“Your preciousness lies in your essence.” – Zhuangzi

Like many of you, as 2019 comes to a close I am taking time to reflect on this past year and plan for the new year. For me, this assessment comes with specific words. Each year I pick a word of the year, a word that embodies my intention for how to live and show up in the coming year, a word that I can use to remind myself of what is important and reset when life feels a little misaligned, a word that helps me make decisions and stay grounded.

Essence. My word for 2020 is all about being. Being fully and completely who I am, and allowing myself to simply be.

“We have a tendency to think in terms of doing and not in terms of being. We think that when we are not doing anything, we are wasting our time. But that is not true. Our time is first of all for us to be. To be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And that is what the world needs most.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Arriving at essence as my word for 2020 came directly from reflecting on my word of 2019 – ease. My intention for 2019 was to live with more ease, to feel ease in my day to day life. As the year comes to a close, I feel like I’ve made some progress but this is definitely something I am still striving for. In reflecting on my year of ease, what I realized is that I was constantly striving, always doing, defaulting to action. I struggled, still struggle honestly, to allow myself to just be. In focusing on ease, my energy was around making the doing easier, and what came to light is that the doing will not become any easier until I am willing and able to embrace the being.


If you’ve been following along on my journey for any period of time, you know that I am an intense, driven, type A planner that is always working towards something. I have goals and objectives a mile long, intentions to make the most of every single experience and every single moment, and my way of accomplishing that has been by doing. Yes, I meditate and take vacations and do things that seem like slowing down, but even in those things I have attached an action, a checklist, a goal to be accomplished. So to be… just simply be… that realization has been a bit harder to for me to fully embrace.

The thing is, I really thought I had learned this lesson already. I wrote a prior blog post (you can check it out here: https://www.davine.com/from-do-more-to-be-more/), and subsequently a chapter in my book The Optimist’s Manifesto, about being and how to live by a to-be list instead of a to-do list. I still love, and absolutely advocate, for a to-be list and encourage everyone to write their own. What I’ve since realized though is that even in my to-be list I was focusing my energy on who I want to be and I wasn’t embracing who I am.

This may seem nuanced, and in many ways it is, but it’s an important distinction. Unless we embrace who we are at our core, the essence of our being, we are always going to be putting energy into doing and becoming, instead of reveling in just being alive and joyful. And I don’t know about you, but reveling in being alive, in allowing myself to be simply joyful, that sounds pretty freaking amazing!

I’m at the beginning of my journey on essence, the start of my year on being, and I invite you to join me on this journey – to take time to identify, embrace, and celebrate your essence.

For me, the first part of my essence journey has been the identifying phase. I’ve asked respected clients, trusted friends, and dear mentors to share their perspective on who I am and how I show up in the world. I’ve taken time to journal and reflect on what I consider to be my core essence, the essential traits that are inseparable from my being. And I’ve allowed myself to see the light and dark sides of my essence – because there are light and dark sides to all of us. For me, these are some of the words and phrases that have come up as I’ve dove into my essence: empathy, gravitas, whimsy, intentionality, unexpectedness, intensity, curiosity, compassion, strength, no kerfuffle, trust. It’s been fun and enlightening to see the themes that have come up as I explore my own essence, and it’s been freeing to embrace my true being (the good, bad, and sometimes ugly!)

While this focus on essence is part of my personal journey, it is also going to impact our optimistic focus here at Davine. The Optimist’s Manifesto, and many of our blog posts in 2019, were focused on our best tips for living more optimistically. Again, this had a strong emphasis on doing. In 2020, I am excited to highlight more of the essence of optimism. I see, time and time again, that optimism manifests itself in our lives in so many incredible and beautiful ways. Many people who don’t consider themselves optimistic actually do carry the essence of optimism within them, and bring that optimism into the world, so I want to illuminate and celebrate the optimism that already exists all around us, in all it’s forms. So this year we’ll be focused on things like optimism as resiliency, hope, connection, presence, and so much more!

Click to tweet: Many people who don’t consider themselves optimistic actually do carry the essence of optimism within them, and bring that optimism into the world, so I want to illuminate and celebrate the optimism that already exists all around us, in all it’s forms.

As always, thank you for joining me on this journey. I’d love for this to be a conversation, a dialogue, as we journey together – so drop me a note via e-mailing hello@davine.com, Facebook, or Instagram, and let me know what you think about this theme of essence, of a year of being, and what that means to you.

“If the essence of my being has caused a smile upon your face or a touch of joy within your heart, then in living I have made my mark.” Thomas L. Odem Jr.

Wishing you a lovely 2020 of optimistically embracing your essence.

With Love and Optimism,