Monthly Archives

September 2011

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The Extraordinary Partner



A Great Idea …

“Seeing our partner’s point of view is essential to nurturing our relationships. How can we respond lovingly to our partners’ needs and preferences when we don’t know their needs and preferences? We must get outside of our own views and into our partners’ views if we hope to nurture a vibrant relationship.” (Professors of Family Life, H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall, in their book, The Marriage Garden pp. 62-63)

In Other Words …

Each of us sees our own point of view. But that is only half of the story-or maybe less. When it comes to loving our partners effectively, our partners are the experts. We should listen carefully. We should notice their preferences. Seeing our partners’ points of view enlarges our understanding and broadens our horizons.

How This Applies to You…

Do you want to be an expert partner? The thing that separates ordinary from extraordinary partners is the willingness to take their partners’ points of view. So think about your partner’s hopes and dreams, struggles and disappointments. Then take genuine interest and show heartfelt support. You will become one of the extraordinary partners.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall or The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman.

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An Upward Spiral




A Great Idea …

“When people feel positive emotion, they are jolted into a different way of thinking and acting. Their thinking becomes creative and broad-minded, and their actions become adventurous and exploratory. This expanded repertoire creates mastery over challenges, which in turn generates more positive emotion, which should further broaden-and-build thinking and actions, and so on.” (Martin E. P. Seligman in his book, Authentic Happiness pp. 210-211)

In Other Words …

When we are feeling positive, we are more creative and use better problem-solving skills. These allow us to complete tasks and learn new skills, which leads to more positive emotion, leading to an upward spiral that leads to feeling better and accomplishing more.

How this Applies to You …

When you face a difficult situation, rather than getting overwhelmed by it, take a break and do something that makes you happy. Take a walk, talk with a friend, or do something fun. As you create a more positive mood, you will be able to approach the challenge with a broader and more creative mindset.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at www.arfamilies.org.

For more information, we recommend Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman or Positivity by Barbara L. Fredrickson.

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Blame It On The Rain



A Great Idea …

“When children cannot find good ways to get their needs met, they may resort to terrorism, not out of spiteful nastiness, or stubbornness but out of desperation. Maybe rather than wanting power over the family, a misbehaving boy really wants to feel a little power in his own life. Maybe rather than trying to manipulate and punish the family, she wants to feel loved and safe. That’s why I say to blame it on the rain. Think about the rain that is falling in your child’s life. Think about the stresses in his or her life. Think about the stresses in the family that might make your child feel anxious or lonely. The bad behavior we see in children is often due to the thunderstorms in their lives. So, blame it on the rain rather than blame it on the badness of the child.” (Professor of Family Life, H. Wallace Goddard, in his book, Soft-Spoken Parenting pp. 87-88)

In Other Words …

Often we look at our children’s behavior and think about how it affects us. We often imagine that they are trying to drive us crazy. When we recognize that children do what they do for reasons that make sense to them, we can help them cope with their challenges and needs instead of reacting based on our needs.

How This Applies to You …

When your child acts out, look for the challenges that make it difficult for him or her to be peaceful and loving. When you identify the stresses in your child’s life, show your understanding with compassionate words. When children know their difficulties and frustrations are understood and acknowledged, they can find solutions more readily.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Soft-Spoken Parenting by H. Wallace Goddard.

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Negativity Spiral



A Great Idea …

“You can work your way out of a reasonably good marriage by focusing on what you are not getting out of it and turning negative toward your mate, who will in turn give you even less and thereby help justify your leaving.” (Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy, William J. Doherty, in his book, Take Back Your Marriage p. 36)

In Other Words …

When we choose to focus on the negative in our partners and relationships, we start a downward spiral. Not only do we see less and less good, but we actually get less and less that’s good because of the negative environment we create.

When we are in the midst of a stormy day, we may want to keep our mouths shut and our minds in neutral until the sun is shining in our souls again. In fact, sunny times and sunny statements are the ones that strengthen relationships.
How This Applies to You…

When you are tempted to think negatively about your partner, pause. Take a moment, and remember the positive things that made you fall in love in the first place. Remember the good times you’ve shared. If you simply can’t get the sun shining, at least take a break from judging and talking until you feel more peaceful.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read Take Back Your Marriage by William J. Doherty or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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Write To Heal



A Great Idea …

“Simply writing about a trauma-such as the death of a loved one or a physical assault-can lead to surprising improvements in both subjective well-being and physical health. What’s more, the people who experience the greatest benefit from these writing exercises are those whose writing contains an explanation of the trauma.” (Professor of psychology, Daniel Gilbert, in his book, Stumbling on Happiness, pp. 186-187)

In Other Words …

Making meaning of events is good for our souls. When things happen in our lives without explanation, our minds tend to dwell on the mystery of the events. When we find explanations for things, our minds are better able to heal and file the events away.

How this Applies to You …

When you are dealing with challenging events in your life, set aside time to write about them. Try to make sense of your experience. See if you can understand the motivation of others in your story. As you come up with understanding, you are likely to feel more peaceful.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at www.arfamilies.org.

For more information, we recommend Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.

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Look Past The Pain



A Great Idea …

“It seems wise to give your partner the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. When you feel hurt, look carefully to see if the offense was the result of an honest mistake. For most of us, most of the time, our partner’s misdeeds are mistakes or a result of imperfections. It can be difficult to see something that hurt us as an error, because when we feel hurt or disappointed it is easier to see our spouse’s action or inaction as intentional or mean-spirited.” (Psychologist Blaine J. Fowers, in his book, Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness p. 174)

In Other Words …

We often assume that our partners hurt us on purpose-or maybe because they are careless or selfish. Generally the problem is simply that they are human. When we realize this, it is much easier to forgive our partners and get over our hurt and irritation.

How This Applies to You…

The next time your partner upsets you, pause. Think of a good reason for his or her actions. When you start with the assumption that your partner loves you and does not intentionally want to hurt you, it is easier to respond in gentle ways.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness by Blaine J. Fowers or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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Letting Yourself Off The Hook


A Great Idea …

“Forgiveness is the blessing we bestow on not just those who have hurt us, but upon ourselves. Forgiveness knocks down the walls around love that hate can build….Forgiveness isn’t forgetting. It’s just leaving behind your own hate and rising to the next level of life. It’s not about letting the other guy off the hook-it’s about letting yourself off the hook.” (Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth, in their book, What Happy People Know, pp. 106-107)

In Other Words …

Often we feel compelled to hold people accountable. We refuse to forgive because we think that by doing so we are excusing what the person has done. That is a mistake. Forgiveness is more about allowing ourselves to let go of the hate and anger that hold us hostage. It allows us to move on with our lives.

How this Applies to You …

Are there people you need to forgive? Do you have any anger or resentment tucked away? Choose to forgive and set yourself free to live a happier, fuller life.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at www.arfamilies.org. To further explore The Personal Journey, look for sets of questions for each site along The Personal Journey. Those questions together with the journaling pages can give you greater gratification in life.

For more information, we recommend What Happy People Know by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth.

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Weed Your Own Garden


A Great Idea …

“It is human nature to notice mistakes and weaknesses in others. At the same time, we tend to excuse our own mistakes because of stress or pressure. Yet the way to strengthen a relationship is to weed our own gardens while appreciating our partners’ flowers.” (Professors of Family Life, H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall, in their publication, The Marriage Garden)

In Other Words …

The next time you are tempted to find fault with your partner, choose instead to be a better partner. Ask yourself: How can I bring more life and goodness to our relationship? Maybe you will choose to be less critical or more appreciative.

How This Applies to You…

The next time a conflict arises between you and your partner, stop trying to push for your view. Take time to learn the meaning that your partner attaches to the situation. Ask your partner to describe the situation from his or her point of view. See if you can understand and appreciate that point of view.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall or Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman.

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Dealing With Children’s Feelings


A Great Idea …

“Fish swim, birds fly, and people feel. Children cannot help how they feel, but they are responsible for the way they express these feelings. Thus they cannot be held responsible for their feelings but only for their behavior.” (Child psychologist, Haim Ginott, in his book, Between Parent and Child, p. 117)

In Other Words …

When we try to stifle children’s feelings, we make them frustrated and confused. And we don’t teach them to understand their feelings and to manage them. Many parents are surprised to find that the best way to respond to children’s strong feelings is not with correction or lectures. It is best to show compassion.

How This Applies to You …

The next time your child is expressing strong feelings, try showing that you genuinely understand. Try saying in words what you are seeing: “You really feel strongly about this, don’t you!” “You are very upset.” “I wonder if you feel embarrassed.” As you show compassion and describe their feelings, they are likely to settle themselves down and become open to solutions.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott or Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman.

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Small Things Make Big Differences


A Great Idea …

“Good things and high accomplishments, studies have shown, have astonishingly little power to raise happiness more than transiently: In less than three months, major events…lose their impact on happiness levels.” (Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman in his book, Authentic Happiness, p. 49)

In Other Words …

We think the big things will make us happy. We’re mistaken. Even lottery winners, after a few months, quickly return to their pre-winning happiness levels. Solid, sustaining happiness comes from appreciating the small good things in our lives.

How this Applies to You …

Look around you. What are some good things that have happened in your life today? Name as many as you can. Relish them. Write them down. As you appreciate the good in your life, you will find greater happiness and satisfaction.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at www.arfamilies.org. To further explore The Personal Journey, look for sets of questions for each site along The Personal Journey. Those questions together with the journaling pages can give you greater gratification in life.

For more information, we recommend Authentic Happiness or Learned Optimism, both by Martin E. P. Seligman.