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10 Everyday Moments Only Truly Happy People Would Understand

10 Everyday Moments Only Truly Happy People Would Understand

It is often said that life is enjoyed in the everyday, small moments. It is also said that for happy people the small everyday moments are as abundant as the oxygen we breathe. Yet, many of us struggle to live in the moment and savor the many, many enjoyable, available and repeating events in our lives. Let’s take a moment and try to find some of these everday things and relish in them.

1. The moment that your dog jumps up to hug you.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings (a.k.a. Henry Wheeler Shaw; humorist and lecturer)

Many of you may who have a dog, probably seen this phenomenon. You wake up with your eyes barely open and you feel two pairs of paws reaching up at you. It seems like your dog has not seeing you in a year! To them, it might as well have been a year. Dogs are extremely social and loving animals and their affection is genuine towards their owners, and even visitors or guests.

It is an everyday moment that must not be ignored or minimized. It is worth every second to kneel down and give your dog a hug. It is a moment that you can savor everyday, and each time it happens. In fact, the more you do this, the more it will become a routine with your dog and who could not use a hug everyday? Hugs are warm, simple, and easy, so get on those knees and embrace your dog with all your might. Savor this moment and recognize how much this simple activity will put a smile on your face and warm your heart.

2. The moment a stranger unexpectedly says hello and smiles at you

“Yellow circles are friendly. Especially smiley faces.” – Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

Ah, the power of a smile and a hello. When I moved from California to Indiana, I was completely shocked by something. My wife and I started searching for a home and we’d drive through countless neighborhoods looking for “for sale” signs. As we would drive around, complete strangers would wave and wave. I would turn to my wife every time and ask, “do you know them? why are they waving at you?” She would say, “I don’t know them. They’re just being friendly.” For me, it was shocking every time. After four years of living in Indiana, I am still not used to it. I still get confused when someone says hello at the local coffee shop.To make it even more complicated, they smile too! I have actually had a couple of experiences where someone paid for our dinner and our coffee at the local Starbucks.

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There is beauty and innocence in the act of smiling and saying hello to people. I would even say it’s a custom that is disappearing. Please don’t let it disappear from your life. Make it a challenge every day to smile and/or say hello to someone. It does not have to turn into a conversation or into a commitment of any kind. It is simply a way of extending some friendliness and also receiving some back! Try it, and enjoy it!

3. The moment that you miss a friend, a family member, or a spouse.

“Can miles truly separate you from friends…. If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?” – Richard Bach

I know this one through and through.. If you don’t have anyone to “miss”, then you need to work on that! Although it is not by default a pleasant feeling, it feels so wonderful to want to talk to or be with someone that you love. For many years, I lived close to my family in California, but over the last four years, I have learned to value “missing” them. That let’s me know that I truly love them and value them. It is not that I didn’t love or value them before, but distance does make the heart grow fonder. Now, I look forward to planning my trips out to California, plus purposefully calling them and video-calling them has become a priority.

Missing someone could also happen when someone is close to you. Missing someone means you see the value that person has in your life. They mean more than just another body, another voice in your household, or another voice at your job. It’s another set of experiences, another set of thoughts and laughs that they add to your life. When you get that feeling of missing someone, let it remind you that you value something about that relationship and then let them know how much you are missing them!

4. The moment that you realize you can sing like Mick Jagger – in the shower.

“If you’ve got nothing to dance about, find a reason to sing.” – Melody Carstairs

You have sung in the shower before. We all have. It’s like admitting we’ve all pretended to be Michael Jordan on the basketball court at one time or another. Although all of us could use some singing lessons, there is an absolute flow of happiness and joy from singing your favorite song, either in the shower, or in your car. Hey, maybe even at a party or with a karaoke machine. My wife tells me all the time she wishes she could sing. I know she can, actually. She can carry a tune pretty well.

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So, take your favorite song, and simply sing along to it. Yes, you probably won’t sing it perfectly, but let your voice ring and let your heart sing. You are Mick Jagger in that moment singing “I can’t get no satisfaction”, all the while getting some satisfaction.

5. The moment that you see the neighborhood birds hopping along your sidewalk without a care in the world.

 “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I see this one often. My wife’s family loves watching birds. I grew up chasing pigeons away from our porch because they would eat the grass seed my dad would put on the grass. I have to admit, though, that watching birds is truly peaceful. Here’s why: we can absorb their peace and their pace. I watch birds as they walk along the sidewalk, not in a hurry, not in an impatient cadence, but in a calm and curious demeanor. They hop, they look around, hop again, and then they fly to a nearby branch. Then they repeat that sequence. Sometimes, they’ll chase each other around. I like to guess what they’d be saying to each other.

It’s truly magnificent. I especially love to watch falcons as they glide over the trees and the meadows, seemingly without a worry. There is an absence of frustration. There is an absence of doubt. But, there is a presence of confidence and patience. We could all use more of that in our lives!

6. The moment that you feel that warm coffee or latte in the early morning on your taste buds.

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” – Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

This is my favorite. Since I was a child, my family has the tradition of drinking coffee as a way to relax and enjoy the day. I have a very vivid picture in my mind of my mother sitting at the kitchen counter just sipping on her morning coffee – without a care in the world. I guess I picked that up from her. It may seem counter intuitive, but drinking a well-prepared cup of coffee is the best way to start my day. It’s the warmth of the coffee and the taste. I personally like mine with a good amount of cream and sweetened. Some people say I like coffee with my sugar, and that’s okay. It works for me. Some people love their tea in the morning. That’s good as well!

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Here’s the point: it’s more about enjoying the simple act of sipping on a warm, great-tasting beverage and taking the time to enjoy it. I also like to look at the steam rising from the cup. Like my mom, I drink coffee to think and to simply be. I like to drink coffee while I drive somewhere, or while I read a book because it is a reminder for me to relax and slow down. No, you definitely do not need Starbucks every day of the week, but a simple cup Folgers does it for me.

7. The moment that you finish your workout and feel truly empowered.

“You would be surprised what two hours of daily exercise and five hundred stomach crunches can do for you.” – Justina Chen, North of Beautiful

I remember walking into the Fontana boxing gym in Fontana, California. I had researched this boxing gym online and I had talked to the trainer about what training would involve. If you have ever dared to try boxing for a workout, then I congratulate you. My trainer told me that the reason boxers look the way they do is that they are the best trained athletes in the world. It is 100% true. I dared myself to enter the lion’s den and train like a boxer would. Yes, I was scared. Yes, I almost decided not to go. Yes, I was scared all over again – every time I went!

But, here’s what happened. I felt so empowered and confident once I survived the first training session. Not only did I learn how to push myself beyond what I ever thought was possible, I also learned to shut off the negative thinking that kept telling me I couldn’t throw any more punches, or that my legs couldn’t take another lunge. I was wrong every time. My body could take it and outperform itself every time. That did wonders for my psychological health. Plus, it didn’t hurt to have my trainer yelling at me not to “pitty pat” his punching bags. That made me into a real boxer, even if only for that one hour.

8. The moment that you open a book without knowing where it’s going to take you.

“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” – Susan Wiggs

Beginning to read a book is like opening a present. You never know what it’s going to be! I’ll admit I haven’t always been a voracious reader. Lately, I’ve been increasing my reading appetite by recognizing that I can learn so many wonderful life lessons by reading books. I have even started to listen to audio books on YouTube. If you are wondering what kind of books you like to read, try several kinds. You might be surprised that you enjoy reading self-help books, or that you enjoy reading political books. I would recommend buying used books, which sometimes are literally discounted almost 90% off the new list price. You have nothing to lose, except the endless possibilities of what you could learn, experience, or imagine.

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Don’t try to read for too long, if you cannot stomach it at first. Start with one page, and keep that up as long as you can. Then, move up to two pages and so on. Give yourself this gift of stimulating your mind. Television can be great, but reading makes your mind decipher, use it’s creativity and imagination. It’s a much better diet than having everything created for it with television.

9. The moment that you realize you have stinky feet.

I like to walk around with bare feet and I don’t like to comb my hair.”- Beyonce Knowles

This one probably has you scratching your head. Why would stinky feet be a moment happy people appreciate? Well, it points to the reality that you are not perfect – and that’s a good thing! First, it’s a healthy perspective to see yourself as less than perfect. It will also help you realize that other people aren’t perfect either. As my uncle used to say, if you really like a girl and want to ask her out, imagine her stinky feet. She’ll seem less intimidating and more on your level. It definitely worked on several occasions! I would invite you to laugh and smile at your stinky feet because it takes you back to the time when you were a little boy or girl full of innocence and simplicity.

10. The moment that you see your spouse walk through the door.

“Your spouse is that special person God provided to walk with you until the game of life ends.” – Christian Maciel

I’ve read a Men’s Health article that explained one explicit trait of an awesome wife. One of the most striking concepts of the article was that when your wife walks through the door and it makes you nervous – that means you have an awesome wife. I could not agree more. If you feel that slight nervousness or excitement when you see your wife or husband, then you have something there that maybe most relationships do not have. One of the most beautiful experiences that human beings can enjoy is an awesome relationship. If you feel your marriage or relationship is lacking in this regard, seek some inspiration, or even help.

Marriage is something to protect, build and to enjoy. If you are not doing one of these three things, then you could be missing out on an awesome marriage. The next time your spouse walks through the door, think back to the time when you first saw them and your breath was taken away. What was it that attracted you about them? If you have forgotten that traits, or qualities, do your best to remember. It’ll bring back some wonderful feelings of nervousness and excitement.

Featured photo credit: Happy beautiful woman playing outdoor, trying to catch snowflakes with her tongue via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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