Mind over matter or the power within

In the past few years I have faced many cross roads and stumbling blocks, including a bad health scare two years ago. They say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. As true as that statement is, my approach has always been “mind over matter”.  This proverb has proven true in every aspect of my life. Even when things seem hopeless, you can always use your mind to create a different reality and possibly a different future outcome.

Your mind is your most powerful tool, as it controls your body and how it functions.  There are hundreds of examples of people surviving deadly diseases or recovering from accidents when doctors have lost all hope.  Willpower and perseverance can overcome many life limitations. You can learn to walk again after a horrendous accident and you can train yourself to be immune to pain.  The power is always within.  Even age is not a limitation. As Mark Twain put it, with a little bit of humour: “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Remember that although you cannot control the outside influences and some life events that happen, you can always control your attitude. Next time you are facing a major life dilemma, take time to sit down and reflect.  Positive thinking and determination have proven to do wonders for many, myself included.  You may also need to rethink your immediate support and friendship circle and eliminate the people who bring you down and cast a shadow over your otherwise bright spirit.

According to Henry Ford, “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you are right.”

 

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What is happiness?

We all seek one thing in life and that is happiness. Defining it, however, proves a rather difficult task as each person’s approach and understanding of what it means is different.

Wikipedia defines happiness as a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.  Although the general definition of happiness would be the same for everyone, the ability to create the required positive or pleasant emotions would stem from different sources for each and every person.  For some, feeling loved by another creates the feeling of euphoria, for others being successful in business achieves the same result.

Like with any comparisons, you can only achieve the desired results if you are comparing apples with apples. Therefore, happiness should be measured as the state of mind when you enjoy your life circumstances and your daily surroundings and you go about your every day with a smile.

Unfortunately, human nature often makes us wish for more than we already have. We see that someone has a bigger house, a nicer wedding ring, a more attentive partner or better behaved kids and our immediate reaction is, in most cases, “why can’t I have that too!”. The main flaw in that thought process is that the person with a bigger house may not have anything else going for them, or they may have poor health or be very unhappy in their relationship. Also, a person who appears to have a more attentive partner may only get such attention in public or their partner may be unfaithful.  You never know what someone is going through or has sacrificed to have the one thing that you are so jealous of.

Therefore, it may be best to work out what are the few most important things for you to have in life and try to achieve having those things. Anything else is a bonus.

Personally, if my family is healthy, my kids are happy and I am in a loving relationship, that is all that matters. Winning Tatts Lotto would be nice, but my life is euphoric without it. Money come and go but money cannot buy happiness, or at least not in my case.

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Can you be selfish in a relationship?

I have recently come across a very interesting blog by Seth Adam Smith titled “Marriage isn’t for you” which raised a highly debated point.  Seth stated that “you don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy”.

After thinking about it for a while and debating it with some of my friends, I have decided that I am in total agreement with Seth, as this is how I would treat any serious relationship with a person I love.  The concept of love goes against the natural human desire of seeing what is in it for you, as it is a concept of giving (of time, affection, consideration and appreciation) to another human being.

The theory goes further to suggest that loving someone for them (rather than just caring for your own needs) achieves 2 things: it makes your partner happy, as you are doing all you can to please them, and it makes them want to reciprocate, which would in turn make you happy. The natural extension of that thinking is that each partner in a loving relationship should want to make the other partner happy and should want to do all that is in their power to achieve it.

One of the arguments against this particular theory, which I have come across, is that “if you are unhappy in a relationship, you shouldn’t be in it and you should go and look somewhere else”.  The whole principle of this statement seems flawed, as if your partner is only looking out for their own interests, then how could they possibly make you happy or expect that you would be able to be happy in a relationship with them? In the words of Oscar Wilde: “selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”  Whereas, the concept of love has been described as: “you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

Good relationships are all about achieving that golden mix of giving and receiving between the partners. If you are in a relationship and you have no desire to do anything for your partner, only wanting to do what suits you, and somehow expecting that your partner should be happy with this scenario, you may be kidding yourself to think that your relationship will last. By being selfish, you are not in any way catering for your partner’s needs (as the only needs in your consideration are your own) and thus you doom your relationship for failure sooner or later.

After careful consideration, I have concluded (for myself) that adopting a selfish attitude is mutually exclusive with the concept of love and being able to sustain a long-lasting relationship with another person.  Your partner can only be happy in a relationship with you if you actually take positive steps in trying to make them happy, especially if they uphold their end of the bargain. 

 

 

 

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The power of positive thinking

The power of positive thinking has been described as the way in which many people are able to get through their day and face the tribes and tribulations of their life paths. Being positive has been described as a synonym of being an optimist.  Optimism, in turn, comes from the Latin word optimus, meaning “best,” as an optimistic person is always looking for the best in any situation and expecting good things to happen.

Whether you are an optimist by nature or not, and whether you see your glass as half full or half empty, the law of attraction dictates that if you  make positive thinking your habitual way of seeing life, many great things will come your way.  On the flip side of the coin, negative thoughts attracts negative energy.  

Some of the benefits of positive thinking that have come out of numerous researches conducted by scientists include being able to make a great first impression, reducing stress and therefore improving health.  Like the name of this blog, turn your problems into projects, look at them as an opportunity to grow and eventually things will work themselves out.

The phrase “you reap what you sow” seems very fitting to this topic, as complaining and mourning about your destiny, without appreciating the things that you already have may result in you losing the existing good in your life. Appreciation and gratitude, on the contrary, can bring more of good things to be thankful for in life.

Abraham Lincoln once said that “we can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Being a big lover of roses and an optimist by nature, I can definitely relate to that saying.  So dream a dream, look at life challenges as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks and remember that happiness is an attitude. As Francesca Reigler stated: “We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”

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Living “happily ever after” – myth or reality?

As a child, I was always a big fan of fairy tales, especially the ending of most of them being “…and they lived happily ever after”.

I have never given a second thought to the concept of “happily ever after”. However, as I was reading “Cinderella” to my own children the other day, it made me stop and think. What does it actually mean? Does anyone have a fairy tale ending?

After looking into this area more closely, speaking with many people in and out of relationships and reading various publications on the topic, I have seen some common issues, assessment of which  aids in understanding whether you are “living the dream” in your relationship.  These include:

1. Defining what happiness means for you. This is a very subjective assessment and will have different answer for each and every one of us.  Once you have created a definition of happiness, look at your life and assess whether where you are in life and your partner satisfy that criteria. If the answer is “no”, then you need to look closer at what changes need to be made in order for you to be happy.

2. Assessing your general life expectations and expectations of your partner. Are these expectations realistic? Do you need to rethink your expectations?

3. Examining your relationship. Speak to your partner to understand whether you make him or her happy and what is required to achieve their happiness. By the same token, you must explain to them what is required for your happiness.

4. Remembering that communication is the key.  Ensure you express your feelings, positive and negative, as they arise, as bottling up emotions will only result in resentment and a massive fight at a later stage.

5. Leaving the past behind. There is no need to dwell on the past.  You must be able to let go of anything that is holding you back in order to move forward. Learn from your (and other people’s) mistakes and recognise when you have successfully moved forward.  This is a continuous and evolving process.

6. Keeping the romance alive. Do not under any circumstances take your partner for granted. Show them your appreciation. Ensure that there is no lack of effort from you towards them. If you feel that there is lack of effort on their part, you must discuss it as soon as possible to eliminate any possible future issues.

7. Finding the balance of interests and favourite activities for both you and your partner. Relationships are all about ‘give and take’ and compromise. You must ensure that your relationship is not heavily geared towards satisfying the needs and wants of only one party, as it is then almost guaranteed not to last.

8. Ensuring that you do not give up easily. If you have hit a rough patch and your relationship is worth fighting for, then fight for it with all your might.

Remember one thing – “happily ever after” is not the end, it is the beginning. It is up to you what happens in the next chapter and whether you can live out the fairy tale.

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The art of appreciating others

Appreciation of another is a concept discussed at length but too often forgotten in relationships. Appreciation is defined as the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone and the showing of gratitude to such someone.

There are many quotes and sayings on this topic. Two that come to mind are “you never know how much someone means to you until they are gone” or the opposite side of the spectrum being “treat them mean, keep them keen”.

Many people in relationships seem to fall within one of the two categories described above – one that makes an effort and another that takes full advantage of it without much gratitude, appreciation or other types of affection. One party not being able to express appreciation is one of the main reasons for divorce and relationship breakup.

When appreciation is shown, it reinforces the positive behaviour and creates a greater bond between the couple. However, as we know, men and women are very different species, which means that each of them can express appreciation in different ways.

Some men would only resort to showing their ‘appreciation’ when things go sour and their partner is close to calling it quits by way of lavish gifts & expensive gestures. Not that there’s anything wrong with gifts and grand gestures. However, it is the daily behaviour that makes or breaks a couple.

There are also women, who act like they are doing the world a big favour by just getting out of bed in the morning. Women, who do not treat their partners nicely. Women who do not see just how fortunate they are and that their partner adores them. And then there are other women, who do everything in all aspects for their partner and get nothing or close to nothing in return.

Being through it personally and seeing many relationships  break up and seeing those couples who still make it work after many years, I have seen some common patterns of the ‘right’ things to do for both men and women.

Some suggestions may be to give your partner a kiss and a cuddle just because it feels good and to tell them you love them more often. For a guy – buy her some flowers for no reason (they cost as little as $4 and most girls love it!) and do something in the house that would make her smile. Other general suggestions for both men and women include planning a nice day out, watching sunsets together or doing something that both of you enjoy. The main thing is to show each other your love and adoration.  Remember, once your partner starts feeling they have been taken for granted, your relationship may be in great jeopardy. So if you are with someone amazing – get out of your comfort zone and start showing your gratitude. You may just save your own happiness from walking out the door.

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Are you too proud to right the wrong?

Going through life, many occurrences teach us lessons. We make mistakes and hurt others with or without intending to. We do things we are not proud of. We upset people close to us. This is because we are human. Our perceptions are subjective and often selfish.  This is how we are wired.

Many people I have come across find it very difficult to apologise for hurting someone else’s feelings. This is normal. It takes guts and courage to say ‘sorry’ to another person. We teach our children to respect other people’s feelings yet often fail at it ourselves. It is as if we feel that apologising to another lowers our personal standing in other people’s eyes.

There is also a group of people who, in their mind, are always right regardless of the scenario. This is the pinnacle of human selfishness. These people never apologise or see another point of view.  Unfortunately for them, a day will come when they have burnt all their bridges and they have found themselves totally isolated from family and friends.

My personal belief is that if you are human, then you cannot possibly be always right. You, like billions of others, have wronged someone at some point and therefore an apology is an order.

Many believe that a key to a happier life is acknowledging our wrongs, attempting to make them right and learning from our mistakes.  Often it may be too late for an apology and it is something you may have to live with. But without such acknowledgement, you cannot grow as a person, move forward with your life and give closure to the other person who feels betrayed / wronged / taken advantage of etc. Even if anything you bring forward is rejected, it is definitely worth your while.

Circumstances often make it impossible to apologise to someone in a timely fashion. However, with time, opportunities will present themselves when you can find a way to reach out and relay how you feel. Even if all you get back consists of nasty and unpleasant comments, it is definitely worth the hassle.

Like every other human, I have done things I am not proud of and upset people who cared for me. Would I have done those things if I had to relive my life – definitely not. But I live with no regrets and the mistakes of the past have molded me into the person that I am today.  As for apologising, usually I am the first to admit when I am wrong.  However, in some situations it is not an easy task.

I take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to those who I have hurt in any way and have not had a chance to express my deep regret in person.  You know who you are.

So think about anyone who you may have wronged in the past. Today may be the day when you swallow your pride and apologise.  Do it not because you are dying or as part of some rehabilitation program. Do it because it is the right thing to do.

 

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