CHERISH is the WORD . . .

Please….Check Your Tone At The Door728[1]

In the arena of love and marriage, one of the major contributors to discord is the inability to communicate in a calm, rational, non-accusatory fashion. For most couples, it takes several years of navigating the choppy seas of difference of personalities, viewpoints, priorities and lifestyles, before it’s all smooth sailing. Sadly, some folks never reach that island of harmony where rational minds prevail and love is watered daily…instead they wake up to find their relationship…shipwrecked.

If one could take the opportunity to dissect the anatomy of an argument, it might be quite surprising to see how often it has nothing to do with “what” you say, but rather “how” you say it that sets off the smoke alarm.

Tone and inflection (whether intended or not) can unfortunately transform a mundane question such as, “did you remember to unload the dishwasher?” into an explosive emotional grenade setting off a full-blown argument. I’m sure it was these type of seemingly stupid little “dropped bombs” that was the inspiration for Pat Benatar’s big hit, “Love Is A Battlefield”.7647176[1]

There are so many ways we can inflect our voice. Think about it. We can say pretty much anything  in a way that implies that the other person is stupid or inept, simply by making a punctuated exhalation sound…showing we are annoyed or exasperated. Combine that with “the rolling of the eyes” and you have a problem in the making.  The dishwasher comment can be delivered in a way that is accusatory…as in, “OMG did you seriously forget to put the frigging dishes up again?” The problem is, when daily interaction is habitually filled with negative tones and accusatory voice inflections, it can take a very damaging toll on any relationship.

It is so easy to recognize these kind of demeaning tones and negative interactions when observing our children. As parents, we are so quick to jump in and correct…”Michael..don’t talk to your sister that way…that is totally unacceptable! Now, say you’re sorry…etc.” But for some strange reason, we adults are much slower to recognize it in ourselves or to point it out in our spouses before the damage is done and a relatively minor exchange becomes an emotionally charged duel of words.

In contrast, there is a way that “love” speaks. Like anything, it requires commitment and practice to become natural at it. But with both, couples can learn to cut off their negative tones and learn to speak to each other in a loving and respectful manner. No matter what the actual “words” are, if we are conscientious about how we are speaking them, our interaction can take place on a much higher level. Even, a simple word like “sweetie” can be inserted in front of a phrase and the listener can receive it in a much more positive way. For example, “sweetie, I was wondering if you had208315_2014038227442_4762824_n[1] the chance to unload the dishwasher yet….”

In order to have a thriving, robust relationship – with awareness and practice, we can choose on a daily basis to break the bad habit of speaking with demeaning, negative and disrespectful tones. It is just one more key to a successful love-filled life together!

 

In Search of Happiness

   imagesCA4WYXBXApparently in this world, there is a treasure sought after by man that is more precious and desirable than gold but as elusive and unattainable as the Holy Grail. I’m speaking of “happiness”. Just take a stroll down the self-help aisle at Barnes and Noble and you will be blown away with the seemingly endless plethora of “How To” books on the subject. To underscore my point, I just typed in the words “finding happiness” in the search bar in the book section of Amazon.com., which resulted in 5,140 results – amazing, right?

Here are just a few of the titles: 21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness, The Happiness Solution, How to Be Happy, When Am I Going to Be Happy…and so on, just make up a title and I’m sure you can find it on a book shelf.

So what is going on? Has this been part of the human condition since the beginning of our existence? Has “happiness” always been a pipe dream? Am I happy? And what does that really mean to me anyway…hmmm.imagesCA02VTN3

Upon deeper reflection, I believe that happiness isn’t so much a state of being as it is an emotional reaction to my surroundings. In other words, when I hold a newborn baby, see a hummingbird land on my feeder or experience any number of life’s simple joys, I get a feeling or sensation that I have come to equate with “happiness”. However, I can walk in the house and turn on the news and hear about a mass shooting and quickly be overcome with emotions of sadness. So, in my experience, happiness is more of a fleeting emotion that comes and goes throughout thappiness-quote[1]he day and is in direct correlation to external stimuli.

People often ask me, “are you always this happy”? And of course, the answer is “no”. I have emotional ups and downs just like everyone else.  So what are they really asking? I think maybe what they are observing is that I am generally “content”. Now, contentment to me is a state of being that is with me whether I am sorrowful over a loss of a loved one, or rejoicing with a newly married couple. In my experience, contentment is static and is not related to my emotional ups and downs. So have I learned to be content or am I just wired that way? I suppose upon further analysis, the answer would be a little bit of both.

What do you think? How do you define yourself when it comes to “happiness” or “contentment”?images[2]

I’m excited to read your comments. Click on the “Leave A Comment” icon below to join the discussion!

Desperately Seeking a Needle of Wisdom in the Political Haystack

I’m not so much intrigued by politics as I am about human nature and how each of us responds to political stimuli. It has been such an interesting, polarizing time unlike any I d72b94edf2301342a11b3361032ddcff1can remember in my adult voting life. At the onset, I used every opportunity to seek to understand both sides of most of the major issues – read the RNC platform, watched all of the main speakers at the convention,  read the DNC platform and listened to their speakers (probably a result of having a conservative Republican father and a liberal Democrat mother). I did this to “know myself”, find out what I really think, to discover what each party really stands for in their core issues and then find out what aligns with my values. Like many Americans, hubby and I watched the debates. Almost daily, we had discusswatching-news-online-300x1801ions with friends with differing opinions, we also gave equal time to FOX, CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg news as well as the Sunday morning political fare offered by those same networks.

Here are just a few things I observed and learned:

1. OBJECTIVITY is on the “endangered thinking” list and is as rare as finding a journalist who doesn’t interrupt and continually talk over someone who doesn’t agree with him or her.
2. FACTS stand no chance against our deeply entrenched filters which are based on emotional responses and run as deep as our flight or fight reflexes.
3. LISTENING with the intent to truly understand rather than to formulate our reply is a virtue all of us need to aspire to and improve upon.
4. TRIBALISM or group think/blind allegiance to one’s team can become a cancer on our society which feeds off of our individual egos and creates a safe haven for an “us and them” mentality, feelings of superiority, disdain for differing opinions and hypocrisy at its most disgusting, distasteful display.
5. HATE is not owned by any particular group, party, religion or race and the justification for vileness can be skewed to fit anyone’s particular ideology and rebranded as “justified retaliation” or “righteous indignation”.
6. LABELING one another, in my opinion, is intellectually lazy and socially irresponsible. But, apparently it is so much more “comfortable” to place others in perfectly constructed labeled boxes than it is to truly seek to understand, which of course, would force us to step outside of our own very comfy box.
7. POSITIVITY and hope are still available to us all no matter how dire a picture is being presented to us or is our actual perception – as always, we as individuals have to choose how we see the world, how we choose to interact with others and how we choose to LIVE our own lives.

So, I’ve decided based on these observations, from this day forward if I’m going to make a difference in the world, I must “be the change I want to see” in the world. Therefore, I am going to work hard on these things in my own life each and every day from this day forward and HOPE that my actions will serve to inspire others to learn, grow, expand, evolve, and ultimately LOVE!