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We live in a world where it seems like people are constantly trying to tell us to be something other than who we are meant to be. When we hear qualities like sensitivity, compassion, passivity, tenderness, thoughtfulness, and patience we all know which gender is supposed to possess these traits. Likewise, whenever we hear characteristics like toughness, dominance, risk taking, resilience, drive, and courageousness, we also know which people should have these traits. These qualities shouldn’t be associated with just one gender, but often times they are. If a woman isn’t sensitive to the needs of those around her, she may be chastised. And if she possesses a stereotypical masculine trait then her femininity may even be called into question. The same can be said for men. A man who isn’t driven may be looked down upon for a lack of ambition. And if a man is too sensitive or thoughtful, he may be told to toughen up because he isn’t being manly enough.

Even if no one has ever personally told you that you aren’t masculine enough or you aren’t feminine enough, you may have still felt the pressure to conform to some societal idea of what it means to be a man or a woman. TV, movies, magazines, and social media constantly portray a caricature of what it means to be a man or a woman in our society, but it’s not a true picture of what masculinity or femininity truly means. Whenever you see a caricature done of somebody at a fair or at an amusement park, we never take them seriously. We know that the person doesn’t really look like the drawing, but for some reason, when we witness these caricatures of masculinity and femininity we sometimes do take them seriously. These images that are portrayed to us on a daily basis of what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman may make us think that there is something that is the matter with us if we don’t fit into this picture. But the thing is positive thinker, there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t fit perfectly into this image. A caricature of masculinity shows us a distorted and untrue image of what it means to be a man in our society and a caricature of femininity depicts an unrealistic and unobtainable idea of what it means to be a woman, and for this reason you shouldn’t take caricatures of masculinity and femininity any more seriously than you would a caricature of yourself that was drawn by a street artist. A caricature of yourself isn’t a true depiction of who you are and neither are the caricatures of masculinity or femininity that you come across on a daily basis.

And these ideas of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man doesn’t stop with how we are on the inside either. We turn on the TV and see men and women with “perfect” faces and bodies. We open up a magazine and see men and women with luxurious hair and bright and shining smiles. These images have the soul purpose of trying to make us feel bad about ourselves. They are trying to tell us that our lips aren’t big enough, our waists aren’t small enough, our legs aren’t long enough, and our hair isn’t full enough, or they make us think that our muscles aren’t big enough, our height isn’t tall enough, and our shoulders aren’t broad enough, but this isn’t true either. There is no perfect way that a woman should look despite what we see on TV and there is no perfect way that a man should look despite what we see when we look at an ad in the magazine. Perfection isn’t achieved by adhering to some societal notion of what it means to be perfect. You are perfect just by being who you are.

We aren’t made from a cookie cutter, so we aren’t all the same. All the women in the world were not cut from the same female cookie cutter, nor were all the men cut from the same male cookie cutter. We’re different and that’s what makes us so great. We don’t have to fit into some stereotype of what it means to be female or male, black or white, Christian or atheist, Republican, Democrat, or indifferent because you can be these things regardless of whether or not you can check off every trait or characteristic that is associated with whatever group you are a part of.

Positive thinker, there’s always going to be somebody out there telling you that you need to act and look a certain way in order for people to like you. You may be too sensitive or you may be too tough, but if that’s who you are and if you’re comfortable with being that way then it shouldn’t matter what anybody else thinks. And you may not be a size zero or have wash board abs, but that shouldn’t matter either because you are great just the way you are.

You’re not made from a cookie cutter positive thinker, and that makes you unique, so don’t try and be anybody other than who you think you are supposed to be.

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Many of us grow up with parents or guardians that try to instill many important lessons in us. They tell us that we should eat healthy meals if we want to grow up big and strong. We should study hard and get a good education so that we can end up better off then they did. They taught us that we should be kind and that we should have good manners. We should help others out whenever we have the chance. They told us that we shouldn’t cheat or steal. We should always be respectful to our elders. And we should never ever tell a lie.

This last one is particularly important. When I was growing up, I may not have gotten into any trouble if I went out to dinner and chose the hamburger and fries over a salad, but I did get into plenty of trouble if I decided to tell a lie. Even now as an adult, I see the negative consequences of what can happen when I lie to other people. The results may not be immediate, but the lies I tell usually find a way of coming back and biting me in the butt. The lies may not always be big, but the consequences usually always are. Even the little white lies that I think I can get away with usually still end up leaving me with a less than favorable outcome. But if we find ourselves lying from time to time then why do we still do it if we know that we can get caught or trapped in our lie? Often times we do think that we can get away with it, so we decide to tell the lie if we think that no one will ever find out about it. Other times we think that if we do get caught, the consequences won’t end up being nearly as bad as the consequences would be if we had told the truth in the first place.

We rationalize and rationalize and rationalize some more, but it seems that these rationalizations don’t end up doing much good for us. And sometimes we even find ourselves using these rationalizations to justify the lies that we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves things like, “I’m not smart enough to go back to school and finish getting my degree.” We say things like, “I’m not talented or competent enough to have a job like that.” Words like, “I’m not interesting enough for people to like me,” come across our minds.  Instead of believing in ourselves and in our abilities we lie and tell ourselves that we are not good enough because when we do this we won’t have to try to do something that may be difficult, and if we never try then we will never have the chance to mess up or fail. Failure has such a negative connotation that we deceive ourselves into thinking that we aren’t good enough to do that thing that we really want to do because at least this way, if we don’t try it, we’ll never have the opportunity to say that we failed.

We are taught the importance of not lying to others, but many of us don’t grow up having the same emphasis placed upon not lying to ourselves. Lying to yourself can be just as damaging as lying to others can be. Telling lies always has consequences, but when you lie to yourself, you might end up stopping yourself from doing something that you would actually be good at. When you convince yourself that you’re not smart enough to go back to school and further your education, you may also be stopping yourself from learning valuable information that could lead you to become a better person. When you trick yourself into believing that you’re not good enough to go for that job that you really want, you may also be preventing yourself from having a job that you could actually enjoy. And when you allow yourself to believe that people won’t like you because you’re not interesting enough, you may end up missing out on opportunities for making new friends.

You may not have grown up having the adults in your life telling you not to lie to yourself, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start living out this valuable life lesson now. You can choose to stop listening to the negative voices in your head. Become aware of these negative thoughts in your head, and whenever you come across one, change your thought pattern to one that switches that negative thought into one of positivity. Fear may cause you to do some stupid things, but don’t let it lead you to lie to yourself. That challenge you have ahead of you may be difficult and scary, but don’t lie to yourself and say that you can’t face it, because you can positive thinker. And hey, even if you do fail the first time, you can learn from that failure and change your actions and behavior so that the next time you come across a similar challenge or task you’ll succeed at it.

Positive thinkers don’t listen to the lies you tell yourself. Listen to the voices in your head that tell you that you can. It may be difficult to find this voice, especially if you’ve been listening to the lies for too long, but if the lies are preventing you from doing something that you truly want to do then you have to find a way for the voices that speak truth to be heard. That truthful voice is in there positive thinker; you just have to look deep enough to find it.

Let today be the first day that you choose to let go of all of the lies that you tell to yourself. If you wouldn’t lie to someone you care about then you shouldn’t lie to yourself. You care about yourself positive thinker, so don’t lie to you.

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Writing a story can be a challenging yet equally rewarding experience. When the first sliver of an idea pops into your mind, you become filled with instantaneous excitement. You become wound up with all the possibilities that your story has to offer, and as you start to fill in the story and come up with the details of how you want that story to unfold, you also start to reach a point where you believe that your story will be able to come to fruition and provide your readers with as much joy as you had when you first thought of the idea to write your work of art.

Delight will once again radiate through you when you finally finish writing a story. As soon as you write down that last word or type that last thought, you start to really see that all of the time and effort you put in to your writing has finally paid off. Finally finishing your story is exciting, but just because you have finished writing your first draft, doesn’t mean that there is not still more work to be done.

Once you’re finally finished with draft one, you still have to go over your story again. You have to look for minor revisions like typos and repeated sentences. You have to look for minor revisions like typos and repeated sentences. And you also have to look at your story as a whole and see if all of the parts work together. Once you start to re-read your work you may also start to notice that there are holes in your story or there may be ideas that don’t make sense to you anymore. You realize that not thinking through some of your ideas fully in the early stages of your writing has also led you to produce work that wasn’t consistent with your story as a whole. Sometimes you end up writing whole chapters that simply don’t have any place in the book at all, and when this happens you may even start to think that your first draft was so bad that you should just throw it out altogether.

But you don’t have to throw your story out. You have a chance to go back in and eliminate those chapters or rewrite them so that it does make sense with in the broader story that you were trying to create initially. Going back and eliminating chapters in a story or rewriting them can be a tedious process, but within this process you start to realize that just because you have a few bad ideas or concepts within your story doesn’t mean that your story is bad and needs to be thrown away. The first time around your story might not have looked how you had wanted it to look, but by the time you get finished with your second draft, that story will start to look more like how you had set out for the story to look like when you first got started.

The same can be said about the story that you’re living every day. Your life is a story positive thinker, and I’m sure you have a vision of how you want that story to play out. We all want our stories to turn out in the way that we visualized them to be, but that doesn’t always happen. We hit snags in our stories. Major and minor characters are sometimes lost. Sometimes we may end up having a bad chapter or two that aren’t consistent with how we originally wanted our story to play out, and sometimes we may even end up repeating these chapters a few times before we realize that they don’t fit in with the story that we want for ourselves. We all have moments where are stories don’t live up to the stories that we have concocted in our minds, but just because the story that you have for yourself in your mind doesn’t match the story that is playing out in the real world, doesn’t mean that you have to give up on having a great story play out in your life. A few bad chapters doesn’t mean that your story needs to be thrown out.

You may not be able to go back and rewrite your chapters, but you can turn to the next blank page and make sure that all the chapters that you have from here on out are good ones. And take the time to fully think about what you’re going to do before you end up writing that next chapter because if you do, you may avoid having bad chapters in your story. But even if you do end up having more bad chapters in your life after you make the decision to only have good ones, you can still just turn to the next blank page in your story and write a new good chapter. And when your story does start to actually look like how you envisioned it to look to begin with, the few bad chapters that you had to experience won’t seem to matter as much.

It’s not too late to have a story that you’re proud of positive thinker. You just have to go out there and make it happen.

Remember, “A few bad chapters does not mean your story is over.”

So if you’ve been having some bad chapters as of late, turn to that next blank page, pick up a pen, and make the rest of your story one to remember!

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Struggles. We all have to face them at one point or another. Having struggles that we have to face may be a part of life that we have to deal with, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be a constant part of our lives.

The next time you face a major struggle in your life, try taking a step back away from the situation. Sometimes when you find yourself facing something tough you become so overwhelmed with the problem that you have to face that you never really get a chance to fully look at the challenge that you’re facing for what it is. When you’re first faced with your problem, it may seem scarier and more difficult than it actually is, but when you step away from your problem for awhile you may gain some much needed clarity about how to tackle it.

When you were in school, did you ever have problems finding the answer to a problem on your homework or on a test? You knew that you knew the material and you knew that you studied and paid attention in class, but for some reason you just couldn’t figure out the answer. The harder you tried to figure out the answer the more frustrated you would become because the answer wasn’t coming to you. You may have even worked yourself up to the point that you had decided to give up on finding the answer. I know that scenario happened to me on more than one occasion, but I also never got to the point of giving up. Just before I reached that point, I would put my work to the side and take a break from the problem. I wouldn’t focus on anything, and I would just let my mind take a rest, or I might have even tried to focus on another problem that I knew I could tackle at that moment, and nine times out of ten, I was able to come back to that original problem later on and figure out the answer. When you stop putting so much pressure and strain on yourself to figure out a solution to your problem right a way you may actually end up relaxing enough to come up with a concrete way of dealing with your problem. The answer to your problem is there positive thinker; you just have to be patient and creative enough to find it.

On the other hand when you experience a new struggle, you may find the urge to ignore it completely. Stepping away from your problem momentarily to gain some insight is beneficial, but choosing to ignore it forever is far from helpful. Just because you’ve made the decision to not face your problems doesn’t mean that your problems are going to go away.

If you’re sick and you choose to ignore the fact that you’re sick you’re not going to get any better. You may put off going to the doctor, thinking that you’ll be fine and that you’ll just will yourself to get better, but that’s not necessarily going to make you well again. If you’re sick and you continue on with your day to day routine, you’re not going to get any better. In fact, the opposite is more likely to happen. By choosing to ignore the fact that you’re sick and by continuing to push yourself just as hard as you did when you were well, you will end up making yourself sicker as a result. However, if you choose to acknowledge the fact that you’re sick, and once you choose to seek the proper help, you will end up getting better as a result. The same thing rings true for dealing with your struggles. You can put off your problems day after day, but that will only make matters worse for you.  But once you choose to accept the fact that you have a problem then you can finally seek the help that you need to overcome that problem. The solution may not always be as simple as taking some cough syrup and Nyquil. Sometimes you may think that you need to seek outside help to get rid of your problem, and if that’s what you need to do to fix your problem then do it. It’s your struggle positive thinker, and you need to do what you have to do to figure out how to overcome it, even if it means seeking outside help.

Positive thinker when you fear your struggles, you are giving your problems more power than they deserve. Why should you let some outside force have power over you? It is your life and you have the power to make the things that you want to happen happen. Don’t let your problems have power over you because your problems will never be bigger than you are. In fact, when you finally make the decision to face your problem head on, the problem that you are facing will slowly start to shrink down in size, and once you figure out a way to tackle the problem that problem that once seemed so big will start to become so little that you start to wonder why you ever feared that problem in the first place. You are stronger than you think you are positive thinker, and you can overcome the challenges life throws your way.

So remember, “When you fear your struggles, your struggles consume you. When you face your struggles, you overcome them.”

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I’m sure nobody would complain if every single day of your life was perfect. If you never had to experience heartache or pain again, you would be happy. If you never had to experience another hardship a day in your life then you wouldn’t complain. If there was a way that I could wake up everyday knowing that everything I wanted and needed to happen was going to happen and that nothing or no one would get in my way of experiencing nothing but happiness for the rest of my life then I would be the first person in line to figure out how that could happen. We’d all love it if that was the case, but unfortunately it is not.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows everyday because everybody goes through difficult moments at different points in their lives, and often times when these difficulties do seem to sneak up on us they also seem to be accompanied by stress. They don’t bring us much joy or happiness, and they end up making life more difficult for us. And sometimes when we go through them we may even end up thinking less of ourselves for the battles that we’re going through, but we shouldn’t let this happen.

We all deal with hardships, and many of us have come out on top of these difficulties, even if we thought that we would never overcome them.

You didn’t think that you could get over that nasty break up, but you ended up finding love again.

You never thought you would have ever made it through the death of a loved one, but you found a way to live without his or her physical presence.

You didn’t think that you would ever get out of unemployment, but you did eventually find a job.

You didn’t think that you could stop your home from being foreclosed, but you still have your house.

We may have thought that we would have never been able to deal with those issues that were plaguing our lives, but after some weeks, months, or maybe even years, we were able to come out on top of them. This, positive thinker is by no means an easy task, so you should be proud of what you have overcome. Instead of feeling embarrassed of what we have gone through, we should try and turn those negative feelings into positive ones. If you’ve gone through something and you’ve overcome it, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of what you went through because you were actually able to find a way to conquer that difficulty. And even if you haven’t overcome one of your hardships yet, don’t worry because one day you will, and when you do, take pride in the fact that you were able to overcome it.

And while there are some obstacles that we can seem to conquer, there are others that we have no control over because they will always be a part of our lives forever. Nobody has any choice over the color of their skin, the sex they were born as, or the type of people they’re attracted to, but depending on where you live at in the world being born with a certain kind of these characteristics can end up being a hardship. You also have no control over things like having a life changing diagnosis from your doctor that will end up making your life more difficult down the road. But when we do deal with these types of obstacles, sometimes overcoming them means that we must just learn to embrace the hardships and live with them despite some negativity that it may bring to us.

Instead of hating them we can start to look for and appreciate the good that does come along with that hardship.

You may not be able to change the color of your skin, but you can learn to love the aesthetic and youthful beauty that your dark skin provides you with.

You may not have been born as the dominant sex, but you also aren’t burdened down by being chastised for sharing your emotions and how you truly feel.

You may not have any choice in your sexual orientation, but you can go out there and find the love of your life and revel in the happiness that you share with your partner.

You may not be able to change a scary or life-altering diagnosis, but you can choose to focus on the fact that you have gotten a lot closer with your loved because of your diagnosis.

You can’t change certain hardships that you were born with or that are the result of something genetic, but you can change how you deal with it by looking for and holding on to any inkling of positivity that may accompany it.

Positive thinker your hardships are a part of you, and because they are a part of you they make up an important part of who you are. You wouldn’t be the same person that you are today if you didn’t experience the difficulties that you have experienced thus far in your life, so embrace your hardships, learn from them, and be happy for yourself when you finally do overcome them.

And always remember positive thinkers, “Be proud of: who you are, and everything you’ve overcome.”

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If you started playing sports when you were a kid then you know that you didn’t just walk out on to the court or field or track knowing how to do everything that the sport entailed. There was a lot of practice involved and there were also a lot of mistakes made not only by you, but by your teammates as well. And even though you were learning to play this new sport, you also probably had fun doing it. Even though you dribbled the ball with both hands, accidentally kicked the ball to the other player, and ran around the hurdles instead of over them, you still enjoyed playing your sport for the sake of playing your sport, and win or lose you still went out there after the game and high fived the hands of all the players, and when you said good game you really meant it. It didn’t matter that much if you won or lost the game because all you really cared about was getting to go out there and play.

However, if you decided to stick with that sport when you got older more of an emphasis was placed on wining. Your coach might have yelled at you if you missed intercepting the ball that was inches away from you, which led to the opposing team scoring a touch down. Your teammates might have become frustrated if you let your defender slip by you and drive the ball to the hoop. Or your parents might have groaned if you accidently dropped the ball out of your glove as the person on the opposite team ran through home plate. As you got older the sport you played became less about having fun and more about wining.

If you think about it positive thinker, sports would be a lot different if we didn’t keep score. If soccer players didn’t count every goal they made, if football players failed to keep track of every touchdown that was completed, if basketball players didn’t tally every shot made, and if baseball players didn’t add up all of the times each player crossed home plate then maybe the players might end up having some more fun when they played.

Flagrant fouls are given and red flags are thrown because players become so focused on winning that they are willing to put the well being of another human being on the line just so that they can win a game. The opposing players become obstacles that the players need to get through in order to win, and some players are willing to do whatever is necessary to those obstacles in order to win the game.

Life can be like playing sports sometimes too. When we were younger, life was fun and we enjoyed living it, but as we got older people started to become competition and we started to think that we needed to defeat our competition in order for us to win at life. We become so wrapped up in trying to become successful and in making something of ourselves that we are willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means hurting other people in the process. And sometimes we get so wrapped up on the goals that we have set for ourselves that it becomes all that we can focus on. We may even eventually stop taking the time to enjoy the things in life that really bring us some semblance of happiness because all that starts to matter is beating the other teams.

Many times we want to make sure that the other teams lose when that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Unlike in sports, the game of life doesn’t necessarily have to have winners and losers. We can all be winners if we’re living the life that makes us happy and that brings us the most joy and positivity. We don’t have to go around making sure other people lose the game because it’s possible for everyone to be winners.

If you take a look up at the scoreboard right now and see that someone else is beating you, don’t give up hope just yet. It doesn’t automatically mean that you’re losing the game. If you are happy with the points that you see up on the board then you are winning. And if you’re not happy with the score that you’re seeing, don’t worry because as long as you have air in your lungs and a heart that beats there will still be time left in the game for you to score as many points as you need to score to make the game count.

It shouldn’t matter if you win or lose positive thinkers. All that matters is that you enjoy playing the game!

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Do you remember how back when you were a kid, you had to listen to everything your parents told you to do whether you wanted to do it or not? Some of these things happened to be for your own good. Like when your parents made you eat vegetables, they did it because they wanted you to be healthy. And when they made you do your homework in school, even though you didn’t want to, they taught you the importance of discipline and hard work.  Or when your parents made you share your toys with your younger sibling they did it to teach you the importance of being generous and a team player.

On the other hand, some of things that your parents made you do as a child didn’t necessarily make you a better person because of it. Now as I reflect back on some of the extra curricular activities that my parents made me do when I was younger I still can’t see the purpose of doing it. I don’t think I’ll ever see the importance behind taking piano lessons that I had absolutely no interest in taking. Nor do I see how playing soccer has shaped me into becoming a better person. And I’m pretty sure that the accordion lessons that I took for many years will never help me out down the road.

When you were a child, your parents made a lot of decisions for you, but as you got older they started to loosen the reigns, and you were able to use your brain to make some decision of your own. By the time you reached high school your parents or guardians had enough trust in you to believe that you would use those life lessons that they taught you to make informed decisions for you own life. So, it was okay if you stopped playing basketball because you didn’t find it fun anymore. You didn’t have to wear the clothes that your parents picked out for you because you were old enough to make style choices by yourself. And they let you make the decision to take the foreign language that you wanted to take. Even though you were still under their control, you started to develop your own sense of autonomy which would help to shape you into the person that you would one day become.

And now that you’re an adult, you have complete freedom to choose how you want your life to look like. You no longer have your parents or guardians telling you what to do. No one gets to pick how you want to spend your life but you.

And you probably have much bigger decisions to make besides whether or not you’re going to learn how to ballroom dance or not, but if that just so happens to be one of the decisions you need to make then that decision is completely up to you.

Positive thinker if you want to be a doctor then do it.

If you want to change religions or give it up all together then do that.

Want to get married? Do it.

Want to stay single? You could do that too.

If you want to uproot your life and move halfway across the world then that decision is entirely yours to make.

And if you are ever worried about a decision that you have to make, remember that you can draw upon those life lessons that your parent or guardian taught you. In life you will come across many paths that lead to very different places, and choosing one of these paths over the other may seem very daunting, but the elders in your life taught you important life lessons so that choosing a path wouldn’t seem as scary. They taught you those lessons for a reason, and now that you’re out on your own in this world, you can use those lessons to help you to make important decisions in your life. Not everything that they made you do can help you out, but those important lessons will always be with you to guide you during your troubled times.

So go out there in the world and pick the path that you want to choose positive thinker, and choose that path knowing that it’s what you want to do and not what somebody else wants you to do.

And never forget, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose!” -Dr. Seuss

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There are over 7 billion people on this planet, and each and every single one of these people is different from the next. There are not two people who are exactly 100% the same. We have different eyes, hair, lips, hands, feet, and skin. We come in different shapes and sizes. We have different cultures and religions and we speak different languages. There are many individual pieces that combine together to make one person whole and while some people may share the same puzzle pieces, no two people have all of the same pieces in common, which inevitably makes us different. And that is definitely a good thing.

Could you imagine having someone in your life that was completely and totally like you? How would you feel knowing that there was somebody who looked just like you from head to toe? Would you like to have someone else in your life who thought exactly the way you thought, acted the same way you acted, laughed the way you laugh, spoke the way you spoke, dressed the way you dressed, and believed every single thing that you believe? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want that person around. There would be something very unsettling about having someone who was exactly like me in every single way hanging around. It wouldn’t be very fun because part of what makes interacting with other people so interesting are the differences that we have, and if we didn’t have any differences among us and we tried to fit in with everybody then each one of us would eventually start to lose what makes us special.

And sometimes trying to fit in seems appealing to us. We think it will make life easier, so then we start to do things that will make us more like everyone else. We want to fit in so badly, that we start to be untrue to who we are. We change the way that we act when somebody tells us that it’s not right for us to act the way that we act. We change our hair and the way that we dress when another person tells us that our hair and clothes are inappropriate. We change the way we speak, when how we speak is a direct result of our experiences and environment that helped to make and shape us to be who we are.

Sometimes we forget that it is our differences that make us valuable. It is our differences that make life exciting. It is our differences that make us who we are, so instead of spurning our differences we should welcome our uniqueness and hold on to it.

Embrace your individuality positive thinker. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, it shouldn’t matter what other people think about how you act and behave because other people shouldn’t tell you how to live your life. It is your life after all, and no one knows how to live it better than you.

Only you know if you’re being true to yourself.

No one else can make that decision for you.

And if you’re not being yourself positive thinker, then try stepping into your own skin for a change.

Just imagine how much better you’d like yourself if you tried being you instead of somebody else’s version of you. If you are willing to put in energy into being someone other than you, then why not try putting the same energy into trying to be yourself. Making the decision to be yourself instead of trying to be someone else is a freeing decision to make, so make the decision today to stop letting other people tell you who you should be.

Don’t let other people tell you that you’re not good enough, when you are good enough just by being you.

If you’re a shy, quiet, introverted, nerdy, pianist, then be that person. If you’re a loud, extroverted, glass half-full, sassy, chemist then be that person, and if you’re a surly, messy, realistic, energetic, entrepreneur then be that.

Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to be you. And in the words of the beloved children’s book author Dr. Seuss: “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Be you positive thinker, because there’s nobody else out there who can do it better than you.

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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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