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Our Course Begins in Less Than a Week!

Phil and MaudeWe’re sharing the art of peaceful, harmonious relating, and how you can have this in all your relationships.

This pilot course is FREE to our newsletter readers. Attendance is limited, so contact us to register now. You’re also welcome to invite someone you feel would benefit from this experience. (Please have them let us know you recommended them.)

The course consists of 3 sessions of 60-90-minute Zoom meetings. They will be held on Saturday mornings starting at 9 a.m. PDT on April 30, May 7 and May 14.

Contact us at pilotcourse@philandmaude.com. If you are part of a couple and only one of you wishes to attend, don't let that stand in your way. We'll be happy to have you. Singles are, of course, welcome, too.

When you write us that you'd like to attend, we will immediately respond. Please look in your junk, trash, promotions, etc. to make sure you don't overlook our reply.

How You Can Improve Your Relationships by Thinking and Acting Positively

Happy peopleGlass half full. Keep on the sunny side. Think positive. Look on the bright side.

There is so much advice urging you to accentuate the positive that it has become clichéd and easy to skip past, but let’s explore why it is so common. The reasoning behind it is that what you look at becomes your world. How could it not be so? Our world is what we look at, so by looking at positive things, we literally live in a different world. This is not to be pollyannaish, but when you have, say, money problems like event due notices, instead of dwelling on them, make a plan and move on.

You develop patterns of how you interpret life’s events and your interactions with others. These then become the frame from which you filter your experiences, and that point of view is often determined by habit and conditioning.

As a consequence, you often see what you expect and not what you don’t. The other day we were about to go out and suddenly Phil realized he didn’t have his car keys. We both looked in all the likely places but no keys appeared. The following morning we were about to go for a walk and Maude was sitting in the chair by the door. When Phil approached, she got up and there, right on the chair by the door, were the keys in full view. Neither of us had seen them in our thorough search of the whole house and garage! And yet there they were in plain sight.

And so it is with many things; they can be right in front of you, yet you miss them because of preconceived expectations and projections.

Why is being positive so difficult? It’s because survival has needed us to always be on the alert for dangers that might be lurking, waiting to spring out and eat us. It’s been a matter of life and death. Is that a pretty tree or a place where leopards lie in wait? But life is less dangerous these days, and such caution can be a handicap.

This applies in your relationships, too. When you react to the faults of your partner by sighing heavily, rolling your eyes and making snide comments, you invite conflict and alienation, and you have to work on the relationship to repair the damage done.

Instead of seeing the faults of your partner and reacting to them, what would it be like if you were to look at their positive aspects and appreciate them?

If you make the effort to look at your partner, friend, or relative with eyes that are seeking truth, beauty and goodness, if you look at strengths and not failings, behaviors that uplift you rather than annoy or upset you, it will drastically change the character of your interactions.

When you change what you see and you express that to the other person, a very different dynamic occurs. You have changed what happens inside you and that shift will change those you interact with as well. Positive feedback and acknowledgment is a powerful thing. The other person will feel warm and supported. It is like taking a deep breath of a wonderful scent. They may end up seeing themselves in a different light.

Their reactions will be different, and those reactions will affect you, and as an engineer would say, a positive feedback loop is set up. Those initial small changes can have large results. By changing how you look at the world, you have literally changed your world.

A friend recently shared how this practice altered the dynamic between her and her husband. She described her relationship as one of 38 years, mostly in conflict. It was suggested to her to put her attention on what she really enjoyed, respected, admired and treasured that he did, and then to tell him as it occurred how much pleasure that behavior brought her. After really paying attention and doing this for awhile, she reported an amazing turn around. She felt quite differently toward him, warmer and closer, and most importantly, they were laughing a lot more together.

Changing how you see the world is not some impossible task. Years ago, we highlighted a study showing that even with just a few weeks of compassionate mindfulness training, the participants were able to have a much higher degree of positive response.

If you want harmony and peace to pervade your life, then you need to look for that in your relationships and in the world. See it, feel it, speak it.

Photo credit: Employee of “The House of Clues”
Photo note: Birthday event at an escape room

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner

Books on shelfThis week, we discussed how you can improve your relationships by thinking and acting positively. Here is a collection of ideas for how to bring the positive into your relationships.

10 Ways to Perk Up Your Relationship "Positivity has a way of shifting our perspective: While negative emotions shut us down, positive emotions open us up. They help us "broaden and build," argues Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Positivity. Positive emotions actually spur big-picture thinking, yielding benefits like keener peripheral vision and increased creativity—not to mention better relationships."

Practices for Bringing the Positive Into Your Relationship "Relationship experts such as Pat Love, John Gottman, Harville Hendrix and many others are currently stressing the importance of bringing the positive into your relationship. This may sound simple, but in practice it is not an easy thing to do, because when it comes right down to it, our brains can be very set in their patterns of negativity. We lean towards negativity to get our needs met because we have been socialized and genetically wired for survival. We have fear from our childhood that our needs will not be met and we may not survive. These feelings of fear and our natural “fight or flight” response comes from the older part of the brain (the brain stem and the limbic system). Positive feelings, and the ability to respond versus react, involve a more evolved part of the brain (the neo-cortex) which requires a completely different set of strategies and practices. We are using our “old brain” when we cry, demand, shame, blame, criticize, withhold, or ignore, in an effort to be heard, feel loved, see change, etc. However, if we want our partner to change WE have to change too."

7 Ways to Put Life Back into Your Relationship "When you’re discussing your relationship, highlight the good stuff and minimize the bad. You’ll feel better, and so will your partner. I used to tell all my girlfriends about all the wrong my partner was doing and found that the more I looked for the bad, the more it showed up. But when I focused on the good things about him and why I still loved him, it made me appreciate him that much more. Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with pressing issues or forget the problems at hand; it just means that you change the conversation to one that’s empowering to the relationship. Let go of your anger and annoyance about small things that irritate you. It won’t be easy, but every moment you hold on to poisonous feelings is another moment that will steal your chance to be happy with the person you love."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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