Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

It's hard to believe that 2011 is upon us, but with its arrival we must think about the good things that are to come in the new year. Though I haven't made any new year's resolutions as of now, I am looking forward to the new things that this year will bring and I am hoping to make it a year that is even better than last and one that will bring even more happiness into my life and the lives of others.

I will make today's post short so you can get back to preparing for tonight's celebrations, but I wanted to leave the last OO post for 2010 with a great quote. Many of you may be attending some parties or fun get-togethers tonight, so I wanted to leave you with a quote that might also serve as a toast for the bubbly that I'm sure will be freely flowing:
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.  ~Oprah Winfrey
Love this! A new year brings another chance for us to set things straight, "get it right", and start (or continue) a journey to make our lives the best they can be. While we can have this mindset at any day of the year, the first day of the new year inspires us to start fresh from a clean slate, giving us that extra little motivation to start things off on the right foot.

So aside from setting that goal to hit the gym more and spend some more time with your friends and/or family, make sure to squeeze in a bit of optimism in your new year's resolutions. Make a promise to yourself to start or continue on a path of positivity and make the effort starting today to live a life of health and happiness through positive thinking!

Cheers to 2011 - may it bring to you good thoughts and another great year of life!

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pure White Snow

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

Two days ago the East coast got its first really big snow storm of the season. As much as I don't like the cold weather or much snow for that matter, I must admit that the first "true" snowfall is always very nice. There's something so beautiful and peaceful about that white stuff that seems to mask the frigid temperatures and whipping wind. Of course, that beauty quickly fades for me, as after only a few minutes outside, I'm ready for it to be summer again. But, winter is here, and I should enjoy it (I guess?) as much as I can.

Last year I wrote a post and poem inspired by a big snowfall in February called Right After the Snow where, believe it or not, I actually found some peace with this wintery stuff. I found that even with something I really dislike, I was able to appreciate it more when I took a moment to find the beauty in it.

If you're thinking about making a New Year's resolution this weekend as we start off 2011, you might want to consider making a promise to yourself to see the beauty in everyday life. It may seem "easy" or even a little bit too light for a "resolution", but I promise you that this is one thing that will really improve your outlook on life.

In thinking about the coming new year, I came across a great quote that hints a bit at the future...
The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show. 
This is a really great quote and one that I will certainly be keeping in mind through these winter months and into the new year. We must be ready for the things that the new year will bring and prepare to head in a positive direction with our lives. One of the best parts about newly fallen snow is the incredibly soft, smooth layer it leaves on all it covers. It just waits there for someone or something to interact with it, leaving behind a trail of footsteps and imprints marking a path. Of course, this singular path can lead us right up to the creator of these steps; every step that's made is clearly seen and can be easily followed.

As we head into this new year (and out into this horrid winter weather) we must keep in mind that our steps will be seen by not only us, but by others as well. Make sure to make a positive imprint and leave a path that others will want to follow.

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Collection of Inspiration (and Laughs)

Hello Optimists,

For all of those that are celebrating the holiday today, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas! 
I thought for today's post I would share with you some clips of my favorite Christmas movies to get you into that jolly spirit. Some are the classic films that inspire and warm the heart, while others are a little more light-hearted and funny....but all of them help to ring in the Christmas spirit. 

So before you get swept away with all of the celebrations, take a minute or two to relax and enjoy some of the clips below. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

What's your favorite clip??

The real meaning of Christmas, told my my favorite Peanuts character, Linus.

A great story and a true reminder of just how lucky we are to be really is a wonderful life! (I especially love the last minute or so of this clip)

While there are SO many memorable lines from this movie, this one is probably the most famous...

Here's a funny clip from the "modern classic" for all of you "Cotton-headed ninny muggins"  :)

The Polar Express would even make Scrooge believe...

And finally, I wanted to end this post with my favorite Christmas movie quote of all time from Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas:

"And the Grinch with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without bags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"

Keep Smiling,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Words of Advice on Christmas Eve

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

Happy Christmas Eve! I can't believe it's already here, but judging by the general "hustle" of traffic and crowds, I guess the holiday really is upon us. 

I know you're probably busy preparing dinner, wrapping up some final gifts, or getting Santa's milk and cookies ready for tonight, but I wanted to share with you another reader-submitted "sign of advice" from last week's challenge.

Today's featured quote was posted anonymously by someone who offered some great words of wisdom:
"Live simply. Love deeply. Be true to yourself. Be your own best friend. Carry a light heart through life. And leave the rest to the higher power."
Those are 6 really great things to keep in mind. In fact, I think this would make a great sign to hang on the wall! I couldn't agree more with the words of advice here, and I must say that I try to live my life by many of them. 

While they're all very good words of advice, the ones that really strike a chord with me are Be true to yourself and Be your own best friend. I think it's so important for us all to learn to live the life that is best for us first and foremost, and not worry about living the life that others may have wanted for us. In being true to ourselves, we will learn to be our own best friends. While we may be blessed to have a bunch of best friends whom we can count on for anything, at the end of the day, we need to be able to have that same confidence within ourselves. There are times when we need to be able to turn to only ourselves to solve our problems and we need to be comfortable with the person we are. I believe that having that confidence and true knowledge of self will help us to Live simply, Love deeply, and Carry a light heart through life...

Thanks to the anonymous person who contributed to our "Sign of Advice" challenge - great words of wisdom that we can all benefit from!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Gift

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

I'm just loving the quotes being featured from my blogger friends who submitted to last week's "signs of advice" challenge. I'm especially excited about today's submission because it fits in perfectly with the holiday season that is upon us.

Around this time of year, everyone prepares for the holidays by buying presents, baking cookies and decorating their trees with ribbons and bows. The malls are packed, the streets are crowded, and everyone is busy putting the final touches to their holiday "sparkle". Kids scribble letters to Santa and send them off to The North Pole in anticipation of what that jolly old fella might bring on Christmas morning. Gifts must be wrapped just so and piled up and arranged neatly under the tree, creating the perfect image of Christmas time.

We all get wrapped up (no pun intended) in the festivities of the holidays, and many of us look forward to ripping open gifts from friends and family. I must admit, it is a lot of fun! But in today's featured quote, Chris at Wisdom and Life helped me come back to reality and out of the materialistic views of the holidays to realize that there is one gift that should be first on everyone's list. It's the thing that doesn't cost much, but it's a gift that can last a lifetime. Here's the "sign of advice" that Chris submitted: 
When you have the gift of friends, what else do you need?
Chris wrote about this gift in his post called No Greater Gift and I've written about friendship in some of my past posts like Silver and Gold and BFF's. It's definitely something we both have strong feelings about and one part of life we find to be so valuable.  I couldn't agree more with what Chris said. Since we're all in holiday mode and looking for that perfect gift to give to our friends and family members, let us not forget that the most important thing of all is not that great cashmere sweater you got for your sister, or the new pair of socks you bought for your uncle, or the diamond necklace you got for your love <3...the greatest gift we can give to any of those loved ones in our life is friendship. And when we're lucky enough to have friends by our side, we must step back and take a second to ask what else is there that we really need?

When all things are considered, asking for a new pair of shoes or a piece of jewelry in comparison to a solid friendship seems a bit absurd. Friendship is an incredible gift that no other perfectly wrapped present can top...even if if does have a pretty bow on top!

Thanks, Chris, for sharing these words of advice, and I hope we can all ask ourselves this question when we're thinking about the perfect gift to give or get this holiday season.

Keep Smiling,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Live Life Fully

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

Hope you had a great weekend! I basically spent my entire weekend preparing for Christmas, with all of yesterday's activities revolving mostly around a cookie baking extravaganza. After a marathon of prep work, dough assembly, and popping tray after tray of warm cookies out of the oven, my baking buddy and I ended up with twelve different kinds of the little treats! After they had cooled and were stashed neatly away in cookie tins, I was Exhausted. And yes, that's Exhausted...with a capital E. 

But, I was feeling good after it was all done because I had a lot of fun doing it, I got to make some (more) good memories in the kitchen with the best cook I know, my entire house smells like a big delicious cookie, and I have a dozen different kinds of treats to indulge in for the next week. Not too bad, if I may say so myself!

Anyway, it's time to put down the spatula and get the flour off of my clothes because it's time to feature another quote from last week's "sign of advice" challenge! Today's featured quote comes from Melissa at Sugar Filled Emotions who so graciously shared with us her personal motto (and a great piece of advice!)....
Live life fully, and experience everything. Take care of yourself. Have fun, be crazy and be weird. 
These are some really great things to keep in mind and a very comprehensive and concise collection of ideas that will surely keep us in a positive state of mind. Life life fully, and experience everything reminds us that we should not only be physically present in life, but also emotionally and psychologically present as well. There is a big difference between being somewhere or seeing something and experiencing a place or taking part in something. We need to be sure that we're making an effort to be present in our own lives.

Take care of yourself is a very important piece of this quote because it seems to be one of those simple things in life that we often overlook. We live in a crazy and stressful world where we try to do five million things at once, often neglecting the most important things in life, like our health or well-being. Take the time to relax and have a conversation with yourself about how you can make a better you.

Have fun, be crazy and be weird is not only advice reserved for kids - no matter what age we are, it's so important to make sure that the things we do each and every day bring joy to our lives. We have to be "crazy" and "weird" because that's how we know we're really being our true self. Don't be afraid to step outside of the "lines" others have set - have some fun and make life the best it can be for you.

Thanks, Melissa, for sharing such a great piece of advice! I think a lot of us will be sharing that personal motto of yours in our own lives...

Check back soon to see the next reader-submitted "sign of advice"!

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sharing This Gift

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

In my previous post I shared a story about stumbling on some words of advice on a sign in a storefront window and, being so inspired by it, I created a challenge for all of you to submit your own words of advice to be featured on the blog! So far I have gotten really great responses (thank you to those who have submitted!!) and I'm looking forward to reading and sharing more! Remember, you can submit your words of advice by leaving a comment at the end of the post or on the OO Facebook page.

The first awesome words of advice come from my blogger friend, Ashley, at Food, Fotos, and Fun! and I must admit, I just loved the quote! Turns out, it's a line from one of Ashley's favorite movies, Into the Wild. While I haven't seen the movie or read the book, I have heard really great things about both versions of the story and after reading this quote, it is definitely on my must-watch/read list. Here it is:
Happiness is only real when shared. 
Ashley explained it perfectly when she said that prior to the time this quote made an impact on her life, she thought she could find happiness all by herself. While it is true that happiness should come from within and should start with doing the things that are most important to us in life, Ashley has found that happiness is magnified when it is shared with others. I love that! And I completely agree!

Happiness becomes real not only when we can realize the joy in our own lives, but also when we can share those moments of joy with others around us. I think this is great advice for everyone to put to action and I hope that you'll keep this in mind. Whenever we get the chance to spread happiness, we should always take it - sometimes we need to share our positivity with anyone and everyone who is open to sharing it!

So my mission for the day (and hopefully yours too) is to share my happiness with everyone around me.

Thanks, Ashley, for such a great piece of advice. Check back soon for the next post for another great reader-submitted quote!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Sign of Advice and A Challenge!

Hello Optimists,

I'm sure many of you have put yourselves into the holiday shopping mode these past few weeks, and (can you believe it?!) we only have a few more shopping days left until the holiday. I'm lucky to live quite close to one of the largest malls in the country - combine that with my love for shopping and the holiday spirit and we've got some trouble! Just the other day, I was traipsing through the mall, listening to the holiday music playing, watching the little kids wait anxiously in line to see Santa, and observing people as they so carefully considered items to take home and put under the tree. I loved doing this, because it seemed that everyone was moving happily along and taking the time to enjoy the holiday festivities all around them. Most of all, I enjoyed walking from store to store and admiring the window displays that so festively invited me in. And because I was shopping alone, I was able to really take everything in and I made sure not to overlook any displays.

I was passing a rather unassuming store, one that did not have flashy holiday decor adorning the storefront or loud music pouring from its entrance, but one that whose easy design attracted my eyes anyway. And just as I was about to glance onto the next storefront window, a sign caught my attention, and its message stopped me in my tracks. Literally. After I read it, I stopped "traffic"- I put all of my bags down, took out my phone, and snapped a picture of it so I could share it with you. I'm not sure if you can see it clearly above, but today's featured quote is the wonderful message I found in that store's window...
"Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can't change. Kiss slowly, forgive quickly, play hard, take chances, give everything, and have no regrets. Life is too short to be anything but happy. "
Well that was sure packed with some awesome advice, and I absolutely loved that it was being displayed in the front of the store so that everyone could have a chance to see it!  Thinking back, I don't know why I didn't go into the store and just buy it...I think I was too wrapped up in the message to even think about anything else.

This is a quote that I will for sure be keeping in a spot where I can read it every day, and you know what, I just might go back to the mall and buy myself (another) Christmas gift. Hey, no one's going to have to pull my arm to get me to go back to the might as well use this as an excuse! 

The more I read this one, the more I love it, and I hope you do too.

I thought I would make a fun little challenge for all of you Optimists and give you a chance to be featured in a future OO post! Answer the following question in the comment section below or on Facebook and I will pick my favorite (or a few of my favorites!) and use them as a post's featured quote!

So here's the big question: If you could make your own sign of advice, what would yours say? 

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another Kindness Movement

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

I posted a link on the OO Facebook page last night about Yahoo's new kindness initiative in which they are encouraging people to "start a ripple of kindness and see how it grows". An awesome idea, and one that I hope will get a lot of attention and participation. Over 25,000 people have already posted their stories of kindness, and I'm sure that number will grow substantially before this campaign comes to an end.

I've written several post on kindness and it's something that I know we can never have too much of in this world. In addition to updating your "kindness status" to share with others on the site and reading through the year in review stories of kindness, Yahoo also had a scroll of quotes about kindness displayed on the page. How ironic.

I thought it would only be appropriate to share with you one of my favorites from their selection - and I think I've found a great one! Here is today's featured quote about kindness:
You can never do a kindness too soon, because you never know how soon it will be too late. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now while I think "a kindness" is an odd way of putting it,  I am not one to correct The Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. But aside from my almost compulsive need to correct grammar, I absolutely love this quote. We should never pass up an opportunity to spread kindness around our world or think, "Eh, I can do that anytime" because we never know when our time is up. We never want to look back and wish we could have made a difference. We want to look back and be happy that we did.

So I encourage you to check out the Yahoo site and share you stories of kindness....but don't forget to share them with me and the other readers of OO too! I'd love to hear about your stories of kindness - acts that you've done or that others have done for you. Post them in the comment section below or on the OO Facebook page...I look forward to reading them!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thinking Positive: Believing that We Can

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I had an interesting phone conversation yesterday - my friend and I got talking about success. She said she had been watching a Sunday morning TV show and the reporters said the trait most associated with success was high self-esteem. Seems logical, right? Well, sure it does..but how many of us can say we actually have that?

Personally I can say that I don't always have high self-esteem. It's something I'm working on, of course, but I have a bad habit of doubting myself. But, I think optimism has a lot to do with self-esteem. In fact, I think there's a very direct correlation....and that's a good thing because as I work on staying true to positive thinking and optimism, I will in turn be improving my self-esteem. If we think positively about the things happening around us and about the things we want to make happen in our lives, we can gain confidence in ourselves and really put those good thoughts into action.

Even after I hung up the phone, I sat thinking for a while about this whole idea. And then, as I sat down to write today's post, I scrolled through my list of quotes and happened to stumble upon this one - and it seemed too coincidental to pass up. It couldn't have been better for this topic, so I knew I had to share it with you today:
In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can. -Nikos Kazantzakis 
So there you have it - success linked once again to self-esteem and the belief that we can make things happen.  So many of us strive for success, picturing our ideal world in our heads, but often fall short because we let little doubts turn us away from our dreams. We don't believe that we can. Whenever we feel those thoughts creeping in, we must remember this quote. I know I sure will, and I hope that by being an optimist, I can really believe in myself and my ideas and goals.

Success can only be reached if we allow ourselves to have the confidence to make it happen.

What are you thoughts on this? Do you think success has a direct relation with self-confidence? I'd love if you would share your thoughts!

Keep Smiling,
P.S. Be sure to join us on the Optimal Optimist Facebook page!  In addition to posting updates about new blog posts, I also keep fans up to date with some inspiring news articles, positive websites, and other fun and optimistic stuff! Join the fun...and invite your friends   :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

There's Somethin' About the Holidays...

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Last night I tuned in to Christmas in Rockefeller Center to watch the performances and lighting ceremony of "the most famous tree in the U.S.". This celebration always brings thousands of people to The Rock to see some great performers (like Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban and Annie Lennox) and most importantly, The Rockettes! I'm lucky enough to live only about 2 hours from New York City, but unfortunately I have never gone to this event...I guess the fact that it's on a week night doesn't help much, but I think this is one thing that's going on my To-Do List. Yeah, definitely going somewhere near the top...

Anyway, as the camera scanned the crowd last night, I noticed how happy everyone looked...peaceful, content, and filled with joy. Sure, it probably had something to do with the fact that they're were in the crowd of a great concert series. Plus it was hosted by the NBC morning crew - and Al Roker is looking quite svelte these days (haha), so overall it must have been quite an exciting night. But I think there was something more behind the happiness that filled the cool New York air. There's just something about the holidays that allows us to see the world through untainted eyes.

That's why this season is so great. We allow ourselves to take part in traditions and events that bring out the best of our emotions and put a little positive spark in our life. That's why giving and donations are heightened during this season and it's also why we tend to look past the little qualms that usually get the best of us. We allow ourselves to feel the power of positivity.

I found a great quote that really sums up this idea pretty well and it reveals why everyone looked so happy at The Rock last night...
That is happiness; to be dissolved into something completely great. -Willa Cather
I wish we could keep that feeling of happiness alive throughout the whole year, but unfortunately, the jingle bells aren't always ringing merrily in our ears. Unfortunate things happen and we get sidetracked from our happiness. We no longer allow ourselves to dissolve into the great things in life that fill us with that joyous feeling- we get anxious and unnerved, and try desperately to get back into that happy state of mind. But it's never far away; we just need to learn to cultivate our happy thoughts and emotions and turn the negativity in our lives into something greater. Once we can do that, we will see that happiness never escapes us, and we can live our best life and live in the moment just like those at The Rock last night.

Make today the day where you promise to dissolve into something completely great and make it last well past this holiday season.

Do you think there is something special about the holiday season that can explain the air of happiness that surrounds us during this time?

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 29, 2010

A New Look, A New Find

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and took some time to reflect on all of the things in life that you are grateful for. I know I certainly did, and I also took the time to eat more than my weight in desserts like pumpkin pie, apple pie, pumpkin roll and cookies...probably not the best idea, but I certainly enjoyed it.

After a long drive back to my apartment, I unpacked and decided to make the most of my last few hours of this holiday break by taking out one of the books I've been reading on and off for the past few weeks. Normally I reserve reading for pleasure for times when I can really concentrate on the information in the book, but I've been so anxious to read that I've started this book despite having to put it on hold through several interruptions thus far. I'm reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and I am only about 100 pages in, but I'm intrigued by the information presented so far.

As you know, I love reading books on happiness and positivity, but I started reading this from a business standpoint, not so much from an optimist standpoint. Or so I thought. But as things tend to pan out, the idea of positive thinking has once again found its way into my life. As I read through a particular part in the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the quoted words of a man who was interviewed for the book. Among other powerful words, he said, "Because you know what, the power of positive thinking will overcome so many things." Those words seemed to jump out from the page, bolded and intensified as if to stress their already coincidental appearance.

Then, just a few pages later, I read about a study from another book called Emotional Contagion (and without getting too much into detail here) reveals that emotion is contagious. Gladwell then went on to use an example of smiles, saying that one person can pass their happiness on to another through this idea of contagious emotion. He could have picked any emotion or action, like yawning for instance...we all know yawning is contagious, so this would be a perfect example of this idea! But no, he chose smiles. So there I was, reading this book through the eyes of a businessperson, and suddenly found myself thinking about Optimal Optimist. It was such a great thing to have stumbled upon, and even though there was no one else around, my smile was big enough to be contagious to anyone within a 10 mile radius. Have no doubt that those page ends are folded in, marking that spot for future reference and inspiration.

So in honor of this new find, I wanted to share with you a quote that follows this "coincidence" quite closely...
Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open. -John Barrymore
So I guess it really shouldn't have been such a surprise that these ideas of optimism and positivity find their way into my life (and into my books!). Instead, I now believe that by keeping this blog and by making optimism a way of life, I've opened the door for many other great things to have a place in my life. It's certainly a benefit of finding happiness!

Have you found that doing the things you love opens more doors for more opportunities in life?

Keep Smiling,

P.S. As you can see, I've changed my template! I wanted to change things up a bit to give the posts a cleaner look and allow the focus to be only on the words - don't want anything to distract us from our positive thoughts! What do you think? Do you like it...or dislike it? I welcome your feedback :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Happy Thanksgiving! I know most of my U.S.-based readers are busy getting things prepared for the Thanksgiving feast, so I won't make today's entry too long. But in honor of today's holiday, I wanted to express how important it is to show our gratitude and appreciation for all of the great things we have in life. 

In the tradition of Thanksgiving celebrations, I will share a (short) list of the things I am most grateful for in my life (though the list could go on and on!)...

I am thankful for...
- The opportunity to be surrounded with my family while sharing great food, stories, laughter, and love
- Living a healthy and happy life
- Another post here on OO and making positive connections with all of you!
- My dedication and hard work that will be leading up to a great milestone next year
- The ability to have a positive outlook on life

I have about a million more things I am grateful for, but if you ever want to get away from the screen and get to celebrating today's holiday, I thought it would be best to keep it to just a few things. 

The idea behind Thanksgiving is so important, but we should really think about ways in which we can extend this holiday to not only acknowledging it once a year, but every day if we can. Showing gratitude for the things we love most about life will really make us more aware of the great things happening all the time, all around us. Today's featured quote is a great one to keep in mind because it reminds us of just that...

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest person it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." -Edward Sandford Martin

Think about this as you're sitting around the table today and be sure to share it with your friends and family. Remember to open your heart to gratitude not only on Thanksgiving, but every day. 

What are you thankful for today?

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to be Alone

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Of all the things that we humans do well, being alone is not one of them. We have this thing about it, that it just might be the worst thing in the world. Most of us wouldn't dare sit at a table for one and eat a meal with only ourselves. No, no.... that wouldn't look good. That would look lonely.  And we don't want to look lonely. 

So we take out our cell phones and talk cheerfully to the silence on the other end. We flip open a book whose pages don't turn, but rather stay as a centerpiece to keep our attention from meeting the eyes of others who are sitting happily with others. We gulp down our meal in hopes that this spare time will go by quickly and our solitude will go unnoticed.

So what is it about being with ourselves that is so wrong? Well, I'm not really sure, because personally, I like it. Of course I certainly enjoy the company of others and look forward to meeting with friends, but if I find myself accompanied by only me, I am perfectly okay with that too. I figure if I'm not comfortable enough with myself to be in my own presence, then how can I hope that others would enjoy spending time with me? Besides, I get my best thinking done when I'm alone. I find that some of my best conversations in life are those I've had with myself in my own head.

I came across this video the other day which puts this whole "being alone" thing into perspective, so I hope you can take a few minutes to view it. Fittingly, it's called "How to be Alone" and I think you'll find it quite refreshing...

I just love this little video. So many of the things said in here are just right on, and so for today's featured quote, I chose to feature one of the verses from the poem...
"'Cuz if you're happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay." -How to be Alone
I like this verse in particular because I think it's so important to be happy in your own head.  Once we have achieved this, we will find that being alone is a freedom that we should take advantage of more often. So if you find yourself in a moment of solitude, "resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone", relax, and enjoy the peace that you can bring to your own life. I hope this inspires you to welcome "alone time" in your life, or if nothing else, to stop dreading being by yourself.

I'd love if you would share your thoughts on this video and/or on your perspective on being alone. Feel free to leave comments below!

Keep Smiling,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lessons from a Wizard

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I remember receiving my first copy of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone way back when I was in the fourth grade. It was a Christmas gift from a friend, and I accepted it with excitement and slight hesitation. I had heard all of the hype and I wanted to see what it was all about..but a world of wizards? Even as a ten year old, I wasn't so sure about all of this...

In three days, I had finished the book. It fascinated me. I was an instant fan, and couldn't wait another second until the next book came out. Over a decade later (whoa!) I have read through the thousands of pages contained in the seven part series, I have seen all of the movies that have been released up until now, and am eagerly awaiting my first viewing of the new movie released today! I promised my brother-in-law that I'd wait to see it with him over Thanksgiving so I need to keep my eyes and ears shut to all of the news that I'm sure will be out after the midnight premieres last night. He's lucky I like him...

While I love the action packed scenes of the movies, the enthralling and well-written words of the books, the perfect hero-villain plots of each story, and the lovely British accents of the actors, I love the Harry Potter stories because they're so inspirational. Behind all of the spells, witches' hats, and three-headed dogs lie stories that send out positive messages about life, friendship, happiness, and perseverance. I'm not sure that I realized all of this when I first read through the pages of The Sorcerer's Stone, but I certainly do now. That's why I'm still a fan.

Today's featured quote is one of my favorites (and spoken by one of my favorite characters in the story!) and I am happy to share it with you today in honor of the release of the first half of the final HP movie.
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.  ~Steven Kloves (screenplay),  Spoken by the character Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Ah, Dumbledore, what a wise old wizard. A happy life is something everyone wants, whether one is going to Hogwarts or living in the muggle world. This is a reminder that happiness is always surrounding us, it's always there and ready to bring a smile to our face. Sometimes it takes the front seat and shines in the spotlight; other times, it is pushed to the back and gets lost in the darkness. But have no doubt that it's always present no matter how "dark" things seem to be. It's just up to us to make sure we remember to turn on the light to reveal its place in our life.

The seventh and final story of the Harry Potter series has (finally) made its way onto the big screen and I can't wait to see it. It's a very exciting story and full of all of the inspiration and great qualities that have made the series so popular - so I know that I'm in for a treat!

Do you have any plans to see the new movie? What are some of your favorite inspirational parts of the movies and/or books?

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10 Thoughts on Success

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I came across a wonderful website yesterday and I read through a lot of great articles about happiness, growth, success, and just living. I was so inspired by what I read that I knew I had to share a piece of it with you here on OO.

I stumbled upon a slideshow called "10 Thoughts on Success" and immediately clicked through to view it. I think it's a common trait among almost all people to strive for something better, to improve, and to find success in life - at least that's what I try to do - and the 10 little "thoughts" contained in the slideshow were very inspirational and helped me envision a better and brighter future. So, I thought I would share them today as the featured quotes. Here are some of my favorites (though I could have listed all 10, I wanted to leave you the opportunity to view the page yourself).
Lessons: See your mistakes not as personal flaws, but as the source of your most valuable life lessons. 
Dream: Make this the day you stop dreaming and start doing. 
Focus: Missteps are a part of any success. Stay focused on where you're headed. 
Direction: Find your direction in life by looking where you want to go in life, not where you don't. 
Worth: Know your worth - and accept nothing less. 
I just love the message that these little "thoughts" are sending us and I hope that you can all keep them in mind as you strive for success in life. Sometimes we just need a little message like this to keep us on track and to make sure that we never settle for anything less than we deserve.

If you'd like to check out the other 5 thoughts on success from this article, you can find the link above - I guarantee that viewing the rest will be well worth your time!

After you read through all 10 thoughts, are there any others that you would add to the list? I'd love for you to share your thoughts on this one!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 15, 2010

World Kindness Day

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Today's post is written in celebration of World Kindness Day! (It was officially celebrated Saturday, but for us Optimists, the party never stops for kindness!) I've been reading up on the holiday and its celebrations around the world, and I thought I would share some of the information I found with you:

World Kindness Day evolved from a series of conferences in 1996-1997 in Japan by a group known as the World Kindness Movement. These conferences brought together groups interested in promoting more kindness around the world.  It culminated in the "Declaration of Kindness" on November 13, 1997. With this declaration, a new and very special day was born.

According to the World Kindness Movement websiteWorld Kindness Day is intended to "build a kinder and more compassionate world".

I think it's so great that the whole planet can come together to celebrate this awesome holiday. We need some more kindness in our world and I hope that this movement can catch on and that we can build a positive force that every nation can share. I found a great quote that fits into today's theme very well and I thought it would be perfect to share in today's post...

"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!"-George Elliston

This is very true. A kind gesture or a random act of kindness that makes its way into your day can completely turn your mood around. What's so special is that it usually doesn't take much; kindness can be found in the smallest of acts - think of an appreciative "Thank You!" or a stranger who opens up the door for you. These little acts of kindness are sometimes the things that matter most and the things that can make the biggest impact.

In order to celebrate, we must participate. So today, I hope you will make yourself (and someone else) a beautiful day by performing a random act of kindness or offering a kind gesture to those in your life. This is one special moment where the whole world is taking the time to consider the beauty of kindness and I hope it can become not only one special day in our year, but a movement that becomes part of humanity.

Let's join in the fun of a global celebration! If you'd like to leave a comment today, leave your location along with your positive thoughts to share with other readers who are stopping by so we can see the true reach of World Kindness Day! :)

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finding Light in the Dark

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

Daylight Savings Time's little one-hour time change has really made a huge difference these past few days. It felt great to gain that extra hour of sleep and now I'm finding that my days feel longer than ever...almost dragging on. Of course, that's not a bad thing, but the one thing I don't like about this change is that it starts getting dark around 4:30pm. I just love the sun, and seeing it go down earlier and earlier every day is no just no fun. I like the way the sun lights everything up and I especially like the warmth that it brings. Dark and cold just seems so...dark and cold.

I was driving home (in the dark) yesterday and I was trying to find the good in this new situation. As I drove, Despite the darkness of the sky, I noticed the streets seemed to be unusually bright; the houses were glowing from within showing the life that moved inside and the street lights added some sparkle to the road. Now keep in mind that this is the same route I take almost every day, at the same time, but because of that one measly hour that Daylight Savings Time had taken away, it was a whole new ride.

As I thought more about the beauty that I was finding in an otherwise dismal setting, I remembered a great quote about a similar idea that I thought would be great to feature in today's post.
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. -Elisabeth Kubler Ross
I just love this quote and it is so true! Darkness should not be seen as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to see the real light shining from within that could not otherwise be seen during the daytime. Here you will feel the warmth, see the shine, and witness the beauty that can come from the light that we all hold inside. Sure, we all look great in the light, and look to the dark only to hide those unwanted "flaws", but it is in the darkness that we can have the chance to really shine.

So while I'm still adjusting to this whole "afternoon darkness" idea, I do have a new perspective on it. And best part of it all is that I will now remember this great quote and apply it to my life. I want to sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but more importantly, I want my light to shine even when the sun sets...and I hope you will too.

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Inspiring Inspiration

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

I came across a link for a commencement address the other day and decided to check it out. I know, I know, addresses and speeches like this are hardly ever attention-grabbing. I've sat through my fair share of them, and while at times they can be inspiring and motivating, they tend to be a bit too long, giving the audience just enough time thinking about random things like their grocery list or what they'd rather be doing at the time.

It's sad that commencement speeches have gotten such a bad wrap, but I think it would be safe to say that if you were in attendance at the ceremony from the clip that I watched, your attention would be at its peak the entire time. Larger universities usually pull in some great speakers, and this school is no exception. This speech was given by the Mac tycoon, Steve Jobs, to the graduating class at Stanford back in 2005.

He was certainly the exception to the rule of boring commencement speakers. His from-the-heart address really had an impact on me and I can say that it left me wanting more after he had finished up his speech. I've included it in today's post so you too can be inspired by his words.

(The clip is about 15 minutes long, and totally worth your time, so if you don't have a few minutes to spare right now, be sure to revisit this speech as soon as you can!)

He said a lot of great things during his address, and I found myself hitting the pause button quite a few times to write down the most inspiring of his words. I thought for today's post I would share just two of the many quotes that I wrote down from his speech to give you just a little taste of his inspiring words.
There is no reason not to follow your heart. -Steve Jobs
Everyday for the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror and asked myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.  -Steve Jobs
We all know Steve Jobs is an extremely successful man and heads one of the most popular and innovative companies in the world. But hearing his own words of advice given to those who are just about to embark on a new professional journey in their lives really shows that he understands the importance of following your passion. So if you didn't believe me before about the inspiration behind his words, you can go ahead and click Play now.   :)

We hear all the time that we should be following our hearts, but how many of us actually take that seriously and really do it? A lot of times we (myself included) just make excuses as to why things wouldn't work or why we wouldn't make it concerning the things that our heart is pointing the way towards. Why? Well, because it's scary to take a leap of faith and it's a big risk. But if our heart is in it, we should feel safe that our passion will drive all of the other factors into our success. We need to follow our hearts- it's something I'm working on doing...and I hope you will too.

I think I too am going to start asking myself that question about "doing what I am about to do" on a regular basis because I think it's a great way to keep on track with our goals. Sure, sometimes we have to do the things we really don't want to do- that's just a part of life. But as Steve Jobs says, if we start to see a pattern of No's appearing, we know it's time to make a change. We've got to start filling each day with the things in life that we love the most...that's where we'll find we're the happiest!

So I assure you that this is one commencement speech that you will not dread listening to. I encourage you to listen to it with an open mind and heart and I promise that after hearing these inspiring words, you'll be happy you did. Keep his words in mind and be sure to share this video with your friends...we all need a little dose of inspiration once in a while!

What was your favorite part of his speech? I'd love for you to share your favorite quotes from the speech!

Keep Smiling,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let your Work Shine

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Before officially starting today's post, I wanted to extend a sincere thank you to all of those who commented on my last post marking the 1 year anniversary of the start of Optimal Optimist. Your support really means so much to me and it drives the inspiration behind each post I write!

When birthdays come around, we tend to look back on all of the years that have passed, and (hopefully) think about all the good times and experiences we've had thus far. So in celebration of this past year, I started thinking back on the first few days of writing this blog. Initially, I did not feature a profile picture and had no trace of my name anywhere on the blog- readers just knew me as "Optimal Optimist". I did that on purpose, first because I wasn't so sure I wanted my name out there, and second because....well, I wasn't so sure if people would even respond to this whole idea. To be honest, I was a little scared. I had never written a blog before so this whole concept was really new to me. I remember sharing the link to one of my first posts with some friends and family, and they had absolutely no idea I was the one behind the writing.

It's kind of nice to be able to sit back and watch for reactions to your work, whether they be positive or negative, because people won't be afraid to voice their honest opinions and you can let the work speak for itself. How many times do we let brand names or logos make a buying decision for us without even testing out the quality or performance of a product? Well, the same situation applies here- I didn't want people to like/dislike my blog just because they like/dislike me or my profile photo. So, I remained "anonymous" for a while, until I felt that my writing had established itself enough for me to reveal myself as the author.

Today's featured quote follows my line of thinking on this matter quite perfectly....
If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results. –Emily Bronte  
This is exactly what I was going for in the early days of Optimal Optimist! I wanted the success of my blog to be based solely on the words and content that people would read. My "silence and obscurity" was done intentionally because I wanted the content to be the star of the show- I wanted to make a difference and send a positive message out to anyone who stumbled across the blog.

Even though I now have my picture up on my profile and my name listed somewhere on one of the pages of this blog, I still hope that the words that fill the posts of Optimal Optimist are what truly bring readers to the page. One year later, I am still striving for my efforts to be known by their results.

I hope you can keep this in mind as well. Though it's important to associate your name with your work, don't let it be the guiding light in your success. Rather, let your work shine through and soon enough,  recognition will follow, and everyone will know your name.

Keep Smiling,

A few months back I wrote a post called "The Simple Things" that is still one of my favorites, where I listed the simple things in life that make me happy and that I try not to take for granted. Check out the Ladaisi blog's "Plain Vanilla" post whose author, Lauren, joined in the fun and created an awesome list of simple things that she loves in her life!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Optimal Optimist is 1 Year Old!!!

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

As you know, I have some big news! I am happy to announce that today is the 1-year anniversary of Optimal Optimist! Wow, I cannot even believe it's already been a whole year since my first post. 

370-some days ago, I had just a little idea in my head about starting a blog about optimism. A few days later, I finally shared my thoughts with one of my best friends, who of course, supported my idea 100% and gave me the confidence I needed to start making a difference. So, on November 3, 2009, I officially start this blog. Since then, I've been typing away - and 231 posts later, I'm still here, sharing some of my thoughts and some well-known inspirational, motivational, and thought-provoking quotes with all of you! 

Let me just say that I cannot thank you all enough for your overwhelming support and the enthusiasm that you bring with each comment, "Like", email, and other words of encouragement that you've shared with me. I am so happy that I have had the chance to "meet" so many other great bloggers and readers who share the same passion for life and positive thinking, and I'm excited for what the future has in store for us and this blog!

Today's featured quote is an especially inspiring one and I'm so excited to share it with you. This not only applies to the author of this blog (ahem....fixes bowtie) but also to each and every one of you who have started on your own journey of positive thinking.
The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results. -Normal Vincent Peale
As Optimal Optimists, we are all activating the world around us, whether we know it or not and whether we can immediately see these changes or not, and are definitely drawing back positive results. I've shared with you all of the "positive signs" that have been popping up in my life since I've started this blog, and many of you have shared similar stories of this happening in your life as well. It's awesome! 

But in addition to getting something back from optimism, we are also sending out waves of positivity into the world. We can all making a difference. And that...well, that's just an amazing thing. 

So whether you've been along for the ride of the past 231 posts or are just joining us here on Optimal Optimist, I invite you to stay for another year of inspiration. I hope I can continue to share with you new quotes and stories about positivity, and I hope and encourage you to share them with your friends, family, and most importantly, with yourself every time you see that a little "pick-me-up" is needed. 

Thank you again for your support of Optimal Optimist (it is you who helped make this a success!) and I look forward to continuing our path of positivity together!

Take a look back at where it all started a year ago- read some of my favorite posts and scroll through the blog archives! And as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, stories, comments, and suggestions, so please feel free to stay in touch and contact me through the OO Facebook page or email

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cut the Worries!

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I read an interesting article the other day about worrying. Not normally the topic at the top of my reading list, but it seemed interesting nonetheless. The article explained what worrying is, why we do it, and then offered some advice about how to just cool it and worry a bit less. Easier said than done, I suppose. But we all know those who worry incessantly about things that don't even need to be worried about, whose minds are consumed with the worries of "what ifs" and the thoughts of the most horrible things that can go wrong in any situation.

Now, there are times when worrying is completely justified and appropriate, and I think a bit of worrying is healthy- it keeps us on our toes and keeps our attention at its peak. But those times should be reserved for things that really warrant worry and in situations that we can actually control. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that as Optimists, we have a bit of an advantage over the average Worrier. The more we think positively, the less we will worry about the things that go on in our every day lives, and the more we can enjoy our presence in the day.

I thought today's featured quote would be just perfect for this topic and I hope you do too.
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.  ~Leo Buscaglia
Ah, so true. It's important to keep this in mind and recite it every time we are feeling a bit anxious. Chances are we just need to hear that little soothing voice inside of our heads to calm us down a bit, and we'll be feeling better in no time. We've got to be able to take pleasure in the joys in our life right now, because they may not be around tomorrow.  Worrying only takes this ability away from us.

So let's make a promise to think positively and work on cutting out some of our worries. I bet that we will soon notice a renewed joy in our lives and be able to better enjoy the little things that life has to offer us.

Keep Smiling,

DON'T FORGET: My next post is a very exciting one! Be sure to check back on Wednesday to hear the news...