relationships

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

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 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.

 

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Ways For You To Choose Happiness

More to happiness than positive thoughts

People may tell you to think “happy thoughts” or to think positively if you want to be happy. And they would be right, and, they would be wrong. Happiness is a mindset, a powerful feeling. If you want to be happy it takes more than just positive thoughts. It also takes positive action. 

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While the dictionary defines happiness as “the state of being happy” which gives you very little information about the idea or feeling of, or state of happiness. Let’s look at some different things that happiness can be, but realize that in truth, happiness is in the mind of the beholder.

You have what you need  

When a person is happy, they usually don’t even have any needs that aren’t being met to the level they want them to be met. It doesn’t mean that someone is not having a hard time it’s all about how you make what you have fill your needs.

You feel satisfied

When you are happy you tend to feel simply satisfied with your life. You think about your life and feel good about it. You feel very satisfied when you look around your life and see all the fortune you have whether it’s where you live, who you live with, or just about yourself doesn’t even matter.

You’re contented

A happy person tends to feel really content about the things in their life. They feel content about their job, their home, their things, their health – nothing is nagging at their mind about anything causing stress. But remember happy people do have stress, they’re just better at feeling content even when things aren’t perfect.

You feel peaceful

A happy person often feels a lot of peace surrounding their life and family. They tend to know that everything will turn out okay and are good at turning negativity into positivity.

You define your happiness

The truth is, happiness is how you define it personally for you. It’s not about getting tons of stuff unless you want that. It’s not about finding a spouse unless you want that. It’s not about having kids unless you want that. It’s all up to you and  your definition of  happiness.

It’s a journey

Happiness is not a destination that you get to one day and stay at. It’s a lifelong journey that will have many ups and downs and struggles. However, overall the ups and downs of life, you manage to feel good about it. In the 1989 movie, “Parenthood” one of the main characters, a mother, who is struggling states that she loves “the roller-coaster” of life while her husband is struggling and not as happy because he focuses on the downs instead of the ups.

How you act

When you are happy you tend to act in more positive ways over all. When happy, you eat better, you move more, you think differently. Don’t worry. You have it in your power to be happy where you are in your life right now.

Happiness is more than thinking positive thoughts. Happiness is having your needs met, but it’s not about having everything, or even the best, it’s about being satisfied with what you have while also being able to work for the things you want. While you do have to do more than think positively to really and truly feel happy, it does start with your thoughts. However, it will manifest with your actions. 

For another look at happiness see my past post, Acting How You Want To Feel.

Five ways being happy is important

You probably have happiness as one of your life goals, whether it’s explicit or not. It’s probably up there with being healthy, wealthy, and wise! There are some solidly good reasons why it’s important to be happy, and some of them will surprise you.

1.   Happiness feels marvelous

Happiness is wonderful purely for its own sake. When you’re happy, you feel energetic and content. All is right with your world, and you naturally want to spread your good vibes.

2.   Being happy is good for your overall health

When you’re happy, you flood your brain with endorphins and other positive hormones like dopamine and serotonin. Your stress levels go down, along with your blood pressure and your heart rate.

Happy people are more resilient in the face of life’s stress; they tend to be better able to roll with the punches and come up smiling. If you’re happy, you’re less likely to suffer from heart disease, inflammation, and chronic disease. You’ll age better and even live longer!

3.   Success doesn’t mean a thing without happiness

Every day you can read about successful, wealthy people whose lives are out of control due to the pressures of celebrity, drug addiction, or alcoholism. Their success hasn’t automatically meant happiness for them. So, if you think that being rich or having a new car or being famous will make you happy, think again. If you hate your life, no amount of success will bring you joy.

4.   Happy people have better relationships

Happiness is contagious and attractive. We see happy people as more trustworthy and stronger leaders. They are also likely to have a wider circle of friends, have better interpersonal relationships, and are more likely to have a romantic partner.

5.   Being happy makes you a nicer person

It seems that happiness and empathy are linked. Happy people are more likely to share their good fortune and help others.

Happy people are also less violent and more peaceful. Researchers think that positive emotions make us more likely to seek a win/win solution and change the way we think.  

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions”.

   Dalai Lama XIV

Four truths of happiness

Stop for a moment and think about what true happiness is. Guaranteed it’s not a new car or a big house. True happiness comes from within and isn’t dependent on possessions. You can find real happiness in the following truths.

1.   Happiness is found in a full life

You can be happy even if things in your life aren’t going the way you planned. A full life has ups and downs, setbacks as well as achievements. Happiness means finding meaning in whatever is happening around and to you. Being grateful for whatever you’re experiencing will make for a happier, more satisfying life.

2.   Your happiness doesn’t depend on other people

Often people put their happiness in the hands of others. They need external validation to feel good. But relying on other people’s good opinion of you isn’t a healthy way to live.

Check in with how you feel deep in your heart, do the best you can, and let other people worry about themselves.

3.   Happiness is not pretending

Social media is full of people pretending to have perfect lives. They don’t. No one does. The happiness you see on TV or your social media feed may be genuine, maybe not. But remember everyone is showing the best of their lives. Likely a lot of them are pretending to be happier than they are. No one is going to post their latest fight or talk about being fired.

So, the online world you see, that’s full of promotions, and happy families is an illusion. The real world is much more nuanced, and real happiness doesn’t happen in a bubble.

4.   Your happiness comes from within you

It might sound like a truism/cliché, but true happiness does come from within yourself. If you expect someone else to make you happy, whether it’s a partner, friend or child, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. And giving them an unrealistic and unfair responsibility. The only person responsible for your happiness is you.

True happiness comes from a deep connection to yourself, from self-knowing and self-acceptance. And once you have that, all your relationships will be energized and happier. 

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Fighting Fair for Couples

It takes time and understanding to manage a loving relationship. Regardless of how much we love each other and work at our romantic relationship, there are bound to be difficulties that lead to arguments. This can be more evident for Seniors who spend a larger amount of time in one another’s company without the buffer of jobs or the raising of a family.

We are two very different people trying to live one life together, after all. When fights do occur, don’t let them descend into a free-for-all. Just like every other “game” in life, there are rules to fighting that everyone in love should abide by if they want to maintain their happy relationship.

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We all have to face up to the fact that we will have to begin conversations about touchy subjects throughout life. We may try to put them off for as long as possible because we don’t want to deal with them, but eventually, to keep the relationship healthy, we must.

As the years fly by we often take one another for granted. So, we become careless or neglectful of our partner’s feelings. We often sabotage or damage our partnership without realizing it until later. For some it can be too late.

These nine tips are designed to help couples fight fairly

Choose your timing carefully

It may never feel like the exact right time because you know it’s going to be a difficult conversation to have. Don’t pounce on your partner unexpectedly wanting them to change a long held pattern of behavior. Especially if this is something they have done for years and you are just now addressing this issue.

It can take real self-discipline to hold your tongue when you want to get something worked out right away. It’s better to schedule your conversation for a time when you are both relaxed and feeling well. When both of you are in a good frame of mind to discuss a difficult subject the conversation can end up not as challenging as you expected. If we blurt out our grievance without taking into consideration the mental state of the other person, or have given them no previous warning, we inevitably make the argument much larger than it needs to be.

Use “I” language

We’ve all heard this, but it bears repeating. The other person is immediately on the defensive when a sentence starts with “You do ___ and I don’t like it….”  It’s just human nature because it feels like we are being attacked. But keep in mind that no one can make us feel anything - only we ourselves can do that. So, switch your “you dos” to “I’s.” Say something like, “I feel ___ when you do ___.” It’s not just semantics - to show that you are in control of your feelings. You are focusing on the feelings instead of the behavior you don’t like. This allows the other person feel safe enough to let down their guard and discuss the situation rationally, instead of feeling blamed.

Focus on the now

It’s so easy to get all worked up and start pulling out grievances from months or years past. Most people tend to argue about the same type of issue over and over. For example, money and household responsibilities issues are common, even in the most loving relationships. Take care to avoid bringing up the past. And, if one of these slips out, apologize and come back to the current issue. (Note: if certain past issues continue to rear their ugly heads, it’s likely you have never truly resolved them.)

 

“At the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s keeping you together.”  - Anonymous

 

Never say never

This connects with the tip above. When you start throwing around words like always and never which are all encompassing, you know you are in dangerous territory. It’s usually an overstatement that simply escalates the fighting and does not accomplish anything or rectify the situation.

Discounting their feelings

We do this when we argue about the way they say they feel. Things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way because I didn’t mean it like that.” or getting angry when they share their feelings, even in a non-accusatory way can make the other person feel like their feelings don’t matter to you. Feelings are real. Obviously, you can’t maintain a firm connection with another person when they think their feelings are unimportant to you. Our feelings are our reality, and everyone’s reality is different because the way we experience things is different. Take care to avoid making your loved one believe they are wrong for having the experience that they are.

Believing one of you is right and the other is wrong

We live in a world of dichotomies. If something is wrong, something else must be right. But just as we explained above, everyone experiences the same situations differently based on our upbringing and background. These things shape the way we view situations. Many times, no one is right or wrong. We just need to come together long enough to understand that we don’t see things the same way and that there is nothing wrong in that. We can still have a strong committed relationship despite our differing views of reality.

Keep your feelings in check

Allow enough time to have passed so that you aren’t as emotional or angry as you originally were. When we bring a heavy dose of emotion into a difficult situation, it only amplifies everything - the words, thoughts, and feelings of everyone involved. The wrong words or a strong tone of voice can feel like an attack Before you bring up the topic, make sure that you can discuss it as objectively as possible. It will make the whole thing go more smoothly.

Listen without thinking

When it’s the other person’s turn to explain their side of the story or version of the situation, keep your thoughts clear. Really hear what they are saying to you. To do that, you must refrain from thinking about how you will respond when they are finished. We do this frequently in all types of conversations, and we should do our best to avoid it. But it’s never more important than when we are having a difficult conversation with someone we care about.

Understand that conflict happens

Even in the closest, most loving relationships, conflict is going to occur sometimes. If you have built a strong, healthy relationship with the other person, don’t let your fears of losing them run away with you. Strong relationships can tolerate the occasional argument or uncomfortable talk. It’s much better than the alternative, which is to bottle up anger and hurt, which results in a build-up of resentment. And we all know what happens when things build to a boiling point, they explode. Don’t let your loving relationship be swept away in that explosion.

For more information about what to expect if you Divorce After 20 Years of Marriage or More take a look at this post from the Equitable Mediation Services blog.


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