Tag Archives: Relationships

Happiness Matters To You

If you want to live a better life, then you need to know that happiness matters to you.

Think about it: When you’re happy, you treat others better. Which makes them happy, which makes them treat others better. Etc. etc. etc. etc.

And, yet, how much work do we actually put in on making ourselves happy? Not a whole lot, I’ll tell you. In some instances, it’s like folks think they should suffer, because suffering is good for them. While pleasure and feeling happy is bad. I don’t understand those people.

Henry S. Miller, an author and motivational speaker, is a dude I think I’m starting to understand. He’s been a guest here before and talked about happiness then as well. This time around he’s going to discuss just why, exactly, happiness matters to you dudes.

Although some would have you think otherwise, the uniquely human pursuit of happiness is not merely some frivolous idle-time activity for the fortunate few. Far from it. Instead, it is a serious pursuit—a duty and responsibility for each of us.

 As the progress—or lack thereof—of human evolution has demonstrated, being in a positive, optimistic, and happy frame of mind seems to be what allows some humans to be more successful than others in obtaining life’s essentials: food, shelter, social support, even a mate. So it has always been and so it continues today. And if you still doubt the seriousness of pursuing a happier life, consider your loved ones. Fulfilling the duty of being happy benefits not just yourself but also those closest to you.

 The Benefits

Most of the benefits of living a happier life are familiar, yet they are powerful and seemingly endless—and they far outweigh the costs and work needed to achieve this state. Nonetheless, many in our societies often try to diminish the idea of simple, lasting happiness, instead extolling the thrill of peak pleasures and magnificent accomplishments. As a rejoinder to them and a reminder to us all, here is a consensus of what researchers around the world have proven to result from simply being happy, especially when compared to unhappy, sad or depressed people:

 • Success. Overall, happiness matters because happy people are more successful across multiple major domains of life including work, social relationships, income, and health. In addition, the relationship between happiness and success seems to be reciprocal: not only can individual success—whether in love or at work—contribute to feelings of happiness, but happiness also results in more success. In this way, happiness becomes an even more worthwhile pursuit, both as a desirable end in and of itself and as a means to achieve other significant life goals.

 • Personally. Happy people more frequently exhibit characteristics such as being strikingly energetic, decisive, and flexible. They are more creative, more helpful to those in need, more self-confident, more forgiving, more charitable, more sociable, and more loving. Compared to unhappy people, happier people are more trusting, more loving, and more responsive. They have greater self-control, can tolerate frustration better, are less likely to be abusive, are more lenient, and demonstrate enhanced coping skills.

 • Socially. Happy people have more friends, richer social interactions, Henry S. Miller wrote The Serious Pursuit of Happiness and he's given A Dude's Guide to . . . Everything a not-even-close-to-exclusive excerpt from the book.correspondingly stronger social support, and experience longer and more satisfying marriages.

[Excerpted from the book The Serious Pursuit of Happiness: Everything You Need to Know to Flourish and Thrive]

Yep, that little ol’ note up there means it’s time for us to close up shop for the week. We’ll be back on Sunday with a little fun and video and then on Monday, April 18, we’ll have the second half of the guest post from the happiness matters dude.

 Henry S. Miller knows happiness matters. He is the author of The Serious Pursuit of Happiness:  Everything You Need to Know to Flourish and Thrive and Inspiration for the Pursuit of Happiness:  Wisdom to Guide your Journey to a Better Life. He is also the creator of the online membership program Get SERIOUS About Your Happiness:  20 Transformational Tools for Turbulent Times. As President of The Henry Miller Group (www.millergroup.com), he is a speaker, trainer, and consultant helping organizations improve engagement, performance, and productivity specifically by increasing employee well being.

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Raw, Naked Desire

I must have you.

I don’t care what stands in my way. I will break down any wall. I will smash any window. I must have you.

No naked bodies, only raw, naked desire, stronger than sense, stronger than inhibition. The man must have that woman.

Consider that scene. Consider the legalities. The social niceties. All those things thrown to the wind in the face of raw, pulsing, surging lust. Watch that scene with any woman (or at least any woman I’ve ever seen it with) and she will tell you that this is one of the hottest movie scenes she’s ever seen.

What she might not tell you is that she’s envisioning herself as the Kathleen Turner character. She sees herself as that woman, the sight of whom is enough for a man to throw away his reputation and his sense, just to have a night with her.

This sort of desire is something most married or long-term couples seem to be living without.

Dan Savage, the sex therapist, says he thinks a little raw desire will win out over kindness and compassion and sensitivity almost every time.

People have to learn to compartmentalize. We all want to be objectified by the person we love at times. We all want to be with somebody who can flip the switch and see you as an object for an hour. Sometimes sex is an expression of anger or a struggle for power and dominance. They work in concert. People need to learn how to harness those impulses playfully in ways that are acceptable in equal relationships. 

A little of what I thin is going on is that the woman becomes excited when a dude does something like this because she sees his desire for her and it excites her that some dude needs her that badly. Turns out, I’m not just speaking out my hat this time.

I got a lot of that from a recent book called What Do Women Want: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire by Daniel Bergner. These women, and I’m paraphrasing here, want consensual force.

By which I mean that these ladies want to be with a partner they trust and then they want to surrender control to that partner, allowing the partner to decide what, where, who, how, when and how rough. Again, this is what I’m taking from that book and that is backed by science, not just blathering.

I think all this relates back to yesterday’s post about the chores study (in which men who do traditionally female chores are seen as less manly and less desirable by the women with who they live) because of the stereotypical gender roles assigned by society.

Dudes, in this role, are take-charge guys. They are the ones who decide what happens when, where, with whom, etc. Sound familiar. Do manly chores, be seen as manly. Be seen as manly, stir up impulses of that consensual surrender.

Let me stress a couple of things. Firstly, this is consensual. I’m not suggesting it’s against anyone’s will. Secondly, I’m also not saying that a woman’s natural place is in a subordinate position.

A thinker named Pepper Schwartz says that while women may have always had these types of fantasies, now they have permission to give voice to them because of how much power they have in real life. “The more powerful you are in your marriage, and the more responsibility you have in other areas of your life, the more submission becomes sexy,” Schwartz says. “It’s like: ‘Let me lose all that responsibility for an hour. I’ve got plenty of it.’ It’s what you can afford once you don’t live a life of submission.”

Obviously, there is a lot more to be said about this. Probably why there are hundreds of books about the subject. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d really recommend What Do Women Want. It’s a great book, full of good information and very readable.

For a shorter read (only barely, though), I’d suggest the article from which I took a bit of direction and some quotes. It’s in the NY Times Magazine and by Lori Gottlieb,  a psychotherapist in Los Angeles. She is the author of “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” and a contributing editor for The Atlantic. When I last checked, there were almost 1,000 comments on the article.

It’s definitely touching a nerve. Go give it a read. I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

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More Relationship Rules

The most important part of any relationship is the middle. You can overcome a bad beginning and you can move on from a bad ending, but if you want the relationship to work, you’ve got to keep it going, moving forward and keeping it healthy.

Relationship expert, motivational speaker and author of the forthcoming book The People Factor, Van Moody has a lot to say about relationships. His people sent out a nicely detailed bit of information on how Moody views relationships and what we dudes need to do to keep them working for us.

 

Photo by Quez Shipman of EQS Photography
Photo by Quez Shipman of EQS Photography

Yesterday, I talked about some of the rules that Moody considers essential to making healthy relationships work in the office and at home. Today, we’re going to do even more.

Don’t repeat the past. The past should not define a person, and there is no reason to keep looking back. While previous events and actions might be a life lesson, the nature of every journey is to move forward. Don’t repeat those actions that did not produce the intended results; instead, focus on new choices that will effect a more desirable outcome. 

Really, it’s what I said at the beginning up there. You can recover from a bad beginning in most any relationship, provided all parties want to do so. It’s also an admonition to, if not forget, at least forgive. I specifically broke those two out because I think they’re two very separate events. You can forgive someone for doing you wrong, but you should always remember that it’s been done. That way, you ‘re not caught blindsided if it happens again. Cynical, but I think it works.

Don’t be a “taker.” All relationships involve give and take, so it is important to recognize when each relationship could use more of a giving spirit. When we think about what we can do for others instead of what they can do for us, we get to the very heart of healthy, successful interactions. In a strong relationship, both people willingly give, far more than they take. 

I can’t stress strongly enough just how important this one is. You’ve got to have a reciprocal relationship in which all parties are giving and taking. But just as important is one where no party is toting up the gives and the takes, trying to make sure everyone takes just as much as everyone else and no one has to give more than anyone else. This kind of scorekeeping really sours a relationship quickly.

Don’t stay in an unhealthy relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes we make a poor choice and enter into relationships that will never be healthy no matter what actions are taken. If someone is not able to accept a change in the status or direction, is not loyal and stable under pressure or in the face of challenge, or had once been dependable but now is unreliable, these are strong clues that the relationship may not be worth saving.  Don’t let feelings of misplaced guilt or sympathy get in the way of making good personal choices.

What he said. Really. It can be hard to take a realistic, practical look at your relationships and begin pruning away the ones that don’t work, but it is necessary. Mostly because of what we see in the next rule.

Don’t accept everyone. The people in your life right now are setting the course for next week, month, year and possibly the rest of your life. Accordingly, there must be a qualification and selection process for friends and others you choose to surround yourself with. Blocking the wrong people from your life is the only way to make room for the right people who help you achieve your dreams, enrich your lives, and create a happy, satisfying life experience.

It’s not that you want to be a relationship digger, only looking for the ones that can carry you forward, but it’s a matter of making sure you surround yourself with the right people who will help you to be the better dude or dudette you’re trying to become. If you hang around only with people who knew you in high school, you’re probably not going to act much differently than you did then. You only have a certain amount of time and energy, so you shouldn’t waste them on actions that are actively holding you back.

Don’t forget who and what really matters. The most valuable people in life aren’t always the most visible. People of true value bring fulfillment, not frustration. All too often, those taken for granted or overlooked are veritable lifesavers or ones that silently help us achieve goals, provide encouragement, or offer important insights and connections.

Here’s that whole relationship triage thing I was talking about earlier. Take a good look at the people with whom you interact, find the ones who mean the most to you and work hard to buttress those relationships.

There’s your homework, dudes. Right there. Take a good look at your life. See what’s working. See what’s not. Then have the strength to do something with that knowledge. It’s the direction of a healthy outcome.

For more from Van Moody, you can look for his book or he may be reached online at www.vanmoody.com.

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