UNLOCK YOUR PRISON

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This is one of my favorite quotes. We hear far to many people bent on “Paying back”  people who hurt them, or worse, they just carry around the anger and resentment from the someone, or the world at large has done to them. What many of us fail to realize is that by doing this we are allowing that very same situation, or person,  to continue to hurt us again and again.

It makes sense to be more cautious around someone who in the past has shown they cannot be trusted to have your best interests at heart. Sometimes you must even do your best to eliminate them from your life. Continuing to harbor resentment or hurt after the fact does little, if anything, to affect the offending party. Quite often they are either ignorant of your discomfort or in extreme cases take pleasure in it.

Nelson Mandela did spent over a quarter of a century of his life in jail for nothing other than belonging to the wrong race. When the people who put him there finally released him if he were bitter, or angry I think we all could understand. What he understand was feeling that way would only affect him.

It was Buddha who said

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”

There is great truth in this statement. Your actions and feelings may eventually cause harm to the one who hurt you, that is you may ‘hit’ them with that coal, but by the time you do so you will already have been burned.

I see two major ways in which this happens. One, the physical way anger or hurt affects your body. Your blood pressure is elevated. You often feel lethargic. Quite often it leaves you feeling sick to your stomach. You can develop a terrible headache. These symptoms are also the same as a body who has been poisoned, and for very good reason. When you harbor a negative emotion it is literally a harmful poison put in your body. So not only can these people affect your emotional state, which you may transfer to others only to compound the problem, if you hang on to those feelings they can affect your health as well! Who would want to say to someone “you have just hurt me emotionally, allow me to help you hurt me physically as well” Sounds crazy but that is just what we are allowing them to do.

I mentioned there is another cost to hanging on to negative emotions. The other being mental focus and production. When your time and energy is spent on revenge, anger or depression it not only steals the joy from that moment, it costs you moments of happiness, productivity and creative creation. Projects you are working on will take twice as long and prove twice as difficult. Nobody wants that.

So do yourself a favor and get rid of all the negativity in your life. It is true what they say about forgiveness, it is not only the gift you give the other person, it is more the gift you give yourself. So give yourself that gift and free yourself from the prison of your own creation.

WHAT TO WEAR

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Those who know me in person know that I am not the definition of high fashion. Some may even say I am not the definition of low fashion. Yes, my clothing generally follows the axiom of ‘function over form’. That being said I did most recently even wear a dress shirt and tie to impress a lovely young lady. So why I am writing a relationship blog entitled ‘What to wear’ if I know little to nothing about fashion? Simple, the article I am going to tell you to put on is not an article of clothing at all, but will do far more for your appearance than the finest ball gown or Italian tie. So what is this thing that can so improve our appearance? Diamonds? Fancy jewelry? Expensive cologne? Actually no to all of those. In fact this item will not cost you anything. Enough teasing, let me tell you the answer, or more to the point let me use this quote to explain what I am trying to say.

“Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society” – William Thackeray

Is humor really that important? Yes. A good loving sense of humor can fill a relationship with many amazing things. Humor can take away the sting of a disagreement. Humor can lessen the pain of an accidental hurt. Humor can intensify love and half sorrow. So I implore of you to develop humor with your partner. Not humor of the biting sarcastic nature, but one of the fun and childish nature. Can you share a children’s joke like “What do you call a fish with no eye? fsh” Or even make up a silly word that only the two of you know that brings a smile to both of your faces? Recall moments that made you both laugh as often as you can. Always look for the joy and humor in life and in your relationship. A good sense of humor was in the top 3 of most desired traits of both men and women. Nobody likes to be with someone who doesn’t smile. So find some good jokes and always look for ways to make your partner laugh. Laughter and Love always make a good pair.

A BROKEN PLATE

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This quote from Buddha reminds us how damaging anger is to a situation. It often hurts the party to which it is directed, but certainly always hurts the party distributing it. It may feel good to yell or say something at your partner when you are upset. Especially if you feel they have done something to hurt you. Still by doing so you can leave a far more damaging situation than the one they have brought to you. This is best described in the story of the broken plate. A mother had a son who had an extremely bad temper. He would often do or say some of the most hurtful things. After which he truly seemed repentant. No matter what the mother did she could not get the child to think before he reacted. One day while washing dishes she had a great idea. She called her son into the room with her and handed him a glass plate. “Throw that plate on the ground” she instructed the young man. After some encouragement the young man did as he was told. As expected the plate broke into several pieces. “Now let’s glue this plate back together” her mother said. So they worked together for quite some time and had the plate looking pretty close to its original state, although a few cracks and chips were still visible. “Now say you’re sorry to this plate” the mother said. The child looked confused but saw his mother was serious. So he said his apology. “Now is the plate good as new?” she asked. The child shook his head no because although it was back together it would never look the same. The mother went on to explain that is what we do to the hearts of our loved ones when we are angry. Although the pain can be mended and apologies can be given they relationship will never be able to be put back together the same again.

So the next time you are in a heated debate with your spouse, friend, coworker before you say the well crafted biting reply you have been working on, think of the story of the broken plate and ask yourself is it really worth the damage that can never be undone?

YOUR NEXT SUPERPOWER

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“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it”

Confucius

I am always interested in how couples that seem passionate late into their years together manage to accomplish such a thing. As my relationship started to crumble I began to do the craziest thing. I asked them. Let me tell you there is not much you can do to light up the eyes of a loving elderly couple than to ask them how they make it work. Speaking of work I was late many times because these conversations lasted far longer than I ever imagined.

So what is the secret? There are a million different ones, but one that stuck out in my head was from a couple I knew in the town of Greendale Wisconsin where I used to work. When I asked this couple who seemed more in love at 80 than I was at 30. The husband’s eyes lit up and he looked around as if he were about to tell me a heavily guarded secret. Naturally I was very interested. He whispered so only we could hear “We use our superpower” At first I was a bit hesitant to ask, especially with his wife nodding intensely in agreement. Still, curiosity got the best of me and I went for it. “Forgiveness” was all he had to say. Sensing my doubt in the power of his answer he all but insisted I sit down and listen to his explanation. Seeing that they did seem to have the evidence to back it up and I really didn’t mind being a few minutes late to the post office I sat down. He told me to think of the worst thing my lady had done. How it had made me feel. After a few seconds I seemed to have picked the one that did the trick. “Think of how bad that made you feel” the old man urged me on. After a while I did feel myself getting a little hot under the collar. Then he asked me how she was feeling right now. Ok I said she probably didn’t even know we were having this conversation. “And if she did?” he asked. I offered she might be mad I was discussing it with him or she might even feel bad for making me feel the way she did. “Young man you need to throw that memory away” he told me. The only thing worth hanging onto is love. By having these bad memories you are throwing rocks in your garden. Forgiveness he told me heals everyone and not forgiving hurts everyone. You’re going to make more mistakes yourself young man and if your lady doesn’t forgive you, I think you both will be miserable. He was right. We must truly forgive and leave behind the pain our partners have caused us. If it is a healthy relationship chances are they have beat themselves up far more about how they made us feel anyway. Forgiveness is freedom. It frees us from the pain of the memory and it frees our relationships up to grow. So whoever you need to forgive do so today and set yourself free.

TOAST OF THE TOWN

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“How much better than wine is your Love”

Song of Solomon 4;10

Ok, yesterday’s post became a little wordy. Good news is this one is short and sweet. To some of you this idea may sound a bit cliché’. That’s OK, try it anyway. Toast your love each time you and your loved one are both holding wine glasses. Why? you may ask. Simple, love is something worth celebrating. You are still together when countless other couples have thrown in the towel. Your relationship is something worth toasting. You both work hard to keep it going and that should be celebrated. Another thing you should toast is the person you are with. It is a simple and fabulous opportunity to honor them. Don’t go on about it, keep it short and simple. Are they a creative person? Say “here is to being with such a wonderful and creative soul” or something to that effect. Do you admire their choice in music? Their adorable laugh? Perhaps you are just grateful they put up with you. It is amazing how a “thank you for always being so patient with me” sounds when clinking a wine glass. Perhaps your partner drinks Jameson? works just the same. I even know of an elderly couple who toast each other with their morning coffee cups. It doesn’t have to be alcohol. Whenever the mood strikes you and you are your partner happen to have glasses in your hands, take the opportunity to grow your love.

On a side note, this works amazingly well with friends as well. Do you have a trait you admire in a particular friend? Next time you are out having a few cold beers toast them on it and watch the friendship grow.

THE KEY TO ATTRACTION

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“That which is Loved is always beautiful”

Norwegian Proverb

Here is a common theme in relationships. You meet someone new and they just start that fire burning deep within. Your amorous feelings can’t be contained. Their kisses are like a drug you become addicted to. Every second you see them thoughts of passion race through your mind and your body. You can wait to wrap your arms around them, and to hold and kiss them. Making love to them is like your own reoccurring fantasy.

Fast forward five or even ten years. This same person may have gained a few pounds. You have seen them first thing in the morning a hundred times. You have seen them sick and perhaps after one to many cocktails. Perhaps their beauty has just become common place to you. Suddenly you find yourself in an odd situation. You love this person with all your heart, but somehow those carnal, lustful thoughts have either become extremely rare or worse seemed to disappear altogether. There is a saying “That which is familiar we take for granted” Maybe even seeing the same beautiful person day after day has you numb to their true attraction. So how do we get those feelings back? How do we fall back in lust with our own partner? The simple answer to this is to fall back in love with them. Now before you say “Neil that is just some crazy romantic nonsense you are spreading. I do love my partner I just don’t find them as attractive anymore” Well, let us look at another secret passion thief, resentment. In addition to seeing each others worst physical sides often people tend to remember a lot of the not so pleasant emotional sides of the dream person you are with. That is only natural. The brain tends to remember events that are linked to powerful emotions. What is more powerful than having your feeling hurt by your partner? Well, if you have followed the exercises leading up to this point you are well on your way to healing a good deal of those bad memories.

So the question remains, what can we do to rekindle the passion we had when we first met the love of our lives. Well it is honest best not to lose it in the first place. Lot’s of very loving and well-meaning couples end up as friends or even roommates after several years because they did not nurture the passion in their relationship. There are several ideas on how to achieve this and I encourage some self-study outside of this blog which usually ends up to be a fun time anyway. Here I will give you some of the best I have picked up from the experts in this field and from the mistakes I have made and lessons I have learned. First thing you need to know is you should never stop charming your partner. Lots of couples and in general it tends to be mostly the men, although women can certainly be guilty of this too, assume once they have won the heart and soul of their lover the deed is done. That is the furthest thing from the truth. I relate it to getting in the best shape of your life and then you stop paying attention to your body. Eventually you will end up out of shape and having to start all over again. The good news is that much like your body, you can start over in your relationship and work your way back to the top.  Making your partner feel loved and desired seems to be easy in the beginning but fall further down the ladder as the years go by. Here is the sad truth. First, that is the opposite of how it should be. Love is fun in the beginning. Everything is new and fresh. Your partner has not gotten on your nerves yet. As the years go by make no mistake you become equally as unattractive to your partner so keeping their feelings high will help both of you as well. Here is the good news. As the years go by you have more information and experiences to build on. You know more of what your partner likes, more of what makes them feel attractive. Use that to your advantage.

Another simple and fun thing you can do that will not only make your partner more attractive to you, but will also make them more attracted to you is focus. Now normally focus does not sound like the sexiest of all the words, but let me assure you it can be. A wonderful person made me something with the word focus as the center piece. It has not only done wonders with my writing, but also with many areas of life, relationships included. You know well if you read my blog with any regularity that what we focus on we tend to multiply and intensify. Why not focus on what you find attractive about your partner? Do their eyes sparkle like diamonds when they are happy? Does their whole face light up when they smile? Do you even find it cute when they spill ice cream on the front of their shirt? Whatever it is pay attention to it. Now here is the key, say it out loud. Let your partner know. Write it in a card. Leave a voicemail letting them know. Call them on lunch just to tell them. This accomplishes two things. One, you get into the habit of looking for things you find attractive in your partner. Two, saying they are beautiful, handsome or whatever word you care to use will get your mind in the habit of associating the two. Three, after an initial skepticism and thinking you have either done something terribly wrong or have the urge to do so, your partner will start to associate you with the good feelings they get from hearing how attractive they are. Let’s be honest who doesn’t like to feel desired. The key here is to find a mix of both physical and emotional things you find attractive about your partner. The more emotion behind it the better. Have fun with it.

HOW TO GET ANYWHERE…

“A number two pencil and a dream can take you anywhere”

This fabulous quote was given to me by a good friend who saw it on a sign at her work. At face value it seems a little pie in the sky, but is it true? In a word, absolutely. Every great dream begins with these two elements. First we need a dream, goal or whatever you care to call it. Without this step it is hard to get excited In fact without a destination in mind it is hard to get anywhere in life. I relate it to getting in your car on the passenger size, starting the ignition and putting a brick on the gas pedal. If you don’t steer and break you will either end up in someone’s back yard, or in the back of someone’s mini van. Either way effort without direction is wasted effort.

Ok, so you have a dream, now what? Can it really be realized with a simple #2 pencil? The simple answer is yes. Let me relay a personal example to you. When I began work on my book “A Happy Life for Busy People” I had a dream. That was a strong desire to bring what I have learned about living a successful and rewarding life with as many people as I could. What didn’t I have? Any idea what the hell I was doing! This can be the biggest obstacle to people achieving their dream life. It has been mine in the past. You have a great idea, but not the slightest clue as to how to accomplish it. Some see endless challenges and often quick before they really begin. I did this in years past. I would think 12 steps down the line and get so overwhelmed I wouldn’t even start step one. This is where the pencil comes in handy.

When I began work on my first book the same idea constantly came into my mind over and over again. That idea simply stated was “I have no idea how to write a book” So I began to write down everything I could think of. Every question I thought of I wrote down. “How do you get your book printed?” “What website is the best choice to use?” “Who do I know who has written a book?” Then I made lists of pros and cons of subjects. I jotted down ideas and bits of inspiration that came to me. Most of which would later only make sense to me. Considering my wonderful handwriting sometimes even that was debatable. The point being I was literally teaching myself as I went along. I wrote down the information I needed to continue. Then I would write down sources I could get that very information from. Is there a website that has that? Do I have to get a book on the subject? Is there a person I know who could advise me in this field?

I would have to say I would add one item to a dream and a pencil. That item would be a positive and expectant attitude. In reflection I fully expected and knew I was going to write a book. So when challenges arose I would just have to ask myself how can I solve this to move forward? Without this valuable tool you may be inclined to give up. If you totally expect your goal to be reached obstacles just appear as challenges to be solved and not walls stopping you.

Another important thing to realize when chasing your dreams is that chances are someone less talented, connected or gifted has accomplished the very thing you are trying to do. Even if this is not the case, consider how many people have done things others have thought impossible. So if you are considering chasing a dream grab a pencil and a great attitude and begin your journey there!