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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Food For The Soul

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 21. Ode to the Bountiful Harvest

Here’s something to be grateful for no matter what the season- the bountiful harvest.

If you always have food on your plate, plenty of choices in the fridge, and a full, satiated belly, don’t take it for granted.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016.

Hunger must surely have been a grave concern and possible fact of life for many of the early settlers who migrated to our great country to make a better life for themselves.

Indeed, these pioneers likely did not take survival for granted, and in this country we’ve come a long way from that.

If to you, “hunger” means going longer than 3 hours without eating and then sitting down to a heaping plate… then rejoice in the blessing of good food shared with family and friends.

Where does your food come from? Have you ever thought about this?

If you grow a backyard garden, then you know where at least some parts of your meals originate from.

If you purchase meats from a local farm, then you have greater awareness of where your food comes from than most others living in this country.

Feel blessed this year for the delicious, home cooked meals that will grace your table and fill your belly past the point of comfort.

Give thanks for thick, succulent slices of carved meats – ham, turkey, roast beef.

Give thanks for balanced and flavorful vegetarian selections if you opt to not eat some or all animal products.

Give thanks for takeout, prepared foods and the drive-through… for those times when you don’t have time to prepare a home-cooked meal.

Give thanks for delicious, home-baked cookies, pies, birthday cakes, puddings, oh my!

You needn’t be religious or celebrating a holiday to stop and give thanks for the bounty of goodness that graces your table and fills your belly.

Consider the very great effort, the many steps, the time and the detailed work that was put into cultivating, harvesting and transporting our food from farm to table to plate.

Exercise: Ease Hunger for Another

We can do so much more than simply clasp our hands and bow our heads in gratitude around the dinner table.

Take Action to Make A Difference

This year, make plans to donate cans of food, so that the less fortunate may partake of a hot and nourishing meal over this long and often dreary winter.

Most schools, churches and many other organizations run programs that allow you to drop off canned and packaged items.

If you want to take it even further, how about volunteering at a soup kitchen?

Suppose you work at a restaurant, grocery store or other food establishment. How much food gets tossed into the garbage at the end of another day?

Consider if there is a way to preserve this food so that it may be offered to those who can benefit from its nourishment.

This could be a wonderful way to share your giving spirit and make a difference for people in need.

Journal It.

Make a list of all the ways you can offer food to the hungry. Commit to a plan. Make it happen. Feeding the hungry is a way to nourish your own soul.

To helping others

Fran Watson

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Mindfulness

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 20. Challenge Yourself to Live in the Present Moment

Today for our positivity rumination, we will expand our mind to living in the present moment.

It’s easier to feel thankful for the simple gifts of life when we are mentally able to remain in the present.

Most of us have a lot of trouble living mindfully, or staying present.

  • While our children talk to us, we look down at our phones or scroll through messages.
  • While we cook dinner for our families, we think about how we’ll soon have to run out the door for our next planned activity.
  • During activities that we signed up to participate in, our minds forward us to even more activities that we might want to do, or have already committed to.
  • Sometimes while reading a book, we find ourselves flashing back to an earlier conversation. We worry about what we said and who might have been offended by it. Or we imagine what we should have said, or will say next time.

This is a stressful way to think! It isn’t healthy for our relationships. And with everyone so immersed in social media all the time, it’s only getting worse.

Exercise: Choose an Activity to Help You Stay Present.

Certain activities help us improve our mental ability to live in the present moment. Some include:

Yoga. Yoga involves stretching your body into certain poses that you hold still for while breathing deeply. This is extremely good for calming the mind, easing nervous tension and putting your parasympathetic nervous system into a restful state.

Meditation. Meditation is difficult for some people to understand. This is because they’ve never tried it. All that meditation really involves is fixating your gaze and your thoughts on a single focal point, and breathing. It’s easier to meditate after you’ve released some tension with a yoga session first.

Spend Time Outdoors

Spending time outdoors. When we’re inside for hours at a time, we are away from natural light and likely exposed to computers for too long. Stepping away from the screen and into the natural world is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Nature is extremely grounding and will bring you into the present moment.

Journal It.

If you find yourself constantly flashing backward into the past and forward into the future, feeling restless and unsatisfied, you may want to question why this is happening.

To discover why, journal your day’s activities. Write down every little thing you do, as you remember it.

  • How often did you find yourself mentally stuck in the future or the past?
  • How many times did you engage in compulsive activities like checking messages or scrolling feeds?

Make a list of grounding activities you might like to try to get you back to the present. Working with your hands could be a mindful activity for you. Which of these appeals to you?

  • Handicrafts – sewing, knitting, crocheting, latch hooking, weaving, needlepoint, other
  • Woodworking – building with wood, carving wood, etching wood
  • Sculpting – working with clay, pottery making
  • Fine arts – painting, drawing, pastels, coloring
  • Breadmaking – working with dough
  • Gardening – turning over beds, planting, weeding, harvesting

Select an activity from above that you might enjoy. Set aside an hour each day to partake in this pastime.

See how you feel afterward. Are you able to slow down and stay in the present?

To being present most of the time

Fran Watson

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Parenting

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 19. Honoring Your Mother and Father

On day 19 of the 30 Days of Positivity Challenge, we’ll talk about honoring our parents.

This can be a touchy subject for some. If so, please feel free to skip this exercise if it’s too painful for you.

Some people grew up without a mom or a dad. For them, maybe it’s a Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, or other stand-in parental figure(s) who took on the tough job of raising them. In this rumination, you can spend time formulating good thoughts for the person or people who helped shape who you are today. We’ll just call them Mom or Dad in this exercise, to simplify things a bit.

If you had the good fortune of being surrounded and supporting by parents who were as close to perfect as is humanly possible, then celebrate Mom and Dad for everything they were and are to you.

Exercise: Honoring the Truth Your Parents and How They Influenced the Person You’ve Become

When you think of your mom, what words come to mind? What kind of woman was she, as a mother to you growing up?

  • Was your mom a soft-voiced person who took care of everything from a quiet place in the background?
  • Was she a bit of a dramatic figure who wasn’t afraid to express her opinions? Did Mom rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove?

Whatever your mom’s personality, we all have those “parent tapes” that play in our heads any time we’re faced with a challenge.

Some people joke that there’s a devil on one shoulder, and an angel on the other. But really, the person’s voice whom you probably hear in the back of your mind during all your decision-making is your mother’s, isn’t it!

So what types of things did your mom say?

Do you say those same phrases to your children now if you have kids?

What did Mom say that you liked to hear? What other things did she say that may have bothered you, and why?

Whatever your Mom said, she must have done some things right to help you grow into the fine person you are today.

So today, for just a little while, think about the job your mother must have had to take on while rearing you as a child. Be grateful for the ways your relationship with your mother has influenced you positively.

Even if some episodes with your mother stood out as being more negative than positive, look into your own personality and explore how relating with your mom has caused you to behave in certain ways in your adult life.

Surely your mom has influenced the choices you’ve made, by what she did and said or even what she did not do or did not say. That’s something to be grateful for.

Repeat this exercise for your dad. At certain times and during certain activities, you can probably hear your dad’s voice making strong suggestions on what to do, or perhaps just chiming in with a running commentary.

  • What types of things did your father say to you growing up?
  • How did his remarks, instructions or admonishments make you feel?
  • What actions did you take (or not take) based on the influence of your father?
  • What was Dad good at doing? What did you enjoy doing together?

Be grateful for having had a father, or a father-figure, to help you gain insights into the person you wanted to grow into. Be grateful that your Dad had a hand in who you became.

Journal It.

Set aside a half-hour or more today, to pen some good words about your mom, dad, or both. If you’re a parent, write about the things you plan to carry forward thanks to the way your parents raised you.

If you had some bad experiences being parented by your mother, father or both, then try this. Recognize your mother and/or father as being human and fallible. Know that they only had so much to work with – the self esteem that was given to them (or denied them) by their own parents, or parent-figures.

If you had trouble relating with your Mom or Dad when you were young, or even now, try to think of them as just another set of people instead of assigning them this larger-than-life hero role that sometimes we feel our parents should be to us. You can even write them a letter expressing how they made you feel. (You don’t have to send it – this is meant to be cathartic.)

If you parents did wrong by you, forgive them for it. To do this will set you free, and open the door to positive experiences.

You don’t have to be best friends with your mom or dad. (But if you are best friends, then that’s great!)

If your parents did right by you, then be grateful. Tell them thank you for doing the best they could.

To having good memories and being grateful

Fran Watson

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All the Comforts Of Home

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 18. Grateful for Creature Comforts

For today’s exercise, we’ll be ruminating on creature comforts. That is, those things in life that we almost take for granted but yet they enhance our enjoyment greatly.

If you’re too comfortable right now to participate in this activity, that’s okay. Come back to it when you’re in the mood. As stated before, positivity cannot be faked. It’s your right and privilege to express yourself in your own way and in your own time.

If you’re reading this, you probably live in a developed country. So, home heating and cooling, clean drinking water, indoor plumbing and cars that get us where we want to go are things you likely don’t think about much.

But consider what your daily existence would be like without these things.

Imagine how it feels to live in a country where a pair of shoes is a thing of novelty.

Imagine what it might be like to fall seriously ill while living in a place where there is no modern health care.

If you’re like most American citizens, you’ve probably grown a bit spoiled and come to expect certain things. This is not a criticism of you personally. An entitled mindset goes hand in hand with a first world country existence.

But there are definitely times when tragedy strikes in some place or another, and we either live it or we hear about it through friends of friends or via the media.

While no one wants to be impacted by tragedy or suffer loss due to something catastrophic, it’s at these times that we are suddenly able to appreciate the comforts that we’ve come to take for granted in our lives.

For just a short moment today, reflect on all the things that make your life easy and comfortable while enhancing your enjoyment.

Exercise 18: Be Blessed for the Creature Comforts of Your Life

There is so much in the way of “basics” to be thankful for!

  • Heat and hot water
  • Electricity and plumbing
  • Functioning sewer systems
  • Water treatment facilities that provide clean water to drink and bathe in
  • Gasoline and electric that powers our vehicles
  • Well built homes that stay warm (or cool) and dry

When you think of all these creature comforts that enhance our personal experiences on a daily basis, it’s just a wonder and a testament to the brilliance of the human mind and all we’ve created.

Journal It!

Next time you feel like complaining about a minor inconvenience that impacts a short amount of your time, just stop. Stop and think of what your life would be like in a third-world country.

Write down all the comforts that make your cushy life what it is. Be happy!

To appreciating your life

Fran Watson

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