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I’m a romantic. While it seems like a lot of people these days have grown more cynical about relationships, I still happen to believe in true and lasting love. Nevertheless, I’m not just some nut on a perpetual search for Prince Charming. While I do believe in ‘happily ever after,’ I know full well that people need to work hard at making their relationships last. You can have that ‘happily ever after,’ yes, but it requires patience, understanding, discipline, and a lot of other things.
How Love is Lost
I’ve met a lot of couples that started out spectacularly. They really seemed like perfect matches for each other—they enjoyed the same things; they were super-sweet to each other; they talked about the future they would have together, with kids and picket fences and all those other lovely tidbits. Seeing these couples could really fill you with hope that you’d find your match, too!
But as time wore on, I would notice little changes here and there. I’d notice that they didn’t finish each other’s sentences as often as they used to, or that they didn’t have much to share when prodded about what they’ve been up to. These people didn’t hate each other exactly, but I could tell that the spark they used to have was no longer there. It was like they weren’t really interested in each other anymore and, at worst, was just putting up with each other. Bear in mind that I didn’t observe these things right away. They would accumulate over time, and it would just gradually dawn on me that something was amiss.
After some time, I would just find out that these relationships had gone kaput. More often than not, I would learn that the couple didn’t see it coming either. It was like it just hit them one day that they didn’t love each other anymore. Isn’t that horrible? It breaks my heart that love could be lost this way.
But, whether we like it or not, that’s really the truth of the matter. No matter how well you may start off in a relationship, and no matter how confident you are that the love will last, there is always a possibility that the relationship will falter.
Unless, as I’ve mentioned, you work hard at keeping that spark alive.
One Day at a Time
The thing is, maintaining a relationship doesn’t have to be that hard. If you truly love the person you’re with, being with that person shouldn’t be a chore at all! It’s just that we become so comfortable in our relationships that we end up taking them for granted. Fortunately, there are many great ways to keep that from happening, and they’re all quite simple. It’s all just a matter of making a little extra effort to show how much you love and appreciate them.
If you need a good primer on what to do, Edwin Locke and Ellen Kenner have a great piece in Healthy Wealthy nWise entitled “Ten Secrets to Making Love Last”. The advice they give is easy, straight-to-the-point, and very effective. Tip Number One, for instance, is “Work to thoroughly understand your partner.” The authors then suggest that you learn as much as you can about their tastes and preferences, from the music they like to their definition of a great career.
This makes a lot of sense. You may think you know your partner inside-out, but in truth, there’s always a lot more to discover as time goes on. So, in order to let your relationship grow at a healthy pace, you have to keep yourself up-to-date regarding what makes your partner tick. The same goes for them as well. Work together to understand each other. That way, no matter what obstacles life throws in your direction, you both know how to deal with these problems in a manner that covers both of your unique needs.
The rest of the authors’ advice, from caring about your appearance to telling your partner you love them as often as possible, are just as straightforward. It’s really amazing how much impact these simple acts have on relationships, and it’s incredibly important that all couples take these tips to heart.
Happiness + Confidence = Love
One hitch to the above strategy, though, is if you possess the wrong attitude to begin with. You won’t be able to really savor your relationship and take things one day at a time if you don’t actually love and respect yourself. If you believe that you absolutely adore your partner, but can’t manage to think the same way about yourself, then your relationship is in even greater danger than the ones I mentioned earlier. This problem is more serious than just taking love for granted. If you take your own self for granted, so much so that you toss your needs and wants aside, then you will make it very difficult for your partner to want to stay with you for the long haul.
I read this piece by Cedric Benson also from Healthy Wealthy nWise that discusses this so well. The title alone says it all: “Happy, Confident People Tend to be Better Partners”. And it’s really true—the happier and more confident you are with yourself, the more capable you are of being a positive force in your relationship.
Benson expounds on this quite sharply: “If you aren’t happy with yourself, how happy do you think your partner is with you? If you give the message to your partner that says, ‘I don’t love myself but you should love me,’ your partner will see through this. Remember, it isn’t your partner’s job to give you constant reassurance that you’re okay the way you are.”
But seriously, that’s the truth. So, if you’re currently in a rocky relationship but are not entirely sure why things aren’t working out that well, look inside of yourself. Try to see if it’s your attitude that’s getting in the way. If your partner truly loves you, they will let you know that you need to believe in yourself more, and that they will help you improve in any way they can. Hopefully, this trial can bring the two of you closer to each other as well.
Love is a Promise
Every couple will experience all sorts of trials in their relationship, and that’s okay. True love is more of an action than an emotion; it is a promise you make to your partner, and that you have to renew each and every day.
To all the budding new couples out there, this old romantic is rooting for every one of you! We may no longer live in a time of castles with spiraling towers and knights in shining armor, but the idea of true love remains the same, and I hope that everyone gets to experience this. I know it’s the sap in me that’s saying this, but love is really what makes the world go ‘round!
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A typical fitness program has the following common denominators: an exercise regimen, a list of foods to eat and avoid, and recommended lifestyle changes – such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption. It basically has all the physical improvements covered, but what about our mental and emotional state? How often do you spot a fitness program that touches on mental health and self esteem?
I’m guessing not very often, and that’s where I’d like to voice out my opinion that getting fit should also mean working on our mental health – primarily the thoughts that govern us and impact our confidence. Because let’s face it: you can’t truly be fit and happy if you’re constantly in a blue funk. You may be at your ideal weight and dress size, with a washboard stomach to boot, but if your confidence levels are low, then you’re not “whole”. Negativity has no place in our health and wellbeing.
I was pleased to see my standpoint validated in a Healthy Wealthy nWise article I saw recently, one written by Kac Young, a doctor of both Clinical Hypnotherapy and Naturopathy and a Minister of Religious Science. In her article “Getting Healthy Begins in the Mind: Top Five Ways to Create a Healthier Life”, she echoes the same school of thought: good health starts in the mind. If you nurture the idea of health, your actions will follow suit. The power of your thoughts can fuel you to carry out your plans willingly and enthusiastically.
Let’s say you just decided to start a fitness program. You paid for a year’s gym membership and cleared out all the junk food in your pantry. Now imagine yourself focusing on the loss of your favorite snacks and the perceived hassle of having to go to the gym five times a week, rain or shine. Would those very thoughts motivate you to choose healthy fare and show up for workouts? Of course not! You’ll only end dragging yourself to the gym, probably even missing sessions and heading straight to the nearest store to buy yourself a pack of (insert favorite fattening food here).
How does one cultivate a healthy and positive mindset? Young offers these five great tips:
“Take a few moments to recognize the beliefs and patterns that are keeping you from acting like a healthy person.” Think of your knee-jerk reactions to dealing with different situations. For instance, when boredom strikes, your usual reaction is to while away the boredom by munching on buttered popcorn and washing it down with sugary soda while watching TV. Recognizing unhealthy patterns helps you become aware enough to “interrupt” the pattern of self-destruction and select a healthier alternative.
Ask yourself: “Are words poisoning your thoughts? Are you talking to yourself, or is someone else talking to you, in negative ways?” If yes, then the solution is to talking UP, not DOWN, by using (and even listening to) positive words and self affirmation. Simple declarations such as “I am going to eat a healthy salad for lunch” or “I am going to do really well at that job interview” are powerful enough to impact the way you perform and make decisions.
“Have you tried before and failed? Are you afraid the same thing will happen again? Give yourself a break.” Sometimes taking a break is what we need to recharge and reflect on our actions and circumstances. It takes a calm mind to properly analyze where you erred and what you can do to avoid it ever happening again. You need to learn to forgive yourself so you can move on.
“Do you give up too soon? Change doesn’t happen overnight.” Impatience can be our worst enemy. It demonizes our thoughts and can lead us to throw in the towel when things aren’t going our way fast enough. Combat impatience by looking back at past accomplishments that also took you time to attain. That should help, as Young put it, “resurrect your faith in times of self doubt”.
“Still don’t know how to begin? Get help.” Learning about healthy living and positive thinking entails research. Go find a website that addresses your needs, get a book or even enroll in a program that will help you boost your self confidence. It pays to surround yourself with like-minded people who can inspire you to do think positive thoughts and strive to accomplish goals.
Keep fueling your mind power with self confidence. It is self confidence that will carry you through a bad day and prevent you from throwing yourself the proverbial pity party. If you feel your self confidence could use some work, let me share with you some tips I gleaned from Lynn Kennedy Baxter’s Healthy Wealthy nWise article, “5 Steps to Build Self Confidence”:
“Identify the tasks you did well today.” Knowing you accomplished something is a feather in your cap and motivates you to do more.
“Give yourself the pat on the back that you deserve.” Don’t wait for others to praise you; be your own special cheerleader!
“Accept the pat on the back and enjoy it.” We’re so willing to praise and acknowledge others when they do well, so why don’t we willingly accept compliments in turn?
“Identify the tasks that need improvement.” We need to figure out what we need to work on so we can arrive at our goals. When we get things done, it’s an added boost to our morale.
“Take some specific action related to the task to improve before the next day.” Always strive for improvement. Take action as soon as you identify the problem. The earlier you nip it in the bud, the better.
I have incorporated the suggestions above into my daily life and I find myself becoming a better and stronger person each day. I’m no superwoman, but I think that having a take-charge mentality and an attitude of gratitude helps me a lot in dealing with life’s challenges. I’m less prone to stress and self doubts. Things aren’t always perfect and I still experience the occasional negative thought, but I’ve become much better at dealing with them.
Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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