5 Ways to Improve your Relationship

How is your relationship going between you and your partner/spouse/significant other? Are the coals of love, kindled long ago when you first both fell head over heals for each other, still burning bright and hot or have they become dim, dying embers that are on the brink of burning out?

No matter where you are in your relationship, there is always a need to stop and take stock of where your love for one another is.

Below is a list (by no means an exhaustive one at that) that will help stir up the coals and strengthen your relationship.

1. Put away your phone.

How do you feel when you want to talk to your partner but they seem more interested in checking out the latest cute kitten video on YouTube or busy texting their friends? It’s not great huh?

I have been guilty of doing this myself at dinner time and it irks my wife. I have apologised and repented and vowed not to use my phone while having dinner.

Surveys conducted by Baylor University show that using cellphones while spending time with each other can lead to a deterioration in relationships and even depression.

So, put away your phones. Set aside time just to be with each other without any sign of technology nearby and see your relationship blossom anew.

2. Don’t try and change your partner

We are not ideal beings. We are human and fallible and have faults. Once we accept that the easier it is to accept other people.

When you and your partner first met you fell in love because there was something there that attracted you to one another. You get married and then you start to see another side of each other that you didn’t know existed. A side that might irritate you. He cuts his toenails with your sewing scissors. She uses your shaver on her legs. These are small things, but annoying. You can talk to each other about them.

However, you might have an ideal of what you want your partner to become and try and mould them into this fictitious person only to be met with frustration and heated arguments.

Accept each other for who you are. Each of us are unique individuals. Celebrate diversity rather than ubiquity.

One final comment. If you find yourself in a verbally or physically abusive relationship then seek professional help. Don’t stay in it under an illusion that the person will change.

3.Forgive

Don’t hold grudges or remind your partner of the thing that they did wrong or failed to to do. Did they upset you? Did they hurt you? Inevitably every relationship is going to experience hurt between one another.

When your partner genuinely apologises to you, forgive them and let it go. It’s liberating for not only you but for your relationship. Unforgiveness only leads to bitterness and hatred and destruction of your relationship.

Forgive, let go and move forward.

4. Show gratitude

When was the last time you thanked your significant other? When someone says “Thank you” to you for something you did (it might have been something small) how did it make you feel?

Show appreciation to each other. Not every now and then. Not once in a blue moon. Show it EVERY DAY and see how your relationship will bloom.

5. Don’t focus on the negatives.

If we’re honest enough with ourselves we realise that we all make mistakes. We aren’t perfect. When you always have someone pointing out the things you do wrong you will get weary of the person pretty quickly.

You will always find what you are looking for and focused on. If you focus on the things that your partner does wrong, then you’ll soon find yourself heading on the highway to Splitsville. Focus on the positives and you’ll find yourself living in Pleasantville where you will love and adore each other.

Do these 5 things and see how your relationship strengthens and blooms.

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Rewire your brain

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It has been claimed that our brains are naturally wired for negativity. This isn’t so bad as it helps up become aware of dangers and threats that surround us. It is only when everything is seen in a negative light that it becomes maladaptive.

Here’s an experiment that you can try for yourself. If you do something wrong, what is/are the first thought(s) that enter into your mind? Are they positive or negative?

Another exercise you can do, to see which way your brain is wired, is to keep a “thought journal” for a week. You can keep it for longer if you want, a month would be ample time. At the end of your chosen period, make a list of all the positive and negative thoughts. Which category is greater?

If you find that you automatically think negatively, or that you have a greater ratio of negative thoughts to positive ones, then it is time to do some rewiring work.

Remember, not all negative thoughts are bad. It’s only when the negative thoughts have no real basis in reality that there is a problem. You need to be honest with yourself and ask how accurate your negative thinking is.

Just as there may be faulty wiring in a house, we also may discover that we possess “faulty wiring”. What happens if we neglect to deal with the faulty wiring we discover in a house? There is the risk that such wiring can cause a fire and the house is destroyed. Our metaphorical house is our health, well-being and our relationships. If we don’t deal with the faulty wiring in our thinking, we can end up burnt-out and our relationships destroyed.

If we find that our physical house has faulty wiring, we need to replace the wiring with new wiring. So it is with the wiring in our brain. If our negative thinking is found to have no basis in facts, then we need to have a “rewiring”. The maladaptive negative thinking is akin to the faulty wiring that threatens the house. It threatens our well-being, our happiness, our peace and serenity and also affects our relationships.

But how do we go about rewiring our thoughts? It is a process, just as it is in determining where the faulty wiring is hidden behind the walls of a house. Once it is discovered, then the wiring can be replaced with the new wiring. So, the first step is awareness. Once we have a negative thought, we need to determine whether it is natural and helpful (remember that not all negative thoughts are bad). If we decide that the the negative thought is faulty, then we need to replace it with a positive thought. We are now on the way to rewiring our thinking.

The next step is to look for positive things in your life. Sometimes we take things for granted. We stop appreciating things and, more importantly, people. When was the last time you told someone how much you appreciate them? When was the last time you just stopped and appreciated nature? Go for a walk and just listen to the sounds of nature. Look at the beauty of the flowers and the trees. When we start to become more aware and thankful for the positive things surround us every day, then our brains will automatically begin to forge new channels for the positive thoughts to flow through.

Another step is to look at our self-image. What do you think about yourself? Do you like yourself, or hate yourself? How do you react when someone says something nasty to you. Do you believe the comments the person has made? Or do you just explain it away as the person is having a bad day? We can’t avoid people saying negative things to us, but we can avoid taking the comments on board as facts about us. If you find that you are mulling over the bad comments made towards you, then you need to ask yourself why you are thinking about the comments. At a fundamental level you may believe that the comments are true. But is this an accurate assessment of who you truly are? For example, I used to be told that I am no good and that I would never amount to anything. I believed that, because that is the message I was given several times a week as I was growing up. Then as I got older, I would sometimes have someone say to me “You’re useless.” I would go over the comment over and over again in my mind and I would agree with the comments. Why? Because that was the message that had been “programmed” into my brain. In other words, my brain was wired to think the negative comments were true.

So, how do we go about rewiring our thinking from a negative self-image, into a positive self image? Again, it is a process. As we encounter a negative self-belief, we need to find an opposing positive self-belief. In my example, as I achieved things in life, I realised that I’m not useless. So whenever someone made comments along that line, I would dismiss such comments by remembering the things that I have achieved. As you challenge the negative self-image, with a positive self-image, you are rewiring your brain.

It has been suggested that to overcome 1 negative comment/criticism requires 5 positive comments. Here’s some homework for you. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned about keeping a “Thought journal” for a week in which you record your thinking. Again, I want you to keep a notebook and record down nothing but positive thoughts for the duration of the exercise. How long you want to do it for is up to you, but I recommend at least a month (as that is usually the duration it takes to replace old habits with new habits).

By challenging your negative thoughts, determining whether they are healthy or not, you are on your way to rewiring you brain. It’s a process. It will take time. But the results are worth it!

Let your rewiring begin!

 

Allow the Rays of Happiness to burn!

Hi there guys and gals!

This morning it was a bit drizzly outside and, sometimes, if one is feeling a little”down and out” they feel more sad when the weather is grey and miserable. I remember a bit of sage advice that was given to me many years ago. It was this:

The Sun is always shining, it’s just that the clouds are in the way

At times it can be hard to be happy, especially when things are mounting up and getting on top of you. Nor is it realistic to expect someone to be happy all the time! Life can, and does, sometimes get you down. At times we feel like we are overwhelmed by circumstances and we may feel hope eroding. Here is a wee analogy I came up with this morning as I watched the rain drops run down my windows. 

The Sun is always shining (that is our happiness and positivity), but sometimes the clouds gather (these can be the overwhelming circumstances/situations we face) and obscure our happiness. The clouds may be so heavy (our circumstances/situations become too much to bear) that the only outlet is for the rain to fall (the rain is our tears as we cry in despair). But eventually the Sun’s rays burn away the clouds. The rain stops, the clouds part and we have a bright, sunny day! The end result is analogous to us have regained hope and focus for the future as the “rays of happiness and positivity” burn away the clouds of despair. Our tears (the rain) stops and we find the clouds parting as we face the future with a renewed vitality.

Next time you are feeling down, just remind yourself that the Sun is always shining! Allow the rays of positivity and hope to burn away the clouds that are gathering. Just because it may be “cloudy and raining” in your life at the moment does not mean that the forecast is for it to stay that way!  Let your forecast read: Bright, sunny days ahead full of happiness, hope and joy!

 

 

 

 

Maximise the minimum

Hey everyone!

Look around you. What do you mainly see? Usually people in a hurry. People slogging at work day after day, trying to keep up with the demands of society. Trying to “get ahead”. But get ahead of what? Usually it is ahead of everyone else. But everyone else is in the same boat! Talk about a ridiculous situation!

Why do we have to worry about “keeping up with the Joneses?” Who are these Jones’ people anyway? I have never personally met them, but I have met people that are trying to keep up with them! These people are always needing to have the latest of everything. Just so that they can boast about how they have this and that. But guess what? The infamous Jones clan just bought a brand new “watcha-me-callit”. Now you are sad, because you need to have one of those too! The one that you bought 6 months ago, just doesn’t cut it anymore. The one the Joneses just bought has a shiny new “doo-dad” on it! It cost them a fortune! Now you are going to go into debt, because you want to keep up with these guys! You can’t afford too, but you have too! There is one thing i have to say, and that is stop being stupid!!

Why do we always feel like we have to have the newest, latest gadget? It is becuase the advertising gurus make us feel like our life is unfulfilled if we don’t have it! Look at the people in that ad about the new smartphone that has just landed in the stores. Don’t they look happy! You could be happy too, if you only had that phone! We live in a consumerist society, where our happiness is dictated by what we have or don’t have! That is wrong!!

There is a concept in psychology that is called “social comparison”. We look at others to determine whether we should be satisfied with what we have or don’t have. The Joneses have everything, and we use that as the yardstick for our lives. We realise that we don’t have all the things that those Jones folk have and we feel sad and unfulfilled in life. But then we look at someone who is unemployed, struggling to make ends meet and we discover that we aren’t as bad off as we thought. What happened to change your mindset? You just looked at two social extremes that influenced how satisfied you are with your lot in life.

Do not try and keep up with the Joneses. After all, do you think they are truly happy? Why do they always have to have the best of everything? Maybe there is some implicit insecurity issues that Mr. and Mrs Jones are suffering from! Look at what you have. Be satisfied with it. Do not try and compare yourself with others. Just be happy with your lot in life, if you feel like it’s not sufficient, then look within yourself as to why you feel that way. You may not have the best phone, the best house, the best clothes. But you might have the best life when you compare it to those you are busy trying to seek fulfillment in a materialistic, consumerist society.

Be happy with the little that you have. Enjoy it. Be thankful for the things that you have. Be thankful for the intangibles in your life: your health, your well-being, your happiness, your peace.

Be satisfied with the things that you have and cease looking at the things you don’t have.

I think I am Happy…

Hey everyone!

Are you happy? Truly happy? Or do you merely think you are? How do I know if I am or not? Well…you just kind of know. Do you spend most of the day smiling? Do you get out of bed in the morning with a groan or with a song? Do you appreciate the things you have in your life?

Too often happiness is perceived (and promoted by TV ads!) as something that is determined by external factors. You might say to yourself, “If only I had such and such, then I would be happy.” In a consumerist society we are always dictated to by advertising companies that if we had their product then we would be happy! But guess what, they are always coming out with the latest product, and then you feel sad because you need the latest thing! (plus, if all you needed for happiness was their first product, why did they replace it with the new one!)

We also can be too reliant on others to fulfill our happiness. Uncle Joe may of promised to take you out to dinner, but then he forgot and now you are sad. What happens next? You start to think of all the other times Uncle Joe may have let you down. Then you think of other people and how they have disappointed you.  Then you start to get upset and angry! But you need to realise that Uncle Joe, just like anyone else, is human and prone to make mistakes. Think about the things that people have done for you, how they have helped you, picked you up when you may of been feeling down. Start to appreciate your friends and family.

True happiness comes from within. It is an accepting of yourself.  It is an appreciation of the things you have, not taking them for granted, but just being thankful that you are blessed enough to have them. Happiness is an accepting that other people are human, just like you, and they will make mistakes, but you love them still the same. Sure there will be times when they will irritate you, but how many times have you irritated them?

Happiness is an accepting of circumstances. Realising that what has been, has been. It is in the past and there is nothing you can do to change it. Focus instead on the thing you can change: the future. What do you want it to be like?

Happiness is realising that you are a unique individual. There is no one else like you. Accept yourself. Love yourself. Be at peace with yourself. if there is something that you do not like about yourself, ask yourself why you don’t like that part. Maybe it is just you being too hard on yourself. If you accept yourself, appreciate yourself, and love yourself, then you will find it easier to accept, appreciate and love those around you.

Too many times I have seen people blame others for their misery. They blame circumstances (granted there will be times when things can get on top of us!), they blame their work. They think that by changing jobs, moving to a new town, or taking some other drastic measure, it will make them happy! It doesn’t! Why? Because their happiness was not and is not determined by external factors. True happiness lies within the individual. Have you ever heard people say “Think happy thoughts!”?  It is true that as we think, we become.

Are you happy? If you say  “I think I am”, suggests that you are not sure. Have a look within yourself, what do you need to change? Go ahead and change it! Then you will be able to answer the question “Are you happy?” with and emphatic: Yes I am!

 

My self-imposed 21-Day challenge! DAY 11

Hello Day 11!!

I forgot to put on my bracelet this morning, but that is okay. I remembered that it was on my right wrist (where it has been for the past 8 days!). It is going to stay there until day 21!!! Why? Because that means I have not complained at all.

Today was pretty easy surprisingly. Sure there were times when I felt like letting loose and saying something, but I have come so far! Why screw it up now in a moment of no self-control?

It is interesting that the more you try and eliminate something out of your life, the more aware you become of that thing occuring around you. Over the past couple of days I have become acutely aware of people complaining around me. It sticks out like a sore thumb!

I even mentioned to those around me how I am trying to create a culture of people not complaining. I won’t tell you what the reply was!! I just shrugged my shoulders and thought how sad it is when people are happy living in negativity. What a paradox huh? People being happy being negative!! Doesn’t really make sense does it?

One thing I did notice today about myself is that it is becoming habitual for me not to complain!! Yay! Progress!!! Another 10 days and I should have this thing licked!!

Wish me well for Day 12!!