How To Build Healthy Relationships – And Why

We need each other. We depend on each other. We literally cannot live without each other and we cannot be our happiest, our best, and our most productive without building healthy relationships.

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healthy relationships

All Together Now

“We’re all in this together.” I can’t count the number of times nor the number of people from whom I have heard this sentiment over the past months of the pandemic. I suspect you’ve had a similar experience. From doctors on TV to product advertisements to personal injury lawyers to friends on Zoom, these words have been spoken again and again. “We’re all in this together.”

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Five Ways To Feel Good Now

Flourishing is not dependent on the weather, the current political environment, or one’s wealth and status. Flourishing isn’t dependent on any external factors at all. Aiming for a ratio of 3 positive experiences to 1 negative experience is the path to flourishing and for effectively dealing with whatever comes our way.

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Five Ways To Feel Good

The Covid-19 pandemic. Unemployment. The economy in shambles. Increased violence. Injustice for many of our brothers and sisters. Leadership crises.

Some lucky souls are blessed with naturally sunny, positive dispositions. But what about the rest of us? Well, as William Arthur Ward stated, “Happiness is an inside job.” Research in the field of Positive Psychology has shown that we have a fairly large influence (about 40%) over our own level of happiness. That’s right. There are things you can do . . . today . . . that can measurably improve your feelings of contentment and gratification. Here are 5 suggestions, to get you started.

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A Balanced Approach To Using Character Strengths

Use your Signature Strengths to improve your life, building on positives and learning from the negatives but don’t neglect your other character strengths. If fact, you can use your signature strengths to practice and build up your lesser strengths to better use all of the strengths.

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character strengths

Strengths And Virtues

Signature Strengths are one of the foundational principles of positive psychology. Early proponents, including Martin Seligman, Chris Peterson, and others, combed through the wisdom literature of many of the world’s religions and philosophies. They identified six “virtues” that were common across all the cultures and thinking, ancient and modern, that they examined.

Then they identified 24 ways the six virtues are lived out. These they called strengths. We all embody all 24 of the strengths but we rely on and use our top 5 or 6 strengths more often and more naturally.

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Six Reasons To Choose Positivity

There are six facts about positivity — discovered through rigorous laboratory experiments — that can help you understand the importance and the pull of positive emotions. A thorough grasp of these facts starts you on an upward spiral.

upward spiral of positive emotions

A Choice

We are living in dark times, some say, troubling times. But remember it isn’t the event that troubles us, makes us sad or angry or afraid; it’s our judgement of the event. For many of us, the world is a far different place than we’ve ever seen before. We could easily slip into a downward spiral of negative thoughts and emotions. Some wisdom from neuroscientist and author Dr. Alex Korb might be helpful.

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The Sand In The Oyster

Change your perspective and the way you think about and deal with irritations and you can transform your behavior from reacting in anger and frustration to responding mindfully with love. Choose your response to irritations with care.

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them.” ~ Stanley Lindquist

Making Pearls

Have you ever admired an exquisite pearl necklace, each lustrous pearl perfect in shape and shimmering iridescence? Do you know how pearls are made? Natural pearls are created when an irritant, a grain of sand or bit of stone, gets inside the shell of a mollusk. The mollusk reacts to the irritant by coating it with a substance to reduce the irritation.

Over time, as layer upon layer is added, a pearl is formed. The source of a natural pearl is irritation. The mollusk responds to the irritation by creating something of beauty and value.

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Why Relationships Matter

The “rugged individual” is a false ideal. We are social animals who have evolved to bond with and depend on other human beings. Our attitude and actions can improve the quality of our relationships or cause them to deteriorate.

Poison!

A story from India about relationships [1]:

A young woman married and went to live with her husband. Her mother-in-law also lived in the house.

It didn’t take long for the young woman to discover that it was nearly impossible to get along with her mother-in-law, a critical and mean-spirited woman, able to find something wrong with anything the young wife did. They constantly argued and bickered, even though custom dictated that the mother-in-law was to be treated with respect.

Finally, the young wife reached the breaking point. She went to see one of her father’s old friends, a dealer of herbs, wise to the ways of the world. There she poured out her sad story about the situation that had become unbearable to her. She asked if he could give her a poison that would solve her problem once and for all.

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Be More Of Who You Are

Everyone has a combination of character strengths, “core capacities” for human beings to grow and flourish. The combination of strengths and the ways they are used is unique to each individual. While you can’t be good at everything, you could be GREAT at one thing. Focus on developing and expanding your unique Signature Strengths

The Animal School [1]

Once upon a time, the animals decided they must make some adaptations to meet the challenges of a changing world. So they set up a school.

They developed a curriculum of climbing, flying, running, and swimming and declared that all animals must take all subjects.

The duck excelled at swimming. In fact, she was better than the instructor! However she was only fair at flying and her wobbly gait got her a D- in running. Because of her poor running grade, she had to do extra practice. She ran until she wore out her webbed feet and then she was only average in swimming. But average was OK so nobody worried. Except the duck.

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Reap The Benefits Of Positive Emotions

There are a number of benefits inherent in having a positive outlook, including being healthier, having more energy, recovering quickly from adversity, having deeper social ties, and others. While a portion of your natural positive or negative inclination is immutable, you do have the ability to influence a large chunk – up to 40% – of your positivity. Engage positive emotions and reap the benefits.

The Weight Of Water

A psychology professor stood in front of her class and picked up a glass of water. The professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

The students shouted out several answers, ranging from a few ounces to a couple of pounds.

The professor replied, “From my perspective, the weight of the glass depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s quite light. If I hold it for an hour, the weight might make my arm ache a bit. But if I hold it for an entire day, the weight will make my arm cramp and feel numb – and eventually I’d drop the glass, which would break on the floor.”

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Creating Positive Relationships

Developing and enjoying positive relationships is an important part of well-being — one of the 5 core concepts identified by Martin Seligman in his PERMA model of well-being theory. [Seligman] Positive relationships can even help us live longer, as shown by the evidence in the “Blue Zones”, areas of the world with the longest-lived peoples. [Kotifani]

The Fable Of The Porcupines

It was a frigid cold winter. The earth was frozen and many animals died from the cold. And so a group of porcupines agreed to huddle together that they might keep warm.

But as they lay up close to one another, the quills of each porcupine pricked and injured the ones they were closest to. After a while, the porcupines decided they couldn’t take this anymore, so they moved apart. And one by one, they began freezing to death.

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