Category Archives: Attitude

Make Your Life Better in a Moment

How can your life be better in an instant?

Believe it or not, I have the answer to that question.

Think about something lousy you’re experiencing today.  Frown.

Now, think about something wonderful you’re experiencing today.  Smile!
At any one moment, you get to choose how you’re going to react.
Here’s something to try:

Get together with a friend today, and talk ONLY about things that elevate both your souls and your spirits.  No whining about your lives, no talking smack about other people, no complaining about relatives or politics.  Just say the things that elevate both of you and your collective sense of well-being.

And guess what?  Your life becomes better instantaneously.

Spring Cleaning for Your Head

Have you ever had the experience of trying not to think of something?  Like when you’re trying to go to sleep and something upsetting keeps coming to mind?  You may attempt to squeeze it out of your mind, but it seems to come back with a vengeance. 

What you learn about your mind is that when you try to shove something into a dark closet, your mind feels compelled to peek into that closet again and again to see if it’s still there. 

Everybody has memories from the past they’d rather not remember.
Everybody has annoying, upsetting, or threatening events going on in their everyday lives.
Everybody is bothered by thoughts they’d rather not have.

Instead of pushing them away, invite them in and deal with them.

Some callers have told me that after a year or two of marriage, they think about an old high school flame, and they wonder if this is an “omen” that they’ve married the wrong person.  No, of course not.

“Courting” is fun; marriage has obligations, responsibilities and challenges.  Even the things we love can feel overwhelming.  Fantasies and thoughts and dreams about someone else are brain “vacations,” taking you to a time when you had no worries.  Invite those thoughts in and examine them:  “Let’s see…if I married John instead of my husband Steve, hmmm…gee, I’d miss Steve’s smile and hugs, his manly chest, his tenderness with the kids, and eventually John would have probably ticked me off too in some silly ways.”

Once you’ve done that, it is no longer an obsession.  The vacation is over, and a greater appreciation of what you do have takes its place.

Don’t fight the thoughts.  Invite them in and talk to them.  Take control, and they will leave on their own.

Motivation from Inside

I get many calls from people wanting to know how to motivate someone else to do something (usually something they don’t want to do, like giving up smoking or getting more physically active). 

I recently came across an adorable and terrific study of about 51 kidlets between the ages of 3 and 4 who LOVE to draw (hang in there – there is a connection between the first paragraph and the results of this study):

Those conducting the study put the children in three groups.

. The first group was told they would get a certificate with a gold seal and ribbon if they took part in the project.
. The second group was just given crayons.
. The third group was the same as the second group, but they were given a surprise reward.

Then they watched them draw independently for many days afterward (so they could check out the long-range effects of giving a reward.  What they found was fascinating:

1. The kids who were told in advance about the reward put less effort into their drawings and their interest in drawing waned.
2. The kids with no reward or a “surprise” reward kept their motivation steady and drew more than the first group.

Bottom line?  People tend to do things they enjoy and when they do so, they are motivated from within.  When a reward is thrown into the equation, the motivation from without diminishes the motivation from within, because the reward itself becomes the motivation, and getting it (even by cheating or lying) becomes the goal.  That’s why a lot of people don’t want to make money off their hobbies – they somehow recognize that if they have to do it, it will lose something in terms of the enjoyment of it.  Motivation decreases and the process becomes painful.  Play becomes “work” when we get paid.

Normally, we separate work from play, and we do expect a salary for that work.  But the things we simply enjoy need to stay in the realm of inner pleasure and motivation.  We don’t work as hard at something when we have to get the reward.  Our natural talent for self-regulation is upset and damaged when a reward system is put into place.

So, manipulations with reward may work very temporarily, but then they rob individuals of their own positive attitude about the activity.

Encouragement is always the better technique, i.e., finding something wonderful to say about the person’s activity (on a philosophical level):  “Hey, it’s amazing how you can get into such a ‘Zen’ place and create out of thin air!  That must feel wonderful!”

And as for the spouse situation with smoking, overeating, under-exercising, and not helping around the farm or house, try this:  “Honey, you looked so happy when you _________(e.g., didn’t grab for a cigarette).”  In other words, pick on one small half of an iota to feed back the pleasure concept.  Keep it small or short, and then they might want to self-regulate in order to get that good feeling for themselves by themselves.

Botox Study is Laughable

A recent “non-study” purported to conclude that Botoxing the muscles between your eyeballs keeps you from frowning which feeds back to keep you from feeling bad, down, or negative.

In other words, if you can’t frown, you can’t be unhappy!

This is so stupid that it makes me wonder if the Botox industry paid this guy to come out with this as a means of changing the view of Botox from “cosmetic” to “injectable” psychotherapy.

You wanna be happy for the rest of your life?  Well, you can do that even if all your “emotion” muscles work, and even if you are not particularly attractive.  Anyone walking around in a deliriously joyful stupor just because they got a little plastic surgery is unbelievably superficial to start out with.
 
A few times a year, I get my frown lines Botoxed, simply because I furrow that line deeper and deeper when I think or concentrate.  It gives the impression to others that I’m frowning, when I’m perfectly content with the universe.  Besides, a furrow that deep takes a lot of makeup to fill in that crevice, so I think of it as a cost-cutting measure too (kidding)!

Right now, I’m writing this as I see the sun popping up from behind a mountain.  I am swept away by the majesty of this scene, and grateful that I am alive another day to experience this sunrise.  That makes me happy.   Being happy is mostly about what you choose to take in and what you’re willing to give out.
 
Forget stupid studies about frown lines….they’re meaningless against the beauty of a sunrise.

Good Old Olympics Grit

I’ve said it many times before:  I admire GRIT.  Smarts and abilities are not enough.  They need to be riveted to grit. 
        
Grit got Seth Wescott a gold medal in the finals of the men’s snowboard cross at the Vancouver Olympics, where many others would have slid into oblivion.
        
He started out badly.  In his qualifier, he slipped and spun 360 degrees and ultimately ended up ranked 17th out of 32 athletes to start the heats – which meant that he wouldn’t get a good lane choice. 
        
Instead of moaning and complaining, or losing his motivation, he told himself:  “OK, I’m going to have to work damned hard for this.”
        
At the starting gate in the finals, he said something to himself like “You’ve got to go get this one.”
        
He was last from the start, BUT he managed to come home to Maine, as an Olympic gold medalist for the second time.
        
He didn’t think of anything but the moment and the moves – no looking back with dismay, no beating himself up, and no giving up.  THAT is my definition of an Olympic athlete!

And, obviously, I’m writing this story because this is the way you should approach everything in life!

The Benefits of Flirting

I got a wonderful email from Sylvia, which I want to share with you all:
 
Dr. Laura:
 
This is a lesson my mother taught me, but I thought you would approve of her very good advice.
 
I am a southern “belle.”  Though I have lived all over the world and do not possess the characteristic lilting southern drawl, I am, in fact, a belle through and through.  When raised as a girl in the south, you learn (amongst other things) a true appreciation of the beauty and power of words.  We southern girls are thoroughly schooled in the art and craft of words.  We learn, very young, how to paint a picture with words.  We learn to exploit the rhythm and cadence of language.  We speak softly in order to draw in our listener (thus focusing all attention on ourselves).  Really – who doesn’t like a whisper?  We speak slowly, because anticipation makes everything more enjoyable.  Really – who doesn’t like to be made to wait…just a little?
 
I will often send my husband an email designed to make the air around him stand still.  I can still make his mouth water with just words.  I can make his mind linger and dwell on me all day, with just a softly spoken sentence as he leaves for work in the morning.  Sometimes, in the afternoon, I’ll call him up just to say “I was daydreaming about you just now.  I was remembering how sweet you are and how you still make my heart beat faster.”  This is not just some idle exercise.  This is the ultimate investment in my family.  This is what makes my husband anxious to get home to me, even after fifteen years.
 
Through flirting, I reap a harvest of sweetness, kindness, gentleness and playfulness.  Flirting is a gift we give to each other. It keeps alive the sweetness and excitement of our early dating days.  Flirting is like a gentle touch.  It is stroking the ego of the one you love.  It is titillation pure and simple.  It is foreplay with words and humor.  Flirting is the secret that all other women know.  Flirting is the difference between “ho-hum” and “hot!”  It is something you miss when it’s lacking and you often don’t even realize it.  Flirting captures the mind, and where the mind goes, the body soon follows.
 
So ladies, flirt with your husband.  Here, let me help you out:  send an email to the one you love today and simply say “I thought of you today.  I thought that if you were a book, then I would like to read you and re-read you, over and over again.”
 
You see, when you give sweetness, you get so much more back.

There’s No Time Like The Present

A few months ago, I saw the movie “The Bucket List.”  It’s about these two older guys who, presumably, are terminally ill, and one of them mentions a “kick the bucket list,” meaning that you make a list of all the things you want to do before you die (and then, hopefully, go do them).  The movie is interesting and well done, and well worth seeing.  It stars Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

Since then, I’ve had some thoughts on and off about the concept, and decided that I don’t want to have a bucket list when my time comes close.  I want to do and see and say and experience the things that matter to me waaaaay before they become an almost-Last Supper moment.  So I’ve been going over in my mind what it is that I would put on that list.  And I’m happy to say……nothing.

I wanted an adventure on the high seas, so with a crew of experienced sailors, I’m going to be doing just that in mid-March, when we race from Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.  It will take about four days or so, and we have to work, sleep, and eat in shifts 24 hours per day of sailing.  It will be grueling, cold, and sometimes scary at night if the winds are up.  The food will be “ucky,” and there won’t be hot showers or heated blankets.  And yet, I can’t wait, because it’s an ADVENTURE!  It pushes my limits and challenges me in new ways.  It’s good to have adventures, as long as you don’t ignore your responsibilities, and enjoy the challenges that are there.

Day-to-day experiences and routines can get monotonous – that’s just life.  So don’t wait.  Come up with your own adventure (camping with the family, training for some physical event or whatever you want) and just do it!!

Petty Annoyances Are Exactly That – Petty!

If you’re a frequent listener to my radio program, you’ve probably heard me say to someone seemingly immersed in a petty annoyance:  “You must have a charmed and uncomplicated life to have the time and energy to be upset about something that’s ultimately so minuscule.”
 
Yeah, I know that sounds snarky, but the point is made.  If your life is filled with the awe of the sky when the sun first comes up, scurrying to do some projects for charity, coming up with ideas to support a friend in emotional need, treating your spouse as though you adored every breath they take, having daily physical activity that makes you sweat and feel great afterwards, taking on a new challenge in a hobby or education at the local community college or adult extension, having a day a week you get together with buddies to play poker, make a quilt or whatever….when your life is filled in such expansive ways, then the quirky disappointments of family and friends will be shrugged off with a small smile and a lack of real concern.
 
Try activity instead of pouting or letting your anger simmer.