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Monday, February 25, 2013

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Tips for Increasing Intimacy in your Relationship

Here are some tips that I have learned along the way for increasing intimacy and closeness in a romantic relationship. Over time, we can start to take each other for granted and get caught up in the stress of dealing with life and intimacy can end up on the back burner, but if the love is still there, intimacy can find it's way back into your love life.

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-Relinquish Some Control. I think when we feel like we have to be in control of everything to make sure our needs are being met and we use a "if you want it done right, do it yourself attitude", we compromise intimacy. We add stress by feeling like we have to take it all on and we can undermine our partner and their efforts to contribute and help us out. So let them help and just relax while doing your part, which doesn't have to be doing everything. 

I think the most rewarding and also challenging ways I've used this technique in my relationship is with parenting. It's difficult not to interfere when it comes to my child, but I had to let go and realize it's not that big of a deal if my son's father gives him an extra cup of juice. He's competent and capable and he loves our child as much as I do so I just have to relax and not let little things that I would do differently stress me out. Not unless I want all of the responsibility on myself because I correct or criticize his methods. 

-Express your Gratitude and Appreciation. It's so easy to take people for granted, especially as the years pass. We don't even realize we're doing it. We just get used to that person being there and doing what they do. Chances are, the person you love is happy to do things for you that make you happy, but if they don't feel like they are appreciated, why should they continue? It's important to be aware of what you are grateful for about the person you love, because it helps you to feel content with your relationship by focusing on what's good about that person instead of their flaws. This makes you more willing to be intimate and more receptive to intimacy. It also makes your partner more willing to be intimate towards you when they feel they are loved and appreciated.

-See your own Needs Met. Do something for yourself everyday even if you only have a few minutes. Take some time to do something fun or relaxing to improve your mood. When you feel stressed out and rushed, it's hard to make time for intimacy and to be open to it when the opportunity presents itself.

-Recognize Opportunities for Intimacy. Even if we are craving more intimacy in our relationship, it can be hard to recognize it when it's right in front of our face. You don't have to share all of your dreams (again) or have a huge planned romantic evening or weekend away to see more intimacy in your life. There are opportunities for it everyday when you or your partner open up about your day even if it seems mundane or you do small things for each other. It's an opportunity to appreciate each other and express gratitude, therefore increasing intimacy. 

Daily Meditation 3: 3 Things I Would Change About the World

For my daily meditation today, I am thinking about what I would change about the world we live in today if it were in my control. I think that thinking about societal and global issues is necessary for personal growth. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power. Turning a blind eye to the world's problems is the easy thing to do, but if enough of us are aware of the issues we face and we consider possible solutions, there is power and value in that thinking. Here is what I would change.

-The Distribution of the Earth's Resources. I think a huge issue we face today is the unfair distribution of natural resources with a small part of the world's population controlling the majority of the Earth's resources that really belong to all of the people of this planet. What makes one group more deserving than another of what life has to offer? Why are some people afforded the advantages of medical care and clean water, while others are left to suffer and die?

-The Misuse of Technology. I think we are grossly misusing the technologies we have developed. We have the technology to take care of the earth we all depend on and all of the people on it and yet, there are still some who have way more than they need while others do not have enough. We use technology not to solve the earth's problems but to create more environmental and ecological issues.

-The Mistreatment of the Environment. We are intelligent enough to know that what we are doing in regards to the management of resources and the care of our environment right now, is not working. We are also intelligent enough to create technologies to produce clean energy and sustainability, but we are still creating disposable products for convenience and products that are designed to stop working for the sake of selling new products and making profits while the trash is sent to sit in a landfill.

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."-Mother Teresa

What would you change?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Awesome Power of Forgiveness

The awesome power of forgiveness lies in freeing yourself of the burden of anger and the pain it causes you. I know how hard it is to consciously forgive someone for hurting or betraying you. It's especially difficult when the wound is fresh and it doesn't seem like the person who wronged us deserves our forgiveness. Maybe they did something so difficult to forgive or maybe they don't seem like they've learned anything from the experience and they have no plans to change.

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I think something that helps in forgiving others is focusing on how they may have also suffered or been hurt by what they've done. It's easier to forgive when we see karmic retribution already at work. It's a lot harder when this person is a repeat offender whether that's toward us or others they've harmed in their wake. In that case, always come back to the knowledge that you forgive for yourself, because it frees you and allows you to let go and move forward.

It also helps in forgiving people when we think about the fact that people who hurt others and abuse their trust, the power we gave them when we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable to them, are the real losers in the situation. They clearly have issues of their own and we can sometimes feel pity for them when we focus on reaching the point of forgiveness. It's not about placing yourself above others. We've all made mistakes and done things we aren't proud of, but realizing that as much as someone may have hurt us, they are probably hurting themselves helps you forgive and let go.

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."-Mahatma Gandhi

Tips for Creating and Sticking to Realistic New Year's Resolutions

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When it comes to New Year's resolutions, we all know the old make a list, hope to keep it, but give up early in the new year habit most of us have. I think the start of a new year always holds the promise of something better. New opportunities, new plans, new goals, and that's an awesome thing...keeping moving forward. Whether we've had what we'd consider to be a "good year" or not, we all deal with crappy circumstances at some point during the year and the new year holds the promise of a fresh start and a new beginning.

So with keeping our goals for the new year, I think the biggest thing we can do is be realistic about our goals and the time we give ourselves to accomplish them. I think that's why so many of us toss aside most of the resolutions we made for the new year, because we were reaching too high. I'm not saying setting the bar high is a bad thing, but expecting more of ourselves than we can realistically accomplish because of time, money, etc. sets us up for failure.

-New Year's Resolutions for Health: I think a very common goal we make for the new year is to be more physically fit, to eat healthier, to make positive life changes for our health and well being and to lose weight. So when it comes to setting realistic goals for weight loss and fitness, I think it's better to say, I will make it a priority to exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week rather than saying, I will lose 5-10 pounds a week. I think the first is an easier goal to keep, squeezing in 30 minutes of exercising a day even if it's in 10 minute increments. Saying you want to lose such an amount a week can set you up for disappointment and makes it more likely you'll give up on your goals. It's possible to lose the amount of weight you want, but what happens if you aren't meeting the mark?

For diet new year's resolutions, I think it's great to start with small changes instead of vowing to never touch sweets again and go on some crazy fad diet like eating nothing but lettuce or drinking fruit juice for a week straight and nothing else. Not only is it healthier to make small changes, but it's easier to stick with. For instance, cutting out juice and soda to eliminate all that extra sugar that contributes to weight gain.

-Reward Yourself When you Reach your Goals: Sometimes just meeting our goals is incentive enough to keep on the right path and the sense of accomplishment is reward enough. I think the appeal of a reward can be really helpful in keeping on the right path. Promising to do something for yourself once you've accomplished what you set out to do is just extra incentive.

-Be Realistic of your Expectations of Yourself When you Make your Resolutions, Then Don't Give Up. Don't give up on or modify the goals you've set for yourself once you've made them or you may just give up completely or not really accomplish what you set out to do. Instead, be realistic of yourself and your current circumstances when you make your list of new year's resolutions.

Daily Meditation 2: Gratitude


 Today, I'm taking a few minutes to focus on what I'm grateful for. Are we always really aware of what it is we appreciate in our lives and what we've been so blessed with? I think sometimes we just need to take a minute to slow down and think about what we have that we want and not what we want that we don't already have.

There's always something we want in life. There's always something more we could have. The problem is, when we always want something else and we we ignore what we're grateful for that we already have, we can't be happy with the life that we have.

So take a few minutes for yourself today to think about or write down some of the things you are grateful for in your life right now. Don't focus on what you want or what you would change given the chance, but what you already have, what's already good, and a blessing in your life.

"The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see." -Dr. Robert Holden

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Key to Happy Relationships: Expectation

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I believe the key to happy relationships, not just romantic, lies in realistic expectations. There are a lot of other factors of course. Love, trust, mutual respect, gratitude, but I believe these other aspects of loving relationships are easier to maintain with a realistic attitude about what to expect from other people.

-I think gratitude, being grateful and appreciative of the people in our lives and what they offer us, is essential for feeling happy with the relationship. So appreciating what is offered to us and showing that not only makes us happier, but makes the other person in the relationship happy and makes us ultimately more deserving and receptive of their love and respect and the other gifts they offer us.

-When it comes to relationships, especially romantic relationships, I think a lot of us have a mental list that maybe we aren't even completely consciously aware of. A list of requirements that we feel must be met before we'll even consider the possibility of starting a relationship, which can lead to missed opportunities for love and friendship. It also exists in the back of our minds in the course of a relationship and when we feel the expectations and "requirements" we have for that person aren't being met, we're unhappy. Some of our expectations are reasonable and fair, but others aren't realistic and are bound to lead to disappointment and unhappiness.

-The biggest unrealistic and unfair expectation I think we put on our loved ones is the expectation that this person will never make a mistake, never hurt us, never let us down, and that's just not something anyone can live up to. We're all only human. I just think it's important for our own happiness and contentment in our love lives and other relationships that we don't let things like our grumpy significant other snapping at us after a bad day devastate us too much and let us believe there is something wrong with our relationship or the person we're involved with. There's always going to be a problem if we're looking for one.

-I firmly believe that we are all responsible for our own happiness and putting that power in another's hands is unwise and bound to lead to disappointment. I'm not suggesting being a doormat, but by focusing on ourselves, we make ourselves happy and our loved ones as well. We also make ourselves more deserving of respect and love when we love and respect ourselves.