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,