Gratitude improves optimism, increases positive emotions, reduces stress and delivers many more positive results. All you need to do is think about your own things for which you are grateful, do it on a regular basis, and you will be happier.
Expressing our gratitude is an activity that increases our happiness levels by over 25%; gives us higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress; gives us better sleep quality and more energy; and it is one of the more effective ways of coping with disease, disability and even death. People who keep gratitude lists make progress toward completing important individual goals such as academic, interpersonal and health-based, according to research by Robert Emmons.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Establish a daily habit of recalling and writing ordinary events that happened to you today, the valuable people in your life and what they contribute to you. Spend the day looking for people, incidents, events, and qualities that you enjoy and that support your life. Look for the gifts, grace, benefits and good things in your life.
1. Think and recall throughout the day the good things happening…
2. Write at least three things of gratitude toward the end of the day.
Share Gratitude with your Family
1. Have your family share at dinner three things that happened to each of you that were good or things for which you are grateful
2. Have our children recall and speak gratitude when going to bed
3. Share gratitude blessings with your spouse at the end of the day
4. Make Thanksgiving a holiday of super big thanks all around the table
Write letters of gratitude
1. Write thank you notes for gifts, events and special thoughtful acts
2. Write letters of gratitude to people who have improved or touched your life – teachers, friends, family members, old friends, former spouses, etc.
3. Write birthday letters sharing about the person’s qualities and good acts
Think of ways you can see the challenges of life as a gift and then how you can express your gratitude.
We all have done things we don’t feel good about - things we wish we had not done. We also hold on to acts others do that have hurt or angered us. We have a choice to carry these burdens around with us or do what my favorite monk in literature did, “leave them at the river.” Let go of your guilt, judgements, hurts and anger. Do the loving act and forgive!
It is important to forgive yourself the mistakes you have made and the things you have done that have been most hurtful to others. By writing them you give yourself the gift of making your load lighter as you attempt to experience more happiness.
It is a good thing to forgive people who have done things that have been hurtful to you. It allows you to move on past that incident or wrong and be in present time without bitterness or anger in your heart. Forgiveness is for you, not the other person.
This is a simple exercise. Either take out your journal or sit at your computer and start writing:
1. These are things I have thought, said or done for which I want forgiveness or for which I want to forgive myself.
2. These are things others have said or done that I want to forgive, clearing me of all negative feelings.
After writing the items, say aloud you forgive yourself and you forgive others. Ask for forgiveness and imagine being your perfect spiritual or higher self, understanding, accepting and loving yourself. Imagine your parents doing the same. And sense the forgiveness of God or the creative force of the universe. Then again say aloud your forgive yourself and you forgive others who harmed you.
Sometimes it is important to share these things with your clergy, a therapist or a trusted friend. Receiving acceptance and feeling the caring or love of another makes it easier to move into forgiveness and let go of the negative feelings.
Life gets better and well being is strengthened when you regularly clear and forgive these actions of yours and others. Feeling gratitude after forgiveness helps solidify the release of negative emotions.
How do you make sense out of wanting to do something but not doing it? What can you do to get unstuck? How can you stop sabotaging your success? We all have goals and dreams we want to accomplish, but often we do not. Some people seem to just sail through with success after success! How do they do it?
Getting yourself unstuck requires motivation, a certain awareness, and discipline.
I have a dear friend who has wanted to write a story about his aunt for a couple of decades or so. After enough avoidance and busyness, focusing on other business ideas and even start-ups, he decided he had enough failure and wanted to see some success. He had to dig down to find his motivation - the joy of having his children and best friends think highly of him. Then he had to get his awareness up to his mind in 2009. He had failed at enough great ideas - just thinking and talking about them. Now he wanted to put a great idea into action. Finally finding enough self esteem and confidence, he started to write. And what a beautiful writer he is! Now it’s time for the discipline. Every weekend he is creating the time to write.
He finally got down to his negative core beliefs and worked trough the stages of change to take action. You’ll hear about the book when it is finished! Check back in about a year.
Look at some of the negative beliefs you have that are self-limiting or that sabotage your ability to be your very best. Sometimes we refer to these beliefs as negative self-talk or negative tapes in our heads. They are “gremlins”. These are the things we believe that hold us back or prevent us from being authentic and healthy. Some examples might be: I have to be perfect; I can’t make a mistake; I am not smart enough; I can’t do it; If I am successful I will have to be accountable; Money is the root of all evil; etc.
Find some of your self-defeating beliefs and write them. Using all the enthusiasm you have, write the opposite, motivating, positive belief about yourself. Spend the day thinking about and repeating inside your head these lovely affirmations of your authentic self. If you find the negative beliefs winning, keep working to prove the positive is true. Find the evidence and convince yourself of your greatness!
If you still have difficulties succeeding at your goals, do they line up with your values? If they do, read James Prochaska’s book, “Changing for Good” and get into the action stage to make your dreams come true.
When was the last time you received a truly lovely compliment? When was the last time you showed your appreciation in words to a loved one or a co-worker? The world needs more compliments, please start a positve pandemic…
Expressing positive things about another person is like giving them a gift. It says you recognize something special, unique or even just ordinary about them. By bringing it to their attention you are encouraging them to continue doing or being that positive way.
It is also important to tell them how it affects you. An example could go like this: “You called to tell me what you would like to do this evening. You are sensitive to my need to plan a little in advance and I appreciate that you are considering my preferences.”
Please give 3 compliments a day to anyone with whom you are living or spending a lot of time (spouse, children, co-workers, or friends).
Acts of kindness performed by all of us make the world a better place. It feels good to have someone let us in line at the grocery store or to have someone pickup the $20 bill we just dropped or, better yet, to have the waiter tell us of the $200 error we made in his tip. What are you doing to show your kindness to others? Giving and receiving, it feels so good!
Doing an act of kindness is one of the best things you can do for yourself and others. When you do something thoughtful or nice for another, the regard comes back to you in multiples. You help make a better world when you pick up trash that blows around your neighborhood. Your vacationing neighbor appreciates putting the newspapers and trash can out of site. The elderly woman at the doctor’s office is thankful for your holding the door and the elevator.
Your magnitude of loving and sense of happiness can grow exponentially if you do some acts of kindness as secrets. The secret act of giving can be enormously fun and fulfilling.
During the holidays we sometimes play “Secret Santa” to someone in the office and leave them small gifts like a special coffee from Starbucks or perform a small task without them knowing who is doing it. Why not be a Secret Pal all year long? I know a creative and big-hearted woman who secretly goes to a friend’s home and decorates the outside of it for every major holiday. She does it in the middle of the night so her friend never knows who the Secret Decorator is.
Take this challenge: do one act of kindness each work day this week, Monday through Friday.
If you are wanting to try another challenge, here it is: Select three things to do in the next month that are secrets from the receiver. Be a “Secret Pal” and do something for three different people where they cannot discover who you are. Good luck! Please share your stories with us if you’d like. We’d love to hear from you!
Stressed? Use laughter to lower stress hormones, boost immunity, and relax your muscles. Laughter reduces fear and anxiety while enhancing resilience. The bonus you receive from laughter is the bond you establish when you laugh with someone. Laughter is the free anti-aging prescription.
Stress is a normal part of life but sometimes we have too much, requiring us to call on our resilience to deal with it. Our response to stress is a complex series of hormones surging through our bodies, our sympathetic nervous system amps up, and the limbic brain goes into overdrive.
Stress causes heart attacks in men and reproductive problems in women. We narrow our focus and respond less to new ideas. We sleep less and argue more. Irritation and frustration are heightened while romance and sexual interest are lessened. So what are we to do?
Our resources and resilience are called out to the forefront. This is the time to use your resources to create positive emotions. We know from Barbara Fredrickson’s theory of “broaden and build” that positive emotions like joy, delight, lightness and amusement allow us to expand our thinking.
We know from many researchers in medicine and positive psychology that humor is a strength that diffuses the stress and allows us to manage it with easy success, returning us to a healthier state physically and psychologically.
The things you might do to reduce your stress include reading the comics, look up some of those silly emails we all receive, call a friend and ask them to help you laugh, watch a funny movie or listen to a comedy show. One of the easiest and most rewarding things to do is watch a baby and enjoy their amusement with life. Go to “You Tube” and watch funny videos to change your outlook and your chemistry in just a few minutes.
One of the main things to do to reduce your stress is to start laughing. Join a laughing yoga group or a laughing club. Without anyone else to depend on, just start laughing. Fake it until you make it and you will reduce your stress. Try it in the morning – just laugh, even if you don’t feel it. Keep laughing; try it for 5 minutes or 20. Even 1 minute is a stretch! If you have to prime your pump, think about Lucille Ball, a master of creating laughter. Try it now.
Laugh away your stress.
Time off to do nothing, have very few responsibilities, create a change of pace and scenery, these are all things we need for our body, mind and soul. Be nice to yourself and give yourself a vacation!
I’m being very nice to myself and going on vacation. If you need help doing this for yourself, call me at 702-242-4222 and leave a message. Please note I will not return the call until I am back. Enjoy life!
Be loving in all the relationships you have to make yourself feel happier and to be more satisfied in life. We’ll look a little at how I arrived at some of this thinking and later we’ll explore what you can do to improve all your relationships
Today I have been reading and reflecting on love. In thinking about love, I looked at our purpose in life, how to fulfill it, and how to be happy. That led me to this: Love is the answer to life. It is the only way to live. And its the only thing we have to do…
When I was ordained as a minister my spiritual teacher gave me a blessing that said to teach love. I have been wondering about the focus of my dissertation and the book I have been told and prompted to write for quite some time. I feel about ready to do so. It seems I should have put it all together, but, you know how sometimes it is difficult to see the forest for the trees? Well, I got lost in all the positive psychology research – necessary for a dissertation. I was advised by several advisers to write my own stuff. My way of doing things had to be in there. So, today it is coming together better than ever.
Learning and studying The Need for Positive Regard: A Contribution to Client - Centered Theory and understanding Unconditional Positive Regard from the man who coined the term was what my Masters studies were all about. And my life at that time was in large part learning about how to love, individuating, maturing, being in emotional control, understanding my core beliefs, being autonomous, and becoming a better person. I was mentored by a master who gave me the opportunities to develop my talent in helping others heal their conditional love and learn to love unconditionally in their personal and business lives.
The answers about how to have a better life and how to feel happier all comes from the life and teachings of Christ. I doubt that if the University of Chicago would have known, they probably would not have granted the first theoretical dissertation, in psychology and under Carl Rogers, for a theory that explained Christ’s life and ministry in theoretical constructs as the way to understanding how a human develops psychologically. But they did. Christ is the example: love unconditionally and you are the Christ consciousness we all have within us. We can do as many miracles and more. We simply have to put into practice loving attitudes and actions.
I studied Christ in Sunday school, in MYF, in college. My mother took me to attend all types of religious services as we learned about them together. Later my work took me to the depths of schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, alcohol and substance abuse, teen delinquency, psychopathology and sexual perpretration. I continued my quest. I studied Buddhism and A Course in Miracles, meditated, prayed, and read. Then I studied the ways of the saints and from all faiths, their religious experiences. I went on to study possession and exorcism. These were followed by spiritual practices and I became an ordained minister. With my father’s joy and my teacher’s ministerial blessing I began to “officially” teach love.
I added to my mission working with thousands of couples who were trying to love and struggling. I helped parents learning to deal with power while loving their teens. And I have worked with the worried wealthy and executives from around the world trying to create heart-oriented organizations and communities. We’ve been adding to their lessons on how to love in all relationships, partnerships and marriages, families, their work, their businesses, their communities. From governors, statesmen and CEOs to the homeless, I have been learning about love as I have helped myself and so many others. We have all improved our lives, careers, organizations, families, primary relationships, and all our loves.
We all live in our relationships. And it is in these relationships that we all grow and become the best people we can. This is our purpose and our job! When we send our children off to school, we tell them their job is to learn: to go to school and listen, do their homework, study, and get the best grades they are capable of getting. As time goes on we add to their curriculum to become involved with activities of their choice and we advise them on sports, music, service, clubs and talents. We tell them to become good friends and we help them learn about friendships as they socialize through all of their schooling. In our places of worship we teach our children about various moral values. We teach them by our own modeling throughout our lives and in vivo about it until we stop teaching them.
How much of all this teaching is about love? A lot of it is, although we may not label the class as Love 101. None of us attends a class called Love.
I’d like to pull together what I have figured out how to love and use love to create your happiness and well being. Once we have taken care of our basic needs of shelter, food, water and sex, we set about to fulfill our higher level needs. We pursue relationships and nurture those we like and love, we establish ourselves in engaging work, we master some interests, and bring meaning into our lives by the service we provide to others. The essence of our pursuits is to create more happiness and well being through pleasure, engagement, meaning, and relationships. So it is that we spend our lifetime in the pursuit of happiness. If we love all the people and esoteric things with which we have relationships, we increase our happiness and improve our well being. You can make yourself happier and the world better. It is our journey and our destiny.
Men feel underappreciated. They disconnect from their wives or partners. They become unhappy and angry. They have affairs. They leave us for other women. We have the power to change it. Read on women…
I have been listening to women’s complaints about men for 35 years, not counting the 30 years before I did it as a career. What have I learned from it?
Oh, my, so very much! Let’s start with what men need. Let’s add a little about what leads to an affair. Then we’ll top it off with how to get what you want from your man. This is for the women in my office this week with their many complaints. It’s also for the women with the same or similar complaints last month, last year, the last decade, the last century.
92% of men who cheat on their wives do so because they feel disconnected. Listen ladies. We tend to think of them as not knowing much about connection and that we are the experts. However, men feel undervalued and underappreciated. If you want his attention, his love, his fidelity, try acknowledging and praising what he does and who he is.
Remember in the beginning of your relationship how you saw all his wonderful qualities? And how simple it was to tell him about the good things you saw in him? Remember all the great praises about him you told your girlfriends? And your mother? You couldn’t see the red flags or anything wrong with him if you had your rose colored glasses off. But now, after several years of kids and chores, and busy lives, and forgotten events, and little help at home, and hurtful words, and yelling, and continuously escalating fights, and nights of headaches and exhaustion, ad nauseam, you can hardly think of the good things about him. You see and stay focused on his errors, mistakes, unkindness, bad habits, childhood issues not resolved, character flaws, the countless things only a wife knows. You are an expert at everything wrong with him.
Your man needs to win! You are making him feel like he’s losing in everything, no matter what he does. You know he has to win at work, at golf, at tennis, betting on his football teams, watching his teams on TV, whooping it up for his daughter’s soccer team and his son’s basketball team, his bridge game, being better than his partner, knowing more about movie stars than anyone at the party, making the world’s best martini, beating you home when you travel in two cars down different streets (sometimes they let us win), having his yard better than the neighbor’s, and on and on. He wants to win at everything.
What are you doing to help him feel he is winning at relationship? Or marriage? Or love? Or intimacy? Or sex? Or your happiness? Or as your hero? Your lover? Fatherhood? Are you helping him feel a winner with his aging parents? Or his warring sibling? Are you appreciating that he does, indeed, make the world’s best martini? And that he makes it for you when he knows you have had a very difficult day at work? Do you notice that he stops to pick up dinner when he knows you have been driving taxi for 4 hours? Or that he always makes the coffee before he goes to bed so it is there in the morning? How about the days he has your coffee (white chocolate mocha, nonfat, no whipped) sitting on the counter when you get up? Better yet, the times he delivers it to you in bed?
Do you remember how he woke you up that first New Year’s morning? Are you remembering the little things he does that add love, laughter and meaning to your life?
It is extremely important to appreciate your man about the little and the humongous things he is doing. Notice them, praise him, and thank him, And do it all the time. After centuries, our guys still go out and slay the modern day dragons. They drive long hours on the freeway. They get up early. They stay late. They work on weekends. They do side jobs. They do whatever it takes to support us and our families. (We might do the same thing, but this is what is wired in for them.) They carry the responsibility for financial support from the time they say, “I do” until their last breath. And even then, they see to it that we are all taken care of in the best way they can do it when they are gone. There are many details that go into their fulfilling this responsibility. We’ll look another time at some of those. Remember they are doing it for us. They might enjoy their work and love their career, but they are also doing it for us. When he brings home the toughest dragon, the largest buffalo, the biggest fish, and the best bonus, we need to declare him a winner and our very own personal hero. He’s the best! And we appreciate him! Celebrate his win!
Not only does your man carry the financial support banner, he also is trying to figure out how to support you emotionally. Now he’s into gathering berries and he doesn’t have much of a clue. We have to teach him the expertise that is wired into us. He’s not in first grade and he doesn’t have his doctoral. He walks on eggshells when he knows you are touchy, sensitive, out of sorts. He’s trying to figure out what will please you. He tries everything and you are still angry. You make a curt comment, roll your eyes, and breathe with disgust. Sometimes you blast him from out of nowhere. You are declaring him the loser, loser, loser. Loser at his own marriage. I’m not saying he doesn’t have some things to learn. But you aren’t going to get him to learn through your negativity, irritation, and declarations of his stupidity and failure.
Praise, praise, praise your man. You can’t give him too much, as long as it is genuine. You need to become an expert at saying and showing your appreciation. Do all that you can to keep him connected to you. Don’t push him away with the negatives. Pull him toward you with the positives. If you want him to be loving and kind, to stop a lot of his bad habits, to stop his anger, to pay attention to you, to not wander off with someone else who pays attention to him, to rekindle the old feelings you had before marriage, be kind to him and make him feel appreciated and valued – as a man and as your beloved.
This looks at how a small business owner eager for business in an economic recession decides to select a client and do the contract negotiations so he protects and takes good care of himself.
I have a number of coaching clients who have little experience in knowing how to select a client or engagement for their businesses. One particular client of mine who is a fairly new consultant described a man who was extremely opinionated about how he wanted to run an event. One of the top managers in the company seemed to be in opposition to the potential client about some of the systems and spoke about how certain IRS regulations were not being followed. The potential client was looking for an event planner for a wonderful event for women with breast cancer. The more my client spoke with him about the possibility of a contract, the more he appeared to need a good consultant to make changes from his vision, a consultant to work with the development director and/or public relations officer, or new managers to run the fund raising and public relations aspects of the business. The question for my client was if her potential client would let go of enough control to make the project worth her while. Or would this man be too difficult? Would she be able to have an influence on the legalities? Often in looking at a possible client one has to look at their ethics and values and whether or not they are a good fit for you.
Make a good needs assessment of the client’s organization. In this case example we looked at what the client said he wanted; we discussed the aspects of a needs assessment and what the other manager was saying verses the potential client. My client looked at her calendar to see how much time she had vs. what was being asked for and what she assessed she would need. She also explored her costs and how they could be put into the contract. I think it is very important to do a thorough needs assessment when deciding on a potential contract. The best way to do this is to have meetings and individual interviews with several levels of management in the organization. It might even take several rounds of meetings. Then you can look at your costs, your time, the value to the client, and how you want to make your presentation and recommendations. You might be investing a lot of your time just determining if you want this client or this engagement.
My business client decided to have another meeting with the organization to follow up on the needs assessment. She came back with additional questions about the company which led her to assess her own responsibilities, liabilities and normal business questions for her operation. Additionally she needed to explore the personalities with whom she and her staff would be working, the cost analysis , various contractual issues, and her schedule. It seemed that after a week of studying these issues, my client determined the biggest concern for her was the possible personality conflict that could arise and how to handle it. Often my clients run into this issue - it is quite common at all management levels. You want to determine, if you can, how it might affect the outcome of the engagement. The other large concern was the ethical or legal issues. This, she determined in the needs assessment, would be acceptable because the concerns were not founded. Sometimes a needs assessment will give you this. If it is a small company you may not be able to have confidence in the answers you are getting. Do your due diligence.
What else do you need to do while doing the needs assessment? Look at yourself and your company. Make sure you have looked at the things above - values, ethics, legalities, personality ease or difficulties, cost analysis, schedule, etc. Proceed cautiously. Be sure to check with your own staff, advisers, or coach and your inner knowing. Be sure to take good care of yourself in taking on an engagement. Determine how much you want this client, this engagement or scope of work, your level of competence in delivering the needs of the organization, how this will help you, and how it will effect your psychological well being as well as your bank balance. There is more than a financial bottom line. Because the economic environment is difficult for many small businesses today, look at how this one client would fit into your schedule for several months and how this contract could lead to a larger percentage of your business.
How do you think you handle yourself in client selection and contract negotiations?
This posting is a review of four relationship tips I’ve talked about this week: be kind to your partner, put your “Poor Me” stories in the closet and be positive, give compliments, and have fun and date regularly throughout life. To complete this series, at the suggestion of my friend Beverly Lane, I’ve shared how to apply all these tips to your life if you do not have a spouse or relationship partner.
This week we have talked about several important things to do to get your relationship on a successful and happy track. Be kind - a simple concept that can be difficult if you are feeling hurt or are fighting. Put your, “I’ve been wronged” stories in the closet. (Not permanently.) For now, try to think more positively and stop talking about the past hurts and errors. Focus on the positive in the relationship. Think about the wonderful things about your partner. While you are thinking about the positives, you can’t be thinking about the negative. Control your mind. Stop the critical parent that lives inside you. Focus on the good things about your partner and the relationship. Say these things aloud. Give your partner 3 compliments a day. Work up to 10. Become a master of 10 compliments a day. When it is common place and natural, you are living in bliss. Have fun together and go on a date weekly for the rest of your lives. Build up the positive experiences you have together and devote time to the relationship – just the two of you.
Have these mind sets, take these actions, and you’ll be headed in the right direction for a successful and happy relationship.
Now, let’s put a big twist on this series of relationship tips. My wise and delightful 83 year old friend Beverly Lane commented that single people not in a relationship can use these same ideas to make their lives better. So let’s look at how Bev and I thought you might do it.
Be Kind. A pretty easy translation: instead of applying it to your partner, just do it with everyone. Bev thought about her neighbors, the wonderful and caring hospice workers who make her life better, the people she connects with in the market, the bank teller, the people from the church who recently cleaned up her yard, her friends of many years, her siblings, her niece and nephew, and all the rest of the relationships throughout her lifetime. We even applied this to her thinking about her female friends in Manhattan during the 50’s when they were young professional women no one could beat for their fun and mischief!
Put your “Oh, Poor Me” stories in the closet and be positive. This is a great one! I think of all the stories I share with my girlfriends and how they’d like to hear fewer of them. I think I’ll limit them to 3 minutes or less. Then I will simply eliminate them from the conversation. I might need a few weeks to practice this one. Bev suggested I keep the humorous ones in my conversation. I think of all her stories about the Manhattan Gals and although there were many challenges, I never hear the negative in her reminiscing. In her well-lived 83 years, she just thinks positively. You never hear her complain. Even with death playing with her daily, she doesn’t see the glass half empty. In fact, Bev experiences life completely full. She won’t settle for half full. She talks about the birds and feeds them – for decades. She talks sweetly about the raccoons her neighbors bitterly complain about. She feeds them and gives them a home, accepting their damage as a normal consequence of life. She delights in her cats, never complaining about their problems or hair ball messes. Bev would never consider them messes! Instead, she reads about dna and occupies her mind with the wonder of the female heritage.
Be complimentary. Again, a simple translation for the single person. Give compliments to everyone throughout your day. Instead of focusing on your spouse or primary significant other, make the people in your sphere all your significant others and say complimentary things to them. I had lunch with my friend Delilah yesterday and her complimentary manner was extremely respectful to our waitress. I was most impressed with her ease and naturalness exhibiting gracious appreciation. She is like that. In addition, she teaches mangers and front line employees alike to respect the inner beauty of each individual’s character. Everyone who comes into Delilah’s purview feels full after an encounter, no matter how brief. Bev is quite similar in the ways she thanks people for their gifts to her, recognizing all with appreciation and love. My stepson Paul is naturally that way too. He is a role model for all of us in expressing recognition of the other person. He also is a master at expressing gratitude. His parents taught him very early to make this a normal part of relationship with others. And he has always been one of the happiest people I know. So, I don’t suggest 3 compliments a day. Emulate these 3 beautiful people in my life and make it a central aspect of your relating with all others in your life.
Have Fun and Date weekly for the rest of your life. For the individual who does not have a primary relationship, simply have fun and date all the people in your life. The closer they are, the more opportunities you can create for doing enjoyable activities on a regular basis. Tonight I am meeting a group of girlfriends for dinner. One I have known for 28 years, two for 22, and some for 3 to 10. We “date” each other – go to dinner, celebrate birthdays, graduations, promotions, etc. We visit each other in the hospital, take food to each other, literally take care of each other, manage personal affairs for each other when needed, and attend funerals. We know each others’ family members and have supported and loved each other through life’s challenges. Births, deaths, divorces, children’s life paths, parents’ transitions…We pack and move each other. Have garage sales. Dress up and attend charity events, see super stars on the Las Vegas Strip, attend church, holiday together, and welcome in many new years. We dance, we travel, we shop in many cities, learn what each other is learning about, work out sometimes together, try different sports and games, but we have not jumped out of a plane – any of us. We generously give time, creativity, fun, furniture and anything that is needed. We certainly don’t feel married to each other, and several have spouses, and new people enter the “group”, and others move away and later return. We are growing older and wiser together and always enjoy the new and developing aspects of each other. Sometimes there are two of us – any two – and sometimes 10. We have “girlfriend love stories” to fill a bookstore. We are the Las Vegas Gals and a lot like Bev’s Manhattan Gals.
If you don’t have a community of people in your life, start developing one. In the meantime, have fun and date all the friends, co-workers, and acquaintances you are interested in or curious about. Get busy connecting your unique personality with the same and different qualities of those people in your life. And create beautiful friendships.
Busy executives need to devote personal time to their marriage or primary relationship. Set aside one day each week to have fun together doing interesting activities which build up your savings account of pleasure and engagement. It is important to keep your couple relationship separate from the family relationship. Date once a week for life.
When you have started to make your primary relationship more loving, you will be demonstrating kindness, not talking about what is wrong, focusing on the positive things in your relationship, and being complimentary with each other. The other assignment I ask couples new to coaching and therapy to do is to date.
Have fun together. Date once a week. We have to build up your savings account of fun, pleasure, and having a good time together. Over the years and through difficult times, you may have really depleted the savings account. You build it up by spending time each week having fun together.
Do things you have never done before. Or do things you used to like doing together. Take risks and try things. Be curious and look into things that are available. Do everything that is available in your town.
The overall idea is to have fun together. Jump out of a plane! Take a tennis lesson. Golf. Go bowling. Play Scrabble or other board games. Have a picnic. Take a hike in nature. The least important activities are going to the movies and going out for dinner. These count, but they are too typical. Go have fun. Go to the speedway and drive cars. Attend an event. Listen to a motivational speaker. Go to the symphony. Roast marshmallows in the back yard. Find a constellation. Go mushroom hunting. Cook a special meal together. Learn to tango together. Got the idea?
Plan one date a week and alternate who plans it. That way, both of you are initiating and trying to think of fun things to do together. You each have an opportunity to decide what might be fun and what you want to try. It is okay to get your assistant’s help, but make the decisions yourself. Some couples like to select one day each week for their date. It simplifies baby sitters, agendas, scheduled meetings, as well as other things. Don’t ignore this assignment. The busier you are with your career or business, the more you need to do this assignment.You ought to pay attention to your relationship one day a week for the rest of your lives…
When you’re thinking positively and you’re working to keep your inner critical parent quiet, you’re ready to begin complimenting your spouse or relationship partner on a regular basis. Give 3 compliments to your partner every day.
When couples start in coaching or therapy with me I always give them the same assignments: be kind, put your stories in the closet and think/act positive, and be complimentary. We have you thinking positively now. So your next step is to say these things aloud. I want you to think about the good things about your partner. Their good qualities. Their kind and loving behaviors, the cute and charming things about their personality. Then, tell them how wonderful they are!
Give your partner 3 compliments a day. Some couples can only start with one. But push yourself to do 3. This is what you want to put your energy into so that this becomes a normal and easy part of your day. You should be able to do 10 without thinking! When you do that, you are probably safe from divorce court.
You might need to look at the days’ activities as a way to notice your partner’s behaviors worth complimenting. Normal things like, “Thank you for making coffee for me this morning.” Or perhaps, “It was very nice of you to volunteer to pick up the kids today.” Or, “The way you handled the situation with the phone company was terrific. I appreciated that I didn’t have to do it and you did it with so much assertiveness. You straightened out the situation quickly and I felt a lot of respect for how you did it.”
In addition to the daily activity, look at the character traits, personality, interests, and actions that demonstrate values, social awareness, intelligence, talents, gifts, and unique qualities that make the person who they genuinely are. There is no limit to the positives you can see about this person if you open your mind and focus on the positives. You will feel more loving and more loved.
All you have to do is be complimentary. Think and say these beautiful things to your partner. You’ll be surprised how the love will flow between you if you make this a lifelong process…
When you are not having success in getting resolution to your problems, please put your stories in the closet until you learm some relationship strategies and communications skills. Begin to focus on the positives in your relationship, not the negatives.
In working with couples new in coaching or therapy, I ask them in the first week to be kind and to not talk about what is wrong. They have already proven they cannot talk about it and get resolution, or they wouldn’t be asking for help. So when you are not having success in getting resolution to your problems, please put your stories in the closet. I am not suggesting this for always. Just for the time being until you learn some relationship strategies and communications skills. When you know the skills, you can bring the stuff out of the closet and clean it up.
The more you think about what the other has done wrong, the more you are moving toward divorce court. Research tells us that couples who have more positive interactions stay together longer and are happier. If you don’t have positive interactions throughout your communications, you don’t have enough glue to stay together.
Focus on the positive. This is the second assignment I give to new couples in therapy. If you are thinking about the positive, saying it and acting on it, you will start to see more of it. You will be more aware. When you are feeling the positive regard transactions, you will feel loved. This means you must stop thinking about the things wrong. You must stop the internal dialogue of what is wrong. You need to stop the critical thinking. You have to stop saying the negatives. Put them in the closet and leave them there.
As much as you have to stop thinking, saying and feeling the negative, you must think, say and feel the positive. Start remembering all the good things about your partner. What are their superior qualities that set them apart, that made you want to be together? What are the cute, charming things the other does? What are some of the more important things you have shared together? What have you learned from each other? How have you helped each other? What are the deeper gifts you have given to each other? By being together, what have you gained?
This exercise is about you controlling your own mind. Don’t let your mind go to the negative thoughts. Push your mind to think about the positive qualities and behaviors of the other. When you find your mind on the negative, Stop! It is as simple as getting out of one chair and sitting in another. Get up and move! Do that with your mind. Get out of the negative chair and go sit in the positive chair. You decide if you want to be in heaven or hell. Get up and move. Change the focus. No one else can determine where you allow your mind to hang out. You are the only one who can decide to think about something nice, and that makes you feel good.
There are a number of things you can do to get your relationship on the right track, or make an adjustment to improve the intimacy in your relationship. The first thing to do is think and act in a kind manner.
There are a number of things you can do to get your relationship on the right track, or make an adjustment to improve the intimacy in your relationship. Every time I get a new couple in therapy I give them the same assignments. This week I will go through each of those assignments here. The couples’ stories are always different, but the underlying issues about commitment, intimacy and passion are usually similar.
To get to those issues we start with the couple sharing the stories of their hurt and anger. If you want, you could write yours. It will help get it out of your mind. It’s on the paper for now. If you are going to see a Marriage and Family Therapist, take the paper with you. Otherwise, just put it away.
When a couple is in trouble, they are usually focused on what is wrong with the other person. Of course, it helps for you to focus on what is wrong with you – because that is all you can change. However, that is not my topic today. But it is related. I want you to focus on being kind.
Be kind! That is the first assignment. It is so simple, but not always easy to do. You have to set aside your hurt and anger. More about that tomorrow. So, no focus on you being wronged. No focus on you being right. No focus on the other person being “bad.” No focus on the other’s mistakes or issues. Focus on you thinking and acting in a kind way.
Think about what the other has done that has been wonderful. Think about their generosity. The ways they have helped you. The thoughtful things they have done for you. Think about how loving the beginning of the relationship was. Think about the first things you told your best friend about him or her.
Clean up your own behavior! Be nice. Say something kind. Stop the snide, hurtful remarks. Stop the fighting. Stop the cold war. Don’t disagree. Be quiet! Stop, think something nice and say or do something kind. This is the person you claim to love. Well, act on that! You won’t get what you want by being nasty. You might get what you want by being kind.
Most of us want to be loved. You get love by being kind to others. Try it now. This week be kind and only kind.