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Proof you have more positive relationship power than you think

Proof you have more positive relationship power than you think

Be honest. Do you feel like you have no control over whether your relationship soars or bottoms out? Do you think that cupid is in charge of your relationship’s happiness?

If so, you’re not alone.

The Destiny Theory of Relationship is characterized by the belief that relationships are either meant to be or doomed from the start. The problem with this theory, as the following relationship graph from Riskology.co shows, is that the results are rarely happily ever after.

destiny-theory-trend

    The destiny theory looks more like a roller coaster than happily ever after. Here are a few clues that you may be at this end of the spectrum:

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    • You are looking for the perfect mate. Your friends have heard you say, “They’re perfect for me!” — likely on more than one occasion and, often, just before a dramatic end to the relationship.
    • You’re far more likely to say “They weren’t right for me,” than you are to say “We couldn’t make it work.”
    • You fall for people quickly and passionately, moving from the first date to planning your life together in a short time.
    • You will see any conflict as proof that you’re not right for each other. Even normal, relatively minor conflicts will cause you to rethink the relationship.
    • You’re hot and cold. Either they are “all in” with you, or they’re out.

    Here are a few lessons that explain why the people who live by the destiny theory often struggle to maintain healthy relationships.

    You need to embrace the struggle

    Destiny theorists are quick to think problems that arise are because they weren’t meant to be together in the first place, so they don’t look at what actually caused the problem.

    The truth is that life comes with circumstances. Even Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble.” It stands to reason that, even in the very best relationships, you will have troubles. If you believe the destiny theory, though, you’ll take the normal challenges that are meant to strengthen your relationship and use them as a reason to trash it.

    Your struggles are meant to pull you together as a couple and grow you as a person. As Eric Thomas, former professional football player, said, “You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.”

    To paraphrase, if you’re going to have trouble anyway, you might as well get a payoff in the form of a better relationship on the other side.

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    If you let the weeds grow, the flowers can’t

    People who believe relationships are based on destiny don’t feel the need for self-examination. And why would they? There is no need to look at their own behavior if the relationship just wasn’t meant to be.

    The real downside to this belief is that, often, destiny theorists are their own worst enemies.

    Everyone has room for improvement. We all have “behavior weeds” in our relationship gardens. If you don’t look at your own actions when things go wrong, you can never get better. If you look honestly at yourself, you can pull the weeds from your own garden and give a decent relationship room to become great.

    No one marries the right person

    People who hold the destiny theory often hold their partners to an unrealistic standard. They aren’t able to see that everyone has good and bad in them. Even the “perfect mate” is going to drive you nuts at times, but that doesn’t mean you should quit.

    There will never be someone who is perfect for you. Or me. We have to work at becoming the right people together. Very often, the way we learned to deal with conflict while growing up contributes to our believing in destiny.

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    But there is beauty in the words “growing up.” We don’t have to stop growing just because we’re adults. In fact, if you’re tired of Destiny Theory relationships that don’t last, crashing and burning as passionately as they started, there is an alternative theory that is based on just that: growth.

    Thanks again to Riskology.co for providing us with a graph showing how relationships work if you hold the Growth Belief. With a growth belief, you know that great relationships take work. Check it out:

    growth-theory-trend

      While there’s no relationship guarantee in life, it’s obvious when you compare the two graphs that one way of thinking creates far more successful relationships than the other.

      Growth: Beauty and the beast

      What people who believe in destiny don’t know is that, though growth is hard, it’s so worth it.

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      Growth takes a willingness to be objective when all you want to do is fall madly, senselessly in love. It means you have to own up to your feelings when your partner disappoints you and communicate when you have disagreements. And, perhaps the hardest part, it requires the humility to own up to your part in the problems you face as a couple.

      The upside?

      The results of self examination, better relationship skills, and putting childish ways of dealing with life away can make the difference between heartbreak and silver wedding anniversaries.

      It won’t happen overnight and there’s no magic pill. But, it’s not a matter of luck or destiny either. You have a huge amount of control over how your relationship flourishes or wilts. Use it to grow a beautiful garden for years to come.

      Featured photo credit: Eric’s Proposal to His Girlfriend/ via flickr.com

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      Last Updated on September 30, 2020

      How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

      How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

      We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

      In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

      The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

      The Importance of Living in the Moment

      “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

      While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

      Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

      Better Health

      By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

      Improve Your Relationships

      Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

      Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

      How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

      By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

      Greater Self-Control

      You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

      Why Do We Worry?

      Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

      When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

      Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

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      Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

      3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

      Step 1: Overcome Worrying

      In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

      Calm Your Mind

      When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

      The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

      In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

      Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

      Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

      People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

      If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

      Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

      In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

      Racing Mind

      Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

      You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

      If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

      Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

      None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

      So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

      By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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      In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

      Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

      A Wandering Mind

      From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

      Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

      Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

      Outside Influences

      Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

      Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

      Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

      So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

      Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

      Understand Mindfulness

      The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

      When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

      You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

      This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

      To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

      If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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      You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

      Mindfulness Meditation

      Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

      Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

      You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

      This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

      If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

      Mindful Breathing

      While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

      You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

      Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

      Mindful Walking

      Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

      Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

      Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

      You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

      In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

      You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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      Mindful Eating

      Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

      The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

      Live in the present with mindful eating.

        Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

        So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

        • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
        • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
        • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

        You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

        Mindful Activities

        Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

        Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

        You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

        Final Thoughts

        Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

        Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

        Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

        The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

        More About Living in the Present

        Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

        Reference

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