The 10th Annual Gratitude Challenge!


2020_Gratitude_Challenge_


It's hard to believe, but this is the TENTH year of the Positively Present Gratitude Challenge! I've been doing this for a decade (and I know many of you have too!), and I'm so excited to begin this year's challenge on November 1. 

There's always something special about celebrating gratitude during the month of November each year, and this year it feels like we need the reminder more than ever. As always, 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 2020 PROMPTS...

 

DAY 1: HEALTH

This, of course, is one of the most important things to be thankful for, especially in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic. If you're fortunate enough to be healthy, it can be very easy to take for granted, but health's one of the most essential aspects of life. If you're feeling good, celebrate it. If you're not, appreciate the times you were well (and look forward to when you will be again!). 

 

DAY 2: SEASONS

You know this one had to be featured, with the arrival of Grow Through It this year. I absolutely loved working on the book, and I'm so glad so many of you are enjoying my interpretation of seasonal inspiration. Use this prompt to honor your favorite season of the year (or appreciate all of them) -- or, if you'd like, share your favorite page in the book! 

 

DAY 3: OPTIMISM

For day, we're all about optimism. It might seem an odd thing to be thankful for, but imagine if you didn't ever believe that something good could happen? You'd never do anything at all! This has been an incredibly trying year, and this week in particular is tough, but let's be thankful for the opportunity to choose optimism today. 

 

DAY 4: STRENGTH

Strength comes in many forms -- physical, mental, emotional, etc. -- and today's the day to focus on it. Whatever you consider your strength, celebrate that today. Or, if you prefer, look around you at the strength of others and take a moment to appreciate their strength. (Maybe even take some time to let them know how much you admire them for it!)

 

DAY 5: NATURE

After writing Grow Through It, I've really learned the importance of nature. Even though I don't spend as much time in it as I'd like, I do what I can to appreciate it. What is inspiring or beautiful about nature you come into contact with often? What element of the natural world are you most grateful to experience?

 

DAY 6: FUN

How often to you make time for fun? For just being silly? Today's a good day to reflect on how it feels to have fun, to be silly, and to make merry. It's been a tough year for fun, but use this prompt to reflect on any fun times you've had this year -- or, if none come to mind, use today to make time for something fun. 

 

DAY 7: WORDS

Words are like magic to me. I love them (so much so that I even keep a list of my favorites on my phone)! Do you have a favorite word? What words mean the most to you when someone else says them? How have words impacted your world? Use the answers to these questions to inspire you in a new way today. 

 

DAY 8: 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 something special related to it today.

 

DAY 9: FRIENDSHIP

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? Have you made any new connections or revitalized some relationships in 2020? (It's also a good day to let those friends know how much you care about them!)

 

DAY 10: 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? What new music has come into your life this past year?

 

DAY 11: CREATIVITY

In times of trouble, I often turn to creativity to help me cope with difficult times. Have you done the same? Did this year bring out any unexpected creativity in you? Or, if you don't want to focus on your own creativity, what about the creativity of others? Have you come across anything particularly creative this year that you're thankful for? 

 

DAY 12: 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 13: 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 14: 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 15: 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 16: LAUGHTER

Laughter is the best medicine, they say, and I often agree. During difficult times, I love to turn to funny things to keep my mood up. What makes you laugh the most? When did you spend time laughing a lot? Use today's prompt to reflect on the humor in life -- and be sure to appreciate the times this year that you've had a good laugh. 

 

DAY 17: TRUTH

What does the word "truth" mean to you? How to you express your own truth in your day-to-day life? Consider this prompt thoughtfully today and do your best to uncover what new truths you may have learned over the course of the past year. Another way to reflect on this prompt is to consider those you find to be most truthful and appreciate their honesty. 

 

DAY 18: ART

Art is everywhere, and it's one of my absolute favorite things about being alive. What kind of art do you enjoy? Have you ever made art? Which artists do you most admire? Today's the day to take a look around and notice the art in your life. Celebrate (or create!) the creations that make you feel most inspired and share them with others today. 

 

DAY 19: 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? What particularly inspired you to keep going in 2020? Use today as an opportunity to share your favorite source of inspiration with others. 

  

DAY 20: CLOTHING

I've spent most of this year in sweatpants, admittedly, but I'm still thankful for the clothing that keeps me warm and cozy. Today you could reflect on what you most love about clothing -- the comfort, the style, etc. -- or you could spend some time appreciating your very favorite garments. It's also a good day to reflect on where your clothing comes from and be thankful for the work that went into creating it. 

 

DAY 21: 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 22: MEMORIES

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? This year has been a tough one, but are there any happy memories you can take from it?

 

DAY 23: COLOR

If you know me, you know I love color. My all-time favorite is orange, but I honestly adore them all. What's your favorite color? How does color play a role in your life? Today's a good day to reflect on the beauty of color and appreciate all of the hues that surround you. Color has a bigger impact on how you feel than you might think so pay attention to it. 

 

DAY 24: 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"? What's happened over the past year to change how you view the love in your life? Celebrate the love you experience for (and from!) others today. 

 

DAY 25: WISDOM

Wisdom has been a guiding force for me this year, and I bet a lot of you feel the same. What's the wisest thing you've ever heard? Or what wisdom did you uncover in 2020? It's been a wild ride of a year and, for better or worse, I know we've all learned a lot. What lessons of wisdom will you be taking from this year into the future? 

 

DAY 26: 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 27: PROGRESS

Even if it's not always easy to see, you've made progress this year. We all have. What areas of your life have made the most progress compared to, let's say, ten years ago? What progress are you most thankful to have made? Or, if you want a twist on this prompt, consider what progress you'd be thankful to have made looking back a year from now. 

 

DAY 28: 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 29: CURIOSITY

What topics tend to arouse your curiosity? What were you curious about and then sought out information on? Is there something you're particularly curious about right now? What interests us -- the things we're curious about -- is important, and following our curiosity can lead to new and exciting things. Today, be thank for the ability to be curious. 

 

DAY 30: SELF-LOVE

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 have done your best to get through this year. Appreciate the good (and not so good!) parts of yourself, the whole of who you are. 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! 


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! 

 

Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer


 

 


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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