Living a Positively Present Life – Episode 17

   

Living a Positively Present Life

 

In this episode, Dani DiPirro and I talk about how and what it means to live a positively present life – the struggles it comes with, the effects of technology and how it shifts our thinking. Dani also generously gives us tips to help us be one step closer to a positive mindset and how we can inspire others to do the same.

 

Important Links Mentioned in the Show:

Positively Present Website

Positively Present Instagram

Dani DiPirro Positively Present Facebook

Positively Present Twitter

Positively Present YouTube

Angela Henderson Website

Angela Henderson Active Business Facebook Group

Angela Henderson Facebook Business Page

Angela Henderson Instagram

 

Prefer to read Living a Positively Present Life? Here’s the transcript:

ANGELA:

You’re listening to the Business and Life Conversations podcast, with Angela Henderson, episode 17.

Hey there, you’re listening to the Business and Life Conversations podcast, my name is Angela Henderson, and on this show we talk about improving your business, life or both. By having amazing and rich conversations with brilliant guests. Who will inspire you and who will give you tips and tricks, to help you grow both in life and in business.

Hey everyone, so excited to have you on the podcast today, and it’s because I’m talking to someone who I truly admire. I’ve only recently found her stuff, used a few of her most divine quotes, prints and memes on Instagram and every time I see her stuff, either on my Instagram feed or Facebook feed, my heart is filled with all levels of happiness.

It’s because of how her messages and beautifully crafted pieces of art have made me feel and literally tens of thousands around the world, that I had to get her on the show to talk about living a positively present life. I’d like to welcome Dani DiPirro to the show.

Welcome Dani.

DANI:

Hi, thank you so much for having me.

ANGELA:

Well thank you so much, it’s getting.. you are night time in the U.S. I believe, in Washington, is that correct?

DANI:

Yes, it’s late afternoon here.

ANGELA:

So, thank you so much for making the time to come on, I really, really appreciate that. And yes, living a positively present life is something that I think not a lot of people are doing right now. What are your thoughts about that?

DANI:

Yeah, I think it’s something that we all struggle with from time to time. I do feel like some people are born more naturally positive and others are not and you start with a baseline and then you can work with what you have. I tend to be a negative person and somebody who has spends a lot of time worrying and feeling anxious, and that’s why I ended up starting positively present in the first place, was because I knew that those qualities were my default and they didn’t have to be that way forever.

It’s still something that I work on constantly, but I realise that if I wanted to change those things, I really had to work at it and to me, staying as positive as possible and being as present as possible has really helped me make my life better in almost every aspect, ever since I started the blog back in 2009.

ANGELA:

And would you say just with the fact that the insight in reclaiming, you could say, positively present or even utilising those words you start to shift the way you think?

DANI:

Yes, definitely. I think when I started the blog, the act of having it and trying to see the world through that lens and you can do this whether or not you have a blog. Definitely shifted things and also now because it’s my job, I certainly have people reminding me in my personal life if I’m not putting the most positive and present, and so I’m definitely thinking how would I tell my readers or what would I do? If somebody else came to me with a situation that was negative, how would I say this is a great way to make the most of it? And so it certainly helped me, but even if you don’t have a blog that’s all about being positively present, if you think about the world or whatever your current situation is from that lens, it’s definitely helpful.

ANGELA:

Yes. Positively present, there’s something about.. I only came across you literally four weeks ago I think, I was looking back at when I sent that first email before I headed off to Bali, and I was scrolling through your Instagram feed and listen, I love bright colours, I love positive messages, and my scrolling thumb instantly stopped when one of your memes showed up in my feed and I was like, “Who is this lady?” And then I was like, the title that got me also too, was just the bright colours and your beautifully crafted illustrations, it was also the one about good reasons to put down your phone, and the meme for me really stuck for me. It was elegant, it hit every core in my body because I feel society is being sucked in with technology that we’re losing the ability to connect and as you would say being positively present with society and nature, and this addiction I feel is getting harder and harder to break, especially with our younger generations.

I see it with my kids like, “Give me the iPad,” after five minutes and they freak out. But you know, most importantly are over phone use, or I guess I would also say one step further, not even the phone, it’s just the iPads, everything that’s in our hands is taking away from being positively present.

So that’s how I first found out about you, I love what you do, I love what you stand for, obviously I know a little bit about you but the listeners still don’t. I’d love to have you jump in, to have you give us a brief about who you are, where you’re from, but before that, I’d like to get the listeners in on something fun about the listeners, which in this case, you love colour. It’s very evident in what you do, so I’d like to start with, of all the colours in the rainbow, that you use in your illustrations on a daily basis, what is your go to favourite colour?

DANI:

There’s a difference between the colour I use most frequently and the colour that is my favourite, because my favourite colour which is orange and that has been my favourite colour my whole life, I have an orange couch right here next to me, I love orange. It tends to be a colour a lot of people don’t like, so I actually tend to gravitate towards teal a lot, that seems to be a really popular colour. In my illustrations, I still use all the colours of course, as you rightly pointed out, I love colour and I certainly love all the colours but orange is by far my favourite.

ANGELA:

Orange, alright, good one. And especially over in the U.S., orange is a representation for me of Halloween. Whenever I see orange..

DANI:

That’s actually why I like it.

ANGELA:

For those who again, around the world, have never experienced a true.. well I’m from Canada, you’re from the U.S. .. Haiti, American Halloween I mean, it is next level. Something that my childhood memories bring, are embedded in me, and Australia actually is not a huge Halloween fan and it’s just not part of their culture. It’s slowly getting here and every year I make my kids dress up and they know no different but deep down there’s not a lot of people that do it but it’s slowly getting there and I love it so much.

Now tell us, orange is your favourite colour, tell us where you live, how, what you used to do and where you’re at now so we can kind of get a little bit of more history about Dani.

DANI:

Well I live in a suburb of Washington D.C., I live in the state of Maryland which is right outside of the capital of the U.S.. I used to work, prior to positively present I used to work in marketing and it wasn’t something that I felt passionate about and I always knew that at some point I would be writing for a living in some way, I just didn’t ever expect this obviously when I was growing up. There weren’t blogs, there was barely the internet so I would never have imagined this path that I’ve come down.

But I started the blog in 2009 when I was not in a great place emotionally and as I mentioned before, I was being really negative and anxious and I wanted to find a way to help myself and then as I was realising that I was gonna be writing about this I thought why not create a blog and share with other people what I was learning because I was coming from a place of not being a naturally optimistic person and I thought other people were probably in the same boat, and why not talk about it in a more public way. Since then the brand has grown, I do a lot more illustrating which I didn’t do at the very beginning, it was very much writing focused but it has expanded since then and I feel like I sometimes do even more illustrating right now than I do writing.

But ultimately, it’s about me being creative and sharing what I’m going through, what I’ve learned about trying to stay more positive and more mindful as a person that doesn’t naturally gravitate towards those mindsets.

ANGELA:

And for you, what would you say.. obviously it had to stem from somewhere, you said you started back in 2009 so I’m sure that over the time the definition may have changed a little bit, but in your mind, just so the listeners understand, when we talk about being positively present, can you tell us a little bit about what that actually means and how you’re defining that?

DANI:

Yeah. When I started it back in 2009, I had initially started basically looking online for happiness blogs and happiness articles because I realised I wanted to be happier, and as I was doing that it started occurring to me, you can’t always be happy. If something terrible happens in your life you’re not going to be happy, that’s just not the way it’s gonna be. And so that’s when I started shifting my thinking a little bit more towards being positive which to me is about trying to make the most of a moment and either find the good in it or if it’s a really terrible situation, and there’s not really any good to be found, learning from the situation and growing as a person and taking what you can from it because I just found personally that you have a choice when you’re facing good things and bad things, how you’re gonna go about it and any time you take the negative, let’s look at everything that’s gone wrong, it’s gonna make the situation worse.

Whereas the positive is not at all about saying, “Oh, everything’s fine and let’s just be cheerful”, I think people have a lot of trouble understanding there’s a very big difference between positivity and cheerfulness and happiness. Happiness to me is a state, like sadness, or anger, something you feel it but it’s generally pretty brief, whereas positivity is a mindset of doing your best to find whatever good element or life lesson that you can from a situation, and with the present aspect, I think one of the reasons I got into focusing on that element in the blog was that I was facing so much anxiety and stress, both about things that had happened in the past and things that would potentially happen in the future, particularly because I was in my mid 20s at the time, and it was just that place in my life where I didn’t really know where I was going, I wasn’t happy with my job or my relationship, it just felt like. “What’s going to happen?”

And I realise so much of my own internal stress was caused by worrying about things that had either already happened or were potentially never gonna happen, and that’s where I really realised I needed to be more present and to not spend so much time dwelling on the past or fretting about the future because that wasn’t helping me at all. Obviously you want to prepare for the future and do what you can but I think there’s kind of a boundary between feeling prepared and overthinking and analysing things to death, and so that’s really what I mean when I say positively present, it’s about trying to make the most of a situation and try to stay as present as possible without letting worry and anxiety take over so that you can enjoy wherever you are with the best possible chance of making the most of it.

ANGELA:

And would you say that with being positively present that at some times in life you could be positive but the present could be missing, or you could be present and the positive could be missing? Have you noticed that ever, also?

DANI:

Yes, definitely. I definitely feel like they are two separate things and I have to work on them. I think that they overlap a lot so that’s good, but I also think they are definitely separate because I could still be worrying about something or over worrying about something, but then also being like, “Alright, well here are the good things that could happen”, but it’s still not really being present in the moment.

I think it’s definitely a two-part thing and that’s why I chose those two things to talk about because for me they were some of the biggest struggles, and I want to come for them. And it’s still a work in progress, all this time later. I would never be like I totally am positive and present all the time.

ANGELA:

Right like., “Hello happy and positive and present”, yep.

DANI:

Yeah, and it’s not an easy thing to do but I think it’s been worth the effort and it’s still worth the effort and there are few things in life that I feel like I’ve worked this hard at and have had such positive, not to use that word but results overall that make things better, so it’s definitely a challenge though because sometimes you struggle to do both or one or the other.

ANGELA:

And would you say with being positively present, you talked a little bit earlier about not being happy in the relationship, feeling overly worried about either the past or the present, was there something significant that happened and you were like, “Man, we’ve got to rock and roll this positively present movement because life is too short”, or.. was there anything significant or was it just one of those things where you were like, “No, I’ve got to do this?”

DANI:

I think it was kind of a number of things. I’d had a lot of challenging situations and just I guess month after month and things being.. I would try to change different things, I got out of the relationship, tried a different relationship, that didn’t work. I got a different job, that didn’t work. And that’s when it started to be like, okay, this is not an external thing. You can’t just go out and do something else and you’re gonna feel better or if you do it’s gonna be temporary. And that’s when it was like let’s start working on the internal bit and see the underlining factor when you have friendships and you always have the same problem with friends, you have to be like wait, “Am I the problem?”

ANGELA:

You’ve got to look at yourself.

DANI:

Yeah in every situation, and nothing felt like it was going well, I had to take a step back and say, “I think it’s me,” and there’s only so much you can control in life, but one thing you can always control is your attitude. You can lose everything, everyone, things can be terrible, but you can choose to have a positive mindset, so that’s to me, why this was the route I want to go and this is the place I want to put my energy and time.

ANGELA:

And when you decided to actually go, this is where I’m gonna put my energy, this is where I’m gonna put my time, what were the first steps? Because there’s gonna be other people out there listening that are going, “Yeah man”, it’s coming down to the core here people, I’ve got that centred, when you point a finger at someone else, there’s three fingers pointing back at you, and so often it actually is us that have either caused a problem or said something wrong or it’s a combination of things, but yet we’re very eager or very fast to pinpoint someone else.

So, in your, without going into a mini therapy session you could say, what would you tell the listeners or what advice would you give the listeners about if you want to start being positively present in your life, what are three or four, maybe five little tips that you could give people to get started shifting that mindset?

DANI:

I think the first thing and the most important thing for me that happened before I even started the blog, was paying attention to my thoughts and realising that I was being incredibly negative, that I was being anxious and worried all the time, so I think being aware of those thoughts was the first step. It’s kind of like any problem, you can’t begin to solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. So, I think that’s a key thing, to pay attention and recognise your thought patterns, what tends to set you in a certain mood, what’s working, what’s not.

And then also, another key thing is to be open to being positive and to being present. I think in the past I thought of that as a weakness, like people who are positive aren’t intelligent or they’re not thinking deeply about things and not critical thinkers, and people who are happy all of the time must be dumb or something, and that was a terrible attitude to have because I was putting this block between me and living a more positive life. I think for a lot of people, that’s really one of the first steps as well, is to open your mind to being positive and present, and to say this is something that I want to try to do, because obviously if you’re not even open to it you’re not gonna do it.

And then you really have to start getting to work, once you have paid attention to yourself and been open to it, we really have to start looking at the elements of your life and the people in your life and remove the negativity wherever you can, and that can be a really difficult step because you’ve got to look at your own habits and behaviours, the people that you surround yourself with, and it’s not always gonna be an easy thing to get rid of people or to get rid of habits. All that takes a lot of work and a lot of time, so when dealing with that, I would say get help if you can, you can have some sort of objective, perspective, whether it’s a therapist or counselor or something, that’s always great. If that’s not an option there’s tonnes of resources online, people who have been through similar situations, I find that always helpful to look and see what other people have done. It doesn’t mean that you have to take their advice but it can give you a new perspective.

And then another thing that I think is really important, especially if you’re just starting out with trying to be more positive and present is to focus on gratitude, and that is kind of one of those things in the self-help community that gets thrown around a lot, and often if you’re not doing it all the time, it can feel like, “Oh, that’s a cliché, be thankful.” But I’ve found from keeping a gratitude list every day and any time things are going really wrong I’m like okay well what’s going right? I’m alive, my family is alive, all these basic things that just get pushed aside when you feel like you’re in a crisis. Taking the time to think about them, it can really, really shift things and help you stay more positive and more present.

ANGELA:

Wow, very, very good. This is the thing, sometimes I think people over complicate things, don’t they? Like I’ve got to be positively present, if I can’t get there because they put up too many excuses or blockages, but the steps that you’ve just talked about, one, really looking at the problem, identifying the problem. Two, being open about what’s going on. Three, removing the negative habits and behaviours and whether or not that’s the people, your job, etcetera, and four, focusing on gratitude. They’re not over complicated processes but yet so many people will choose not to do it.

DANI:

Yeah, well the thing is they’re not complicated but they can be hard.

ANGELA:

Exactly right, emotionally I would say. Number three I think is always the toughest, is again, and I’ll talk about it quite openly, my mum, I had to cut her off, there was no other way of saying it. Every single day she would have me in tears, and it was a horrible feeling to think how do you cut your mum off and boundaries, I tried to lay some boundaries with her, she chose not to follow the boundaries, and I finally had to cut her out. It’s not something that you’re born with or people even tell you growing up about, is one day you may have to choppy chop your mum out of your life, but again, the thing about you go back to those choices people have to make about being positively present, and I had a choice to continue to allow her to bring me down and make me cry every single day and everything else, or I had a choice to, “Go hold on a minute, actually no, I’ve got to let her go.” So, it still came down to me and what choices I was willing to make.

DANI:

Right, it can be very difficult to do and I’m sure in your situation it was difficult, especially when it’s a close family member like your mother, I think that that is incredibly challenging and I think that’s sometimes why people don’t do things, but I think you don’t really realise the benefits of not having negative people dragging you down until you let those people go.

I think people get used to negativity, especially if it’s your default, that’s how I was. I was just like I’m a negative person and that’s just it, that’s just the way it is and that’s who I am. When you settle into that, almost with anything, even if it’s a positive trait or something, when you completely identify yourself as the certain thing, you really limit yourself. People might be listening to this thinking well I could never cut my mum out even though she’s terrible for me and that she treats me terribly, but when you say that, then you’re limiting yourself. Maybe you actually could. I’m not saying it would be easy but it’s something that can be done and might be what you need to do. Everybody has their own individual situation, but I think the important thing is to try and be open minded about it, and not put those labels, like, “I can’t do that,” or, “I would never be able to do that”, because I’ve certainly, if I were to be talking to my younger self now, I would be like I could never do all these things I’ve done to make my life a more positive place for myself. I never would have envisioned that.

If you really put in the effort and you try, you can do things, things that you would never believe that you could.

ANGELA:

I couldn’t agree with you more on that and I think again, it comes down to sometimes like you said, it’s tough decisions and it doesn’t necessarily have to be forever, in my instance I haven’t spoken to my mother in years, but again, life.. I don’t cry every day like I did back in my 20s, I don’t feel anxious all the time because of what’s coming next, etcetera. So I definitely agree with you, some might be simple, they might be hard, but I think if you can get through that.. Like you said, whether or not you’ve got a therapist or another friend who can work you through that, and then you’ve got that supportive network around and I do think it is 100% capable of changing that negative vibe to a more positive vibe.

DANI:

Yes, definitely.

ANGELA:

As we talk about others bringing us down, what insights can you share on how to share positivity with others when they’re not in their own positive mindset, I guess? So, if you’re going out to dinner with friends on a regular basis and there’s always this one Debbie Downer in the group and you’re just like man, what is up? Do you have any insight on how you can share being positive with others and trying to maybe make things better in those types of situations?

DANI:

Yeah, I mean I think you ultimately have to realise you can’t control or change other people if they’re not going to be willing to do it. You can try your best but ultimately people have to make their own decisions when it comes to positive or negative thinking. I try to, if I were in a situation like that, you have the choice also to not let somebody else drag you down. You have to be very conscious of it, but you ultimately have the choice to not feed off of that energy which can sometimes be hard because a lot of us are very much impacted by others energy but I think that’s also a choice. You can just do your thing and I’m not saying you have to ignore the person, but just limit your interactions with them.

But also, I think sometimes people, there’s also depending on how close you are with this person, you could have a conversation with them and say, what’s going on, can I help you, you seem really negative, you seem down all the time? You can also do that but if it’s not a close friend you might not want to do that, a fraught relationship kind of depends, but first of all being positive yourself really does impact people. There’s a ripple effect and it’s not gonna transform everyone you meet but generally if you’re positive, even if.. when I think about when I’m dealing with people I go to a shop or something and the cashier is grumpy or clearly not happy because they’re at work and I get that, I’ve been there, but if you are really happy and you try to act positive, a lot of times people’s attitudes will change. You have that power, just as somebody else can bring you down, you can bring people up.

That’s not just saying you should go around trying to bring everyone up because that’s gonna drain your energy and it’s not your job to make everyone in the world feel positive, so you kind of have to pick your battles, but it never hurts to try that and to try to remind people of some of the things, if they’re focusing on the worst thing that could happen, say what about if this happened? Or if they’re saying, “Everything in my life is terrible”, well talk about.. maybe bring up a couple things that are going well for them, or that they have going for them, because sometimes when people are in that negative downward spiral, they forget about the things that they have to be grateful for, and depending on the person, I can see some people getting super annoyed and being like stop bringing that up, but a lot of people would be responsive, so you really have to judge the situation, but ultimately I think it’s important to protect your own mindset and try to steer away from negative people, but if you do find yourself encountering them as we all do, you can try to lift them up a little bit and see if it helps, and if it doesn’t, I feel like you’ve got to make sure you don’t take it personally and you also don’t let them drag you down.

ANGELA:

Yep, and I think again not allowing them to drag you down and that you still remain positive, I remember there’s two of the most delightful people I respect and love dearly are the Merrymakers, Emma and Carla, and I initially met them when I was hit with mild depression and anxiety and I was like, “Who are these positive people?” Every time I’m around them they’re infectious, but infectious like, “Dude, you can’t be this happy and cheerful all the time”, but they genuinely are two of the most delightful souls I have ever met and they are the most joyous, and they are always are trying to find the better, always.

It doesn’t mean they don’t get sad, they weren’t sad if they get a break up, things like that, because there’s still elements of sadness, but they allow themselves to be sad, and then they hop right back on the positive trend.

DANI:

Exactly, that’s what you have to do. That’s just the way you’ve gotta be. Life is gonna bring you down, it is. That’s just how it goes and you can either go with it or you can say, “You know what, I was terrible,” you give yourself some time and then you move back on and then you really do pick up on other people’s energies, and the more you practice being positively present yourself, you get more used to it. It’s almost like whatever you do a lot becomes your habit. If there’s anybody out there listening that’s like, “Oh I’m not positive, I’m never gonna be positive”, it’s like the whole fake it till you make it thing. You practice and practice and suddenly you start looking at things from a positive perspective before you then realise you’re doing it.

ANGELA:

No, I totally agree, it’s just one of those things, I was like hold on a minute, choices that need to be made and I was like I can, even though I’ve got the depression and anxiety and I’ll have to work through that, I can still be elements of happy and I can still be present and I can still do that. I think it is around surrounding yourself with those right people because when I was around Emma and Carla, there’s no way that you could be in a bad mood. It was impossible because they’re just such an infectious spirit to be around. So yes.

Now we’ve talked a lot about the being present I would say, but the element.. oh sorry, being positive. But the element of being present, and this is why it’s kind of really great that when I was researching some of this stuff for the episode today and learning more, is there’s definitely.. you’re working on both, and one of the things that I’ve found is obviously just recently you’ve identified that you need to manage your phone use, to be more positively present. And I’d love to have a discussion about this because so many listeners, especially those who are tuning in from a business perspective, are business owners, I feel to this conversation people can learn from you and gain insight about putting the phone or the iPad or the tablet down, and be present because let’s be honest, we’re on our phones and electronics far more often than we’re not anymore.

I also found interesting enough that a study led by Nottingham Trent University, asked the 18 – 33 year olds to estimate the amount of time spent on their phone and compare their self-reports to their actual usage, this is part of your blog that I was reading, and they discovered that the average person checks their device 85 times a day, spending a total of five hours browsing the web and using apps. And they said that this equates to around a third of the time a person is awake and is twice as often as many people realise. So the other thing I was reading, I was like, “Hold on a minute, this can’t be true”, and then in one of your blogs, you have the smart phone compulsion test I think it’s called, and you for example, I think you said you said, “I scored 14 out of 15”, and I was at 12 off the top of my head but it was getting higher and I was like, “Oh my gosh,” because it was one of those things that I guess out of sight, out of mind. No, you minimise. I’m not really on the phone that much or I’m not really doing it that much but I reality, we actually are.

So that one is called the smart phone compulsion test, so walk me through a little bit about why did you go hold on, I’ve got to start putting the phone down and be more present?

DANI:

Well I mean one of the reasons that really triggered it for me was that I was having a lot of problems with my arm and my wrist partly because of drawing, partly because of using my phone so much. And obviously I want to be able to draw, I don’t want to be on my phone all the time. So when I got into physical therapy and stuff, I realised I had to not only get the physical therapy help and do the exercises and stuff, but they made it very clear that if I didn’t change my behaviour, that it was only going to be temporary, the exercises might help but it would just continue to be a problem. I think for me, one of the big things was I was having physical symptoms of my phone problem.

I think that really was like okay, also I’ve done the apps where you download them, I forget what they’re called, I think one might be called Moment, I’m not sure if that’s the right one, but there is an app where it tracks how long you’re on your phone all day and I can’t remember the hours but it was like basically almost all of the time. I was like, “I don’t really”.. there are great benefits to the phone and there are certainly things that I love about it, but I think I was just finding myself in a cycle of check Instagram, Twitter, email, over and over. Pinterest, over and over and I wasn’t even really looking at it, this is like a habit. It just takes up so much time, if that’s how you want to spend your time that’s fine, but that’s not.. when I look at the grand picture of my life, I’d rather be reading, I’d rather be drawing, I’d rather be doing other things.

I think the really hard thing about the phone for me, is I can’t give it up completely. I could in theory, not have a phone, just have a landline or something, but that’s really not likely for me. I work for a lot of people, just in today’s day and age. You need a smartphone or most people do..

ANGELA:

Also, your 93,000 Instagram fans also would not be very happy..

DANI:

Exactly, I’d have to use Instagram on my computer.

ANGELA:

I could be one of those people, if I stop seeing your levels of goodness in my feed I’d probably be disheartened, but I would respect that you need to break, from the phone, like, “No come back.”

DANI:

I would need to do that, I love Instagram, and so I think that’s where I really struggled because for me, I tend to be a very all or nothing person, I’ve been sober now for eight years and I have tried for..

ANGELA:

Congratulations.

DANI:

Thank you. I tried for a little while to get going, I’m gonna drink less or I’m only gonna drink beer and not liquor and different things, and it just never really worked for me. Moderation, I just had to get rid of it completely in order to not have issues with it. So, I really struggled with the phone situation because it’s not the same. It’s almost more in line with somebody who has issues with eating, because you have to be able to eat in a balanced way and you can’t completely be like, “Well, I’m not gonna eat anymore”, you need to learn how to manage it, and the phone is like that too, for the most part. You want to have it in your life, there is good value there, but you can’t overdo it.

So it is something that I have struggled with a lot and then I was finally like.. when I started talking to my coach, Reba, about it, she was like I can help you with this and we started working on it together, and I think that was also a motivating factor because I kind of just brought it up with her in conversation, like I’m trying to deal with this phone thing and it’s really hard, and she was like let’s work on it together and I think having somebody to work through it with me really helped too, because you have that accountability, and then I started blogging about it as well so that also helped me share my experience with my readers.

That’s kind of how it all started, it’s definitely still a work in progress. I wouldn’t say I’ve made tonnes of progress since I started working on it, but I’m certainly looking at my phone more than I’d like to be.

ANGELA:

And would you say since.. if you go back to what you talked about, being showing yourself positive I guess, that you’ve looked at the problem, you’ve identified the problem ad you’re taking action. So, it’s not gonna change overnight but it’s still a work in progress.

DANI:

Yes, definitely.

ANGELA:

And I guess some people on a mental health clinician by trade and have also worked with individuals with different drug addiction etcetera, that I guess sobriety too, for many is, they will say and I can’t say for you because every individual is different, but some individuals will still work on that every single day even after eight years of sobriety, ten years of sobriety.

DANI:

Oh yeah, definitely an ongoing battle and some days are different, but it’s not like, “Oh it’s been eight years and it’s fine”, I mean I just saw right before we got on this call that Demi Lovato who had been sober for six years, she just had a heroin overdose, she’s in the hospital right now and I hope she’s okay, for those of you who don’t know who Demi Lovato is, she’s a singer. And so it’s like no matter how long it’s been with sobriety, it’s an ongoing process. You have to keep working on it. So, I think the phone issue, even if I get to a point where I feel very happy with my relationship with my phone, I think it will still be an ongoing process to maintain that relationship and to not suddenly go back and to overuse.

ANGELA:

We’re looking at before I stopped working in the mental health field, almost a year now, there was, when we would look at the young people coming in. So when we used our diagnostic tool, the DSM, to look at specific diagnosis for people, obviously there’s nothing in there at the moment about technology, but we are seeing a huge increase of anxiety disorders coming in from young people who are on their phones so often. And so the last thing they do at night is they’re on their phone, but then the first thing they do in the morning is obviously pick up the phone. Not just young people, us adults do it too. But they wake up in a panic, so if they go onto Facebook and no one has liked their things or commented or whatever, they initially go into this panic that no one likes them, they have no friends and then those values and beliefs and all this stuff, and their self-esteem and everything, and we’re seeing an enormous amounts of increase in suicides, suicide risks around this, we’re seeing an increase of anxiety disorders around it, but we’re also seeing different types of addiction coming up from the gaming element and things like that, collectively, I’m not just talking about the phone.

So, it is something that again, I think so many people are struggling with but not identifying or wanting to do something to change it, so that’s why I guess my worry is for the young people, is that their brains are being wired. There’s a TED talk I heard the other day about digital dementia and how that pretty much that we, we’re causing our brains to go into this dementia type state over time and if back in the day I remember you would have to know your home phone number off by heart. Everyone’s phone numbers would be memorised, whereas nowadays if you ask people, Dani, what’s your number? And even if I did know your number, but I would struggle to relay your phone number back because it’s in the phone, why do I need to memorise it anymore?

There’s all these things that the talk went on about, but it was super interesting because I could see how different parts of our brain are deteriorating because of not just the phone but theoretically technology overall.

DANI:

Yeah, I think it’s definitely causing a lot of problems and problems we don’t even know about yet, because if you think about it, in the grand scheme of things, everything is still so relatively new and it’s very hard to know what the long-term effects are gonna be and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I don’t envision a world where it’s like we don’t have phones anymore, the only way I would see that is if we had something else other than phones, like in our brains or something. I think it’s something we need to deal with and that’s why I really, in my personal life I really want to try to deal with it sooner rather than later because I know it’s not going away and it’s not.. the longer you do things and especially when you’re dealing with young brains.

I had AOL, instant messenger and stuff like that when I was young, things they have now, so I’m really grateful that I wasn’t part of that. I wouldn’t have wanted to have social media or have a constant camera with me at all times, or all that stuff if I was younger than I was now. I’m grateful that I didn’t have that, but I think it really is about trying to find some sort of balance and to not.. also another thing that I was thinking about when you first started talking about this topic is that everyone else is doing it. So, it becomes a challenge because if you’re sitting around and your friends are on their phones, it’s hard to see things as a problem and it can be that way with other addictions as well. If everyone around you drinks the same level you do, maybe like, “Oh that’s fine, everybody drinks that way,” but then you realise that’s because you’re surrounding yourself with people who do that.

The phone, it’s not even just you’re around people who use their phone, you walk outside, walk down the street, everyone’s on their phone so it’s harder to say this is a problem when you see everybody else doing it, and I think that’s where we are culturally, I feel like we’re starting to get to a point where people are realising it’s a problem and the fact that they’re doing it all the time, every second.. people have a free second, they look at their phone. I think people are starting to get that it’s a problem but it’s a really, really tricky one to solve because the phone is so many things. It’s a phone, it’s a computer, it’s connection to your friends, it’s pretty artwork on Instagram, it’s everything you could want is in there, and it’s so, so hard to not want to just pick it up.

But I think there are definitely things you can do if you’re out there looking for ways to stop using your phone so much.

ANGELA:

And I guess that’s great because I know when I was reading on your website, and Reba, your coach you’re currently working with, so could you talk us through two, three or four different key elements in terms of making positive progress with your phone overuse? What are some little tips others might be able to start today?

DANI:

I think one of the main things that worked so well for me was, the first thing Reba had me do was pay attention to when I was using the phone and not judge myself for it, so then I was able to realise the times that were more triggering for me. Like when I was by myself I would tend to look at it more, right before bed, right when I woke up, various times. But without judging it, I think was so key, just being like she made a whole permission slip for me, to be like you’re allowed to look at your phone, don’t judge it. I think that was a really helpful for me, because the second you start judging yourself like if you’re saying I want to stop using my phone so much, and then use it a tonne, and you’re like I’m terrible at this, I’m not gonna be able to stop doing this so then use it more, and it’s just sort of this vicious cycle.

Whereas when you’re not judging yourself and you’re trying to be objective and say, “What am I doing on my phone, am I enjoying it?” Kind of paying attention, back to the paying attention to your thoughts thing, as well. Really being aware, because a lot of times, what we’re doing on our phones is kind of mindless. Like “Oh, I’ll just check this app or I’ll just do this”, and we’re not even like, “Do I want to check that?” So, I think that was a key thing for me, and then also talking about the why. Why did I not want to be using my phone so much? And for me, that was the pain in my arm, the cost of physical therapy that I didn’t want to be paying, the fact that I had to cut down on drawing time because my arm hurt and that’s something I love to do, which not only personally is not something good. I love creating, and also that impacts my financial situation. The less I can draw, the less I can make, so there are a lot of factors of why I wanted to cut back on my phone use.

I think for everybody, that would be different. Like maybe you want to spend more time with your children, maybe you want to read more books, maybe you want to exercise more, whatever you wish you were doing instead of being on the phone, I think you have to get to a point, and for me it didn’t happen overnight, but you have to get to a point where I want this other stuff more than being on my phone, because really what the phone is, is time. You spend so much time and is that how you want to spend your life? And if it is, that’s totally fine. If you want to look back on your life and be like I saw all the memes, I watched all the videos, I didn’t miss anything on YouTube, that’s totally cool. No judgment if that’s your goal, I have no problem with that but I think a lot of people, they just do it because it’s easy, because it’s right there, because other people are doing it. They’re afraid they’re gonna miss out on something which I noticed that was a huge thing for me too when I first started cutting back.

Oh my gosh, I wasn’t on Instagram every second, I’m gonna miss something, and it’s like you don’t miss something. You’ll see it, or if you don’t see it, you’ll be fine.

ANGELA:

And you can still scroll later on, do you know what I mean? You can scroll at a later date, it will still be there.

DANI:

You don’t have to see something the second it goes up or respond to somebody’s comment immediately or whatever. So, I think that’s a really big thing, trying things out because a lot of what goes on with the phone use is just what you think is gonna happen, “I’m not gonna be able to do it”, again with these sort of limiting beliefs that we talked about before. If you think you can’t do it or you won’t do it or I have to work, there’s no way I cannot look at my phone every second, all these things that you say you can’t do, as soon as you do that, you believe you can’t do it.

So, I think giving things a try, there’s all kinds of things. There are lock boxes you can put your phone in and set a timer, that’s something I’m thinking about even experimenting with because I think that sometimes you just need that completely off-limits thing. If you live with other people or work with other people you could have a phone free time that you don’t look at your phone, you can set up all sorts of things and there are a bunch of different suggestions on my website on what I tried and what worked for me, especially details on the phone, things I’ve done with my apps and the colours that have worked for me, and there’s tonnes of articles online about that sort of stuff, but I think you have to be willing to try it and see if it works because if you just automatically say I can’t do that, or whatever my job is wouldn’t allow for that, then you’re setting yourself up for failure right from the beginning.

ANGELA:

Yes, and I think you mentioned earlier, it becomes harder and harder because society is doing it collectively. So you can, let’s say you aced it, you were hardly on your phone during the day, and you go out to dinner with friends and you’ve got a group of eight and everyone happens to be on their phone which I see often and I almost have heart failure because I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m supposed to be eating food and you’re all on your phone, how is this happening?”

DANI:

I feel more often than not when you look at a table of people.

ANGELA:

They’re all on their phone and I’m like, “Oh my goodness.” I was just in Bali, don’t get me wrong I’m not gonna sit here and say my kids have never had their iPad at a breakfast table, especially when they’ve been sick, so I’m not gonna sit there and say that, but every morning I went into this.. Bali is a beautiful country and there is the family, and every time we saw them at breakfast, lunch and dinner they were all on their phones and iPads. Each to their own but I guess for me still there’s a hard, I feel like we’re losing the sense of conversation. Kids are gonna not have the ability to potentially have a job interview and make eye contact and actually talk like a human because it’s gonna be so computerised or iPhone or whatever.

DANI:

I wonder sometimes if it’s gonna go that route, if we’re all gonna be part phone, you know what I mean? I can’t envision a world where it’s gonna go backwards. I guess there tend to be cultural backswing and stuff but with technology it seems like it just goes more and more.. we went from having our laptops to now we’ve got iPads, phones, everything all the time. And you’re saying, are people even going to be going to in person interviews in the future or is all this going to be online, typed out because people don’t even want to do videos a lot of the time.

ANGELA:

I do think that what comes up must go down and I guess I bring up the phone scenario with you not so much even from an addiction but more about being present and having the ability to sit with your thoughts, being able to talk with your friends. I had this.. I watched this video, I can’t even remember who it was, very influencer guy, I wish I could remember his name, overseas somewhere and he was talking about university for example and how universities, everyone’s talking about, “Teach people coding and teach people how to do this,” and he’s like actually, “No. Don’t continue to teach people all these skills that robots are gonna be able to do, and that’s the reality. Robots will be the ones that are coding and they’re gonna leave people without jobs because go back to the core, go back of teaching people values and how to speak and shake someone’s hand and how to give empathy because robots will never be able to replace that”, and it got me thinking it’s so true. Those skills are getting lost every single day, I continue to see the increase of phone usage and iPad usage and technology usage I guess, but I think again if people can talk, and shake a hand, those skills I believe will come back around and they’re gonna be few and far between and that’s where I think jobs will be created that have been replaced.

I think it will be very interesting to see what will happens in the next 10 to 15 years, but just collectively, if there’s anything I would say from people’s today conversation, choose to be positive or not and choose to be present or not but the choice comes down to you as an individual.

DANI:

And I think that that is an important point in you have to make a choice, don’t just settle for what seems like default. Make sure that you’re making the choice to be on your phone all the time, if that’s what you want to do, totally fine, but make sure you’re doing it not just out of habit or reflex. Pay attention to what you’re doing on the phone and is it necessary? One thing I think a lot of people do is looking stuff up. They won’t be looking at their phone, maybe they’re all out to dinner with a group of friends and all of a sudden they’re like, “Who was in that movie?” Or whatever, and then somebody gets their phone out and the next thing you know everybody gets their phone out, and it’s almost like an excuse, let me look this up but I’m also gonna check all these other things, and it’s like is that what you want to be doing?

You need to realise you don’t need to look at something right away, you can look at it later. The sort of instant gratification, it can be a really negative thing, there’s that positive reinforcement with the phone, you pick it up and there’s gonna be something on there, whether it’s a new news story or a like or whatever, there’s something there, and that makes people want to do it, but I think that you have to remember you’re the one in control of your life and you can’t let the phone control you. If you want to pick it up, go for it, but make sure you’re doing it consciously and as a choice.

ANGELA:

And you know, if all the things we’ve talked about today, if there’s one thing that even suggests listeners do to be more positively present in their lives, what would your advice be?

DANI:

I think it would be pay attention to your thoughts and that kind of goes with the phone stuff and just in general because you learn so much when you’re not just operating on default, and it sounds crazy because you’re like, “I know what I’m thinking”, but if you start paying attention and thinking a little bit more deeply about why you’re reacting a certain way or why you’re choosing to do something, you’ll start to see your patterns, you’ll start to see what triggers you to take actions that you like or don’t like so you can shape your life more towards the positive things and the things that bring you joy and the things that make you feel fulfilled, and away from the things that drain you and make you feel negative, and I think whether it’s at your job or people that you spend time with or when you’re alone, but paying attention to how you feel or let’s say you hang out with a friend, after you’re done, immediately after, how do you feel?

Do you feel drained and like that was hard and stressful, or do you feel like that was fun and I loved connecting with him or her, or whatever? I think like those types of things, paying attention to your own thoughts and the way you feel is a huge game changer and it’s not saying you have to be positive all the time, you don’t even have to be present all the time, live your own life but once you start paying attention to your thoughts, you can make changes that will work for you and a lot of people just don’t do that, they just kind of go from thing to thing and dealing with what’s in front of them and not really thinking about how they feel and it becomes difficult to even know what they want to change if you’re not paying attention.

That would be my number one tip, is to pay attention to your thoughts, and it’s a little bit hard at first, but the more you practice it, the more you’re like, “Oh I’m thinking that or reacting that way because of this”, and you’re not doing some sort of default reaction, you can actually be a little bit more measured and choosey in what you do with your life and your time.

ANGELA:

And being mindful and people I guess could write down their thoughts in a book if they wanted to, which would solidify.. so if you’re feeling this, you write it down, you probably bring more awareness too. I’m just sitting here thinking I don’t get lost for words often but it is, it’s a great insight to be able to just look at your own stuff and sometimes I think we compartmentalise or we push our own stuff out because we don’t want to deal with it, but if you consider your thoughts, think about it, write it down, I think you’re right, it’s one of the first steps in being able to being more positively present.

Now what is the one.. before we wrap up, what’s a mantra you’re currently living by?

DANI:

I don’t really have a mantra per say, but I think there’s one thing that’s up on my wall that I look at all the time and it says ‘protect your peace’, and that’s something that I think about a lot because I don’t often feel peaceful, I feel energetic or I feel stressed or I feel anxious, peace isn’t really.. there’s some people who just have that as their default, they’re just peaceful, chill people. That’s not really me but that’s something that I aspire to be. I would love to just be relaxed more and not worrying and not anxious, so I think I’ve started paying attention since I put that up on my wall which was probably at the beginning of the year. I’ve started paying more attention to whether something makes me feel peaceful or not and trying to cultivate more peaceful and calm things in my life that don’t stress me out as much.

ANGELA:

I like that, so protect the peace, is that right?

DANI:

Yes. Protect your peace, because it’s different for everybody.

ANGELA:

Very groovy, that one. With the orange couch and that looking up, it could be a very zen environment at your house, I think Dani.

DANI:

Yeah definitely, I definitely try to keep it as calm as possible in here. It’s not always possible, but I think what you wanna be, keep that in mind. If you want to be positive, you want to be calm, whatever. Have that as your mantra and see if whatever your situation is or the people you’re around, are they enhancing that or are they taking away from it? That will give you an idea of what’s working and what’s not.

ANGELA:

And for listeners out there, we obviously talked a little bit at the beginning about what you do, illustrating, you’ve got a couple books, you’ve got some eBooks, you’ve got your wonderful blog. But if the listeners would like to know more about you, where can they find you, and what’s next for you?

DANI:

Well the best place to find me is www.positivelypresent.com, that has my blog, has links to all my books, to my art shop, to all my social media handles, Instagram is my definite favourite but I’m on pretty much all of them. What’s next right now, I’m working on the, every year I do a diary called the every day matters diary, this will be the sixth year in a row I’m doing it, I’m currently working on the 2020 version which is really exciting because it’s a new decade so it feels like extra special. That won’t be out for a little while, the 2019 one is out right now, people can get it on Amazon and there are links on my website, but I am really excited to be working on this one just because I don’t know, something about the new decade, even though it’s really far away, it seems like an exciting thing to be working on, at the moment.

ANGELA:

And I did, when I was online I saw the little video clip you had of your 2019 diary and again it’s filled with all luscious bits of colour and love and yes, for those who are needing a new diary, you make sure you check it out because it is all levels of awesome, for sure. And I can’t wait to see the new decade, it sounds like it’s so far away when you say decade but really, we’re less than 18 months before we hit that.

DANI:

Yeah, it’s crazy. When you work on projects so far in advance and sometimes I forget, I just saw something, I think it was on a can of food and it said 2019 and I was like, “Oh, is this expired?” Because I’m thinking so far in advance on this project but it’s definitely going to be a great one, it gets better every single year that I do them, because I’ve been doing them since 2015, so I’m sure the 2020 will be the best one yet.

Yeah, definitely check the 2019 one first.  

ANGELA:

Exactly right, don’t skip a year. You still need a diary, yeah diaries, and as you’re saying 2020, I just remember it being 1999 and going into it in Canada and it was like, “Happy 2000”. Yes, definitely showing my age here, again. Dani, once again, yeah gotta love, I’ll be 40 next year so it keeps rocking and rolling.

So, listen..

Pardon me.

DANI:

You’ve got to keep on moving.

ANGELA:

Keep on going, keep on going.

Now listen, what an amazing show, Dani and I really, really appreciate you taking the time out over in the United States to join us today. And for those listening it would be great if you took a moment to reflect on how you are or aren’t being positively present in your life. And think about it, what Dani said, what’s one simple change you can make for yourself that would get you one step closer to being positively present.

My team and I will also be putting together the whole transcript for this episode at www.angelahenderson.com.au and of course, I cover all sorts of business related and life topics inside my Facebook group, The Australian Business Collaborative which has over three thousand businesses. So, make sure you join the community, as I’d love to see you in there.

But for now, have a wonderful day, no matter where you are in the world. This is Ange and Dani, over and out. Have a great day, everyone.

Thanks for listening to the Business and Life Conversations podcast with Angela Henderson, Living a Positively Present Life. www.angelahenderson.com.au.

Angel Henderson Consulting

​​Founder of the highly successful online store Finlee and Me, Angela taps into the decade's worth of knowledge of how to grow a thriving enterprise and pours it into her business consulting clients. As a business consultant, she partners with start up and small businesses to grow their brands through hands on support, ensuring foundations are laid in order to leverage growth. Her skills were honed at the helm of Finlee and Me, where she learned everything from branding, PR, sales funnels, email marketing, website, copy, SEO and more. She knows what it truly takes to have a strong brand, consistence sales, steady growth and over all dedication. Angela has been featured in the media including Talking Lifestyle with Ed Phillips and David Koch, Inside Small Business and on numerous Australia and International podcasts.

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