2016 Gratitude Photo Challenge + Giveaway!

 

Gratitude Challenge Prompts 2016


Let’s ignore, for a moment, that today is the best day of the year (hooray for Halloween!) and focus on the fact that tomorrow is November! This year has flown by and now it’s time for the SIXTH annual Gratitude Photo Challenge. This is one of my very favorite aspects of Positively Present. It’s so fun to come up with daily prompts, direct my attention to gratitude all month long, and see all of your amazing photos. It’s become such a special part of my year.

This year’s Challenge is extra special because it’s a collaboration with the amazing, inspiring Caroline from Made Vibrant. Caroline has her own Challenges of the Month, featuring monthly themes and daily prompts for becoming brighter in your life, your business, and your creative spirit, and this month we’re teaming up to focus on gratitude!

If you’ve done this before, you know the deal. But if you’re new here, welcome! :) Keep reading details, prompts, and info on the a-m-a-z-i-n-g giveaway Caroline and I have put together!



THE DETAILS

  • “Challenge” is just a word.

    The goal of the Challenge is to take and/or share a photo every day using the prompts to help you feel more appreciative. Feel free to get creative, make up your own prompts, etc. And don’t feel pressured to take perfect pics, either. Thankfulness is what it’s all about; no need to be a professional photographer!
  • Join in at any time.

    The point of the Challenge is to focus on staying thankful for thirty days. You can start the challenge on November 1 and do it for the whole month (as Caroline and I are doing), or you can start the challenge any day that works for you and follow along at your own pace.

  • Use hashtags #Gratitude30 and #MVcoloryoursoul.

    Sharing your pics on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.? If you tag them with these hashtags, others can see them and you’ll be entered to win the super fun giveaway Caroline and I have put together! (Scroll down for more on that!)

  • Print out a reminder.

    Keep up with the prompts by downloading the photo above (save it to your phone, perhaps!) or, if you’re more of a IRL type, print out a version to post wherever you'd find a reminder helpful by clicking here.

 

THE PROMPTS

Day 1: Color

If there’s one thing Caroline and I can’t get enough of, it’s color! A day doesn’t go by when I don’t feel thankful for life’s beautiful colors. Use today’s prompt to focus on gratitude for your favorite color or to explore how colors play a role in your life.

Day 2: Love

Love is one of the most amazing experiences life has to offer. Life is filled with all kinds of love, and each one is deserving of our gratitude. Today, think about how you experience or give love in your own life, and share what the word means to you.

Day 3: Nature

Whether or not you consider yourself an outdoorsy type or not (I certainly am not!), nature is one of life’s great gifts. Pay attention to the nature around you and how it makes you feel. Is there an aspect of nature you feel particularly thankful for?

Day 4: Home

When you think of the word “home,” what comes to mind? For some of us, home is a place. For others, it’s a person or a feeling. Focus your attention on whatever home means to you and consider the very best parts of it.

Day 5: Knowledge

Since the day you were born, you’ve been learning. Most days, I bet you learn something new. Use today to reflect on what you’ve learned (maybe focusing on the past year) and share that knowledge with someone you love.

Day 6: Music

Music has always played a huge role in my life, and I’m immensely thankful for all the words and notes I’ve been able to hear. Today’s the perfect time to reflect on the beauty of music. (Love music? Check out my weekly playlists here.)

Day 7: Weather

I’ve always been greatly influenced by weather, and I know I’m not alone in this. Whether it’s good weather or bad, I’m thankful for the variety I get to experience where I live. Today, focus on the weather you’re thankful to experience.

Day 8: Friendship

The friends we make in life are priceless, and today’s the perfect day to be grateful for those relationships and think about how they’ve improved your life. (Special shout-out to Caroline, one of the amazing online friends I’ve made!)

Day 9: Wonder

When you stop and think about it, life is pretty crazy. Out of all possible scenarios, here you are, in this life, being you. Spend time today pondering the wonder-filled things in your life.

Day 10: Art

Another topic Caroline and I are both passionate about: art! You need not be an artist to appreciate art -- either in the traditional gallery sense or in everyday life. What does the word “art” mean to you? How do you experience it?

Day 11: Memory

I usually try to keep my mind in the present, but there’s something wonderful about looking back on positive experiences. Today, turn your focus to one of your favorite memories and reflect on why it’s so meaningful for you.

Day 12: Work

If you love what you do, this one will come easily, but even if you don’t enjoy your career, it’s possible to make the connection between work and gratitude. Use today to focus on the positive aspects of the work you do (even if it’s just a paycheck!).

Day 13: Kindness

Today -- World Kindness Day -- is the perfect time to focus on how thankful you are for the kindness you’ve experienced (or shared!) in your life. In addition to snapping a photo today, consider adding a kind act to your to-do list.

Day 14: Joy

What brings you joy might completely different from what make me happy, but that’s the beauty of pleasure, isn’t it? We all find it in unique places! Consider, today, what brings you joy and why you find it so enjoyable.

Day 15: Gift

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes -- from a thoughtful present given to you by a friend to a unique talent you possess. Contemplate the gifts you’ve given and received and highlight your favorite.

Day 16: Comfort

Regardless of the form in which comfort arrives, it’s always such a welcome guest.  Today, focus on your favorite form of comfort. Do you love the physical comfort of a hug or a blanket, or is emotional comfort (a good listener, wise advice) your go-to?

Day 17: Peace

Peace is something we all deserve, but it’s not always easily attained. Consider the last time you felt truly at peace. What made you feel that way? Could you recreate that feeling today?

Day 18: Routine

As you might know, I’m a huge creature of habit, and I’m very grateful for the routines in my life. What routines do you stick to? What do you love about them? Appreciating the more mundane aspects of life can be a great mood-booster!

Day 19: Stillness

Most of us live pretty busy lives, and stillness isn’t always something we make room for. Take a moment for stillness today and pay attention to how it feels. Focus on things, people, or situations that make it easy for you to stay still.

Day 20: Beauty

If you pay close attention, you can find beauty almost anywhere. Today, make seeking beauty your goal. Strive to find something beautiful in every situation, and share as much beauty as you can with others.

Day 21: Challenge

The struggles we face makes us stronger and better. Today, be grateful for the challenges you’ve encountered in your life, and, if you’re in the midst of a difficult period, be thankful for the lessons you’re learning.

Day 22: Health

Health is one of the obvious “you should be grateful for…” things, but that’s because it really is so easy to take it for granted. Consider and be thankful for all of the ways in which your mind or body is working well today.

Day 23: Progress

You’ve come a long way since the day you were born, and today is a great day to think about all of the progress you’ve made. What are the accomplishments you’re most proud of? What have overcome or survived?

Day 24: Family

No matter what “family” means to you -- whether it’s blood relatives, a partner, your friends, or all of the above -- it’s a wonderful thing to have. Be thankful for your families today and, if possible, share that gratitude with them.

Day 25: Nourishment

What nourishes your mind, body, or spirit? Pay attention to the things that provide you with energy, enjoyment, or excitement, and be appreciative of the ways they have added value to your life.

Day 26: Wisdom

We all encounter wisdom regularly, but what is some of the wisdom that sticks with you? Where do you gain the greatest insights? Direct your attention to (and celebrate!) the wisdom you’ve come across.

Day 27: Season

Just like the weather, the seasons can have a great impact on us emotionally. In which season do you feel as if you thrive? Observe life’s seasons today, and be grateful for those you’ve been able to experience.

Day 28: Pleasure

So much of what we’re fortunate enough to have in our lives would be considered a luxury in many places. Focus, today, on something that you enjoy purely for pleasure, and be thankful for life’s little indulgences.

Day 29: Attitude

You have the power to choose your attitude at any time, no matter what the circumstances. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Be grateful for your own attitude-choosing abilities and reflect on the attitude you’d like to experience most often.

Day 30: Self

No matter where / what / why / when / how, the one thing you can always count on having in your life is yourself. Spend the day reflecting on your positive traits and embracing the amazingness that is YOU.

 

THE GIVEAWAY

So excited to announce that this year’s Challenge includes an amazing giveaway! Here's what you can enter to win. See the rules below! 

  Gratitude Giveaway 


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
  • The winner will be chosen + notified on December 1, 2016
  • The winner will receive the items shown in the image above 

keep calm: 5 tips for preventing panic

Calm
 

As you may have read in previous posts, anxiety is something I struggle with from time to time. Sometimes it's not so bad -- just a bit of a tickling annoyance at the back of my mind -- and other times it's drive-me-mad frustrating, keeping me from doing things I want to do and preventing me from living the positive, present life I spend so much time writing about. There are a lot of unpleasant aspects of anxiety, but one of the worst parts is feeling panicky.

Even if you don't have anxiety on a regular basis, you've probably experienced panic at some point in your life -- those moments when your heart is pounding and your mind is racing with ideas (some completely irrational) about what's happening. It's not a pleasant experience and, even if there's something legitimate to feel panicked about, panicking never helps make a situation better. It only heightens anxious feelings and makes it more difficult to take positive, productive action.  

Once panicky feelings start, however, they can be tough to get control over, which is why it's important to try your best prevent the panic before it begins. Of course, sometimes this isn't possible, like if you're sudden, dangerous, actually-life-threatening situation. But, more often than not, things we panic about are a result of the way we're seeing a situation, and don't necessarily reflect what's actually happening.

Because tomorrow is the second annual International Day of Calm, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on how to keep calm on a regular basis. This way, if you are presented with a situation that makes you feel panicky, you'll be better equipped to cope with it. Here are five of my best tips for preventing panic...

(And stay tuned for two awesome keep-calm goodies mentioned at the end of the post!)

 

TRY TO FIND CALM DAILY. 

We usually hear the phrases "keep calm" or "calm down" only when there's already an anxiety-inducing situation right in front of us, but if you want to reduce panicky feelings in the future, it helps to practice calm on a daily basis. Creating calming routines for yourself (especially at the beginning and end of your day) can be really helpful. Also, taking advantage of calming resources: books like Calm or Stay Positive and apps like Calm are great places to start. Anything you can incorporate into your life on a daily basis to make you feel more peaceful will help add to your state of calm whenever you feel panicky. 

 

RECOGNIZE YOUR REACTIONS. 

When it comes to preventing full-blown panic, one essential step is to recognize how you're reacting to a situation so you can understand (and rein in) your emotions before they get to an irrational place. One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to your body. Is your heart beating faster? Are your palms sweaty? Are your muscles tensing? Is your breath coming more quickly? When you're aware of what's happening to you physically, you can put yourself in a better mindset to avoid panic. You can remove yourself from a situation or ask someone else to talk you through what you're experiencing. 

 

CENTER YOURSELF IN REALITY. 

One of the most vital steps for preventing panic is to ask yourself, What's actually happening? So much of panic is a result of what we think is going to happen, not what's factually right in front of us. For example, let's say you're going through a breakup. It's common to start in with panicky thoughts like, I'm going to be alone forever. Oh god, no one is going to date me now. I'm never going to find love again. Those thoughts are all based on the future -- and a very dismal future at that. In the present moment, the only thing that's happening is you're suffering from heartbreak, which you will recover from. Bring your focus to the present and it becomes much more difficult to launch into panic mode. 

 

ACCEPT WHAT'S HAPPENING. 

Part of panicking is detaching yourself from reality, allowing your mind to spiral into a maze of irrational thoughts. As unsettling as these thoughts are (usually of the all-or-nothing variety, like, Everything is ruined! No one will ever want me! Nothing will ever be the same!), we often use the panicky thoughts to distract ourselves from the real pain right in front of us: the heartache, the loss, the realization that we've done something wrong. It's hard to do, but acceptance of the actual situation is key for redirecting panic into a more productive outlet. Yes, you might have lost your job, but thinking, no one will ever hire me now is certainly not going to get you a new one. What will is accepting the loss and striving to move positively forward by taking action in the present (going to a job fair, applying for new jobs online, etc.). 

 

FIND A SELF-SOOTHING TECHNIQUE. 

Acceptance is hard, but once you do that, you're in a much better place to prevent panic. Still, it can creep up on you sometimes, like a stealthy little snake in the grass, and when that happens, it's a good idea to have a self-soothing technique that helps to take your mind to a calmer place. Your self-soothing technique can be anything from taking a few deep breaths to using a mantra (like "keep calm" or, my personal favorite, "you're okay") to calling up a calming friend for a quick chat. Whatever your calming weapon of choice, make sure it's something you can always have in your holster -- an easily accessible tool that you can whip out whenever you might feel a bit panic-stricken. 

 

*KEEP CALM GOODIES!* 

Calm-book-meta

For the second annual International Day of Calm (April 5, 2016), I've partnered with Calm, a popular meditation app and book, to provide you with some keep-calm goodies!

  1. Get 25% off a yearlong subscription to the Calm app by visiting Calm.com/PositivelyPresent.
  2. Pop on over to my Instagram account for details on how you can win a copy of Calm the book!  

 


PPGTL-Get-the-Book
Want to explore how to have even more calm in your life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)


hooray! effortless inspiration coming soon!

New-Books

You might have already heard the news on Instagram awhile back, but today I'm officially sharing the details of my upcoming books! I'm soooo excited to announce that in 2016 I have not one, not two, but FOUR new books coming out! [Insert wide-eyed emoji face here.]

These four books are part of a series called Effortless Inspiration for a Happier Life, designed and written by me for Watkins Publishing. The goal of these compact books is to provide bite-sized inspiration and on-the-go insights on four topics that are absolutely essential for living a positively present life: living in the moment, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness. 

Creation of these little books began last year, and it's so exciting that they'll be arriving on bookshelves in 2016! Read on for more details about the series and the individual books. (And keep scrolling to see how you can download a free PDF sample!)

 

ABOUT THE EFFORTLESS INSPIRATION SERIES

What's so exciting about these books is how different they are from anything else I've created before (like Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present and The Positively Present Guide to Life)! Each little book features 18 inspirations quotes on a specific topic (Living in the MomentGratitude, Compassion, or Forgiveness) followed by an insightful explanation, a thought-provoking activity or question, and a memorable affirmation. The design and layout of these books was created with the goal of keeping inspiration accessible, providing insights that can be incorporated into day-to-day life.

Just as I strive to do here on Positively Present, these books were created with the intention of providing uplifting, inspiring content that you can actually use in your real life. Here's a sample from the Gratitude book: 

Gratitude-SampleDownload a PDF Sample Here!

Isn't it pretty?! I'm so pleased with how they turned out! (The colors pop even more in person!) Of course, looks aren't everything. The real purpose of these books is to zero in on important topics and here's a breakdown of each topic (with release dates!): 

 

LivingCover

Living in the Moment
(click to preorder!)

UK: May 19, 2016 / US: September 13, 2016

Life transpires in the present. Yet so often we let the present slip away, wasting precious seconds worrying about the future or ruminating about what's passed. Learning to live in the moment (also known as mindfulness) can have immense power to stop us focusing so much on doing and thinking and instead focus on being.

Living in the Moment inspires readers to think about mindfulness in a fresh way, while encouraging them to incorporate it into their everyday lives. Mindful people tend to feel more relaxed, less distracted, more balanced and decisive. They have increased energy and self-esteem as well as greater productivity, stronger relationships, and an enhanced immune system.

With its appealing design, uplifting content and friendly tone, this little book on living in the now provides beautiful, bite-sized inspiration for people around the world to live in the now. And, with increased awareness, we can really savor each of life's precious moments.

 

GratitudeCover

Gratitude
(click to preorder!)

UK: May 19, 2016 / US: September 13, 2016

Cultivating gratitude doesn't cost any money and doesn't take much time, but the benefits can be enormous, helping you focus on what you have rather than what you don't: friends and family, positive personal qualities, your surroundings, a healthy body, a vibrant mind, and the list goes on.

Research has shown that grateful people tend to be less envious, more relaxed, more humble, more emotionally resilient, and less materialistic. They have increased energy, greater self-esteem, increased productivity, and are able to build stronger relationships. What's more, when children see a thankful parent, they are more likely to become thankful children.

Modern design paired uplifting content make this little book on gratitude essential for anyone seeking beautiful, bite-sized inspiration to live more grateful, contented life.

 

CompassionCover 

Compassion
(click to preorder!)

UK / US: October 18, 2016

Compassion is the ability to feel sympathetic towards those who are suffering while desiring to relieve their pain. It's not just a feeling -- it's a desire to help others who are struggling or in pain. Imagine what the world would be like if we all experienced compassion on a daily basis!

Recent scientific research has shown that compassionate people tend to be more understanding, less angry, and less stressed than other people, with stronger relationships and even enhanced immune systems. People who live with compassion or show concern for others' wellbeing also tend to create a more harmonious atmosphere around them. Compassion breeds compassion, leading to all-round enhanced contentment.

Compassion is a topic that's often discussed around the world in relation to kindness and generosity, but rarely is it explored on is own. This little book, with its modern take on the subject and uplifting inspiration, brings light to a life-changing subject that will appeal to readers around the world.  

 

ForgivenessCover

Forgiveness
(click to preorder!)

UK / US: October 18, 2016

To forgive is to be free. Forgiveness is one of life's great challenges; it is so difficult to let go of anger and pain once you've been hurt. But people who forgive both themselves and others tend to feel more relaxed and open, have less risk of getting stressed or depressed, and experience stronger relationships.

Holding on to past resentments and negative energy tends to cause painful memories to fester in our subconscious, which prevents us from moving forward with joy in life. Learning forgiveness allows us to move on, to create more peace in our lives, and to release ourselves from re-experiencing painful moments. 

Tucked within the pages of this book, readers will find insights and inspiration for letting go of pain, cultivating a forgiving heart, and ultimately finding a deeper sense of awareness and peace. 

  

FABULOUS FEATURES

Each of the four books will feature a similar carefully-designed layout created with the intention of providing thought-provoking (but accessible!) content. The beauty of these little books is that, while they have a beautifully consistent layout (making them a gorgeous little collection as a whole), each one zeroes in on a very specific topic, allowing readers to really home in on the subject matter.

Though each book as a unique theme, they all share these fabulous features: 

  • Inspiring Quotes: Each book features 18 quotes on its specific subject. 18! That's a lot of quotes for one topic! It was so much fun to for me to go in search of these quotes, looking for inspiration that would spark new ways of thinking about each concept, and each one has been carefully chosen to suit each topic. 

  • Bite-Sized Wisdom: Quotes are wonderful (I can't get enough of them, as you may have seen on Instagram!), but sometimes it's nice to take them a step further and explore what they're actually saying. Each quote in each book is followed by a bit of wisdom written to provoke deeper thinking. 

  • Easy-to-Do Exercises: I know, "exercises" sounds like work, but I promise these are actually enjoyable -- and so, so worth it to create more presence, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness in your life. With each quote in the book, you'll find an activity you can do to bring inspiration into your life. 

  • Motivating Mantras: Mantras aren't something I use often, but sometimes you really just need a short phrase that you can use to remind yourself to focus your attention. Each section of each book concludes with a simple, powerful statement that you can use to remind yourself to stay present / grateful / compassionate / forgiving. 

  • Top 10 Lists: Sometimes you just need a list of actionable ideas to take what you've learned and apply it to your life. Each book features lists (like, "Top 10 Ways to Stay Present at Work") filled with inspiration to take the quotes and exercises even further in your day-to-day life. 

  • Beautiful Layouts: I designed these myself so I'm a tad bit biased, but I really think the layouts turned out beautifully. Of course the content is what's most important, but if it's beautifully packaged in bright colors with simple, inspiring illustrations, that certainly doesn't hurt, does it? 

 

If you have any desire to stay present, be grateful, cultivate compassion, or find forgiveness, these are absolutely the books for you. If you can't tell, I'm SUPER excited about these books, and I really hope you will be too! Yay for new books!