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Be mindful of greetings (DW#349)

Here is your daily dose of Wisdom for Living Your Best Self!

Ever have a day when things have gone completely off track? Everything seems to have gone wrong, you are at the end of your rope and you cannot wait for your significant other to get home to vent. To "have it out" with them or just to "let it all out".

Consider this: The first few minutes of the interaction after you have been away from each other sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

If you can just hang in there for just a little bit longer, greet your significant other and welcome them, the effort will be worth your while.

It is much more productive to have a de-stressing conversation when both of you are calm, connected and ready to listen.

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Take a moment to say goodbye (DW#348)

Mornings can be a very busy time in families. People rushing to wake up, eat (or not!), get ready and get out of the door to make it in time for work, school or chores.

We are often busy thinking about what is ahead of us and may miss an important time of the day to connect with loved ones before everyone heads out of the door.

So take a moment to connect and say goodbye. Ask about what is ahead for them that day. What are they looking forward to or concerned about?

A simple ritual like this doesn’t take much time or energy. But it has a powerful impact on our personal well being and sense of connection with our loved ones.

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Celebrate their good fortune (DW#347)

Barbara Frederickson in her book Love 2.0 focuses on two different types of love: compassionate love and celebratory love.

Compassionate love is when our hearts open up to feel someone’s pain and we wish them a sense of well-being.

Celebratory love is, as the name implies, when we witness someone else’s happiness or good fortune and CELEBRATE it with them.

How do we do this?

When we see someone with a spring in their step and a smile on their face, we can take a moment to celebrate their apparent happiness and beam them a silent, virtual high five!

Barbara silently says to herself, "May your happiness and good fortune continue!"

Also when a loved one shares a story about their success with you, CELEBRATE IT!!!

While much counseling focuses on helping couples and families deal with the challenges in their relationships, Fredrickson’s research suggests that it’s actually WAY more important to get REALLY good at celebrating the POSITIVE stuff!

So today’s...

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More than a peck (DW#344)

According to our friend Dr. Gottman, couples should kiss for at least 6 seconds at a time, every day, to maintain a healthy relationship.

Why six seconds? According to Dr. Gottman, this "kiss with potential" is "long enough to feel romantic," yet it doesn’t make the kids late for school :)

It turns out that kissing has many many health benefits as well: it releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which means that the more you kiss, the more you bond.

Kissing also releases dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain. The butterflies you get in your stomach when you kiss? They come from epinephrine and norepinephrine, which increase your heartbeat and send oxygenated blood to your brain. Some studies have even shown that kissing can cause a reduction in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so kissing could help lower your blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.

So for part of the OTL challenge, kiss your spouse for 6 seconds twice a day for the...

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The eyes are the gateway to the heart (DW#343)

When was the last time you looked your spouse in the eye?

When we are first courting, we may spend a long time lovingly gazing into each other’s eyes but this becomes a rarity in long term committed relationships.

Yet scientists believe that eye contact may well be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness. Although hearing someone’s voice such as over a telephone, may sometimes create a micro-moment of connection, physical presence is generally essential for bonding and attachment.

A meeting of the eyes then, is a key gateway to neural synchrony. When you look another person in the eye, your brains activity synchronizes and in some ways, the two brains start behaving as one.

So for today’s OTL challenge, find an opportunity to look your spouse in the eye. It can feel weird and vulnerable at first, especially if you have not done this in a while.

Please don’t let it stop you.

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The 60 second secret to great relationships (DW#342)

It is human nature that we begin to take what is going well for granted. Our brains have a default setting to pay attention only when something is off or not to our liking.

Intentional relationships that bring us joy require us to switch off our default settings. They require that we begin to notice all the things that our family members do on a daily basis that are pleasing or make our life better in some way.

And then to share our appreciation with them.

It is a simple but powerful practice to pay attention to what is going well.

I call it the 60 second way to turn a relationship around.

Start noticing what they are doing right, and express your appreciation for it and then watch the magic happen.
You’re welcome

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The OTL challenge (DW#341)

We have been talking about building love by taking advantage of the micro-moments of connectivity and positivity resonance.

For the next few days, lets explore some practical ways we can practice OTLs (opportunities to love).

The key is to make practicing OTLs
1} intentional and
2} consistent
until they become part of your relationship rituals.

Are you ready to begin the OTL challenge? Commit to creating at least three micro-moments of connection every day with your significant other and watch love blossom.

For those of us who are feeling less than creative at the moment, we will share some simple OTLs to consider. Of course, feel free to add to these and do share if you come up with a creative OTL that we can learn from!

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Your love hormone (DW#336)

Have you heard of oxytocin?

Oxytocin is called the "bonding hormone" because it surges during sexual activity between people and during lactation in nursing mothers. When oxytocin surges within, human beings feel good and bond with another human being, creating new attachments or cementing existing ones.

The surge of oxytocin is so large during these particular moments of relationship activity that until recently, scientists did not realise that oxytocin is also released during subtler and low key moments, such as playing or cuddling with your children, getting to know someone new, sharing a personal story, trusting someone or being trusted by them.

During such everyday activities oxytocin is also released, leading to good feelings and attachments with others.

Oxytocin also works in another way. It turns off the "alarm system" of the brain by calming the amygdala so that you can put down your guard and get closer to the other person. To put it another way, the release of oxytocin...

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Let’s talk about Love (DW#322)

It is that time of the year again. The time of the year when Hallmark and Facebook start talking about romantic love and force us to confront the reality of the state of our own unions.

Now, I realize that many of us are annoyed (even allergic!) to "Hallmark holidays" and consider them nothing more than ways for corporations to make money by forcing us to spend money on flowers, gifts and cards and thereby keep the wheels of capitalism turning.

But all the cynicism aside, it is not a bad idea to turn our attention to our relationships once in a while.

And February is as good a time to do this as any other.

So let's talk about love.

To begin the conversation, let’s reflect on what love means to us.
What does love mean to you? Take a moment and write down 5-10 things that come up when you think about the word "love".

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What are your biggest takeaways? (DW#305)

What have been your major takeaways? How are you communicating differently these days?

Here are some reflections, personal challenges and growth/practice areas for myself

1) The key to connection is to be present with mind, body and heart. This is easier said than done. AND I can practice being present in this moment. And the next. And so on.

2) Every moment in communication gives me a fresh opportunity to choose kindness by being mindful of my words.

3) Talking is so much more fun. And automatic. But it is listening and understanding that is the gateway to connection.

4) Emotional reactivity will get me into trouble. Each and every time. Specially during conflict.

5) When I do get reactive (and I will), the best course of action is to offer a repair attempt to the person I am communicating with. As soon as I become aware of my reactivity.

6) It is sooooo tempting to avoid taking responsibility. It is even more tempting to insist on being right and to blame the other for the...

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