Let’s take a moment and chat about happy things – it might take a bit of effort, but it’s a worthwhile habit to grow…
I’m re-reading a book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear on how to use small habits to make good changes in life. Simple things, like removing the friction between a good habit and the action you take to do it.
For example, I need to move more for my health, so I’ve paired my favorite morning habit of enjoying a cup of coffee with a gentle stretching routine using an online video app. See, it’s nothing radical. And it’s fitting in quite well because it’s now part of a habit I already have!
What’s another important habit to cultivate?
Make it a habit to chat about happy things.
Positivity isn’t something radical either – no more than moving for your health. It’s brain health.
And yes, positive thinking is not enough, we also need the ability to work with effective focus, to be consistent, to have patience, and wait for the right moment and then follow through…
However, all of the above is more likely with a positive attitude. An optimistic mindset.
So – how could you begin a habit of cultivating a positive attitude and an optimistic mindset?
Pair your time with others – use the habit of good questions.
I’m a fan of asking good questions. It’s something I’m determined to get better at… and I want to share a few good questions (instead of the tried and tired) from someone online – (I love his biz title “Finding Good”) :
1 – “What was the most interesting part of your day today?”
2 – “What’s the best part of your job?”
3 – “What are you most proud of… “ The author of this question suggests this is a good question to use when others are going through a hard time. He says this is a good question to ask: “In all this that you’re going through, what are you most proud of that you’re doing…?“
And as a bonus, when someone says that everything is crap – there’s nothing good to chat about, then ask: “What’s the least crappy thing that happened today?” That question made me chuckle. (Least crappy – the idea is that the term makes us prioritize.)
Your time chatting can improve your mindset and others too!
Whether you’re in a family setting, at work, or in a ministry opportunity – lead (or redirect) the conversation toward optimism through questions. Good questions.
Need more ideas on questions? (not all of these are what I’d call “good questions” but you can pick and choose from ideas using this app.
In an often-experienced synergy, Rob and I chatted just this morning about the idea of good questions! We were talking about the books we’re reading – I shared a little from my Atomic Habits books and then he shared his current book. Rob is re-reading a book about Alexander the Great, who was educated from the age of 12-16 by Aristotle, the Greek philosopher. Aristotle suggested that another facet of good questions was the way in which they’re asked – the tone, the pause, the phrasing etc. Hmmm – lots to think about in that, right?
If you’d like more images, including the one in the title about tea – you can click HERE – to find a fun page of “Tea Quotes”. Enjoy!
Yes, I finally overcame my procrastination and finished and published that book.
During the research for my book, I dove into what causes people to procrastinate and came up with 9 reasons:
we fear failure – or success
we don’t know where to start or how to finish,
we’re striving for perfection,
we’re saving our energy for something else (otherwise known as laziness),
we’re too tired,
we don’t have the motivation to keep going,
and we’re distracted by a million other things.
Of course, I worked those reasons into why couples procrastinate in making their marriage more – better – and often avoid encouraging their spouse.
And sure, this information on procrastination can be translated into all our lives. Not just marriage.
*As you’re reading the rest, please note that this post is a “flashback” – I began writing it at the beginning of February 2023 – and updated it this week. Yes. that’s relevant.
In fact, as I write this I’m procrastinating working on a big (at least to me) project coming up at the end of February 2023. I’m supposed to be creating something for that, but instead, I’m writing to you – about how to stay focused, be positive, and do the work. Yes, one of my goals is to write an article every week. And create an image that might be useful to those reading.
But I really should be working on that other thing… instead of the random tasks I’m doing.
What’s stopping me – well, I got caught up… played around with some AI tools for creating images and headlines, but it’s not going to address my “big rock” task. Then I went onto another image creator I use for my crafting and did a little bit of searching for something to use as an image for this article. That isn’t getting my first and greatest task done either. And we won’t discuss how many videos I’ve been watching. Nope. Not going to touch on that topic! Also, I may have initiated and responded to a few texts…
Those things, including writing this first draft (you’ll be reading the final article – I usually do about three drafts) are just me avoiding my big project because I’m a little bit scared of failing as it’s the first time I’m doing this new thing. (Don’t worry, I’ll eventually tell you about it in March. *UPDATE – link is below!
What really needs to happen? How do I stop procrastinating?
I need to:
Stay focused, be positive, and do the work!
It’s not a complicated formula.
Well, self-discipline is key.
I’ve actually decided that I’m not going to bed today until I’ve finished the second of four parts of this big project. And I have all I need to do it – I just need to DO the work!
So, I’m giving us both a pep talk!
Is there something in your life you’ve been procrastinating on “doing”?
maybe it’s addressing a health issue – reaching for a recovery?
have you left something undone that really needs to be finished?
could you revisit your goals and map out a step-by-step plan to get there?
Whatever it is… let’s both make a dent in what we really need to do! Those things which will make a big difference – in our lives, and in others’ lives need to get done.
Now is a good time to do it.
UPDATE: I began writing this article as I was procrastinating (I guess you “got” that, right?) Well, I did finish. I was invited to share on the topic of “But GOD” at an event with ladies in one of our churches in Florida… and I did it! If you’re interested, here’s the presentation – and included is a picture of me at the conference – to document that I actually did it! LOL
If you want to download these little circles with optimistic statements – for free – click here!
Why am I noticing and even writing about these unanswered hard questions?
Be patient with hard questions while you wait.
I have some hard questions in my life.
And I’m guessing you do too.
We all do.
Our hard questions may not have obvious answers – or at least answers that would bring us peace right now.
In fact, I believe there are answers to questions that we won’t be able to comprehend for years, decades, and maybe even for the rest of our lives. We might not have an answer to those hard questions until we reach eternity.
What do we do with those hard questions?
We can live with the questions while waiting for the answers…
(not agonize, or fret, or worry, struggle, lament over, wrestle… )
Love those questions.
Love? Yes. Lovingly live alongside those hard questions as we grow…
Live alongside the hard questions.
Some patience with ourselves and those questions.
Not every question has an easy answer.
Perhaps it’ll take time to realize what it all really means.
Yes, we’ve changed our minds—many, many, many times.
What we loved to do,
or even experience
one month ago, ten or twenty years ago…
might be different today.
Is it OK to change your mind?
I’d say “yes” – but then I’m the kind of person who embraces change as an opportunity. Usually. I reserve the right to change my mind in certain cases, about certain things.
When I’m with our little granddaughter, she delights in the colors purple and pink. Will she change her 3-year-old mind about her favorite colors? Probably. And that’s OK.
What about people? Do we change our minds about who we like or don’t like – who we appreciate and don’t appreciate – who we’re concerned over or who we trust? Maybe.
Maybe we should change our minds.
Sometimes we grow in understanding.
Growth in understanding changes our minds.
Over 35 years ago I’d locked my keys in the car, in the Canadian winter, with my 6-month-old daughter in a stroller in a deserted downtown area that wasn’t known to be a safe place. The car was still running with the keys in the ignition. No cell phones then.
A heavily tattooed man with shaggy hair and rugged, not-too-clean clothes approached me. No one else was around and I was apprehensive… I’d been brought up, warned even, to keep myself away from people who appeared like that man.
But you know what?
My understanding shifted when that man went out of his way.
He trudged through the snow and slush to a nearby bar, brought back a metal clothes hanger, bent it straight, shoved it down between the window and the door… and unlocked my car.
That man, with his tattooed face and hands, pierced eye-brow and gauged earlobe, had compassion on a stupid young woman, responsible for a baby. He saw a need and helped me.
And his actions changed me. I grew up a little, right then.
Do you have any experiences that changed your mind? How was it OK?
(Even if it wasn’t a good change. I have those too.)
Leave a comment and tell a bit of your story – maybe it’ll change our minds too…
PS – not every change is good. Some are brutal. Others we would never, ever choose. Some changes shift our minds and hearts in ways that are not healthy or sustaining. There are changes that push us into despair. NOW is the time to reach out to someone if you feel your heart and mind dwelling on a change that is too heavy to bear. Now. Call someone. Dial “988” in the United States – here’s the website: https://988lifeline.org/ You are not alone in this. There is a “next” after this change and it may be OK, somehow. Talk with someone now.
Rob likes to eat diced apples on his morning oatmeal, so we always have a group of apples on the counter. I looked at them as put them in the bowl, thinking about how they all shine beautifully. Sure, they’re not perfect; one has a brown spot on one side, the other is slightly misshapen, and a few had other issues… However. Each one has value. Rob will enjoy each one on his oatmeal because they all have goodness to share.
It’s the same with people – we all can shine.
There’s no need to let flaws or comparisons blind us to the good in others. We’re all less than perfect. It’s all about what we notice in each other.
What’s true, admirable, and lovely about her or him?
There must be something we can praise about that person beside us!
Look for what’s honorable, and worthy of respect…
Today, take some time to notice everyone around you and find one thing you admire – one thing you’re thankful for… You can do it – just make the effort to look for the good rather than criticize. (Maybe you need to get to know someone a little bit better to see their good sides? Here are a few questions to ask!)
We all can shine – every one of us!
Notice what “shines” about others!
Want to look for what’s good in others (and yourself)? There’s a link below to print out your own reminders.
Cut those reminders out. Tuck them into an envelope, your purse, a book or pocket, or tape one to a mirror. You can also watch a VIDEO of me making a tag and an envelope to hold all the reminders. I invite you to play with paper too! (links to the free download are below the image)
I find the direction given in Philippians 4:8 sums up being optimistic in life.
Just consider if we focus on what is true, honorable and worthy of respect, right and confirmed by God’s word, pure and wholesome, lovely and bringing peace, admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, and then think continually on these things, centering our minds on them, and implanting them in our hearts, we will find so much for which to be thankful! Positive Thanks Living in action!
Life is better with an optimistic view – especially when where you’re standing isn’t fun.
These times are hard for so many reasons.
Some of us are trudging through tragedy. Really bad stuff.
Others are grappling with the fallout of trials. Or maybe it’s hard remaining steady under pressure.
And then there are most of us – dealing with everyday occurrences which just aren’t fun.
But I’m going to say it again…
Life is better with an optimistic view!
It is. Really. Look for the good and see how it becomes easier to bear the bad.
Be kind to people – and that includes yourself!
Count your blessings. Be thankful, even for the little stuff.
Document it all!
To help, I’ve been busy…
Busy? Why? Because I really believe that if we take the action to be grateful and kind it will make life better.
Busy? With what?
I’ve been busy making it easier to document all your thankfulness and kindness!
Many have reminded me that when I offer a document to download, they don’t have a printer at home or the printer doesn’t have ink or paper or…
And sometimes it’s just that bit too much to search for a notebook, or follow through to complete a list or make some notes about thankfulness or being kind… Yes. I get it. Life is complicated, and no matter what good intentions you have, sometimes you get overwhelmed.
Life is better with an optimistic view…
So I did some research and worked to create some journals with the focus on documenting gratitude and kindness!
Yes. Real, printed books. They’re meant to journal and document, with prompts to help you get started. There aren’t a lot of words from me, rather, there is lots of space for you to write, print, draw, paste, scribble, doodle and make your positive mark! (literally).
I’m going to imagine you’re shaking your head – probably saying “nope” – when I ask you the above question.
Even if I list all your accomplishments and talents, you’ll have a reason, and might tell me that other people have done and can do those kinds of things you’ve done.
You are somebody really special.
(I want you to think about owning that qualifier.
You might agree to the fact that you’re special, but want to downplay the “really” aspect. Yes. I get it. It’s hard for me also.)
How do I know that you’re somebody really special?
How could I know?
(Especially if I haven’t ever met you?)
Here’s the thing – I know that you are somebody really special because I have never met anyone, anyone at all*, who is not really special. Unique. Thoroughly valuable in every way, regardless of their flaws. I’m convinced that everyone on this planet or in eternity, anyone who was ever conceived… is special.
Each soul has unique, valuable worth.
It’s the way we all are made. Special. Really.
Let’s use an example – I’m watching friends document their journey as parents of three daughters, identical triplets, as these girls have grown in their first year of life. Outwardly these three individuals appear the same. They share a birth date, physical features, siblings, parents and grandparents, a household, the same life experiences, faith, people surrounding them, and more. And yet. Everything their parents document shows me that each one of these girls is uniquely special. They succeeded in walking on different dates, they have different habits, likes, dislikes, behaviors, fears, and favorites. So, even in the space of a little more than a year, these three identical triplets, are uniquely special individuals. Really.
Now, here’s the question…
Are you ready to be challenged… gently… privately… with only your well-being at heart…?
I’m smiling at you.
It’s a warm smile.
Come on, be ready…
Take heart – have courage…
How can you be more of yourself?
More uniquely you.
Don’t be shy.
Let those parts of you, that really special you, shine.
An interesting experience.
I’ve been pondering and processing an interesting experience…
A little while ago, someone I love, asked me to write down the answers to two questions:
What do you value about me?
What do you think my gift is?
After thinking and mulling – giving these questions the significance they deserved, I answered in an email. I know this person very well for all of their life. Answering wasn’t hard – you know what was hard? Distilling it into a short list! In fact, I think this person wanted me to answer with just one thing. I couldn’t. Not really. (I cheated by merging three into one and made sure to note that there was much more!)
Yes, I love this person. I’m biased.
But this experience has made me fully realize that if asked, I could answer these questions about every person I’ve met – I bet you could do the same if asked! (Do you pay attention to people? Even people that you don’t initially like?*) Because, if that person has shown us how really special they are, it’s going to be evident!
They are valued.
And as a somebody, really, deeply, needed.
Just like you…
Today – how can you be more you?
(If you need to, maybe ask those you trust the two above questions I was asked… however, I’m guessing, if you let yourself, you already know the answers.)
If you want to be somebody,
somebody really special,
* So… what was that asterisk all about? Read this article about someone special who caught me being “that lady”… a stranger who I didn’t like. At first. But I could tell you how much I value him. He was a stranger I have met only once.
Here’s a video as I make the above tag, with the “voice over” being what is written above… hmmmm… here’s me trying to be more me. Taking my own challenge… LOL https://youtu.be/LgLPAn3bnbc
Today, remember to think before you speak… be kind.
Let your words build up and encourage.
Someone might really need that today…
~ knowledge is knowing what to say
wisdom is knowing whether to say it or not…
What words do you use to be kind? To encourage? To build up?
If you need some ideas of positive, and encouraging words… keep reading!
Over the next 100 days, I’m going to be practicing hand-lettering. (That’s the modern equivalent of calligraphy.) And each word I’m practicing will be a positive and encouraging word…
It’s to join in on The 100-day Project – The idea is simple: choose a creative project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process online. Every year, thousands of people all around the world commit to 100 days of creating.
I’ll be using a list of 100 words.
Leave a comment with a word you like – a word that builds you up, one that encourages you and makes you smile… I’d like to add it to my list!
I’m writing Christmas cards these days and also doing a series of collaging exercises. How do these two things intersect? Well, they’re all about positive words. Words that are encouraging and lovely, and true and honorable and…
Positive words – is your language, the words that come out of your mouth (or pen) optimistic?
Sure, we all need to talk about the serious stuff in our life. We need to explore solutions to problems and deal with where we’ve failed and what isn’t working in our lives. Yes. Those words will hold some deeply troubling statements of concern, and even self-reflective non-positive words and ideas. Please hear me: I’m not suggesting you overlook or avoid using words that cause angst for a good end purpose. Don’t ignore the bad. Fix it. Or find a way to (at least) make it into the best it could be, all things considered…
And yet, let’s not forget to also use positive words in our conversation about ourselves, our life, and even our really negative situations. As bad as it gets, there is the option to find words to frame at least some part of ourselves and our life and those around us in a good light…
What are some positive words?
When Rob and I talk to couples about cheap date night ideas, one of the favorite ideas is to go to a card shop and choose cards to read to each other. Financially you might not be able to purchase cards, but you can take a field trip to look through the cards and share the positive statements in them. And laugh at the funny ones.
Those greeting cards will (mostly) hold positive words… just like the Christmas cards I’m writing. Hope. Peace. Blessings. Joy… and more.
What are your favorite positive words?
Which ones do you use most often? Here are 100 of mine:
chuffed (this is one I’ve learned from my junk-journaling cohort from the UK)
What word have I missed that you’d include?
Want to feel good?
Or at least begin to put some happy thoughts into your head… and share with others?
Here are two options:
A. Choose five of the words above, and think of a person in your life who reminds you of that particular word, or an instance where you felt that way… Then write a note to thank that person. (By-the-way, even if that person has passed, or you don’t have their address, still write the note, because expressing it on paper has power.)
B. Choose five of the words above and write five notes to special people who you’d wish that for… “Dear _____, my wish for you is that you feel… “)
To you – the person reading this post:
I’m thankful for you –
you are valued,
and my wish for you is to have all those positive words show up in your life
in special ways that demonstrate how very much you’re loved.
Throughout December I’ve been practicing collaging using a list of prompts. For today I used the prompt “add handwriting”, so here’s a video on what I did:
Being busy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… Sure. There might be many checkmarks on your “to-do” lists. And you may be tired when you climb into your bed.
But will being busy make a dent in what really counts?
What counts in your life?
When our children were small I’d call my laundry bin “Mount Never Rest“. Much later in life, I definitely missed having a washer and dryer handy when we were in our RV. But all these years of doing laundry only gave me (and those I love) clean clothes to wear for a day. At the end of every day for the last 45-ish years, there were – and are – dirty clothes in that laundry hamper…
Now, I’m probably odd. I don’t mind doing laundry. In fact, it’s the one task around the house I enjoy. (Weird. I know.) So I do the laundry and Rob puts those clean clothes back in the closet. Bada-boom. Bada-bing.
Until next week.
As I ponder, I’m thinking there’s every chance that “laundry-queen” will not be on my obituary. At least I hope not. Even though I enjoy laundry, and my family has appreciated being the recipient of clean clothes, it’s not something I want to be remembered for…
Why? Because it’s just a checkmark on a list of things to do…
Laundry may be necessary, but it’s not what really counts.
DO what counts.
Have you determined what really counts in your life? (Everyone will be different, you know.)
Regardless. Now is the time to focus on what really counts. For the long-term. For your obituary. For what will you be remembered?
Have a little courage… and do that.
Sure, if it’s an important checklist item, get it done. (LOL – My husband just asked me if I could wash his jeans. Like, literally, as I’m writing this! I guess I’m doing laundry again. And that’s OK. I will. Happily.)
But that’s not the only thing I’ll do today…
How about you?
What’s on your list today that’ll contribute in ways no-one else can? Make that your priority. Have courage – because what you do matters.
If your thoughts aren’t lovely, then do something about them… you’re in control. Regardless.
Quick! think of 5 lovely things… Leave a comment on what you’ve tasted or smelled or felt or seen or heard that’s lovely today!
(My grandboy’s hug was amazing – and my husband’s voice always makes me smile. My chicken wings tasted delicious and the sight of blue sky after rain clouds made my heart sing. And my lavender hand lotion always raises my spirit.)
Details. Do you pay attention to the details? I’m not a naturally detail-oriented person, however, surprisingly, paper crafting is developing in me a new love for the distinct tiny differences found when making items by hand.
I see how others who make things from paper are developing their ideas – the same prompts, the same items – yet how they put it all together is beautifully unique.
The real beauty often shows up in the those individual features…
Beauty in the details.
Isn’t it that way in life? We all have noses, eyes, and ears, and yet… we’re each beautiful in our own way.
For sure, every parent and grandparent can appreciate their children’s uniquely beautiful identities because of those details! We pay attention to the little hands, the precious first step, word, and accomplishment.
I was with our little grand-daughter today and watched as she held a toy – she was paying attention to the details…
Where, in your life, do you pay attention to the details?
if you cook or bake I’m sure the different ingredients matter. (Baking isn’t my forte because I don’t always pay attention to the details of the recipe. I’m sure I’d have better results if those pesky amounts were accurate (wink). )
some people love numbers. I imagine those who have a career in finance find the details of money a joy.
and words. Oh yes. Words. —Your, you’re and yore. It’s and its. There, their and they’re. Affect/effect. To, two, too. — And the list goes on. There’s a beauty in using the correct words and spelling them correctly when telling a story. I won’t even begin to discuss grammar… However, when a talented writer uses the details of the English language with skill, it IS a beautiful thing! (One of my favorite, skillful authors is C.S. Lewis – who is yours?)
artists must love details! Colors and textures and techniques and form and shape and more… Why can we have such disparate artists like Albrecht Durer and Jackson Pollok and yet find their work so beautiful? Their details! (well, that might be taking my argument a little too far, but you get the idea.)
The detail of values.
And then there are the values we embrace. There is great detail in values.
My husband spent years studying, writing about, and speaking on values. We discussed, at length, the meaning and nuances of each value. He has a list of 423 values he uses in an assessment to choose three top values. (Ours, as husband and wife, are Loyalty, Optimism and Discovery – if you’re interested you can read about them here.)
According to the detail of the values you choose to put into practice in your life you may, or may not find your life pleasing.
Pleasing features… parts of the whole.
What details – parts of the whole – make an impact on your life?
Where do you exercise your love of bits and pieces – the details – to make your life more beautiful?
What else could you pay closer attention to that would add to the beauty of your life?
From crafting-with-paper I’m learning about the beauty and uniqueness found in using tea or coffee to dye paper, in tearing the paper to tattered edges, in the nuances of adding lace, color, words, shapes, etc to what I’m making. The detail of cutting out shapes and then shading them with ink on the edges. It’s all about the details…