Tag Archives: Happiness

Video: I’m Busy. I’m Tired. I Can’t Get in the Mood.

Women today seem to believe that work, the kids, the house, their friends, etc. are more important than their husbands, and that somehow a sexless marriage is perfectly acceptable.  Unfortunately, this attitude eventually leads their men to look elsewhere to fulfill their needs.  But there is a different perspective a wife can adopt…  Watch:

Read the transcript.

How to Be Happy

I think you have to be on a valium drip to be happy all the time.  For the sake of full discloser, I’ll tell you that I’m certainly not happy every second of the day.  However, your motive should be trying to be happy.

Being in a good mood or having a peppy personality is not a disposition you are born with or without.  You have options and choices, which I’ve proved many times on my radio program.  I’ve had so many callers who were initially negative, but by the end of our discussion, they were laughing.  What happened?

Their mood changed.

Your level of happiness is a learned skill.  A lot of you come from a background where your family was warm, happy, cheerful, and supportive, so you’ve learned those skills.  However, some of you haven’t.  Some of you are just too lazy to learn them, or you have been given too many perks for being mopey.  For me, I grew up in a house where everybody was always annoyed.  My parents didn’t walk around being cheerful and pleasant.  So, I didn’t learn those skills.  Nevertheless, I sure learned how dangerous the world could be by just watching them arguing and complaining.  It was horrible.

So, what are some of these skills?

First, you can only have one thought at a time.   I had a caller who was beaten by his dad all the time while he was growing up.  He had come to associate physicality with something bad.  On the air, I had him close his eyes and go right back into one of those experiences where his dad was beating him.  You could hear his breathing change.  But then I asked him to think about his wife sitting next to him and imagine her touching his face softly.  He started tearing up.  We did this back and forth three times to prove that he could put his head anywhere he wanted to.

He learned that he needed to have only one thought in his mind at one time, and that’s true for all of us.  You decide what your thought is going to be.  If you start thinking about all the horrible things that might happen, then they may happen.  However, if you put your thoughts toward how you are going to handle something, you can immobilize your fear.

Another essential part of being happy is to think positively.  The negative stuff gets replaced when you see the outcome positively.  And it’s also very important for you to sometimes take your brain out of an action and allow your body to do what it knows it needs to do.  For example, when you’re having sex with your spouse, your body knows what it needs to do.   That’s why I tell people to fantasize and go wherever they want to go.  Just disengage your brain.

In order to be happy, you also need to be motivated about something.  This is where being a maniac comes into play (I think the happiest people are maniacs, and I don’t mean it in a psychiatric sense).  You have to be a maniac on a mission.  What is it you want to make happen?  When you dive into something with a lot of energy, optimism, and commitment, your life will be happier.  People without a purpose are not happy people.  Wishy-washy people are never happy and they are not successful.  You have to be able to take risks and make decisions.  If you take a risk and you fail, then you take another risk.   If you take a risk and it was a mistake, then you repair it and do it again.   You have to have strong ambitions about something (and I’m not talking about making a lot of money – that usually doesn’t work).

You also need to have the gumption to make changes from where you are now.  A lot of people like to stay in their comfort zones or in their familiar surroundings.  A lack of familiarity makes them uncomfortable, and a lot of times people try to stay comfortable even if it’s bad, stupid, or destructive.  But just because you’re familiar with something, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get anywhere with it.

Lastly, you have to be tenacious.  Life requires persistence.  The people who are ultimately successful at being happy are the ones who can delay happiness.  For example, people who shack up do it because they want the gratification of having a relationship without the work of building one.  They think, “I want my gratification now.  I don’t want to work slowly in a respectful, modest way and take my time.  I want sex now.  I want to feel like I’m intimate and committed now.”  However, that’s when everything blows up.  Kids who grab the marshmallow are not the happiest – the ones who earn it are.

If you want to be loved, you have to earn it.  Jumping in bed instantly, shacking up, and being ridiculous doesn’t earn love.  If you want to be loved, you’re going to have to take the time to build love, awe, and respect.  People who are impulsive and refuse to delay gratification just can’t keep plugging.  That’s why their relationships and their businesses don’t work out because it takes years sometimes with no gratification whatsoever to build something that can sustain itself.  If you look at orthodox versions of various religions, it’s no surprise to see practices like couples not holding hands until after they’re married.  They delay physical gratification to learn about each other and become more mature.  They earn their relationships, and THEN they get the cherry on top.

Can Life Be Balanced?

I would venture to guess that many of you do not balance work and the rest of your life in a healthy way.  There is all kinds of research suggesting you don’t.  About 80 percent of working people experience on-the-job stress and about half of them need help managing stress.   Considering that stress is the number one health problem in the U.S. today (and one of the main factors contributing to heart attacks), work/life balance should not be taken lightly.

I want to discuss some ways to keep a stress-free work/life balance.  Of course, it’s very personal.  We all have different lives, different priorities, and different types of jobs.  But it doesn’t matter.  There are certain concepts that are universal.

The first thing you always have to do, which a lot of you don’t want to admit but really must, is that stress a) takes years off your life, and b) diminishes the quality of your health.  It’s not something you can just ignore.

Get your priorities clear.  Do something as simple as making a list of all of the responsibilities and obligations you have in a week, or a day.  Just make a list.  Right now, pull out a piece of paper and start making one.  Don’t list things in order; just list ALL the things you’re responsible for.  Then decide what is really the most important to you.  If you put your family first, then you will be able to turn down a promotion if you realize that the extra money isn’t going to be worth it to you.  If it’s your job, then you will focus your entire life around your work, and you can say “bye bye” to free time and fun activities with loved ones.  There’s always a choice, and each of us has to make it.  When you set priorities, you should prepare yourself for the consequences of the choices and be OK with them.  If you’re not OK with them, then you really haven’t made the choice.
 
Next, don’t try to focus on too many things at the same time.  You may want to be a fabulous parent or cook, have the hottest body around, spend tons of time with friends, complete 14 different projects around the house, do charity work, visit with family, etc.  But you can’t do it all!  Sorry!  You’re basically going to have to make some choices.  You have to prioritize your activities, learn how to compromise, and let people know the limits of what you’re willing to do so you don’t get all crazed.  Just do one thing at a time.  For all you Type-A personalities, this is something you’re going to have to learn because the result of doing a million things at the same time leads to stress, low productivity, over-exhaustion, and burnout.

Whatever it is you’re doing, you should be in that moment and no place else in your head.  I have learned this lesson quadruple times over when learning to shoot pool (which I still contend is the most difficult thing I do in life).  With the tip of a stick, I hit one ball, which then has to move and hit another ball at just the right angle to put it in the pocket.  If I don’t hit the ball exactly in the center, or don’t move my body, it won’t work.  I have missed straight shots by 6 inches because my head was someplace else.  It is amazing to me how much learning to shoot pool teaches you about life.  I realize when I’m deciding which ball to hit, how to hit it, and where the cue ball should end up, that better be the only thing on my mind.  I can’t be thinking about my program, my hair, my family, or the dogs – I can’t be worrying about anything.  To put it simply, I have to invest everything I have right into that moment.  It’s called “focus.” 

So, when you’re with your children, with your spouse, or at work, that’s where your head should be.  No matter where you are and what you’re doing, that’s the only place your head should be.  That’s what cuts down on stress.  When you’re trying to subdivide your attention, you don’t do anything well, and that’s stressful in itself.

Cut out unnecessary activities.  Unnecessary activities clutter your schedule and steal precious time from the activities that you need to do and truly enjoy doing.  Sometimes you folks waste a lot of time in front of the TV, or you spend a lot of time on social media nonsense.  Once you get your priorities clear, it should be easy for you to spot what’s unnecessary.   A curtain has to come down between the activities you love to do and the things you need to toss.  That recently happened to me.  I dropped an iron curtain and cut an activity out of my life.  It freed me up to do other things. 

Protect your “non-work” time.  Your free time is an asset that you should protect at all costs.  When we work, we usually have a certain number of hours allocated to working.  For some reason when it comes to free time, we forget how important it is.  It won’t bring you extra income, it won’t get you a promotion, but it will make you a happy and balanced person. 

A good 30 years ago, a major metropolitan magazine section was going to do a whole profile on me and all of my activities, which there have always been many.  When the piece came out, one of my competitors went on the radio the next day and boasted that they did not fritter time away with such activities, but only focused on work (as though that were a good thing?!).  I thought that was hilarious because your non-work time is really important to your self-esteem, your well-being, your health, cleansing your mind, and having fun.  Life is not supposed to be just a work farm.  Enjoyment in life is part of living.  It makes you a more well-rounded person, and it’s better for your physical health as well as emotional health. 

I am ferocious about protecting non-work time. It’s sacred time for me, the same way work is sacred time.

Declutter.  The more junk you have around your house, on your desk, or even on your schedule, the more projects you immediately envision ahead of you.  When you start panicking, “Oh my gosh, I have to do that and that and that,” you have too much clutter.  Declutter your schedule by getting rid of unnecessary activities.  Also, declutter some part of your house every week.  I recently spent time going into my knitting/sewing room, tearing it apart, and putting it back together.  The projects had piled up to the point that I couldn’t work in there anymore (when you go into a room and see 10,000 things to do, more often than not, you’re just going to turn around and walk out).  But now that I’ve straightened up, I can work in the room again.  Cleaning and straightening up is not the most fun thing in the world, but when it’s done, it looks pretty.  And now I’ve even started a new project in there, which I could not have done in the midst of the clutter.

Be great at your job.  One of the secrets to a good work/life balance is actually appreciating the work you do.  If you absolutely hate what you are doing then you probably will be off-balance.  Even if there are a lot of things you don’t like about it, if there’s at least something you do appreciate, then you’ll be able to produce results and generate ideas.  However, if you’re not doing the work you feel you were meant to do, you had better shift.  If you have a lot of responsibilities or don’t have the freedom to make the shift, then you’re probably going to have to re-prioritize in your mind and make, for example, your family the most important.  In that case, work will shift to protecting, preserving, and providing for your spouse and kids.  And that’s something you can do well and take pride in. 

As you can see, it really all comes down to this: work/life balance is just about attitude and making choices.  

Finding Your Passion in Life

If you are bored or not happy in life, the key is having a passion.  If you want to transform your life and feel meaningful on the face of the earth, you need to have a point to your life.  It could be your job, your career, or your hobby, but it needs to be something that you are simply absorbed with.  And I’m not talking about obsessive-compulsive: I’m talking about a passion, something you love doing.

I talk to so many young people in their 20s immersed in some very sad state, going nowhere, and feeling a lot of pain and confusion about life or a relationship.  I typically ask, “What’s your dream?”  I’m amazed at how almost 100 percent of the time I get nothing back.  Children are not being brought up anymore to imagine there’s a point to their lives and something they are talented at that they need to commit themselves to.  Their job should be to maximize it, respect it, be patient with it, water, fertilize, grow it, and let it bloom.  People who do that are typically not depressed, sad, exhausted, or bored.  There is something about a passion and a purpose that makes people live longer.  When people give up on life, they usually give up on living in a general sense.  So, it’s really important you know what your passion is.

How do you find your passion?

One cute way is to ask people who know you, “What do you think is my thing?”  A lot of times you will ignore what you have a knack for because you grew up in a family where somebody said it was stupid, or you figure you can’t be great at it and you definitely can’t make money with it.

I have a number of passions, and they really save me when bad things happen.  My biggest passion is my radio program.  I’ve been doing this for a span of 35 years.  I can’t imagine not doing it.  Sometimes people say, “Don’t you just want to retire so you will be able to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it?”  Well, I sort of do that now because my radio program is my biggest passion.

I feel very fortunate to be able to exercise my biggest passion.  And it was by total accident.  I was off being a scientist when one day, I decided to call into a radio program.  They liked what I had to say so much that I was asked to be on the radio show once a week for a year.  I then decided I ought to know more about what I was talking about so while I was teaching full time, I enrolled in a marriage and family therapy program at USC.  It was then I discovered something I never knew before: I had the ability to hear and put things together in a way which proved valuable in helping people with their problems.  I didn’t know I had that in me.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me, but I wonder if people who knew me then thought so as well.

So, I came upon my passion accidentally.  And of course, I’ve added a million other things, and the crafts I go crazy over.

Additionally, using your passion to contribute to the well-being of others is seemingly simple and not very complicated.  For example, the daughter of my friend who just recently died is going to start a charity association where women who are dealing with cancer can go to beauticians to have their hair and nails done to make them feel better.  It’s a small thing, it will never be made into a movie, and most people won’t even know about it, but other human beings will be made happier.  I think that’s huge.  It’s like ripples in the water – if you make one person happy, that in turn affects the people in their own house, and then those people impact others, making them happier.

I found a list of 15 questions that you can ask yourself to help discover your passion and life’s purpose:

Simple Instructions:

  • Take out a few sheets of loose paper and a pen.
  • Find a place where you will not be interrupted. Turn off your cell phone.
  • Write the answers to each question down. Write the first thing that pops into your head. Write without editing. Use point form. It’s important to write out your answers rather than just thinking about them.
  • Write quickly. Give yourself less than 60 seconds a question. Preferably less than 30 seconds.
  • Be honest. Nobody will read it. It’s important to write without editing.
  • Enjoy the moment and smile as you write.

15 Questions: 

  1. What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)    
  2. What were your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?     
  3. What activities make you lose track of time?
  4. What makes you feel great about yourself?
  5. Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
  6. What are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, gifts etc.)
  7. What do people typically ask you for help in?
  8. If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
  9. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
  10. You are now 90 years old, sitting on a rocking chair outside your porch; you can feel the spring breeze gently brushing against your face. You are blissful and happy, and are pleased with the wonderful life you’ve been blessed with. Looking back at your life and all that you’ve achieved and acquired, all the relationships you’ve developed; what matters to you most? List them out.
  11. What are your deepest values?
  12. What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
  13. What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
  14. If you could get a message across to a large group of people. Who would those people be? What would your message be?
  15. Given your talents, passions and values. How could you use these resources to serve, to help, to contribute? (to people, beings, causes, organization, environment, planet, etc.)

How To Tell If You’re A Terrible Spouse

How can you not know when your spouse is not happy?  You can go into a room, not know anybody in there, just look around and you can tell who’s happy.  It’s not hard – look at the body language and facial expressions.  But when you are living with somebody, how do you know if they’re happy or not?  So many times you hear women say:  “I had no clue; he never said anything.” 

He had to say something for you to know? 

So, here are a few things to consider and see if any of these describe your life:

* Your life centers around your kids, your job, and/or your hobbies.  Maybe that’s making him unhappy. 

* You burn your candles at all these ends with everything but love.  So you’re totally exhausted and there is no time for each other. 

* Your home and your life seem to move from one small crisis to another and that’s about it.  You figure, “Okay, we’re going to interact, and we’re going to romance each other, but we’ll save it for the weekends.  Then the weekends come, and “Oh my gosh, there are so many chores to do!”

* You do this thing in your head:  it’s either the kids or the spouse.  Well, you don’t love them both the same way.  Those are different loves.  Living a balanced life doesn’t require you choosing between them at all. 

* Your lives are very fragmented.  You spend your time running hither or thither and doing this and that and loving each other is just not a priority.  Even when you are together, you are in your own little world.  You are both easily irritated by the other.  Your disagreements and misunderstandings become more frequent. 

* Several months pass before you realize you haven’t even sat down and talked to each other nicely.  You haven’t made love; you haven’t done a fun thing together.  Sit down and look at the time you spend on things.  “I have no time.”  Yes, you do.  There is stuff you could trim, but instead, you are trimming him.

This is why I talk so much about being your kid’s mom, being your husband’s girlfriend, being your wife’s boyfriend — these are very important.  You need to focus on being each other as girlfriend and boyfriend.  That has to be a major focus of each day.  Aside from which, the kids need to see that.  It makes them feel secure and it gives them hope for their future.  I mean, do you spend any time connecting each day?

I had a call one time where this woman found out that for nine years, her husband left the house in the morning and spent 15 minutes, five days a week, in the back of a van with the same woman.  For nine years, they would have sex every morning, every day; that’s how they would get their work day started.  I said, well if that had been happening in your home, it wouldn’t have happened in a car with another woman.

So, when is the last time you schmoozed and tickled and rolled around and snuggled and kissed and hugged and were playful, huh?  Do you take care of yourself — your hygiene, your presentation, your health — so you have something to give?  Or, is it all about, “I just don’t have anything to give?”  You have to learn to say no to errands and chores and social activities and overtime and volunteer work and meetings, if it is interfering with your love.

 Don’t read the full newspaper everyday, don’t read Twitter or your emails — don’t read all that stuff.  They steal time from where you could be being cute and adorable with your spouse.  Send emails to each other, leave love notes around the house. Make the most of every moment you have together.  Make it an issue and a priority so I don’t get a call from you on my program where you’re saying , “I have no idea whatsoever why my husband and the father of my kids just said ‘I am out of here.’”  What an insult that is! Men don’t fare as well as women after a divorce emotionally, physically, medically.  Women handle this stuff a lot better, believe it or not.  So, for a guy to face going through the court system which is going to give her everything, for him to make a move like that, he had to be really unhappy.  And if you are truly willing to stand by the statement “I have no idea why he would be unhappy,” then you’re a terrible wife.

How To Be Happy

People seem very confused about happiness.  Most folks believe that having all they want is the way to be happy.  I don’t think so.

When I was on the radio evenings in Los Angeles over two decades ago, I reached a “24 share.”  That meant one out of four people listening to Los Angeles radio was tuned into me.  I got a substantial bonus.  We took that money and paid off all financial obligations and had some left over.

I had always wanted a tennis bracelet – that’s a bracelet made of tiny or huge diamonds.  I had enough money for a bracelet with tiny diamonds, but a tennis bracelet nonetheless.  My husband told me to treat myself, and I did.  I felt a swell of joy every time I looked at that bracelet.

I did not feel joy because I had a diamond bracelet on my wrist.  I thought that would be the case, but it wasn’t.  I felt joy because I had “busted my buns,” worked very hard, and built something special.  So, the happiness in looking at the bracelet was not because of the metal and carbon; it was because it symbolized the hard work doing what I loved to do.

It is the experiencing and working that brings happiness.

Years later, I became more successful, and “upgraded” the tennis bracelet.  I liked the new bauble, but it never brought me anywhere near the thrill of that first one.
 
What comes easily does not have the emotional significance of hard work, sacrifice, and risk.

Once, when my son was small, and we were visiting Las Vegas, he wanted to put money in those machines at each dining room table and place a bet in the hopes of winning lots of money.  I wouldn’t let him do it.  I told him that money wouldn’t mean as much as money hard earned.  He (at seven years of age) didn’t quite “get” that.  It seemed to him as a child that “found”  booty is booty nonetheless.  He’s now finishing up his military service and has learned up front and personal about hard work, sacrifice and risk, and he’s enjoyed every moment he’s earned.

So, don’t wish for “clearinghouse” checks or for winning the lottery.  Wish for the opportunity to do something meaningful, something you love, something with hard work, sacrifice and risk.  Believe me, you’ll be happier.

Ya Gotta Have Friends

I’ve been giving something a lot of thought lately, and have decided to share it with you – to influence you (if you’re not already) to open up to friendships.

Deborah Tannen, the linguist, recently wrote a piece published in The New York Times which discussed some research which indicated that people with sisters are happier than those without them.  Her point of view was it isn’t women who talk better than men, it’s that they talk more often – even if it’s not about problems.  The very act of just communing is beneficial to both.

She pointed out that men – even men with problems – might talk to each other and end up feeling better, even when they didn’t spend ten seconds talking about “the problem.”  Why?  I believe it’s because talking is a connection, an act of interest and caring, and a remedy for isolation, loneliness, and despair.

My mother was from a small town in northern Italy and grew up during the Fascist/Mussolini era.  Her parents owned a restaurant and worked all the time.  She did have a sister, my aunt Lucia, who was gunned down by a Nazi firing squad at the age of 20 the very first day she joined the underground movement but, other than that, she learned (sadly) to be contained in herself.  That never changed.  As I grew up, I never ever saw her have even one friend and she instilled in me a real sense of self-protection.  She always told me I trusted too quickly, got disillusioned/betrayed/hurt and then suffered immensely.  She was right.  But so what?  Being “hurt” is not the worst thing in the world.  Being disconnected is.

I don’t readily tend to talk about my personal/emotional conditions.  That’s now what I do when I get together with friends.  I just share life with them.  I have a few lovely lady friends right now – a deep quality of friendship – which is so deeply satisfying.  I remember my surprise when one of them hadn’t seen me for almost a week and said, “You know, I miss you.”  I just about fell down.  Why was I so touched?  Because for the most part, folks are into their own lives and don’t necessarily pay much attention to subtle niceties like that with friends.  At that moment, she was cemented into my heart.  What a generous, sweet thing to say.  I have another friend who texts me now and then just to tell me to have a great day, and another one who gives me professional massages twice a month simply because she wants me to relax.

My mother missed out on a lot.  I’m glad I didn’t listen to her warnings about trust and people.  Yes, some have been untrustworthy and unkind, and others have outright betrayed me.  But if your heart stays closed to avoid that hurt, then you won’t hear from a friend those words:  “Miss you…love ya.”  I’d rather suffer some frustrations in return for not missing out on hearing that.  I hope you are also so willing.