She Makes Life Easier

Today’s Lesson: Find the person who makes living itself a pleasure.

*****

I tried to run my own business a long time ago, and failed. Miserably. I was unable to do it alone and that is a lesson I never forgot.

When I needed a tax accountant earlier this year, Nicole was on it. I didn’t ask. I didn’t whine about not having one. She just anticipated my needs, and acted.

When I hurt my foot, suddenly a book about foot health showed up and Nicole massaged my aching tendon while reading to me. I never miss an appointment because Nicole knows my calendar better than I do and she lets me know when I should show emotion and ask about my friends (I tend to forget social grace stuff), or she reminds me to call my family, or be patient with stop lights. Nicole keeps me on track and focused and she supports nearly any effort I make to improve, often jumping in with me.

I asked my dad one time, what was it about Mom, that kept them together for so long? He thought about it and said, “She just makes life easier. She makes living easier. She sees what I miss and takes care of it.”

It is not a burden to remember to ask a waitress something the next time she visits our table, but Nicole will already know the question and ask for me before the waitress is too far away. The big things, the little things. Those are the moments where she just makes life easier.

It is a two-way street, by the way, but it doesn’t feel that way. Making life easier feels more powerful than taking out the trash or remembering to open doors.

I don’t want to run my own business now but if I did, I know I would have a rock-star partner. Even better, though, I know I have a powerful ally in life–and living is just easier.

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The Physics of Relationships

Today’s Lesson: The laws of the universe apply everywhere. That is why they are the laws of the Universe.

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Most of us learn the basic laws of Physics and Thermodynamics in grade school (and then promptly forget them) but we never think to apply them outside Science class.

When we talk about the fundamental underpinnings of everything we unequivocally know about the universe, we forget those laws include us (because we are part of the universe).

I often take those laws and apply them to seemingly odd areas of life–for example, to help navigate relationships (maybe I’ll write a book about this one day).

Let’s take the Law of Conservation of Energy (the first law of Thermodynamics). In sum, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transformed from one form to another. For example, if you push your phone across a table, potential energy (in your hand) is transferred to kinetic energy, causing the phone to slide across the table. This is also (in overly simplified terms) the foundation for how the second and third laws of Thermodynamics work, which are also the First and Second Laws of Entropy.

“Entropy” is a fancy way of saying “Chaos”. As Entropy (Chaos) decreases, things become more ordered. As entropy increases, things become more random and chaotic. The laws of Entropy essentially tell us that the universe always seeks balance… and that is what brings us to relationships.

Relationships, when left alone, tend toward balance, meaning some smooth parts and some rough parts. We seek Order naturally because it is pleasing. We like to feel happy and satisfied and we find those feelings when everything seems to fall in place with our intentions and our world is running smoothly. The catch is, while we build Order in our lives, the universe seeks to balance the ledger. Disorder is created by default, somewhere.

If you find peace with this simple fact, life becomes easier to navigate. Think of it this way:

–When you and your partner are perfectly aligned and everything seems super-happy and could not be going better, enjoy the moment but understand it can not be a permanent state. “Happily Ever After” is the point where a movie ends (but a relationship is only beginning) because showing the rest of the relationship would depress most of us. No one wants to see Snow White and The Prince 10 years later, after she has gained 30 pounds and is depressed about aging and he has to work or hunt 11-hours a day to keep his family satiated and feels like he hasn’t slept in weeks. We do not want to see them bicker about the free-loading dwarves and why the dishes are never done. (Actually, we would kind of love to see that, right?)

–When one of you is aligned and one is not aligned, this is equilibrium. Balance. I am not saying that means everything is good for you and bad for the other person. I am only saying you can not both be perfectly happy all the time. That is okay. That is how life is supposed to work. You are not fighting and you are not in bliss. Balance.

–When you are both out of alignment, then you are creating friction and that is bad. That means fighting, despair, depression, etc. This would be considered a high state of Entropy, or disorder. The universe will force an adjustment. If the friction continues, it will lead to a break down and possibly a break-up. That, again, is the law of Entropy at work (according to my crackpot opinion). The universe will balance the check book and it is not especially concerned with whose feelings are hurt in the process. It is just doing its job by restoring order equal to the chaos.

 

Basically:

  • If you are happy, don’t worry. It is going to get worse soon.
  • If you are sad, don’t worry! It is going to be better soon!
  • If you are right down the middle, don’t worry… It will be steady for a while but then it’s going to get crazy–get ready for the ride! (This is because minor variations in a highly ordered state ultimately create entropy that builds the way ripples from a breeze can grow into tidal waves on the ocean).

 

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Don’t Be Yourself.

6 weeks into a modern relationship, you have probably “sealed the deal” but are still on your best behavior to impress each other. It is just the time when things are getting adventurous…

***

I was listening to a story about a husband who blows his nose at the kitchen table during dinner. The wife was grossed out about it but unsure how to address it tactfully. He never did it outside of the home but didn’t mind doing it at their dinners because it was just him and his wife.

There are many couples who are comfortable “letting go” in front of each other and that is something I have never understood. I think the guidelines of tact, diplomacy, and etiquette are MORE important at home, with your romantic life partner, than anywhere else.

Your relationship with the person you have chosen as a mate is the most important relationship you have. Presumably, you spent your time courting this person, putting your best face forward, sharing your highest values and being on your best behavior to win him or her over. Now that you have them, you want to be your grossest self? That is not okay, in my book.

I cherish the formality Nicole and I have. It provides a foundation for respect and maintains courtship. We have a running joke between us that we have only been dating for six weeks. Some of that is probably to assuage our slight fear of commitment but it also serves as reminder that the relationship is always “new” and we should keep putting our best forward to romance each other and win each other over.

In my view, it is not cool or cute for couples to leave the bathroom door open. It is not okay to belch when it’s just the two of you there. Dutch ovens are not funny (well… okay they are, but only between brothers or friends you do not like that much).

 

Today’s lesson: What would your relationship look like if it was only 6 weeks old again? OR… Don’t be yourself. Instead, be your BEST self, even when no one is looking. 

 

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Am I Angry At You?

Words are powerful. It is fun to take a close look at how we use them.

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I find it interesting that we say things like, “I am angry at you!” AT you? We feel angry at a person or towards something. We are in love with somebody.

Our relationship to emotions is curious. We expel them from our bodies as if they are projectiles that we can throw at other people like baseballs. I am mad at you! The thing is, we let emotions live in our language in such a way that we are absolved of our responsibility for feeling them. We never say, “I am Anger now!”. Yet, curiously, we do say, “I am happy.” Perhaps we find it easier to accept we are present and in sync with a positive feeling but negative emotions happen to us.

Either way, think about how you use language to convey both the feelings you expel to others and accept from them, and listen to the language you use when defining your own emotions.

 

Today’s lesson: It is okay to feel emotions. Do not let yourself off the hook, however, for feeling them. Be conscious of the words you use to share your feelings. The onus is on you to take responsibility for who you are, not on others to accept you for who you feel like being.

 

 

 

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People Love (Food) Porn!

Just look at the curves on that succulent, juicy, round… caramel apple?

***

I do not understand the love of food porn (pictures of food on the internet–like when someone cooks or goes to a restaurant and shares a picture of what they were about to eat). I know I have blog subscribers both within and outside of the United States and the readership is almost always growing (thank you for subscribing!), but whenever I share a picture of food on FaceBook, it always generates (by far) more “likes” and comments than any of my blog posts. Granted, I turned my blog comments off a while ago, but people find me on their social media sites or just email me their thoughts from time to time (which I enjoy).

I have to laugh, though, because coming up with a lesson learned every day is no easy task. Admittedly, some lessons are definitely better than others but I wonder if there is a lesson in the fact that people are more likely to comment and socialize over pictures of what I am about to eat than actual philosophical content I put effort and attempt to build meaning into.

Oh well. It is good to know if this blogging thing gets too boring, I can always be a vegan food critic.

 

Today’s lesson: When you want someone’s attention, show them what you are going to eat.

 

 

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How to Live With (Emotional) Scars

During a bad break up, try not to cut off your nose to spite your face.

***

I saw that a friend’s marriage ended because her spouse cheated on her a short time after their wedding. Part of her revenge was to excise everything to do with him from her life, including deleting all their pictures together.

This seems to be standard protocol when good relationships have bitter ends, but it saddens me to think someone would invalidate a huge, important swath of their life to trade it off for being bitter about that part of their past for the REST of their life.

I have been in relationships that ended badly (including a marriage that ended very badly) but I do not begrudge any of my partners their faults or mine (and I certainly have plenty).

None of us were handed a manual titled, “This is How to be the Perfect Human Being”. I am not absolving anyone of their bad choices, only saying it is not worth spending my life pretending their bad choices were mine or that mine were theirs. When we take emotional revenge on a partner who cheated, for example, then we also damage our own well-being by invalidating any part of the relationship that was good. The good memories happened. Why would we be so quick to destroy them yet still cling to the bad? We are clinging to the bad, of course, by taking revenge on the good.

I am happy for the happy parts of my past relationships. I would not want to lose those parts of my life and secretly or publicly hold onto the bad parts. It is foolish to pretend part of my life did not happen just as it would be foolish to pretend there is no scar on my left hand from when I cut it when I was twelve. Everyone can see the scar, even if I deny it. The scar is part of my past, part of my story, and part of what makes me who I am today, even though I regret that moment! Our emotional scars are the same way. People see them even if we pretend they never happened. We just look silly for pretending.

Of course, I understand the need for catharsis when we have been emotionally wounded, but I would rather find that in a positive, healthful way, like therapy or exercise or writing my feelings out or just taking time out of my life to sort through those feelings and heal for a while.

I can understand keeping your past out of sight as a matter of being respectful of both your ex and your current partner, but we do not yet live long enough, I think, to delete years of our lives because we are pouting.

 

Today’s lesson: Emotional pain works like physical pain. When you are hurt, take time to heal and when you are better, move forward. Do not, though, take revenge on your own past and spend the rest of your life living there while pretending you are not. It is okay to acknowledge both happy and bad times in your life. As humans that did not come with instructions, we all have happy, sad, and bad times. Until we can live forever… we do not live long enough to live bitter.

 

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Today’s Lesson: Who’s Your Buddy? [140928]

 

My boss said something last week that resonated with me today. He said his wife is his favorite drinking buddy and talked about how much fun they have together.

 

Today, as Nicole and I walked around town, she said, “I love the spending the day with you,” and we talked about how much fun we have being together.

 

I remember one of my first bosses taught me the same lesson many years ago. He asked if I was single, and, looking at an attractive young woman nearby, I quipped, “No… unfortunately.”

 

I was joking because I thought that’s what men do–you know, the “old ball and chain” and “being whipped”, and other men versus women jokes. He set me straight, though, with two simple sentences. “Huh,” he said, “I love my wife. She’s my best friend.”

 

From then, I never looked at relationships the same and, to my regret, I never told my boss about the impact he had on me and we lost touch over the years.

 

I love spending the day with Nicole and for sure, she is my best friend and favorite ally.

 

The obvious lesson here is to be with someone who adds value to your life and makes you feel good about who you are when you are together.

 

The deeper lesson, though, is to be aware of how you portray the people you love to others. Your jokes about your relationship are the reality of your relationship to people who have not met you both or do not know you both well.

 

Put another way, choose your words carefully. They create the tapestry of your life.

 


 


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Today’s Lesson: Staying Up Late [140924]

Time spent with friends is sometimes more valuable than sleep. I enjoyed a rare moment with my peers, discussing work, strategies for success, and general life drama (with a bunch of District Sales Managers, there is plenty of life drama!).

We had to be up early for a meeting but we had so much fun enjoying each other’s company we reluctantly went to bed with only a few hours left to rest.

You should always try to have enough rest but, once in a while, the information or pleasure of an opportunity to share with others in a meaningful way is more valuable than fleeting dreams.

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Today’s Lesson: Let The Music Play [140918]

I gave up listening to music for about 6 months. The following 6 months I listened only to instrumental music. It was a fascinating experiment and I was reminded of it today when a friend shared one of their favorite songs.

 

The music was great but when I heard the lyrics, I immediately remembered what I learned from my experiment. Popular musicians are crazy.

 

So many of us find comfort, solace, or worldly wisdom from pop songs. The only problem is pop musicians do not live in the same world as most of us. People like Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Prince, or Tim McGraw are so far removed from normal relationships, social and political struggles, or common hardships that they are simply not qualified to have a relevant opinion on these matters. Do you think Prince has ever had any dating/living situation that even remotely resembles any relationship you or I have had? Yet, people flock to these performers in fantasy worlds for guidance. We learn about love from Sting and Van Halen before we ever read a book about it or turn to actual professionals.

 

If you are getting advice on love, sex, religion, society, or politics from complete nutters like Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Shania Twain, Elton John, Lil’ John, or even John Mayer… just consider the source.

 

You would be better off taking advice on Quantum Mechanics from your actual car mechanic. I am not a total curmudgeon. I like music. You should enjoy music… I just think you should also remember you are listening to, at best, talented crazy people.

 

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