#108 Ask for a Hug

Because a hug can generate that sense of belonging and compassion, it fosters calm. It allows us to feel protected – if even only for that moment.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#108

Ask for a hug

Connection is one of the most fundamental needs that a human being requires for survival. In fact, researchers in Chicago have postulated that not feeling connected to a ‘tribe’ may be more devastating to our life expectancy than smoking or obesity. There may be no better way to signify a connection than by hugging.

Often these days, we are racing around attempting to complete our own agenda and don’t take the time to stop and consider those around us. Consequently, we may fail to notice that people in our circle – our tribe – our family, are feeling disconnected from us. We may not feel comfortable speaking out when we are the ones feeling on the outskirts. And so it goes… we brush past one another, maybe with a smile but disengaged from a sense of belonging.

Take the Lead

It is during those times that it becomes imperative to ‘ask for a hug’. Whether you’re the one feeling disconnected or you are noticing that someone appears to be detached or unplugged from the group/family. Either we notice that we are in need or there is someone in our tribe that can tell we are deficient. Either way, the gesture of a hug will likely break the isolation and pull us into at least a temporary circle of comfort.

Benefits

Because a hug can generate that sense of belonging and compassion, it fosters calm. It allows us to feel protected – if even only for that moment. Consequently, our immune system may function better, our fear is reduced, and we may feel happier. More hugging may help with heart health, depression, anxiety, and overall life satisfaction.

That’s a lot of benefit just because we took the time to think about our needs and …

Ask for a hug.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#116 Give Someone a Back Rub

The act of physically touching another person with compassion and gentleness can be physically (not sexual) pleasurable for you as well.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#116

Give someone a back rub

Remember that saying “it’s better to give than to receive”? While most people I know enjoy receiving a back rub, it’s also quite nice to earnestly give one.

Aside from foreplay

Back in the day – before ‘hookups’ were a truly a casual thing, this is the ‘intimate gesture’ that often served as a ‘hint’ that more touching might be welcomed – at least in my experience – although the initiation of sex is NOT what this suggestion is really about.

Intimacy

When we gently and slowly massage the bare skin of another human that we feel connected to, it can be a very intimate experience. This exercise is encouraged as a way to build physical intimacy with someone without the expectation or culmination of sexual activity (although if you are moved… by all means).

How To

When I make this suggestion in couples therapy, I will sometimes hear resistance by an individuals declaration that they have weak hands and I send them directly to the internet to learn how to give a back rub. It turns out that strong hands are not a requirement for a relaxing, stress reducing, or even a seductive back rub. They may be if you are seeking sore muscle treatment in which case, see a trained massage therapist. Indeed, a good back rub is more about the caress of the skin, slight pressure moving in a particular direction, and the intention of the touch. Most anyone can give a good back rub with a bit of practice.

Benefits

At first glance, one might think that the receiver is the only one who tends to benefit from a back rub but for the giver – there’s opportunity as well. Making a connection with someone you care about may be the most obvious. Making the time for your friend or partner let’s them know you put them first from time to time and that gesture reinforces the relationship you are also a part of. Initiating a selfless gesture of providing pleasure to someone you care for keeps you grounded and focused beyond only your needs, encouraging a Eudamonic sense of well-being. The act of physically touching another person with compassion and gentleness can be physically (not sexual) pleasurable for you as well. Indeed, there’s hardly a downside when you make the effort to …

Give someone a back rub.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#117 Practice Appreciation

After a few years in private practice working with couples in crisis, I noticed that they all had a blaring commonality; an absence of expressed appreciation.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#117

Practice appreciation

After a few years in private practice working with couples in crisis, I noticed that they all had a blaring commonality; an absence of expressed appreciation. Early in relationships, whether they are employment, romantic, or just personal – we tend to be observant of the ‘niceties’ that are exchanged and comment on them in appreciative ways. In many cases, that energy quickly wanes.

Gratitude

In the age of the Gratitude movement, it is often apparent that people are using the term gratitude when they mean appreciation and believing that because they appreciate something, they are automatically grateful for it but they are different. They are not one-in-the-same.

Difference from Gratitude

The Oxford English Dictionary explains that Gratitude is the “readiness to show appreciation” and then goes on to define appreciation as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something”.  Key into the phrase ‘recognition of the good qualities of someone’ – seeing the good – as that is commonly the area to dissolve first.

I love the way that Esther Hicks explains appreciation – “seeing something through the eyes of the source (creator)”. It is to ‘notice’ and once we do… we can be – and often are – thankful for what we are appreciating (gratitude).

The Practice

In order to actually practice appreciation, we must direct our attention away from ourselves and engage in the present moment. As you recognize the good – comment on it.

“I appreciate that you got up with me this morning.”

“I appreciate that there is always cream in the fridge.”

“Thanks for being willing to work everyday. We appreciate the way you care for us.”

“Thanks for coming home tonight.”

“I’m happy that you’re sitting here with me, thank you.”

And the list is endless. Hearing appreciation for our ‘being’ and for what we do, helps us to feel recognized, loved, and valued.

Tip

The next time you feel salty with your partner or they are being cranky with you – stop and make an assessment of three things that you appreciate about them and share. Even in that no-so-perfect moment,  you can find something to appreciate and expressing it will pump some loving energy into the negative space between you.

It is always helpful and potentially relationship saving when you…

Practice appreciation.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#128 Be Vulnerable

While it can be scary and uncomfortable, the experience of being vulnerable is healthy for us in many ways.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#128

Be Vulnerable

As a mental health counselor, I spend a significant amount of time encouraging people to ‘be vulnerable’. By definition, being vulnerable means that you “expose yourself to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” It means that we must be willing to lose love, admiration, safety, respect, attention, etc… It is not possible to love without vulnerability.

Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown has spent much of her career researching and talking about being vulnerable. In fact, it is at the core of her famous TED Talk. She has several books documenting her stance on how life is best lived through the state of vulnerability. Indeed – one of the most popular quotes is “vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experience.”

The Value

While it can be scary and uncomfortable, the experience of being vulnerable is healthy for us in many ways. When we are vulnerable, we are our most authentic selves. In that state of mind, we are able to experience intimacy in our relationships more fully. Our sense of self worth increases and we become more accountable for our actions. We are apt to experience more compassion, be more motivated, and share our ideas more freely. Maybe most importantly, when we accept the feeling of vulnerability, we tend to let go of our need to be in control… opening doors in most areas of our life.

Letting Go

For most of us, the key to vulnerability is in learning to let go. Letting go means that we have to trust in the process most of the time, trust in the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with, and trust in our own abilities to manage life and relationships. We have to be willing to be a little afraid and accept a bit of discomfort as life unfolds in unknowing ways.

In general, life is better all the way around when we allow ourselves to …

Be vulnerable.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#131 Sleep on the Other Side of the Bed

We are creatures of habit and without realizing it, we tend to slip into comfortable routines that create the potential for chunks of monotony to set in.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#131

Sleep on the other side of the bed

I will occasionally recommend this suggestion to clients who have difficult sleeping and/or couples who are attempting to inject new energy into their relationship. It is sometimes met with resistance and declarations that they won’t be able to sleep yet, when they report back in, I often hear how making that shift was a new and interesting experience.

Habit

We are creatures of habit and without realizing it, we tend to slip into comfortable routines that create the potential for chunks of monotony to set in. The side of the bed we choose is one of those ‘chunks’. It’s necessary to notice comfortable, unconscious patterns and challenge them from time to time; to force a ‘shift’; to shake things up! In doing so, we are organically more present; more conscious of our being; and more aware of our power.

Just Try It

In 2015, a survey concluded that people would rather give up the TV remote than to change the side of the bed they sleep on so if you share the bed with someone, this suggestion will need to be a team effort. Consider sharing this post with your partner and make the suggestion. It doesn’t have to be a permanent change, or even a long term one. It can be for a night, a weekend, or however much time you may need to experience an awareness of the difference.

Potential Benefits

Changing bed sides may be good for your mattress assuming that different body sizes and shapes are on the new side – mattresses tend to conform to our bodies over time and changing it up will work to smooth out the ingrained shape. You may also find that sleeping is easier on one side versus the other; perhaps you will change the side you sleep on – shifting the pressure points to which your body is expose. You may find more romance by shifting sides… it could feel like you’re in bed with a different partner – playing into fantasy or simply refreshing a staleness in your relationship. You may snore less, be warmer, cooler, or be on the side with less light.

At the very least, you’ll be challenging your brain and the way it remembers – an activity that is all over healthy for your memory and it reminds your psyche who is running the show! Maybe start on a Friday night so that you’ll have the weekend if it totally ruins your sleep pattern. Generally though, people consider it an interesting experiment when they…

Sleep on the other side of the bed.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#137 Visit a Cemetery

When we realize that our days are numbered somewhere between 0 and 36,000 – generally speaking – we tend to pay more attention.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#137

Visit a Cemetery

This suggestion isn’t specifically because it is close to Halloween, a time when a walk through a cemetery may take on a different meaning… It’s more because walking through a cemetery has a strange way of connecting us to our past.

The fact is that each of those graves represents a person with a history; someone’s child. Maybe they had siblings, fell in love, and worked hard – or not. Whatever they did, they had a story. Even if we are not connected to any of those particular stories, standing in the middle of a cemetery can remind us of several things that are important life lessons to keep in the forefront of our mind.

Life Ends

Maybe it’s morbid, but it’s also a fact and one that when considered… literally helps us to be present more often. When we realize that our days are numbered somewhere between 0 and 36,000 – generally speaking – we tend to pay more attention.

Relationships Matter

When we consider that there are perhaps, only 8 or 9 thousand more days to share, those people that are important to us somehow take on a new urgency. We tend to sweat the little things a lot less when we think of life as limited initiative.

Life Goes On

When we walk through a cemetery and consider all of the lives represented there and then think of our own, we can’t help but become acutely aware that life goes on and the world keeps moving. We become aware of our despensibility and while that may be a little discerning to our ego… it’s great to know that everything continues to turn in our absence.

Traditions

Cemeteries are full of traditions which, is fun to notice and experience. It can be a cultural learning tool. There are religious, ethnic, generational, and socioeconomic differences visibly obvious from the headstones and ornaments that are displayed throughout. All of these variations tend to change across time, making it an interesting archaeological study as well.

Architecture

Architecture may not be the most precise term here yet there can be tremendous examples of architectural intrigue and ornamentation in some of the more elaborate structures. A stroll through the grounds may be visually stimulating – raising an itch in your artistic energy. The Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia is one of the most famous for this element along with Sleepy Hollow in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Whether it is one of these famous ones, or the one in your hometown – there’s something for you there so go ahead and make a date to …

Visit a cemetery.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#145 Hide a Love Note

I’ll describe a number of the variations for this suggestion as well because it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#145

Hide a Love Note

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about surprising someone you love. While finding a love note you’ve tucked away may be a surprise to the person who finds it, I thought it detailed enough to be its own tip to promote your (and another’s) happiness.

This suggestion is almost always found in lists of ‘things to do’ in order to perk up your relationship or build trust and intimacy between you and a partner. It’s another one of those things we are apt to do in the early stages of romance before our attention and energy get pulled into the day-to-day distractions of real life. Yet, it’s another – rather easy – free effort that reaps big payoffs in the long run.

Variations

I’ll describe a number of the variations for this suggestion as well because it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

  • Love note: This can be a one liner; a lengthy tribute; or anything in between. It is specifically directed to someone you love and the note points to those emotions; includes any ‘loving’ relationship.
  • Thinking of you note: Generally a one liner but may include a romantic suggestion or a good will wish.
  • Appreciation note: A note specifically pointing out the attributes of the individual that you especially appreciate; more meaningful if you speak to ‘who’ the person is versus ‘what’ the person does.

The Medium

The notes can be from a sticky pad, beautiful stationery, printer paper, or the back of an old envelope. It doesn’t matter what the note is written on – what matters is the time and sentiment that it takes to write and then ‘hide’ the message. Likewise, your penmanship, spelling, ‘writing ability’, and writing instrument makes no difference. The sentence: “I luv u with my hole hart” scribbled in crayon is just as sentimental as one that is typed on parchment paper and spelled correctly.

Hiding Spot

Hiding them is perhaps, the trickiest part. It’s nice when they aren’t blatantly obvious although if your only option is to lay it on the kitchen table before you leave for work – it’s better than not doing it. However, the little surprises of finding a note hidden in a towel as you grab your shower, or inside a shoe you only wear on weekends, or at the bottom of a cereal box… those are the moments when you least expect to be presented with something significant or sweet. The goal here is for the note to be discovered in the most least expected way.

Think about the person you are writing to… where would they least expect to find a note of love, appreciation, or a kind thought? Grab something quick, while you’re thinking about it, jot something down and then…

Hide a love note.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below