Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Happiness of the Other Person is Your Happiness Too

We all know that love is complicated, imperfect, frustrating, chaotic and many other similar words. Let's face it, love is like swimming in turbulent's hard to stay afloat. But, during all the moments that it is on the surface - love can be majestic!

I really like Maraboli's quote because it defines love in words that we often tend to forget. I always have the impression that when we think about love, we focus on ourselves and our does the other person make us feel? But, love should be more than just "how we feel".

Maraboli's quote forces us to think about the other person, and what we bring to him/her's life. An obvious and also controversial issue that comes to my mind when thinking about this is the idea of accepting the other person for what he/she is. It sounds simple, but it's so, so difficult to accept others, including our partners, as they are. 

If you love someone don't try to change him/her. Instead, you should help the person to be the greatest version of him-/herself. 

I believe that the key issue that needs to be recognized in this idea is that helping someone to be the greatest version of him-/herself doesn't necessary mean that you have to completely sacrifice yourself for this person. It just means that you should be willing to help the person to fulfill his/her dreams and goals. Let the other person grow and be him-/herself.

Because when you love someone, the happiness of the other person is your happiness too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Real and Lifestyle Friends

We all know the saying "hard times reveal true friends". But, is this the truth? How many times have you asked yourself who are my real friends? Or, whether or not do you have any real friends? 

Over the last couple of months, I have spent some time thinking about the role that friends and friendships play in my life. Do I really have "real" friends"? Who are they? Why are friends so important?

Somehow, I never felt the need to have many friends. I am not certain why, but perhaps it is because I am part of a big family - I never felt lonely or isolated. I am the second one of five children; I have two sisters and two brothers. Additionally, I also have many, many cousins and plenty of other relatives. Yes, my family is huge! 

It's true that you could be surrounded by many people and still feel lonely. But, this wasn't exactly my case. Although there was always some sibling rivalry, I also learn to share, forget and get along with others. Furthermore, when you are part of a big family there is always someone with whom to play and with whom to share your secrets and frustrations. I know that this is not always true for all families, but it is the case for mine. I am not saying that my family is or was perfect - families are not supposed to be perfect. I really believe that there are many advantages of being part of a big family, and one of them is that you share traditions and memories.  

 I am grateful that I am part of a big family because I have always had someone with whom to play, talk and why not, fight.

This being said I have always enjoyed the presence of friends in my life. I am one of those people who believe that in life we usually have two types of friends: "lifestyle" and "true" friends.

Although this dichotomy is not new, we forget about it when we are disappointed by a friend. Kelly O'Brien wrote an interesting post entitled "Want To Know Who Your True Friends Are?" in where she defines "lifestyle" friends as:

Those friends that you imagine will come to your aid but didn't are now your "lifestyle friends" (pssst... they always were but you didn't know it). What does this mean? It means they were friends with you for your lifestyle and really enjoyed your company. 

Although our lifestyle friends are fun to be with, we should not expect to count on them during difficult times. The problem is that we often forget this. Then, we feel terribly hurt when someone who we call friend doesn't come to our rescue. The issue is that this person was probably a lifestyle friend. Most of us have a good number of lifestyle friends, but only a very small number of true friends. According to O'Brien, you may never know who your true friends are until life throws you an unwelcome curveball, then...

The people who DO step forward to be by your side are your true friends.

Real friends are there for you and with you during difficult times. But, real friendships require that you put yourself out there. True friendships are rare because they require honesty, dedication, caring, and love from both parts. In a real friendship, you can feel free of being yourself and trust the other. 

The moment that you start wondering whether you can trust someone or not, that is when you already know you don't...that is when you realize that perhaps that person is not, or was never, a real friend.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Happiness or Balanced Life: Which One is the Most Important?

Recently, a friend asked me if I believe that work-life balance was possible. 

My first reaction was to answer, Yes. But, after a couple of minutes, I changed my answer and said that although work-life balance may be possible, it's very difficult to achieve.

After a few minutes of debate about the meaning of the term "work-life balance", our conversation switched towards the role played by a balanced life on happiness. I realize that the only reason that I am interested in achieving a balanced life, or discuss the subject, is because I want happiness to be a fundamental component of my life.

Do we really need a balanced life to attain happiness?

Clearly, work-life balance is not about organizing our schedule to give every part of our life equal time. I think that a balanced life is about regaining a sense of accomplishment and control. To me, a balanced life is about making choices that are right for the time and circumstances of our life.

A balanced life is about living life in a way that makes you feel happy, rewarded and satisfied. I recently read an article that suggested that when searching for a balanced lifestyle, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

- Do you feel good about how you are spending your time?

- Are you aware of the choices you are making or is life completely running over you?

- Are you nurturing the things that are important to you?

- Are the choices and sacrifices you are making today moving towards a goal or vision for your future?

- Do you understand the implications of your choices on your family and your work?

Personally, I think that the important issue is happiness, so...

Happiness means different things to different people. For many people, happiness comes from a balanced mix between what we have to do and what we want to do; this is fine. But, for others, happiness may mean something completely different.

So, instead of trying to achieve a perfect balance between life and work, I believe that we should focus on the meaning of happiness in our lives. Thus, my suggestion is to start our personal exploration of happiness by asking ourselves the following questions:

- What is happiness to me?

- When and how is happiness occurring in my life?

- How is my work affecting my life goals?

- Is a balanced life really necessary to achieve happiness?

- What is my recipe for happiness?

Do you have other suggestions? Which other questions are useful? 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Courage to Parent Authoritatively: A Potential Solution to Parenting in The Digital Age

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I've just finished reading a very interesting post by Richard Freed, Ph.D regarding the benefits of authoritative parenting in this digital age.

In simple words, In this article, Richard Freed (psychologist and author of Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age) presents the idea that throughout most of human history, parents have been more engaged in their children's lives than they are today. For instance, for the 19th-century American frontier families, the notion that kids could ignore family and work in favor of playtime distractions was unthinkable. The demanding environment these families faced made it imperative that children lived alongside their parents and pulled their weight at home. These kids' lives, while challenging, helped them feel that they mattered and encouraged them to become productive adults.

Why is this relevant today? Why is parent authoritatively a potential solution to parenting in the digital age?

If you have a teenager at home who has a cell phone or other digital devices, you are probably finding difficult to control his/her use of digital devices. Parents who add their kids and teens to their family cell-phone plans claim that they're doing so primarily for safety reasons. Teens appreciate the gesture with the majority of them admitting that a major benefit of having a cell phone is the security they feel in being able to reach their families at any possible time.

On the flip side, cell phones are an addiction for many teens. From sleep deprivation to texting and driving, cell phones may also present a health hazard for teens who cannot break away from the social pressures of constant contact via cell phone. Sometimes, teens replace traditional social skills with text messages, voicemails, and pressure to remain available through the cell phone at all times. According to Dr. Freed, this pressure can cause undue stress and anxiety for teens with a large social circle.

Authoritative parents strive to have a strong, loving relationship with their children, yet they also provide high expectations and definite limits that help kids meet expectations. 

Authoritative parenting provides remarkable benefits:  Children raised with this parenting style are happier, less likely to have delinquent behavior, and tend to be more engaged in school and receive higher GPAs in high school and college than kids raised using other parenting styles.

Characteristics of the Authoritative Parenting Style

  • Listen to their children
  • Encourage independence
  • Place limits, consequences, and expectations on their children's behavior
  • Express warmth and nurturance
  • Allow children to express opinions
  • Encourage children to discuss options
  • Administer fair and consistent discipline 

According to this article, people with authoritative parenting styles want their children to utilize reasoning and work independently, but they also have high expectations for their children. When children break the rules, they are disciplined in a fair and consistent manner.

The key element that it's suggested in Dr. Freed's work is that the most effective way to raise children is authoritative parenting because it involves high levels of responsiveness and demandingness

What do you think? What is your parenting style?