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Come on Get Happy!

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The world of social work and psychology are always doing research and trying new approaches to help individuals and the world survive, thrive and bloom. These processes come in waves and the most current wave is in the area of Happiness or Positive Psychology. Trainings and new book offers arrive in my mailbox almost daily on understanding, using and living in the realm of happiness.

 I thought I’d share the information I’m getting. Some of this is, in my opinion, common scene. Other pieces of information, on the surface, may appear new, but with reflection I think you will find you knew this all along.  Here is the information:

  1. Happiness is considered 50% genetic, 40% within our power to achieve through activities and positive thinking, and 10% environmental (we experience something that brings us joy, laughter and pleases us).

2. Stay connected to people, places and activities that bring you positive energy appreciate and validate you.

3. Realize that everyone has problems. The key is the mind set: problems are temporary and solvable.

4. If you can’t get out of a bad situation, change your attitude. Play positive and uplifting thoughts, memories in your head. Listen to music you like. Be involved in activities that offset the situation. There are great stories from POWs using this technique to survive in captivity.

5. Stop focusing on what could have been, what should be or should have been. Stop trying to escape your problems and meet them face on.

6. Express your needs and concerns positively and take ownership of them. An example: When you forget to pick me up, I feel abandoned. Instead of I’m pissed at you for forgetting to pick me up or how dare you forget to pick me up.

7. In relationships, focus on WE instead of ME. Always ask – Will what I am about to do or say bring our relationship closer or pull us further apart?

8. Every morning, stop before starting your day and be grateful for what you have. Name them in your head. Your house, inside climate control, your car, family, food, clothing, fresh water, a job…

9. Acceptance, that you are not perfect and neither is anyone else. Have compassion toward yourself and patience and acceptance toward others. (This does not mean you have to agree with their behaviors or choices. It is honoring them as a fellow human being trying to make it).

10. Remember you can’t read other’s minds; you don’t need to judge their actions or  take them personally. Example:  He didn’t accept my idea. I know he’s out to get me and this is part of his plan to make me look like a fool. I’ll show him.

Give these a thought or two. My wish to you this day; may this St. Patrick’s Day bring you a renewed sense of happiness.

5 (25) Potential Relationship Killers

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I see books all the time about the five types of relationship killers. It’s ashamed we stop at five because naming the top five may not hit on the bumps in a relationship. If you look at a lot of the social and psychological data on relationships, the list looks more like this. (Note these are not in order of most damaging to least. There is no way to do that as each entry has its own dimensions and they differ couple to couple).

  1. Communication issues
  2. Dependency vs independency
  3. Money
  4. Ineffective problem solving or arguments
  5. Changes in sexual desire
  6. Affairs/one night stands/porn/excessive flirting
  7. Friends/family/in-laws
  8. Life Stress: job/unemployment/death/chronic illness/sudden illness/mental illness/increase in responsibilities/aging/moving/life style changes
  9. Habits/vices/addictions
  10. Taking the other for granted
  11.  Rushing into a phase in the relationship too quickly: weddings/babies/retirement
  12. Lack of trust
  13. Lack of Intimacy: feeling like you have to hide who you are due to fear of being unlovable/ no physical intimacy (touching)/ feeling like you have to be someone else to be loved
  14. Lack of care: feeling like you are uncared for or your partner does not understand you
  15. Judgementalism: feeling like you are always scrutinized, you can’t do anything right or being perfectionist and believing you can’t do anything right.
  16. Tests: partner sets up little tests to see if you pass and are worthy of trust/love
  17. Unrealistic expectations: if this is love, why am I so miserable – expecting partner to meet or fix your inner emptiness or meet unrealistic expectations or fantasies
  18. Lack of contributions in household, family responsibilities
  19. Raising kids
  20. Respect
  21. Comfort levels
  22.  Different goals in life
  23. Step parenting
  24. Mistakes: shutting down due to fear of making a mistake, making things worse
  25. Living in the past

In the next couple weeks, I’m going to address each of these risks and discus them in more detail. In the mean time, what is important to know is that while these can range in metaphor as a splinter, dagger or serial stabbing.

What one couple sees as a serial stabbing another might see as a splinter. Why the difference and which couple is going to ride the wave and come out feeling connected? The quick and easy answer is in fluidity and desire to the commitment.

Fluidity means the ability to bend and not brake, to see the whole picture and not hyper-focus on one detail.  Think about your relationship as a porcelain bowl, for example. If you drop the bowl into a swimming pool full of water, it will get wet, but most likely will stay intact. If you drop it in the sand, depending on the height you drop it; it might stay intact or crack. If you drop it on concrete – it’s shattered – almost every time.

There are ways to make you more mindful – more fluid. Keep in mind, however, that you are only one person in a relationship. The strongest relationships have fluidity in both partners.

Until next time….