When we make a commitment to our partner, our usual expectation is that our relationship will last for life and that our love will see us through the inevitable hard times. Yet, when reality sinks in, we have to acknowledge that while love is one of the components of a relationship’s longevity, it really takes more to make it through the long haul. It takes skills that many of us haven’t learned. We don’t know how to negotiate our way through relationship difficulties to build a lasting connection, but we can learn.
Are You Working Hard or Hardly Working? (Or Both?)
The atmosphere of the workplace has changed dramatically in recent times. Ever since the exploitative practices of the industrial revolution were removed through legislation, work has been defined as a place where a person could find fulfillment through a job which was rewarding and paid a fair wage. But this definition has reverted in recent years to one in which the needs of the employee have become less important. Finding personal fulfillment through our work has become more of a challenge.
Have you ever heard yourself say, “I’m a nice person. I’m a polite person. I’d never intentionally do anything to hurt anybody. So why don’t other people give me the respect I deserve?” The problem could well be due to a difficulty with assertion. Maybe you aren’t showing your nice, polite, and respectful qualities to other people. Unless they can see who you truly are, underneath it all, other people might not know how you expect to be treated. And this can lead to some unhappy experiences.
An Eating Disorder Is a Very Serious Problem That Demands Immediate Attention
The Chinese used to bind the feet of women to make them smaller. So tiny and fragile were their feet, in fact, that some women were left essentially crippled, barely able to walk. To the Chinese, this was a sign of beauty and social status. But to us it seems a cruel and bizarre practice.
The irony is that we in present-day American society do something just as cruel, just as bizarre as the Chinese did. We tend to see the thin, emaciated, malnourished female as beautiful. If your body has “the look,” you are seen as healthier, younger, better able to wear the right clothes, and you will gain social approval more readily.
“What disturbs people’s minds is not events, but their judgments on events.”
In China, parents once bound the feet of their daughters in pursuit of beauty. In parts of Africa, both men and women elongate their earlobes and decorate their skin with minerals to look attractive, and this trend may be found in the United States now. At one time in this society, we found plump, rotund people to be the epitome of beauty.
Old movies show us that the Tarzans and Supermen of past decades would hardly pass muster in today’s gyms. Today we define beauty as a thin, youthful, and muscular look. Today we go under the knife and on extreme diets to achieve a socially acceptable appearance – not to mention tattoos and body piercing – all practices that are similar to the early Chinese custom of binding feet.
Although changes are taking place, strong social standards have dictated, especially through the media, how we should look – and if our own bodies deviate from these expectations, which is the case for almost all of us, we can feel inferior and ashamed. We hide. We cover up. We don’t like an important part of our selves. We feel depressed. We feel anxious in front of other people. We feel powerless – and we are apologetic when we show the world who we are.
Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the United States and most Westernized countries. If you are overweight, you are hardly alone, as you can see by looking around you. About two-thirds of Americans are overweight and the statistics climb by the year.
Even children now are heavier than they have ever been – and this is happening during a time in our history when the thin look is defined as the ideal. Type II diabetes and hypertension (or high blood pressure) are two diseases associated with obesity, and the rates of these diseases have been increasing steadily over the years. Obesity is also linked to heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.
When we commit ourselves to a relationship with another person, we rightly expect to experience a sense of fulfillment that we didn’t have before. Humans, as social beings, seem to have a universal desire to find a partner. Sexual attraction often serves as the motivator for making initial contact with the other person, and this is usually replaced over time with a deeper sense of commitment and intimacy.
It comes as a terrible disappointment to some people when the sexual phase of their relationship fails to lead in time to something deeper. The task, then, is to understand the forces which block the development of a deeper sense of intimacy – and to do something about it. Fortunately, with some work – and it’s often hard work – couples can learn to move into the stage of deeper sharing and more fulfillment in their relationships.
Engaging in Simple, Healthy Pleasures Can Restore Balance to our Hectic Lives
The brain has several pleasure centers which are activated by chemicals which speed satisfying sensations from one nerve to the next. Children the world over, when they are left alone to do what they choose, engage in endless hours of play. They pursue fun. Childhood may be the time in life when our brains are trained to experience pleasure. If we accomplish this task well as children, we may have healthier lives as adults — as long as we don’t lose the ability to play that we acquired in childhood.
Active Communication Requires One Person to Talk and the Other to Listen … and Both to Do Their Parts Well
Listening is the other half of communication. Our first thought, when we think about communication, may be to consider the speaker’s ability to convey ideas effectively. What we often forget is that without a listener the speaker may as well be talking to the wind. Just as effective speaking is an acquired skill, so is good listening. Some do it better than others. But all of us can learn to enrich our own listening skills.
“If I Win, You Lose” is Not Our Only Option!
Control, like most facets of human behavior, is probably best experienced in moderation. At one end of the spectrum, control is a positive, adaptive tool. For example, control over prolonged and constant chaos in our lives is usually a good thing. At the other end, control can be seen as negative. People who are over-controlled to the point of being unable to feel or express emotion can find life’s expected turmoils to be difficult or even impossible to handle.