Looking at the Good Things

Every relationship, every family, and every person has things they can work on. No one is perfect and that’s just the way it is, we’re all works in progress. It’s important to work on those issues because the issues and imperfections we’ve got can get in our way to achieving success and becoming the best person we can be for ourselves and others.

I love my partner but if I wanted I could find quite a few things to complain about regarding him, he’s not perfect, and if you asked him he would tell you I’m not perfect either. But I’m not with him because I think he’s going to become perfect or to fix him. He’s much more than the issues and imperfections, he’s a thoughtful, caring, smart, funny and loving guy.

Perfection isn’t possible, but what if we took more time to focus on what’s right than what’s wrong? I’m not saying we should ignore the bad or not good stuff, in fact something that my partner and I do ask each other from time to time is if we can do anything better or be better in some way for the other. So it’s not that we’re ignoring the issues that each other have, my partner and I are always trying to do and be better for each other, but we choose to celebrate the fact that we’re together and each day we’re able to share our lives together.

Yes, your kid may have gotten an F on a math test, but they did well on the other projects that they just wrapped up, and they’re excited about a chapter coming up in history. Yes, you may have made a less-than-perfect dinner tonight but you cleaned the house, changed the sheets, organized the toys, washed the clothes, caught up on the paperwork and bills and helped your sister pick out colors for their soon-to-arrive baby’s room. It’s not about getting everything right or being perfect, but taking the time to celebrate the good stuff. Just because your kid isn’t great at a subject in school doesn’t mean they’re destined to fail at life. Just because you can’t cook doesn’t mean you aren’t a good parent or partner. You don’t have to be good at everything, but you are good at many things.

What are you good at that you can celebrate today?


Love is Considerate

This month as we’ve talked and thought about love I was reflecting on what is really one of the central aspects to love and relationships, both romantic and other types: other people. I know it sounds really obvious and yes, it’s important to love yourself, but for a relationship, romantic or otherwise, to really be successful you have to love the other person. Maybe that love is the passionate-fairy-tale-love kind, maybe that love is more of a respectful love, maybe it’s more of a compassionate love, or maybe it’s a mutual love of a sports team or hobby that makes you love another person. There’s a lot more to love than just saying “I love you” or wanting someone else in your life so you’re not alone.

Relationships are about more than just us and what we want or get out of them, there’s a whole ‘nother person to consider, and without that other person there would be no relationship. So where do you stand on your relationships including your relationship with your significant other, your family members, your work colleagues and your friends? Do you really take time to consider them and their needs, capabilities and needs as part of your relationship with them?

I think one of the biggest secrets to showing love to others is just being considerate. There’s nothing fancy or complicated really about it, it’s just you taking the time to open your eyes, mind, and heart to the other person. Sometimes that consideration means being extra patient with them, sometimes it’s about showing them in dramatic form how much you care, sometimes it’s just a touch on the shoulder or text message to let them know you’re there and you support them, and sometimes it’s connecting them to a great opportunity or resource that you hear about.

Have you taken the time to dive into love this month and explore the relationships that are important in your life? Which relationships have you realized need work and which are you most committed to exploring and strengthening?

3 T’s to a Healthy Relationship

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away. As I flip through TV channels, see the commercials on my computer and see the latest books and movies being published I’m constantly amazed by how many versions of love there are. My relationship with my partner doesn’t look like the relationships other people have with their partner. Some people love more than one person, some people never connect wiht the one person they could live with loving, some people love across great distances and some people call it love when it’s the furthest thing from real love. However there are a couple things that I think contribute to the success of a relationship, regardless of what your version of love looks like (with the exception of not real love).

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I’m a big supporter of communication, but that’s not one we’re going to talk about today, instead I wanted to talk about three other keys: touch, time and teamwork.

Teamwork: If you’re really committed to the relationship there has to be give and take, time and energy given by both of you towards the health of the relationship and to taking care of all the things that need to be done to run your lives and household. No relationship survives on the efforts of only one person, at least not for very long.  That means both of you should be working on the home, relationship and seeing to your kids’ needs if you have kids.

Time: If it’s a healthy relationship the people in the relationship need to make time for each other. Whenever possible that should consist of in-person time on a daily and weekly basis, and should also include digital communications too. The time that it takes to send even a simple text could mean all the difference to the health of your relationship.  But it’s also important to make a time commitment in other ways such as date nights, time at home together or video chats if distance prohibits in-person interaction.

Touch: While the other two keys we’ve talked about today can be done to some extent even if one partner isn’t physically there, this one does require you and your partner to be in the same place.  People thrive on touch.  While you don’t need touch to survive like you do food and water, if you really want to be your healthiest and happiest, and you want the relationship to be healthiest and happiest, there should be touch involved, whether it’s holding hands, snuggling and/or more intimate options.

How healthy is your relationship with regard to teamwork, time and touch?  Are they regularly incorporated so that both of you are supported in the relationship and your lives, or are they something you should make a new commitment to this Valentine’s Day?

Impact Big and Small

As I was thinking about the big football game happening in a few hours I was reminded of the topic of impact. In hearing the different plans that people have depending on the results of the game and about the history of the teams for winning seasons, it got me thinking about how many people’s futures are going to be impacted by the events of a few hours. No, it’s not life and death like cancer and it’s not as impactful as something like an election, but it’s still a really big deal to many people, and people are willing to put their health on the line for the victory today.

For some the events of today in the world of football mean very little or nothing to them. They don’t watch, they don’t care, they may not even know which teams are playing. And that’s OK, because what we’re talking about today isn’t really about football. It’s about the impact that each of us have on each other. Yes, today’s game will have a big impact because it impacts many people. What you choose for dinner tonight may not have a big impact on many people, but it will have an impact on you, and maybe a few of the people who live with you. How you talk to your kids will have an impact on them, how you show your partner you do/don’t love them will impact them, the way you treat yourself will have an impact on your self esteem, your self image and your confidence.

The thing is it’s these little things that add up to make a big impact. If you put one quarter in a jar every day for the next year you’ll have $36.53 which might be enough to take your significant other out for dinner. Divorces rarely are the result of one event or thing but days, months and even years of issues and buildup. People are rarely born bad, they turn that way after years of negative influences and anger directed their way. I doubt that any of the parents who have kids playing in the football game today knew the day they were born that they would end up playing today.

You can’t predict the future, but you can do your best to make choices that will give you the best big and little impacts possible. What impact will you choose to have?

Open To Love

This month we’ve been talking about the topic of possibilities. Today I want to ask you a question that may challenge you: are you open to love? What about being loved or loving others? Before you give a knee-jerk answer, think about your life, your attitude, and your relationships. Do they reflect someone who is loving or has love, or does your life show an absence of love?

In many ways love is a choice, we choose to accept love in our lives or to give it. Sometimes love can sneak up on us like with a pet or an adorable kid, but that’s more often affection than love, at least in the beginning, until we choose to let it become love or not. Sometimes when we choose to love our choice won’t be returned or we love someone who doesn’t love us or loves us in a dangerous way (not true love). But with the exception of loving someone who’s dangerous or hurtful, it doesn’t do us any harm to love someone else, especially if we choose to love others regardless of how they react or respond to our love.

Why choose to love and be open to love? Because let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to love other people, they can be stubborn, bad communicators and not considerate of our needs and feelings. The person who’s our “one true love” is almost as difficult to find as it is to decide on something to eat at a diner with a 20 page menu. And around half of all marriages end up in divorce. So why bother with love?

I think more of us would be happier if we chose to live with love and let love into our lives. Yes, it’s a bit of a risk to be open to love knowing that others could hurt us, but I know we’d have better relationships with our partners (and our kids) if we truly loved them and showed it on a daily basis, especially in our communications with them.  Being closed to love means you don’t have the opportunity to experience that once-in-a-lifetime relationship and love that you could, not to mention all the little moments where loves surprises you, or moments you could share love and surprise someone else.

Over the next month we’ll be diving into the topic of love. We’ll talk about how to be a better significant other, be a more loving person, deal with the failures and hurts of love and more. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like me to write on next month too, you can share them in the comments. But before we can get to having love in our lives we have to choose love. Why do you choose love?

New Year, Simply Better Relationships

It’s the weekend! The weekend is a great time to spend together as a family and do something fun or important, or just to relax and catch up after the week. I was talking with my partner about a meeting they had the other day at one of the places he works and he was saying how poorly run the meeting was and what could have made it a much more constructive meeting. His thoughts got me thinking about two simple things we can do in our families and with our partners to have better relationships.

Ask more, tell less: we’ve gotten pretty good at telling others what to do, but how often do we really take the time to ask them or discuss it with them? If you tell them to do something you’re more likely to get resistance, but if you ask them about something you don’t truly know what the answer will be until you ask someone. Maybe they’re in a generous mood, maybe you’ll explain your issue differently this time, maybe they’ll be tired of listening to the complaints, or maybe they’ve realized that it’s time to step up. Yes, the answer may be the same as it’s been the other times you’ve asked, and maybe that’s an indication to you that you need to do or say something different.

Spend time together: maybe it’s going out for groceries, maybe it’s digging in the garden, maybe it’s reading a book, maybe it’s watching a movie, maybe it’s practicing sports or playing a video game, maybe it’s going out to eat, maybe it’s taking the dog for a walk, or maybe it’s taking a class, educational activity or seminar together, there are countless ways that you can spend time together. Some are things you can do with any free time you have, but others are things that have to get done that could be done better with another person, like food shopping, or are more fun with others like going out to eat. The important thing is making the effort to be together.

I know, these sound like really simple things, but making these two small tweaks in your life and theirs can make a big difference. What small but powerful effort can you give in your relationship and family this weekend?

Relationship Repairs

Last week I spent some time thinking about how many people do things that create huge divisions between themselves and others. Sometimes we’re not aware of it and there’s nothing we can do until after the fact. But usually we play a key role in that division being created, and are aware of it. Maybe we’re not willing to give a little, maybe we’re tired of giving, maybe we’re at a place with different goals, or maybe we just didn’t know each other as well as we thought we did.

When we reach these divisions in life we’ve got a choice to work through them or to let them permanently drive a wedge between us. We’re really good at creating the permanent wedge, and some people talk about working through it or give fixing it lip service but never truly make the effort.

The thing about saying hateful or hurtful things to another person is that hurting the other person will not in any way, shape or form, accomplish what you really want to have happen. All it will do is hurt both of you. So do what has to be done to be able to go your separate ways or fix the relationship, don’t just hurl insults, hurt or hate.

If you’re really going to try to make it work go the whole way. See a coach together, attend AA type meetings to work on your own stuff individually, if there are kids involved seek help to be better parents, plan out times that you will be together each week for date type activities, plan times for you each to be alone, write up who will do what and so on. All of this is about doing the work and starting the necessary communication and creating opportunities to repair the relationship.

But this isn’t just about repairing your romantic relationship (or partnership as I call them) but about the other relationships in your life as well. We can be pretty bad friends and employees on occasion. Sometimes those are the relationships that need extra attention to get them back on track or to see that the relationship has run its course.

This week I challenge you to choose one relationship that needs work and actually get to work on it. Sit down with your boss, friend or partner and have the tough conversation and establish together where you go from there. It may not be easy but it will be worth it in the long run.

Relationship Possibilities

This month one of the things we’ll be talking about is the topic of possibilities. I’m a huge fan of this topic because I’m a dreamer, creative person and fiction lover. I love looking for opportunities rather than rehashing issues. I’m also a huge lover of relationships. I think it’s really important for each of us to have relationships and people we can trust and who support us in our lives. I don’t believe that we’re here to go through life and our struggles alone. However, I also know that we can be really good at getting ourselves stuck and sometimes life sets up roadblocks that we can’t always see around.

One of those areas we get stuck on is our romantic relationships. A romantic relationship can be one of the best things that ever happened to you, or it can be one of the most challenging. Sometimes those challenges exist because we are too stubborn to talk things out, or unwilling to change or find compromise, or because we’re with the wrong person. But if you and your partner enter into the relationship committed to being with each other and working out your differences, working through the challenges that arise and growing together, and actively practice all of those things, you’ve got a shot at the ultimate relationship.

Yes, you will both change and grow, and that’s part of the commitment you’re make when you commit to your relationship. Committing to really make the relationship work means that you understand that sometimes you’ll be working together towards a goal, sometimes you’ll be working on parallel goals, and sometimes you’ll each be doing your own thing. And with change being a constant in the world, you and your partner will both change over the years. The question is how you’ll approach and work through those changes, and whether they’ll make you stronger as a couple or not.

If you and your partner really embrace the attitude of possibility, it will typically overflow into other areas of your life, impacting them in a great way as well, which is a huge perk. When you see what’s possible in your life and for your family, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what to say yes to and what to say no to and avoid both personally and with your partner. Will you choose to make 2018 a year of possibilities with me?

Set for Relationship Success

Today we’re talking about relationship success. While there are always factors that can’t be anticipated, and people do change, I believe that there are some things you can do to help your relationship be more successful than most. Here are 6 things you should consider to give your relationship a good chance at success.

Attention: does your partner get your undivided attention at least once every day or are you frequently doing more than one thing at a time while talking or being with them?

Actions: how do you behave towards them? What do the actions you take on their behalf, towards them or because of them say about you and your relationship with them?

Attitude: do you dismiss them and their feelings? Have you grown to resent them or their place in your life? Do you treat them as a burden or distraction?

Care: do you show them how you feel about them and how important they are to you? Do you make a point of doing special things for them? Do you sometimes put their needs ahead of your own?

Communication: how often do you two talk? Do you share the things that go on in your day and listen to them share about their day? Do you take minutes here and there to just text them that you love them?

Consistency: relationships aren’t made or broken in one day or one event, are you consistnetly showing your partner that you are their partner, or consistently showing them you’re not invested in the relationship?

I encourage you to take time to consider your relationship this week and take the necessary steps to evaluate and improve your relationship so that it’s fulfilling for both you and your partner and has the best chance at lasting success.

Safe At Work

This past week we’ve been hearing lots of stories from women about the unwanted attention in work situations. Of course, there’s the bullying that goes on in schools and with young people around the world, and the unwanted attention or violent actions women (and some men) face outside of the workplace as well, including too many domestic violence situations, and I talked about that on my other blog today. According to Facebook, over “45% of the people in the United States are friends with someone who’s posted a message with the words ‘Me too'”, and that’s just the people who are willing to talk about it! So this is a serious situation that really needs to be addressed, and here today I want to talk about the importance of making the workplace as safe for everyone as possible.

Work safety starts with the boss and management. I can’t tell you how many stories I hear about bosses that spend time screaming, yelling, berating, ignoring and fighting with their employees, not to mention the employees who are just unappreciated by their boss(es). If you want your people to feel safe working for you, you need to be the best leader and human possible. You need to remember that we’re all human and mess up on occasion, give them the education and tools they need to do their jobs, and let them know you appreciate them doing their jobs.

Second, there needs to be an amount of respect between all of you. They may not have your title or your education or your finances, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless or worth less than you are as a human being. They may be replaceable, but at what cost? If you treat them like trash there’s a high likelihood that they’re not going to say anything positive about your company, and some may even go so far as to tell their friends and family or even companies they work for in the future never to buy from you (who may pass on the word to others not to buy from you).

Finally, while it doesn’t have to be something you shout to the world, as a business you should have a plan and resources that your employees can tap into if they face unwanted attention or violence through work or their personal lives. This isn’t about having the required sexual harassment seminars that people joke about afterwards or a file at the back of a file box from the first day the company opened however many years ago. This is about genuinely offering support that people need as well as letting all your employees know that violence and unwanted attention aren’t going to be allowed. In some cases you can work with offenders if they’re willing to honestly get help for their issues and commit to acting differently in the future, but no one should feel unsafe going to work. You can share resources through a page on your website that employees have the link and password for or an email you send out on a regular basis depending on the turnover in your company (but at least yearly). If you really want to stand up as a company in the community you can offer career training and support at local shelters and donate to domestic violence organizations and other organizations that fight or raise awareness about these situations.

The fact is there’s a larger majority of people who have a job than have a significant other. Work is something that most people do on a daily basis, so the workplace should be the place that people feel most comfortable and are safest. So as businesses we need to step up in a big way to show that unwanted attention isn’t OK and that women (and men) everywhere have the right to come to work without being harassed or mistreated. I encourage you to take a good look at your business before the end of the month and make sure that you’re making your workplace the best it can be for your employees.