's hard not to get caught up in what you "should" be doing (or what everyone else is doing), but never forget that your career is yours and you have the power to spend your days working in an environment that makes you feel inspired, fulfilled, and happy.  

 

 

  

Finding-Self-Cover

Knowing who you are and what you want is key to creating a positive career. If you're looking for some more soul-searching inspiration, check out 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.