Relationships For Dummies
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One of our biggest advances in life has been in figuring out what causes happiness — and what doesn’t. For example, everyone wants to be happy. By increasing your level of happiness within yourself, you can affect your relationships in a more positive way

But have you ever noticed how some people have few material possessions, yet seem very happy, while others have an abundance of material wealth, yet seem very unhappy? How can some people remain strong through many crises, while others fall apart over nothing? If money and possessions don’t determine happiness, what does?

  1. Change negative statements to positive ones.

    Changing the way you think is difficult because thoughts are intangible; you can’t see them. So it’s easier to start reprogramming yourself for happiness by changing the way you speak. After all, if you’re saying it, then you know you’re thinking it, too, right? Start listening to the way you talk. When you hear yourself making a negative statement, change it to a more positive statement.

  2. Change negative thoughts to positive ones.

    Once you’ve mastered your verbal remarks, try changing the thoughts you don’t say aloud. Start noticing how you think. If you catch yourself thinking negatively, stop yourself. Say: “Stop it!” Then say the exact opposite of what you were thinking.

  3. Grieve when necessary, and then go back to being positive.

    No one can deny that bad things happen to good people. When something bad happens, admit that you don’t like it and you’d have preferred something else. But don’t rant and rave or leap into a chasm of suffering. Instead, face the pain head-on and grieve. Allow yourself to vent; get it off your chest. Then get up the next day and pull yourself back together again.

  4. Sell yourself on life.

    See the positives and beauty all around you. You can find millions of reasons to be happy to be alive. When they don’t instantly come to mind, go outside and let them come to you.

    People tend to get neurotic when cooped up, and these days, almost everyone gets cooped up inside more than they should. When you’re ­surrounded by pressure and demand after demand, escape to the country and let everything settle out. Get the cobwebs out of your brain by getting close to nature.

    Take a drive, sit on a riverbank, and let your feet dangle in the water. Watch the squirrels and birds play. Walk and get some fresh air. The oxygen will help you think better, and the ­exercise-fired endorphins will help you feel better, too. Then write down what’s good about your life. Add to this list daily, and when you’re not feeling so great, reread the list.

  5. Make every day count; take charge of your destiny.

    When people are dying, they don’t dwell on the car, house, or education they should have acquired, or the places they should have visited. Instead, they think about the people in their lives — the ones they should have been nicer to, the ones they should have married, and so on. It’s all about people, not material objects.

    Dying people are in a unique position to review life. By emphasizing their people experiences, they demonstrate what’s really important.

Don’t walk around in a fog; live every day like it could be your last. Notice every experience — feel it, savor it, appreciate it — and make it an occasion for joy and wonderment.

Do the same with your mate. You’ll never know how much time you have together, so appreciate every day. Don’t dwell on the negative; emphasize the positive. Look at your relationship as special and enjoy it as much as you can. Then if it lasts, you’ll enjoy it all the more. And if it ends — well, at least you enjoyed it while it lasted!

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Dr. Kate Wachs is America's only Psychologist-Matchmaker. She runs The Relationship Center™ in Chicago, the only full-service introduction and counseling center of its kind. She has helped millions of people through matchmaking, counseling, and her media appearances.

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