Tag Archives: love life

FOR SINGLES: 10 Ways to Feel Happy Today!

girlspartyHappiness is good for your mind and your body. It has been scientifically proven that happy people are more optimistic, confident, and have more energy and even more friends. Happy people are also better prepared to deal with difficult situations, are more enjoyable to be around, and achieve their goals better than those prone to sadness. In addition, happy people appear to be healthier and live longer.

So how can we all achieve that elusive quality called happiness? Science has given us some sure-fire tips and tools to improve mood, and to understand how they work, we need to understand happiness. Happiness is part environment and part biology. Everyone has their own set-point level of happiness — and it’s higher than you might imagine. Most people lean toward being happy than unhappy. Temporary boosts of happiness happen when the pleasure center of the brain is stimulated and Dopamine is being released. Endorphins also increase the release of dopamine.

Besides ingesting “dope” (Yes, that’s where the name came from) and suffer the crash, what are the other ways to increase happiness?

Here are my top ten favorites:

1. Be Kind. Do five random-acts of kindness in one day. Acts may include holding the for open for someone, paying for the car behind you at the drive through or gas station, putting lottery tickets on windshields with a good luck note, or writing a letter to a long lost teacher who inspired you. Studies have shown that acts of kindness increase happiness and provide the best boost if done in a clump rather than spread out over a week.

2. Move Your Body. Weather it’s a long walk or a salsa class, moderate exercise produces endorphins that trigger pleasurable feelings in your brain that last for hours.

3. Look Down, Not Up. This is a count your blessings lecture, people. If you find yourself too often looking at the competition and those who appear to be living better than you. Know two things: Appearances are deceiving, and if you’re living in America and reading this on a computer, I promise there are far more people doing worse than you. Being grateful for what you have can bring great feelings of contentment and self pride.

4. Talk. Talk. Talk. Funny thing is, when we talk about our misfortunes with friends we try to make it entertaining to our listeners. In doing so, we often put a humorous slant of the story. Telling your story to a variety of audiences and tailoring it to each of their perspectives helps us reframe our losses and find hope and laughter in our sadness.

5. Find Your Roots. Studies have shown that people who search out and their cultural heritage find feelings of pride and unity with others who have a shared history. Knowing your place in evolutions chain gives meaning to your life and helps you bond with others and develop an appreciation for those of other ethnic groups.

6. Find Your Happy Place. Our brain stores millions of memories, mostly good, so when you are feeling down it can help to return to thoughts where you experienced great pleasure. Learn to scan your memory bank for your strengths, talents, passions, interests, practical coping skills, and earlier potential to glean material that can be used to reinvent yourself to be happier.

7. Listen to Music. Whether regarded as an evolutionary accident as the gateway to our emotions, music activates parts of the brain that can trigger happiness, releasing endorphins similar to the ways that sex and food do. Music can reduce pain during surgical or dental procedures and can inspire us to be more creative.

8. Cuddle with Someone. Human touch ignites our senses and creates a pleasure response in the brain. So, cuddle with your kids, hold hands with an elderly person, stroke a pet, or best of all, get down in the sheets with your lover. All these acts of touch can bring great feelings of euphoria.

9. Eat Well. Depression is partly biological and your brain needs the right nutrients to function at the top of it’s game. Take fish oil and a multivitamin daily and make sure you eat protein at least twice per day. A carb-loaded diet can create highs and lows just like sugar.

10. Meditate and/or Pray. Stop the train of stress and sit down with a candle and twenty minutes of deep breathing. Calming your mind, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, while connecting to your body’s sensations, can create deep feelings of calm, pleasure and peace. And that sure sounds like happiness to me.

Finally, remember that happiness can lead to success, rather than just the other way around. Happy individuals are predisposed to seek out new opportunities and set new goals. After reviewing data of 225 studies gathered from more than 275,000 individuals, a team of psychologists concluded that while previous research assumed that happiness stemmed from success and accomplishment, happiness is often a result of positive emotions. Success is the result of many factors, including physical health, intelligence, family and expertise, all things linked to happiness.

Watch my youtube video: The Four Kinds of Love

FOR COUPLES: Do You Have Good Flights or Bad Fights?

Dealing with abuseEver been in a passionate argument with your spouse and had the thought, “This is it. This will divorce us for sure!” Here’s a secret: Most people have those thoughts in the heat of an angry exchange, because in the regressed mental state called rage, “water under the bridge” doesn’t seem like an option. Know this: Conflict is a natural part of having an intimate relationship and even a vital part. As couples come back to each other after a fight, in a place of love with words of contrition and forgiveness, the relationship is often stronger for it. It is at least more intimate. The bumpy road of conflict followed by repair is the route to a deeper connection. After a fight, we know our partner’s hot buttons very well. And hopefully he is more understanding of our tender spots. But how can you tell if your fights are “good fights,” the kind that will eventually help you grow closer, or “bad fights”, the kind that chip away at your bond and erode your love? Certainly, some fights do function as a slow kill on your relationship.

There are some things to consider: First of all, think about the power of the words used during a fight. Yes, even though psychotherapists stress that we must use words that focus on our feelings rather than accusations, even the most educated of us resort to blaming sentences that begin with the word “YOU!” That alone doesn’t indicate a “bad fight” unless it is also followed by vicious name calling. Name calling is a bad sign. It indicates that one partner has temporarily forgotten the other’s identity and has substituted it by a skewed stereotype. It’s hard to drop those evil caricatures once our minds have created them. If you see him as a loser and tell him over and over, you are also rewiring your brain to believe this is true.

One other thing to consider is the amount of voice time alloted each arguer. If the yelling is terribly lop-sided and one partner gets more air time, then something else is going on. Either intimidation by the loud mouth, or an emotional retreat by the other. Both things are not fighting fair. As injurious as a fight can be, the biggest determinant of whether it is a “good fight” is the way repair is made afterward. There are many unique ways that couples come back into relationship after a fight. Notes left by the morning coffee pot, flowers at the office, and my favorite — off-the-charts make-up sex. But the important thing to remember is that love and respect can return.

Dangerous aftermaths include icy treatment for days on end. Little jabs thrown into unrelated conversations. Passive aggressive, retaliatory behavior. And worst of all, a fight that morphs into other fights that get flooded with material from old injuries. “Remember the time you…..”
The best way to learn to have “good fights” is to establish ground rules before any fighting begins. Men love rules of the game. It reminds them of sports and makes fighting a healthy challenge rather than a confusing battle with a scary, invisible opponent. Some ground rules might include, no name calling, no stonewalling, no fighting in front of the kids, no going to bed mad, and most importantly, scheduled make-up time the next day.

It is also important to understand that each person has their own fighting style that must be respected. A man who walks out the door for brisk walk during an argument may not be rejecting you, he may be protecting you from a shift from words to action. Some people need a time-out to regroup and think during a fight. The time to talk about fighting styles, of course, is when you are not fighting.
Arguments with someone we are deeply committed to can be very, very scary. And the outcome of a fight may not be what we bargained for, but two individual people sharing a life will have many opportunities to compromise. Remember, it’s not who wins the match that matters, it’s how the game is played. Reminding yourself that love can return is the best way to insure that you have good fights.

Watch my YOUTUBE video: How to Forgive

FOR COUPLES: Maybe it’s Your Attachment Style

Couple Back to back with problemsYou may have heard about  “attachment disorders” as they pertain to babies and parents, but did you know there’s  an adult version that relates to romantic attachments? Many adults walking among us, stumble through the world of dating, mating, and relating, while reliving their own preverbal, infantile emotional injuries. Some have a style of attachment that brings as many feelings of anxiety as comfort, and they are called “anxious” attachers. To understand this, let’s take a look at what attachment theory is.

History of Attachment Theory

In this book, Becoming Attached, author Dr. Robert Karen sums up the work of the pioneers of attachment theory well. From the birth of attachment theory, with such thinkers as John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, and Mary Main, came the notion that a trusted person — an attachment figure — offers an infant a secure base. A child whose needs are met with appropriate attention, affection, and empathic words will grow to trust the world and to trust relationships, and will translate that feeling of trust to a romantic partner in adult life. John Bowlby, an English psychotherapist from the first part of the last century, is often called the father of attachment theory. He believed that the ties to the parent gradually weaken as the child gets older, and that the secure base function is slowly shifted to other figures, eventually resting on one’s mate.

This tendency of the child to attach in the ways he or she was attached to his/her parents happens because the functions of attachment become an internal property of the child. In other words, we are often unaware of our own attachment style. Attachment theory involves a way of relating to others based on communications and behaviors of both parents in the first years of life. These “messages” about how to love are then combined with a child’s own interactions with each parent, and become an influential cognitive structure — a hard-wired piece of our personality.

Three Principal Patterns of Attachment

Attachment researchers have categorized people based on three principal patterns of attachment. The first is a pattern of secure attachment, in which the person is confident that a parent (usually Mom, and eventually a lover) will be available, responsive, and helpful.

The second is that of anxious resistant attachment, in which the individual is uncertain if a parent will be available and because of that uncertainty, is prone to separation anxiety and is anxious about exploring the world.

The third pattern is an anxious avoidant attachment, in which the individual has no confidence that when he or she seeks care, they will be responded to, and on the contrary, expects rejection.

These three kinds of patterns play out in adult romantic life as well. It is estimated that only about 20 percent of the American population has secure attachment behaviors — the ability to give and receive care with comfort, and a degree of self-esteem that is not dependent on their lover’s reinforcement. What’s left in most of us? We either have a tendency to avoid feelings and closeness, or a confusing pattern of craving and mistrusting love — in various degrees, of course.

People with anxious attachment disorder are vigilant clock-watchers. Since they are dependent on contact and affirmation from their partner, they have an uncanny ability to sense if contact is waning. They tend to be chronic voice mail and e-mail checkers, and have a need for constant texting. They can also be easily prone to feelings of jealousy. They love and respect their partner, but are also wary that that love may disappear. And, while people with anxious attachment disorder crave closeness, they can also be surprisingly terrified when they actually get what they crave. We’ve all met or dated someone who sent us contradictory messages and led us to believe they were interested, only to disappear or behave badly and send us running. People with anxious attachment disorder don’t trust that love is real or reliable, and so they often behave badly when things feel too good.

The good news is that attachment disorders can be healed. An empathetic, ethical therapist can foster a healthy therapist/patient relationship that rebuilds adult attachment style. Patients learn how to depend on relationships, to trust love, and to tolerate criticism and consistent contact. If you feel you are suffering from an attachment disorder, try to find a therapists who specializes in attachment theory.

Attachment theory holds so many keys to adult romantic pair bonding. The unique mating dance of couples is choreographed by the internal world of both partners, creating, in the end, a performance that runs the gamut from an embracing waltz to one in which the dancers continually step on each others’ feet. It is a reflection of the secret world of an infant and parent, played out again with a grown-up body and a new kind of mother — a lover.

For more watch: If a Guy Likes Me, Why Wont He Call Back

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FOR MEN: Yes, She Can Drive You To Drink

man-drinking-beer-picPlenty of people think that women have far more relationship anxiety than men, but new research shows quite the opposite. The big gender difference, when it comes to love life stress, is the way men and women deal with it.

A new study of over 1000 participants from Wake Forest University is published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and is the first of it’s kind to really tease out what goes on in the minds of seemingly stoic men when emotional speed bumps happen in personal relationships. First, the good news: Men tend to reap far more emotional benefits from their love lives than woman do. Other research out this year from the University of Oxford might explain this. Women, it seems, have a wider emotional support system and can spread their vulnerable intimate selves among many “caregivers” (read: empathetic gal pals) while men tend to put their emotional eggs all in one basket, so to speak.

And this presents the other finding of the of the Wake Forest study. Men are more vulnerable to emotional pain when love hurts. A rocky relationship can impair a man’s mental health far more than a woman’s. And when women do have relationship problems it often results in depression, while men’s emotional stress is more likely to lead to substance abuse problems. While depression is no cake walk, women have better coping mechanisms through their other social relationships and, should the relationship end, do better than men when single. Men, it seems, are more likely to stay in a bad relationship and self-medicate.

But when things go well, when the relationship is mutually supportive and the couple has healthy conflict resolution skills, men tend to get the greatest boost in mental health benefits. The take away for men? If you find that your girlfriend or wife makes you want to check out with chemicals, remind yourself that a sober you will be in a better position to attract a more healthy relationship.

FOR SINGLES: What to Do When Your Date Disappears?

3281587E6C94C6DDE91F9B5EE35B4FWe’ve all been there. A few nice dates that amount to a budding relationship and then, for no apparent reason, your date goes off radio. No texts. No calls. No emails. In these times of high-speed relationships and loose digital connection, there is a no-man’s-land of “are we a couple or not” where plenty of people feel free to bolt with no explanation, leaving others anxiously containing themselves while they wait for more contact. But when a date goes off radio, you are being presented with a unique opportunity to practice healthy communication. So I suggest you make one big brave phone call or voice mail.

Let me be clear about the purpose of the call. It is simply to express yourself in an honest and emotional way. It is not to “get” your date to “like” you again or to pick up the relationship using a rewind button that set to just before the last date. The object is to clarify and express your feelings for yourself, and to help make sense of your emotions. Here are four important rules for healthy communication:

1. Be big enough to compliment
2. Don’t take things personally.
3. Take responsibility for your mistakes
4. Be open and positive.

First construct a short monologue with a plan to leave your date a voice mail. In the rare event that he or she might actually pick up the phone, be prepared to express herself in person. Here’s an example:

“Hi, it’s (your name). I just wanted to leave a message to let you know that I really enjoyed getting to know you during our few evenings together. Since I haven’t heard from you since, I am wondering if everything is okay with you and if I can be of help in any way. If, on the other hand, there is something that I said or did that may have accidentally offended you, I just wanted to apologize. I think you’re great and I look forward to seeing you, should we run into each other.”

Now let’s take apart this emotional communication and look at it sentence by sentence, so that you can understand exactly what is expressed and why:

“I just wanted to leave a message to let you know that I really enjoyed getting to know you during our few evenings together.”

Be big enough to compliment. All difficult communication is best received with an honest compliment as an ice breaker. If your date were live on the phone, this sentence might prevent him or her from going into a defensive mode where they would miss what you are saying because their brain was busy thinking up retorts, excuses, and other defenses. This is the most basic truth of the whole situation. If you hadn’t enjoyed the company, you probably wouldn’t have had so much anxiety about his disappearance.

“Since I haven’t heard from you since, I am wondering if everything is okay with you and if I can be of help in any way.”

Don’t take things personally. This is a wonderfully self-confident way of expressing that you can contain your own feelings of abandonment and instead wonder about your new friends’ needs. It shows that you are a caring, compassionate person and can be quite understanding of any personal issue that may have made him or her break communication.

“If, on the other hand, there is something that I said or did that may have accidentally offended you, I just wanted to apologize.”

Take responsibility for your mistakes. In this sentence, you acknowledge that you are human and might even have some flaws you are unaware of. It also demonstrates that you can openly communicate your feelings, work to understand the situation, and to take personal responsibility. This is also not being arrogant or blaming. Believe it or not, this is the most powerful sentence.

“I think you’re great and I look forward to seeing you, should we run into each other.”

Be open and positive. This is your chance to close with a compliment and leave the door open for future interactions. You’ve made it clear here that even though time has passed, you won’t give your date grief should they turn up in the future. Clearly, you weren’t critical, blaming, or angry. You also showed that you’re not pining away counting the minutes until your date calls. Nor are you demanding that your date offer an explanation. This sentence isn’t closure, nor is it making emotional demands. It is just expressing positive feelings and letting your date know that you would be receptive to future contact, while showing that you are a stable, happy person, even while acknowledging the lapse in communication.