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Happy World Happiness Day!

family relationships Mar 20, 2017

Did you know that happiness has its own holiday?

Five years ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 20 to be the International Day of Happiness.

You might be wondering why on earth do we need a day to celebrate happiness? Isn't it quite hokey and mushy for a world organization like the UN to talk about a personal and emotional concept such as happiness?

It turns out that personal happiness has a significant impact on the larger society.

Research shows that happy people are healthier; they get sick less often and live longer. Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends. They make more money and are more productive at work.

Based on decades of research, therefore, it has become clear that happiness is not just a personal issue; it's a matter of public health, global economics, and national well-being.

In light of this, it is not surprising that governments and national organizations are taking personal...

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Do you envy your neighbor’s lawn?

I have a confession.

As soon as summer starts, I look at the beautiful gardens in my neighborhood and am frankly quite envious of the thick, green, golf course-quality grass and the neatly laid out, lush flower beds that surround our somewhat neglected backyard.

I begin to believe that the grass is, indeed, "greener on the other side of the fence".

It seems so unfair. I, too, want green grass and a beautiful garden.

And then I notice that while I am lazing around in the spring, sipping tea and gazing longingly at their gardens and wishing I had the same . . . the neighbors are out whatever the weather. They are tending to their garden, watering the lawn and weeding and feeding the flower beds.

I realize that it is not unfair after all. Nature, it seems, rewards effort. The grass, it turns out, is greener where it is watered and cared for.

So instead of wasting time and energy on envying the neighbors this summer, I plan to start watering the grass on our side of the fence and work...

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Please stop trying

family self development Mar 15, 2017

When you request someone to do something and they say "I'll try", do you count on that person to fulfill that request? Probably not, right? You may think that they are hedging their bets, that they are not really committing to anything.

IF and only if everything magically works out, and the stars align, they MIGHT fulfill your request . . . if nothing better comes along AND if they are in the mood . . .

Not a great model for commitment or action is it?

And yet we tell ourselves the same thing all the time.

"I will try"

These words have so much hesitancy and lack of commitment built in, that what you "try" will almost never happen.

Here is a little gem I came across on the internet today:


People who try . . .
T alk about their challenges
R ationalize their circumstances
Y ield to defeat

People who do . . .

D on't accept excuses
O vercome with action

As Jedi Master Yoda says: "No, try not. Do, or do not. There is no try."

So how about stop "trying" and start committing to take action?

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Name it to tame it

Berne Brown, the world famous researcher on shame and vulnerability says that a way to tame your inner critic is to giver her a name and begin to understand her as an entity.

Because the critic thrives on secrecy, silence and the perception of judgment, giving her a name and calling her out on her tactics weakens her power considerably.

Brown calls her critic "Gremlin", but personally, I'd like to think of something nastier. I have tried various names for my inner critic and these days I am calling her "Ms. Blah Blah".

I can always count on Ms. Blah Blah to let me know why what I set out to do is not a good idea or that it is not a good time to do it.

When I wanted to start the Daily Wisdom project, for example, Ms. Blah-blah gave me a hundred excuses why I could not – or should not -do this.

Here are only a few of them:

  1. You are not consistent – you will start and then it will fizzle out
  2. It is too big of a commitment – you don't have the time
  3. You are NOT a good...
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Fight to win

How many times have we heard that marriage is about compromise?

I don't like that word. To me it sounds like losing. I don't know about you, but when I fight, I want to win!

Well if you are like me, here is the good news, you can fight to win.

We just to need to remember that our relationship is an entity, an entity bigger than me and you.

If we are fighting FOR our marriage, need to fight in a way that the relationship will win.

And this may sometimes mean that my short term interests may need to be 'compromised' for the ultimate victory for the relationship.

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Soothe yourself and the other

Do you know what calms you down? Have you shared this with your spouse?

Do you know what you can do to help your spouse calm down when they are upset?

HINT: It is almost NEVER telling them to calm down, take it easy, chill out, saying, "why are you getting bent out of shape", etc. etc.Phrases such as these are almost guaranteed to make another person more upset.

You can really only know these things by asking the question: How can I help you calm down when you are upset?

It is a great idea to get to know what soothes each of you when you are NOT in the middle of a conflict discussion so that you can practice calming each other when you need to, in the middle of an argument.

When you ask and practice soothing each other, it lays the foundation for dealing with conflict as friends, rather than as adversaries.

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Accept the olive branch.

Research shows that in most arguments or fights, people do tend to make repair attempts. The repair attempt may be in the form of humour, a smile, a touch, a word of apology or some other gesture. Anything with the intention of stopping the conflict from getting worse.

The problem happens when the other does not recognize or refuses to accept the attempt. This escalates the cycle and makes it less likely that the other will continue to turn the argument around.

Accepting repair attempts does not mean that you do not hold the other accountable for continued bad behaviour nor does this mean that you do not discuss significant issues in your relationship.

What it does mean is that you give the other a chance to make amends. To stop an argument or a fight from becoming worse. To allow the person to pull themselves out of the proverbial doghouse, so to speak.

So in your next argument, why not be on the look out for that olive branch, however clumsily offered.

And graciously accept it.

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Fight FOR your marriage

Are you scared of conflict? Some of us have been led to believe that conflict is a sign of trouble in a relationship and should be avoided at all costs.

This is a highly unrealistic and sometimes damaging expectation for a long term relationship. Happy couples and families have just as many disagreements and almost as much conflict in their relationships as families who are distressed.

Avoiding conflict may be a good short term strategy. Unless you are a saint (!) it is not a good long term strategy. Unresolved conflict builds up over time and leads to resentment if it is not dealt with.

Learning to fight in a way that does not destroy your relationship is the key to long term relationship health.

Over the next few days, let us talk about some ways that may help in dealing with conflict in the relationship.

For starters, know that not all conflict can be resolved OR solved (this is really bad news for some problem solving experts amongst us!).

It does, however, need to be addressed....

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Small things often

So, how did you celebrate the 'big day' of love? If it was just like any other day, I have some good news for you.

How we celebrate and what we do on major holidays or special days does not have all much bearing on how happy our relationship is over time or for the rest of the year.

Research shows that what matters more than any big holiday or celebration is what you do on a daily basis to nurture your relationship.

The magic mantra for happy relationships, it turns out, is "small things often". Small daily acts of service and kindness are the key to long term relationship happiness.

That is so much more manageable isn't it?

AND it takes us to be intentional daily rather than yearly!

(Have you been reading until the end? I share some links there!)

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Celebrate love

Its here. Valentine's Day.

The day that can lead to feelings of sadness for the single ones and to the stress of high expectations for those who are in romantic relationships.

We hear murmurings of "why do we need a special day?", "we should love each other every day", etc etc.

Yes, we definitely "should". AND it is easy to get distracted by the busyness of life. It sometimes helps to get a gentle nudge to get us to pay attention.

This Valentines Day, how about letting all the consumerism, paganism (!), political madness against the holiday be what it is.

And consider taking a moment to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the loved ones in our lives today.

With or without the cheesy cards!

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