The 2019 Gratitude Challenge!


Positively Present 2019 Gratitude Challenge

 

HOORAY! The NINTH year of the Positively Present Gratitude Challenge is about to begin on November 1!

Though I keep a daily gratitude journal, there's always something special about celebrating gratitude during the month of November each year. Having a specific topic to focus on each day really makes me pay even more attention to the things I'm thankful for, and I hope these annual prompts help you too! 

As in previous years, I'll be sharing illustrations on Instagram daily (follow me on Instagram if you're not already!), but feel free to use these prompts for art, photos, collages, or whatever else feels like the best creative outlet for you. If you're new to this Challenge, below are some details (as well as info on each prompt!): 

THE CHALLENGE DETAILS

  • “Challenge” is just a word.

    The goal of the Challenge is to focus on (and share if you want!) something (a photo, illustration, quote, etc.) 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 attain perfection, either. Thankfulness is what it’s all about; no need to be a professional photographer or artist, or to even keep up every single day!

  • 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 I'm doing), or you can start the challenge any day that works for you and follow along at your own pace. I see people discovering and partaking in the Challenge all year 'round so don't feel limited to the month of November!


  • Use the hashtag #Gratitude30.

    Sharing your pics on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.? If you tag them with #Gratitude30, others can see them and if you click on the hashtag you’ll be able to see the cool things others are sharing, too! It really is so awesome to look through the hashtag and see how others interpret and share the prompts every day. Not only is the creativity amazing, but it often shows me new ways to be appreciative. 


  • Save or print out a reminder.

    Keep up with the prompts by downloading the photo above (or 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. Of course, you don't have to do them all in a row (or even do them all), but there is something special about spending 30 consecutive days focusing on gratitude. 

 

THE 2019 PROMPTS...

 

DAY 1: GROWTH

Whether you realize it or not, every day, every moment, you're growing and changing. Most of us focus on growth as something that happens when we're young, but we never stop growing. How have you grown over the past year? Or how have you seen someone or something else grow? 

 

DAY 2: KNOWLEDGE

You've learned so much since the day you were born, which is pretty amazing. What's the thing you're most thankful to have learned? Is there knowledge you've gathered this year that you're particularly grateful for? Also, today is a great day to be thankful for the resources and people who have taught you. 

 

DAY 3: LOVE

There are so many kinds of love (romantic, platonic, etc.) and type is deserving of your gratitude. How do you share love in your life? How do you accept it? How does it make you feel when you think of the word "love"? Celebrate the love you experience for (and from!) others today. 

 

DAY 4: MUSIC

If you've checked out my playlists on Spotify, you know music is something I'm immensely passionate about. There are songs for every occasion and mood, and hearing the right one at the right time can be life-changing. What kind of music do you enjoy? What song are you most thankful for right now?

 

DAY 5: NATURE

No matter where you live, there's likely to be some nature around you. What is inspiring or beautiful about nature you come into contact with often? What elements of nature do you most connect with? What element of the natural world are you most grateful to experience?

 

DAY 6: CREATIVITY

Even if you don't consider yourself "creative," every day you create something. You create connections, experiences, conversations. You might create art and music and magic. Consider what you have created recently. How did it feel? What would you like to create more of?  

 

DAY 7: MEMORY

Memory is a tricky thing because it's not always very accurate. However, it does feel accurate and it's worth being thankful for. Consider your favorite moment or item from the past. What was wonderful about it? How do you feel when you think of that time / thing / person? 

 

DAY 8: WORK

Work-related gratitude might be a challenge if you don't love what you do, but consider how work makes your life better. It provides income, and it can challenge, inspire, and excite you. Today, reflect on how you're fortunate to have a job (or a school) to go to each day. How does this experience improve your life, or at least help you in some way?  

 

DAY 9: CHANGE

Change can be a negative or positive experience, but it's an inevitable part of life. What's changed in life over the past year? What's changed in the last decade? Do you have new friends, new experiences, new mindsets? If you're struggling with this prompt, change the way you do something today and see how it feels.  

 

DAY 10: PEACE

Peace has become one of my favorite words in 2019, mostly because I so rarely experience it. When do you most feel at peace? When you do feel relaxed, calm, and most like yourself? Those moments are the ones you should celebrate today (and maybe even consider how you want to incorporate more of them in your life!). 

 

DAY 11: FREEDOM

Another word that has a lot of meaning for me is freedom. It's something I value incredibly highly (maybe too much?), and am extremely thankful to have in my life. In what ways do you feel free? What people, places, or experiences allow you to feel independent and untethered? 

 

DAY 12: BEAUTY

There is always something beautiful around you if you make an effort to look for it. What beauty are you grateful to see or experience today, right now? What things make your home, office, neighborhood, etc. more beautiful? Who around you embodies the essence of beauty? What do you find beautiful about yourself? 

 

DAY 13: COLOR

There are few things I love more than color! Every single day I'm thankful for all the colors that surround me and all the hues and tones I get to use in my work. How do you feel about color? Which ones are your favorites? What colors inspire feelings of happiness? Share those today!

 

DAY 14: TIME

Because we're only given so much time (an amount we can't even be certain about!), it's important that we pause and be thankful for the time we've been given. It's important, too, to take note of how we spend that time. How do you like to spend your time? What would you do if you had more time? What does the word "time" mean to you? 

 

DAY 15: FRIENDSHIP

Without friendship, life would be quite dull. Today's the day to focus your attention on the friends who brighten your world. Who has been by your side no matter what? Who can you call, day or night, for a chat? Who puts a smile on your face when you think of them? 

 

DAY 16: MAGIC

Regardless of whether or not you believe in magic, it exists all around you. There is magic when you connect with words written on a page. Magic in the moment that you fall in love. Magic in the way we're able to bond so closely with animals of other species. Magic is mixed in with our lives. What magic are you most thankful for today? 

 

DAY 17: SEASONS

With my new season-focused book, Grow Through It, coming out in 2020, I couldn't not have this prompt! The seasons, for me, are incredibly important. They shape my life in so many ways, and I'm so thankful for the changes they bring. Which season is your favorite? Do you enjoy the changes that come with each season? 

 

DAY 18: BOOKS

It's been months since I shot past my goal of reading 100 books this year. I just can't seem to stop turning the pages! What books do you love most? What's the best book you've read this year, or in recent years? What have you learned from books that you might not have otherwise known? 

 

DAY 19: KINDNESS 

Kindness is such a simple thing, but it's not always as abundant as it could be. Today's a good day to do something especially kind for someone else. It's also the day to celebrate kindness -- kindness you've committed, you've experienced, or you've witnessed. When you think of the word "kindness," what's the first thing you think of? 

  

DAY 20: HEALTH

If you don't have health issues, it can be very easy to take good health for granted, but it's one of the most important and amazing things to have. If you're feeling healthy, celebrate how lucky you are today. If you're struggling with health issues, try to focus on the things that are functioning well (or look forward to days when you will feel a bit better). 

 

DAY 21: INSPIRATION

Inspiration is all around you -- if only you make an effort to look for it. Today, consider what inspires you to get out of the bed in the morning. What inspires you to keep working, loving, living? Use today as an opportunity to share your favorite source of inspiration with others. 

 

DAY 22: HOME

What does the word "home" mean to you? Is it where you rest your head each night? Is it where you grew up? Or is home more of a state of mind? Or perhaps a person? Home doesn't need to be a physical thing so feel free to explore creatively with this prompt. Whatever home means to you, reflect on it and share a photo of it today.

 

DAY 23: ANIMALS

Even if you don't have a pet, it's likely that you take joy in seeing animals (or, if you're not an animal-lover, you can at least attempt to understand where that joy might come from). Do you have a favorite animal? If you have a pet, how does that animal make you feel? What animals would you like to know more about?

 

DAY 24: HUMOR

Humor is one of life's greatest gifts. It can transform a mood, lighten a tough time, or touch on tough topics with levity. Today, reflect on what makes you laugh and the things you find humorous. Is it a movie? A book? A joke? A memory? A friend? Whatever evokes that giddy sense of joy within you, be thankful for it. 

 

DAY 25: SNACKS

I know I should be better at preparing meals and eating like a normal grown-up adult, but I'm a sucker for snacks. I love anything you can eat on the go, and I'm thankful to live in a time when such things exist. What is your favorite snack? What flavors (sweet, salty, etc.) are you most drawn to? Celebrate (and eat!) your favorite snack today. 

 

DAY 26: EARTH

We're so lucky to be on this crazy marble of a planet, spinning around in space. We, as humans, don't treat the earth as well as we should, but still we get so much from it. Today, let's try to do something nice for the planet if we can. What do you love most about this place? What do you think of when you see a pic of earth from space? 

 

DAY 27: MERRIMENT

How often to you make time for merriment? For just being silly? For having fun? Today's a good day to reflect on how it feels to have fun, to be silly, and to make merry. "Merry" is a word we hear mostly in connection with the holiday season, but why? Why not aim for merriment more often? What do you feel is the most merry activity to do? 

 

DAY 28: FAMILY

Family — no matter what shape or size it comes in  — is something we're all lucky to have in our lives. Take note of your family today (and "family" can include friends or anyone you've chosen as your family, too!). What do you love about the family you surround yourself with? What do you often take for granted and could be extra appreciative of today?

 

DAY 29: DREAMS

Today's prompt has a double meaning: it can be either the dreams you have a night (which I always find so fascinating!) or it can be the dreams you have during the day (the goals of what you want to achieve in the future). Regardless of which kind of dream you're focusing on today, ask yourself, "What's so special about my dreams? What do I want to celebrate about them?"

 

DAY 30: SELF

No matter what, the one thing you will always have in your life is YOU. On the final day of the challenge, I like to turn our attention inward. Consider, today, all the ways you are amazing, and appreciate the good (and not so good!) parts of yourself. What do you love most about you? What aspects do you feel deserve more love and attention? 

 

 

As a reminder, these are just suggested prompts to get you started. Feel free to make up your own or mix these up. The point is to focus on being grateful all month long -- not to stick to the rules of a challenge. If you do join in, don't forget to use the hashtag #Gratitude30 so I can see your posts! I'll be posting mine starting on November 1 so keep a look out for them. I can't wait to see what you share, and to spend the month of November focusing on all the things we're thankful to have in our lives! 

 

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Wanting v. Having : 5 Ways to Embrace Desire


Positively Present - Wanting Having
If you need this reminder IRL, print is in the shop here

 

Materialism exists because we get excited about something, want to own it, get it, grow used to it (or even feel let down by it immediately after acquiring it), and then strive again for the "wanting" high by identifying a new thing to covet. The cycle can be endless, and even if you're aware of it, it can be tough to break because wanting something (and striving to make it yours) just feels so darn good sometimes. 

The problem is we often don't pay attention to where in that cycle of want-get-have-want that we actually feel good. Yes, getting a thing you've longed for can feel good to obtain momentarily, but frequently it doesn't feel as good as the actual desiring of it did. And we often (if not always!) return to our previous mental state after we've gotten used to possessing whatever it is we once wanted (see: hedonic treadmill).

Often this happens because the way we think about something we want is different from how we feel about it when we own it. Just think about the last time you got a new phone. The anticipation of it, with it's fresh screen and new features, was thrilling. And the first few days with it might have been exciting, too. But now, even if you use and enjoy it a lot, it's likely just something you own. 

The notion that more stuff won't bring you more happiness isn't anything new (and the rise in the minimalism trend keeps bringing it to the forefront in popular culture). Most of us know this (and some of us even put that idea into to practice by resisting the temptation to buy more and more things in pursuit of that short-lived high!), but we often don't focus on how this wanting vs. having idea applies to non-tangible things we're in pursuit of, things like love, status, wealth, success, etc. 

If you're in pursuit of anything at all, whether it be personal or professional, tangible or intangible, you, too, must face the fact that sometimes (and, in fact, often), the wanting of something is more enjoyable than the possession of it. Even if we experience this again and again — we find a great love, we get the job we desperately wanted, we achieve the goal we've worked on for years and yet still feel the need to desire something new or better or more important — it's hard not to keep pursuing more and more. 

The problem is, if we're always chasing after the next thing, we're rarely (if ever) content with where we are now, which makes it pretty difficult to live positively in the present. But how are we to counteract the desire for desire when it's built into our societies, when we're expected to constantly be seeking? Here are few ways we can embrace the ever-present desire to want what we don't yet have.

 

FOCUS ON EXPERIENCE, NOT POSSESSION

You've certainly heard this before: buy experiences, not things. But this concept need not apply only to material goods. It also applies to the intangible desires so many of us have. Experiencing something, whatever it might be, is often much more valuable than possessing it is. For example, rather than focusing the possession of a person (labeling a new romance, needing reassurance that a partner is "yours," or feeling an ownership over your offspring), what if we focused more on the experiences we have with that individual? Doing so will actually strengthen our bonds or, in some cases, help us to realize that perhaps that isn't a person with whom we want to be closely bonded. Or, let's consider the pursuit of greater career opportunity. What if we focused on the experience of working toward it and valued that more than the actual achievement of a new title? Or, once a new title has been granted, what if we spent more time valuing the experience of a new, higher position rather than considering how we might use it to pursue even more status or wealth? Choosing to focus on experiences rather than possessions (tangible or otherwise) is likely to lead to more contentment. 

 

LET GO OF WHAT YOU DON'T GET

It can be hard to realize sometimes when you're in a state of wanting, but the thing you want comes with baggage you cannot understand until you possess it. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles." (Or, in the words of The Notorious B.I.G., "mo money, mo problems.") Whatever it is you want is going to come with a set of issues that you can't anticipate now. You don't know what you don't know, and sometimes you're often better off not acquiring the things you think you want. I know the "everything happens for a reason" idea is cliche, but I believe in it. You can't foresee what will happen in the future, and I've found that not getting what I want has been a blessing in many cases (and getting what I want has rarely lived up to its hype). If you don't get it, it means it's not meant for you. (Or it's not meant for you right now. Things meant for you have a way of coming when you need them, not necessarily when you want them.)

 

APPRECIATE WHAT YOU DO HAVE

If you're familiar with Positively Present, it's going to be no surprise to see gratitude  — probably one of the most used bits of advice here — in this round-up of tips, but making an effort to recognize and appreciate what you do have (particularly what you once longed for and then obtained) is one of the best ways to counteract the challenging notion of always wanting something else. Things only bring us joy when we're aware of them, which is why we take so much pleasure from wanting. When we want something, we're hyper-focused on it, sometimes consumed by thoughts what life will be like if we have it. Once we've had it for awhile, we don't often spend as much time thinking about it. When you find yourself thinking, "I want..." consider challenging it with the thought, "I have..." 

 

SEEK OUT THE ROOT OF THE WANTING

How much of what you want is what you actually want and how much is someone else's idea of what you should want? It's hard to know for sure — after all, we're all products of the cultures and environments in which we are raised and it can be hard to separate our true desires from what we've been taught — but the more you pay attention to the real reasons for what you want, the more you dig down into the roots of that desire, the more likely you are to realize that what you want is actually based on what you think you're supposed to want. Looking at why you desire what you do (and, just as importantly, what you think will happen if you obtain that thing) will often help you realize that your wants are often rooted in foundations not put in place by you. 

 

VALUE CONTENTMENT OVER HAPPINESS

"The pursuit of happiness" is part of the US Declaration of Independence and, as result, many people here and around the world have come to associate the pursuit of happiness with living life to the fullest. Happiness has been held up as the ultimate goal, something all people should be striving for in whatever way feels right for them. We've come to understand that, while happiness doesn't look the same for everyone, everyone wants to be happy. But, as I've discussed many times before, happiness is a fleeting emotion. It's wonderful, but it doesn't last. Making it your life's goal is setting yourself up for constant disappointment (which often leads to pursuit of the next thing that you think will make you happy). The pursuit of happiness is great for capitalism, but not so great for contentment. Instead of focusing being happy, try striving for contentment. Aim to make the most of what's happening now, to accept what's been and look forward to what will be without setting expectations. 

 

When you're in a state of wanting, it can be difficult to realize this, but it's true: whatever you think you need to be happy — money, fame, love, acceptance, beauty, attention, success, diamonds, children, a house, etc. — won't actually make you happier than you are now, at least not for very long. Realizing this doesn't mean you shouldn't keep pursuing what you want (for what is life if not pursuit?); it only means that you should stop expecting that the having will be greater than the wanting. It means understanding that, even though it seems strange, wanting something can be fulfilling in itself, and not getting what you want doesn't have to mean failure. And, most importantly, it means that, cheesy as it may sound, you'll be able to realize that it is, in fact, a journey towards something has just as much value (if not more!) than the thing itself. 

 

 

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10 Years of Positively Present!

Through the Year Cover PPANNIVERSARY EXCLUSIVE!

From now until the end of the month, EVERYONE who signs up for Patreon will get a copy of Through the Year: 52 Pages of Inspiration from Positively Present, an exclusive e-book containing 52 Positively Present illustrations. For just $1 (or more, if you're feeling generous!), you can get this unique collection of illustrations all while supporting Positively Present!

In March, the book will only be available for higher tiers. If you like what I've been doing over the past ten years, please consider supporting my work on Patreon. (And if Patreon isn't for you, don't worry: I've got something for you! Use code "anniversary" in the print shop for 25% off your order all month long!)

SIGN UP FOR PATREON HERE!

 


 

This week, Positively Present turns ten years old. TEN. It's hard to believe that something that started as a little personal growth project (remember when I was too scared to even tell you my first name?!) turned into a full-blown career. I suppose that's how a lot of businesses start (a personal hobby one day turns into a business years later), but it still shocks me sometimes, just how far Positively Present — and I! — have come in the past decade.

Of course, with this big day approaching, I've been spending a lot of time reflecting so I thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learned from ten years of doing this. Even if you're not a blogger or a creative, check out these life lessons and spend a little time reflecting on what you've learned since 2009. I'm all for staying the in present, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to take a look back and reflect on how far you've come...

 

LESSON 1: LUCK

Sure, I've worked hard creating content over the years, but I can't deny that luck has played a role in the creation and continuation of Positively Present. I've been fortunate enough to come across some great people and organizations as part of my work here and through them, I've been given some amazing opportunities. While I've definitely learned the value of hard work over the years, I've also learned that sometimes it's just about being in the right place at the right time. 

 

LESSON 2: WISDOM

I started Positively Present as a way for me to discover how I, a negative worrier, could learn to live more positively in the present. While I still struggle with anxiety, worrying, and negativity at times, I've learned so much from writing, researching, and creating, as well as from followers and fans. With time comes wisdom, but I've learned that paying attention to that wisdom (and writing it down!) helps it stick with me. 

 

LESSON 3: OPTIMISM

Of course, one of the greatest lessons I've learned over the past ten years is how to be more optimistic. I'm by no means perfect in this regard (I still have to redirect my mind from negative thoughts all the time), but I now have more tools and resources and awareness that helps me focus on how to make the most of the moment (even when the moment's terrible). 

 

LESSON 4: SELF-LOVE

I didn't realize how big of a role self-love would end up having here, but it's been just as important as positivity and mindfulness. Over the years, I've learned how valuable self-love is and how cultivating it can help in almost every aspect of life. Perhaps I would have learned that without PP, but I'll always be grateful for the way this site has guided me to focus on self-love and self-awareness. 

 

LESSON 5: FREEDOM

I've always loved my freedom, but working for myself (something I was able to start doing after about three years of working on the blog as hobby) continually reminds me just how important freedom is for me. I'm so thankful to be able to do what I love and, while I'm often frustrated by the life as a "starving artist," I'd rather have an empty fridge and be free than be chained down with a full belly. 

 

LESSON 6: SUPPORT

Without the support of friends, family, loved ones, and awesome patrons, Positively Present never would have survived over the years. Both emotionally and financially, I've received incredible support from those around me, and, much as I love to rejoice in my freedom, that freedom wouldn't be possible without the support, encouragement, and help of others. 

 

LESSON 7: CREATIVITY

Through my work here, I've learned more than I could have imagined about the importance of creativity and about my own ability to create. It started purely as me blogging about my thoughts on being positively present and has since turned into books, planners, workbooks, design work, and illustrations. I've always loved creating, but having the opportunity to share it here has been an amazing teacher. 

 

LESSON 8: HONESTY

Sharing my words and work here has been, at times, scary. While I certainly don't share every detail of my personal life, I've definitely opened up here in ways I never would have thought possible. Learning to be honest with myself (and, in turn, with others) has taught me a great deal about how important honesty is. Looking to understand things as they truly are isn't always easy, but the more I do it here, the better I get at it. 

 

LESSON 9: CONNECTION

As an introvert, I'm not always putting myself in positions to create new connections, but Positively Present has brought me together with people from around the world who also want to share and learn and grow. It's been so awesome to meet new people (and to learn from them!) over the years. The internet has it's issues, for sure, but I never would have been able to meet so many diverse and unique individuals without this little site right here!

 

LESSON 10: CHANGE

Though much has stayed the same over the years when it comes to the content here, a great deal has changed in terms of how that content's delivered. Once just a little personal blog, it's now a brand with a variety of different social media platforms and IRL products. Change has never been my favorite, but working on Positively Present over the years has helped me to accept and work with change, and I'll be forever thankful for that life lesson. 

 

These are just a few of the many, many lessons I've learned since the beginning (though, even three months in, I'd learned a lot), and though there have been some major ups and downs, some wonderful successes and some time-wasting failures, I'm proud of what I've spent my time doing here on Positively Present, and I hope that you've learned something from following along. Here's to the next ten years of inspiration, insight, and personal growth! 

 


 

If you like the work I've been doing and want to support Positively Present, don't forget to sign up on Patreon to get a copy of Through the Year: 52 Pages of Inspiration from Positively Present, an exclusive e-book containing 52 Positively Present illustrations (a glimpse of what's in the book in the image below). All tier levels will receive a digital copy instantly when they sign up from now until March 1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support! 

SIGN UP FOR PATREON HERE!Through the Year Interior