6 Ways to Be More Positive and Happy

This post is by Lou Macabasco–Yanuaria of Lifetofullest.com.

The ability to keep a positive attitude in our day-to day-activities and interactions is a skill that only few people possess.  For most of us, it is easier to fill our minds with negative thoughts and ungratefulness.  We complain and feel miserable in a lot of areas in our life.  We hate our homes, work, school, family, friends, co-workers—or our whole life in general.

Personally, I used to live with negative attitude. But fortunately, through my willingness to unlearn my old beliefs and openness to learn new ways of doing things, I was able to surpass that negative stage of my life.  Eventually, I found happiness and success.

How did I change my negative outlook, to eventually become more positive and happy? Allow me to share with you a quick story.

A couple of years ago, before I started discovering, studying, and teaching personal development, I was limiting my happiness and success because of pessimism.  I hated so many things in my life.  I hated my work.  I hated my teammates at work.  I hated our family’s financial status.  I hated the attitude of some family members.  And I hated my ex-boyfriend who dumped me for another girl.

A day came I could no longer take all the hateful feelings and stress in my life. I decided to pack a few clothes and take a weekend off alone in a town in the mountaintop with no familiar people around. No friends, no family members, no co-workers, no boyfriend.

While I was staying at my hotel room and watching TV, I saw the talk show of a life preacher.  Something about what he said changed my perspective in life.

He compared life crises, such as pain, hatred, or stress, to a journey in the forest.  He asked the listeners to imagine a life crisis as if you are going to walk in the forest.  At the beginning, it will be a bit tough to walk on forward because you feel scared and anxious with the unfamiliar path you are about to take.  You may need to do work, cutting the grasses and large branches of trees in order to pass by.

The next morning, when you pass by the same route in the forest, it will now be much easier than the previous day.  You are now more familiar with the new path.  Although you may still feel a little discomfort, and you still have to cut few more grasses and branches of trees as you pass by.

As you continue passing along the same new path in the forest, each day that follows will be easier than the previous one.  You will adapt to the new journey, and you’ll no longer feel pain, fears, doubts or anxiety. Eventually, you will feel comfortable and happy with your new path.

Be happy

Image is author's own.


To end the story, the preacher then said, “if only you will be open to change your perspective, be more positive, and adaptable, you will see that that life crisis isn’t as hard as you think it is.”

After my soul-searching on the mountaintop, and hearing the story of the life preacher, I went back to my reality determined to change my perspective in life.  In my desire to change and be more optimistic, I’ve read many different self-help books and I’ve even attended many self-improvement seminars.  These have helped me develop, change, and keep a positive outlook in life.

To help others create the same positive change in their life, for them to start appreciating and stop hating, I’d like to share some of the principles in keeping a positive and happier life.

1. Thoughts become things

I’ve learned this phrase from the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which is based on the principle of the law of attraction.  The law of attraction states that like attracts like.  It means that when we are thinking negative thoughts, we attract more negative things into our life.  And the same is true when we think of positive thoughts.  We can bring happiness in our life by focusing our thoughts on the positive, not on the negative.

2.  To be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic

I knew this principle when I attended the Dale Carnegie Course.  Dale Carnegie said, “Enthusiasm is the little secret of success.” When you are able to develop and practice enthusiasm, it gives you positive energy for your daily tasks or activities.

3.  Read books or articles on motivation and personal development

Positive attitude is a habit, and the same is true with negative attitude.  To help us habitually maintain a positive outlook in life, we need constant reminders.  Our reminder can be through reading books on personal development at least once a month, or subscribing to personal development websites which send weekly motivational articles.

4.  Join an organization of like-minded positive people

Another way to be consistent in keeping a positive attitude is by becoming a member of organization that promotes personal growth and a positive attitude.  Surrounding yourself with positive people can influence you to maintain and develop a habit of gratitude.  As they say, attitude is contagious.

5. Attend training seminars on self-improvement

I have noticed that people who keep looking for ways to improve themselves end up happier and more successful than those who don’t.  Attending training and seminars on self-improvement give you an opportunity to learn from the people you meet in the process, such as the trainer/coach and your co-participants.  It’s also a chance to practice mingling with like-minded people.

6.  Find and do something you’re passionate about

Passion is having strong desire or devotion towards something, like people, an activity, or a cause.  When you are passionate with what you do, you are likely to enjoy working, and to produce an exceptional result.  And when you enjoy what you do, the more likely you will be to be happier and positive in your perspective.  If you want to be more successful in your life, find and work on something you are passionate about.

Changing attitudes and your perspective won’t happen overnight—it happens through continuous effort and action called habit.  Which is why, in order to form a habit of positive attitude, you need to constantly follow guidelines I’ve mentioned above.

For a final note, let me leave you this quote to ponder:

When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.—Anthony Robbins

Lou Macabasco-Yanuaria is a professional accountant, personal development coach, public speaker and entrepreneur. She writes and coach on positive attitude, productivity, stress management, success, personal finance and balanced life. Find out more about her works at Lifetofullest.com

10 Couples’ Massage Dos and Don’ts

This post is by Denis Merkas of CouplesMassageCourses.com.

Massage between couples can be so much more than just a five-minute shoulder rub every now and then. Those particular shoulder rubs are not often given in the right spirit of generosity—couples instead bicker over who got the longer massage, who owes who what and then no one ends up satisfied (and everyone gets sore hands!).

Done right, massage can be a catalyst for building trust and intimacy between partners. Giving a loving massage—without expecting a thing in return—is a surefire way to make your partner feel absolutely amazing.

The benefits speak for themselves—heightened intimacy, a feeling of closeness, better sex, stress relief, brownie points… you don’t even have to be the one getting the massage to enjoy these benefits. Even the giver of the massage will feel more relaxed afterwards.

Couples' massage

Image copyright istockphoto - Graham Bedingfield

With all that in mind, think about pampering your partner tonight with a special massage just for them and see what happens. Here are my top dos and and don’ts of massage to get you started.

1. Don’t squirt oil directly onto your partner’s body

Squirting cold oil onto warm skin looks sexy in the movies, but feels terrible in real life. Always squirt your oil into one hand and then rub your palms together to warm the oil up before applying to the body. Much sexier.

2. Do slow it down

So many couples tend to rush through their massage. There are no points for finishing first! Get your sweetie in the mood with relaxed, gentle strokes. Slowing down will also help you gain their trust, which means they’ll be putty in your hands by the end.

3. Don’t use your thumbs!

Aha, that one got you, didn’t it? Using thumbs is the quickest way to tire out your hands, so avoid using them at all until the very end of the massage. Start by using an open hand technique with relaxation strokes and save your thumbs as your secret weapon—after a good ten minutes of the open-hand technique, bust out your thumbs for short bursts (I’m talking 30 seconds only at a time) on specific knots to really make your partner melt.

4. Do ask for feedback

Any good massage therapist will ask their client for feedback, and you should do the same. “Is that deep enough?”, “How does this spot feel?”, “Where are you tight?” are all great questions.

Also look out for moans and groans, oohs and aahs while you massage; these all signify that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right—so keep doing it!

5. Don’t massage without being prepared

You don’t want to be stopping halfway through a massage to turn off lights, adjust the thermostat or grab a towel. Have everything you need organized and close by before you begin. And turn your phone off!

6. Do contour your hands to your partner’s body

The more surface area you can touch, the better your massage will feel for your partner. When massaging, keep your fingertips and palms down and relaxed. If your hands are stiff or tense they won’t contour properly and your massage won’t feel natural.

7. Don’t underestimate the ambiance

Tidy up the massage space so there’s no mess and clutter, and make it seductive by triggering all the different senses—light candles, play soft music, burn incense and serve wine and chocolate.

8. Do give encouraging feedback when you’re being massaged

Remember, your partner is new at this and will lose motivation if you’re critical of their performance. Positive reinforcement is the key, tell them what you love about the massage and how great it feels—remember to pound out some “oohs and ahhs.” Trust me, you’ll be on the receiving end of many more massages with this approach!

9. Don’t go in deep at the start!

Many people make the mistake of getting right in there with a firm massage. Unless your partner has just come off the football field and needs a leg rub stat, there is no excuse for going too deep too fast. Any good practitioner starts off gently every time to give the muscles time to warm up first. You can go in deep towards the end of the massage.

10. Do massage on the floor

The bed seems like a sexy idea, but the soft and uneven surface of the mattress is going to hurt your back, and your partner’s neck. The best position is for you to kneel on the floor with your partner sitting cross-legged between your knees. You must have plenty of cushions bolstered under your butt to help keep your weight off your knees. In this position, you have great access to your partner’s neck, shoulders, arms and upper back. Massage for no more than 20 minutes in this position as it will eventually start to tire out your knees and lower back.

Keeping the above in mind should set you well on your way to pampering your partner with a decadent, long massage. For more information on massage techniques go to CouplesMassageCourses.com and download your massage guide now.

Do you massage your partner at home? What does and doesn’t work for you?

Denis Merkas is a qualified Acupuncturist and Remedial Massage Therapist whose expertise is in training and developing professional massage therapists. He has used those same techniques over the last five years to teach couples how to massage in live workshops and has just released a series of eBooks, available at CouplesMassageCourses.com.

How to Be as Happy as a Child, No Matter What Your Age

This post is by Marie-Eve Boudreault of the behappyanddowhatyoulove.com blog.

Happiness is a tricky thing when you’re a kid—and also as you grow up into an adult.

I observe that we find happiness easily when we’re young. But we try so hard to please others, so we can be loved by them, or believe in a fictive way to live, that we lose that knack along the way. At least we can expect to grow up wise enough to have a broad perspective on life, and to know “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Fun

Have happiness teachers: mine are my sons (Image is author's own)

Fun is now

Somehow, when we think we “get” life and have a lot of responsibilities, the fun levels can decrease. We don’t have time for fun; we can’t have fun at work because we have to do “important stuff.”

When I was young, every moment was an opportunity to have fun. In school or in spare time, I knew instinctively what I loved: to hang out with my friends and sisters, read, go out into the woods with my dog, or be an athlete.

My three-year-old twin boys are the same: everything can be a source of wonder. Fortunately they are my every day teachers of having fun.

Find out how you can keep fun in your life or get it back.

Love goes with happiness

Love is energy: it can neither be created nor destroyed. It just is and always will be, giving meaning to life and direction to goodness. Love will never die.—Bryce Courtney

I understand now that love is what we should look for and do our utmost to carry out. But I can’t say I understand it more than ever, because it seems I knew it when I was as young as a toddler.

I flourished being in a circle of constant love, and perished when I wasn’t. Even if through the passage into adulthood loving slashed a bit of my happiness—because when love crashes, it hurts bad—I’ve never regretted to love. I get love from relationships, but also from the beauty of this world, the smile of a stranger, and conditions that permit us to live and experience reality.

Violence is the contrary of love. We can all know violence, going from a mild form to the extreme, and showing itself by verbal or physical abuse. I know we can stay in that place because we need to be loved, but this is not love. Looking back now, I’d stand up for myself and get out of abusive situations as soon as they came. Don’t be afraid to do so. Love yourself enough for that—and by this you’ll never be out of love.

You always have a choice to be happy

It’s easily observable: when a child has all his needs responded to, he’s—most of the time—naturally happy. I strongly believe genuine happiness is a natural state in humans.

Adults in our industrialized societies don’t appear to have retained this ability. Maybe we’re too much occupied to get the next thing that should gain us happiness, and greed, avarice or complacency have a part to play in it. Maybe we’ve been hurt too much by sad events in our lives. But we have to realize that we can be happy this very moment. If you don’t, you consciously—or unconsciously—make the choice to be unhappy.

I realized after doing what was expected of me, and facing the hardships of life, such as sickness, violence, and a child’s death during pregnancy, that I was becoming more and more unhappy. At the same time, that was the last thing I wished for me, and others. So I went out on a happiness quest: maybe this job will make me happy, this thing, this relationship…

I should have just stopped doing what was making me unhappy, and lived happiness in the present instead of going on a happiness treadmill. I’m not angry at myself. I was pretty much on my own, and I now have tools to remain happy no matter what happens. One of those tools is that I have to make the conscious choice to be happy.

Dreaming is good for happiness

Dreaming is the first step to achieve our dreams. We dream a lot when we’re kids, but somehow growing up we try to make those dreams fit with what’s socially acceptable.

Now that I have children, I really understand that parents love their offspring a lot. Often, we’re stuck in unpleasant situations and are depended upon to fulfill needs, so we forget our dreams and/or the wellbeing of our children. Young people, please understand this; parents, don’t neglect your children because of it.

Any of us can always strive for a better situation, and do our best to reach it. This is what will bring your dreams into your life.

An example: I’ve always loved books. In kindergarten I was angry at the teacher because she wouldn’t show me how to read and be in the first grade class. I forgot that one of my dreams was to write, but I’ve rediscovered it recently.

Now, the situation isn’t ideal because I work a lot at home with my kids. But we shouldn’t wait for ideal situations. I find time every week-day to write, because if I don’t, I feel unfulfilled. I’m an author and I love it. But if I’d stuck with my dreams originally, it would have taken me less time to find my passion, and what I believe I’m here to do: inspire people to live a happy, aware life and do what they love.

As adults, we have to fulfill all our needs, and rediscover our dreams without sabotaging those of our young—let them be.

Be a conscious, happy child

Now, it’s not too late! You can remember, as I did, to make the choice to have fun, love as if you’ve never been hurt, and live your dreams. Be a conscious child, no matter what age you’re at, and live in happiness.

Marie-Eve Boudreault chose the path of happiness and living her dreams, being a sociologist, stay-at-home mom and author. You can get her free ebook, ecourse, newsletter at Be Happy and Do What You Love, under the free products page, at http://behappyanddowhatyoulove.com/blog.

How to Know When to Seek Relationship Counselling

If your car broke down and there was smoke rising from the bonnet, would you try and fix it yourself? Or would you have it towed off to a mechanic to make sure the job got done properly?

It may not be the most romantic metaphor, but you can compare a long-term relationship to owning a luxury car.

It needs to be looked after carefully, filled with a particular kind of high-octane fuel, taken for regular spins, and have its oil and water levels checked constantly.

 

When your luxury car needs servicing, you don’t try to do it yourself. You send your precious vehicle to a specialist mechanic who knows how to fix it correctly.

Then why is it that, at the sight of smoke coming from our relationship’s bonnet, we don’t take ourselves off to a relationship “mechanic” for help?

Why do so many couples insist on blindly trying to fix it themselves (often not armed with the right tools or the user’s manual), instead of asking for help?

Couples counseling, unfortunately, has a bad rap. Seen as the domain of the philanderer spouse and almost-divorced, a couple usually has to find themselves in serious turmoil before they turn to a psychologist for help.

But what if we went much earlier to see counselors?

What if—what if—we went for yearly “maintenance” tune-ups so that any potential problems were caught early enough to manage effectively?

When there are issues in your relationship that you are struggling to resolve yourselves, why not ask an expert for their advice?

You may just save your relationship.

The stigma

Because of the general public perception of what counseling “means” for a couple (read: divorce, problems, break ups), it can be hard for people to make the leap and seek out help early.

Going to counseling also means having to admit there’s a very real problem in the relationship—something that can be hard to face.

But the first step to solving any problem is to recognize it. And thinking that you should be great at being in a relationship is a fallacy.

People don’t automatically have perfect relationships. Just because you have problems in yours, doesn’t mean you are “not meant to be together” or that you’re with the wrong person.

Look at it like any other small hurdle in life—able to be solved, and a good learning experience.

The other good news is that often, after seeing a therapist, couples will realize that their problems aren’t quite so overwhelming as they once thought. With the correct strategies in place and a new perspective on the issue, suddenly the unsolvable becomes completely manageable.

How to know when to go to counseling

There are several indicators you can look for to tell you when it might be time to seek counseling, which I’ve taken from Relationship Journey:

  • You want to learn skills and tools to have a good or even better marriage or relationship.
  • Or, as soon as one of you thinks you need it, even if the other person doesn’t think so.
  • Or, you feel stuck and what you have tried on your own is not working.
  • Or, one of you feels emotionally or physically and sexually disconnected, and can’t seem to change it on your own.
  • Or, you fight or withdraw or refuse to address issues of conflict.
  • Or, you think your partner is what is wrong with the marriage or relationship.
  • Or, you are thinking you might be happier with someone else.

Basically, if you’re not happy, or you’re sure something is wrong and you can’t seem to fix it yourself, go and find more information about it.

How to find a good counselor

Finding a good counselor is paramount. Make sure the person you choose does specialize in relationship counseling—it’s a very different model to individual therapy. If you’re not sure, ask them on the phone how much of their practice is dedicated to relationship counseling.

Make sure the therapist knows that you and your partner are there to work on your relationship, not to be coached through a break up or divorce.

Every counselor has a different style and approach. There are those who are pro-marriage, who will advocate for your marriage and fight to help you save it. For me, this would be the most preferable style of counselor to find. You don’t want someone who is anti-divorce (sometimes, in extreme cases, this may be the only solution), but you don’t want someone who is quick to jump to that option either, or who will put the idea on the table even when it’s the furthest thing from your mind.

There are those who are marriage-neutral and will simply help you list pros and cons for saving the relationship or letting it go. Again, I would prefer someone who would help me fight for my relationship.

Alternatives

If counseling seems too extreme for you, or you are uncomfortable with the idea, consider finding some relationship education courses to attend. These are run by qualified relationship educators and can offer some great insights into relationships and give you new tools to help manage your own relationship in day-to-day life.

What are your thoughts about relationship counseling? Have you ever tried it? And if not, would you?

10 Tips to Thrive—Not Just Survive—this Holiday Season

This post is by Judith A. Belmont of www.judybelmont.com.

When you think of the holidays, what comes to mind? If you are like most people, on the top of your list are family gatherings, time spent with close friends, lots of good food and drink, gift giving, a time of cheer and joy … and stress.

Festive gifts

Image copyright Galaiko Sergey - Fotolia.com

In our current precarious economic climate, with high unemployment, corporate downsizing, and the collapse of the housing market, the conditions of the holiday season are shaping up to be stressful indeed.

Despite these times of economic uncertainty, holiday gift-giving is at the forefront of people’s minds, creating a large amount of stress. Too many of us end the holiday season with charge cards run up along with our debt from giving gifts we can’t really afford, while we carry around extra pounds we have accumulated by excessive holiday eating. For all the hype going into the holiday season, many of us are left with a post-holiday “let down.”

With all these factors, even the most close-knit families are taxed, and pressure on marriages and family relationships is heightened. To add insult to injury, any hidden fault lines in family dynamics become more prominent themes during the holidays, as this stereotypical, “ideal” time of closeness clashes with the reality of family bickering, resentments, estrangement, and loss.

The following are tips on how fill your holidays with the positive stress of anticipation, excitement, and wonder, while at the same time limiting the negative stress so often associated with the pressures of our challenging times.

1. Everything in moderation

The holidays are times of excess in many arenas. Eat and drink moderately, don’t overspend what you do not have, avoid racking up credit card debt that will take months to pay off, and do not forgo the routines that keep you sane and “in balance” the rest of the year.

2. The best things in life are free

Remind yourself of this saying often throughout the holidays. It is very easy to get sucked into the mentality that bigger and more expensive is better. Focus on times with family and friends that are built around togetherness, games, and fun, none of which require spending money you might not have.

Give with your heart and friendship rather than focusing on giving material possessions. Memories can not be bought, and neither can relationships. With companies cutting back, maybe your gift budget should likewise be trimmed.

3. Put self-care high on your holiday wish list

The holidays are a time when self care is the most important—too often unwanted pounds accumulate with the vast array of holiday foods around during the holiday season. Make sure you exercise regularly and plan time to keep yourself moving. You will also tend to eat less if you are working hard to keep yourself fit.

4. Accept that your family will not win the Norman Rockwell Award

Be realistic about your imperfect family relationships. Chances are, if there are rifts or longstanding issues in your family, they will not be magically solved this holiday season. Accepting the imperfections of those close to you and enjoying these imperfect relationships will help you limit undue stress during the family get-togethers. Cutting out the magical thinking makes for a much lower stress holiday.

5. Enjoy a “good enough” holiday

Spare yourself the need for things to go perfectly this holiday season. Take the pressure off of yourself! Beware of your unrealistic expectations. Strive for just a “good enough” holiday and you might be surprised at how much more enjoyable it can be without the guilt-provoking strings attached!

6. Don’t force the fun

With the hype of the holiday season, people feel a need to be jovial and happy, and are ashamed if they feel “down” or blue. The expectation of being in the “holiday spirit” can lead even the most well-adjusted people to feel inadequate and even freakish if the “holiday blues” sit squarely on their shoulders.

Just knowing that emotional lows as well as highs are normal can offer solace to many. This is especially true for those who have experienced loss of loved ones through estrangement, death, and divorce. The holidays hit us hard when we are dealing with loss.

7. Make new traditions

In these changing times, re-evaluate your traditions. Keep the ones that work, and work with friends and family to create new ways of celebrating that bring freshness and change to your relationships and traditions. Things don’t have to be the same thing year after year if these traditions no longer work. This holiday season can be a time of growth and change as well as a time for familiar, comforting family traditions.

8. Seek support and share your feelings

Let this holiday be a time in which you strengthen your bonds by being open and honest about how you feel. You don’t have to be “tough.” Do not feel like you need to be “tough.” Ask for help if you feel like you want or need it.

People who can show their vulnerabilities and have a strong sense of community and support are better equipped to handle life’s stresses. Numerous studies have correlated happiness with strong supportive social networks.

9. Manage stress, don’t carry it!

Realize that stress can be positive—stress isn’t always bad. It can heighten your sense of involvement and bring excitement to your world, but all too often people view stress as unwelcome and negative. Stress Managers contain their stress, while Stress Carriers cope with their stress by giving it to everyone else!

10. Stress comes from within, not without

Remember that stress does not come from the outside. The holidays do not make us stressed in themselves—rather, it’s our take on outside events and how we view what happens on the outside that causes us to be stressed.

If our Norman Rockwell-like holiday fantasies and ideals clash with the reality of our own less-than-perfect lives, we experience a disconnect of what we think “should be.” Making peace with “what is” rather than what “should be” will help us thrive and not just survive this holiday season!

Judy Belmont is a psychotherapist, national wellness speaker and self-help author, and her recently released book, “The Swiss Cheese Theory of Life: How To Get Through Life’s Holes Without Getting Stuck In Them!” offers the keys to a resilient life. She also offers books on life skills training for therapists and wellness speakers to use in working with their clients and group participants. Examples of her “hands on” life skills include handling stress effectively, communicating with tact and finesse, and creating a positive workplace. She can be reached at JABelmont[email protected] and her web site is www.judybelmont.com.

How Men Can Become Better at Online Dating

This post is by Nabil Gulamani of www.successatreach.com.

A few years ago I was really against online dating. I thought that people that had online dating profiles needed to get a life.

However, as I started getting really busy with my sales job, I realized that I wasn’t really spending time on my dating life, and time was just flying. So I created an online dating profile and started connecting with many amazing women.

Dating

Image copyright Kzenon - Fotolia.com

I’ve been active in online dating for almost a year now and it’s been an amazing experience. For all you men out there who want to become better at online dating, I have some helpful tips to share with you on how you can enjoy a more fulfilling dating life.

1. Understand that women are long-term thinkers

Most men never get replies from women they have an interest in because they haven’t taken the time to establish a solid connection with them.

I have asked many women what turns them off about a man, and most of them tell me that most men jump right into asking for their phone numbers. All you men who are messaging women need to understand that women want to establish trust before they’ll feel like giving out their numbers.

So what steps should you take to establish connection with women?

2. Make sure you read a woman’s dating profile before messaging her

Most men will not pay attention to the details of a woman’s profile. Pay attention to what interests a woman and what she has a passion for. If you ask her more questions about her interests, she will be more interested in replying to your messages.

Consistency in communication is important when you’re establishing trust. Most men will give up if a woman doesn’t reply, or they will lose touch with her. Make an effort to stay in touch, and see what the results are.

3. Don’t talk about yourself too much

Many men think that if they start talking about their materialistic possessions, they will attract women instantly. This may be partially true, but the fact is that others can easily tell whether your confidence is authentic or fake.

Instead of running that risk, make a habit of getting to know more about the woman you are having a conversation with. Again, this is a great way to build trust as you get to know someone new.

4. Make sure you’re living a fulfilling lifestyle

When women read your online dating profile, they can easily tell whether you have an exciting life. You will get more replies from the women you reach out to if your profile shows that you are well-rounded and interesting.

Don’t write one-word or one-line descriptions—if you do, your dating profile will be ignored. Put in the effort to explain a little about who you really are, and you’ll be more likely to meet more interesting people.

5. Embrace the challenge

Online dating can be challenging, but if you’re persistent—and you can deal with a little rejection—it will become a fun and exciting experience.

It’s been a great adventure for me so far, because it has helped me move past a lot of my limiting beliefs about women and dating. I’ve also noticed that the more women I get to know, the more I have come to realize what kind of women I like.

What are you waiting for? Go out there and create your online dating profile so you can add some excitement to your dating life! And if you have your own tips to share, let us know in the comments.

Nabil Gulamani is in sales and assists SMBs with their Direct Marketing. During his free time he blogs about Self-Improvement to help people take their lifestyle to a whole new level. You can visit his Self-Improvement blog www.successatreach.com.

Do You Make These Relationship Mistakes?

It would be brilliant if relationships came with an instruction manual. They could work something like a car’s dashboard—warning lights flashing early enough in advance so you could pull out the manual and see what was going wrong and how to fix it.

In reality, there are many, many mistakes we can make along the course of our relationship. Most of them, we don’t pick up until it’s too late. Many can be avoided with a little effort and forward-thinking.

Here are three common mistakes that may just sound familiar.

Sky-high expectations

Oh boy, am I a sucker for this one.

I have to work really hard to keep my expectations in check, especially around big life events—like my wedding.

You see, I often have this vision in my mind of how things “should” be (usually colored by stupid Hollywood rom-coms, I’m ashamed to admit) and when they don’t play out perfectly, I can get a little (read: a lot) cranky.

For instance, after my wedding I expected the honeymoon period to last for months. As blissful newlyweds, I thought we’d be surrounded by a special loving glow, wouldn’t be able to keep our hands off each other for months, would stare into each other’s eyes for hours (okay, that one I’m joking about, except for one teensy, soppy part of me that would kind of relish it) …

In reality, it was only day three of our honeymoon when my husband got food poisoning and the dream was instantly crushed. I was left walking the beach at sunset alone while he broke out in cold sweats back in the hotel room.

Having unrealistic expectations will only lead to bitter disappointment. Be realistic about things. Your partner is not a mind-reader. Of course there are certain reasonable expectations that every relationship needs to survive: fidelity, intimacy, and trust are but a few. Next time you’re feeling disappointed or let down in your relationship, ask yourself if your expectations were realistic or not.

Letting romance slide

It all starts out great, with romantic dinner dates and bunches of flowers. But there comes a point in every relationship when suddenly it’s less wooing and more leaving the toilet door open.

Romance is a beautiful thing and we do need to work hard to keep it around after the first stages of love disappear.

I bang on about this all the time. “Romance” is really just code for “making an effort.” The very nature of romance is that it’s impractical, thoughtful, and often spontaneous. When we no longer have endorphins to inspire our romantic gestures, we need to dig a little deeper to bring it out.

Go and do something romantic and impractical and spontaneous for your partner today. It can be as simple as a text message telling them you love them, or as elaborate as telling them to dress up and meet you in town, then surprising them with tickets to a show.

Non-communication

You and your partner must keep talking. Always. Otherwise you’ll turn into one of those couples you see in restaurants who sit there in silence, poking their food with their forks.

Keep in the habit of having discussions. About anything and everything. Sit and read the newspapers together and chat about stories in there. Find some conversation-starters, and turn to them when it’s been a boring week. Have a little break away from each other for a night or a weekend so you have something to talk about when you reunite.

Verbal communication and socializing is one of the great joys we have in life. Stay in the habit and you’ll be firm friends forever.

These are just three common mistakes in relationships. Got any more for us?

Help the Elderly Feel Comfortable in the Cooler Months

This post is by Jocelyn.

With the arrival of Fall, most of us are excited about finally enjoying cooler evenings, spending a Sunday afternoon curled up with a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese in hand, and the long-awaited return of Fall football.

But, for the elderly, Fall isn’t always all warm and fuzzy. In fact, it can often trigger SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and make their lives more difficult all around—even more dangerous. As the weather cools, getting around becomes more difficult and keeping warm and comfortable can become an overwhelming challenge.

Elderly wellbeing

Image copyright jon11 - Fotolia.com

If you have any elderly loved ones in your life, here are some simple ways to ease the transition, keep their spirits high, and keep them comfortable and safe all season long.

Plan extra activities

One of the primary reasons that the elderly tend to become sad or feel blue around this time is because they can feel more trapped and miss the activities that were so readily available in summer.

You can easily combat this by maintaining constant visits and by planning extra activities with them. Look for indoor options that you can get your loved ones involved in, like indoor walking in the mall with friends, extra game nights, movie dates, pet visits, or even just extra deliveries of their favorite books and movies for those long fall and winter afternoons.

Plan and schedule for winter help

Don’t wait to make plans for who will help your elderly loved ones take care of winter chores. This can make them nervous and worried. Whether it will be yourself or someone you’re hiring, schedule now for basic things like sidewalk shoveling and porch de-icing, and maybe even grocery delivery.

It’s also a good idea to contact a back-up person for help in case your primary help is ever unable to come for any reason.

Organize a heating plan

The elderly can often become very uncomfortable during the fall and winter months because they find it so difficult to maintain their body temperature. And, even worse, according to the American Red Cross, elderly people are at a higher risk for cold injuries and thousands die unnecessarily every year because their homes are too cold.

Plan in advance to ensure that your loved ones can avoid getting cold. A central heating system set to room temperature most likely will not be enough. Rather than increasing the whole central system by the degrees necessary to keep them feeling warm, consider portable heating options. This will allow them to regulate the temperature of just one room much more easily. They can change the entire room temperature rapidly and increase the temperature greatly without having to do so in the entire house.

This not only saves time waiting for that temperature to be met, it also saves tremendous cost. Sitting right next to a heat source is also often more comforting and soothing for older people. An small electric fireplace in a bedroom can be just what they need for heat and comfort.

Stay in constant communication

Don’t let a day go by that you aren’t in contact with your elderly loved ones. You’ll be able to notice instantly if they’re feeling blue or uncomfortable, or just don’t seem like themselves. And, even if they’re feeling and doing great (which we hope for every day!), you’ll still get a conversation that you wouldn’t have had otherwise and every conversation is precious. You’ll feel good, they’ll feel good, and you’ll get to share a little more love every day!

What do you do to make sure the elderly people in your life stay warm and well over the cooler months? Share your tips and experiences with us.

Freelancer Jocelyn is dedicated to helping families live healthier, happier lives. At the moment you’ll find her writing alongside Air & Water, a company that loves to help families find the best heater for the elderly in their lives.

Why I Love … Photographing Kids

This post is by Rachel Devine of Sesame Ellis photography.

I’m a professional photographer who works with kids, and I have three of my own that I photograph frequently. So I’ve taken a lot of shots of kids over the years.

Yet one photo in particular has hung framed on a wall in every home I have lived in since 1997. It is an image I took on the same day that we had our professional family portrait taken.

kids

My niece and nephew (Image copyright Rachel Devine)

I did not have my camera out while the hired photographer was working, but later that night I wanted to take a few shots of my niece and nephew.

The littlest member of our big family, my niece, always seemed to take center stage, so I decided to capture an image of her standing on the coffee table just before she was told to get down. As my flash lit up the scene, it revealed her older brother in the background, haphazardly standing on his head on the couch.

To some, his crazy disruption could be seen as ruining the shot, but this is what has made the shot so memorable and special. Even in black and white, I can tell that they are in the ‘sweater and pants combination’ we as a family wore on that important portrait day.

When I look back at our professional portrait, my nephew Ian sits quietly for the camera and Kellan’s ever present pile of stuffed animal security objects are nowhere to be seen.

However, when I look up at the photograph I took that day, I can clearly remember the children that they really were and I can see the beginnings of the adults they have since grown to be.

Child photography is more than tack sharp eyes and big smiles; it is made of memories and true personality. Children change daily. As a mother, I know those mornings when the children have grown and changed overnight. And I’m glad I can use photography to capture those moments.

Do you have some great photographs of the kids in your life? Tell us about them in the comments.

Rachel Devine owns Sesame Ellis photography and shoots commercially in the children’s industry—as well as photographing her own three kids on a daily basis. Her ebook Click! How to Take Gorgeous Photos of Your Kids was recently released on Digital Photography School, and her book on photographing life will be released on Amphoto/Random House in 2012.

5 Fast Tips for At-home Parents

This guest post is by Crystal of CounselorMom.

Being a parent is hard work. Parenting comes with the wonderful challenges that all of us parents know too well. Some parents make the decision to work from home, which can be rewarding in itself. However, after some time, working from home can become a little stressful if the kids are home during those hours (like me writing this post right now).

Family at home

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Parenting is a full-time job in itself; try to complete work projects on top of that, and it becomes a bit more stressful. Here are five tips to help out the work-at-home mom or dad.

Go outside

Feeling the sun on your face can make a world of a difference. Take the kids outside and let them play a bit. This will wear them out, so when it’s time to go inside they will probably be quiet.

Organize your day

Treat your job working from home like you would a job outside of the house. If you can, try to schedule the times you plan to work around your child’s nap or quiet time. If you don’t have a choice in what time you work, try to find activities for the kids ahead of time so you can concentrate and focus when it’s time to work.

Get dressed when the kids get dressed

Take a shower in the morning and get dressed like you would if worked outside of the house. This will help get you in the working mood. Get the kids ready also even if you don’t plan to go anywhere. This will save time if you decide to go out later.

Stop socializing

If social networks are not part of your job, then don’t use them during work hours. Don’t check your personal email, Facebook, Twitter, or browse CNN while working. This really does take up a lot of wasted time especially when at any minute your children might need you. So put your time to good use while the kids are sane and work instead of socializing.

Find a mother’s or father’s helper

Find a babysitter, local preschool, or family member to watch the children a few hours a week while you work. This will help give you some breathing space.

Do you have any tips to offer the parents who work from home?

Crystal is a stay at home mom with a master’s degree in school counseling. She is a blogger at CounselorMom where she discusses parenting issues and household tips.