Better Mornings Begin The Night Before

Gram’s Wisdom Number 8

When I was a young girl and woke up out of sorts, tired, disorganized, or unready to meet my day on time, Gram said I should have thought of that the night before. She told me I would wake up in the morning in a better mood, less tired, and less frazzled if I would prepare for the following morning prior to going to bed each night.

Gram suggested I put homework and books in my book bag, lay out my clothes for the next day, and tidy my room before going to sleep. This, I was told, was so I’d have no worries about the coming day, and thus allow sleep to come easily.

If you have been following Gram’s Wisdom you will remember in a previous post, I said she was a firm believer in a fix it or forget it philosophy. (I have placed a link to this post at the bottom) So, I went along with the fix it and added 30 minutes reading time before lights out in addition to the suggestions she made.

A better morning is found in your nightly routine.png


It has been more than fifty odd years since those days and I still adhere to a nightly routine. Yes, my routine has changed with the seasons of my life many times over. A good routine needs to work with you and for you. And yes, I still believe it is the best way to achieve a good morning.

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine
— Mike Murdock

Achieve your good morning

The cornerstone of a good nightly routine is to get the sleep your body needs to recharge and repair itself. You know you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle your day when you’ve slept well. You also know it’s easier to work when you aren’t fighting cobwebs in your head or the lethargy of your body.  

 

Finding a routine that works for you

Here are 11 suggestions for you to try:

·         Read something, anything for 30 to 60 minutes. Your choices are limitless, and you can access your books in a variety of formats.

·         Take a warm bath.

·         Listen to music that puts you in a relaxed frame of mind.

·         Tidy up your kitchen before going to bed. Dishes washed and put away, sink and counters wiped clean.

·         Reflect on what your victories were today and celebrate those wins.

·         Set your goals for tomorrow, start with 3 important ones and add a couple less important for good measure.

·         Meditate for 15 to 20 minutes.

·         Write in your journal for 15 to 20 minutes.

·         Spend some time visualizing what you want your life to be like next year or 3 years from now.

·         Lay your clothes and accessories out for tomorrow.

·         Prepare your bedroom for optimal sleep. It should be dark, somewhat cool, no distracting clutter or technology. Keep your linens clean. After a week or so your sheets are a breeding ground of germs comprised of sloughed off skin cells, airborne allergens, and pet dander.

 

These suggestions are designed to help you 1 sleep better and 2 wake up feeling more organized. Begin with 2 or 3 of the suggestions to create your routine and add or change them as you like. Give yourself time to adjust to what you have chosen, say 3 or 4 months, and make changes as needed.

 

I would love hearing what your nightly routine is and what makes it work for you.

 

Resource Reading from Previous Posts

Happiness Begins Within You Gram’s Wisdom Number 5

Your Routines Favorable Or Failure

My morning routine

I have been asked by a few people to share my morning routine. So, before I begin for those who don’t know me well, I am fortunate to work at home but, my honey still works a 9-5 job and we have 4 dogs.

6:30 Get up, let the dogs out, visit the powder room, and put the coffee on. I like to get comfortable on the patio, weather permitting, with my gratitude journal and write down what I felt grateful for on the previous day. These are large things like being grateful for the roof over our heads, or work that is fulfilling, and small things such as playing catch with our dog Luke, or taking food to a widowed neighbor.

When I complete my journal entry it’s time to sit quietly and mindfully soak up the beauty of a new morning. The consistent breeze is always welcome and the birds gathering for breakfast with their different songs are a joy to hear. 

7:15 I stack a couple of records on the Victrola, I believe music should always fill a home. Michael gets up and together we prepare 4 dog breakfasts and hand them out. While he goes off to ready himself for work, I make his breakfast, pack his lunch, wash up dog bowls fill bird feeders, change birdbath water, and put breakfast out for my stray cat.

8:00 A kiss goodbye and out the door he goes. Time to gather laundry and start a wash. While the washer runs for the next hour or so, I do housework. Different tasks based on the day of the week.

9:00 Hang laundry on the lines, play catch with Luke.

9:30-12:30 Work on my business. I do the harder tasks early since the dogs, nap longest in the morning.

12:30-1:30 Eat lunch, play with the dogs, and take the laundry off the line.

Do your routines sizzle or fizzle.png

 

My morning routine today is different than it was ten years ago when I worked out of my home. Yet it still serves me and allows me to be productive. As I am prone to frequent migraines my aim has always been the same. Enough structure in a routine so I needn’t think and can save that for my work. With enough flexibility to put off anything that is not either a necessity or urgent.   

 

The most important thing I do each morning is steady myself by not allowing a sense of urgency to penetrate.
— Matthew Weatherly-White

Are your routines beneficial or unsuccessful?

I know many people who hate the word routine. For them it conjures up images of drudgery and lack of spontaneity. But, we all have them to lesser or greater degrees and they save us time and increase our productivity by reducing the amount of decisions we need to make throughout our day. The trick is to keep them fluid and not so rigid that they feel like a straitjacket holding us back

Your present routines may be alright, but are they helping you to close in on your goals? What about supporting your priorities and values? When was the last time you looked at how well they are serving you?  

Are your routines changeable? Are you able to make incremental changes that enable them to serve you? Even the smallest tweak in a routine can make a huge difference, because they’re performed with regularity, and that adds up.

 

Questions about your routine:

 

Morning routine. From the time your alarm goes off until you’re out the front door, what do you do?

●        What time do you get up? How many times do you hit snooze?

●        What do you think about while lying in bed?

●        Do you have a healthy breakfast?

●        Do you do anything besides eat and prepare for work? If so, what? Are you doing those things optimally?

●        How much time do you waste that you could be using productively?

 
Evaluate your daily routine

How is your usual routine working for you? Are there any distinct faults or places/times where you would like to make alterations?

Learn to recognize wasted time. Look at your routines and ascertain how much time you squander every day. Include all valueless activities, such as watching TV. You may find it shocking when you realize the number of hours you’re wasting. Instead, consider how to improve the use of that time.

Examine your goals, values, and priorities. Make some time to write these down. It’s not feasible to assess your routine without having a standard to evaluate against. This step is necessary. If you haven’t any idea about what’s important to you and what you hope to accomplish, you’re seriously wasting a lot of your time.

Don’t forget any challenges you presently have in your life. Do your routines help, harm, or have no effect on solving those challenges?

 

Now, go back to your routines and make those changes that make sense for you.

 

●        What activities can you do each day that contribute to what you’re trying to accomplish?

●        What can you do each day that will put you closer to reaching your goals?

●        What is the optimum way to use your time in each of your routines?

It’s possible to accomplish more in the morning than just getting yourself to work on time. And, with a proactive pre-bedtime routine, you could teach yourself to play an instrument or acquire a new skill that could help your career.

 

Resource Reading From Previous Posts:

Do You Feel Your Gratitude

How Mindfulness Helps You Enjoy The Journey

 

You can accomplish so much more with effective routines. What are yours? If you liked this post, please share it.

Appreciate The Little Things

Gram’s Wisdom 7

One of the most important lessons Gram taught me was to appreciate the small. The tiny wins, the little casual conversations, the minute unremarked events, the small kindnesses. She said they were bits of gold and silver that fill out the majority of time between larger happenings. It’s when you buy a new house. Sure, you remember that event, but what you appreciate are the years of small things remembered as you raised your children in that new, now old home.

Gram also said we should set an example of what it is to be appreciative for others to see. How the people in our lives not our possessions are most important. That what you appreciate should become entries in your gratitude journal so that you don’t forget how fortunate you are

Appreciate the little things in life.png

 

 Be the example for those around you

 If you could help others find appreciation for all the small aspects of life, you make life better for everyone associated with you. People can forget that life has much to offer. They become bitter over time. It happens to many people, and they become unpleasant to be with for any length of time.

You don’t have to go overboard, but frequently mention how you enjoy your life giving them reasons why. Relate experiences about your weekend to your friends or colleagues and explain why you felt appreciative of those experiences.

Stay as positive as you can, even if the bitter people are negative. That is not easy as negative people can sour the moods of the people around them. But, by keeping a positive outlook, they will have a difficult time justifying their negative behavior.

Sometimes, bitter people just need to talk to someone. They haven’t been able to get their problems off their chest. These problems often build, which is why they become bitter. They feel as though no one is listening and no one cares about them. It’s not necessary to advise them, and this can be the wrong tactic to use. Simply let them talk. It can make a world of difference.

Get them talking about hobbies, sports, etc. Even if they aren’t active in these events, ask about their past experiences. When they start talking it may reignite a spark. That can be a great starting point in helping them get through their issues.

Some people will never break down their barriers, and that is unfortunate. They have stopped living their lives, and they are unappreciated of any aspect of it. Attempting to help them through their situations can bring some people around. If you can change one person’s life for the better, you are doing something good. Part of their change is usually to become more pleasant to be around.

 

I think the best way to show appreciation for things going well is to make things better.
— DAVID DROGA

 

People are more important than possessions

You spend a good portion of your time protecting your possessions. Certainly, you may appreciate them, but the problem is, you may be putting too much emphasis on them. Consider that when you depart from this world, those possessions are no longer yours.

Even if you inherited them from the day you were born, somewhere along your lineage, someone didn’t have possession of them. They were acquired during the short duration of your ancestors. You can show your appreciation of someone by gifting them with one your possessions that they have long admired.

Suppose you somehow lost some material item you valued. Perhaps you misplaced it, or it was stolen. Can you replace the item? It is understandable that it’s inconvenient to have to buy something that you already possessed. However, it’s not the end of the world.

The relationships you form are much more important than the items you possess.  Loss of a family member who passes on cannot be replaced. You should hold this form of possession as being much more valuable. However, many people take this for granted until it’s too late. You don’t get back the time you spend (or don’t spend) with them.

There are other ways to lose family members. If you are constantly working and not spending time with your family, they feel unappreciated and you will alienate them. Your spouse may decide to move on, and your kids may be resentful after a while.

If you are so focused on obtaining material possessions, you risk losing friendships as well. Many of these friendships took a long time to develop. They can be destroyed quickly by your prioritizing of your possessions.

Money does help make your life easier. There’s no doubt about it. It’s just that you cannot make it your entire purpose. If you find you are too focused on obtaining money and possessions, take a step back and determine what your family and friends mean to you. Learn to appreciate them for they are priceless.

 

Show your appreciation by being grateful

You may forget the little things you appreciate in your life. However, if you have them in plain sight, it can help you reinforce your gratefulness. Therefore, why not write them down, and keep them close to you?

Think of all the things you appreciate and start listing them. What makes you feel you have a fortunate life? If, you get stuck, think about the people in your life. Who makes you happy? List out the aspects of what those people do to make you happy. If you love the way your spouse smiles at you, write that down.

Your entry can be something simple, such as I am grateful for the time to read the newspaper on the train. The point is, no item is too small to add to the journal. Perhaps, you love the jokes that the coffee person tells you when you get your cup of coffee and your muffin. That goes on the list, too.

Your list should never be complete as you will find new experiences and people to add to it. Each day, there is potential for people to make a small difference in your life. But, remember that you make differences in other peoples’ lives as well. Try to make those experiences positive.  

Your gratitude journal can be a paper notebook, or you can store it electronically. How you store it is your choice, but you want it to be accessible. Commit to reading it and update it regularly. Add to it as you find more things that you appreciate in your life.

Maintaining your journal could be the basis for a book that you write about appreciating your life. By publishing your list, you may help others do the same. When they read your ideas, they may become inspired to appreciate what they have in their life and be grateful. Their list will not likely be the same as yours, but people are different so it’s only natural their list would be different.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this post. I would appreciate it very much if you would share it with your friends.

Male Menopause Effects And Treatments

I wrote a post on female menopause a year ago. Since then I have had requests to address the so-called male menopause. Sure, out at the pub men may lightly joke about it with their buddies and everyone nervously laughs. Yet, not surprising is the fact that men don’t want to discuss this issue seriously with the same sons they had the birds and bees talk with. It is also not surprising that we women are just as reluctant to discuss menopause with our daughters.

Women don’t have a lock on hormonal effects within their body. Males also have hormones and can develop issues related to their hormones similar to those of women. One of these conditions is male menopause, also called andropause or androgen decline or simply low testosterone. The term male menopause is not accurate for the condition since nothing really pauses, it only slows down.

Men experience a variety of symptoms during male menopause including fatigue, weakness, depression, poor sleep, and sexual dysfunction. Menopause is very different in men and women because men never stop producing sperm and testosterone even if the counts are low. While women stop their hormone and egg production entirely, a healthy man can produce sperm usually his entire life.

 

Understanding Male Menopause.png

 

Diagnosis

To diagnose this condition the doctor will perform a physical, ask about symptoms, and conduct tests to rule out other contributing conditions. Most likely, the doctor will test for testosterone levels to find out if the man is suffering from low testosterone, which can be treated as long as there aren’t any underlying conditions causing it like diabetes.

 

Treatment

If tests come back indicating a hormonal issue that isn’t happening alongside other conditions that can cause these symptoms the doctor may offer solutions such as diet and exercise, medications, or hormone replacement therapy.

 

Beginning

For most men, male menopause may start as early as 45 but it can happen at any age. Any male who feels uninterested in sex, tired, moody, and even depressed should first visit their doctor to rule out hormonal issues. Once that is ruled out then other treatments can be given.

 

What to do

First, it’s important to pay attention to your health always. If you notice changes you can’t easily explain away, it’s important to ask your primary care physician about them at your next yearly physical. Anything you notice regardless if it seems unimportant should be brought up with your doctor. Don’t allow your doctor to ignore the symptoms either.

 

Male menopause physical symptoms

 

The hormone testosterone helps the male body build muscles, have strong bones, healthy bone marrow and red blood cells. For this reason, dropping testosterone levels, which are part of male menopause, can cause havoc with those systems.

 

After a man reaches the age of 30 years, testosterone levels gradually decrease, falling an average of one percent each year.

 

·         Low Sex Drive – Are you, or your loved one, suffering from a low sex drive? Do you feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth to initiate sex? Do you find yourself making excuses when it gets near bedtime to stay up so that your spouse doesn’t try? If you’re experiencing that, your doctor may have the answer via hormone treatments.

 

·         Erectile Dysfunction – There are ranges of dysfunction when it comes to getting and keeping an erection. Some men with hormone imbalances can’t get an erection at all, but others can early in the morning, and yet others simply cannot maintain their erection to complete the sex act.

 

·         Low Energy – Having trouble keeping your eyes open when you need them to be open? Don’t want to do the things you need to take care of yourself and others? Can’t get through a meeting without wanting to fall asleep? You may have a hormone or vitamin deficiency.

 

·         Low Muscle Mass – Testosterone builds muscle easier. A man with low testosterone will have low muscle mass and be weaker than normal. If you’re trying to exercise and nothing is happening, get a blood test to find out where you stand.

 

·         Increased Body Fat – Low muscle mass and other characteristics of the physical symptoms of male menopause can manifest as increased body fat too. Especially fat that gathers around the belly and breasts in men.

 

·         Hot Flashes – Yes, even men will get hot flashes when they’re hormones are not balanced properly. If you do get hot flashes that’s a great sign to get to the doctor to get a test and find out what can be done.

 

If you exhibit any of these physical symptoms, get help. Don’t hesitate to see your doctor, there are many treatment options available.

 

Male menopause mental symptoms

 

Dropping testosterone levels, which are part of male menopause, can cause mental symptoms too.

 

·         Depression and Sadness – A vitamin D and/or a B12 shortage can cause depression and sadness if you don’t get it treated and often comes together with low testosterone. Your doctor may want to do some blood tests to find out how to treat your depression and sadness.

 

·         Mood Disorders – A hormone imbalance may lead to mood disorders too. A mood disorder can be characterized as having up and down moods. Sometimes he may be happy and the next he’s exploding with anger.

 

·         Decreased Motivation – It’s hard to be motivated if you don’t feel well. If your energy is low, and your depression is high, you may experience low motivation to get things done. You may not be able to muster the strength to get motivated to do what you need to do.

 

·         Lowered Self- Confidence – Suffering from a lack of self-confidence can also be a symptom of male menopause. The main reason is the low testosterone, which seems to sap the confidence out of a man.

 

·         Difficulty Concentrating – Feeling foggy and an inability to focus and concentrate is another symptom of male menopause. Many things can cause or factor into having problems focusing and concentrating. Talk with your doctor to rule out specific issues and find the actual cause, as well as helpful treatments.

 

·         Difficulty Sleeping – If you have low energy, and are tired a lot, which may cause you to nap during the day, which then creates a circular situation where you can’t sleep at night. Hormone changes can affect sleep a lot.

 

Most of these mental symptoms can be controlled with diet, vitamins, exercise, and possibly hormone therapy. If it turns out to be another cause, it’s worth it to be examined by your doctor who will conduct tests to find out for sure what the problem is.

 

Other people get moody in their forties and fifties - men get the male menopause. I missed the whole thing. I was just really happy.
— Rik Mayall

What you can do about sexual issues

 

Many men experiencing male menopause end up having a very low sex drive, but even when they want to have sex, they have issues with completing the act due to the low quality of their erections. While these things are difficult to talk about there are several things that can be done to better the situation.

 

See your Doctor

The first place you should go if you have any type of sexual dysfunction is to your doctor. You may have a hormonal imbalance, but you may also have a problem that is more serious such as a heart condition. ED is the first sign for heart problems or other blood flow issues that may lead to heart attack or stroke.

 

Exercise more

After you get a clean bill of health from your doctor, start moving more. Try to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes every day at a moderate to vigorous rate in a cardiovascular manner. Jogging, walking fast, jump rope, and rebounding are all great choices. If you’re out of shape, try water exercises.

 

Change your diet

If you’re overweight, it’s important to deal with that. Try to cut your calories so that you can lose weight. Many overweight men have low testosterone and have issues with sexual function. Try a low-fat, low-calorie diet. Keep your weight at a healthy range to maximize proper hormone production in your body.

 

Meditation

Some men have sexual issues due to stress and anxiety. Being stressed increases the level of cortisol in your blood, which increases belly fat, which increases your chances of cardiovascular issues. This often shows up first as erectile dysfunction. Meditating daily can help you calm yourself and focus on something else other than the circular thoughts that accompany stress and anxiety. You can find guided meditations on YouTube and even some podcasts to help you succeed.

 

Medication

There are medications that can help you get an erection such as Viagra. These are only available by prescription and are not usually covered by health insurance. They are very expensive and may not be safe for everyone.

 

7 Male menopause natural remedies

 

Men often experience testosterone levels dropping starting in their 40’s or 50’s. If it’s this natural progression, there are natural treatments that you can pursue to treat yourself. Be sure to check with your doctor first.

 

·         Eat fruit and veggies – Fruit and vegetables are the best things you can eat if you’re experiencing any menopause symptoms. Produce is full of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. They are also full of fiber, which is an important part of a healthy diet.

 

·         Replace fat with healthy fats – Try to keep your fat intake less than 30 percent and ensure that it’s all healthy fats. Fats that occur naturally in your food, such as those found in bananas and nuts, or from fruit like olives and coconuts are best. You can use nut oils if you’re not allergic but try to stick to fruit oils.

 

·         Add daily green tea – The Chinese swear by green tea so you should try it. It can’t harm you unless you find that caffeine affects you negatively. Buy a high-quality green tea and prepare it according to directions. Try to avoid using sugar for sweetening.

 

·         Don’t forget your Omega 3’s Omega 3 fatty acids is a type of fat that is essential to the body. Your body cannot make them, so you must ingest them. You can get this fat from fish, vegetable oils, fruit oils, nuts, flax, and more. 

 

·         Avoid Additives – It’s best to avoid packaged food if you can because it has so many dangerous additives. Some of those additives are sweeteners, unhealthy fats, and preservatives. For some people, this can affect them a lot.

 

·         Take Specific Supplements – If you’re experiencing male menopause look into supplementing with zinc, vitamin D3, vitamin B12, vitamin B3, magnesium, Boron, and you can try Saw Palmetto Extract if you have erectile dysfunction (ED). Give it a a good six months before you give up. The effects of vitamins and minerals can be cumulative so it may take some time when you go this route. Check with your Doctor about taking more than the recommended doses.

 

·         Stay Hydrated – Drinking plenty of water helps your body process the vitamins and minerals that you need to be healthy. You need a minimum of 64 ounces of water each day and in some cases more if you’re exercising or live in a dry climate. 

 

Medical treatment options

 

If you’re looking for treatment options for male menopause, there are a few things that can be done. In most cases, you’re the one in complete charge of getting better. While there are some medical interventions, in most cases, lifestyle changes will produce additional results that make a significant difference.

Your doctor is your first line of information and treatment. Also, keep in mind that there is no cure for male menopause that is going to work overnight. It may take months to feel better so stick with it.

 

Medication therapy

There are medications that men can take that will help them overcome their issues. If they have erectile dysfunction medicines like Viagra can help. If you have other issues, the doctor may prescribe more medications to treat other conditions. Research every medication prescribed to ensure that you’re willing to live with the potential side effects first.

 

Testosterone replacement therapy

If you have low-T and you’ve tried other methods such as taking vitamins and minerals without success hormone replacement may be for you. However, if you have a family history of prostate cancer it may not be a good option for you. For men for whom hormone replacement therapy works they should see improvements relatively quickly compared to the other methods.

 

Thankfully, male menopause is treatable. It’s not something a man has to live with for a lifetime like with female menopause, which is the end of the egg and hormone production time for her. A healthy man can be treated with exercise, diet, and hormones and get back much of his vibrancy including sexual function.

 

If you are interested in knowing something of Female Menopause take a look at

https://www.joycearussell.com/blog/managing-your-life-and-symptoms-during-menopause

 

I know this is one of those topics many are squeamish about. But being too embarrassed to acknowledge and discuss a condition most of us, both men and women face in our middle years does us and our children a disservice.

 

I hope you found this post enlightening and valuable. Please share it with your family and friends.

Simple Love And Care Advice For Couples

Grams Wisdom 6

When I was 40 something I embarked on a new relationship. Only to find Gram had still more wisdom to share with me. Just a few months in she wanted to know was I happy and was I taking good care of him?

I admit to the desire to remind her that he was also a grown up and I hardly felt that at this stage of my life his care should be my responsibility. But I kept that thought to myself.

It seemed Gram wanted to remind me that in any couple’s relationship, what matters most is each other. Children grow and go, careers ebb and flow. If you can manage a loving caring relationship into old age, then fortune will have smiled on you.

 

Your partnership reflects the kind of care you give it.png

Take a vacation

Actually, Gram said “don’t stay home and paint the house.” Whether you are a couple or a family with children, everyone benefits from a change of scenery. You and your spouse or partner need to have some fun time together to rest and recharge or soon your relationship becomes tiresome and stale.

Consider tackling that large project over several weekends instead of during your vacation. Otherwise you might come home to a newly painted house after work every day, but as you roll into the driveway you won’t appreciate it. Instead all you will see are the difficulties you encountered, how tired you were at the end of each day, and the unkind things you probably said to one another.

 

Play to your strengths at home

Next, she said a peaceful happy home revolves around getting things done but not if one person is doing the lion’s share of the household chores.

I was told I should play to my strengths, choose and do the chores that I wanted to do. Have him choose the things he wanted to do. Share some tasks and negotiate any leftover chores. Then finally, pay someone to do what neither of us wanted to do.

 

The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.
— Carson McCullers

What I learned on my own

  

Beware of Taking Each Other for Granted

Whenever a couple begins to live together or get married, everything is so new and exciting that you think it will go on forever. Unfortunately, day-to-day stresses and busy schedules can soon mean the excitement wears off and you feel like you are living in a well-worn rut. It’s like you’ve become roommates, not lovers, and have begun to take each other for granted.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The important thing to know is what bad habits are passion killers and avoid them. In fact, you could introduce some everyday habits that would prevent you from taking each other for granted. Here are some suggestions:

 

Learn Each Other’s Love Languages

The marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman has written a series of books titled, The 5 Love Languages. The five are:

 

* Acts of service

* Gifts

* Physical touch

* Praise

* Quality time

 

In the books, he states that everyone has a primary and secondary love language. Knowing your partner’s love language can help them feel appreciated and not taken for granted.

You might think you are being loving if you buy gifts or do acts of service, for example, but if your partner values quality time and physical touch, you will clearly not be speaking the same language.

Ironically, in many cases, one of the partners in a relationship will often become a workaholic because their love language is acts of service, but this will mean little to a partner who wants quality time with their significant other. The promise to "work less someday" often comes too little, too late, because the spouse waiting for quality time feels so alone and so taken for granted.

The workaholic partner can feel taken for granted as well: "I’m working so hard every day, and all my spouse ever does is complain I’m not home with them holding hands. Don’t they know I’m doing all this for THEM?"

 

Follow Through on Your Love Language Research

You can each take the free quiz online to determine your primary and secondary love languages. If they don’t mesh at all, it will be important to discuss what you can each do to ensure that the other person doesn’t feel taken for granted. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/

Here are a few suggestions you can work into your daily schedule as positive habits that show you care, but without taking up too much time or money.

 

Acts of service

This means doing the dishes, taking out the trash, feeding and walking the dogs, helping more with the children, taking the car to the car-wash, doing the cooking or the laundry.

 

Praise

It’s easy to give words of praise:

 

* I’m so proud of you

* Well done

* That was amazing

* You’re such a great cook

* You’re a great dad, helping out with the kids so much

* And so, on

 

The praise should be sincere and, if possible, specific to something the other person has done recently. This shows you are noticing them and not taking them for granted.

 

Gifts

Little things can mean a lot:

 

* A single red rose

* Their favorite candy

* A piece of clothing you know they had their eye on at the mall

* A nice meal out

* A note tucked where it will be found later

 

And anything else that you know they would like.

 

Quality time

This can be tough if you have kids, but it is worth it to make the effort:

 

* Thirty minutes of chatting and hand-holding once the kids are asleep

* A regular date night

* A shared activity you both enjoy, such as a walk or a bike ride at your local beauty spot

* Walk the dog(s) together

 

Physical touch

In many cases, this will mean sex, but it can mean a lot of other things as well:

 

* Cuddling

* Holding hands

* Hugging

* Kissing

* Trading massages

* Showering or bathing together

 

And anything else you both enjoy.

Find your love languages and give these ideas a try - then see how it helps bring romance into your life rather than your having taken each other for granted.

 

I hope you enjoyed this small mix of my Gram’s wisdom with some of my own. If you found it valuable, please share it. I appreciate you taking your time to read this.

Rekindle Your Romantic Life

Activities to reawaken your romantic senses

 

Too many couples pay less attention to the romantic side of their lives while other aspects receive a higher priority. Sure, raising children, establishing a home, and getting ahead in your career are important for you both. And, life comes at you in seasons and it’s to be expected that some things or events just demand more of your time and attention at certain times.

Yet, putting your romantic lives on the back burner and living like roommates rather than as lovers is not good for the long-term health of your relationship. This is just as true if you are working empty nesters or an active senior couple who has fallen out of the habit of seeing yourself or your partner as a lover.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Romance and intimacy are all about making and keeping connections alive with your partner. Connections using your five senses can help.

 

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Touch

1. Hand-holding - is something most couples do when they are first dating, but an activity many couples stop once they’ve been together for a while. Yet hand-holding brings people together both physically and emotionally.

Walking down the street or in a mall or in nature holding hands connects you in terms of posture, pace and shared experience. Holding hands when you are sitting watching TV is also a way of sharing experience.

 

2. Hugging - Hand-holding can lead to hugging and snuggling, especially when you are sitting together.

 

3. Kissing – Don’t forget that kiss on the way out the door combined with a have a good day. What about your arrival home? Do you offer a kiss and a how was your day?

 

4. Sleeping in bed - Do you sleep far apart? Or even in separate rooms? Or do you tend to spoon and snuggle up? There might be some valid reasons for separate rooms (such as health issues) but if this is the case, do plan to make up for the physical contact prior to going to bed to sleep.

 

Taste and other connections

5. Sharing food can be very intimate and fun. Exploring new foods together can be an adventure and feeding one another bites from your plates is a lovely tactile experience.

 

6. So too are nostalgic things you like to do together that help remind you of how you became a couple.

 

7. Some couples "nest" by shopping together to choose things that will make their house feel more like a home.

 

Sound

8. Your taste in music can bring you closer together as you sing along to old favorites and new. Extra points if you have an “our song.”

 

9. Some couples like to have pleasant sounds in the bedroom, especially the sounds that wake them up, so they are not jolted out of their sleep each morning. Bird song, the patter of rain, and other soothing sounds can give you a chance to snuggle in bed before facing another busy day.

 

Smell

10. Shared smells can bring a sense of closeness. Perfume and aftershave are known for their allure, provided you don’t use too much of them and the other person likes the fragrance.

 

11. Scientists also posit that pheromones can affect how a couple reacts to each other.

 

12. Then there is aromatherapy. This ancient healing method uses highly concentrated botanicals known as essential oils to elevate the mood and re-establish balance and harmony. Citrus scents like lemon and neroli (orange flower) boost the energy. Lavender and cedar-wood are more soothing. Combine with massage for a romantic evening together.

 

Sight

13. Not everyone fills their house with photos, but it is always a good idea to have at least a few around the house to remind you of all the good times you have shared.

 

14. Some of the photos can be romantic, to remind you of what you first found so attractive about each other. You can include a wedding photo, and/or a snap from your honeymoon.

 

15. Some photos can be action shots of shared activities that should help you bond and make you feel closer.

 

16. Create a shared album online from the photos you take on your phone. Looking through them will remind you of all the fun and romance you’ve shared together.

 

I am a mix of both old and modern. I think it’s up to what suits the two people in love best!
— Shraddha Kapoor

Ideas for romantic date nights

           

Both men and women struggle with romantic ideas for a date night that puts romance back on the front burner, especially if they’ve been in a rut for any length of time.

Here are ten ideas that should work, and which don’t have to cost a lot.

 

1. Dinner for two

Depending on your budget, you could go out to your favorite restaurant. Or, you could plan to cook a nice multi-course meal, complete with wine and dessert, that caters to your tastes. Even if you are not a great cook, there are a lot of meal kit services that deliver everything you need in one package to make an (exotic) meal of your choice for a fraction of the cost of dining out.

 

2. Evening picnics

This is ideal when the evenings start to get longer. Head to your local park, beach or beauty spot with a picnic hamper full of your favorite treats. If it’s within walking distance of your home, you can share some champagne or even cocktails.

 

3. A late-night opening

Most museums and art galleries stay open late one night of the week. Take your loved one to the exhibits and plan a nice meal out or at home.

 

4. Movie Night

Go out or stay in with a pile of DVDs or streaming. You don’t have to see a romantic movie, but it can help.

 

5. Couples day at the spa

Some spas have couples' nights and special couples' rooms and other features to set a romantic mood for the evening. Choose from various forms of massage and other therapies. See if they also serve food and drink at the facility.

 

6. Trip to the gym

This may not sound that romantic, but the truth is that exercise elevates mood and gives a good boost of energy. Competitive couples can find it sexy to face off over various activities. Others find it fun to take classes together, such as spinning or Zumba.

 

7. Ballroom dancing

Even if you have two left feet, this can be an activity your partner will really enjoy and be fun and romantic as well. Dress up or down and bring your sense of humor and fun with you.

 

8. Sporting events 

Again, this is not always sexy or romantic for everyone, but spending quality time together on a shared activity makes it easier to get closer and bridge any gaps that have formed because you’ve been putting romance on the back burner instead of making it a priority.

 

9. A Concert

This is perfect if you both love music. If the price of tickets is very high in your area, look for open air concerts in the local parks.

 

10. An overnight getaway

Try a weeknight in a nice hotel, complete with room service and a trip to the hot tub. You can usually get an affordable room rate and won’t have to worry about anyone bothering you once you hang up that "Do not disturb" sign.

This is ideal for couples with children who can get a sitter or the Grandparents to look after them overnight while you lay the ground for the romance and intimacy that has been lacking in your relationship. Check Groupon and similar sites, or travel sites, for special deals.

 

Listen to each other - really listen

 

There is little in life more romantic than your partner wanting to confide in you their hopes and dreams. But listening is a vastly underrated skill.

Many people are in such a hurry to explain their ideas or express themselves they rarely let anyone else get a word in.

If you struggle with communication issues or if your partner is not as forthcoming as you feel they might be, perhaps it’s time to assess how good a listener you really are.

 

A good listener

Here are a few illustrations of the difference between a good and a bad listener.

 

Make time

We are all busy, so, "Have you got a minute," is often the way we open conversations with family and with friends. They mention what is on their mind, and your response is likely to be one of several things, all unlikely to be conversation openers, but rather, communication closers.

You might go into full problem-solving mode, but it’s important to consider not only the other person, but the reason they are speaking to you. Your partner might not want you to "solve" their problem. They might just want you to be a willing ear and really hear them.

You might respond negatively with an abrupt, "I really don’t have time for that now." The risk is in shutting down the conversation not just at that point, but forever.

A different approach might be to say, "I’m just finishing up something. Can you please give me X minutes, and then I will give you my full attention?"

 

Listen without judgement

Telling someone what to do after they have told you something is judging them and the situation. However, this is rarely helpful because we aren’t all the same, and what may seem like a minor issue to you could be a big deal to your partner.

A good listener will therefore not comment, or problem solve, unless they are asked to do so.

 

Repeat what you think you hear

For a bad listener, what the person says is not always what you hear. Again, this might be a value judgement on your part, such as that person is a complainer, is never happy, and so on. This devalues the person’s trust when asking for help, and real communication will not take place.

An alternative is to really listen to the person, and when they are finished speaking, to repeat what you think you have heard. You might phrase it like, "So what I think you’re saying is that you’re worried we haven’t been spending enough quality romantic time together, and you would like us to schedule a regular date night without the children around."

 

Defensiveness

If you’re correct about what you’ve heard in the example above, you might be furious that they are complaining they are not getting enough time with you; you already think you have plenty of quality time, and so on. Remember, this is their perception of the truth and they hope you will be willing to discuss the issue and work with them to resolve it.

You’ll never know what’s on a person’s mind if they give you the silent treatment, so practice being a good listener and see how much your relationship improves




I hope you enjoyed this post and found it valuable as well as relevant regardless of your age. Please share it with anyone you believe needs it.




Prioritize Your Happiness

Are you wasting your precious time wishing that you had more things to make you happy? How’s that working for you? Life’s short hadn’t you heard. If it’s happiness you want then that’s the feeling you need to prioritize. Not the ephemeral feelings from a string of new things. So, to become happy it’s best you start with gratitude for what you already have.

  

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Happiness increases with gratitude

You may not realize that noticing the good things in your life can make you happier. But when you do, you’ll approach life from a much more positive viewpoint so that your daily tasks and goals feel joyful and less burdensome.

Here are four ways practicing gratitude can make for a happier life.

1.     It sets up a virtuous circle

The more you appreciate the good things in your life, the more you’ll see. And by focusing on things that make you happy, you’ll become more optimistic and expect to see good things! And then you have more to be grateful for and so on. Before you know it, you will have set up a lovely self-fulfilling cycle of positivity and happiness.

2.     You’ll attract more friends

People who are cheerful and optimistic tend to have more friends. Think of Big Bird and Oscar, the Grouch – who’s more fun to be around? Who has more friends? The person who’s cheery and singing, or the grouchy complainer?

3.     You’ll be more resilient

When you are grateful for what you already have it sets you up to be better able to deal with difficult times when they come along. Instead of focusing on the heavy rain during your drive to work, you are grateful that your lawn will be green without having to turn on the sprinklers.

4.     You’ll live longer

Perhaps the most surprising benefit of practicing gratitude is the impact it can have on your physical health. Gratitude primes you for happiness and being happy sets off a whole train of positive chemical interactions in your brain and body. Research has shown that happier people live longer, healthier lives.

The thing everyone should realize is that the key to happiness is being happy by yourself and for yourself.
— Ellen DeGeneres

 

Happiness provides health benefits

Instead of the stress chemical cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and poor immune response, your happy brain will increase levels of dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals lead to lower blood pressure and heart rate and improved immune function.

If you are happy you set yourself up for a better, more positive aging experience. Unhappy people are more prone to chronic illness, depression and even earlier death.

Encourages Healthy Living

According to studies, happier people are almost twice as likely to eat more fresh vegetables than people who state that they are not happy. Eating more produce will automatically improve your health over those who eat a diet high in processed food.

Provides Energy

When you eat better, you tend to end up with more energy. It’s hard to imagine it but being negative or sad can literally drain your energy out of your body while being happy can give you more energy.

Boosts Immunity

Eating better, moving more, and feeling happy will also increase your ability to fight off illness and disease because it improves your immunity. A study showed that people who report happiness tend to fight off illness faster than people who report sadness. They literally gave people the cold virus and the happy people were three times less likely to catch the cold.

Lessens Stress

If you’re happy, you’ll have a lot less keeping you up at night, to worry about, and therefore you’ll end up with less stress. However, it goes farther than that because happy people tend to report less stress even when they are facing stressful situations. Due to the strength that happiness gives you, you’ll experience less stress.

Protects Cardiovascular Health

Because you’re eating better and moving more due to your happiness, you are also protecting your cardiovascular health. You’re less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or other issues related to heart health and the cardiovascular system.

Increases Longevity

Because you’re eating right, exercising more, and you’re feeling great about life, you will likely live longer. According to one long-term study that tracked the lives of 32,000 people to find out who lived longer, the people who report happiness, or the people who report being less happy. It's not surprising that happy people tend to live 14 percent longer.

Diminishes Pain

People who have chronic pain have a right to be mad about it or feel sad about it. However, the fact is people who report being happy tend to deal with their chronic pain (and other illness) better than those who were not happy to start with.

When you are happy, you’re more likely to eat right, drink enough water, and move. It’s mostly because you have more energy to do active things. For more information on nutrition see my past post The Right Nutrition Will Make You Healthier.

 

Happiness is its own reward

Many people believe that success will guarantee happiness. But delaying being happy until you’ve got that promotion, or a bigger car is a mistake. Tying your happiness to achieving your goals almost guarantees you’ll never be happy. Here are three reasons to choose happiness over success.

1.       Are we there yet?

Have you noticed that there are always more goals to achieve? As soon as you get that job, your eye is on the next promotion. Setting goals and achieving them is important but waiting to be happy until you’re successful is like chasing butterflies. There will always be another better butterfly just out of reach.

2.     Choose happy

There’s increasing evidence that happy people tend to be more successful. By focusing on being happy and living life on their terms, they are already successful. Choosing happiness in your current circumstances creates greater self-confidence. You will act and talk like you’ve already made it. And that sort of confidence is contagious and inspiring.  Simply by choosing to be happy you have a competitive edge!

3.     And the definition of success is…

Ask ten people for their definition of success, and you’ll get ten different answers. For some people, it is the consumer dream of an executive job, a fancy car, and a big house. For others, it will be the freedom to travel or paint or write or own their own business.

Probably the most important decision you’ll make is to work out what success means for you. And the most meaningful success is to choose what makes you happy. What is your passion? What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?

It’s up to you to decide what makes you happy. It’s still okay to want to have the trappings of success but think about why you want them. Chances are it’s the feeling you want rather than the thing itself.

If you think making more money will make you feel secure, or enable you to travel or support your favorite cause, maybe there are other ways you can do those things right now? Maybe you can volunteer for your charity, or choose cheaper vacation options, or start a savings plan.

There’s no need to delay being happy until you’ve reached a level of material success. You can choose to be happy right now and find contentment in the things that already make you feel good!

 

Happiness habits for the good

There’s increasing evidence that it’s not enough to learn a new skill or sign up for the gym. To succeed you need to turn that skill or commitment into a habit. Here are four benefits of forming good habits.

1.     Habits are easy to create, and change!

It’s easy to form a habit, whether it’s good or bad. You can choose to form a habit of getting up early for a run or staying in bed. It’s totally up to you, and you can choose to change a habit any time you like.

You can choose every day whether to eat healthily or not. But the more you choose the positive option, the more it becomes second nature, and before you know it, you’ll be reaching for the smoothie instead of the doughnut.

2.     Reach your goals with good habits

Once you’ve set your goals, you can adjust your behavior to make it more likely that you’ll achieve them. Establishing a daily habit is the first step to achieving success

If you want to lose weight, you can choose to get into the habit of exercising and eating healthier. Running every day will mean you’ll become ready to compete in that triathlon.

3.     Habits keep you focused

Once you’ve set a good habit, it becomes much easier to stick to your plan. If something is part of your routine, you don’t have to convince yourself to do it every day. You can also build new habits onto old ones, such as making sure you do meditation or yoga routine immediately before you brush your teeth. That way you’re much more likely to stick to your commitment.

4.     Habits are foundational

If you want to achieve your life goals, setting positive habits can become your building blocks to success. Make it a habit to pay bills straightaway, and you’ll never pay penalties or jeopardize your credit rating. If you get into the habit of getting to the office early and clearing your emails, you’ll become known for your dedication and efficiency.

Interpersonal habits can be important too. So, don’t forget the people in your life. Make it a habit to acknowledge the things your partner does for you, or when your children behave well, make them feel appreciated.

 

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Happiness Begins Within You

Gram’s Wisdom Number 5

“Fix it or Forget it.” Is what Gram told me when I complained of an unhappy day or experience. She told me my happiness was within me and not for others to direct, that I must choose my own path, if I truly wanted to be happy. She said that I should fix things that made me unhappy where possible and forget those things I couldn’t control. Many happy years later we heard “Don’t Worry Be Happy” on the radio. She laughed and said to me that song carried the right message.

So, you might think you know what happiness is but is that necessarily true?

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What isn’t being happy?

1.     “Stuff” won’t make you happy (for long anyway)

You won’t find happiness in getting everything you want or having things your way. Money doesn’t buy happiness: in fact, getting a raise or a windfall can increase your dissatisfaction as your expectations expand to exceed whatever money you have. That new car or larger house will soon start to feel like not enough.

You get the same goal displacement when things go your way. It’s human nature to keep pushing the boundaries and asking for more!

2.     Happiness isn’t cloud 9

People who are happy don’t live in a constant state of ecstasy! Life isn’t like that. Some days you feel great, other days not so much. And everyone has seriously bad times, that’s just the way it goes. Happiness is way more than just feeling good. It’s feeling contented and satisfied with what you have while living a meaningful life.

3.     Happiness isn’t the end of the road

Happiness isn’t something you arrive at, or you achieve, and then it’s done. It’s not something you can check off your to-do list. Happiness is more like a habit or method you can learn, a special routine way you have of looking at the world and your relationships and being happy.

 

Happy people are at peace with the highs and lows of life and find joy and contentment whatever their circumstance.

 

Recognizing happiness

It’s within you

By the fact that you’re a human being and you can experience feelings, happiness being one of them, you know that true happiness does exist. You can probably write down many days and things that have brought happiness to your life over the years since you were born up until today.

Who is happier?

It’s amazing but while it’s easy to say that people cannot be happy unless they have their basic needs met. You’ll find that there are people all around you who do not have their needs met but who are very happy. That bears out as true when you study rich people and realize they are not happier than poor people overall.

It’s about appreciation

If you look at a list of the happiest countries in the world, you will realize that being happy isn’t about the stuff you have. The happiest people right now happen to live in Denmark. Most people who live there pay high taxes, live in small homes and tend to not be as consumer-driven as people in the USA, for example. But the USA is 17 on the list. That shows that happiness is not about stuff.

It’s about your path

You may believe that happiness is about reaching your goals too. But, it’s not. If you often say things like “I’ll be happy when…” then it’s not likely you will ever be happy. You can be happy today, before reaching your goals, if you enjoy the path taken to those goals. It’s honestly more about the day to day living, not the goal achieving moments.

It’s internal feeling not external circumstance

Now, of course, some things in life can really get you down. However, for happy people, even the worst events will not make them unhappy, at least not permanently. A happy person usually has the skills to navigate negative things about their circumstances. Dr. Gillian Mandich, a happiness expert, states that our circumstances account for only 10 percent of our happiness.

Many people who have struggles in life often pooh-pooh happiness and like to claim that true happiness is not even possible. The truth is there are different levels of happiness that you can experience in your life. A happy person isn’t going to be the same level of happy 24/7, 365 days a year.  It’s not a straight line. There are highs and lows that you will experience all throughout life but whether you are happy or not is all about your feelings.

 

“We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”

   Thomas Merton

So where does that leave you?

Studies have shown that happiness comes from a combination of factors, from finding deep satisfaction and meaning in your life, to appreciating the things that are good, not focusing on lack or what you haven’t achieved.

True, lasting happiness seems to depend on some things such as mindset, expectations and how you feel day by day.

·        If you put more store in relationships and connections with the people you love, you’ll be happier than if you expect possessions to make you happy.

·         If you expect things to go your way they often do, and if you notice the things, you’re grateful for, you’ll find more of them. If you need things to go your way all the time, then prepare for disappointment.

 

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