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Gratitude: It Starts With a List

Gratitude: It Starts With a List

Gratitude: It Starts With a List

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

The most common and ancient advice you hear about developing a practice of gratitude is the idea of counting your blessings.  Every positivity book I have ever laid my hands on has a section that encourages making regular, even daily lists of the blessings in your life. Taken to the next step, this daily listing lives in a gratitude journal.

I have had an approach/avoidance relationship to my own little pink gratitude journal that is decorated with a paisley yellow bird. I chose it in one of my inspired moments with gratitude, determined to fill it up with what I promised myself would be my new consciousness of the blessings that fill my life. It is a small, pocket sized book that I began writing in February.

I feel a little embarrassed that there are still so many pages to fill in such a small book.  My original plan was to carry it with me in my purse, thinking I would stop throughout my day to jot down moments of gratitude.   Lately it sits on my night stand where I recollect feelings of gratitude before I sleep. The book is filling up more regularly now but as I move into this gratitude challenge, I know there is a real and important difference between listing the things I am grateful for and actually feeling them.

Learning how to recollect and experience the felt sense of moments of gratitude takes my full attention in a way that listing my blessings doesn’t. Tapping the soft space inside, where my heart holds the memory of being loved, of loving, of feeling well in myself is akin to feeling deeply blessed, which I think is where gratitude and love are one in the same.

Still, on the many moments when I have no idea how to get to that tender hearted place where I feel in every cell the blessings of my life- making a list is a noble start. It is the mental practice,  the promise kept of leaning towards the goodness that we all have in our lives.  Aldous Huxley  accurately noted that, “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Making a commitment to a gratitude journal or even just scratching notes on the evening paper about our own good is how we begin to overcome this most common human deficiency that keeps us ever looking out there for what must be found inside.   If you have never done it before, try today to list five, or heck, even ten things that bless you. It can be as small as finding a parking place or as big as the beauty of an evening sunset. It can be a cold drink on a hot, sticky day or a moment of tenderness with someone you are trying to love. Do this one thing: write it down and acknowledge it.

(Leesa recommends a gratitude journal too!  It keeps her focused on all the good in her life…She’s written in one every day since 1994!  http://www.healthyhighway.org/GratitudeJournal.html)

By Wendy Strgar 

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called “the essential guide for relationships.”  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
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Positivity Quest: A Summer of Gratitude

Positivity Quest: A Summer of Gratitude

Positivity Quest: A Summer of Gratitude

 

 

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. ~William Faulkner

Every positive psychology text you will ever find will name the practice of gratitude as one of the most direct routes to reframing your thinking and increasing the positive aspects of your life.  For instance, like love,  it is impossible to feel afraid while you feel grateful.  Your brain cannot hold those two disparate thoughts simultaneously. And yet, thinking grateful thoughts is a qualitatively different experience than the moments of grace when gratitude takes over your heart and transforms your perspective.

Like orgasm or forgiveness, I have learned enough about gratitude to know that you can’t force it.  All of these experiences share some fundamental characteristics – you can open to them, you can lean towards them in your thinking, you can invite a vulnerable space in your body to feel, but you can’t force the experience. Still paying attention to what we want to cultivate is the most powerful use of our mind’s eye and attention is often sufficient to make big changes.

So I am taking the summer gratitude challenge. Consider it an extension course of the positivity quest.  Every day I am going to practice holding my thoughts and leaning towards gratitude.  Maybe I will even wear a bracelet again to notice the times when I am not having grateful thoughts.  And every evening I will write about what I learned about gratitude and how it is changing my life.

I am excited for this next step of the positivity quest because I have a few mentors I have met through this endeavor who are living entirely blessed lives and the one thing that I believe to be most true about each of them is that gratitude, like love is the pulse that measures each beat of their lives.

Stay tuned and consider joining me on this summer of gratitude experiement.  It is the doorway to the goodness that is right in front of us.

(Leesa recommends a gratitude journal!  It keeps her focused on all the good in her life…She’s written in one every day since 1994!  http://www.healthyhighway.org/GratitudeJournal.html)

by Wendy Strgar

See more of Wendy’s Positivity Quest here.

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called “the essential guide for relationships.”  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

 

7 Ways Sex Makes You Look Great

7 Ways Sex Makes You Look Great


Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me and everyone else out there who benefit from having sex in ways we don’t even realize. Let’s talk about all the good things that may be, specifically when it comes to beauty. Let’s also conclude this homage to Salt-N-Pepa and get to what’s really important: how sex can make us look younger and potentially more attractive.

Yes, there are advantages to knockin’ boots (or rolling in the hay, doing the horizontal mambo, or simply “bow-chicka-bow-wow”) beyond that obvious, delightfully climactic one. Not only do we feel happier and healthier after a session in the sack, but we might even look better, too.

1. Tighter and Brighter Skin
When we orgasm, or sometimes even when we kiss and get touchy-feely with a partner, our brains release a rush of hormones that, among other things, sends collagen production soaring. That keeps skin looking fresh and firm, rather than saggy and dull.

Five Best Foods for Your Skin

2. Fewer Wrinkles and Age and Sun Spots
A plethora of hormones that come into play during sex—including serotonin, dopamine, prolactin, and oxytocin (the cuddle hormone)—are responsible for the feelings of bliss and relaxation that often result afterward, and help prevent wrinkles by lowering stress levels. Sex also releases growth hormones that prompt cell regeneration and help heal existing damage from sun, air pollution, and so forth.

3. A Rosy Glow and Pouty Lips
Hormonal surges aside, blood circulation is the other reason having sex procures so many beauty benefits. The heart pumps blood more quickly because of all the excitement and breathlessness, which means blood moves more efficiently through the rest of the body. Because it’s traveling so rapidly and so close to the skin, it’ll give you slightly plumper lips and a healthy flush.

4. Skin That’s Softer to the Touch
Another thing increased blood circulation does is transport moisture to the skin faster, making it oh so soft. Since dry, flaky skin can look cracked and time weathered, having smoother skin can shave years off your appearance, too.

5. Fewer Breakouts
Sex, when it’s done well, involves a good amount of moving around and skin-to-skin contact, which then raises body temperature and leads to sweat. Sweat detoxifies by clearing all debris (dirt and bacteria) and excess oils from pores, leaving you with healthier skin.

6. Potential Reduction in Under-Eye Circles and Puffiness
No, sex isn’t a cheaper alternative to the eye cream you slather on your face every night, but it does give you something eye cream doesn’t: a better night’s sleep. Both oxytocin and prolactin, two hormones released during and after an orgasm, promote deep relaxation and drowsiness, which is why sex makes so many of us sleepy. (In other words, don’t get too mad at your partner if he rolls over and goes to sleep afterward.)

7. Lush Hair and Strong Nails
Remember how blood circulation provides the body with moisture more efficiently? It also brings much-needed nutrients to various parts of the body more quickly as well—nutrients responsible for growing tough nails and shiny, thick hair.

As if sex weren’t a perk in and of itself, a great deal of beauty boosts come along with it. And while having sex won’t necessarily make your hair grow faster or your wrinkles disappear suddenly, evidence suggests that it really does give people a more youthful appearance. Royal Edinburgh Hospital’s Dr. David Weeks, the author of Secrets of the Superyoung, conducted a ten-year study keeping track of 3,500 participants’ sexual activities. He then asked others to guess the participants’ ages by studying photos of them. Those who had sex a few times a week were said to look around four to seven years younger than they actually were.

Perhaps we’ve been looking for the fountain of youth in all the wrong places. Rather than existing in fancy lotions and potions, it might just be found between the sheets. So what are you waiting for? Forget the retinol and Botox injections and get young and beautiful the age-old way.

By Vicki Santillano, DivineCaroline
At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

Top 10 Sex-Drive Killers

Top 10 Sex-Drive Killers


If you don’t remember the last time you felt like having sex with a partner, you are probably suffering from low sex drive. A number of psychological and physiological factors can have a major impact on your libido. Read on to know more about the top ten sex-drive killers.

Stress
Many people perform best under intense pressure, but sexual performance certainly isn’t one of those. Stress at the workplace, financial troubles, a sick family member, or simply a hectic lifestyle with poor eating habits can take a toll on your sex life. You and your partner can seek counseling from a sex therapist, learn techniques for managing stress, and work toward having a better lifestyle—if it’s stress that’s wreaking havoc with your sex life.

Relationship Problems
Knotty relationship issues need to be resolved and major differences ironed out if you want to reclaim the intimacy and affection that you once shared with your partner. Emotional closeness plays a major role in sexual passion, particularly for women. Poor communication, infidelity, constant arguments, and other relationship-breakers need to be eliminated before mutual sexual desire can be regained.

Alcohol
If you always require a couple of drinks before you can get in the mood for sex, there’s something seriously wrong with your sex life. Alcohol is commonly perceived as an aphrodisiac that breaks down barriers and inhibitions before sex, but all it actually does is numb your libido in the long term. Getting drunk might even put off your partner and you might end up having lousy sex. The same goes for recreational drugs and other so-called libido boosters.

Too Little Sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the biggest killers of sex drive. After all, if you start snoring as soon as you are under the covers, you are not likely to have a very active sex life. If it’s sleep apnea or insomnia that’s causing all the trouble, you can get suitable treatment for it. Try and get rid of whatever it is that is interfering with your sleep patterns, because sleeping too little gives you fatigue and saps the libido.

Medication
Loss of libido is a side effect that accompanies a number of medications. Ask your doctor to prescribe alternatives or change the dosage if your sex drive is being affected by medications, such as: antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, oral contraceptives, anti-HIV drugs, synthetic progesterone-medroxyprogesterone, finasteride, or chemotherapy.

Body Image
If you feel you just aren’t sexy enough to please your partner, you are suffering from poor body image linked to low self-esteem. Many men, for instance, feel that their penis is too small, and these feelings of inadequacy can affect their sex life. If you are a woman and are too concerned about your breast size, you are probably ruining your sex life. Talking to a psycho-sexual therapist or a qualified counselor will help you develop a positive body image and dramatically enhance your libido.

Obesity
Obesity is directly related to lack of sexual desire and poor sexual performance. The causes for this are usually linked to social stigma, low self-esteem, unsatisfactory relationships, and simply difficulties in having sex. Losing weight can certainly lead to better sex.

Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical condition characterized by a restricted flow of blood to the penis, thus leading to difficulties in getting or retaining a satisfactory erection. Men suffering from ED are likely to worry about their sexual performance and kill their sex drive. ED medications such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis can address this problem to a great extent.

Low Testosterone
The amount of testosterone in your body determines the level of your sex drive. If your testosterone levels dip too low, your libido is likely to decline. Testosterone therapy is recommended for boosting your sex drive.

Depression
Depression is a double-edged sword because it saps sex drive, while antidepressants do so too. Seeking treatment for clinical depression is necessary; you can deal with the low libido once the depression is under control.

By Aderline Peech, DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

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