how to stay calm during the holidays



It's the most wonderful time of the year -- or not, depending on how you view the holiday season. If you're like most people, you probably have mixed feelings. On one hand, it's a magical time of year -- so festive and fun and filled with sparkly things! -- but, on the other hand, it comes with a lot of extra stress and craziness that can be downright annoying. The trick to making the most of the holiday season -- of the good and the bad -- is keeping your cool. The calmer you can stay, the better everything becomes. The difficult situations are easier to cope with and the good times are much more enjoyable. But, of course, staying calm during the holidays isn't always easy. Here are some of the best tactics for having a merrily calm holiday season: 



Too often, we go into the holiday season with a groan, envisioning the crowds, the traffic, the obligations. Doing this only enhances whatever negative experiences we might have and quickly dims the bright light of the positive side of the holidays. Instead of focusing on the stress, make it a goal to be calm this holiday season. Choosing this as a goal won't automatically make every situation a piece of cake, but it will help you shift your focus when you find yourself feeling negative. Try treating calmness as a serious goal -- just like baking five dozen cookies or wrapping all of your gifts before Christmas Eve -- and you'll be more likely to make it happen. (Bonus: tell other people it's your goal and they'll be happy to remind you of it when you start to appear less than peaceful!)



This isn't new advice, but it's so vital that I cannot fail to add it to this list: learn to say no. It can be challenging during the holiday season to do this (after all, your cousin only has a holiday party once a year!), but the sooner you're able to draw the line between what you absolutely have to do and what you can skip out on, the sooner you'll be able to find a calm state of mind. One of the biggest stressors during the holidays is feeling like you have to do so many things (attend events, give gifts, bake cookies, trim the tree, attend religious services), but how many do you really have to do? Cut down on the to-do list and create more calm! 



Gratitude usually gets a big spotlight in November with Thanksgiving, but its light is sometimes dimmed during the December holidays when stress and hecticness take over. Don't let this be the case in your life. Choose to keep gratitude in the limelight all season long and it'll be a lot easier to stay calm. For one thing, gratitude is good for your health, and the healthier you feel, the easier it is to keep your cool. And, in addition to physical benefits, gratitude does amazing things for your mind too. It helps you focus on what you have instead of what you don't, which can cut way down on your stress levels. If you can, start each day in December by thinking of something you're really grateful for. (Need ideas? Check out the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge.)



The holidays often become super-stressful or unpleasant because they bring up issues that've been plaguing you all year long. If, for example, you're having a tough time being single, the holidays will amplify feelings of loneliness. Or, if you've put way too many obligations on your calendar, the holidays will increase feelings of overwhelm. Sometimes it's hard to even know what's out of balance (this quiz can help to find out) so pay close attention to what's really bothering you when you lash at out a loved one or feel exasperated with all of the holiday shoppers at the mall. The sooner you can identify (and address!) the real issue, the quicker you'll be able to create more calm in your life. 



Let's face it, sometimes, no matter how hard you try to minimize your obligations or soul-search your way out of a holiday funk, the holiday season will have stressful moments. Some years will be more lighthearted than others and some you'll have to slog your way through (sad as that sounds!). If you're having a particularly stressful holiday season, make some relaxing holiday plans so you'll have something to look forward to. Sign up for a class, book a retreat, or have a little spa day planned for the beginning of the year. While you should do your best to enjoy the holidays (and stay present), sometimes it can be nice to have a little bit of relaxation to look forward when the holidays start feel a bit too chaotic. 


Whatever holidays you celebrate and however you celebrate them, do your best to stay positive and to stay present. Doing so will not only make the season more enjoyable for you on a day-to-day basis, but it will also help you create a lasting sense of calm that you can come back to when things are getting particularly stressful. As the holiday season kicks off, I hope yours is filled with calm, peace, and love. 


MH_LogoTagline Thank you to the sponsor of this post: The MINDFUL MOSAIC© Women’s Retreats, which was created by Nicole Glassman, holistic nutritionist, blogger, public speaker and founder of Mindful Health. MINDFUL MOSAIC© is an innovative healing program that utilizes the ancient wisdom of the 7 chakras to enlighten participants as they explore their beliefs, emotions and physicality while learning creative life-healing techniques. Comprised of thought-provoking curriculum and customized nutritional guidance, MINDFUL MOSAIC© is the ultimate tool to achieve self- growth and emotional healing. The MINDFUL MOSAIC© Women’s Retreats at the luxurious Mayflower Grace and the serene Inns of Aurora will be uplifting experiences, filled with real connections to yourself, your body, and to others. Accompanied by soul-nourishing conversation, daily yoga, chef-prepared meals, natural spa treatments, and a long list of amenities that complement the chakra inspired journey, these retreats are the ultimate getaway for holistic healing.

positively present picks : november 27, 2015




"If you truly loved yourself,
you could never hurt another."




Christmas Cheerso getting in the holiday spirit right now

29 Playlists for When You're Having a Hard Time : music is the b-e-s-t

How Non-Attachment Can Benefit Your Relationship : stop clinging! 

5 Ways to Transform Anger into Joy : perfect for holiday meltdowns

How to Want Very Little : because less really, truly is more 

7 Steps to Crush Negative Thoughts : get rid of them for good

Holiday Survival Tip #1 : important reminder for the holiday season

Emoji Pillows : I love emojis + these make me so happy

5 Ways to Express Gratitude : even when you're not feelin' it...

Cards2Life Christmas Wishes : how beautiful are these greeting cards?!

How to Cope with Doubters : thanks to Kate for sharing this with me! 

Life-Changing Lessons for People Who Struggle with Anxiety : so good

Protect Yourself from Energy Suckers : so important for the holidays



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Love Yourself" — MacKenzie Johnson
"Gone in the Sun" — Beaches
"The Hills" — Atlas Genius
"Piece by Piece" — Kelly Clarkson
"Higher Living" — LEO ISLO
"House of Seven Swords"— Vanessa Carlton
"Awkward" — San Cisco
"Bones" — Josh Record
"This" — Ed Sheeran
"Same Old Love" — Selena Gomez



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

A Christmas Memory
Truman Capote

Big Magic: 
Creative Living Beyond Fear
Elizabeth Gilbert


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

75 inspiring gratitude prompts



Here in the US, it's almost Thanksgiving, which, of course, is always a great time to focus on gratitude! Though you're probably aware of the benefits of gratitude (improvements in physical health, better emotional wellbeing, stronger relationships, etc.), sometimes it can be challenging to embrace an attitude of gratitude, either because you're not lovin' life at the moment or because you just generally think "I'm grateful for everything" and then go about your day. Being generally thankful for what you have is great, but what really serves as effective gratitude is getting specific. And getting specific is where it can get tricky. 

I believe gratitude is one of the most important things you can do to make your life more positive. It makes any situation better (yes, even those stressful moments around the holidays!), which is why I came up with 75 prompts to help you (and me!) stay specifically grateful this holiday season. I recommend using these prompts in one of two ways: (1) print them out, sit down with a pen, and write down your responses, reflecting on how each answer prompts you to think of something you're thankful for, or (2) print them out, cut out the individual questions, and pass them around the table at Thanksgiving (or any holiday), encouraging friends and family to share their answers and what they're thankful for. 

To make them easier to print, I've created a little PDF download for you.
Click here to download the Thanksgiving Prompts PDF!

  1. Who would you be unable to live without? 
  2. What sounds can you hear right now? 
  3. How do you feel when you hear the word "freedom"?
  4. What smell do you love smelling the most? 
  5. Which emotion is your favorite to experience? 
  6. How does the holiday season make you feel?
  7. Did a teacher influence your life in a positive way?
  8. What have you learned from unpleasant emotions?
  9. Who is the most positive, inspiring person you know?
  10. What quote made you think about life differently?
  11. Which animals have positively impacted your life?
  12. How do you feel about your closest friends?
  13. What is your favorite physical trait? 
  14. Who was the last person you hugged? 
  15. What traditions did you enjoy as a child?
  16. Did you learn any lessons from a childhood friend?
  17. Where did you rest your head last night?
  18. What opportunities have changed your life?
  19. How do you like to spend your spare time?
  20. What three things do you see in front of you? 
  21. What do you enjoy about your career?
  22. How does it feel to wake up every single day?
  23. When was the last vacation you went on?
  24. What is the best thing you've ever read?
  25. How has technology impacted your life?
  26. What character traits are you happy to have?
  27. When did you last feel pure excitement? 
  28. How do you feel in your favorite outfit? 
  29. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
  30. What TV show do you enjoy watching?
  31. How did it feel the first time you fell in love?
  32. What is your favorite or best talent?
  33. Do you have a simple pleasure you really enjoy? 
  34. What luxury are you lucky to have access to?
  35. How did it feel to leave a bad situation?
  36. Who did you last say "I love you" to?
  37. What inspires you to keep going when it's hard?
  38. Who provides you with a valuable service? 
  39. What is the best gift you have ever received? 
  40. Do you have a favorite memory? 
  41. How does it feel to get paid for your work?
  42. What color makes you feel happiest? 
  43. Do you feel excited about your future? 
  44. What is one thing you're really proud of? 
  45. How do you express your love to others? 
  46. When was the last walk you went on? 
  47. What is your all-time favorite song? 
  48. How does it feel to eat a really great meal? 
  49. Do you have running water at home?
  50. When did you last feel really cozy? 
  51. What kind of artwork makes you happy?
  52. When did you last look up at the stars?
  53. How does the sky above you look today?
  54. What website do you enjoy visiting?
  55. Do you enjoy traveling to new places?
  56. When did you last lie in the sunshine?
  57. How does it feel to give a gift? 
  58. When were you last encouraged/praised?
  59. What's the most fun day you've had?
  60. How do you enjoy your favorite month?
  61. When were you last really surprised?
  62. What's the best compliment you've received?
  63. What are you really passionate about?
  64. Do you enjoy a good dance party?
  65. What have you learned recently? 
  66. How do you feel in moments spent alone?
  67. What kindnesses have you experienced?
  68. How does a good night's sleep feel?
  69. What dessert do you most enjoy eating?
  70. When did you last feel really at peace?
  71. How do you recover from an illness?
  72. When did you forgive someone else? 
  73. When did someone else forgive you?
  74. Where is your favorite place to be?
  75. What do you love most about life? 


Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoyed contemplating these prompts. Gratitude is one of the best ways I've encountered for staying optimistic and in the moment. As joyful as the holiday season is, it can also be challenging in a lot of ways. If you find yourself struggling with gratitude in the coming weeks, come back to these prompts to remind you of all of the things for which you can be thankful! 




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.

positively present picks: november 20, 2015




"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing,
of just going along, listening to all the things you
can't hear, and not bothering..."

A.A. Milne



Kathy Weller Art : I am obsessed. This is at the top of my wish list. 

Artifact Uprising Holiday Cards : made these + they turned out so well!

Silver Lining Print : another one for my wish list. Demii is so talented. 

Christmas Cheer : getting very much into the holiday spirit on Pinterest

15 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do : super advice in this post

Need to Get Motivated? : here are eight ideas that can help you out 

Be Brave : a much-needed reminder for everyone around the world

Getting Things Done on Zero Sleep : it happens; here's how to cope

Chakra Quiz : find out where you need more balance in your life

How Negative Thinking Changes Your Brain : so stay positive! 



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Lungs" — Still Weeks
"Background" — Francisco Cerra
"The Feeling" — Justin Bieber + Halsey
"Sense of Home" — Harrison Storm
"Shell Suite" — Chad Valley
"Plans"— Matt Wright
"Lose It" — Oh Wonder
"I Found" — Amber Run
"I Can't Make You Love Me" — Bon Iver
"Needs" — Baio



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Engagements
J. Courtney Sullivan

Big Magic: 
Creative Living Beyond Fear
Elizabeth Gilbert


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

10 tactics i use to cope with anxiety

Source / Alex Jones

Anxiety is a perfectly normal reaction to stress (and in some cases very useful to our survival!), but when you're in the midst of experiencing it, it doesn't feel all that normal. As someone with an always-racing mind, anxiety has always been a part of my life. I was an anxious kid, always worried about getting my schoolwork done well before it was due, trying as best I could to plan my day so I'd always be on schedule. (Today friends from childhood still tease me about always having to be at home at 7pm so I could take my nightly shower!) I've gotten better at managing my anxiety as I've gotten older, but I still have moments where I really struggle with it. For me, anxiety comes in waves. There are times in my life where I don't experience it much and there are times (like right now...) where it feels as if I'm constantly anxious. As you can imagine, this does not pair well with striving to live a positively present life. 

Whether or not you suffer from anxiety on a regular basis, this time of year can spark anxious feelings in even the most at-peace individuals. Adding holiday tasks ( to your already long to-do list can feel overwhelming, as can all of the events and family time (which, for some, can be a major stressor even if they really love their family members). Anxiety always seems to ramp up for me at the end of the year because, not only do I have all of the new holiday tasks to contend with, but my workload always seems to be the heaviest this time of year. (And don't get me started on the whole being-single-during-the-holidays-stress!) A lot of you might be in the same boat so I thought, Why not write a blog post about some of the ways I combat my anxiety? 

Over the years, I've tried a lot of different anti-anxiety remedies and I know there are still more I could put into my stay-calm toolkit (essential oils and regular meditation being some), but here are some of the tools I've been using to combat the end-of-the-year anxiety that seems to always come knocking at my door around early November... 



Talking about anxiety can be tough, and it's especially tricky if you're in some sort of position where you're supposed to have everything together (like, for example, someone who writes about staying positive and present for a living...). It can be awkward to talk about any mental health issues, but, believe me, it really helps to share what you're going through with someone else. I'm lucky to have a close friend that also struggles with anxiety and she's one of my go-to people to talk when I'm struggling because she knows exactly what it feels like. But people don't have to have experienced anxiety to be empathetic. And, to be honest, most people have experienced some level of anxiety in their lives — whether it's a slight bout of anxiety before a big test or a full-blown panic attack — and they should be able to somewhat relate to what you're going through. And if you can't find a close friend or relative to share your feelings with, seek out the help of a good therapist. A good therapist can work wonders with an anxious mind. (If you're not sure about the idea of therapy, check out my 10 Reasons to Sit on the Couch post.)



Sometimes, when my anxiety gets to be too much for me, I just have to press pause on what's going on in my life and take a time-out. This "time-out" can be anything from a half hour break from work spent reading on the balcony in the sun (my favorite relaxing activity!) to realizing I need to take an entire day off of work to recharge my batteries and get into a healthier mental state. Working for myself, it's relatively easy for me to take a day-long time-out, but I know that's not the case for most people. However, if you're feeling so overwhelmed and anxious that you're no longer being productive, it makes sense for you to take a mental health day. You can actually do more harm than good if you continue working when you're anxious, as anxiety can negatively impact your career. Even if it's hard and you have to ask others for help with your job (or kids or schoolwork), being okay with taking a time-out can be a game-changer when it comes to anxiety. Those moments (or days) spent relaxing can be just what you need to create a more positive mindset. 



One of the best ways I've found to combat anxiety is to do something so stimulating to my mind that I don't have room for all of the anxious thoughts, something that 100% gets me into the flow mindset. When your thoughts are racing, it can be a challenge to get them to focus on anything other than worrying, but there are certain activities that can really bring you fully into the moment, which is essential for combatting all of those stress-driven thoughts. There are tons of activities that prompt people to get in the flow — drawing, painting, running, etc. — but my personal favorites are: coloring, doing puzzles, and playing Boggle on my phone. (Yes, I know, I sound like a 90-year-old lady.) Whenever I do these three things, I find it hard to keep my mind on what's causing my anxiety because I'm so completely focused on what I'm doing. In particular, I like using the Boggle app because: (1) it's a set amount of time (three minutes) so I have to focus on the game and I can't let my mind wander, (2) I can play it almost anywhere so it's a great on-the-go anxiety tool, and (3) I really like words and searching for things so it's kind of the perfect mix of a game for me. I only recently discovered that an app/game could work so well for my anxiety, but it's something that fully engages me and I think that's the most helpful aspect of it. 



"Soothing" isn't really my forte. I tend to walk fast, talk fast, move through my day quickly, and the high pace I generally like to keep (which exists even when I'm resting on the couch since I'm usually scrolling through a million different apps, trying to watch a show, and reading all at the same time!) isn't very good for my anxiety. However, one thing I've found to really work for me is sticking to some sort of routine. Not every day can be exactly the same, but I try as much as I can to have a routine during the day and especially at night (when my anxious mind really kicks into high gear!). Crazy as it sounds, one thing that really helps to soothe me is watching the same show every night before bed. For some (most) people, this might sound like a waste of time (or something that a lunatic would do), but I find it very soothing to turn on a show (30 Rock) that I've seen countless times. Even though, by now, I know almost every line, for some reason it soothes me and helps me feel a bit more at ease at the end of the day. This is my go-to routine, but yours can be anything — a special kind of tea before bed, a relaxing bubble bath, a walk around the block — that helps to soothe your mind. 



One of the best quotes I discovered last year was Danielle LaPorte's "Interrupt anxiety with gratitude." When I read this I thought to myself: Wow. That is so, so wise. As soon as you start thinking about all of the things you have to be grateful for (health, family, friends, a roof over your head, food, clean drinking water, a job, your unique talents, every possession you own, the experiences you've had, your personal strengths, etc.), it becomes much more difficult to be anxious. I'll admit that I don't always remember to do this one. Sometimes I'm so caught up in the craziness of my mind that I forget to focus on what I have. But when I do remember (and I really try to!) this tactic of replace anxious thoughts with grateful ones works every single time. Gratitude is a really powerful force, which is one of the reasons I continue to do the 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge every year. Each year it's a great reminder of how important it is to be thankful and I try to keep that reminder with me all year long — especially during the times I'm struggling with anxiety. 



During anxious times, one of the worst things you can do for yourself is be around people who cause you to feel more anxious. I bet if you think for just a minute you can identify the people in your life that make you feel more stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy. Some of these people might be bad people in general, but more often it's just that they're bad for you. For whatever reason (a past experience, a weird vibe, a personality difference, an underlying issue we haven't dealt with) some people are just tougher to be around than others. A lot of the time this is okay and you can cope with it, but when you're struggling with anxiety, this is not the time to try to tough it out. During stressful times, it's very important to stay away from stressful people (or limit your interactions with them if you can't avoid them all together). And, as a bonus tip: try to spend even more time with people who make you feel at ease! 



When you're feeling super anxious, one of the best things you can do for yourself is distract your mind from negative, racing thoughts. This might sound kind of counter-intuitive coming from someone who strives to live in the present moment, but when it comes to anxiety, sometimes you need a little distance from the present state of your mind. Oddly enough, some of the best ways to take a step away from current anxious thoughts involves engaging in activities that bring you back to the present. I recently found this amazing round-up of distraction ideas on Tumblr, and I've gotten in the habit of referring back to it whenever I'm in need of an anti-anxiety activity. I'm sure there are tons of other ideas online for distracting yourself when things can really tough so if you ever need ideas, just search for some. This tip might seem like you're avoiding your emotions (something I don't recommend!) but, as anyone who has suffered from anxiety knows, sometimes you have to step away from your thoughts in order to stay sane. 



Anxiety often stems from ruminating about a situation that made/makes/could make you unhappy. As humans, we try to protect ourselves from harm by assessing what hasn't worked in the past and what might not work in the future, but sometimes we take all this analyzing too far and that's where anxiety comes from. One way to combat the obsessive rumination of a situation is to set up a date with your worry. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write down every single thing you're worried about. Don't hold back — just let it all out. Doing this gives you a opportunity to think things through, which you can then refer back to when you feel as if you might need to rethink a situation. Honestly, this trick doesn't always work for me. Sometimes it's so liberating to write down my worries and I feel almost completely free of them after I do so, but other times, I find myself still drawn back to worrying, even when the clock has stopped. That being said, the times it's worked, it's worked so well that I definitely think it's worth giving a try! 



I've only discovered this tactic more recently, but I find it to be really useful. When the mind is stuck in anxious-mode, one way to break the cycle can be to make a physical change. This can be changing location (get off the couch and go for a walk), changing position (if you're lying down, sit up), or, my personal favorite, making a temperature-related change. What's a temperature-related change, you ask? It involves engaging with something really warm or really cold. Some examples: taking a hot bath, holding an ice cube, putting a cool cloth on your forehead, sticking a blanket in the dryer and covering up with it, taking a cold shower, stepping outside when it's really cold, drinking hot tea, drinking really cold water, etc. It might seem odd that these things help with anxiety, but they really do. I don't know exactly why (I'm pretty sure there's a scientific reason, though I'm not certain about this), but the change in temperature is like the rational part of you giving your brain a nice, firm "wake up!" jolt that seems to send the anxiety running. 



Last, but definitely not least, is learning to separate yourself from your thoughts. In case you weren't aware: you are not your thoughts. Let me write it again (in case you missed it): YOU. ARE. NOT. YOUR. THOUGHTS. If this sounds odd to you, read this. It might seem as if what you think is reality and absolute truth, but in actuality, your thoughts are only going on inside your head. They are not part of the real, actual world. And, as a result, you don't have to accept them as 100% truth. For example, thinking anxious thoughts doesn't mean you are anxious. Just because you feel anxiety doesn't mean you are anxiety. The more you can learn to see your thoughts as separate from yourself, the easier it becomes to gain control over them. It can be really hard to take note of your anxiety and say, "Hey, I see you. I don't like you being here and I need you to leave." Identifying anxious thoughts can be hard because sometimes they are so dominate that they feel as if they are the only thought option. But they are not. You might not completely eliminate anxiety by remembering "I am not my thoughts," but you'll definitely help it from spiraling out of control and taking over your mind. 


An important reminder before you use any of these tips on your own: I am not a doctor or a psychologist or a therapist. I don't know if these tips work for everyone or even why they work for me. What I do know is that they work (most of the time) when I need them, and they've helped me when I've really been struggling, which is why I wanted to share them with you. You have to try things out and you have to figure out what works specifically for you. 

Speaking of things that work (or don't), you might notice that a very common anti-anxiety tip is missing from this list: taking deep breaths. That one can be useful for some, but not long ago I had a really bad experience with deep-breath-taking. I was in the situation that produces the most anxiety for me (getting an IV put in at the hospital) and I decided to give deep breathing a try. It started off okay, but pretty soon I'd worked myself up so much that I was hyperventilating and I even passed out for a little bit. Yikes. Clearly this did not help with my anxiety. Deep breaths don't work well for me (though sometimes counting my breaths does), but they might be a miracle-cure for you. The point is this: try things out. If you suffer from anxiety or racing thoughts, give the things I've written about a try, and try other things too. You just never know what kinds of weird things (Boggle! 30 Rock! A warm blanket!) might work for you. 




Self-love is another important anti-anxiety tool. Want to empower yourself with some 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.

positively present picks : november 13, 2015




"Don't surrender all your joy for an idea
about yourself that isn't true anymore."

Cheryl Strayed



How to Be an Optimist: the best ways maintain a positive disposition

Fall Desktop Wallpaper : these little pumpkins are so festively fall

5 Simple Steps to Starting Your Day Right : sets the tone for the whole day!

Can You Teach Yourself to be More Optimistic? : I definitely believe you can

Random Acts of Kindness Generator : what a fun concept for kind ideas

The Most Important Moment : such a great reminder from Zen Habits

4 Ways to Find Beauty Every Day : it's there but you gotta look for it

Letting Go of the Uncontrollable : 20 things you'll learn from letting go

How to Radiate Positivity in a Negative World : be the good you want to see

Inspiring Woman of the Week : so honored to be featured + interviewed! 

Ultimate Stress Relief Kit Giveaway : this looks so awesome (+ relaxing too)

How to Work Happiness into Your Workday : these tips will really help



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Wildflowers" — The Citrus Clouds
"Adventure of a Lifetime" — Coldplay
"Summer Was a Day" — Pete Yorn
"Roses and Violets" — Alexander Jean
"Where I Want to Be" — Arizona
"How Will I Know"— Sam Smith
"Say You Love Me" — Jessie Ware
"The Story of Us" — Taylor Swift
"LA Love Song" — XYLO
"Body of Work" — The Mynabirds



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Here and Now
Ann Brashares

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head,
Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and
Found Self-Help That Actually Works
Dan Harris


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

the do's and dont's of being a positive friend



While focusing on gratitude this month, I've, of course, been giving a lot of thought to what matters most to me and what I'm most thankful for. Not surprisingly, one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of thankfulness is the good fortune I've had when it comes to the friendships in my life. It's been a tough couple of years for me and I know I would never had made it through them without the the support and love of my friends. Friendship is one of the greatest joys in life (cheesy as that is to write!), but, like all great things, maintaining it requires energy and effort.

Great friendships don't just happen — they're created by two people connecting with one another and choosing to maintain their connection over a period of time. By the time you're in your thirties, like me, you've probably experienced a variety of friendships: the we're-family-but-I'd-choose-you-as-a-friend lifelong friendships; the BFFs of childhood (some that last forever, some that fade away); the cliquey, girly groups of "friends" in high school; the true friends that stick by you during (and long after) all of the high school drama; the party-driven, late-night, boozy connections at college; the tumultuous twenty-something, soul-baring bonds that form when you're still trying to figure out what the heck you're doing with your life; the we-work-together-but-you're-pretty-awesome colleague-based friendships; the you're-my-mom-but-also-my-best-friend eternal, maternal friendship; the boyfriend / best friend bond; and a variety of other surprising friendships that spark up along the way.

There are so many different kinds of friendships — from the casual ones of convenience to the everlasting ones of a life-long bond — and they all have one thing in common: they require connection, interaction, and work. I'm so thankful for the effort and time others have put into the friendships I've had and I hope that I've shown others how much they mean to me by being a good friend. I know I haven't always been the perfect friend (sometimes my impatience and selfishness has gotten in the way), but, as I've gotten older, I've realize how important it is to focus on friendship and, more importantly, how vital it is to put in the time and effort to make friendships last. After giving the concept of being a positive friend some thought, here are some of the do's and dont's I've come up with for cultivating a friendship that withstands the ups and downs of life.  



Have you ever spent time with someone whose mind is clearly elsewhere (or who is constantly looking at her phone)? It's kind of the worst. I know I've been guilty of this before — taking the presence of a friend for granted and focusing my attention on something other than the present moment. It's a pretty big buzzkill in the friend department, and it's definitely something I want to work on personally. To be a truly good friend, you have to give your full attention to the person you're spending your time with. Listen closely to what others are saying and pay attention to their body language. When you give your full attention to someone else, you create deeper and more meaningful bonds, which will lead to stronger and longer lasting friendships. 



It might seem like part of friendship is giving advice to those you care about. After all, you just want what's best for them, right? That may be true, but giving unwanted advice can be detrimental to a friendship. If a friend asks for your opinion, by all means, go ahead and speak your mind, but a good friend shouldn't be doling out advice without any indication that it's desired. (I think I might be guilty of doing this, seeing as I like to give advice for a living!) It can be hard not to offer your two cents every time a friend presents a problem to you, but one of the best qualities of a good friend is being able to listen and support without giving advice. 



When we think "random acts of kindness," we often think of paying for a stranger behind us in the Starbucks line or letting someone with fewer groceries go ahead of us in line, but random acts of kindness shouldn't be limited to those we don't know. In fact, they should be a big part of your friendship upkeep. Nothing is more lovely than receiving an unexpected (handwritten!) note from a friend or getting a friendly text from someone who cares about you when you're having a bad day. Being a good friend means doing little things to make your friends happy, particularly if they're going through tough times or coping with change. 



One of the best ways to make (and keep!) friends is to be true to yourself and not be afraid to show your true self to others. Actually being yourself is one of the bravest things you can do in life, and people will pick up on that courage if you open up and show them your true self. One of the best things about a true, meaningful friendship is that you can speak your mind, express how you feel, and act like yourself and your friend will still love you no matter what. People are drawn to authenticity and when you show yourself to others, you'll bond more deeply with them. (Also: be accepting of others when they show their true selves. Judgment is a sure way to end a friendship!)



Have you heard that honesty is the best policy? Yeah, it's an old saying, but still a very true one! It's especially true when it comes to friendships. Nothing kills a friendship quicker than not telling the truth. Whether the issue is big (relationships, careers, etc.) or small (what to wear for a night out), always be honest with your friends. This doesn't mean you have to be brutally honest — "I'm not sure I love that one" is a lot better than "God, you look terrible in that! Take it off!" — but you should always tell your friends the truth, even when it's not the easiest thing to do. (Bonus: respect your friends when they tell you the truth. It's not an easy thing to do so be thankful for it, even if it's painful.)



Unfair expectations can really hurt relationships. (For more on this, check out this post about loving without expectation.) Having some level of expectation for your friend isn't a bad thing (for example, expecting him or her to treat you with respect), but some unrealistic expectations can ruin your friendships. If, for example, you expect your friend to be available to hang out with you whenever it's convenient for you and are then resentful when they aren't available, you're putting too much pressure on your friend and the relationship. Friendships should be balanced and expectations should be made clear. If you have reasonable expectations and they aren't being met, talk to your friend about it. Communication is key! 



No matter how much you love your friend, there are bound to be some difference in the way you think, speak, and act. One of the best ways to cultivate a positive relationship is to practice acceptance for the differences. It's okay if you don't believe the same things and if you have differing opinions on certain topics. Don't allow these differences to become bigger than the connections you share. Instead, celebrate your friend for who s/he is, and focus your attention on what s/he brings to your life. The more accepting you can be of your friends, the easier it becomes to bond with them. As a nice bonus, accepting others for who they are will bring you greater inner peace too! 



The older you get, the more difficult it is to maintain friendships. When you're young, you have the benefit of seeing your friends every day at school, but when you're no longer seeing friends on a daily basis, the relationships are more challenging. Even though it's not always easy to stay in touch, don't give up on the good friends in your life. Send cards if they live far away. Pick up the phone and call them. Text a quick "hi!" to check in and see how they're doing. In the grand scheme of things, these little acts don't take much time, but reaching out to friends and staying connected is one of the very best ways to be a positive friend. 


Whether you have one best friend or dozens of buddies, being a good friend is so important for living a positive, present life. Not only does it help strengthen the relationships you have, but it opens you up to new ones, and it also provides you with the positive mental state that comes from connecting with others. Finding (and keeping!) great friends is one of the best things about this crazy life so make sure you're putting the effort into creating meaningful connections with those that matter to you. 



L-district-logo-GreySpeaking of creating connections... today's post was sponsored by the amazing LDistrict, an online resource for connecting with positive, goal oriented women! L District is a communication engine that's pioneering a secure and positive virtual neighborhood. It's a place to connect with women with whom you can relate, share, converse and collaborate on all of life's topics. L District has launched a "GroundBreaker" campaign to attract their first 1200+ residents to the neighborhood. If you are curious and want to experience the fun and helpfulness that L District will bring to your life, please back their campaign today and be a part of their crazy awesome beta launch in mid-January. During the beta, you will get to experience and enjoy the many features L District has to offer, provide feedback on what you love or dislike, as well as request what you want to get out of L District in the first year! You can find more details about the beta on the campaign page here:

positively present picks: november 6, 2015



"The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself."

Michel de Montaigne



Gratitude Photo Challenge : it's not too late to join in on the fun

33 Amazing One-Sentence Quotes : I always love a good quote! ;)

The Best Reasons to Pet a Dog Everyday : dogs are the absolute best

7 Ways to Look on the Bright Side : honored to be mentioned in this article

How Self-Awareness Can Help Us Love People Just as They Are

Why We Relive Painful Times Over Again : there's a good reason for it

5 Ways to Start Putting Yourself First : self-love isn't selfish

How to Make a Gratitude Journal : perfect for those who love DIY

Transitioning Between October and November : this Vine makes me laugh

10 Behaviors of Genuine People : these are so, so important

Out of the Woods (Live) : this version of the song gives me chills

How to Stay Calm When You Know You'll be Stressed : prepare!



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Out of the Woods" — Taylor Swift
"Fahrenheit" — XY & O
"Hello" — Adele
"True" — Chad Valley
"Take" — Khai
"There's a Ghost"— Fleurie
"I'll Show You" — Justin Bieber
"Hollow" — Tori Kelly
"Wild Things" — Alessia Cara
"Without You" — Oh Wonder



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

The Secrets of Mary Bowser
Lois Leveen

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head,
Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and
Found Self-Help That Actually Works
Dan Harris


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

the 5 best ways to show gratitude


Happy November! With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the month of November is always a very popular time for talking about gratitude. (And, of course, it's the month for the 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge!) Like many topics in the self-help space, the concept of gratitude can be a bit vague at times. You're probably well-aware of what the word means from a dictionary-definition standpoint ("the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness"), but actually putting gratitude into practice — and keeping focused on that practice for more than just the month of November — can be a more complex endeavor. 

Being grateful is one of the best ways to embrace a positive, present life. When you're grateful, it's impossible to be negative. It's also an excellent tool for staying in the moment. If you're struggling to stay present, focusing on what you have to be grateful for can bring you back into the moment. But gratitude is more than just thinking "I'm thankful for..." Gratitude means taking action and putting the thankful thoughts into practice. I've given the concept of practicing gratitude a lot of thought, and here are the five best ways I've found to be grateful.



One of the best ways you can show gratitude is by giving — both to yourself and to others. When it comes to being thankful for yourself and cultivating self-love, you can give to yourself by being patient with yourself when you're going through a difficult time, by caring for your body and your mind, by making choices that will make you happier and more fulfilled. When it comes to being thankful for others, giving back to them is one of the best ways to show your gratitude. You can give them time, patience, love, kindness. You can also give them physical things too if you're able — like donating the goods you no longer have use for to those in need or donating money to a friend's Kickstarter project. (Two I'm loving right now? aquabook and The Spark Planner). We all have something to give and it's such a wonderful way to express thankfulness. When it comes to giving, also consider the gifts you have to give the world. If you're really talented at something, pursuing that passion and sharing your talents is a gift you give not only yourself but those who get to experience your work. This, in its own way, it an expression of gratitude for what you've been given. 



The act of listening is a small act, but a very important one. We're all bombarded on a daily basis with so much noise and information that it's sadly becoming rare to give someone your full, undivided attention. Just think of how many conversations you've had when you're looking at your phone! One way you can show gratitude for others is by giving them 100% of your attention when they're speaking to you. Put your phone down. Try not to let your thoughts drift to what you want to say (or what you're going to be doing right after the conversation ends). This can be challenging, I know, but the effort and energy you put into listening to others with your full attention is such an amazing way to express gratitude. It might not be the first thing you think of when you hear "gratitude," but fully engaging with someone else and letting him/her have a chance to speak openly and without interruption (or distraction) is basically the equivalent of throwing your arms around someone in a big bear hug and saying, "Thank you for being you! I value who you are and what you have to say!" (Also, it's nice to take note of when others are fully listening to you and thank them for their time and attention.)



Appreciation is a key component of gratitude. The word "appreciation" has two meanings, both of which are essential when it comes to practicing gratitude. First, appreciation means, "the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something." One of the best ways to cultivate gratitude is to embrace this first definition wholeheartedly. Look around you right now and take note of what good qualities can be spotted all around you (and within you too — self-love!). All too often we're so busy and/or stressed that we fail to see how much beauty and goodness is all around us. From the smile on a loved one's face to the sun streaming in through the window, there are countless moments of goodness around us at any given moment. Even when things are bad, there's something good. Gratitude is finding these moments and sitting with them for a second, letting ourselves bask in their glow and fully knowing that we are lucky to experience them. Secondly, appreciation means, "a full understanding of a situation." This definition leads to my next point...



... which is, show gratitude by trying your best to fully understand and accept whatever situation you're in. We all face amazing, wonderful, and is-this-my-life? situations as well as unpleasant, horrible, and how-can-this-be-happening? situations. Life has it's ups and downs and the rollercoaster-ness of it all can sometimes cast a shadow on the ability to be grateful. But the struggling to be grateful in good and bad times can be overcome if you choose acceptance over resistance. Rather than wanting a situation to be other than what it is, try accepting it fully and without (too much) judgment. This act of acceptance is its own kind of gratitude, a way of saying, "Okay, Universe/God/Preferred Deity, I see that this situation is happening and I might not love it, but I'm here for it and I'm thankful for that." Or, in really great situations, it's important to accept them with an open, thankful heart, rather than thinking (as some of us negative-prone thinkers do) that the good time will be short-lived and we should't get too used to the happy moments. Accepting the good and the bad, the light and the dark, is a remarkable way to be grateful for every experience. 



Gratitude in and of itself is a wonderful thing, but expressing it is even more amazing. Whenever you feel grateful for someone or something, express it in a physical way. Tell someone at work you're so thankful for her help. Write your father an email after he goes out of his way to help you. Give your mother a big hug after she says something that made you feel empowered. Send a handwritten note to a friend that helped you through a tough time. Say "thank you" to your surgeon after he helped you to heal. Tell your kids you're so grateful to have them in your life. Participate in the 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge and share your thank-worthy moments. Whatever you need to do to express your gratitude, do it. If saying "thanks" isn't part of your daily routine, now is the time to incorporate it into your life. No matter how big or small the act, it's important to express your gratitude for it to others. Not only does it let them know that you're thankful, but it also feels really good to put kind words and actions out into the world. If you need some ideas of how express your gratitude, check out this article I came across: Tiny Buddha's 50 Ways to Show Gratitude. So many awesome ways to express your thankfulness! 


As I mentioned earlier, gratitude is an vital but sometimes vague concept. It includes saying "thank you" (which is so important to do!), but it's so much more than that. Gratitude is about giving, listening, appreciating, accepting, and expressing. It's about finding the good in your life, recognizing how fortune you are to have it, and sharing that goodness with those around you. It's about realizing that everything — the good and the bad — is worthwhile, and being open to the idea of appreciating what's happening to you, who you're sharing experiences with, and how these experiences make you feel. You'll probably being seeing a lot of gratitude-related things this month, and, even though it's mostly due to the upcoming holiday, I hope you'll take them to heart and use them as reminders to keep cultivating gratitude every single day. Take it from me — you'll be glad you did. The more grateful you are, the more positive and present you are. And the more positive and present you are, the happier and more fulfilled you'll feel! 



There's so much to be grateful for in this life, and one thing I'm particularly grateful for today is sponsors that help bring Positively Present posts to you.

Today's sponsor is aquabook! I'm so excited about this product (an awesomely reimagined take on the water bottle), and I can't wait to see it come to life.  The aquabook is a reinvented water bottle designed to match your lifestyle. The book-shaped, slim design fits easily in any kind of bag or purse. It’s convenient, customizable, and reusable — making it good for you
 and for the environment. You can choose your color and even print your favorite picture or statement on the aquabook. The aquabook is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter ( Support this project and help bring the aquabook to life! Be sure to check out #myaquabook on Instagram and follow along on and Twitter @theaquabook. 

positively present picks: october 30, 2015



"Your excuses might be legit, 
but they won't change your life."

Grant Cardone



Halloween Happiness : who's ready for tomorrow?!

If You Feel Tired... : Marc Johns' art always makes me smile

13 Ways Reading Will Improve Your Life : 'cause books are the best

Trying is Succeeding : wow, these athletes are so inspiring 

16 Quotes That'll Inspire You to Be Brave : via Cheryl Strayed

How Expectations Undermine Our Relationships : a great read

5 Fun Ways to Fall in Love with Your Life : #2 is perfect for this

Furiously Happy : funny + inspiring. loved this book so much

10 Quotes to Give You a Reality Check : #1 made it as quote of the week!

How to Make Anxiety Work for You, Not Against You : love the positivity

Unique Ways to Have More Fun : you deserve some fun in your life

30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge : starts on Sunday! join in! 





Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Kill Em With Kindness" — Selena Gomez
"A Girl, a Boy + a Graveyard" — Jeremy Messersmith
"Haunted" — Taylor Swift
"Lost and Found" — Ellie Goulding
"It Kills Me" — Cub Sport
"Step"— Crooked Colours
"Walking with a Ghost" — Tegan + Sara
"Crystal" — Stevie Nicks
"Midnight Coward" — Stars
"Haunting" — Halsey



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Furiously Happy
Jenny Lawson

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head,
Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and
Found Self-Help That Actually Works
Dan Harris

Teen Spirit
Francesca Lia Block


I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro