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Picture this…

You’re eight years old again, and you’re back at the local pool taking swimming lessons. The hot summer’s sun is beating down on you as you wait for the arrival of your swimming teacher on the side of the pool with the rest of the beginners. You take your forearm and wipe away the beads of sweat dripping down your face as you watch the big kids starting to do their laps under the guidance of their swim instructor. As you look on with awe, you think to yourself, “One day that will be me out there. One day I’ll be able to swim just like that.” As you take one more glance at the seamless backstrokes of the advanced swimmers, you see your swimming teacher approaching from the left side.

“Good Afternoon class,” she says after she takes her place at the front of the line.

“Good Afternoon,” you reply in unison with the rest of your swimming mates.

“Time to get in the water,” she answers back as she claps her hands together and turns to walk to the shallow end of the pool.

After your instructor is in the water, you all file in one at a time, while grabbing a blue kickboard as you descend into the cooling water.

Once you’re all in the pool, your instructor shouts, “Alright everyone we’re going to practice our flutter kicks first.”

Taking your board you fall into line behind the rest of the kids in your class and kick as hard as you can going up the right side of the lane, and then once you reach the other end of the pool, you turn around and repeat the same flutter kick until you get back to where you started.

As the last of your peers flutter to a stop, your instructor indicates that you will now practice the arm motions and breathing techniques used for the freestyle stroke. You know exactly what to do since you have practiced this at all of your other lessons, so once you’re lined up on the right side of the pool again, you take a deep breath and put your face in the water. As you open your eyes under the water you feel a sharp, but manageable sting run across your eyes as you scan the bottom of the pool and see your wiggling toes beneath you. After of a few seconds, your eyes adjust to the burning sensation, and you start to bring your right arm forward first, and then as your right arm goes back into its original place, your left arm comes forward, and then your right arm again and after you bring your right arm back once more, you turn your head to the right and take a deep breath. You repeat this over and over again until you hear your instructor telling you to stop a few more rotations later.

As you wipe the remaining drops of water away from your face, your teacher informs you that next everyone will be attempting to put the kicks, breathing, and arm motions together in order to swim the freestyle stroke.

The moment those words leave her mouth, you feel your heart start to slam against your chest. You’re nervous because you’re the only one of your friends who hasn’t managed to swim without the help of your instructor yet. Watching anxiously, you wait for your turn as you see each one of your swimming pals put all of three of the techniques together to do the freestyle. As each of your friends files back into line with Cheshire Cat-like grins plastered from ear to ear, you wonder if today’s going to finally be the day that you swim by yourself.

As you take another step forward you realize that there is only one more person in front of you before you’ll have to go. You take a few deep breaths in and out to calm yourself, and you glance once again to the part of the pool where the advanced swimmers swim. As you watch their graceful moves, you remember the promise that you made to yourself before the start of the lesson. “One day that will be me out there. One day I’ll be able to swim just like that.”  Remembering these two simple sentences gives you the courage that you need to get out there and swim. You want to be like them one day, but you realize that you have to take this first step before you can start to swim like the big kids. Determined, you take a step forward as you hear your instructor call your name.

Taking a deep breath once more, you lie on your stomach and prepare to put together everything that you’ve learned that will help you to swim freestyle. You can feel your teacher’s hands holding you up, but as you start to kick and move your arms, the touch from your instructor becomes lighter and lighter until you don’t feel her hands underneath you at all. You realize that you’re doing it! You’re actually swimming, and you keep on kicking and moving until you can’t kick and move anymore.

As you stand back up at the end of your turn you hear the excited congratulatory hooting and hollering from your friends and instructor. Pure joy and elation are pulsing through your veins right now, and you feel better than you’ve ever felt before. As you walk towards the end of the line with the chorus of cheers ringing in your ears you feel a smile that mirrored the smile of your swim mates spread across your face, and you realize that you’re just one step closer to your dream of swimming with the big kids.

Positive thinker, in life, you’re going to have many first steps. Anytime you want to do something new, you have to take your first step before you can reach the end of that new adventure. You can’t expect to get to the finish line by just taking one step. Reaching that end takes hundreds, thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of steps, and each step is just as important as the last. Without the first step, you couldn’t get to the second step, and without the second you couldn’t get to the third, so recognize the importance of the process, and realize that the journey it takes to get to the end can be just as exciting as finally reaching the finish line.

Tackling something new can be very intimidating, but you have to find the courage to take the first step. You don’t just wake up one morning knowing how to walk or swim, and you’re not going to wake up one morning having achieved your life long dream if you haven’t taken that first step first. Doing something new takes time and patience, but if it’s something that you really want then taking that first step can give you just what you need to start living the life that you’ve always wanted to live.

So close your eyes, breathe in and out, and relish in taking that first step.

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Have you ever noticed how little kids live their lives without a care in the world? They run around and act silly and dance and play, and they don’t care who sees them doing it. They are who they are and that’s good enough for them, and it should be good enough for us too, but unfortunately many times that is not the case.

Sometimes we find ourselves living a life where we question if we are being true to who we really are at our core. We all have an idea of who we are and who we are supposed to be, but how many times in life do we find ourselves living a life that’s inconsistent with this picture of ourselves that we have imagined?

We wake up one day and realize that we aren’t living the life that we want to live.

We wake up one day and realize that we aren’t being the person that we want to be.

We wake up one day and we realize that we are living the life that someone else wanted for us. And sometimes we have been playing along in this life for so long that we fail to even realize that we aren’t living our life, but somebody else’s life.

Somewhere along the road between our childhood and where we are at this exact moment in life, somebody told us to dim our light. Not all of us listened when we were told to do this, but some of us did, and we let it start to dim the moment that we decided to let someone tell us that we couldn’t be who we wanted to be. We lost our light, and now that it’s been gone for so long we don’t know if we can ever get it back, but it’s never to late to get that light back. It’s never too late to start living your life the way that you want to live it, and making the decision to do it is half the battle. You shouldn’t have to walk around life wearing a façade just because someone told you that your light was too bright or too different to keep on shining at full force, so make the decision to become your truest and most authentic version of yourself.

And I know there are probably some of you reading this right now who are saying “I haven’t let my light dim. My light is shinning just as brightly as it did when I was a child,” and if you are one of those people, then all I have to say is “good for you.” You shouldn’t allow someone to tell you how to live your life. It’s your life and you should live it in a way that allows you to let your light shine as brightly and as fully as it was meant to shine. Keep on letting your light shine positive thinker and don’t allow anyone to make you dim your light just because they have some idea of how you should be living your life.

Positive thinker, we all want to be that fun, carefree, and happy person that we once were when we weren’t bogged down by all of the pressures of life, but being stuck in a life that is full of daily pressures leads you to loose some of that spark that you once had. Even if no one has outright said to you that you should change how you’re living your life, you have still probably noticed that you have shifted your way of living to fit in with societal standards of the “proper” way to live your life. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if living that life allows for you to let your light shine the brightest, but if it doesn’t positive thinker, then it’s time to make a change in your life. It’s time to stop letting your light grow weaker and weaker with each and every passing day. Let it shine positive thinker, and live your life how you want to live it.

One of the best parts about being a child was that we didn’t have to be anything other than who we thought we wanted to be, so why not make the decision to live the same way now. Be who you want to be positive thinker, not who somebody else wants you to be.

And remember positive thinker, “Don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle.”

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Many people today seem to be preoccupied with the future. They want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow, a month from now, a year from now, and even years away from now. We are taught to plan for the future because if we don’t, we are liable to end up in a shaky position years from now, so in order to avoid that unstable future we plan. People give us incredulous looks if we tell them that we haven’t planned for our futures, so in order to avoid the stares we plan. We look at all the negative things that happened to people when they didn’t plan, so in order to not have their fate become our fates as well we plan. We plan and we keep planning until we are so focused on the future that we forget to live in the present. Planning for the future is important, but it shouldn’t become so important that we forget to stay in the present.

Sometimes we want to live in the future because we don’t like what we see in the present. It seems like things in the present are so bad that we plan and imagine our futures in order to give ourselves something to look forward to. If we’re not happy with our jobs, relationships, financial situation, or a host of any other things, looking to the future may be the only thing that gives us hope for brighter days. Having something to strive towards is important, but many times the road that you travel on to get to that final destination can be just as meaningful and important as the final destination itself. Even if the rode is difficult, choosing to stay in the present will allow you to realize just how much you went through and just how far you have come to reach the end.

Still other times we are preoccupied with the future, but instead of embracing it, we tend to avoid it. As a substitute to spending all of our time worrying about what’s going to happen in the future, we avoid thinking about it because we’d much rather live in the present. We aren’t concerned about a shaky future and we don’t care about the looks that we get when we tell people that we don’t have a detailed diagram about what our future will look like because our lives right now are fine and that’s all that matters.

There are times when we don’t want look into the future because we are afraid of what the future has in store for us. If we like the job that we have, the relationships that we have, the financial situation that we’re in, and everything else that is going on in our lives then we think that we don’t need to look to the future because everything that we need is right here in the present. We like our lives in the present, and when that happens, we also start to fear that we might lose all the good that we have one day. Thinking about becoming unhappy in the future isn’t a pleasant thought to have, so instead of trying to avoid that thought process, changing it and our actions into steps where we work towards and believe in a brighter future can lead us to have an even happier future than we have right now.

It’s alright to look ahead to the future. Thinking positively about your future and imagining something better than what you have right now is not only important but it’s essential as well, but it is also just as important to never forget to acknowledge the present. Living too much in the future will keep you out of touch with reality and with what’s going on from day to day, and you wouldn’t want that to happen. It’s also okay to live in the present, but don’t fail to look ahead into your future just because you fear losing what you have in the present. Believing in yourself and what you have now and working to maintain it is important, but so is trusting in, and planning, for a bigger and brighter future. Failing to look to the future may leave you facing some harsh realities in the near future, and you wouldn’t want that to happen either. Having a healthy balance of both aspects of your life is important, so try experiencing some of both positive thinkers.

And as always, stay positive!

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How many times have we let our age stop us from doing something? Starting from our youth, we here things like, “you can’t do that; you’re too young,” or “maybe try doing that when you get a little bit older.” Often times we listen to statements like this when they are uttered to us because, the thing about being too young to do something is that one day you will eventually be old enough to do that very thing that you’re to young to do now, so we just suck it up, bide our time, and wait until we’re old enough.

But what happens when somebody tells you that you’re too old to do something?

What do you do when you hear blanket statements like, “it’s too late for you to do that; you should’ve done it when you were younger,” or “you’re definitely too old to be doing that”? Should you still listen to these statements or should you just ignore them and continue doing what you were doing before someone decided to give you their two cents? Walking away seems like the best option because after all it is your life and you should be able to live it how you please, but sometimes when we hear people tell us that we’re “too old” to do something we listen, in part, because we think that there is a grain of truth to what they are telling us.

Well if someone has ever told you that you’re “too old” positive thinker, I’m here to tell you that you’re not too old to follow your dreams. Following your dreams is not just for those of us who are young in age; it’s for anyone who has the mentality of a young person who is willing to chase his or her dreams.

There’s no expiration date on your dreams.

Even if you aren’t as young as you used to be, there is still time for you to pursue what you really want to pursue, and if that is the decision that you choose to make you definitely wouldn’t have been the first person to wait until later on in life to go for something that you really want…

Stan Lee created “The Fantastic Four” comic book when he was 38. The inventor of Curves fitness center opened up the first one when he was 40, and Vera Wang, one of the world’s leading fashion designers, didn’t even enter into the fashion industry until she was 40. Julia Child didn’t write her first cook book until she was 50, Colonel Sanders didn’t franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 62, and Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first “Little House” book until she was 65.

Positive thinker, if any of these individuals had decided to give up on following their dreams because they were “too old,” they definitely wouldn’t have ended up with the success that they had.

Making the choice to chase your life’s dream later in life is a difficult decision to make because not only do you have to still navigate through all of the obstacles that are associated with reaching your dream, but you also now have to deal with all of the nay-sayers telling you that you can’t make it because you’re just “too old.” So fear is truly understandable, and if you’re still debating whether or not you really are too old to follow your dreams, let’s try a simple thought experiment…

Picture yourself years or maybe decades from now. You’re skin is wrinkled, you’re body is sagging in places that it doesn’t sag now, and only gray and white strands of hair remain atop of your head. You’re old, and you are also drawing near your last few days on this earth. As you think about your life, you remember all of the wonderful, happy moments that you have had. As you think about these times, you smile and realize that you truly have lived a blessed life. Now, as the happy memories fade away, you start to think about that dream that you had all those many years ago. You remember how badly you had wanted it, but you also remember that you stopped yourself from pursuing it because you were “too old,” and as you think about your life that could’ve been the smile that once graced your lips as your happy memories danced across your mind now slowly dies away.

Positive thinker, how do you think you’ll feel years down the road at the close of your life when you realize that you didn’t chase that dream that you wanted to go after all of those many years ago? If you think that you’ll be happier because you decided to give up on that dream, then go ahead and stop trying to reach it. Chances are though, that you probably wouldn’t be very happy with yourself for at least attempting to do it.

Positive thinker, try asking yourself this question: “Am I really willing to give up just because some people have told me that I’m ‘too old’ to go after my dreams?” I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to do that.

It’s not too late for you to go out and follow your dreams positive thinker. The last thing you would want to do is end your life full of unfilled dreams that you gave up on because you were “too old,” to follow them.

Go after your dreams.

They’re yours for the taking!

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Have you ever tried to lose weight, but it seems like no matter how hard you try, you can’t shed the excess fat? When you set out to drop the extra pounds you set a goal in your mind. You want to lose 10, 20, maybe 30 pounds, and so you start to change your habits. You start eating healthier and you start working out more, and initially, you do start to lose weight, but after about a month of living this new lifestyle, you stop seeing any changes in your body. So in order to lose some more weight, you start working out everyday and you cut out all of the junk from your diet, and yet your love handles stick to you unceasingly, your but still remains too bubbly, and you even become convinced that if you jumped off of the top of your house and flapped your arms to and fro that the extra fat hanging from your arms would allow you take flight in the air with the rest of the creatures of the sky. So instead of sticking with it and trying to reach that goal that you set a month ago, you decide to give up on getting fit and you just go back to your old routine.

Sometimes in life, it seems like no matter how hard you try to make something happen that it won’t happen for you. You try and try and try some more, but no matter how many times you try to make that one thing that you want to happen happen, it just doesn’t work.

A lot of times we give up on achieving a goal to soon. You may be right on the edge of a break through, but because you get frustrated and discouraged that it’s not happening right now and in the way that you want it to happen, you just decide to give up on it all together. And because you’ve become so angry, you don’t allow yourself to take a step back from your situation to examine why you haven’t achieved that goal.

And there’s always a reason for why something’s not working, you just have to be willing to find it…

Perhaps even though you’re working out more then you did in the past, the workouts that you are doing are too repetitive, so your workouts have plateaued and your body is no longer changing in the way that you want it to.

If you have plateaued when it comes to trying to work on your goal, switching up how you choose to tackle the task just may help. If you keep trying it the same way time and time again and nothing happens, then doing it a different way just might allow you to experience the results that you set out to achieve. You don’t always have to work harder to achieve your goals positive thinker. Sometimes working smarter will get you to that end that you want too.

On the other hand sometimes you aren’t working as hard as you think you are. In your quest to lose weight you have forgotten about those times when you went back to the kitchen late at night for a midnight helping of rocky road ice cream. Or maybe you didn’t use the time that you had set aside for working out for its intended use, and instead of working out for the full hour, you spent most of your time stopping to answer text messages and emails in the middle of your workout.

Sometimes you really do need to put in a little bit more effort to achieve that goal that you want.

And still other times, a change is occurring slowly, but because you’re too focused on the big end goal you become unaware of the little changes that are taking place day by day. Your body may be changing, but you are so focused on the fact that you haven’t lost the 10, 20, or 30 pounds yet that you don’t realize that you are slimmer and more toned than when you first started out on your endeavor.

Positive thinker, take the time to notice the small victories on your road to achievement because those tiny “wins” can give you the hope and the fuel that you will need to keep on striving for that end goal.

Don’t give up trying.

If you really want it, then it’s okay if you have to wait awhile for it to come. When you give up you could be depriving yourself of living the life you want, so don’t give up positive thinker. If you don’t see the results that you want then take a step back from the situation and examine what’s keeping you from achieving your goal, and once you have realized what’s stopping you, make the decision to jump back in to the task at hand and make the necessary changes to make that dream of yours a reality. Keep on trying positive thinker because what you’ve been working towards could be closer then you think.

Remember positive thinker, “Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that it will never happen.”

Picture this…

It’s the first Saturday of summer, and you’re eight years old again. You wake up at the crack of dawn, because that’s what kids do even when they don’t have to be at school, and you put on your play clothes and run down the steps, taking them two at a time, and as you reach the bottom of your steps you go straight to your back door, push it open, and run outside. Even though the sun’s barely out, you can still feel the heat of the sun start to break away the cool morning air. You breathe deeply, taking in this mixture of hot and cold air, and then you run to the fence where you have just spotted your favorite ball and when you finally reach it, you pick it up and start to play with it. Without a care in the world, you kick your ball, bounce it, and throw it until you can hardly move your arms.

After you finish playing with your ball, you take a short breather in order to give your arms some much needed rest and then you move on to jumping rope. You jump and jump and jump until your legs turn to jelly and then after another short recovery you finish off your morning by hula hooping until it’s time to eat lunch. For lunch, your mom makes you your favorite lunch time meal that you devour in a manner that would make anyone think that you hadn’t had anything to eat in weeks, and after you finish eating your lunch your mom tells you that you get to go to the park!

Upon entering these sacred grounds, you sprint at full speed right to your favorite place, the sand box. You build sand castles with nothing but your hands and the water from the water fountain as your crafting tools. You expertly construct massive and intricate buildings that even an architect would be impressed by.

After finishing your masterpiece, you rush over to the jungle gym and onto the monkey bars. You move effortlessly from bar to bar until you make it to the other side of this colossal-sized playground. After going from one side of the monkey bars to the other side and back again, you decide that you’re going to have a go at the swings. You just learned how to swing by yourself, and since then you’ve been determined to get as high off the ground as is physically possible before jumping off.

After deciding to go on the swings, you slide down the winding slide and run over to the swing set just in time to grab the last free swing. You lean against the swing and start pushing it back as far as you can until you’re standing on your tippee toes and then you jump onto the seat and take off. As you feel the hot air blowing on your face, you start to pump your legs in an effort to urge the swing higher. With each pump of your legs- backwards, and forward, backwards, and forward, and backwards again- you go higher and higher until you’re higher than you’ve ever been before. Pure and unadulterated elation coarse through your veins and you hoop and holler as your stomach excitedly turns over and over again from the best swing ride of your lifetime.

And just when you think you can’t get any higher you do! This is exactly what you’ve been waiting for! Now’s your chance! As the swing rears back one more time and starts to raise you higher, you let go of the chains to your left and right, and fly in the air higher than you ever dreamed possible. As you move up and up into the air, you feel as free as a bird does as he flies and soars through the air.

As you start to make your way back to the ground, you realize that you were so wrapped up in this life-changing moment that you have forgotten to brace yourself for the landing, and just as you come to this conclusion, you land face first on the ground. SMACK!

Your face stings as you roll over onto your back, and you instantly reach for your throbbing knee that slammed on a rock when you landed face down on the ground. As you hold your knee against your chest, unrestricted tears flow down your cheeks and onto your now dirt-covered t-shirt. As you look up from where you lay on the ground, you see a blurred image of your mom rushing right over to you.

“I hurt my leg mommy,” you cry once she is by your side.

“Do you want me to kiss and make it feel better?” she asks in a soothing voice as she kneels down next to you.

After nodding your head vigorously, your mom leans her head down and places her lips on you leg making a loud and exaggerated smooching sound. “Better?” she asks after finishing her kiss.

“Mmhhmm,” you respond as you let go of your leg.

“Good. Now are you ready to get back up and play some more?” she inquires.

Looking up at her, you shake your head letting her know that you don’t want to get up.

Concern stretches across your mother’s face. “Why not?”

“I don’t know,” you say while shrugging your shoulders.

“Well you know sweetheart, if you stay down here, you’re going to miss out on all of the fun you can be having. Just look at all of the kids out here laughing and having a good time. Don’t you want to have fun like all of the other boys and girls out here?”

Turning your head to the right, you see all of the other kids running around and playing. You hear their laughter and their excited voices as the run and jump and skip and roll around the park, and as you see them enjoying their day at the park you decide that you don’t want to miss out on anymore fun and that you want to enjoy your day at the park too. You then shift your focus back up to your mother’s caring eyes, and you say, “Ok mommy, I’ll get up.”

Positive thinkers, we all fall down sometimes. We all suffer from failure, disappointments, losses, grief, hardships, and many many other difficulties that bring us down. Nobody is immune to it, but when we do fall down, we can’t stay down forever. You have to get back up. If you want to be able to try again then you have to get up first. And, if you do try again your previous fall can end up helping you because the next time you’ll know what to do so that you don’t fall the same way that you did last time.

And if you don’t want to try again, that’s ok too. You should still make the decision to get up again, and when you do eventually make that decision, leave all of the hurt that you felt back down on the ground where you fell; don’t take it with you. Carrying that hurt around with you and focusing on the pain that your fall caused you might cause you to miss out on all of the other opportunities life has to offer you, so just let go of it.

You may be scared of what could happen after you get back up again, especially after falling hard, but staying on the ground isn’t going to make you feel any better. From the ground, you can only see life pass you by; you can’t participate from the floor, but you can join in in all of life’s joys when you get up. It may be hard positive thinker, and it may be difficult, but in the end, all that matters is that you get back up.

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Positive thinker, have you ever stopped yourself from doing something after imagining all of the things that might possibly go wrong? I know I have, and I also know that whenever I do that, I deprive myself of experiencing some potential good. I can’t tell you how many times I have not gone through with something just because I believed that what I truly wanted to happen never could happen.

In high school, I failed to apply to certain colleges because I thought, “Even if I do get into this school, I’m not going to be smart enough to pass all of those classes, and I will end up being one of the least intelligent people in my grade.” I’ve avoided talking to new people just because I thought that they might talk negatively about me after I left because they would have found me weird or different. I have forgone applying for jobs because I thought that I might embarrass myself in an interview by saying something irrelevant or by not listening to the question fully and answering it the wrong way.

But what if all of those bad things that I imagined didn’t end up happening?

If I would have applied to those schools I might have actually gotten accepted, and I could have ended up excelling in all of my classes. If I would have gone over and talked to that new group of people, I might have hit it off with them and now I would be able to say that I have a new group of people that I can call my friends, and if I would have applied for that job that I wanted then I might have been able to say that I’m working at my dream job right now.

Positive thinker what would happen if all of the bad things that you imagined might happen didn’t actually happen at all? Because, yes, it is true that the bad things that you envisioned happening might happen, but it is equally true that they also might not happen. If there was even the smallest chance that you could have what you wanted just by having enough courage to go through with your plans, then why wouldn’t you at least try? If things do indeed go wrong, you will at least have some idea of where you went wrong so that you don’t end up making the same mistake the next time you decide to go for that dream, but if things do go right for you positive thinker, then you can actually end up experiencing something wonderful.

Whenever you stop yourself from doing something that you want to do because you’re afraid that it may go poorly, you’re defeating yourself before you even start. So, don’t do that to yourself positive thinker. Don’t imagine all of the bad things that might happen. Instead, imagine all of the good things that could happen. When you think negative thoughts, you are bound to introduce negative things into your life. If you start to believe that something will go wrong with your plans you may indirectly cause that very thing that you are dreading to happen. Your expectations for negative things may just cause you to act in a way that will end up making your negative thoughts come to fruition. On the other hand, if you imagine and think about things going right then positive things will be introduced into your life, and if you think those positive thoughts then you will end up behaving in a way that will make those thoughts that you have envisioned come to pass.

Positive thinker, the next time there is something big that you want to happen, don’t get intimidated by the size of whatever it is. Don’t allow your thoughts to go to a place of negativity. Stop yourself from thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong. As an alternative, start thinking of all the things that could go right. Fill your head with positive thoughts about that idea that you want to happen. Imagine it and believe that it will happen so that any and all thoughts of you not succeeding get tossed out the door and into the dumpster with the rest of the garbage. Positive thinker, you deserve all that you want to have in life, so don’t let your negative thoughts prevent you from going out and getting it! Think positive thoughts, and get positive results! Your plans don’t have to fall apart positive thinker; they can go your way!

Remember positive thinker, “Don’t think about what might go wrong, think about what could go right.”

My freshman year in college, I went on a service trip to Tijuana, Mexico. One of the highlights from this trip was being able to help construct a house for a family that didn’t have any place to live. Even though we didn’t finish building the house while we were there, the group I was with was able to see a completed house that other groups had just helped to build.

Now although the house that we saw was two stories high, it was no bigger than a regular sized elementary school classroom. When we arrived at that house the family living there welcomed us with open arms into their home, and they excitedly showed us around their small abode. When the oldest girl opened the door to her bedroom and showed us the room that she shared with her sister, we saw only a simple room that housed a single mattress that the girls shared with each other. The mother opened up another door and showed us the bathroom that was no bigger than a closet, and yet this family could not help but be grateful for and excited about their new home.

Time and time again, I hear stories of people going to the poverty stricken parts of places like Mexico or Africa and coming into contact with people who have barely anything, and even though these people have considerably less than we do, they are still happier than anyone that I have yet to come across in my life. Part of this stems from the fact that they have no need to compare what they have to other people. They aren’t concerned about the latest version of the iphone or with who is wearing what. When you’re living in a constant state of poverty, you don’t care that you don’t have access to an abundance of superfluous gadgets and gizmos; you just start to become thankful and happy for what little you do have. When you don’t know where your next full meal is coming from, keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t seem so important.

Unlike people in the poorer parts of the world, many of us have grown up having everything that we needed to survive, and as wonderful as that is to say, it also comes with a cost. We don’t have to worry about starving to death or dying from an illness that could have been prevented by a simple vaccine, so we occupy our minds by worrying about other things. We start to become too preoccupied with what other people have and we start to obsess about why we don’t have what they have.

We become jealous when our co-worker has a new designer bag.

That green-eyed monster escapes from his cage when we see our neighbor pull up in front of her house in the newest BMW.

We think less of ourselves when we hear that our classmates are further along in their career than we are.

We view ourselves as less pretty whenever we open up a magazine and cast our eyes upon models with “the perfect body.”

We become unhappier and unhappier with our lives each and every time we compare ourselves to someone who is better looking, smarter, funnier, more successful, skinnier, more talented, richer, or stronger than we are.

Positive thinker, there comes a time in all our lives when we start to compare ourselves to someone else that we think is doing better than we are, and when we start to do that we are only causing ourselves harm. You start to lose sight of who you are because you are constantly trying to be someone else. When you’re too busy trying to be like person X, you will ultimately stop trying to be like you. Positive thinker, you waste precious time and energy when you compare yourself to other people. When you are so concerned with how you stack up compared to someone else you are taking away from precious time that you could be using to better yourself, and if you are continuously worrying about what everyone around you is doing and if you are constantly trying to have what they have then you can never truly be happy with all of the wonderful things that you do have.

Whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else positive thinker, try to remember that every single solitary person on this earth is uniquely made, and because of this fact you shouldn’t try to compare yourself to anyone else. People go through various events and experiences at different times in their lives because everyone is different. You shouldn’t compare yourself to other people because no matter how hard you try you can never be that person that you are trying so hard to measure up to. You can only be the best you you can be. So instead of trying to live the life of someone else positive thinker, focus on living your life and becoming the best version of yourself instead of the better version of someone else. Trust me; you’ll be a lot happier for it in the long run.

Remember positive thinker, “happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people.”

Did you know that there is a little American town that experiences 7-10 consecutive weeks without any sun? That’s right, once a year, from November to January, all of the residents of Barrow, Alaska are cast into what is essentially months of nothing but darkness. When the inhabitants of Barrow look outside a window at 10:00 in the morning it looks exactly how it does at 10:00 at night. As the residents go about their day to day lives, they must walk around and handle their business under the never ending night sky. All of the activities and chores that the rest of the world is used to doing in the daylight, these people must accomplish with only artificial light because they do not have the sun to rely on.

Do you think you could do it?

It would probably be difficult for you if this wasn’t an environment that you grew up in. I mean think about it, even if perpetual darkness for two months straight isn’t a reality for you, I’m sure that you live somewhere where you may end up going days or even a couple of weeks without seeing any sunshine. If going those few weeks without sun is difficult, then going months without it would be even more difficult.

So you may not experience months of darkness (unless you live in Barrow), but I wouldn’t be surprised if you found yourself dreaming of the sun-filled skies of destinations like Los Angeles during those gloomy days that you’re bound to experience. Days and days of nothing but cloudy skies can start to make even a sun-bashing person want to pack up his or her bags and head for warmer land. Living in some place like London or Portland in the middle of the winter may leave you wishing and praying for even the smallest sliver of sunshine, but unfortunately for you, you have no control over the situation. Just because you wish, hope, and pray for a bright and sunny day doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. There is nothing you can do to make warmer weather appear because you have no control over the weather, but luckily for you, you do have control over a different kind of sunshine.

Positive thinker you may not have control over the weather, but you do have control over positive rays of sunshine that you can bring into your life. Because your life is controlled by you, you can allow for sunshine to enter into your life if you want it to. We don’t have to wait around for someone else to create sunshine for us because we can bring about our own sunshine, in the form of happiness and positivity, into our lives whenever we want to.

Positive thinker, if you ever find yourself asking, “What happened to all of the sunshine in my life,” then it may be time for you to start bringing in your own sunshine.

If you find yourself in a rut where you seem to be experiencing nothing but gloominess then try doing something that is guaranteed to bring you some extra happiness.

If you know you always feel brighter after going on a nature run then cut some hours out of your week to go on that run.

If going out to see the latest Avengers movie will add a little sunshine into your life then go and do it.

If calling up your best friend and talking on the phone to her for hours will take away some of the gloom then pull out your cell phone and give her a call.

It’s never too late for you to add in some extra sunshine either. If you go for months in darkness, just like the residents of Barrow do, it may seem like you will never be able to see the light again, but that doesn’t have to be true. Even after living in perpetual darkness for months on end, the residents of Barrow experience light again and you can too. Just because you may have some darkness in your life, don’t give up on the hope of seeing the light again.

Positive thinker, you shouldn’t have to walk through life without any sunshine, so next time you notice that you have a little bit too much gloom hanging around you, make the decision to cast away the darkness and let some light shine through!

Remember positive thinker, “some days you just have to create your own sunshine.”

I, love, and you are just three simple words. When these words are alone, they may not hold any significance to you, but when they are strung together, one right after the other, these words can become some of the most powerful words ever uttered. These words let you know that you don’t have to go through this world alone. You know that you will have someone that cares about you and that wants the best in life for you. There will be someone there for you that can be that shoulder to lean on when you’re down and that can help you back up when you fall. It doesn’t matter if these words come from your mother, father, sister, brother, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse because when you hear these words uttered to you they can give you such an immense sense of comfort that will be hard for anyone to take away from you.

Now although these words can bring us joy, they also tend to loose their power the more it is said by one person. What was once new and exciting to hear can become routine and habitual. The meaning behind these three words has not changed, but because we have heard them said so many times they begin to seem less and less meaningful. We start to take this simple sentence for granted and we may even start to not care or notice it when someone stops saying it to us, that is, until someone fails to say it when we need to hear it the most.

If you happen to be feeling bad about yourself because your best friend is no longer talking to you because you said some unkind things to her in the midst of a heated argument, you may need to hear someone else tell you that he or she still loves you even though you were hurtful to your best friend.

You may yearn to hear those words if someone that once loved you has just told you that he no longer loves you. Knowing that someone still loves you might just help you to get over this heartbreak a little faster.

If you’re not sure about the direction your life is heading, you may need someone to tell you that you are loved even if you never find the right path in life.

And you may need to hear those three words if you feel unaccomplished because you’re not where you pictured you would be at this point in your life. Knowing that you are still loved may just give you hope for your future.

Yes, it feels good to have someone to tell you that you are loved, especially in times of trouble, but having somebody there to tell you that you are loved shouldn’t stop you from telling yourself just how much you love you. Don’t rely on someone else to tell you that you are loved. Positive thinker, be the one to tell yourself that you love you.

In life, you should be your biggest advocate. People will come and go from your life, including people that once loved you, but even if everyone that once loved you has left you to stand alone in this world, it doesn’t mean that you should give up on loving yourself.

And you should love yourself unconditionally positive thinker. Sometimes we start to think less of ourselves when things don’t seem to go our way. If you fall on hard times you may want to stop loving yourself, but this setback shouldn’t stop you from loving you. If you’re feeling down and out you may want to stop loving yourself, but keep on loving yourself despite this obstacle that life has thrown your way. If nothing in your world seems to be going your way you may want to stop loving yourself, but you should still love you even if you are experiencing the most difficult hardship of your life.

It is also in these times of trouble when you need to love yourself the most positive thinker. If the world’s got you down, you need to make sure to let yourself know that even if your life isn’t perfect you still have yourself that you can depend on and love. Show yourself that you love you no matter what.

It shouldn’t matter if you don’t have someone out there telling you that you are loved everyday because at the end of the day you have you, and if you love yourself and walk hand in hand with yourself everyday, this world may not be as scary as you make it out to be. Positive thinker, you should always have at least one person that loves you, and that person out to be you.

Remember positive thinker, “At the end of the day, tell yourself gently: ‘I love you, you did the best you could today, and even if you didn’t accomplished all you had planned, I love you anyway.’”  -The unbounded Spirit

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