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Chasing the Bright Side: Embrace Optimism, Activate Your Purpose, and Write Your Own Story

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One flicker of hope. That's all it takes to catapult yourself into the life you’ve always imagined. Join entrepreneur and bestselling author Jess Ekstrom as she shares her journey to creating good in the world while fulfilling her own dreams -- and teaches you how to do the same.

Do you have dreams for yourself and the world that are tucked away in your box of somedays? What would happen if today was the day you opened the box? And what if that box was the key to a better tomorrow?

In?Chasing the Bright Side, Jess Ekstrom shares her own inspirational story of how optimism helped her overcome multiple challenges, and the dynamic ways her mindset propelled her as a young entrepreneur, international speaker, and philanthropist.??

Jess teaches us that success is not born out of skill, school, where we're from, who we know, or what we scored on the SAT. None of us were born?ready, but we are born with something more important than skills. We're born with optimism -- the initial seed for success. Optimism fuels the belief that you can be the one to create the good the world needs. But you've got to hone it, practice it, and choose to live?from?it.

Chasing the Bright Side will give you the practical tools and encouragement you need to:

Embrace the life-changing power of optimism
Activate your unique purpose
Write your own story
Jess's story is sure to inspire you to start Chasing the Bright Side -- right where you are.

Praise for Chasing the Bright Side:

"Chasing the Bright Side is essential reading for anyone facing a challenge, in work or in life. With emotion, humility, and humor (and some amazing stories), Jess Ekstrom not only demonstrates how anyone with a dream can eventually persevere, but also shows by example how we all can tap into the passion to do so. It's the book I wish I had read before starting my own entrepreneurial journey, but luckily it's not too late for everyone else. It's a page-turner that you won't be able to put down until you've finished but holds lessons that will reveal themselves to you for a lifetime."

--Marc Randolph, Netflix cofounder and first CEO

224 pages, Hardcover

Published November 5, 2019

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About the author

Jess Ekstrom

3 books96 followers
Jess is the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope, a company she started as a junior in college in 2012. For every headband sold, a headband is given to a child with cancer. The company has been featured on the TODAY Show, Vanity Fair, Seventeen, Good Morning America and more. But more importantly, they've donated over half a million headbands to every children's hospital in the United States and 15 countries. Jess is also a professional speaker and author of Chasing the Bright Side. She’s currently living and traveling in an Airstream with her husband, Jake, and standard poodle, Ollie.

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625 (56%)
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283 (25%)
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151 (13%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 345 reviews
Profile Image for Ell.
459 reviews53 followers
May 4, 2019
From the creator of Headbands of Hope for children with cancer comes this delightful book on optimism. Chasing The Bright Side is more than an ode to bright-sided mantras. Optimism is, in the author’s words, “about understanding that we can’t control all of our experiences, but we can control what they mean to us and the story they write for us.”

Optimism and the stories we write for ourselves are inextricable linked. Optimism is powerful. It can form our beliefs, guide our behaviors and change our stories. And when we change our stories, we create opportunity…opportunity to develop, to grow, to dare, to become. We create the opportunity to reject stagnancy and anxiety.

Written in an engaging, satirical yet informative manner, Chasing The Bright Side is insightful and refreshing. Young adults will especially enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Anneke Alnatour.
885 reviews8 followers
February 9, 2020
Sooo, I am a picky self help/motivational book reader. Or better said: I love Brene Brown, who does some real break through work.

I did not really hate this one, unlike Rachel Hollis' work, but once again, there wasn't really anything new in this either. I was actually going to give it a full 2 stars, until I came across her example of helping a homeless person by doing shopping for him, and being annoyed with the fact that he preferred wheat bread. WHEAT bread, as she writes.

And why the heck not. Why should he accept whatever you think is best for him? Why do you think he has not enough agency to determine what he'd like to eat or not? Why not let him do his shopping for himself?

And why do we always determine success by being on TV? Or celebrity involvement? I think I am pretty successful, but hardly anybody ever heard of me! Doesn't bother me one bit.

Just leaving that here too.
Profile Image for Jenny.
459 reviews9 followers
August 31, 2019
This book is encouraging without being cheesy. Jess writes in a conversational style, sharing her real life experiences in a way that helps us connect with her message and not feel as if we are being lectured to. Jess lets us in on her biggest failures, most embarrassing moments, and major fears. Showing us how optimism can help fuel the fire and keep us going in the worst of times, Jess encourages us not just to dream, but to put those dreams into action and never stop seeing the possibilities that lay before us. She encourages us to see failures not as dead ends, but simply as an opportunity to learn and grow. There are a lot of books in this genre recently, and while it wasn't my favorite I've read along this same vein, it was pleasant and encouraging, and definitely a more enjoyable reading experience than others that have tried to be encouraging and failed at it. Jess is honest and resilient, and I enjoyed hearing her story.

*Thank you to Thomas Nelson publishing for sending me an advanced copy of this book.*
Profile Image for Donna.
3,903 reviews20 followers
August 18, 2020
I loved listening to this audio. I didn't know who the author was or anything about her business before picking this up. I'm not sure how this ended up in my audio library, but I'm so glad it did. What a complete breath of fresh air this author is. I am already planning on listening to this again on my next day off.

I enjoyed her humor and her way with words. She is so positive and that is a message everyone needs to hear. I also liked the way she walked to her own beat and how completely fine she was with that ..... without all the second guessing. I also want to buy 2 copies of this and give them to my girls to read. I think there is a lot of useful information for them in this. 5 whopping stars for this one.

I still liked this the second time around.
March 2, 2023
Very quick and lighthearted read. I finished it in 2 sittings. I was quick to judge a book by it’s cover + the author … I didn’t really know how I was going to relate to this book. But I was pleasantly surprised!

Jess offers a fresh perspective and spin to your average self help book. Her optimistic and warm approach feels like you are getting advice from an older Millennial sister who has a big Live Laugh Love sign in her home. And honestly… I’m into it!! Through this book Jess has helped me redefine optimism and positivity and has transformed the shame/guilt I felt about it into something I am proud of and can embrace.
Profile Image for June.
611 reviews20 followers
August 19, 2019
This book covers a lot of the same ground that many positive-thinking self-help books do, but the author has some interesting stories to share. In particular, the relative she called "Uncle Bernie" became infamous when he stole away the wealth of many high-profile victims as well as Jess's family: Bernie Madoff. Her family was forced to rebuild their lives, and Jess took a path that involved working at Disney, getting involved with the Make-A-Wish foundation, and eventually starting her own charitable venture, Headbands of Hope.
Profile Image for Addie Yoder.
628 reviews47 followers
October 28, 2019
I have read a ton of books about women who struggled, built a business, over came hard times and wanted to share their tips and stories. This one is a little special. I went into it expecting the same thing I have read over and over. Don't get me wrong, those stories are all great, but the are pretty similar. Jess put her story in perspective of optimism and the ways that we can control our mindset and perspective and actions in a totally new way. She recognizes the challenges. She doesn't insist that we just get up earlier or work later to make it happen. She is real and honest but does that with an upbeat outlook that is totally contagious.

For readers who need a pick me up and feel like they have tried everything or the reader who thinks they have heard it all, this is a great switch. Its still light and easy to read without being pushy or preachy.

Thanks to the author and Harper Collins for letting me read and review!
Profile Image for Laura.
229 reviews30 followers
October 3, 2019
This lovely, optimistic book really got under my pessimistic skin--and in all the right ways.

As someone who quite literally sees the bad in everything (I’m working on it) a small part of me wants to instantly check out at the mention of bright sides and unyielding optimism. I’d just as soon go back to the next book on my to-read list that undoubtedly involves an unsolved murder.

But, like I said, I’m working on it. And, with Chasing the Bright Side, it was easy to get lost in Jess Ekstrom’s world. The pages just kept turning, and I wasn’t rolling my eyes because it wasn’t preachy or belittling, instead it was inspiring and hopeful--and funny, like genuinely laugh out loud funny.

Chasing the Bright Side is like taking a peak behind the curtain, but instead of seeing a disappointing little man from Oz, you find a resilient, resourceful woman happy to give you some tips on how to write your own story and really “be the good.” For yourself, your family, the world. And there’s not a single bad thing this pessimist can think to say about that.
10 reviews
September 27, 2019
Settled in for a cozy Saturday night with this good book. Jess Ekstrom’s insights on how embracing optimism and activating your purpose can help you write your own story was inspiring. Chapter 8 of Chasing the Bright Side, is by far my favorite.

“We will never be able to walk into a new experience being totally prepared and knowing everything there is to know, so we need to feel tall enough even when we don’t have all the answers.”

The struggle is real. You know how to tread water but you’re still too afraid to jump off the diving board because you can’t clearly see all the way to the bottom. But as the author says, “sometimes the main difference between the people who make it and the ones who don’t is just the courage to begin where you are.” Begin today and read Chasing the Bright Side!
Profile Image for Kelli Panique.
35 reviews12 followers
October 22, 2019
If you could change the voice in your head to a different voice like you do on an app on your phone, I would highly suggest changing it to Jess Ekstorm's voice. Her positivity is contagious and empowering. Chasing the Bright Side is, of course, about optimism, but not a put-on-the-rose-colored-glasses-and-everything-will-be-okay optimism. This is optimism in the face of struggle, disappointments, and naysayers. It's about trying to figure out life/business/relationships as you go and choosing to move forward when things don't go the way you anticipated. Jess' book is the fan to the flame of the dream you didn't think you should dare to dream. If you need some positivity in your life (and who doesn't?), I highly recommend this book. In fact, get two copies so you can tear out all the inspiring quotes to wallpaper your house.
1 review
September 27, 2019
I'm a big Jess Eckstrom fan. She has a powerful message of optimism and hope. Chasing the Bright Side is a fun read that takes you on the adventure of Jess' life. It's inspiring. I love how she finds the positive spin on every tough situation she's walked through and is able to articulate the lessons and how one thing led to the other. It's a great read that will uplift you and challenge you to find the bright side in everything.
Profile Image for Hannah.
1 review1 follower
September 28, 2019
I started this book and I was hooked immediately! Jess’ conversational style of writing feels like she’s there with you. She is real and honest and FUNNY, and tells you the things you need to hear in a way that makes you excited to hear them. Highly recommended!
2 reviews1 follower
November 21, 2019
Memoirs of a successful millennial. Braggadocio and bravado overtake the depressing nature of her storytelling. Twenty percent helpful and inspiring. Eighty percent entitlement describing college as “low lying fruit”.
Profile Image for Guinevere de la Mare.
Author 2 books73 followers
March 22, 2020
Listened to the audiobook and it was good in a motivational podcast kind of way. Not ground-breaking but solid enough advice to stay positive and go after your dreams and believe in yourself and you can do it!
Profile Image for Shannon.
1 review
October 26, 2019
Personal development books are my JAM, and I can’t wait for this one! I just listened to a sneak preview of the first chapter of the audiobook and I can’t wait to hear/read the rest.
Profile Image for hallie bertling.
500 reviews26 followers
March 15, 2021
the moral of jess' story and 200-page pep*talk:

"we can stop attaching our confidence to what skills or knowledge we know, and instead attach it to what we know we can do. because if it's meaningful enough, you bet your booty we will figure it out.
.... in order for us to have a chance at making a dent on the universe, we have to be optimistic enough to see something better and confident enough to just begin."

an easy, enjoyable read full of great quips and quotes.
fully conversational and entertaining, it shares the ups and downs and what kept the author going as she started "headbands of hope" as a college student (for each headband purchased, she donates one to a children's cancer hospital). the scoffing of business professors, losing $10,000 on her first manufacturing venture (eep!), trade show disasters, and more-- she shares the HONEST reality of how being an entrepreneur-- and an entrepreneur with a mission-- isn't always sunshine and rainbows. but it's the WHY that keeps us going.

full of great advice, particularly for startups and nonprofits, she's a funny gal and many many pages of my copy are marked up in pink glitter highlighter. :)

7 reviews
March 27, 2022
Not only are Jess Ekstrom and her company Headbands of Hope inspiring but I love that she took the time to write a book to inspire others with her positivity! I have no desire to be an entrepreneur but I loved reading about her history and outlook on life and did walk away with so many insights to help me with mine. I really enjoyed her witty writing style and am very encouraged by the purpose of her business and desires to help others. The world needs more Jess Ekstroms!
Profile Image for Emily Mitch.
37 reviews2 followers
September 4, 2020
Loved this quick read! I read a little bit over breakfast each day, and it served as a quick confidence boost every morning. Funny without being overly cheesy, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the self-help genre, stories about female authors/entrepreneurs, or anyone who has an idea they want to pursue but need a little encouragement to get started!
Profile Image for Mandy.
102 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2021
One of the best self- improvement books I’ve read in a while! And I read a lot! I listened to the audio version with the author reading for the audience. Well done, great stories, relatable, inspiring words and great calls to action. I literally took 8 pages of notes! Would love to meet the author or see her speaking. Great work!
Profile Image for Avery.
22 reviews17 followers
May 28, 2020
I adored every word, every second, every page of this book. I read it while listening to the audio so I could highlight things, and I ended up giving up on the highlighting, or I would just highlight the whole book. Jess Ekstrom is so sincere, funny, transparent, vulnerable, and vibrant, and it shows through every word.

It's honestly hard to encompass what all this book is in a review. It's definitely not your "toxic positivity" guidebook, and it's not a woo-woo "the universe needs you" kind of deal either.

Chasing the Bright Side is all about real situations. It's about finding meaning. It's about dancing in the rain. It's a masterclass in resourcefulness.

But it's also forgiving. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to have hard days. It's impossible to be perfect and happy and fulfilled all the time. This is a book that makes your bright days brighter and your dark days a little less lonely.

It's so warm, down to earth, and written by an actual person. (If you don't read a lot of personal development, you might not understand that, but sometimes it gets... weird.) Jess actually reads the book herself for the audiobook, and it's such a treat.

Whether you enjoy personal development or not, I feel like everyone should read this book. I'm sure I'll re-read it for years to come (and I don't re-read books). It's like reading sunshine. Seriously. I'm so grateful to have this book in my toolkit for whenever I need to remember what's really important in life.
Profile Image for Maggie Kane.
3 reviews8 followers
October 1, 2019
Ya'll, order this book TODAY. I am not kidding you, hands down the best book I've read in a long long long time. I not only cried and laughed the whole entire way through but it was more than that. I felt I knew Jess throughout the book. It was similar to having a conversation with her and boy is that the coolest thing. You don't see this in many authors. Jess has a way of relating to people (all people, seriously) in her words which is extremely rare. I felt how genuine, authentic, and raw she was being--much of how we all should live our lives. I could see myself and my life in her words. She inspired me to open myself up to people, my purpose, and to begin writing my story knowing it is not going to be perfect ever. Not to mention, her stories just make us all feel more normal and laugh at things that happen in our life that we have no control over. She is REAL. She is YOU! Order this book, you won't regret it! It is also just freaking hilarious and will keep you laughing on each page.
Profile Image for Janice Starr.
102 reviews4 followers
December 14, 2019
I really enjoyed Jess Ekstrom’s book. She does a fabulous job in making you want to turn the page and read more. Her suggestions and thoughts on how to “rethink” some of the things you might be doing. It very self-reflecting. She make you have either more appreciation for what you have, or try harder to get what you want (mostly intrinsic). Her book did not disappoint. Her cause is amazing and how it all started. My admiration for her and what she does for others will hopefully be contagious to all!
Profile Image for KellySue.
16 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2020
This was such a fun read and at the same time inspirational.
Jess is super girl-next-door, relatable and hilarious.
And she gives so many real-life stories that you don't really have any excuses anymore to not go out there and do the thing, whatever it might be for you!

Thanks, Jess, for sharing your story & inspiring us to do the same!

September 30, 2019
Obsessed with this book! Jess is real, raw, and funny. It's nice to read a book where the author is so honest and humble, while being an incredibly successful entrepreneur. 5 stars!
Profile Image for Shawn.
Author 10 books240 followers
May 17, 2021
Have you ever read a book so inspirational and relatable that you wish you had written it yourself? That's how deeply I felt every word in Chasing the Bright Side.

Jess Ekstrom manages to take her experiences and use them to connect to her readers in their own journey of growth and dream chasing. So many times I found myself so inspired in fact, that I put the book down and got to work on marketing plans or business models of my own. How could I grow more, challenge myself more, test my own comfort zone and limits more?!

As a self-published author, it's easy to forget how big your accomplishment is, because to the world you're a small fish. The fact is, when you're a self-published author, you're doing, learning, and teaching yourself more skills than a traditionally published one. You're making mistakes in your formatting. You're editing isn't up to professional standards. You totally forgot to wrap that secondary plot point up with a clean little bow and not leave readers guessing. But, whatever you're not doing right, you're doing it all on your own most of the time, and that's no small thing. Plenty of people have taken rejection from traditional publishers or literary agents and said, well, looks like that's the end off the road for me. I clearly don't deserve the chance to prove myself. What I have to offer is trash and I'm not worthy of outside recognition for it.

This book, for me, was the delivery of a complete opposite message. This book said, you're tall enough to ride this ride. You've earned your place in the game, and you can do this. Don't be afraid to be ignored, turned down, or negatively received. All of that is better than standing still in another person's impression of what you've achieved.

I bought this book because I suspected it was a good time to sprinkle some positivity into my life. And boy was I right! It has been eight years since I last published a novel. My recently published novel The River House was sparked by my mother's unexpected passing in April 2020, a time where my personal grief was overshadowed by a loss of normalcy and security that the whole world mourned together. It's a literary achievement for me that means so much more than just getting my name as an author out there. This novel mended my soul. So, needless to say, I was terrified to trust such a creation in the hands of critics. Or worse, people who would choose not to bother reading it at all because of who I am, or more accurately, who I'm not.

Whatever your dreams are, whatever stage you're at, whatever your fears or doubts may be...you've got this, and you've got to get this book, because Jess sums this very mantra up so well, providing such rich and raw examples as to WHY you've got this, because she too has been in the position of believing otherwise. She proves to the world that believing in your vision IS enough, and eventually they will see it too, but only you can deliver your gift to the world, so don't give up, and keep chasing the bright side.
December 21, 2021
The best way I can describe this book is like a motivational diary for the author. It’s nothing too spectacular and to be quite honest it feels as though it’s been done before? Maybe I’m reading way too many self help books. I find myself often drifting away from the book onto other things and then coming back. Which is nice because I don’t necessarily have to remember everything in particular that was mentioned.

It takes on a storytelling theme from when the author was a young child, it offers a frame of reference to where she was in life and the struggles that she and her family went through. Then it moves on to her taking opportunities she never would have thought about taking. It’s an easy read, one that I quite like. The way that Jess somehow manages to bring her readers into the interaction she has with the children is absolutely beautiful. Every time she would introduce a child I would quickly become attached to that child and pray that Jess wouldn’t tell us whether the child passed. Everytime Jess did I felt my heart break so much that her coaching and how she dealt with it was something that I was going through with her. She managed to allow the reader to create such an incredible bond with the children and a small glimpse into the happiness that she would bring them that you yourself felt like you were there with them.

If I am being honest though, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend or give it to others, only because I find that it is a time and place novel. Meaning that the reader needs to be in the right time and their mental state needs to be in the right place to hear this. If you were to give this to a person who is way way down in the dumps and was constantly negative, they would either quickly throw the book to the side and never reach for it again, or not learn any of the lessons that Jess has to offer. You would almost need to give this book when the person is slowly coming out of their depression and when they are looking for anything to grasp onto.

Her self help storytelling is just a smidge different than the others that I have read. She doesn’t go on particularly long tangents, and the sections and chapters flow fairly effervescently. Is it repetitive? Somewhat, but then again all self-help books are in a sense because the author is trying to get a point across, but with Ekstrom’s writing technique, I didn’t particularly feel like this was being shoved down my throat like a particular book I read that I absolutely hated.

Instead her lessons are quite digestible and short. Great job!
Profile Image for Katrina.
9 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2020
It's up to you to write your story and no one else’s.

I discovered Jess Ekstrom via another creative person I follow on IG who told us how fresh and fab Jess Ekstrom’s book was. I was one of the lucky ones who got to view her Brighter Side Conference and learned more about her passion, work and story. Then a few weeks later I received her book. I devoured the first 7 chapters in one night! It was so intriguing not only reading how her company, Headbands for Hope, got started when she was in college. What kept me reading was her transparency of the ups and downs of learning along the way. Most people when they write a book after they have become successful or popular just write on “Yes, this is my wonderful business and look at me!” Not Jess. She lets you into her life to show you around so you would get a better picture of where she came from and what fueled her passion of starting this company.
I like how she put in quotes from this book between the chapters that would be great to put up on your quote board. This book was her story and you were along for the ride. At the beginning of the chapters she puts the perfect quote that matches the theme of the chapter. At the end, each chapter she writes a “take it or leave it”. This is a brilliant way of getting you to just think about what you just read.
Chapter 12 “The Struggle Is Worth It” stuck out the most for me.
“Optimism has the connotation of being all about happiness. But truly, optimism is most important when things are tough. It’s okay to recognize moments for what they are: sad, disappointing, tough, or hard.”
Like Jess I have had my share of dark moments through my life and it was great to see how she viewed those moments and were able to use optimism to turn them into something that took her the next step in her story.
Her story started with headbands. Mine is just now starting with art. What will be your story?
Displaying 1 - 30 of 345 reviews

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