This Is How You Live Your Dream Life, Because It’s Not Stamped Passports And Vacation Homes

A woman staring out into the water while standing at the side of a boat.
ben o’bro / Unsplash

We are so fixated on how our lives should appear. Big houses, ocean views, elegant parties, fast cars, perfect bodies, perfect friends, stamped passports, and vacation homes. When I follow this train of thought, where I dream of the objects or circumstances I want to manifest, I wonder, why are all these things outside me?

Why do we allow the externalization of our visualizations paint the masterpiece? We externalize our dreams and paint how we would like things to seem. But in doing so we are trying to paint a mosaic with string. We are too busy orchestrating how it should all look, and perhaps forgetting the most important part.

You cannot create meaningful art without passion and it is not art without expression. And what is the point without any pleasurable sensation?

Let says you got all the things you wanted, all your visualizations realized. The picture was strung together seamlessly and all the stars were aligned on your chandelier. Would you finally feel whole?

Or would you still feel that hole? That hole you are trying to cover up with purchases, people, and things. That hole that the dream house will fill or a full pantry would feed. The hole that running away to the tropics would let you escape, the hole that the Ferrari at 200km would allow you to stop feeling for 10 seconds.

Seems like we have it all wrong. Covering up, patching up, and running away should not be the dream. 100 band-aids cannot heal an abrasion. It may protect it, which is why our external desires are not inherently bad, but when we think that peace can be achieved through the pursuit of well, things, then we have gotten it all wrong.

Start by fixating on how you want to feel. Love. Peace. Unity. Compassion. Empathy. Connected. These are the sweetnesses of life, the sugar of fruit, the warm rays of the sun. Instead of chasing what is outside of us, why don’t we explore what is already inside of us? Why don’t we heal from the inside out, just as your body heals a gash or a cut.

I realize my worst dream is having all the things I ever wanted and still being unsatisfied. Isn’t that the dilemma of our time? Sitting in a big home all alone, with all the gadgets but no feeling of home. This is a nightmare. Behind all the fancy clothes, vacations, and makeup would lie a broken soul. A soul who went on the pursuit of happiness, to find that it was never something he or she needed to pursue.

It did not involve getting there or any sort of prize or achievement. It did not involve investing, big pay cheques, or invitations to the best parties. It was simply turning all that energy back inside you. Instead of running and going and doing, why don’t we start BEing?

Ask yourself, how do you want to feel? Ask more big questions and wonder more great things. Ponder and wander and wonder through the depths of your soul. Decide what is real FOR you, because only you can decide this. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, because you are only human. Love yourself despite the restrictions you have installed, love yourself despite the circumstances you grew up in. Support yourself even if that is something foreign to you. Be compassionate for how you feel, give yourself love and rest and more love and rest because we can’t get enough of that today. Instead of putting on a pretty face we should decorate our souls so they beam of gold and never again will we cold.

We run wild with our minds but we rarely stop to sit with our hearts. When you return to her she will forgive you for your time apart.

We must learn to see with our hearts, not our minds.

Fixate on love and your life will feel like a dream. I think you may realize, you are already living it. TC mark

5 Tips for a Blissful Engagement

Do you have idealistic notions of what it’s like to be engaged? Once it happens, you’ll realize it’s actually a really strange intermediate period where you aren’t necessarily dating, but you also aren’t quite married.

Knowing how to handle this phase of your relationship will prove to be quite helpful.

5 Tips for a Blissful Engagement

Being engaged is great – but, quite honestly, it’s a little weird. You know you’re getting married, but aren’t there yet. Are you supposed to act different? Do you suddenly start calling each other fiancé, instead of boyfriend and girlfriend? Do you have conversations that you avoided when you were dating?

With so much to figure out, here are a few tips to help you manage:

(1) Just Relax

“Wedding planning can quickly become very busy, so we highly encourage all newly engaged couples to spend at least one full week in simple engagement bliss,” For Your Party suggests.

There’s no rush to move from engaged to married. Even if you’re working on a relatively abbreviated timeline – less than six months – taking a week to relax isn’t going to be detrimental to the wedding planning process. Giving yourself some time to enjoy the moment will prove highly beneficial in the long run.

(2) Develop a Timeline

After relaxing and enjoying the moment, buckle down and develop a timeline. This timeline will keep you disciplined and ensure you don’t miss out on anything.

Start with the actual wedding day and then work backward. If you have a wedding planner – or a parent or friend who has recently planned a wedding – talk to them about how far in advance you need to do certain things (such as secure a venue, hire vendors, send out invitations, etc.).

(3) Get Counseling

Between fancy engagement parties, showers, and wedding planning, there’s plenty to be excited about – but it’s not all perfect.

“You never expected the downside: whisper-fighting in wedding registry departments and slammed doors over the wedding guest list,” Lisa Carse writes for The Knot. “The engagement period can be a minefield of hot topics that can trigger huge blowouts. Sometimes a seating plan isn’t just a seating plan—it can be an indicator that a larger issue is at bay.”

Whether you have no major fights or you fight all the time, it’s always a good idea to get some marriage counseling during the engagement period. You’ll learn more about each other and get some advice on how to proceed with the new phase of your lives.

(4) Stop Trying to Please Everyone

You can’t make everyone happy. You’ll have friends who ask you to plan your wedding around their social calendar, family members who want to be heavily involved in a certain aspect of the wedding, and even parents who insist on inviting all their friends to your big day. While you may be able to satisfy some requests, stop trying to please everyone. This is your day! Nobody has to be happy but you and your partner.

(5) Accept Advice Sparingly

You’ll get a lot of unsolicited advice during your engagement. People will tell you how to plan, which vendors to use, what to do on your wedding day, where to go on your honeymoon, and how to have a happy marriage. But be forewarned that it’s just as easy to receive bad advice as it is to receive good advice. Accept advice sparingly and trust your gut.

Enjoy Your Happily Ever After

While engagement is filled with a variety of emotions – including confusion, anticipation, stress, and anxiety – it’s mainly filled with excitement. As you await your happily ever after, be sure to enjoy the moment and focus on your soon-to-be spouse.

Negative thoughts and emotions won’t do anyone any good.

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The post 5 Tips for a Blissful Engagement appeared first on The Good Men Project.

Two Simple Things to Reignite Passion

There are two simple things you can do to reignite the connection

Remember at the beginning of your relationship the butterflies you felt for your partner?  You couldn’t wait to see them or hear their voice.  You planned surprises and gave each other gifts.  Then as time passes and we get comfortable and in the chaos of our days, we forget to fill up our partners Love Bank Account.  

There are two simple things you can do to either ignite or reignite the connection and passion in your relationship or to keep it from waning in the first place.

1. Commit to planning at least one date a month 

Really put some thought and effort into this. Plan something that you know your partner will truly enjoy.  Many times we plan things we know we like, but place a bit of effort into really thinking about what lights your partner up.  

A client of ours recently planned a surprise date for her husband to an indoor shooting range.  She absolutely hates guns so this is something she normally would not do.  The result was that she had a really great time doing something she had never done before and he was overjoyed that she planned something specifically for him.  Taking turns and planning dates for one another tells your partner that they are important to you and that you care.  It makes enormous deposits that fill up the “Love” bank account.

2. Surprise your partner

Surprise and mystery ignite passion.  When was the last time you surprised your partner?  When is the last time they surprised you?  When you receive an invitation from your partner for a mystery date it stirs wonderful emotions inside.  The anticipation is exhilarating even if it’s just going out to dinner.  I recently received an invitation to be ready at 4:30 PM and to wear a black wig, green top, black leggings and boots.  All day long I was enthusiastic and curious as to what we were doing.  We ended up going to a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras party at a restaurant.  An otherwise simple dinner turned into an adventure with a great twist and surprise.

We encourage couples to plan at least one date a month and be sure to make it a surprise to increase the mystery.  This one simple act can take your relationship to a new level of connection and commitment.  

The post Two Simple Things to Reignite Passion appeared first on Blog.

How Couples Turn Molehills into Mountains

Stonewalling in Couples: When You or Your Partner Shuts DownYour partner didn’t wash the dishes, or take out the trash or fold the laundry. Maybe they forgot to pay a bill. Maybe they’re running late to your lunch date. Maybe they haven’t hung up the picture frames they promised to hang up (too many) weeks ago. Maybe they leave their clothes on the floor. All. The. Time.

These are seemingly small issues. And, yet somehow, they’ve sparked a fight. A big one. Or several big ones.

One reason we turn small issues into significant problems is that we don’t resolve these minor matters when they occur. Over time they snowball, leading to constant bickering and fighting, said Clinton Power, a clinical relationship counsellor in Sydney, Australia.

Couples often bring up all these issues when they’re supposed to be focusing on a single situation. So that before you know it, you’re talking about five topics and understandably getting quite overwhelmed.

For instance, you and your partner disagree on a particular purchase. Instead of focusing on that purchase, you start talking about past purchases and past problems, which triggers anger and defensiveness—and exacerbates the argument. “This then hampers your ability to resolve the initial issue because you’re in fight-or-flight mode and the higher executive functions of the brain (such as your cerebral cortex) are offline and cannot help you make rational decisions and solve problems,” said Power, founder of Clinton Power + Associates.

Small issues tend to go unresolved because we avoid talking about them. Maybe you don’t raise issues early on because you want to avoid tension or conflict, Power said. Maybe you grew up in a volatile family that fought all the time or in a family, where sharing a different opinion wasn’t OK, he said. Which means you might see conflict as a catastrophe, and thereby avoid it at all costs.

We also turn molehills into mountains when there are underlying issues. For instance, you don’t “feel heard, understood, loved or prioritized in the relationship,” said Julia Nowland, a couples therapist, qualified trainer and an experienced speaker. And your partner might have similar feelings.

Nowland shared this example: Your partner keeps promising to finish painting the house, while you’re tearing your hair out wondering why it’s not done yet. To you, a house is a sanctuary, and unfinished projects make you feel frazzled. You’re upset because your partner knows this about you—which leads you to conclude that they don’t care about your feelings. Your partner starts projects because they need to feel resourceful and capable. So when you keep harping on this unfinished project, they feel incapable and unappreciated.

Eventually, your partner will finish the painting. But if you don’t discuss the underlying issues for both of you, they’ll go unresolved and create disconnection in your relationship.

We also start seeing our relationship through a disappointed, frustrated or anxious lens. “Everything your partner does makes you angry or you use it to prove to yourself that your partner doesn’t care or love you enough,” Nowland said. We do this because of unresolved issues (like mentioned above). Or we do this because of issues that have zero to do with our partners. Maybe we’re stressed at work or sleep-deprived because of our newborn or devastated over a loved one’s passing, Nowland said.

Below are ideas on how you can stop exacerbating your issues by reflecting on yourself and effectively communicating with your partner.

Get curious about your feelings. Nowland suggested asking yourself these questions: “What is it about the situation that makes it so important? What are the conclusions I’ve drawn about this situation?” What is the real reason I’m upset? For instance, you’re upset about the dishes in the sink because you feel like you’re doing more in maintaining the household.

Be flexible with your perspective. “When we’re more flexible with how we see our partner, we look for other alternative motives to their actions or words rather than jumping to a conclusion,” Nowland said. This is key because often our conclusions revolve around seeing the worst in our partner, she said.

When you find yourself thinking, “Oh my god, he’s so lazy,” or “Wow, she’s so forgetful,” Nowland suggested asking yourself: “How else can I view this situation?” For instance, instead of calling your partner lazy, you might say, “I’ve noticed there are dirty dishes in the sink. I’m feeling frustrated; I keep thinking they’re left there for me to clean.”

“It may seem like a longer way to talk but if it avoids an argument and discord, then it’s worth it.”

Pay attention to your own behavior.
Are you sidestepping certain issues? Are you complaining to your friends instead of talking directly to your partner? Are you pulling away from intimate moments? Do you feel uncomfortable sharing your deeper thoughts and feelings? According to Power, these are all avoidant behaviors, which can exacerbate your relationship issues.

Express yourself assertively. Power underscored the importance of using assertive communication when sharing your thoughts, feelings and concerns with your partner. Which is a skill everyone can learn and sharpen.

He suggested this format when talking to your partner: Share your observation; share the feeling that arises; take ownership of your interpretation; and request a change.

This can look like: “When you talk about buying that investment property, I notice I feel quite anxious about it and I imagine you’re not including me in the decision-making process. I would appreciate it if we could sit down and discuss this in more depth before you proceed.”

Discuss one issue at a time. If other issues come up during your conversation, note them, Power said. This way you and your partner aren’t overwhelmed by several issues at once. And you can return to these topics, and discuss them separately.

Give sensitive topics special attention. Power stressed the importance of anticipating sensitive topics and planning accordingly. For instance, he said, if you normally get into a fight about a certain family member, don’t mention them in the car. Instead, carve out interruption-free time to go somewhere quiet to discuss the situation. During that time, “Sit facing each other so you can see each other’s expressions and body language”; use a calm voice; don’t interrupt each other; and focus on being an active listener, in general, he said.

Smaller issues become boulders when we don’t talk about them and resolve them, creating distance between you and your partner. Strive to face these concerns by reflecting on your part and using calm, assertive communication. This way conflict actually becomes a source of connection, an opportunity to understand each other and grow closer.

New Communication Strategies Help Alzheimer’s Couples

New Communication Strategies Help Alzheimer's Couples

A new first-of-its-kind study has found that caregiver-partner communication can improve among couples as they attempt to manage dementia, but it takes practice.

For these couples, the communication strategies they have used before simply do not work anymore. Impaired communication leads to misunderstandings, conflict, isolation, and loss of intimacy.

The new study involved a 10-week in-home intervention to support couples affected by dementia. Researchers discovered that by involving both partners in the intervention, using coaching and role-playing, communication did improve among both partners.

The study, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, demonstrates how creative ways of working with these couples can change their communication behaviors in just 10 weeks.

The approach, termed CARE (Caring About Relationships and Emotions) was designed to increase helpful communication in the caregiver and sociable communication in the care receiver.

The relationship-focused intervention also was designed to reduce disabling behavior (impairing engagement such as criticizing or quizzing their partner’s memory) in caregivers and unsociable behavior (such as not making eye contact) in care receivers.

Researchers were pleasantly surprised that care receivers actually improved more than the caregivers following the intervention.

Care receivers, who had moderate dementia, had statistically significant improvement in their social communication both verbally and non-verbally. They were more interested and engaged, maintained eye contact, responded to questions, stayed on topic, and even joked with and teased their partners.

Caregivers’ communication also showed a statistically significant improvement in their facilitative communication (promoting engagement) and a statistically significant decrease in their disabling communication.

“Caregivers are not experts in communicating with people with dementia. Sometimes they choose strategies they think are helpful, but may be ineffective.

“Also, they often give up communicating with their less verbal partners because benefits are not as obvious,” said Christine L. Williams, D.N.Sc., principal investigator of the study and a professor and director of the Ph.D. in Nursing Program in Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing.

“By teaching caregivers about their partners’ ongoing needs for closeness, comfort, inclusion, love, and respect, they can make a difference in how they perceive their spouses and how facilitative communication, both verbal and non-verbal, can contribute to their well-being.”

For the study, couples received a manual at the start of the intervention with 10 weekly modules on a wide variety of communication issues. Researchers met weekly with the care receiver and caregiver separately; followed by a meeting with the couple together. At the end of the couples’ session, they were asked to converse unobserved by the researchers for about 10 minutes on a topic of their choosing. That session was videotaped.

Researchers assessed caregivers’ learning needs, increased their communication self-awareness, knowledge about communication decline in dementia, common care receiver emotional reactions to lost abilities, and how to use communication strategies to maintain a caring relationship.

Role-play between the interventionist and the caregiver was incorporated when additional practice was needed to demonstrate a specific strategy. Caregivers were coached to identify their communication style and that of their partners.

Researchers also conversed each week with the care receivers to encourage their efforts to verbally express their thoughts, feelings, preferences and needs.

Williams used a rating scale to measure the outcomes of the intervention and analyzed and scored 118, 10-minute videos of each of the couples’ sessions. Measuring both caregiver and care receiver communication weekly over several weeks provided a more complete picture of changes over time.

“This intervention is important because there are no other programs specifically developed for couples where one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia,” said Williams.

“While marital counseling is available, it’s very different when you have one partner who is losing their ability to communicate. We don’t teach families how to communicate with someone with dementia and it is desperately needed.”

The investigation is timely as more than 5.4 million American adults in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and more than 15 million family members care for them at home.

Moreover, a substantial number of caregivers, 40 percent, are spouses. Spouse caregivers have reported high burden and stress and require $9.7 billion in stress-related health care.

Source: Florida Atlantic University