How Liking Changes Our World

Finding what to like

Whenever we like something – it feels good, we enjoy it. Our brain registers when something is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Natural opioids – pleasure molecules – are released when we see things we like; on the other hand, disliking things can activate the neural networks of pain. Our liking or disliking depends a lot on what we pay attention to.

An example of this would be someone you know well, like your partner in life. Even if you love this person, its easy to get so used to his/her good qualities that you kind of tune them out.

The same is true for many everyday situations. You might feel fine overall about your job, career, house, neighborhood, but have lost touch with many of the concretely good things about them.

How to change it?

Pick something simple – a meal, a room, a view from a window – and find something you like about it. Perhaps it is a particular taste, or the curve of a favorite lamp, or the way light hits the tree outside.

For a few seconds stay with it and let the feeling of enjoyment grow. Be mindful about liking something. The liking could be subtle – but be mindful of the process of self-generating enjoyment.

Notice how much power you actually have over whether you like something, and your power to find more and more things to like. Try it with a person you are close to, with a friend, and with someone you don’t know well, ( a bank teller, a food server, etc.).

Maybe you notice a special gentleness, or quirky sense of humor. Then, for a change, try to do this with someone you don’t like very much – an irritating person at work or perhaps a relative.

How does it feel to see what’s likable about them, even the ones you may find irritating. And for those that are close to you, you can find that doing it, brings freshness, a spark and renewed intimacy.

And how about recognizing what’s likable about yourself? Can you see yourself in this way? And when you do – how does this feel?

Wisdom That Will Inspire You

Recently I participated in a 21-Day Meditation Challenge offered by Deepak Chopra. I was very inspired and I wanted to share some of this wisdom with you.

  • The secret of attraction is to just be yourself, just love yourself as you are
  • Say thank you God for making me just as I am
  • Look at your negative and positive qualities and say…I love myself just as I am
  • If you can radiate simple unaffected humanity you will be immensely attractive
  • Love is not the opposite of hate, being whole, love has no opposites
  • Negativity is born in the gap where love has been excluded
  • Gaps occur in places where we are afraid to see ourselves
  • All obstacles are created by ourselves through belief in non-love
  • Love grows on the basis of giving. The solution is never on the level of the problem. The solution is always love, which is beyond all problems
  • To see love in the moment, we must clean the windows of our perception. If we have our full attention in the moment, we will see only love
  • Love is spirit…Spirit is the self…To receive love we must give love
  • Love knows that we exist and cares for our existence…To Love, be lovable
  • Who we really are is not a collection of parts, but whole. Seeing ourselves as whole is the first step to seeing ourselves as truly attractive
  • You are only as attractive as you feel you deserve to be
  • In reality there is nothing to fear in the present…fear is projected onto the present by memory
  • When we believe we are loved, there is room for another person to love us
  • In the eyes of spirit, you are always enough

Another piece of wisdom from Deepak Chopra that made an impression on me, was what he said while being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. He said that he used the following concepts in teaching his children, and wants other people to use to teach their children. I would add that we all need to use it to transform ourselves:

  1. I am beneath no one
  2. I am fearless
  3. I am immune to criticism

Thank you Deepak Chopra for sharing your insights with us!

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Couples Therapy

I have created this article to provide clarity and focus to our work together. Couples are often uncertain what to expect from the process of Couples Therapy. I have found that most couples approach therapy with the notion that each person will describe their distress and somehow the therapist will assist them to create a happier more functional relationship. They expect to learn some new or better skills. However, most people hope that their partner will do most of the learning in problem areas. It doesn’t work quite that way.

Your job is to create your own individual goals for being in therapy. My job is to help you set and reach these goals. I have many, many tools to help you become a more effective partner — they work best when you are clear about how you aspire to be as a partner.

Goals of Couples Therapy

The major part of Couples Therapy is increasing your knowledge about yourself, your partner and the patterns of interaction between the two of you. Therapy becomes effective as you apply new knowledge to break ineffective patterns and develop better ones. The key tasks are:

  • The kind of life you want to build together
  • The kind of partner you aspire to be
  • Your individual blocks to becoming that partner
  • The skills and knowledge necessary to do the above task

Trade offs and tough choices

To create sustained improvement in your relationship you need:

  • A vision of the life you want to build together
  • To have a life separate from your partner because you’re not joined at the hip
  • The appropriate attitudes and skills to work as a team
  • The motivation to persist

It takes effort to sustain improvement over time: staying conscious of making a difference over time, remembering to be more respectful, more giving, more appreciative, etc. It takes effort to remember and act.

There is often a conflict between short term gratification and the long term goal of creating a satisfying relationship. The blunt reality is that in an interdependent relationship, effort is required on each person’s part to make a sustained improvement. It is like pairs figure skating, each person has a job to do to sustain balance together.

How to maximize value from your Couples Therapy sessions

Some common unproductive patterns are:

  • Showing up and saying, “I don’t know what to talk about, do you?” It becomes a hit or miss process.
  • Focusing on the latest problem. This is a reactive, ineffective approach.
  • Discussing fights or arguments without a larger context of what you wish to learn. This is very often just an exercise in spinning your wheels.

A more effective way is:

  1. Reflect on your goals for being in therapy.
  2. Think about your next step that will support your larger goal.
  3. Have a journal where you write important thoughts and collect newly acquired information, and review frequently.

Important concepts

Attitude is the key!
Identifying what to do is often easy. The bigger challenge is why you don’t do it.
Think differently about a problem… Albert Einstein said: “We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Realizing that each one of you has some flawed assumptions about your partner’s motives is a sign of maturity.
Focus on changing yourself rather than your partner!!!
Couples Therapy works best if you have more goals for yourself. You can’t change your partner, your partner cannot change you. You can influence each other. Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it…

Fear lets you know you’re not prepared. If you view fear in that way, it becomes a signal to prepare the best you can. You can learn a lot about yourself by understanding what annoys you and how you handle it.

The more you believe your partner should be different, the less initiative you will take to change the patterns between you. It’s not what you say. It’s what they hear!

Can you expect your partner to treat you better than you treat him/her?
If you want your partner to change, do you think about what you can do to make it easier?

About communication

We are all responsible for how we express ourselves, no matter how others treat us. We need to pay attention to:

  • Managing emotions, such as anger that may be too intense
  • How you’re communicating – whining, blaming, being sarcastic, criticizing, etc.
  • What you want from your partner during the discussion
  • What outcome you want from the discussion
  • Your partner’s major concern
  • How you can help your partner become more responsive to you

Some final thoughts

You can’t create a flourishing relationship by only fixing what’s wrong, but it’s a start. Love is destroyed when self-interests dominate. Learn to love your partner on their terms. Knowledge is not power. Only knowledge that is applied is power. Business and marriages fail for the same three reasons. A failure to:

  • Learn from the past
  • Adapt to changing conditions…be flexible
  • Predict probable future problems and take action…be proactive

Effective change requires insight plus action. Insight without action is passivity. Action without insight is impulsivity. Insight plus action leads to clarity and power. If you want to create a win-win situation, you have to help your partner to win too!

Please download this document, keep it in your journal and bring it to your sessions for discussion.

Adapted from Peter Pearson, Ph.D, Articles for Couples

Learning How To Distinguish Between Wants & Needs

Distinguishing our wants and our need is an essential part of realizing our dreams. While many of us may want a fancy car or a new wardrobe, or a number of other things, we don’t necessarily need to have them in order to lead a joyful, productive life.

There’s one mantra many of us need to be reminded to incorporate into our life “All I have is all I need.” Now I want to make it clear that this mantra doesn’t mean that you can’t desire or obtain material things in your life. You certainly can. But while we wait patiently for our desires to take hold, most of us need to be reminded of the abundance that we do have. This perspective brings us the issue of the water in the glass. Should we focus on what we don’t have, or on what we do have?

It is important to appreciate the positive things around us. Recognizing our assets and giving gratitude for them makes for a very powerful situation to live joyfully in the present as well as to set the stage to attract more of what you want.

The easiest way to do this is to write down in a journal at least three things you’re grateful for each day. I speak from experience when I say that after a week of doing this simple exercise you will feel happier. Should you run into an obstacle that is preventing you from realizing one of your dreams, take out your journal and read down the list of things you wrote and you will feel a force of positive energy surge through your body.

Remember above all, it is the person you become and no the things you acquire that is most important. The universe is on your side. You’re moving forward.

Learn How To Face Problems & Challenges Head On

Our determination to lead a good life is measured by the belief that is the expectations you hold to be true. What it means is how strong is your belief and how prepared you are to live above these circumstances. That is the challenge. Your life’s journey is not going too easy.

You were never told that you would not face sickness, turmoil, or major challenges. If you live long enough, you will be challenged! There are plenty of adversities in our lives but on the positive side you would also have the joy of the comfort of others. Here are some effective ways you can deal with conflict and adversity in our life.

  1. Face it directly. Do not shy away from problems or challenges. Sometimes this can be accomplished by quiet time or meditation.
  2. Set aside a time to deal with it. Sometimes when you are experiencing a trauma or challenge in your life it is not always the right time to deal with it then. You need to step away from the situation and live above it. This is all part of your personal development factor that is your shield.
  3. Refuse to endorse in inappropriate behavior. Knowing that we live in a corrupt world explains wrongdoing that permeate society.
  4. Problems are an opportunity to grow. Be aware that each challenge is an opportunity to grow and to increase your determination in dealing with adversity. What can you learn from this situation? How did your belief help you overcome the problem? Who do you know who can help you?
  5. Avoid dwelling on the problem. Have you used affirmations in the past with little results from them? The problem with traditional affirmations is that they usually place the emphasis on the power of the words. However, the words themselves don’t matter a bit when sending out electromagnetic energy about what it is you really want. What does matter? The feelings you bring up as you say the words. The Law of Attraction works according to your attitude which is Thought-Feeling-Action. You can recite “I’m healthy, wealthy” or whatever it is you desire for years – but if you don’t feel healthy or wealthy, and you don’t really believe you are, guess what will happen? Nothing!

Here’s the most powerful type of affirmation you can think of it is a “Feeling” affirmation, and interestingly enough you don’t even have to use words at all. It’s all about the feeling, feelings you communicate to the universe.

To do a “Feeling” affirmation you would simply set aside five minutes a day, find a quiet place to be alone, and then you would focus on feeling the essence of already having what you want. What would it feel like to already have it. Would you feel happy, relieved, peaceful, insecure? Focus on feeling that way right now. Pretend you’ve got plenty of what you want. Focus only on experience of having what you want.

That’s it! When you do this, you create endless possibilities for the universal energy field to answer your request.

There Is Freedom In Closing A Cycle & Letting Go

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist in staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through. Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters or whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?

You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened. You can tell yourself you won’t make another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that.

But such an attitude will be awfully stressful for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister, everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. What has passed will not return: we cannot forever be children, late adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor toward our parents, lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who has gone away and has not the least intention of coming back.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away. That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!), to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts, and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place. Let things go. Release them.

Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, discussions that are always put off waiting for the ideal moment.

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back. Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person, nothing is irreplaceable.

A habit is not a need. This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important to close cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that cycle no longer fits your life. Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Accept what you don’t have. Stop being who you were and change into who you are.

Daily Happiness: Setting Up Your Day To Create A Happier Life

“Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love grace and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

Life is meant to be fun, and we have the power within to make it that way every day. According to Andy Baggot, who wrote a book, “Blissology – The Art and Science of Happiness”, all it takes is five minutes at the beginning of each day to plan how you want to feel that day.

Source Energy only matches your dominant feelings, so if you start the day with good feelings, the events and encounters you attract will begin to match, and soon you will have that perfect day.

How you think and feel at the beginning of the day has a strong tendency to set the tone for the day. If you wake up feeling worried, anxious or stressed, your day is more likely to be flavored with those feelings throughout – unless you do something to change the way you feel.

Here’s a suggestion on how to do this. No matter how we’re feeling, the first thing we should do when we get up is spend five minutes setting our day. This will be your cornerstone of your happiness practice. Baggott suggests that you:

  1. Find a quiet place to sit and take three relaxing breaths
  2. Think about all the positive things in your life. Sit in appreciation of your amazing body, your friends, your home and anything else in your life that makes you feel good. Really get in touch with those feelings of gratitude.
  3. Imagine your day unfolding in the very best possible way. Don’t hold back – think big. If you can imagine it, you have the power to make anything reality. Whatever you have planned for that day, imagine everything unfolding perfectly.
  4. Smile to yourself as you visualize having a day filled with consistently improving feelings.
  5. Now go and enjoy your day.

Every time you set your day, you’re practicing happiness, and with practice comes the realization of your dreams. The more you work with this simple technique, the more your life will change for the better.

Soon you will marvel at your own power to create your life in a way that consistently expands your bliss. So ask yourself, “how do I really want my day to be?”

11 Tips To Keep A Marriage Strong

  1. Operate from a place of taking responsibility, not blame. An excellent ancient principle to live by is “take the plank out of your own eye before taking the wood splinter out of the other’s eye”.
  2. Exercise more trust and faith in one another. Expect your spouse to do right by you. Assume the best about your spouse’s thoughts and actions (don’t make negative assumptions).
  3. Check things out with each other regularly so false assumptions do not continue to grow unchecked.
  4. Make regular deposits into the love bank account of your spouse. For every withdrawal (some sort of negative interaction), make 3 deposits (positive interactions).
  5. Know your spouse’s love language and speak it. If your spouse feels most loved when given quality time, give them quality time rather than trying to fill their need with some other love language. The five love languages are 1. Physical affection 2. Acts of Service 3. Quality Time 4. Gifts 5: Words of Encouragement/Praise
  6. Actively exercise love and respect no matter how ruffled your feathers. If one spouse is feeling emotionally intense, responding with gentleness, respect, and validation will help bring intensity levels down. If both spouses are emotionally charged, take a break to breathe, think, exercise before coming back to resolve.
  7. Avoid lecturing your spouse. Maximizers should try to shorten their words into the bottom line, Minimizers should try to express a little more.
  8. Incorporate date nights regularly (once per week or every two weeks) where both spouses talk about anything other than kids, money, and household chores. (In other words – no hot button issues on date night.)
  9. Don’t let resentments build up over time. Be willing to take an occasional risk and initiate “safety days” sends as needed. Balance this with speaking encouragingly and positively the rest of the time.
  10. Remember that both spouses will have differing values and differing ideas about how to parent children. This is okay. Children need to be exposed to both types of parenting styles and strict styles versus laid back styles will balance each other out over time. Keep in mind that our own childhood emotions can be activated surrounding parenting issues and take steps to ensure that both spouses learn how to connect with, discipline, and care for each child based on their personality type. Every parent screws up and needs to be given grace by our spouses. Every parent will make mistakes — the most important part for the emotional health of the child — is to say “sorry” and literally ask forgiveness from the child when you mess up. This models healthy-behavior for the child, and we know that the best way to teach children is to model desired behaviors and attitudes.
  11. Have fun, take at LEAST two “honeymoons” per year (just get away as a couple for a night or two without the kids).


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