Here’s Your Spouse’s Best Christmas Present Ever

Give them their way.

Pick a day and then get ready to grant them as many things as they want without protesting.  And no, you don’t have to let on what you’re doing.

This gift costs nothing and Nordstrom doesn’t have to take it back like a pair of worn shoes.

At the end of the day you will find that you have received the best gift ever – and all along you thought you were going to be making just your spouse happy.

We live in argumentative and combative times – sometimes we unconsciously overthink things.

Be Santa – grant as many wishes to your spouse as you are able to do in one day and see if it you don’t have a smile on your face.

Being the enabler of something good is a reward unto itself.

In giving we receive.

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Stress Free Living

Is it possible to live without stress in our lives?

But I ask, is it necessary to relinquish all stress or just get it under control.

When I taught public speaking I used to tell my students, don’t work on not being nervous, just try to get the butterflies to fly in formation.

Stress is necessary but an imbalance of stress is what hurts us.

Take action.

This is easier than it sounds because we all really know what is stressing us out.

So pick three things – no more.

Say, stress at work, stress with your spouse and feeling overwhelmed in a fast moving world.

Target them and choose just one thing you can do to mitigate each one.  Only one.

Stress at work – change the way you work, write down tasks, build in breaks, avoid stressful or unpleasant people to the extent that you can, make sure you are working at something you really like.  If not, work to change jobs.

Stress with your spouse – declare a day when you give up as many things as you can that come between the two of you.  See if you survive.  You will likely find that this is the easiest stress reliever you’ve ever tried.

Stress of feeling overwhelmed in a fast moving world – Take a yoga class or take a walk alone.  Talk to yourself.  Ask the question:  “Is this thing that is killing me really worth it?”  And put a stop/loss on it.

Good stress makes us competitive.

Bad stress is that which, believe it or not, responds to just about any positive step to recognize it and change things.

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Anticipating the Loss of a Loved One

There should be a moratorium on death at holiday time.

That unsettling feeling that time is growing short for relatives and friends that we really care about.

There are no shortcuts to grieving – the necessary step we must all pass through dealing with the loss or anticipated loss of a loved one.

Often the months or years left with an individual we care about are strained because we feel the stress and anticipate the loss in many negative ways.

One helpful thing may be to be grateful for the time you have had together.

Gratitude is like aspirin – it works on almost everything.

Instead of counting the days left, emphasize the days we’ve had together.

When we fear the end, focus on the beginning and the middle – it can be so rich and soothing.

Let go – not of hope, but of control.

Magically, letting go makes us feel like we have more control over things.

In fact, these principles are not just good when we anticipate the loss of a loved one, but enrich relationships that continue along at any age.

Nothing can rob us of beautiful memories except the fear that life cannot continue endlessly.

Live for today.

Visit the past as if it were a file cabinet and close the file when you’re done.

And see the future as a perishable gift that is not ours to give but ours to rejoice in.

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  • Thank you Jerry for such kind thoughts. 
    They found me at my mother’s home in California, caring for her and visiting for ten days. My sister is taking a vacation so I eagerly volunteered to have this visit.
    My mother is 94, crippled with osteo and other ravages of time. But her mind is sharp and we have shared more laughs and memories on this visit than I can ever remember in any similar time frame.
    We encountered by chance the 60 Minutes piece on Jon Kabat-Zinn and mindfulness. It was perfect, as my mother had discovered his wisdom years ago and I had never heard of him. 
    We have been in the present this visit, even though the memories are flowing like wine. I have cared for her and dealt with an unexpected wound and visit to a nearby clinic the first day we were alone together and cringed at her pain, which comes often. 
    Yet she seems very happy and so am I.
    What a gift our lives have been. What a gift it is to experience that gift.

  • Thank you.  This is perfect for me as I dread every December which marks the loss of four immediate family members including my mother and precious little fur baby, all in December.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder how many years I have left when I should, as you say, live in the moment grateful for the histories I’ve shared.  Sometimes in the dark of the year it’s difficult to see the light ahead.

A Dreamer’s Bill of Rights

A recent New York Times article said many people in a survey say they have lost confidence in the chance to live the American dream.

The American dream is the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.

Dreams or ambitions are the fuel that drives our lives.

When we give up on them, we run the chance of losing life.

I propose a Dreamers Bill of Rights:

  • A day without a dream, hope or aspiration is a day that has no meaning.
  • Be vocal in stating your dreams – to speak them is to take the first step toward realizing them.
  • No dream is ever realized without bumps along the way – sometimes significant roadblocks. Expect them. People who accomplish that which they set out to do tend to use each discouragement as a recommitment to staying the course.
  • And my favorite – this is what I do – see that which you aspire to vividly in your mind’s eye. Not, I want to make money. Or I want to be happy. See in living color all the things you envision that money doing for you.       Or picture the happy moments you want to achieve specifically – as many as you can. The more you can see and envision what you aspire to, the more driven you will remain to achieve it.

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Finding Meaning In Pain

The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl survived concentration camp during World War II only to be freed from internment to find his wife, father, mother and brother had been killed while he was in prison.

Yet Frankl wrote the most inspiring book I have ever read Man’s Search For Meaning — a book he cobbled together while he was held captive under the worst situations often memorizing key thoughts and crudely writing down what he could on whatever he had available.

Man’s Search For Meaning in the end was about hope.  How do you come away from horrific pain and loss such as Dr. Frankl endured to write a book about hope?

The answer is summed up in Frankl’s own words:  “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”.

I first read this book on a northern New Jersey beach that overlooked the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and Southern Manhattan including what would later become the ill-fated World Trade Center.

These thoughts bolster me when adversity strikes close to home.

That no matter how out of control my situation may seem, I don’t ever have to give up my ability to choose my out.

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