Friday, January 29, 2016

The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever: “I Don’t Care”!

No, not “I don’t care about you” – that would be awful! Just “I don’t care.” By itself. As in “I don’t care that you left your socks on the floor.” “I don’t care that you over/under-tipped the server.” “I don’t care that you were five minutes late.”

Because here’s the thing: nothing kills romance faster than getting bugged about every little thing that’s different about how the two of you go about life.

Certainly, there are major differences, critical differences, that must be addressed. If you don’t share a similar outlook about how to manage your finances, your relationship will suffer. If you don’t share similar views on sex, or how to raise your kids, or what your future work plans are, your relationship will suffer. These absolutely need to be discussed, with calm and good humor and lots of patience. Sometimes with the help of a neutral but knowledgeable third party.

That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the minor differences, the ones that when you were courting (whether that was 1 month ago or 2 years ago or a decade ago) were insignificant. If anything, you thought these were charming, or unimportant. As long as you still think they are charming, or unimportant, great! But what most often happens, over time, is that what was charming becomes annoying, and what was unimportant suddenly assumes an importance all its own. 

So her habit of leaving her lingerie wherever she dropped it used to be titillating. Now it’s aggravating. His habit of forgetting to turn the lights off when leaving a room used to be unimportant, now it’s a source of martyred sighs.

But with each expression of negativity, no matter how small, the love in your relationship erodes. Oh, not much at first, but over time? A lot. Because as you look upon your Sweetheart’s habits with a critical eye, you lose respect for him or her. You can’t help it. Criticism eventually breeds contempt, which in turn demolishes love.

Give your Honey the best gift ever this Valentine’s Day: “I don’t care.” Not to be said aloud, not even necessarily shared with them, but “I don’t care” as your thought when you see that lingerie trailing over the chair, or the lights on when nobody’s home (literally). Make what truly is unimportant in your couple-life, unimportant. If something is a legitimate concern, fine, discuss it, find a solution and move on. But if all it is, is a matter of socks on the floor or stacking dishes differently. . . really? Is that what will matter when you leave this life?

I doubt it. What will matter are the hugs, the kisses, the fun you had together, the adventures you experienced together, supporting each other through tough times, raising the kids—all that. Not who forgot to pick up the dry cleaning.

Start now. Smile as you pick up those socks, as you patient out those five minutes he/she is always late, and say to yourself “I don’t care.” Pull up that list of “Things I love about my Honey” you texted yourself and read it until it is imprinted on your heart. (Oh, you don’t have such a list? Time to create it!)

Care enormously—about how much you love your Sweetie, how much better your life is because of him/her, how much you cherish their love for you—and let go of what truly doesn’t matter.

“I don’t care!” said joyously is just another way of saying “I love you.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Longevity: A Young Person’s Game

Your attitude when you’re young—how you think and feel about yourself and the world—sets the tone for how you live your life when you’re older.

To live a long happy healthy life, kick your appreciation into high gear now. Why? Appreciation of the ordinary experiences of life is the number one attribute that sets those over 100 years of age apart from everyone else; the younger you are, the easier it is to get the appreciation habit going--and going and going. That’s why longevity is truly a young person’s game. Start now.

This can be especially important since the FDA has recently approved clinical trials on a drug that could increase life expectancy to 110 or 120 years. Just imagine if you could live that long in a happy, healthy state as opposed to spending your last 20 or 30 years in miserable, decrepit decline?

Whether you’re 20 or 30 or 40 or older, appreciation is the quickest, easiest way to gratitude, which in turn engenders happiness and fosters optimism. Those four attitudes, appreciation, gratitude, happiness and optimism, are all linked in study after study to better cardiovascular health, less stress-related diseases, and even less risk of Alzheimer’s. All of which add up to a long happy, healthy life.

What you think is what you live. You are in charge of what you think. And what you think impacts how your body responds. Choose thoughts that support positive emotions and you’ll reap the benefits throughout your life, now and tomorrow.