It’s Over, Now What?

Thank you for following along with me for the “30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge! With any luck, you’ve learned a few things about yourself that you didn’t know before.

Hopefully, you’ve gained some insights into your relationships, and rejoiced for all that’s good and right and beautiful. Hopefully, you’re learning to not sweat the small stuff and or be consumed with the “shoulds” that take you out of the present moment.

Hopefully, you’ve reconnected with your inner child who will help you live simply and joyfully. Hopefully, you’re discovering how to make room in your life for the people, places and things that matter most.

As Frank Sinatra once sang, “The best is yet to come, and won’t it be fine.”

The Best Is Yet To Come

Now that you’re all full up on appreciation, thankfulness and positive thoughts, let’s see what plans you can put in motion for the rest of this dwindling year.

If you’re grateful for this 30-day challenge, then please feel free to express your delight or… tell me what you’d improve about it if you could. I value honesty and would love to hear from you!

Stay tuned… who knows what will be happening next.

Fran Watson

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Appreciate Your Friends

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 30. Be Grateful for Friends

On the last day of our 30-Day Positivity Challenge, we will simply appreciate our friends.

What is it about certain people that makes you want to have them as a friend?

Do you keep a “collection” of people that you enjoy adding to as you go forth and experience life? Much like a coin collection, you’ll want to hang onto people who provide value for you.  Since everybody is different, that value could really be anything you want it to be.

Often, we become friends with people based on shared special interests. It’s way better to attend a Pink Floyd cover band concert with your good ole friends, than someone whom you barely know or worse, someone who’s currently sporting an attitude!

Many people kick off new friendships by discovering the common interests they have with someone else. Then, they take it a step further by offering personal details and sharing their stories with this new friend.

When someone listens to your stories without judging you, that’s a friend to be thankful for.

When someone hears you confess to a bad deed or poorly-made decision but doesn’t judge, rat you out or spread your story to others… that’s a friend to be thankful for, too!

Exercise 30: Make This the Year You Show Your Friends Some Love

Do you know who your real friends are? How do you know?

A friend builds up your self confidence. True friends will be honest with you while at the same time speaking to you in a tactful and kind way.

A friend will help you look on the bright side. A good friend will offer you honesty, and be open to honest thoughts and opinions from you.

A friend doesn’t play mind games, tell fictitious stories about you, or otherwise try to make you feel less-than.

Here’s a fun activity if you’re looking to show appreciation for friends.

Host a get-together of good friends to break up the monotony of our daily lives.

Don’t let inclement weather or excuses stop you from feeling the warmth of a friend’s smile. Instead, let this be the first of many friend gatherings to highlight your seasons the whole year through.

Your gathering of good friends can be a home-baked cookie swap, an evening of sipping and light conversation, or a night out at a favorite tavern to hear some great music and make merry together.

Getting together with friends doesn’t have to involve showing off the latest gadgets or being seen at all the local hot spots.

Good friends are just happy to hear from you and be in your presence!

Journal It.

Write down all the things that you love about your friends. Don’t forget to tell them!

Write down some fun and relaxing ways to celebrate your greatest friendships that don’t involve a lot of money or complicated planning.

Put your plans into action. Raise a glass to those folks in your life who laugh with you, cry with you, come to your rescue in times of need, listen to your stories, and make you feel all-around awesome to be alive.

Cheers to the best of friendships!

Fran Watson

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Home Sweet Home

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 29. Heart and Home

As the old saying goes, home is where the heart is. Every day is surely a time to be grateful for your home, the resting spot for your body and the place to renew your spirit. There are many who do not have a home. They may be living on the streets, in a shelter, or taking advantage of their friends’ couches for a while.

Home means different things to different people. Some folks prefer that their home be placed in a crowded, bustling city. Others call the quiet countryside home. And lots more others make their home in a place that’s somewhere in between.

Do you love to be home? Not everyone does. “Homebody” doesn’t fit all people and personalities. For some, home is a merely a form of shelter and a crash pad to drop by every now and again. Home is what you make it.

The word “home” can conjure up painful memories to some. A household that’s rife with conflict and dysfunction certainly doesn’t feel like a safe place to rest your heart. A house where deprivation is a fact of life may not feel like home, either.

You may have grown up in a house with lots of neighbours near by, or in the country where your closest neighbour was a mile away. Or you might have lived in an apartment. Wherever it was, if you grew up in a home full of love and comforts, then be glad for this! It’s something that we tend to take for granted.

Exercise 29: What does home mean to you?

Think about your childhood home. What did you love about it? What aspects of your home life could you have done without? I loved my bedroom in our house in Toronto. I had a cool closet that was child size. We had a 1 1/2 story house, so the roof was quite slanted.

Did you have certain attachments related to your home growing up that now color your adult life? Rituals that your family always participated in, comfort foods, things that you always did with family? Over the years we had many rituals around holidays – Sunday dinners with grandmothers, family get togethers at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Did others see your home as a welcoming place? When someone came to visit you at your home, did you feel proud of your family and at ease to have them in your territory?

What did the house where you grew up look like? What about the yard? The street you lived on? What did the inside of your home look like? Was it happily disheveled, or tidy and free of clutter?

And the place that you call home in your adult life… is it modeled after your childhood home? Or did you happily cast aside aspects of your former home, in favor of creating a home space for yourself that’s more in line with your needs?

Share some things you have discovered as you look back.

Journal It.

Think about how wonderful it is to have a home. Write about what makes your home feel comfortable and special to you.

Write about what changes you’d make to your home if you could. The changes can be physical, but they can also be about mental health.

Is your home a happy and balanced, nurturing environment?

Whatever and wherever it may be, give thanks for Home, Sweet Home!

To being grateful for your home

Fran Watson

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Protecting Our Planet

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 28: In Awe of Our Precious Planet

The planet where we exist is a miracle.

Do you feel blessed to be alive on this miraculous Eden that teems with life… Mother Earth?

It’s easy to forget how bizarre and wondrous our existence on this planet is.

Each day, we wake up and engage more or less the same routine as the prior day. We eat food, perform our jobs, rest, do more jobs, eat more, and go to sleep.

What other creatures on this planet could be doing similar things as us, and we aren’t even aware of it?

Maybe all of them, even down to the smallest units of energy.

No one can seem to confirm whether or not there is another life form out there that’s similar to human beings on earth.

People have strong opinions on the state of earth and what the future of our planet will be.

Some seem to think that we should limit the amount of natural resources that power our modern conveniences.

Other people believe that there’s no need to think this way.

Exercise 28: Become Informed About Our Planet and Its Resources

You can be grateful for our planet and its ability to sustain life. But why stop at gratitude when knowledge is real power.

If you’re going to think about our planet and what the future may hold for generations to come, then more research is needed before offering an opinion on hot button topics such as renewable energy.

Certain experts say to recycle plastic. But do you know what really happens to the plastic bottles and containers that you place in the big gray bucket that gets dumped into a truck that takes them away each week?

In 2017, recycling companies in China pay to have these recycled items shipped overseas. They melt down the plastic to make new plastic, and form new containers that hold the consumer products that we can’t seem to get enough of.

But what about the people in China who work and live near these facilities, who breathe in the chemical fumes from melting the plastic every day?

Is this really a good thing for our planet?

Some say that if we don’t conserve water, there won’t be enough for the world’s people.

And yet, scientists in Israel have found a way to remove the salt from sea water to make it potable and safe for consumption.

Journal It.

Make a list of all the ways that you have been told about our planet and its resources.

Do some online research and go deep into the details. Take notes.

Start basing your opinions around what you learn. Check out Saving Our Planet for information

To saving our planet for the future generations

Fran Watson

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How Is Your Inner Child?

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 27. Your Inner Child is Calling

Do you make it a point to listen to your inner child?

Some people think that once they’re of a certain age, being child-like is… well, for children.

But there is a big difference between having a child-like approach to living, and having child-like emotions.

stretch comfort zone

What does the word child-like make you think of?

  • Being fully present and mindful – able to live in the moment
  • Joyfulness and good humor
  • Always ready to play, imagine, and engage
  • Learns through play
  • A carefree attitude, not worrying about the future or lamenting the past
  • Honesty – telling it like it is
  • Eternal optimism – faith, hope and believing the best of others
  • Sharing emotions but not emotionally manipulating
  • Expressing wonder and delight at the world around you
  • Natural curiosity – questioning things
  • Keeping an open mind- accepting different opinions and points of view
  • Being non-judgmental. Enjoying people for their good qualities alone
  • Having a good nature
  • Being flexible and going with the flow

If your inner child wants you to loosen up and lighten up, then why not honor this?

get going
Let Your Inner Child Out

Exercise 27: Honor your inner child.

Be grateful for the younger you who once was, and who still lives inside you.

  • Summon your inner child when you feel like criticizing others.
  • Summon your inner child when impatience rules your actions
  • Summon your inner child when you become rigid in your beliefs
  • Listen to your inner child when you meet someone new who is different from you
  • Listen to your inner child when he or she needs someone to listen
  • Listen to your inner child when you’re spending time with your own children
  • Listen to your inner child when you’re thinking about problem solving
  • Listen to your inner child when there’s an opportunity to learn something

Journal It.

You were a child once. What were you like as a kid?

Write about the child you were. What were your favorite things to do? What types of thoughts did you have?

Who was your best friend? What did you like about him or her?

What were you good at, as a child? What was your personality, your beliefs?

Compare the adult you are today to the child you once were.

Is it possible for you to meet your inner child halfway? How?

To releasing your inner child and having more fun

Fran Watson

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Make Beautiful Music

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 26. Beautiful Music Makes Life Worth Living

Do you ever find yourself breaking out into song in the middle of the day?

Do you have a song playing in your mind right now? What is it?

Do you enjoy hearing this melody? Do the lyrics please you?

Music is a soothing balm for the soul. When life seems overwhelming, you can take a break, and let music carry you away on the wave of your own imagination.

Make Beautiful Music

Today we will feel blessed for the beautiful music humans have created throughout history.

All over the world, music has its own unique and signature sound. From harmonicas to ukuleles, drums, sitars, bassoon, cello and more.

From a simple, evocative melody sung by a single human voice, to a masterful composition that was written by the world’s most influential musical composers such as Beethoven or Mozart, and performed by a full orchestra …  there’s no question that music speaks to the human spirit and awakens something in us that’s difficult to explain.

Even dogs enjoy music! If you have a dog, do you ever put music on for him or her to watch the reaction?

Perhaps music is a more complex form of howling – the calling of the pack.

Exercise 26: Bring Home the Sound of Music

Remember that movie? Did you feel elated and moved beyond words at the first sound of Julie Andrews’ soprano voice ringing out in proclamation that “The hills are alive with the sound of music?” How about “Doe a deer, a female deer…” Do you find yourself singing along?

Our family loved that movie and watched it every year for a long time. One morning the kids were later for school as we had stayed up late the might before watching it. For many of us, the songs of that beloved film makes our follicles stand at attention as we break out in gooseflesh at the beauteous harmonies. How about you? Does it bring happy memories when you hear that song.

Do you make music a part of your home life?

If you have children, do you sing with them or support their interest in music?

Have you ever taken music lessons or mastered the ability to play an instrument? I took accordian lessons as a child. My children are musical with two boys having been in bands for years. I have attended many “Open Mic” nights and many gigs over the years!

For our positivity challenge today, make music a theme of your afternoon or evening. Ask family members or living partners to pick a favorite song or album. It can be any musical genre – classical, blues, rock and roll, jazz, new age, country, Motown, or something else. Make up your own band and rock out, even if you are playing air guitar!

If you have musically inclined family members, why not spend more time rocking out together? This is a great activity for people of all ages, but if you have little ones then they will definitely find music appreciation hour to be highly enjoyable. We have cousins who are musically talented as well. We LOVE music!!

Gather up any instruments you have around – kid sized bongos, guitars, pan flutes, harmonicas, banjo… whatever you’ve got. Pass one instrument to each person, and have a jam session. Pots and pans can be used in a pinch, or coffee tins. A plastic container of rice or beans. Put your imagination to work and have fun!

Journal It.

Write down the details of your jam session. If you managed to record it, play back and make not of some cool musical developments that transpired. Who had a solo? Were people able to harmonize?

You might go further with your gratefulness for music theme. Host music night at least once a week!

To developing your musical abilities

Fran Watson

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Appreciating Different Cultures

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 25. Appreciating Other Cultures

On Day 24 of our 30 Days of Positivity Challenge, we explored the beauty of people who come from different backgrounds.

Today, let’s take this concept a step further and delve into appreciation for other cultures.

Groups and classifications are a funny thing. There’s a lot of talk about how we are all the same, and should not be judged by our differences. There’s also plenty of categorizing and classifying of different people.

Both of these facets of human existence are true. We are all humans just trying to get by and survive here on planet earth. The same in heart, body and mind.

Taiwan

The truth also is that we have originated in different spots on the map. Once, those spots seemed worlds apart. The term “foreigner” was used for someone who had come to your part of the world from elsewhere. “Foreign,” a word also connoted to mean unfamiliar, strange, different.

Now, the planet has been globalized and we’re slowly but surely melting together. You don’t hear the word “foreigner” too often these days because humanity really has come a long way. People seem more “familiar” than foreign to us, because we recognize that we really are alike in the most basic of ways.

If eventually we all become the same, “foreign” will become a totally alien concept. There will be no more of the “old school” attitude of separation. The concept of culture is likely to diminish in importance, unless we do a good job of preserving the beauty and uniqueness that each different line of people came from.

It’s the differences in how our cultures developed, that really bring the flavor and enjoyment to exploring human existence.

Exercise 25: Show Gratitude for Other Cultures

People and all their customs and cultures are surely an amazing thing to behold. Have you traveled much in your life?

Even if you haven’t found the time or inclination to traverse the great planet we call earth with its colorful and diverse citizens, you’ve surely visited a city or two in your lifetime.

Cities are where people of different backgrounds converge. Immigrants bring pieces of their culture along with them as they venture to new cities in search of a better life. Much of what they bring is the “best of” their beautiful home country.

When you think of certain cultures, what beautiful things come to mind for you? How about…

The innovation and fine attention to detail put into Russian nesting dolls and intricately painted Easter eggs carved by hand from wood.

The vibrant colors and delicateness of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils from Holland.

The bold flavors and spicy aromas of  Ethiopian stews – hearty, earthy foods that you scoop up using stretchy, textured flatbread.

The ingenuity and graceful, almost impossibly perfect forms of Chinese architecture.

Warm, thick woolen sweaters, hand knit by stout Peruvian mountain women.

The fiery red locks of a saucy Scottish lass, with a fiery personality to match.

The mystery and wonder of ancient ruins from civilizations long gone – the Egyptian pyramids.

Journal It.

What is your knowledge of different people and cultures? What do you love about their history, heritage, and the beautiful things they created in celebration of life?

Write about art, cuisine, fashion and clothing that you’ve become familiar with thanks to friends whose families hailed from different parts of the world.

What are some of your most beloved bits of your own culture?

To learning more about others – and yourself.

Fran Watson

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Celebrating Differences

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 24. Celebrating Beautiful Differences

People are beautiful in all their stark honesty.

Some folks think that differences are bad. But all beautiful things in nature are one-of-a-kind. Think of snowflakes and fingerprints. No two are alike.

The past few years have brought a lot of polarized thinking and dissent, particularly on social media.

But are our differences from others real, or imagined?

Perhaps we are all the same in our intrinsic goodness, but different in how that goodness manifests and is expressed.

A new season brings a new opportunity to be grateful for people who are different from you.

If we were all the same, we’d have nothing to learn from each other.

Exercise: Celebrate People Who Are Different from You

America has historically been characterized as a beautiful land of freedom and opportunity. Why? Because it’s the melting pot where people from different origins, backgrounds and cultures meld together in a beautiful comingling.

Think of your favorite city that you love to visit. What’s so good about it? The people, of course. The many colors and flavors of individuals, each adding his or her own special qualities.

Think about this:

Your eyes may be shaped differently from mine, but the twinkle in them when we smile at each other is the same.

We may not understand each other’s language… but words are not needed to know that we are both good people inside.

Your skin may be a different shade than mine, but we both know how to love.

Journal It.

Think of three friends of yours who all come from different ethnic backgrounds. Write down some details about each of those people – things that make them special and memorable to you.

Write about good meals you’ve eaten that come from recipes passed down from their country of origin. Write about aspects of their heritage that you found fascinating. Write about personal qualities of theirs that you appreciate and admire.

Write about things you have in common with your friends from other backgrounds, despite your obvious differences.

Share below some of the things you have discovered.

To learning more about others

Fran Watson

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What is Your Life’s Work?

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 23. Happy About Your Life’s Work

Do you know what your life’s work is? Some people know exactly what they were born to do. But others never find out.

Goals

Your life’s work doesn’t have to be a tremendous series of high achieving accomplishments.

In fact, it could be something quite simple yet fulfilling because it’s what you know you’re good at.

Your life’s work is your way of serving others and contributing to the world at large in your own small but significant way.

Is your life’s work your profession? The thing that you graduated with a degree in?

No, but it could be. If you love the work you do in your career and are good at it, then this could be your life’s work or ultimate purpose.

How do you discover what your life’s work is?

Figure out what you’re good at

Determine what you’re happy doing

Find out the ways you’re able to teach and enlighten others with your knowledge

Some people figure out what they’re meant to do and be in this lifetime by figuring out what it is that they do NOT want to do.

So, if you’re unhappy in your current work situation, then take some time to be introspective.

Exercise: Your Gifts, Talents, Strengths and Skills May Point You to Your Life’s Work

Answer the following questions in detail:

What am I good at?

What do I enjoy doing?

What things would I be good at teaching others?

Who can I help?

What are my best qualities?

What are my talents?

What skills have I acquired?

How would I describe my personality?

Journal It.

If, after doing the above soul searching, you’re still not sure what constitutes your life’s work and ultimate purpose, try taking a personality test.

The Myers-Briggs is an in-depth analysis that will shed light on myriad facets of your personality. Talk to me about doing this if you are interested.

After taking this test, write down what you learned about yourself and your strengths. From here, you can embark on your personal journey of self discovery that may lead you to your true purpose and life’s work.

To discovering more about yourself

Fran Watson

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Give Thanks For Friends

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 22. Thankful for Friends Near and Far

There’s nothing quite like a good friend to bring a smile to your face and lighten your heart.

Friends Make Life Better

Today we’re talking about the ways that friends enrich our lives and bring us joy.

Friends are different from family because we actively choose to make them a part of our lives.

Today, spend some time reflecting on your relationships with friends.

How often do you make time to be with friends?

Are most of your friends on social media? Or do you also nurture friendships in the flesh and face to face?

For many of us, Facebook is owed to the ease in which we can reconnect with friends from our past.

It’s absurdly simple to just log on to Facebook, locate an old friend from high school or even grammar school, and get back in touch.

We should be aware though, that even though social media friendships are easy, a healthy relationship with a friend will require extra tending if you value that closeness and connection that friendships from our younger years once embodied.

If you love your friends, then don’t skim the surface and think that sharing photos and giving thumbs-up is enough.

Make time to visit with friends in person. Sit down and talk about things that matter. Tell stories and share laughs. Remember that quality, not quantity, is the secret to feeling fulfilled in your friendships.

Exercise: Show Gratitude for Your Friends

How can you show a good friend that you appreciate him or her?

Set aside time to be with them. Meet for a meal or a chat over coffee. Get together and dish some harmless gossip. Find out what they’re up to, what’s been bothering them, what trips they’ve taken or great meals they’ve enjoyed.

Time With Friends

Send a handwritten letter. Are pen pals a relic of yesteryear? They don’t have to be. Instead of hastily typing a quick Facebook message, give yourself the pleasure of sitting down with a good pen and a few sheets of nice stationery, to write a letter to a friend.

Pick up the phone and call them. Sure, they probably won’t pick up. But just hearing the sound of your voice, expressing the wish to hear from them soon, might be enough to make their day a bit brighter and righter. And they’ll probably call you back to hear that sweet sound of a dear friend’s voice – yours!

Make birthdays special. You don’t have to go all out, but a good friend who shows up with a cake, a bottle of wine and some good stories and laughs goes a long way to make a birthday meaningful and fun.

Journal It.

Write about a friend with whom you lost touch. What happened to cool the relationship? What do you miss about your friend? What stops you from reaching out to them?

In penning memories of dear old friends, you might just feel inspired to pick up the phone and say “Hey… I miss you! Let’s get together.”

To improving your friendships

Fran Watson

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