Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day: More Than Just Hot Dogs and Burgers


Hello Optimists,

Hope you're breaking out the patio furniture and firing up that grill because Memorial Day is upon us, and with that, we mark the (un)official start to summer. Thank goodness.  But with all of the cookouts and parties going on this weekend, it kind of takes away from what this holiday was originally intended for. And I will admit that I usually didn't celebrate the "memorial" in Memorial Day growing up as much as I would have liked to. Sure, we made American flag banners and remembered to "thank our troops" in elementary school, and I attended the big parade every year, but I was really only concentrated on seeing the cool cars and waiting for the people on the floats to throw me some candy. I understood that this was the day we Americans set aside to remember those who had given their life fighting for our country, but I don't think it really was sinking in.

Keeping with this holiday tradition, I went up to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers near the graves of my relatives. As we drove into the entrance, a sea of American flags dominated the landscape. Nearly every grave marker had a flag honoring the veteran buried there. Waves of red, white, and blue billowed in the wind and for probably the first time, it hit me. The true meaning of Memorial Day finally sunk in, and I was taken aback by the impact that those flags had made on me. It's amazing to think about how many of our citizens have served in the military forces and how many of those gave up their life while doing it. This holiday was started just at the end of the Civil War, and if you think about it, there have been many wars since then in which many Americans fought to keep our country safe.  I mean, they are the reason we're able to have the freedom to do what we want, so we should be so grateful for their courage, strength, and patriotism. As I was reading more about Memorial Day, I came across a great quote that reminds us of the appreciation we should show, not only today, but all throughout the year.
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived. -General George S. Patton
We really should be thankful that these men (and women, of course!) lived, because without them, it's hard to even imagine what our lives would be like. Seeing the sea of American flags yesterday was enough to remind me that we need to appreciate the sacrifices others have made for us and honor them by showing that they're never forgotten.

 So today, as you're sitting poolside with your pina colada, or watching the big floats in the parade drive by, be sure to take some time to truly celebrate Memorial Day by thanking those who have so bravely served our country and remembering those who have lost their lives while doing so.

If you want to know some more facts about Memorial Day, check out this little article, "Remembering Memorial Day". 

Keep Smiling,

Friday, May 28, 2010

SATC 2: Was This One Manolo Too Many?


Hello Optimists,

Did you join the swarms of cosmo-drinking fans this Wednesday night for the midnight premier of Sex and The City 2? I will admit that while I wasn't one of those lucky ladies waiting in line for the big show, I sure wish I was. I've been a fan of the show for a long time, and I shamelessly watch reruns of it like it's my job. And if there's a marathon on TV, forget day is shot- I will be in front of the TV until it's all over. It's kind of amazing to see what a great impact they've had on the lives of women across the nation. For whatever reason, we feel like we can relate with the four best friends who live fabulous lives on the streets of Manhattan, get all the gorgeous men, buy incredibly chic clothing from Bergdorf Goodman and Manolo Blahnik shoes, and manage to stay in perfectly good shape despite the fact that they eat every meal out at a restaurant. Well no matter how different real people's lives may be from Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha's, the women of the world can hear the tune of the theme song from miles away, and will stop at nothing to find the source, call their girlfriends, and sip on a cosmo while watching the episode that's playing.

It was sad when the series came to an end, and then when word got out that the the fabulous four would be getting back in their Manolos for a reunion on the big screen...well, that was like the greatest news ever. The movie was a big hit too, and of course, I own it on DVD. Then talks of the second movie came up, and up until this week, there has been a lot of hype. A lot. So the big question is, was this too much of a good thing...was this one Manolo too many? I've read a few reviews online (but only a few, I have this fear of reading too much about it and spoiling it on myself) and I heard from one of my friends who went to see it the other night. And to my disappointment, I haven't heard too many great things about it. I'll have to judge for myself...I'm still going to see it!

But it got me thinking about some of the things we could have learned from SATC besides the fact that an oven can conveniently double as a closet. I would say that the show has displayed such a wonderful representation of the bond of friendship and the power of independence, and I think most women would agree. This is probably what has drawn us to befriend the characters for all of these years and has made the series such a success. There are a lot of great lines that I can remember from the show and the first movie, but there is one quote in particular that I really like. So in honor of the premier of SATC 2, I thought I would feature it for today's post. (Feel free to insert your best Carrie Bradshaw voice here)
As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a girl may find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up, and just keep going. - Carrie Bradshaw
 Oh, Carrie. I feel like I could be her right now, typing away on my Mac....though unfortunately I'm not in an apartment on E. 73rd St. Anyway, this is some pretty good advice. I bet we've all felt a little lost at one point or another...unsure of what to do or in which direction our lives were heading. Though no one really likes this feeling, we can't wrack our brains with the "coulda, shoulda, wouldas" and live in the past, we've got to move on to see what the future has in store for us. And you know what? Carrie's right...sometimes, we've gotta just buckle up and keep on going.

So, all of you SATC fans, what have you learned from the show/movies? And if you've already watched the new movie, I'd love to hear your opinion!!!

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Time To Dust Off Your Bookshelf


Hello Optimists,

I've always enjoyed a good book, and if there's one thing the summer season gets me excited for is to get ahead on some reading. I'm not quite sure where I got this book worm gene sister doesn't really enjoy reading for pleasure, my dad only reads sports or mafia-related books, and my mom has an ever-growing stack of books that I've recommended to her on the coffee table. Unopened, might I add. So it's quite a surprise to everyone that I always have my nose buried in a book and that I read just to read.

I have a list of books I want to get through and it seems like I add a new one almost every day. I will finally have some more time to devote to reading, and I'm happy to report that I'm already off to a good start. Last week I read "Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose" by Tony Hsieh, CEO of I gave away a free advanced copy of it in my last giveaway and I'm sure happy I was able to spread the happiness around because it was a great read. You'll be hearing more about it soon when I write a review, so stay tuned for more details about that.

After finishing that book, I picked up another that had been sent to me, called "A Million Miles in A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life" by Donald Miller. I have never read any of his other books before, but this one in particular sounded really great and is all about finding meaning and direction in life...something that is of great interest to me. I started reading this morning, and though I am only about 40 pages in, I can already tell that it's going to be a good one. I'll be sure to fill you in with a good review when I'm done reading.

As many of you may know I am a great fan of Dr. Seuss and today's featured quote from him tells us why reading is so great. This is the perfect quote for this post, and there couldn't be anyone greater to offer a quote about reading than Dr. Seuss.
The more that you read, the more things that you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. -Dr. Seuss
So true! I should recite this quote to the rest of my family and see if it inspires them to crack open a new book. But really, I couldn't say it better myself. We can learn so so so much from reading, and the more that we learn, the more we can apply it to our lives...or jobs...or hobbies. And after putting our knowledge to action, we're bound to expand our boundaries, whether they be physical or emotional. In a book, you can travel the world without leaving your comfy chair, learn about the life of someone you look up to, spruce up some of your techniques for work, or just learn some random trivia that will make you look smart in front of your friends. So why not dust off that book that's been sitting on your shelf and actually read it? I bet when you're through with it, you'll be glad you did!

So, Optimists, are you one to read just to read? What are some of the books that you're reading now? What's on your list of books you'd like to read?

Keep Smiling,

If you'd like to read some of my other posts featuring quotes from Dr. Seuss, check out Here's To You, Dr. SeussSeussical, and Merry Christmas!. I told you I was a fan.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dancing With The Stars...In The Rain


Hello Optimists,

Well, I just went to put up my post for today and saw that my newest entry wasn't saved!!!!! As Charlie Brown would say, "Oh good grief!". Don't you just hate when that happens? Anyway, I'll try my best to make this post as good as the original...

Last night I tuned in to Dancing With The Stars, and while I normally don't watch this show, I must say I was impressed with the final two contestants. Nicole from The Pussy Cat Dolls ended up winning that really gaudy mirror ball trophy, and rightfully so- she was amazing. Here performance to "Proud Mary" made me want to get up and dance around the living room, but I decided to not embarrass myself, so I kept my butt firmly planted on the couch. Anyway, they showed some behind the scenes clips and some footage from earlier on in the show and it was really interesting to see how much work they had to put into this show...I mean, this is not just your ordinary reality show where their "every day lives" are taped. These celebs have got to learn all different kinds of dances, improve their strength and flexibility, and then, worst of all, perform all of this in front of a live audience.

Many of the "stars" on DWTS weren't in the best of shape coming into the show, and had to battle some pretty serious injuries, others had to balance out insane schedules in and out of the show, and some just had to adjust to getting in the rhythm of things. And looking back, they all said how much they've learned and grown from this experience- which is pretty cool because most of them never even expected to get so much out of it. So I started thinking about all of the obstacles they must have been faced with (and I'm sure there were a lot) and I give them some major Kudos for doing what they did. It made me think of a quote (that ironically mentions dance) that reminds me that I need to take the challenges presented to me and make the best of them.
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain. -Vivan Greene
I love this one and it's so important to keep in mind because we often shy away from facing our challenges head on. We've got to learn to take what is given to us and make the best of it, regardless of whether the situation is ideal or not. The celebs on DWTS certainly did that, and worked their butts off to put on the best performance they could. If they hadn't, or waited for the storm to pass, they would surely have been eliminated much earlier in the competition and wouldn't have as much time to learn and grow. Instead, they learned to dance in the rain (and probably literally too, I hear that training is quite intense!), making the best of their talents, focus, and physical condition to dance their little hearts out. We're not always going to be presented with the best and most ideal situations in life, and we have to make sure that we can learn to make the most of what we've been dealt....we've got to learn to "weather the storm" and be the best we can be, no matter what the forecast.

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Give Change a Chance


Hello Optimists,

I've been feeling a bit out of my element my schedule has been turned upside down and my daily "routines" have been thrown out the window. I'm usually one to try to stray away from routine and I'm usually a "go with the flow" type of person. But lately I feel like I've been turning in circles, unsure what I should do or when I should do it. I'm like a dog who keeps circling and circling inside their little bed, trying to find that perfect spot to lay down. I guess things for me have been a bit less structured these past few weeks, and now I'm left with a little more of an open schedule (and I'm sure not complaining about that!) yet I feel as if I got more accomplished when I was busier.

I guess whether we realize it or not, we all have a little routine we follow every day. And it's not such a bad thing either, as long as we don't let it rule our every move. Switching to a new surrounding or taking on a new task can really disrupt things though, and whenever that happens, we're forced to readjust. Finding the "normal" way of life again takes a while...and we need to take some time to get back into the swing of things. As annoying as this may be, it's kind of fun to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. It allows us to explore more, find new ways of doing things, or maybe even just find a new order of getting things done. Thinking of all of this reminded me of a great quote I once read about breaking routine, and I thought it would be a good one to feature for today's post.
As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge. -Henry Van Dyke
It's important for all of us to keep this in mind because it's easy to get lost in a whirlwind of habit. If you think about it, most of us have a daily routine; everything from our morning wake up ritual to our daily commute to work is identical. Welcoming change and new ways of doing things should be something we do on a regular basis. And you know, it's kind of fun to mix things really has a way of making you feel present in your daily activities.

So while I thought I was feeling all out of sorts because of adjusting to my new schedule, I am now realizing that this is a perfect opportunity to create a new dimension to my life. This new change of pace may be the wake up call I needed. It will always feel a bit weird the first time we do something new, but change is the way of life and we have to be open to the "new dimensions of our soul that can emerge" if we just give change a chance.

Here are a few ways I came up with to change up our habit and routine and open the doors to new opportunities:
- Change your daily route to work - you never know what cool scenery you might come across or what new shortcut you might find.
- Try a new restaurant - being a regular is not a bad thing, but you may find that you can now add a new favorite to your list of best places to eat.
- Gearing up for your everyday treadmill workout? Mix it up and have some fun on the bike or try out the elliptical.
- Make some time in your schedule to do something you want to do - instead of sleep, eat, work, gym, eat, sleep... mix it up and fit in some fun!

So, Optimists, do you let habit and routine dictate your pattern of living? What do you do to mix things up?

Keep Smiling,

Monday, May 24, 2010

When It Comes to Lost, I'm Lost


Hello Optimists,

Do I have any Lost fans out there? Ok, you can put your hands down; probably everyone reading this is a fan. I personally have never watched an episode, so when it comes to Lost, I'm lost. But yet I feel like I know the plot and story line pretty well because I always hear people talking about it. Last night there was a special recap of the show's past seasons, highlighting its most exciting moments with interviews from all the cast members and producers... and I must say, it really looks like a good show. But considering the last episode ever will be airing, now is probably not the best time to get hooked on it.

But this did get me thinking about being lost. And if there's one thing in life that I really don't like, it's being lost. I hate the feeling of not knowing where I am, where I need to go to get someplace, or  not knowing what's around me. Plus there's nothing worse than looking like you're lost...the locals can pick out a "tourist" in an instant. Thank goodness for my little GPS- she never steers me wrong, and since I've set her voice to an English accent, it provides a bit of comic relief during my journeys.

After thinking about all of this, it reminded me of a quote that I once read and I thought it fit in perfectly considering that everyone is talking about Lost.
Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien 
You know, that's true. I guess sometimes even those that look like a tourist aren't really a tourist...perhaps they're just taking their time to enjoy the day, not rushing here or there, not worried about being on time for anything. Maybe they're taking a moment to absorb their surroundings. Maybe they like to wear cargo khaki shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Maybe they are just... wandering. Surely that doesn't automatically mean their lost, right?

I guess we shouldn't judge only by what we see, and more importantly, by what we perceive. There's usually a lot more than just what meets the eye, and we need to remember that. If the speed of the car in front of you could match that of a parade, don't automatically assume they don't know where they're going. I mean, they could be lost, but they could just be out cruising and enjoying the scenery on a nice day.

I guess it's like that old saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover"... because really, we have no idea what it's like inside. The same goes for people. We need to get over making assumptions based on our own perceptions, especially when it comes to meeting new/encountering new people. So remember that not all those who wander are lost. 

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Giveaway Winner Announced!

Winner Generated by
Hello Optimists,

Thanks to all who entered for a chance to win an advanced copy of "Delivering Happiness" by CEO Tony Hsieh.

And the winner is....(insert drumroll here)..... Lee from Tossing It Out !

Lee has 48 hours to respond to my email and will be getting an advanced copy of the book in the mail! Congrats, Lee!

Keep Smiling,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Be Like A Flower ...and GIVEAWAY ENDS TODAY!

Photo: From my garden!

Hello Optimists,

Happy Friday! I hope you're enjoying the start to the weekend! We've been having really great weather here in PA and after a few dreary days with temps only hovering in the 60s, I am glad to report that the sun has returned and the air is finally heating up.

Yesterday was the first time we were able to pull out the grill and make some wonderfully delicious burgers and hot dogs for dinner, and as soon as that grill was fired up, the smell of summer was in the air. And there's nothing I like better than that! Later, intent on not missing a minute of the gorgeous weather, I headed outside to sit and enjoy the sunshine. It was so great to just sit and enjoy the surroundings, and I couldn't help but marvel at the flowers surrounding me, now in full bloom. Their colorful faces now open wide, almost as if welcoming the sun into their lives. The more that I looked around, I noticed that they were all standing at attention in the beams of sunlight (kind of like me) and I thought of a quote I once read about this. As soon as I thought of it, I knew it would be perfect to feature today...
Be like a flower- turn your face to the sun. -Kahlil Gibran 
This is so perfect, especially for this time of year, and we should always keep this in mind.
Just remember to be like a flower:
Turn your face to the sun
Find your true light and allow yourself to shine in it
Grow in the direction of opportunity
Realize your beauty, but remember your roots
Let nature take its course, but let the gardeners take care of you when you need it...we all need a little help sometimes
Always take the route where you have the best chance to grow
Keep reaching for the sky

I hope that as you start off this weekend (hopefully in good weather) you take some time to think about all of the beautiful flowers that are blooming around you. And don't forget, be just like one of those flowers.

Keep Smiling,

Win a FREE advanced copy of "Delivering Happiness" in my latest giveaway ending today, Friday, May 21st at at 11:59 pm (EST)!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Power of Community

Hello Optimists,

I was reading my blogger friend's most recent post on Everyday Bliss (which is a great blog, you should definitely check it out) featuring the theme of Community. The author wrote that despite believing that Community is the foundation of everything, she had a hard time translating the meaning of it into words on her blog. I have this problem all the time; it's hard to get the right words from your mind onto the screen without losing the emotion, the feeling, or the expression through which you would normally express yourself. And especially with a topic like Community which represents such important ideas like shared experiences, collaboration, and conversations among many people- that's really hard to write about.

But this all got me thinking about community and what an important part it plays in all of our lives. It can be defined as the friends we associate with, our colleagues at work, a group of "soccer moms", some Phillies fans, or maybe even just the families living on our cul-de-sac. Whatever the common bond, being part of a community makes us feel like we fit in and can freely share our thoughts and feelings with other like-minded souls.

Building a community is tough, but once established, is pretty hard to break apart...and we can't deny the power of behind this. Communities can be large or small, peaceful or not-so-peaceful, loud or quiet. But no matter how they're defined, usually when a group of people get together with a common goal, they can really make things happen. Today's featured quote touches on this idea and reminds us that if we want to make a change or see something happen, we've got to come together as a community.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead
The key here is thoughtfully committed citizens. It's easy to get together a large group of (as an old lady would say) "hooligans" and try to make noise about an issue that's being demonstrated against, but if the group isn't comprised of thoughtfully committed people who have the same ideas about change, that "community" will have little effect. But gather a group who feels passionately about something and that can commit themselves to the change they want to see happen, they can really move mountains. Now that's the power of community, and that's why it's so important to establish.

Where do you stand on collective power? Do you think community is important to create or do you think individuals are just as capable of influencing change? Let me know in the comment section below- I would love to hear (well, read) your thoughts!

Keep Smiling,

Win a FREE advanced copy of "Delivering Happiness" in my latest giveaway ending this Friday, May 21st at at 11:59 pm (EST)!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A 5 Year Old Might Take My Job

Hello Optimists,

Yesterday I was browsing through some tweets and came across a link to a video that just made my day. I clicked the link and was redirected to YouTube to watch "Jessica's Daily Affirmation". After reading the title while it loaded, I thought for a minute about x-ing out of the window, thinking the video would be something recorded and posted by some Jessica one day when she was really bored. I am so glad I waited out the buffering time and watched the video. I knew immediately that I had to post it here to share with all of you to enjoy, and after watching you'll know why. Oh, the joys of YouTube.

Well, little Jessica might just be giving me a run for my money here. We just might have a new writer on Optimal Optimist. I don't know if she can even spell Optimist yet, but we can work on that.

I was absolutely blown away by this. Sure, it's super cute, and kids always say funny little things like this...but her incredible optimism and positivity is amazing! There's something to be learned from the  innocence and naivety of kids- they all think they can do anything, be anything, and say anything. And most times, that's exactly what they do. They truly are optimal optimists. And Jessica's actions reminded me of a quote that explains why little kids are always so darn happy.
Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other. -Brian Tracy
But what's amazing about kids is that they take everything in, and show us that we need to acknowledge what goes on in our world. We should all be thinking about the things we love in life, even down to the little things like our "haircuts", our "pajamas",  and our "Allisons"...whoever Allison is. Kids have that "can do" attitude and are always happy because they of their optimistic attitudes.

We need to take a cue from little Jessica and stand up and proclaim what we love about our life. Her "I can do anything good" and "I love everything" attitude is so great and really made me stop and think about the last time I showed my appreciation and love for all of the things I have in my life. It's easy to take it all for granted, but thanks to Jessica, I realize how important it is to be happy about my life and everything in it. I may just start doing my own "daily affirmations". Though I think I will steer clear of screaming it in front of the bathroom roommates might think I've "lost it" for good.

So after watching today's video, what is your "daily affirmation"? Do you take the time each day to appreciate and be happy about all of the things in your life?

Keep Smiling,

* Win a FREE advanced copy of "Delivering Happiness" in my latest giveaway ending this Friday, May 21st at at 11:59 pm (EST)!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't Judge A Person By Their 'Happy Place'


Hello Optimists,

I read an interesting post yesterday called "How to Find Your 'Happy Place'" and at first, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Happy place? Is this like a secret bunk in your backyard you can only enter with a special password? Is it a purely emotional thing? Or is it an actual place that makes you feel...well, happy?

I guess it can be all three of those things, but for this post in particular, in was an actual place that the author calls "a little piece of heaven". And after reading through the story, I could definitely see why. Her "happy place" was a space off the beaten path where she could find tranquility, peace, quiet and just enjoy the moment. This place made her feel happy.

This sounds like a great place to be. I'm sure we would all like to have that one spot where we know we can go to just relax, to chill out, to just take a moment and breathe. I'm not sure if I have my "happy place" least not like the one described in that post. But I think a happy place doesn't have to be hidden in the woods or off limits to the general public. I think it can be any place where we go to feel safe, secure, relaxed, and peaceful in our surroundings. Sure, it can be in our backyard somewhere under the shade of the trees, or it can be out on the shore of a lake, or maybe even just in our bedroom. Heck, it can even be in the laundry room if that's the one place we know we can find some tranquility- but I doubt many people would find their laundry room very comforting.

Basically, the point I'm trying to make here is that happiness comes in many different forms for everyone. This also means that one person's happy place may be very different from another person's, but the feeling of happiness they get could very well be equal. I found a quote that really sums up what I'm trying to say, and after reading that post, I knew it would be perfect to feature today.
People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost. -H. Jackson Browne
So I guess that just as we can't judge a book by its cover, we can't judge a person by their happy place either. This quote is a good one to keep in mind because I find that often people frown upon ways of doing things or ideas that are different from their own. People are very different. We know that. And we need to be open to accepting new ways of doing things, including paving a road to happiness. What brings a smile to your face may not bring a smile to your neighbor's, but that doesn't mean they're crazy. It's just another example of the diversity in our world.

Do you have a "happy place" where you can find peace, tranquility, or happiness? I would love to hear about it, so please leave your comments below! I bet we can bring this quote to life and see all of the different roads to happiness!

Don't forget: The advanced copy of "Delivering Happiness" is the newest giveaway here on Optimal Optimist. Entry will be closed this Friday, so enter now!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Graduation Schmaduation: Why Learning Should Never Stop


Hello Optimists,

Hope you had a great weekend! Yesterday was a big day for a lot of college seniors, or as they now can be called, college graduates. Years of hard work and dedication all paid off as they strutted their stuff across the stage and finally received that (expensive) piece of paper that stands as proof of their hard earned degree. It must be a scary time, especially for this year's graduates who are headed out into the murky water of today's economy, into a new world where partying on a Wednesday night is basically unheard of and waking up at the crack of noon is not an option anymore.

But I think students really do learn a lot more than how to do a keg stand. We hear a lot of complaints about how intense the work load is or how much time needs to be spent studying, and sometimes college students question why they didn't just start working right after high school. But there's no denying that college is a great experience full of new opportunities for learning, and of course, for growing up. I read a great quote this weekend that reminded me of this and I thought it would be perfect to feature for this time of year.
The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continuing growing as long as we continue to live. -Mortimer Adler
I love this because I am a firm believer that we never really stop learning. No matter if you've just graduated from kindergarten or you've just earned your PhD, there's always room to learn and grow. As long as we continue to seek answers to our questions and curiosities, we will continue to learn more and more each day. So even though we might choose to hold off on our "formal" education, that doesn't mean we can't be more knowledgeable about the things we'd like to explore in our lifetime. Whether we learn things from reading books, sitting in a classroom, in on-the-job training, or just by watching some "how-to" videos on YouTube, we all grow in some way through that learning experience. And what's so great is that as long as we're living, we can keep on learning.

So to all of you college grads out there (and even those who aren't graduating this year)...learning doesn't stop with the arrival of your "diploma", nor should you want it to. Instead, try to learn something new every day, and remember that as long as you keep on learning, you will keep on growing. Keep this in mind and I am sure our lives will greatly benefit.

Oh, and don't forget! Be sure to enter this week's GIVEAWAY for your chance to win a free advanced copy of "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh, CEO of

Keep Smiling,

Friday, May 14, 2010

New GIVEAWAY: 'Delivering Happiness' Book: NOW CLOSED


Hello Optimists,

If anyone knows me well, they know that I have a "thing" for shoes. Pumps, peep toes, wedges, and even Chuck Taylors have found their way into my closet, and I have welcomed them all with open arms...err, toes. But no shoe lover would be complete without, hands-down the best online retailer around. Plus who can beat their free shipping, free returns, and amazing customer service? This billion dollar company's success can be attributed to their totally awesome corporate culture, something that CEO Tony Hsieh has made top priority. How does making customer service the entire company, not just a department sound? Or how about applying research from the science of happiness to running a business and helping employees grow personally and professionally? Sounds like a good deal to me...and it has all helped Zappos become one of Fortune Magazine's top 25 companies to work for.

I bet there are no cases of the Monday Blues at Zappos and no one dreading coming into the office each day. Instead, it is a place of enjoyment, excitement, passion, and happiness. I've written a bunch of posts about happiness- where to find it, how to make it a part of your life, why it's so you can probably just imagine how excited I was to find out that Tony Hsieh has written a new book called "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose". As if enough happiness wasn't delivered in that wonderful box of new shoes, Zappos has yet again given us another reason to love them with this new book.

I was lucky enough to be approved for a free advanced copy of the book which doesn't hit shelves until June 7, 2010 and I am so excited to start reading it. I was also graciously given an extra free copy to give away to my readers - so today will kick off the Delivering Happiness Giveaway! 
It will run from today, Friday, May 14th until Friday, May 21st at 11:59 pm (EST).

To enter, please:

  •   Follow my blog and leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to read the book 
  •   And make sure to include your email address on the comment so I can contact you if you win!

I would also love if you tweeted, linked, or spread the word in any other way! I have heard wonderful things about this book and I think it will be great for all of us Optimists to read!

For more information about the book, you can check out the Delivering Happiness Website, follow on Twitter @dhbook and #deliveringhappiness, and of course, on Facebook. You can also pre-order it on Amazon.

Oh, and something else that's really cool is that every Friday they have a virtual "happy hour" where you can watch a live stream video of Tony and his gang and ask them questions through Twitter.

For today's featured quote, I thought it would only be appropriate to use a quote about happiness. The one I found is a really great one, and I always try to keep its advice in my mind. I hope that through this giveaway I am doing exactly what is mentioned here...sharing happiness.
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of that candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. -Buddha
Remember the importance of spreading love and sharing happiness all throughout your life. By sharing your smiles, laughter, and happiness with others, you can give them so much without taking anything away from yourself. Indeed, happiness is one of the greatest gifts we can give and share with one another, so take the time to spread it around.

Ok let's get this started...leave a comment below and enter to win a free copy of the book before anyone else!

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Define: Success


Hello Optimists,

I was eating lunch yesterday with some friends and overheard a conversation that was going on at the table behind me. And no, I wasn't eavesdropping, they were just not using their "inside voices". Anyway, the ladies sitting at the table were (I assume) getting ready to graduate from college and were talking about their plans for the summer. I only heard bits and pieces of their conversation, but the one thing I must have heard a hundred times from all of them was "I just want to be successful".

I think that's something we all want; success makes us proud of ourselves and it also gives us the confidence to go out and try new things. Some aim to be successful in school, others at their jobs, or even at home raising a family...we all have our own definition of success. But no matter what determines our accomplishments, success is something that we all strive for. So this got me thinking about success and what it means to me. Sure, I'd like to be successful in my job and make some money to support a decent lifestyle, but I think success can be measured more than just by the amount you take home on your paycheck or the title below your name on a fancy business card. I found a quote that offers a great definition of success that shows that we can measure our accomplishments in many other ways than what we generally associate the term with.
Success is having those who know me best love and respect me the most. -Unknown
This is so important to keep in mind. Our top priorities in life may be our careers or our educations which we use to kick-start our "corporate" success, and we may have a contact list full of big names that hold some clout in the industry, but we have to remember that they are not the only people in our lives that determine our success. Those who know us best need to be the ones that love and respect us the most. This should probably be our first and primary definition of success. Once we have accomplished this, we can be sure to be successful in all other parts of our lives as well.

So what is your definition of success? Do you agree with this quote, or do you have a different idea of how to measure our accomplishments?

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to be Right All the Time


Hello Optimists,

Yesterday's post was all about believing in yourself and I shared a few little "signs" that I received that all pointed in that same direction...first my horoscope, then the quote that I featured in the post...and later on in the day yesterday, I got yet another "sign". It's getting a little bit weird now, but I'll take this as a positive thing and a strong message that I should really be believing in myself. So the third little sign I got was when I happened to stumble upon an article online called, get this, "Today's Meditation: How to Believe in Yourself". I couldn't help but to chuckle out loud when I read the headline, trying to get past the irony in it all. It's really amazing how your thoughts can come to life...

So this is precisely why I am so committed to positive thinking, and why I'm on a quest to share this information with all of you. Our thoughts have incredible power and, if we took the time to notice, they also have a direct reflection on our overall happiness.

This all reminded me of one of my favorite quotes that is also about believing in yourself and the power of your positive (or negative) thoughts. I thought it would be perfect to share in light of this recent string of events that seems to be focused around this very topic...
Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. -Henry Ford
This is such a great quote and one that I keep in mind all the time. And it's quite true....if we think that we can do something, that we have the ability and the drive to get something we want, then we're going to get it. At the same time, if we think that we can't do something, that we're just not good enough, it's just "not meant to be", then we're right; we can't get it. This is probably the only time you can be right in choosing either answer. I wish this was true in math class...

This is such an important thing to remember because without realizing the power of our thoughts, it's easy to just give up and lose the confidence it takes to succeed. But if we are conscious of the way we think and make our thoughts and actions positive, we will certainly get, say it with me here, positive results. It's all about having that "can-do" attitude. The way we express ourselves through our thoughts and actions is the way our mind and body will react; so if we keep our thoughts positive, our brain will start to believe these thoughts as true, and we will be able to do what we put our mind to.

So take a minute today to read that short little article I stumbled upon (but ironically, not through the website StumbleUpon) and try to store today's featured quote in the back of your mind. I guarantee that it will be useful in your journey to positive thinking.

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Surprisingly Accurate Horoscope


Hello Optimists,

I was flipping through The Metro the other day and after unsuccessfully completing the crossword puzzle, I glanced down to the end of the page to read my horoscope. And I must say, it was surprisingly accurate. I'm not really sure how I feel about all of that fortune telling stuff...tarot cards, palm reading, horoscopes, and whatnot...I do like fortune cookies though (but mainly for the cookie).

But occasionally when I grab the newspaper I'll flip through the pages and end my headline scanning with a look at my Pisces horoscope. Usually it's something really vague or ambiguous like, "You might encounter an obstacle of some sort today" or "Someone may take notice of your talents". Can't it just say, "Look under your doormat for a $100 bill" or "You know that cute guy you saw at the coffee shop? Well, he noticed you too, and here's his number...". Is that too much to ask? Well, probably. But the one I read most recently caught me off guard, and was right on the money with what was going on in my mind. It said, "You're holding back what is a promising idea because of lack of confidence in yourself." Being so surprised, I took a moment to clear my eyes and then dove back into the pages, reading it over for a second time. Of course, the words didn't change, and my eyes weren't deceiving me...this little bugger was right on.

So it got me thinking about some things because I've had some ideas churning in my head for a while now, and the reason it's still only an idea is precisely because of what my horoscope had to say. I was doubting my ideas before I even put them to the test, all because I lacked the confidence it took to get the idea off the ground. The more I kept thinking about this idea, the more reasons I started to come up with about why it just wouldn't work. This had been going on for a few days, and then I just happened to read this horoscope and it was like a sign or a wake up call or something. Whatever it was, it opened my eyes and reminded me that in order to make something happen, you've first got to have the confidence in yourself to allow it to become a reality. And then I came across this quote which seemed to be another sign that I just need to quit battling with myself and just start believing...
We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing. -Louisa May Alcott
I love this quote. We really do have our own life and dreams to pursue, and we can make anything happen. If we have a dream we'd like to fulfill, a "bucket list" of things we want to accomplish, or an idea that we want to become a reality, it's all possible. But the first step in making any of these things happen is that we just need to believe in ourselves.

Sometimes we just need that extra little push of assurance when we want to do things, and in my case, it came in the form of a horoscope and quote. And while I am so happy that I came across those great words of advice the other day, I'm not too sure that I'm totally convinced of their accuracy. But just in case, I might just order Chinese food tonight for dinner....with extra fortune cookies.

So what do you you read your horoscopes everyday and find that they relate to your daily life or are you somewhat of a skeptic?

Keep Smiling,

Monday, May 10, 2010

SNL Revival


Hello Optimists,

Hope you all had a great weekend! So who watched Saturday Night Live this weekend with Betty White as the host? You all better be raising your hands right now. This is a show which relies on star power to bring in its viewers, featuring a new celebrity host and musical guest each week to make America laugh. Bringing on an 88 year old woman wouldn't normally seem like a way to bring on a show's best ratings in a year and a half, but Betty White sure did it for SNL.

I've always been a huge Golden Girls fan and that's where I first saw Betty White - playing Rose Nylund, the naive, air-headed senior citizen living with three other hilarious roommates in Miami. I can't help myself from watching late night reruns of that show on Lifetime.... and don't tell anyone, but I just might have a season of it on DVD. But Betty White didn't make her small screen debut on that show; turns out she's been around for decades. And thanks to all of the recent buzz she's been getting since the announcement of her SNL debut, I've learned a lot about her life in front of the camera. Look up her IMDB profile and it's full of performance listings, from "The Betty White Show" in the 1950's to a new show's pilot just shot this year. So while it may seem that anyone nearing the age of 90 is well past their prime, Betty shows us that that's just not the case. Her undeniable wit, perfect comedic timing, and the sweetest disposition anyone can have make her name stand out against the crowd even despite her age.

After reading a little bit about her, it turns out that she has a lot more to offer than just quick one-liners. I found this quote by Betty and thought it would be a great one to feature for today.
Keep the other person's well-being in mind when you feel an attack of soul-purging truth coming on. -Betty White
Well this is certainly good advice. Sometimes we can be too quick to speak, and when that happens, we find ourselves wishing we could suck our words back from the air before anyone had a chance to hear them. What we should do is think about how our words can affect other people before we make the decision to speak. So instead of saying whatever comes to mind without any hesitation, maybe we should try to take a moment to think about what we're going to say before we say it.

So thanks, Betty, for making us all laugh for so many years and for speaking true words of wisdom. I think I'll show my gratitude by watching a few extra episodes of The Golden Girls this week. If you didn't get a chance to watch SNL this weekend, reserve a few minutes to catch will not be disappointed. So before you leave today, here's a clip of her opening monologue to give you a little taste. Enjoy!

So what did you think? Are you a Betty White fan?

Keep Smiling,

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother Love


Hello Optimists,

Happy Friday! This weekend is very's Mother's Day weekend! I can remember Mother's
Day from years past, creating hand made cards in elementary school and making "coupons" for cleaning up my room or helping to cook dinner (which I am sure my mom would love to cash in today!). It was always such a special holiday, one that allows us to show just how much someone can mean to us - and even to this day, I feel like it is one of the most important holidays we can celebrate.

My mother and I have an incredibly strong bond, and always have, and for that I am so grateful. I call home almost every night and talk with my mom (and dad, of course!), and I always feel better afterward. Sometimes we have loads of things to fill each other in on, while other times, the conversation is dull and the only sound to listen to is the calm exhale of our breathing. But no matter what our conversation is like, I always hang up feeling better than ever.

It's amazing to think about all of the things we have learned from our moms over the years. Whether it be learning to tie our shoes, drive a car, or maybe even learning how to throw a right hook, each little lesson we learn from our moms gives us an incredible amount of confidence and feeling of empowerment. And all of that comes from the love that we share. I found the perfect quote that explains just how much of an impact a mother's love has on our lives...
Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. -Marion C. Garretty
I know that without the encouragement and confidence that my mom has given me, I wouldn't have had the courage to do half of the things that I have accomplished in my life so far. She really does make me feel like I can do anything, and always supports my efforts in whatever I am doing. Mother love is a very strong thing, and it really does make a great difference on anyone who is lucky enough to be touched by it.

We all have someone to honor on Mother's Day, whether it is our own mom, a woman who we can consider our "second mom", a step-mother, or maybe just someone who has shown us great care and compassion throughout our lifetime. So though this weekend is officially the time when we honor our mothers, let us not forget the incredibly important part that they play in our lives all throughout the year.

So Optimists, what does Mother's Day mean to you? Do you have any special stories to share about Mother love?

If you'd like to read about the history of Mother's Day, check out this website that tracks the holiday way back to ancient times!

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quote Collectors


Hello Optimists,

As you may have noticed, I love to collect quotes. They're really powerful and have the ability to change our moods and perspective on things very quickly; some are inspirational, some are humorous, and some just set things straight in our mind. I've always found that reading quotes and keeping a collection of my favorites is a way for me to organize my thoughts and I try as hard as I can to live by the inspirational words that I read. Of course, this is where I got the idea for this blog, and I have found that many others share my passion for the same reasons.

It just so happened that I came across a great article yesterday called "5 Reasons to Collect Favorite Quotes" and it highlighted some of the benefits that I have been able to experience so far while writing my posts. I am a firm believer that your thoughts have a direct reflection on your actions and behaviors, and by concentrating on improving your thoughts, you can improve your life and increase your level of happiness. The article sited these main reasons as the benefits of collecting quotes:
1. Instantly transform your mood
2. Get to know new authors
3. Distill insights and communicate them effectively
4. Be known and know other people better
5. Get a different perspective
These are pretty great reasons, and I can tell you first hand that I have experienced all of these since the start of Optimal Optimist.
I remembered a great quote I once read that seemed to be a perfect explanation on the way I view the positive effect quotes have on us...
The more you focus on words that uplift you, the more you embody the ideas contained in those words. -Oprah Winfrey
 Ah, leave it to Oprah to come up with the most perfect words! I couldn't agree with this quote more, and I think it is so important for us all to understand what she had to say here. We need to focus on the words that uplift us, not the words that bring us down, the activities that make us unhappy or the thoughts that hold us back from living life to the fullest. Once we can accomplish that, these words and ideas will naturally become part of our life. We start to go through our days thinking about the words that inspire us, reacting to situations in a more positive manner, and feeling the inspiration and motivation fill up inside of us. I have noticed these things in myself as a result of collecting and writing about the quotes I feature here on this blog...and I hope you have too since you've started reading it. It's amazing how influential quotes can be on us, and if we take the time to really implement them into our lives, they truly can make a difference.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this...are you a quote collector? Do you feel that words really have the power to change your way of life? In reading any of the featured quotes here on this blog, have you tried to implement them into your daily life?

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wishbone and Backbone


Hello Optimists,

I've been seeing so many new movie trailers on TV lately and it gives me just one more reason to be super excited for summer. Iron Man 2 premieres in just a few days, Sex and The City 2 kicks off at the end of the month, Toy Story 3 hits the big screen in June, Little Fockers opens at the end of July, and then, the moment we've all been waiting for (or at least, the moment I've been waiting for), Eat Pray Love opens in theaters August 13!

I've blogged about Eat Pray Love before (see Copy Cats and You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid) so you already know that I'm a huge fan. Not only am I looking forward to seeing the wonderfully inspiring and raw tales from book come to life, but I am also so excited to see Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, and James Franco star in the film. I've been trying to keep up with any news about the movie, and recently I paged through the "official stills" from the set and watched the new trailer that was just released. Needless to say, I am beyond excited.

The book told an incredible true story of a woman who lost her appetite for life and took a year to travel through Italy, India, and Indonesia to find herself again. The story touched on all of the things she had learned by taking on this journey of a lifetime, but after reading through the pages, I realized that I too had learned some things about life. It's such a refreshing take on the sometimes unexpected ways we find happiness and really offers up a new way of perceiving our lives. Take a minute to watch the trailer if you haven't already, and I bet you'll see why I'm so excited for this premiere...

As I was reading the book, I marked the pages that I thought offered up some good advice, and by the time I was finished, more than half of the pages' edges were folded down. I thought I would share one more little quote from the book that I stored away because I thought it had incredible power.
You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be. -Robert, in Eat Pray Love
I thought this was a really profound statement and something we should all think about. It reminds us that we need to have that "go get 'em" attitude, that we've got to be strong and stand up for the things we believe in. We can't be just wishing and hoping that things will come to be, but rather, we should be making the things we want to see happen become a reality. This is one of the many great quotes I took from the book, and it shows just how much we can all learn from the search for the true meaning of life that this author took. If you haven't already done so, pick up a copy of the will not be disappointed. And I bet you too will be counting down the days until the movie release!

If you have read Eat Pray Love, what was your reaction? Did it inspire you to go on your own personal journey to find meaning in your life? And if you haven't read it yet, do you plan on reading it before the movie or will you just wait until the film comes out?

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lessons from The Food Network (No Food Involved)


Hello Optimists,

I don't know about you, but I am slightly addicted to The Food Network. There are just too many good shows on that channel...all the time! Now, I must say that my favorite TV chef is hands down Giada DeLaurentiis (gotta show some love for my Italian girls!) She always makes incredible meals -of course I have tried out a few recipes-, has a great TV personality, is super cute, and always shows us that cooking is not only about the food, but the people you share it with. Unfortunately she doesn't have her own station, so I am forced to tune in to some other chefs as they whip up some "delish" meals. But I'm never disappointed.

Whether it's watching the artists of Ace of Cakes build a sky high model of the Empire State building using only fondant and cake, Claire Robinson whip up a mouth-watering meal using only five ingredients, or cringing as the host of Man vs. Food consumes enough food to feed a small village, The Food Network is my go-to channel. When all else fails, I know I can always click it on and find something good.

Paula Deen is one TV chef that has recently been growing on me. My stomach used to grumble while I would watch her show, warning me that if I should even dare put that much butter into anything I was making, there would be serious consequences, but I just can't resist her bigger-than-life personality. She's always upbeat, obviously passionate about what she does, and just seems like a truly happy person....and it seems like that personality is contagious. Though her meals may not be the most nutritious of the bunch, this Southern Belle has certainly gained a lot of loyal fans. Recently, I watched an interview of hers and was quite impressed by what she had to say. Listening past her cute little southern twang, I found that she had very insightful advice to give to the viewers, and I thought this would be perfect to share with you for today's featured quote. So as you read it, feel free to insert your best Georgia accent...
There's no sin in failure, but there is sin in not trying. -Paula Deen
Coming from a TV chef like Paula, this is pretty heavy...but I think it is incredibly great advice nonetheless. Sometimes failure is just a state of mind...more like a lack of confidence in the pursuit of our journey. There's nothing wrong with failure- at least we know we tried to make or do something, or make an idea come to life. Sure, failure kinda stinks and no one really likes it, but what's worse is holding yourself back and not trying the things you want to do. Not giving something a try is instant failure. It's guaranteed. But if we give things a try, we may experience a "failure" just as a sign that it's just not meant to be...and there's nothing wrong with that, it just means it's time to move on and try something new.

If you're ever looking for something good to watch on TV, look no further than The Food might be surprised that you learn a little bit more than just a new recipe for a killer bolognese sauce. Remember these words of wisdom from today and keep in mind that it's only our fear of failure that's keeping us from success. So as Paula would say, "Go out and give it you're best, y'all!"

Keep Smiling,

Monday, May 3, 2010

5 (or 6) Ways to Become an Optimist


Hello Optimists,

Hope you had a great weekend! I know I sure did. It started off on a good note on Friday when I spotted an article headline: "5 Ways to Become an Optimist". This is right up my alley, so of course I had to click on it and read all about it. Not only did it give some good pointers on how to develop positive thinking habits, the opening lines of the article revealed that a new study from Psychological Science found that those with optimistic attitudes had better functioning immune systems....nice! It also said that optimism is not an inborn trait, it is a learned for all of the critics out there, here's proof that we can all change our ways with positive thinking.

So here are the "5 ways to become an optimist" according to the article:

  • Reframe those "disasters"
  • Take control
  • Pay attention to what makes you feel optimistic
  • Strive for real conversations
  • Do look at that glass as half full
I think these are really great suggestions and will definitely lead you to a more positive way of thinking. However, I think the first one is soooo important for us all to keep in mind. Reframing the "disasters" we face allows us to look on the brighter side of life when things are looking a bit grim. All too often we find ourselves having so much anxiety over little things in life. At the time, it seems like "the worst thing" but if we just took a second to step back and think about the "crisis" we're facing at the time, we'll soon see that it is probably no crisis at all. It's like calling in the haz mat team every time we spill some water. There's no need...just take a moment to gather your thoughts and keep in mind that things usually aren't as bad as they initially seem. Learning to control the way we react to different setbacks in life is key to keeping a positive frame of mind.

After reading through the article, I thought about what other tips I would suggest for becoming an optimist and one immediately popped into mind. So, today's featured quote is also #6 on the list of Ways to Become an Optimist...
The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the most out of everything that comes along their way. 
So if I was the one lucky enough to write articles for MSN about this topic, "making the most out of everything that comes along your way" would definitely be near the top. It's so important to learn that happiness can be had by anyone, no matter how much or how little that person has. It's all about taking what you've got and making a conscious effort to appreciate the things in your life and make the best of all of it.

Start off this week by keeping these 5 (or 6!) things in mind and keep track of your ways of thinking. If you feel like taking them all on at once is a little too much to start off with, try to tackle one point at a time. Make one day your time to have some real conversations and another to take note of what makes you feel optimistic. Before you know it, you'll be done with this list and be well on your way to becoming an optimal optimist.

If you were the writer of this article, what things would be part of your list of ways to become an optimist?

Keep Smiling,

Here's the link to the article: 5 Ways to Become an Optimist

Congratulations to Jonnie, the winner of my eco-friendly product giveaway from! Thanks to everyone who entered....I hope to have another giveaway up soon!