A simple way to have more happiness in your life is to live with gratitude. When you live with gratitude you find that the world becomes a happier place. You may wonder as to how that is possible. When you focus your mind on gratitude your heart becomes lighter and you see things in new ways.
Being grateful makes you more aware of the blessings you have already received. Especially if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed thinking of what you are grateful for shifts you into a positive mindset. Here is a simple thing you can do every morning that will help you start the day right. Upon awakening each morning ask yourself the following question: “what am I grateful for today?”
Donna saw her life in a negative manner. As she asked herself the question of what she was grateful for at first she could hardly think of anything. With every day she began to see more things to be grateful for. As she described what was happening I visualized a rose slowly beginning to bloom to reflect how her gratitude list kept growing. What Donna experienced was a shift from her previously discouraged thinking to seeing new possibilities and happiness for her life.
No doubt you have noticed that when change is introduced into a relationship that the balance of the relationship shifts. The change may be much desired yet the adjustment to the change can be harder than anticipated. As an example I will use an alcoholic who has stopped drinking because it is a useful way to demonstrate the difficulties that can arise for families. This is what everyone was hoping for. Yet now comes the hard part. The family does not know how to live with a non drinker. And the alcoholic is confronted with the fact that just stopping drinking is not enough. Surprisingly families over time have learned how to live with an alcoholic but not how to suddenly live with someone who has stopped drinking. For families that stayed together through the tough times this becomes a very critical time. I will use the pronoun he even though substance abuse (prescription, drugs, alcohol) is equally a concern for women.
When we understand that the alcoholic or other addict has an emotional relationship with the substance, it becomes clear that now the emotional connection has to be reestablished with the people in his life. The spouse and children would like an emotional connection but at the same time they are angry at not having received it all this time. Likewise the previous substance abuser believes that the work is done without knowing how to reestablish an emotional connection with the people in his life. This is where understanding the impact of change is vital in the healing process. And having effective communication and relationship skills will be the glue for creating healthy loving relationships.
I have written a booklet on Relationship Success with the subtitle: How to be Happy Together. Although it does not specifically deal with substance abuse the concepts and ideas will be useful for anyone who wants to learn how individual changes impact on relationships. You can find it at
Today I want to talk about the powerful effect that relationships have on the individual. To simplify the discussion I will focus on couple relationships. Couples adapt to each other. Their communication and actions settle into predictable patterns. It works well if each person feels valued and accepted by the other. However, when one person feels the need to make some changes their relationship will have to shift to incorporate the change. This is where some couples run into difficulty as they deal with change that is started by one of the partners.
Let me give you an example. Jane began to feel that she was losing her identity. She was busy with work, children and daily demands. She was a giver and making sure that the needs of everyone were taken care off. Gradually she became aware that, as she put it, “I was disappearing”. The role she had been comfortable in at first now had become a burden.
Jane decided to make some changes in her life. First she had to change her definition of being a giver. She had to add herself to the people she was giving too. At first she struggled with feeling guilty when she began to set limits at work and home as to which tasks she could realistically do. Saying NO to requests was hard but she could see that it made her feel more in control of her life. She was now putting herself in charge of deciding what she was willing and able to do. She realized that she had naturally fallen into the role of caretaker since that was the role she had in the family she grew up in. As she began to make changes it meant that the balance in her marriage also had to shift. Knowing how individual change affects the couple relationship will be the topic of my next article.
Did you know that one of the most important ingredients for living vibrantly is energy? Most of us know that regular exercise and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and getting the right amount of sleep are crucial to creating energy. Did you also know that there are many additional things you can do that will gives you more energy?
When you eliminate the things that annoy you will find that you have more energy for daily living. One of the ways to start is to make a list of ten things that you have been tolerating. It could be something like sewing on a button, taking stuff to the dump, taking the car to be serviced, organizing a drawer,etc. These are things that have been hanging around your mind zapping your energy. It is when you take care of some of these tasks you will realize that you feel lighter. Give yourself the task of systematically beginning to take care of the items on the list and then add new items to the list. You will be amazed how much more energy you have when you are not so weighted down with tolerations that you have been meaning to get to.
Relationships can be energizing or they can also be big energy drainers. Pay attention as to what energizes you in your relationship. Do more of that. If you focus on the positives it is easier to also bring up some of the things that you have been meaning to discuss. Remember to say no when you feel that your kindness is being taken advantage of.
Think of yourself as having to be an energy creator so that you can have a vibrant life. When you feel good about yourself you are empowered to make your life the way you would like it to be.
When you think that you want to make some changes in your life it takes courage to get going. I have always liked the way Maya Angelou summed up the process: “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, I am with you kid. Let’s go”. This just says it so succinctly. We have to grab ourselves by the lapel and decide what matters to us in life and go after it. She is a great example because this is how she dealt with her own life. With her willingness to say to herself LET’S GO she overcame what could have remained permanent obstacles in her path. Instead she chose to move forward.
Our desire to grow and make changes begins on the inside. You start to hear this little voice inside you that nags at you. Something is bothering you. It could be with yourself, at work, with your relationships etc. It is a sign that you are being shaken by the lapel and you would be wise to pay attention to it. Your nagging voice is telling you that you need to take action in order to move forward.
Let’s suppose you dream of making a job change. You may not at all be clear as to what that would be. Yet just by having acknowledged that you want to make a change you have started the process of change. The thinking is just the first part because now you have to follow up by taking action. This new goal gives you a focus. Set yourself incremental goals. Take small steps that are doable in your search for what to do next. Are there skills that you can develop while still in the current job? Would it help to take a course that would give you the knowledge you need in the work you would like to be doing?
Having started the process you are in for a surprise. You find that you have renewed energy for living because you are doing something about your discontent. Feeling stuck or bored saps energy. Taking action that is based on trusting your own voice is energizing.
During the past year I have had the joy of writing for the magazine Magnifique. It is full of great ideas as to what you can do so that your life will shine. From learning to apply the Law of Attraction to specific how to articles you will be inspired to take your life from where you are now to where your dreams want to take you. You will learn from many well known teachers and leaders whose mission it is to support people in their journey to achieve success and experience joy.
What I especially like about the magazine is the emphasis on practical suggestions and tools that you can immediately apply. Here is a simple idea: when you first awaken express thoughts of gratitude. As you think of what you are grateful for you will start the day on a positive note.
In my role as the relationship expert I have written a number of articles on how to make changes in relationships so that both people can be happy. Magnifique also includes a special addiction corner and a column where you can get answers to some of your questions.
As you scroll down on the right hand side of this blog you will find a link to Magnifique. The magazine is only available on the iPad and iPhone and includes videos and sound. Click on the photo of the two happy people and you will be there.
Most of us are very aware of the benefits of physical fitness. We know that eating nutritious food, engaging in regular exercise, and having a sound sleep pattern will give us the energy we need for living vibrantly. When we take care of our bodies we clearly value our physical well-being.
There is another part to fitness which requires just as much care so that we can function at our best. That is emotional fitness. It has to do with how we feel about ourselves and the coping skills we have for dealing with whatever life brings. As we strengthen our emotional fitness we grow in self-confidence. The result is that we value who we are. We will want to treat ourselves with love and dignity and expect others to treat us with the same respect. We know that feelings of worth grow in an environment where differences are respected and we strive to create such an environment for ourselves and those we care about.
Physical and emotional fitness are the foundation for growing to be who we are capable of being. The benefits of strengthening both are that we will feel alive, energized and curious, in charge of our life, expect things to work out, are open to new possibilities, trust we can create our future and enjoy having a vibrant life.
Yesterday I was visiting with a friend and she told me that she had earlier spoken with one of her sisters. Sister was upset that she had not told her that she was taking a certain medication. My friend said to me that it had not even occurred to her to share this since it was a preventative and did not indicate a medical concern. Yet my friend was troubled by her strong internal reaction that, although it was now many hours later, she continued to feel badly. She reacted as if she had done something wrong and deserved to be scolded.
My friend was stuck in a thinking process that over the years had become a habit.
- She had to accept that she couldn’t help what she felt but there were many ways that she could think about the situation.
- My friend had control over her thinking.
- She did not know why her sister was so alarmed about not having been told.
- She could have asked her sister but instead her interpretation was that she had done something wrong.
- She needed to calm herself so that she could tap into her thinking. An easy way to shift from feeling phase to thinking is to count at least to thirty because that allows you to make use of your cognitive brain.
- My friend would then have realized that her sister was upset and could have asked her about it.
- She would not have automatically personalized it and made herself the one who was in the wrong.
- My friend became aware that she was in the habit of making herself the problem in order to not upset others.
- To change this pattern she had to change her thinking and follow that up with action that empowered her.
A number of years ago I came across this quote by Virginia Satir which seemed to speak to my friend.
“I recommend that you treat everything that comes to you from the outside as something with which to cope, not as a way to define yourself”. Life becomes a lot easier when we learn to separate what is in our control and what is not.
I recently came across this quote by Pearl S. Buck: “A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.” She understood that having a mindset for growth is the essential foundation for developing a loving relationship with each other. When both people in a relationship do not have a similar mindset they will experience frustration and struggles. Life brings continuous changes to which the two people have to respond. When two individuals with separate backgrounds form a union they soon discover that they have adjustments to make. If both have an open mind for change they will find that they can handle whatever life brings them. Each will feel that they have a partner who cares about them and will do everything possible to strengthen the union they have formed. This includes learning healthy communication and relationship skills which they may not have been taught when they were growing up.
I have recently published a booklet which I call “Relationship Success – How to be Happy Together”. You can find it at http://Amazon.com/author/kristinavonrosenvinge Here you will find useful suggestions for taking charge of your life while at the same time being able to keep the well being of the relationship in mind. The task of a healthy marriage is learning to think of “I” and “WE” simultaneously. When you do that you will find that you are true partners.
A young woman told me recently that she could not understand why she was so restless. She found herself thinking a lot about making changes in her career and life. What puzzled her was that until about 4 months ago she had felt content with the path she was on. How could she go from contentment to uncertainty and a yearning to make changes?
What she was going through is part of the normal path of life. Every one of us hears an internal voice that reminds us when we are ready to move on with our life. As I look back at my life I can see many such periods where I have been content followed by that little inner voice that was encouraging me to think about what I wanted to do followed again by contentment. It has guided me throughout life when I have headed it.
This young woman needed to cherish this inner voice. It was guiding her to figure out what her next steps in life needed to be. Of course it involved leaving her comfort zone. By doing so she would discover new strengths and directions. It is our life force that urges us to keep growing throughout life.
Whenever we ignore this inner restlessness we begin to limit ourselves. I know that whenever I have done so with reasons that seemed plausible but were excuses I have regretted it. I have known people who have stopped growing intellectually and emotionally by holding on to limiting beliefs. I have no doubt that their inner voice nudged them but they did not heed it. The result has been a great loss of joy in living. By going through these periods that take us from contentment to restlessness followed by renewed contentment we evolve to be the people we are capable of being.