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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Living the HSP Life: Tips for Highly Sensitive People

Positively Present HSP

 

Note: A lot of what I learned about Highly Sensitive People (aside from my own personal experience), came from Elaine N. Aron's book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. If you want to learn more about the info that's not personal-experience-based, I highly recommend you check it out or visit her site here

 

WHAT IS A HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON (HSP)? 

Basically, Highly Sensitive People (HSP) is a term developed in the 1990s to describe people who pick up on subtleties that most others ignore. HSPs are more sensitive to external stimuli (sounds, colors, movement, etc.); they have strong emotional reactions to what they experience (though they might not express these emotions outwardly); they notice things others would not; they are easily overstimulated and overwhelmed in environments with a lot going on; they process things very deeply; they are very attune to others' emotions; they have a rich, complex inner life; and they need time away from the world to regroup. 

As with any trait, there are differences for each individual person, but there's an HSP test that explores a lot of the traits HSPs may have. (I answer yes to all but the last two questions, making me very HSP). High-sensitivity is a trait that about 15-20% of people have, and, while it's genetic, it can be influenced (for better or worse!) by circumstances, particularly those experienced in childhood. It might sound like it's a bad thing (and sometimes, believe me, it is!), but there are a lot of benefits to being an HSP, too. 

If you're not an HSP, it can be kind of hard to understand what it's like. HSPs might be labeled "dramatic" or "neurotic" or "anxious" or "fussy," when, really, we just see the world differently. For an non-HSP, I imagine experiencing a day in the life of an HSP would almost be like being on some sort of psychedelic trip. Sounds are louder, colors brighter, scents more pungent. Every detail is heightened so that everything from someone else's slight shift in mood to the slight flickering of a light is noticed and, odd as this might sound, felt. It's almost as if the boundaries between the internal world and the external world are thinner. Or, rather, they feel thinner. 

From the outside, it might sound neurotic or anxious behavior traits, but, while I personally am an HSP who experiences anxiety, high-sensitivity isn't the same thing as anxiety. High-sensitivity is about how the environment (both internal and external is perceived); anxiety is a feeling of worry and unease. They can overlap, but they aren't the same. 

I'm certainly not an expert on this, but I hope that gave you a bit of an idea of what an HSP is. Now, here are some of the pros and cons that HSPs experience. 

 

THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN HSP

  • HSPs are often creative and imaginative because they are so tuned into details and notice what others might not. This makes them great at creative career paths. 
  • HSPs are attuned to others' moods, making them potentially great friends and loved ones. (See the "Challenges" section for the flip side of this.)
  • HSPs tend absorb and learn info quickly, which means they're likely to be good students and to pick up new information at work easily. They're often life-long learners. 
  • HSPs are very aware of their own thoughts and often prefer to think very deeply about things. This self-awareness can be helpful for cultivating a world that suits the HSP.  
  • HSPs are alert to potential dangers; they're likely the first ones to smell smoke, to spot a rattlesnake, to notice a candle's still lit before leaving the house.
  • HSPs are experiencing a lot when they're out in the world and taking it all in, which often makes them open-minded to new ideas and ways of thinking. 
  • HSPs will pick up on the little details that others might miss. They'll spot the typo, notice that a shade of blue is off, or tell you that you've got a bit of pepper in your tooth. 

These are just a few of the many benefits of being an HSP. But, as well many traits, with the good comes the bad. Here are some of the challenges...

 

THE CHALLENGES OF BEING AN HSP

  • HSPs are likely to appear unhappy / moody, particularly if they are in a new or overstimulating environment. Frequently they are simply overwhelmed, but their mood can shift and it might not make sense to others. 
  • HSPs are alert to potential dangers, which, while this might be a benefit sometimes, can also be stressful for the HSP since they are always on the lookout for something amiss. 
  • HSPs are attuned to others' moods (as mentioned above), which can result in them being really empathetic and loving or, if they are too overwhelmed by others' emotions, can make them avoidant and distant. It's not that they don't care; it's often that they care too much, and don't quite know how to handle it. 
  • HSPs are easily overstimulated, making a lot of environments (particularly new ones) a lot for them to handle. This can be frustrating for loved ones who enjoy new things or lots of stimulation. 
  • HSPs, because they are so easily stimulated, are resistant to change, which can put limitations on they ways they live their lives (though this is something that can be improved with hard work and the right therapy!). 
  • HSPs might have physical challenges as a result of overstimulation (stomach aches in a stressful environment, difficulty sleeping after a highly stimulating event). 

 

Again, these are just a few of the challenges HSPs might face. In addition, many societies don't value the trait of sensitivity highly. In some cultures, this trait is praised (and even revered!) but in Western culture, sensitivity is frequently seen as a detriment rather than a strength. Most "fun" activities portrayed in popular culture (parties, amusement parks, holidays, etc.) are often enjoyable for HSPs, making them appear to be unsociable, lame, stick-in-the-muds for not thriving in those environments. But HSPs can have fun, exciting, and amazing lives, too -- they just might look a little bit different from the norm, and that's okay. The key, if you're an HSP, is learning how to take what you've got and work with it. 

Here are some of the ways I've learned to cope with being an HSP. (Again, I'm not an expert, but I always like to share what I learn in case it might help someone else too!)

 

HOW TO COPE WITH BEING AN HSP

 

Recognize when you're overstimulated.

This has been such a huge game-changer for me. I used to just feel frazzled and panicky and it felt so out of control when I was overstimulated. I didn't know why I was suddenly feeling cranky or upset. Now that I've identified this HSP trait, I can usually (though not always) pinpoint that I'm overwhelmed because I'm overstimulated. This knowledge sounds basic, but I can't tell you how transformative it's been. While before, I would just become moody or feel this intense pull to return home, I can now recognize my HSP-ness, try to evaluate the situation from a less emotional point of view, and do my best to determine how to lessen the stimulation or cope with my feelings if, for whatever reason, I cannot reduce or avoid the stimulating experiences. Self-awareness takes practice, but once you identify yourself as an HSP, it'll become a lot easier to notice because you'll discover that the slightest little things can be a trigger for overstimulation. 

 

Pay attention to how you define a situation.

One of the best things that Aron talks about in her book, is reframing how you think about a situation. A "terrifying crowd" at a concert could be seen as "a bigger group than the concerts I've been too before." How you talk to yourself and the thoughts you repeat have a big impact on how you see a situation and, potentially, how overstimulated you feel. While HSP is a very real thing (no, you're not crazy; you are actually experiencing the environment in a more intense way than others), the mind is a powerful tool, and you can use it to work on lessening your emotional response. Not every thought you think is a fact, and you have the option to challenge you thinking and consider whether or not something actually is as overwhelming as it initially feels. (You might find that it is, and that's okay -- but it's good to check and to consider whether you might be able to reframe the situation!)

 

Know what soothes you. 

If you've spent time trying to reframe a situation and it's still deeply overwhelming, it's time to identify what's soothing to you. Aron talks about treating your HSP self like a baby (an analogy I'm not a big fan of, but admittedly it kind of works). When you're incredibly overstimulated (as a baby often is), you can't just tell yourself to get over it. You have to take action. Knowing what works to soothe you might take some time to figure out. Some things that might work: breathing exercises, going for a walk, stepping outside, a cool glass of water, thinking of something very safe and calming. Every person has unique things that will help them tone down the overstimulation in the brain to feel more relaxed, and once you start paying attention to what works for you, you'll be able to turn to these tools when feel uneasy or overwhelmed. 

 

Trick your mind with your body.

Your mind often gets cues from your body, and you can sometimes use this to your advantage if you're feeling overstimulated. See, if you're super overwhelmed, your body is in that fight-or-flight mode, ready to take on a challenge or get the hell out of there. Your muscles are tense; your vision is focused; your blood is pumping to the places that need it most. But if you actively make an effort to breathe calmly, to unclench your fists, to relax your shoulders, your mind might get a message that there's nothing to be afraid of. This doesn't always work, of course, but it's worth trying! You can also trick your mind into believing you're more relaxed and less alert simply by shifting your body in subtle ways. Stand with confidence, even if you don't feel it. Uncross your arms and leave them loose at your sides. If you're frequently jittery, try to stand still. If there are too many lights, close your eyes for a minute. Too many sounds? Step outside or cover your ears. These small physical things can actually help you feel a bit less overwhelmed. 

 

Identify intangible sources of safety. 

Your home / car / spouse / pet might be your go-to for feeling safe, but sometimes they're not available, so it's good to have some mental retreats where you can go to calm down. When I was a kid and had a difficult time going to sleep, I would always imagine that I was in the Pastoral scene in Disney's Fantasia. I used to think it was so strange that I did that, but now I realize that, for whatever strange reason, that scene made me feel very calm and relaxed. Whenever I couldn't sleep, I would "go" there, and just thinking of it usually sent me off to dreamland. For HSPs, it's important to have things like that to refer to mentally when you physically can't remove yourself from an overstimulating situation. (My therapist once asked me to think of doing something calming when I was feeling really anxious and this helped a lot. If you ever see me sitting nervously in a doctor's office, I'm likely thinking, Imagine petting a dog. Imagine petting a dog, to calm myself.) Having intangible sources of safety is key because they're always available, unlike tangible safe spaces. 

 

Remove yourself from the situation if need be.

Sometimes things really are too much for an HSP, no matter how much self-awareness or reframing you try. While it's not always best to leave a situation simply because you're overstimulated (after all, the only way we ever become comfortable in a place is after we've been there awhile!), it sometimes happens that an HSP is just too overstimulated to be anything by stressed and anxious in an environment. If there's no way to find comfort or enjoyment in it (because, yes, I can be both overwhelmed and having a good time), it's often good to leave a situation. But balance is key. You don't want to leave every situation that causes discomfort or you'll never stay anywhere, but you don't want to force yourself to stay in situations that could cause long-term stress simply because you're trying to power through your sensitivity. Personally, I've found that the more I pay attention and the more self-aware I become, the better I am at knowing when it's vital for me to leave a situation. Sometimes I stay when I shouldn't, and sometimes I leave when I should stay, but overall I think I'm getting better at finding a balance that keeps me sane and (somewhat) social. 

 

Seek out inner / outer world balance. 

As an HSP, it's tempting to just say, "The world is too much! I'm going to shut myself away and live as a hermit!" But, the more you avoid stimulation, the more stimulating it becomes. You have to find a balance between being overwhelmed outside in the world and spending all of your time alone inside your own world. This one is definitely a struggle for me personally because, honestly, it's a lot of work to overcome the overstimulation of the world. It can be downright exhausting and, if I'm honest, sometimes I'm just plain lazy and don't want to do the work. But, after reading Aron's book, I'm reminded that the less I go out into the world, the harder it will be when I do. As with most things in life, it's all about balance and learning to do what's best for you. And "best for you" includes in the long-run. Yes, in the moment, it might be tempting for an HSP to decline an invitation, but just because it feels right in the moment doesn't mean it's the best choice overall. HSPs have to work hard to cultivate balance between the internal and external worlds. 

 

Set clear boundaries.

Boundaries are important for everyone, but especially for HSPs who can become super stimulated when boundaries are crossed. The key to setting boundaries is to pay close attention to the experiences that make you feel really overwhelmed. For example, one thing that can be particularly overwhelming for me is physical touch. I don't enjoy hugging. I don't want someone to touch my arm frequently when they are speaking to me. This boundary can be tough to set because I don't want to seem rude or cold, but it's important for me to speak up for myself in order to be comfortable. Other boundaries you might want to consider: the amount time you spend with others (balance is key! avoid isolation!); the number of people you interact with at one time (it's alright to prefer small groups); the environments you choose to spend time in (for example, I love concerts, but I wouldn't do well at a huge festival); the people who get your emotional energy (yes, even in your head!); the amount and type of news / media you consume (remember: you can be informed without being inundated). Sometimes you'll need to push yourself a bit on these boundaries (both for personal growth and because not everything in the world will adjust for your needs) but, more often than not, if you have clear and reasonable boundaries, you can use them to shape your experiences and make them more positive for you and those around you. 

 

Phew, that was a long one! I've been putting off writing about this for probably a year or so because, honestly, I feel kind of embarrassed about it. While I understand it and experience it on a daily basis, I can imagine how, from a non-HSP point of view, it might just seem like I'm a fussy, anxiety-ridden, introvert who just wants everything to be perfectly aligned to my tastes. But, having lived with this my entire life and only recently discovered what it was, I knew I had to share my thoughts on it because maybe other people are also HSPs and don't understand why they're so overwhelmed and overstimulated all the time. Honestly, if you don't have a name for it, it can feel, at times, like you're just crazy. But, if you're an HSP, you're not crazy. You're sensitive. You're really, really present. You're paying attention. It can be a lot, sometimes, I know, but it can also lead to really cool, creative, inventive, interesting experiences. The world needs HSPs just as much as it needs non-HSPs, so keep being your sensitive self! 

 

 

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36 Truths from 36 Years


Positively Present - Age Is

Today I turn 36! Age is just a number, they say, and the older I get, the more I realize the truth in that statement. With every year, I feel both changed and exactly the same. There are parts of me that will always be and there are parts that will shift over time. One thing I know for certain is that, the older I get, the less I know. I gain wisdom, yes, but I also gain the realization that so much of life is a mystery (and so much is uniquely experienced in ways that are difficult to put into words). 

This time of year always puts me in a state of reflection, and this year I've compiled a list of 36 things I've learned (some of them just this year!). I might not know everything, but after 36 years in this place, I've learned something. Like the quote above implies, with age I've figured out a lot about how the world works, but I'm willing to get out of the way of what I don't yet understand. Miriam Makeba also said, "Age is wisdom, if one has lived one's life properly. It is experience and knowledge." Many bemoan getting older, but I'm thankful for it. Knowledge and wisdom is so important to me and the more I live, the more I discover. Here are just a few of the things I know so far...

 

  1. You are who (and where) you're meant to be. All of the time.  
  2. Opening your mind leads to more connection and contentment. 
  3. Being good at something isn't necessary for it to be good for you. 
  4. There's nothing wrong with enjoying being alone a lot of the time. 
  5. Healing (physically and emotionally) can take longer than expected.
  6. The fewer expectations you have, the more you'll enjoy it. 
  7. Wanting something (or someone) can be better than having it. 
  8. Paying attention to how people make you feel will provide clarity. 
  9. Laughter isn't technically medicine, but it is a kind of healing magic.
  10. It's alright (and normal) to have mixed feelings about those you love.
  11. Knowing the why of your moods can help you work with them. 
  12. Gratitude journals sound cheesy, but they actually do something. 
  13. You're allowed to say "no" -- yes, even to people you love. 
  14. The longer you keep doing it, the more you're going to learn
  15. What you focus on the most is what you will find.
  16. To deal with differences, try to seek out similarities. 
  17. When it comes to anxiety, try acceptance over avoidance
  18. Give yourself credit for the positive choices you're making. 
  19. Your thoughts are tinted by tons of things; they're not facts. 
  20. People usually want to help, so don't be afraid to ask. 
  21. Happiness and positivity are not the same thing. 
  22. Things you dread are usually not as bad in reality.
  23. Look out for the gray areas; very little is black-or-white.
  24. Creativity and worry are connected (for better or worse!).
  25. Doing absolutely nothing isn't always a waste of time. 
  26. Choose the words that follow "I am..." carefully. 
  27. A lot can change in a very little amount of time. 
  28. You're not obligated to be now the person you were then. 
  29. Just because something hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't. 
  30. It's okay (and even good, sometimes!) to be uncomfortable. 
  31. What you love doesn't have to make sense to everyone. 
  32. Telling your story can be healing, but it's not required.
  33. How people act is almost always about them, not you
  34. Productivity isn't a personality; you aren't how much you do.
  35. You can (often) control who you allow into your life.
  36. The way you feel now isn't how you'll always feel. 

 

It's my hope that this list has given you some new knowledge or insights. It's funny to write it because I know someday I'll look back at my 36-year-old self and chuckle at how little I knew. (Yes, I do this with my 26-year-self now.) I'll read things I wrote a decade ago and cringe, thinking how little I knew about what was to come. But that's the cool thing about life: we don't know what's going to happen or what wisdom we'll gain along the way. So, for now, I'll just keep sharing what I know the best way I know how. Thanks for following along with me as I keep learning (and especially as I'm working on my next book, which I'm so thrilled about but which is causing the blog to take a bit of a backseat).

If you want to help me celebrate my 36 years on this planet, consider supporting my work on Patreon, purchasing from the print shop, (use code "august23" for 36% off 'til 8/25/19), or checking out some of my digital products here. I appreciate your support!