July 8, 2011
What is the best thing to say to two young newlyweds starting a life together?
Well, given that marriage is just about the biggest, scariest and most amazing commitment one can ever make (second to having children, of course), perhaps it would be good for this father of a newly minted bride to share some words of wisdom from people who have been married for years.
– If you think she’s beautiful, tell her.
– Make dinner together. Eat dinner together. Go to bed together.
– Your fantasy life should revolve around your wife, not your football team.
– Life is short. Say “I love you” at least once every day.
– The more time you spend trying to change your spouse, the less time you have for improving yourself.
– One of the sexiest things you can do in bed is to serve your spouse a nice breakfast.
– Talk to each other, not at each other. And really listen.
– It doesn’t matter what you think you’re fighting about. It always comes down to a choice between fear and love. Choose wisely.
– Write this into your wedding vows: “I promise to faithfully replace the toilet paper whenever I use the last of it.”
– Do things together. Do things apart.
– Career, personal goals and family are important, but nothing is more important than your relationship.
– The cruelest question you can ask a husband: “Notice anything different?”
– Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader.
– If you’ve truly forgiven your spouse for something, you’ll never bring it up again.
– Your wife doesn’t need to know that you think that chick across the street has a great figure. (Not that there’s anything wrong with noticing.)
– Be spontaneously ridiculous and unabashedly silly. Make your spouse laugh. It nourishes your souls.
– No one person can give you everything you need.
– If he forgets your anniversary, don’t freak out about it. If he forgets your name, do.
– “What can I do for you, honey?”
– He’s not a mind reader. If you want him to know what you’re thinking or feeling, you have to tell him.
– If you make your kids the centre of your universe, there’s going to be one massive black hole when they finally grow up and leave.
– Recognise your spouse’s weaknesses, but focus on the strengths.
– If you always have to win the argument, you’ll eventually lose the relationship.
– Only if she asks: “No, honey, that dress isn’t very flattering.” (Not: “It makes you look fat.”)
– Find someone to talk to about your marriage, but never talk your spouse down to anyone.
– When you finally realise your spouse is as flawed and messed up as you are, you can leave the rose-coloured fantasy behind and start building a real adult relationship.
– If your wife suddenly starts tanning and exercising a lot, might as well call the lawyer now. (This one came from a recently divorced friend.)
– Every little disagreement doesn’t have to snowball into a discussion about “the relationship”.
– It’s actually OK to go to bed angry sometimes, as long as you agree to discuss it in the morning.
– She’s your wife, not your mummy. Clean up after yourself.
– It’s not your job to make your spouse happy. (It’s not possible, either.)
– Appreciate the love your spouse has for you. It’s not something you’re entitled to. It’s something you earn.
– When he says, “You might have a point there, honey”, what he’s leaving out is “if you weren’t so full of crap”.
– Create your own traditions for the holidays.
– Sharing your secrets (and hopes and fears) is the secret to true intimacy.
– Want to get lucky tonight? Do a load of laundry, start to finish.
– Listen to other people’s advice, but make your own choices.
– Argue naked. It’s guaranteed to keep a minor disagreement from turning into a big fight.
– Random expressions of love and affection are the best ones. (Foot rubs count double. Feet are gross!)
– Being selfish and being in love are incompatible.
– Just because you know where someone’s buttons are doesn’t mean you have to push them.
– If your dog gets more snuggle time in bed with your wife than you do, you’re in trouble.
– Money is something to talk about, not fight about.
– When all is said and done, you can hang onto your pride or you can hang onto your relationship.
– And, finally, here’s a great one from Ogden Nash. “To keep your marriage brimming / with love in the wedding cup / whenever you’re wrong, admit it / whenever you’re right, shut up.”
June 12, 2011
At the cusp of new beginnings many of us take time to reflect on our lives by looking back over the past and ahead into the future. We ponder the successes, failures and standout events that are slowly scripting our life’s story. This process of self reflection helps maintain a conscious awareness of where we’ve been and where we intend to go. It is pertinent to the organization and preservation of our dreams, goals and desires.
If you would like to maximize the benefits of self reflection, I have 20 questions for you. These questions should be reviewed every Sunday morning or sometime during the weekend when you have some quiet time to think. Remember, reflection is the key to progression.
- What did I learn last week? – If you have trouble answering this question, it’s time for a change. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should learn something new every week.
- What was my greatest accomplishment over the past week? – Reflecting on your accomplishments is a healthy way to raise self confidence and contentment. It’s also an effective way to track your progress.
- Which moment from last week was the most memorable and why? – It may open up your mind to new passions and goals, or simple pastimes worth revisiting.
- What’s the #1 thing I need to accomplish this week? – Everything else is secondary, and should be treated as such. Nevertheless, this question will also shine light on other noteworthy tasks.
- What can I do right now to make the week less stressful? – Set reminders in your calendar, get your laundry done, fill the car with gas… organize yourself.
- What have I struggled with in the past that might also affect the upcoming week? – The idea here is to learn from your struggles and better equip yourself for future encounters.
- What was last week’s biggest time sink? – Steer clear of this in the future. Setup physical barriers against distractions if you have to.
- Am I carrying any excess baggage into the week that can be dropped? – Physical clutter, mental clutter… eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may shine bright.
- What have I been avoiding that needs to get done? – Pencil in a time to get these things done. For any 2-minute or less tasks, consider scheduling them first thing Monday morning.
- What opportunities are still on the table? – If it’s still available and you want it, make a concrete plan to go after it this week.
- Is there anyone I’ve been meaning to talk to? – Regular communication can solve problems before they fester. Always keep an open line of communication to those around you.
- Is there anyone that deserves a big ‘Thank You’? – Take time each week to thank the people who have helped you. Your kind gesture will not go unnoticed.
- How can I help someone else this coming week? – The easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. If you help them, they will remember you when you need help.
- What are my top 3 goals for the next 3 years? – You’ll never make any progress in life if you don’t setup realistic goals for yourself.
- Have any of my recent actions moved me closer to my goals? – If the answer is no, something needs to change.
- What’s the next step for each goal? – Knowing the next step is the key to accomplishing the whole.
- What am I looking forward to during the upcoming week? – The answer can act as a great source of motivation. If nothing exists, schedule something to look forward to.
- What are my fears? – Consciously address your fears each week and slowly work on resolving them. It’s all about taking baby steps.
- What am I most grateful for? – It’s a smart way to keep things in perspective, and something you should never lose sight of.
- If I knew I only had one week to live, who would I spend my time with? – Another helpful reminder… Life is short. Spend more time with the people you care about.
I’m sitting in the Roosevelt looking at the backs of Bobby and Sally’s heads as they watch TV. I’m not letting them change the channel because watching the news makes me sick and they can see it. I think about you and how I behaved and my regret. I know it’s my fault that you are not here right now. I think about tomorrow where you’ll be and the day after that as well. I understand why you feel it’s better to go on without me and I know that you won’t be alone for very long but without you I’ll be alone forever.
I love you.
Love is a trial. Finding it, keeping it, nurturing it and losing it are all part of life’s ebb and flow. I’m always amazed at how oblivious we are to the crimes we commit in the name of love. We lie and cheat, covet and deceive, rationalising behaviour we would find unforgivable in any other part of our lives.
In other areas of our lives we at least attempt personal responsibility, but in love we seem comfortable justifying actions crudely based on our right to have someone simply because we want them more.
Allowing your beliefs to dictate your actions is seldom achieved without paying a price, but in my experience it’s a lot less emotionally costly than blindly following the brainless organ that is the human heart.
April 4, 2011
1. Don’t try to read other people’s minds
2. Get up 30 minutes earlier so that you don’t rush/get a ticket while driving too fast/have to explain why you’re late/get fired
3. Get 8 hours of sleep per night so that you think more clearly
4. Stick to your budget
5. Start saving and investing every week, no matter how little you can spare
6. Balance your checkbook
7. Don’t try to be friends with everyone. Cultivate closer relationships with fewer people.
8. Don’t try to do business with everyone. Identify your target client and take very good care of them.
9. Before getting angry, ask yourself if it will really matter in 20 years
10. Focus on being a good person, not on pleasing others
11. Stay home this Saturday, and finish off that nagging chore that you need to finish
12. Kiss and make up
13. Make a weekly menu, and shop for only those items at the market
14. Ask your grandparents the best way to uncomplicate life, and try it for a month
15. Fill up your gas tank when it’s half full
16. Don’t drink alcohol when you’re tired, sad or mad
17. Pay your bills on time
18. Get an annual physical examination
19. Say “I love you” to your significant other and to your children. Studies show that more marriages last, and fewer kids use drugs, when these words are spoken every day.
20. For just one day, imagine everyone’s intentions are good because most people’s are
21. Give away clothes that haven’t been worn in two years
22. Throw out clothes that are in disrepair, and can’t be mended
23. When you have a conflict with someone, talk it out. Don’t let it turn into more than it is.
24. Know what your priorities are in life, and act as if they are your priorities
25. Tell the truth
26. Don’t cheat
27. Don’t steal
28. If you’re holding on to a ridiculous grudge, let it go
29. Clean your house weekly, so that it doesn’t become too large a chore
30. Do your best at work, or at school
31. Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry
32. Eat when you are hungry
33. Be yourself
34. Say no unapologetically
35. Cook simple meals
36. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses
37. Pay off your car before buying a new one
38. Organise your desk at the office
39. Change your smoke alarm batteries when the clocks spring forward, and again when they fall back
40. Organise your important paperwork
41. Take only half the clothes that you planned to take with you on holiday
42. Help your children with their homework every night, and have an open dialogue with their teachers
43. Have white sheets and white towels in children’s rooms/bathrooms, because they’re easily bleached
44. Spend your time with nice people
45. Avoid drama
46. Don’t text or talk on the phone while driving
47. Turn off the television/video games/computer; they’re time consumers
48. Don’t engage in office politics
49. Refuse to gossip, or talk behind other people’s backs
50. Do the dishes right after dinner
51. Never go to sleep angry
52. Ask nicely for what you need and want
53. Walk 10,000 steps per day to help your heart
54. Do 20 push-ups before speaking in anger
55. Leave work at work
56. Don’t befriend anyone that isn’t trustworthy
57. Don’t envy others
58. Have your oil changed
59. Take vitamin C BEFORE you catch a cold
60. Don’t work more than 8 hours per day
61. Weed your garden weekly
62. Wash your car weekly
63. Have a spring cleaning month every year, and do one room at a time
64. You don’t need to be best friends with work colleagues, but build respectful partnerships
65. Don’t drink and drive
66. Don’t look for reasons to be angry or sad, look for reasons to be happy. You’ll always be able to find plenty of each.
67. Be friendly with your neighbours
68. Return emails and phone messages promptly
69. Schedule in free time
70. Don’t procrastinate
71. Do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it
72. Be more flexible when you’re able to be
73. Forgive and forget. End of story.
74. Break the consumerism habit…put a three month moratorium in place on buying anything not deemed a necessity
75. Start your diet on September 1, rather than January 1, so that you won’t also have holiday pounds to lose
76. Take care of any health issues or concerns
77. Have your tires rotated
78. Have your brakes checked
79. Have your eyes checked
80. Don’t let your imagination run away with you
81. Let go of perfection in others
82. Let go of perfection in yourself
83. Don’t try to help those that refuse to help themselves
84. Find a way to reduce your commute to work
85. Have an alloted amount of worry time per day/week, that you strictly abide by
86. Drink more water
87. Eat more salmon
88. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
89. Wear your hair in a classic, easy to care for style
90. Finish what you start
91. Wear classic clothes and shoes that never go out of style
92. Create a daily routine
93. Have a 1, 5, 10 and 20 year plan for your financial and life goals
94. Slow down
95. Eat out less often
96. When you ask your husband which outfit looks best, thank him for his answer and wear the one he liked rather than focusing on why he didn’t like the other one
97. Allow your children to grow up
98. Clean out your garage, and donate anything that hasn’t been used in the past year
99. Stretch every day
100. If a relationship is over, let it go
A pick-up artist gave me a good piece of advice: the three most important things in a relationship are honesty, trust and respect, and if you don’t have those, you don’t have love. I have found that to be true. A friend said recently that you should date someone for a year, live with them for a year, then get engaged for a year before getting married. To me, that seems sensible.
While I am impulsive in many areas of my life, marriage is not one of them. It’s a step I’ve not yet taken, as you want it to happen just once and to be married for the rest of your life, for your kids. Like my teen goal of hoping to stay alive long enough to lose my virginity, I want to stay alive long enough to have a child. After all, that’s the reason we’re all here.
March 28, 2011
Here are a few examples of instances where other languages have found the right word and English simply falls speechless.
Russian – Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start” (Altalang.com)
Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh” (Altalang.com)
Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.” (Altalang.com)
Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.
Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement” (Altalang.com)
Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name. (Altalang.com)
Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.” (Altalang.com)
Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.” (Altalang.com)
Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.” (Altalang.com)
German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.
German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.” (Altalang.com)
Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.” (Altalang.com)
French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.
Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.” (Altalang.com)
Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire. (Altalang.com)
17. L’appel du vide
French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.
Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word. (Altalang.com)
Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade. (Altalang.com)
March 26, 2011
- Always ask the girl out. Always. In the best case, you may end up marrying her. In the worst case (if she says no), you’ll end up with just as many girlfriends as you had before you asked her out.
- If pride is what’s on the line when making a decision to take a risk, go for it. Pride isn’t worth much and is easily replenished; certain opportunities may come only once…
- …But if it’s your dignity on the line, tread carefully. Pride and dignity are not the same thing, and the latter is far more important.
- It’s hard to gain trust. It’s even harder to gain it back.
- Being kind is far more important than being clever, but that doesn’t mean that the two are mutually exclusive.
- True freedom is difficult to grapple with. It means you’re accountable to no one else but yourself at the end of the day. You have no maps, and thus no one and nothing to blame if things don’t turn out the way you had hoped. It is both a blessing and a curse.
- “Being” anything doesn’t mean that people believe you are that anything, or even that you believe you are. It means doing what being that anything entails. If you want to be excellent, be excellent. If you want to be kind, be kind. “Being” is a state, one that is determined by what one is currently doing.
- There is something admirable about being optimistic, because in doing so, one acknowledges that any situation can be made better. But optimism can only be realized first through realism. There is nothing admirable about being naive, as it is intellectually and emotionally lazy.
- Don’t pity other people. Empower them instead.
- It doesn’t do any good to reciprocate anger, or any other destructive emotions, because it ultimately makes it more difficult to find a solution to the problem that caused the negative emotion in the first place.
- A kind, heartfelt, handwritten letter is better than 99% of gifts you could give a person.
- Relatedly, write thank you cards. In the age of email, no one does anymore, which means they’re even more special now than they were in the past.
- It’s okay to go to movies by yourself. Unless they’re date movies. Then you’re just lame.
- The past and the future do not exist at this moment, so it doesn’t help to worry about them too much. That being said, learn from moments before and plan for moments ahead so that you can have a better present.
- How good or bad a situation is can be significantly affected by one’s attitude. Choose wisely.
- Exercise consistently. No, seriously. It’ll do wonders for your health, your self-esteem, and the other aspects of your life.
- In general, do what you love. Or at least find a way to support yourself so you can do what you love.
- Always be aware of what makes you happy and feel fulfilled. Scrap whatever you’re doing in life that doesn’t align with these things—you’d wasting time and energy chasing the wrong things otherwise.
- It can always be okay. It’s just up to you to decide that it is and will be.
- Seek out beautiful things: art, emotions, experiences, people. And don’t let anyone tell you that what you think is beautiful, isn’t.
- Dress well. Live better.
- Dance. Always dance. Even if you’re not good at it. It’s worth it, trust me.
- Most importantly — Remember: “No man is a failure who has friends.”
March 18, 2011
Blindsided by love
Think twice … is your relationship worth the heartache?
Is Love a Choice?
Whereas I do believe that all behaviour is a choice, some emotions – like love – are not. We may fall, like it or not, for some of the dumbest reasons, but love, as the poets say, can be blind.
Scientists believe love is a DNA thing, where body chemistries connect through pheromones and such. A doctor once told me that love is all biochemistry, and we have no choice in it. Sometimes the pull is so strong, we stay in relationships that are unhealthy, and even though we know it, we can’t seem to make ourselves leave.
This is why we may choose to stick it out with a partner who is not all that nice to us. He or she could lie, cheat, or steal from us, and somehow or another, we will once again open our hearts, perhaps only to get hurt again. It seems like we are living that old saying, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” We may feel that we haven’t got a choice, but we always do.
There are times when you can’t really trust your emotions. Reality has to take its rightful place when you are considering whether to continue a potentially abusive relationship. You should think twice, recall your past with this person, and get some counselling if you think that any part of your relationship is unhealthy.
Love can direct us to make decisions that we know are not right. At certain stages in our lives, if our parents or friends tell us that he or she isn’t the right person for us, we simply ignore the unwanted advice and let romantic love take over. Not an uncommon or horrible decision, but when the relationship sours and you hear the voices of all the naysayers in your head, it’s hard to avoid beating yourself up.
As adults, we need to give ourselves the chance to get to really know a person before making a commitment. Once we have made that commitment, we need to honour it, but if the relationship becomes a portal for negative outbursts, addiction, or abuse, it’s time to reevaluate and consider getting help or moving on.
And yes, many times, things can be fixed or at least improved upon. Your partner may be venting some old inner pain, or may be feeling the pressure of life to the extent where he or she inappropriately takes it out on you. Once past hurts are brought up and dealt with, many couples can rediscover their love and once again move forward.
I believe in love, but I also know that life can sometimes get in the way and we don’t always make the right choices. If this has happened to you, please don’t let it go unchecked. Look deeply into yourself, your relationship, and your loved one’s eyes and truly see where the two of you are as a couple.
Together you can make choices that will make both of your lives better.
Hey author, you’re confusing love with lust & physical attraction etc. And yes, those cuckoo doctors & scientists are wrong. Love is NOT science, not even one iota. Yes, initially there are chemicals involved of course, and hormones rushing, and feelings, but that’s just the attraction. The rest is made up of decisions, and judgments a person makes about the other person, and whether they would be good together, same intentions, values, etc. And love just doesn’t happen, or stay. There’s some effort involved. But that’s where some of us bail out.
February 23, 2011
Judi Light Hopson, Emma H Hopson, RN, and Ted Hagen, PhD
February 22, 2011 – 12:30PM
Do you need to clear out mental baggage from the past? Maybe old hurts, fears and plain bad memories leave you feeling depressed and exhausted.
Like a computer that needs a good scanning and cleaning, your brain may need a tune-up as well.
Troubling thoughts affect anyone’s emotional state. It’s much like a computer moving way too slow, because there are too many programs running in the background.
Getting rid of clutter from your past will clean up space on your brain’s “hard drive,” so to speak. You’ll feel lighter and ready to move forward.
“I’ve been exhausted for 10 years,” says a woman we’ll refer to as Kate. “I have too much emotional baggage. I regularly think about old arguments with my ex-husband.”
We advised Kate to deal with her anxieties and past wounds. She needs to lighten her mental load. She needs to make room in her brain for goals she can feel excited about.
Most of us automatically spend a lot of time looking back, especially if bad things really have happened to us. But, we owe it to ourselves to purge junk out of our thinking.
These tips can help you deal and move forward:
- Stop reacting and start responding. When you spend too much time reacting to stress, this keeps you in a victim’s role. Respond intelligently by saying, ‘I can take control of every situation without wasting too much of my own time.’
- Stop living in the past. Force yourself to get at least three new goals that require dedication. Use your time more wisely by living fully in the present.
- Dwell on positive memories. When you look back on your past, think about the good times only. Select only great memories and let the rest go.
“I used to have a tough time even looking at the house I grew up in,” says a doctor we’ll call Ron. “My dad drank a lot, and he verbally abused us. I was blocking out my family memories, but I was literally throwing that segment of my life away.”
Ron goes on to say that his cousin, Angie, is a psychologist. She advised him to go back and think only of the good times with his father.
“I spent about two weeks trying to recapture the great times we had,” says Ron. “I drove by the old house several times. I thought about the volleyball games and the cookouts my dad planned for us. That part of my childhood was wonderful.”
Ron says he began researching some of his dad’s military experiences. He realises his dad had post-traumatic stress from his combat service in Korea. Ron’s working on forgiving his dad and thinking about him as a hero.
“This approach has taken a lot of weight off my mind,” says Ron. “I don’t understand the bad stuff, and I don’t have to. I can let it go. I really do have the power to take this kind of approach.”
Ron says he feels less tired and more focused in his work, too.
“I don’t feel like overeating as much, either,” says Ron. “I used to have somewhat of a craving for food that’s kept me overweight. As a medical doctor, it was awkward to tell my patients to lose weight when I couldn’t. Those food cravings are under control now, and I really do feel very much at peace these days.”