Tag Archives: improving fitness

7 Sure-Fire Ingredients to Better Relationships

"You can get anything you want if you just convince enough people."

Unlike a 150 years ago when you could carve your life out of the wilderness, today everything you want is owned by someone else notes the author of the above quote Roger Dawson in his book, Secrets of Power Negotiating. He recommends spending some time figuring out how to persuade them to share. Undoubtedly you have developed relationship-building skills. But are you actually getting the financial, emotional, and spiritual support that you need from these relationships? Perhaps it is time to take a second look.

7 Sure-Fire Ingredients to Better Relationships

To live intentionally you will have to decide the kind of relationship you want to have with others. Will a particular person remain essentially a stranger or become an acquaintance, a business associate, a friend, or your spouse? As you know, you will have to invest more time and resources, especially emotional ones, the farther up this scale you go.

Social media has significantly clouded this issue. Is the quality of the relationship you have with each of your Facebook "friends" or Twitter followers the same? Can a genuine relationship be created with someone you know only online?

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Here are the questions to ask when determining the kind of relationship, if any, you want to have with someone. Some can be answered earlier than others.

  1. Can you treat this person respectfully? Do you find yourself making fun of someone? Behind his back? If you do not respect him why bother staying connected and potentially hurting him later on?
  2. Can you build trust with this person? What kind of business association can you have with someone you do not trust? You may realize a short-term gain, but sooner or later the investment you made in creating the relationship will have to be written off. Will it really be worth the effort?
  3. Will this person help and/or support you in meeting your goals? Some people claim to want to help you while they are actually undermining your progress. Be guided by someone’s actions far more than his words.
  4. Will this person help you see if you are heading in the wrong direction? Heard the expression the road to hell is paved with good intentions? If you are going to have more than an acquaintanceship with someone his definition of kindness will have to include tough love.
  5. Will this person be respectful even when telling you things that may be difficult for you to hear? Criticism can be difficult to accept under the best of circumstances. It needs to be conveyed politely and empathically.
  6. Do your strengths and weaknesses complement each other? Perhaps most important with a spouse, you can avoid the strife that engages competitive instincts inherent in having similar talents and faults. Likewise in business, partners with diverse aptitudes make a stronger team.
  7. Does this person share your values? While it is not necessary that every friend or business associate share all of your values, being at cross-purposes on certain ones may make more than an acquaintanceship difficult if not impossible.

It may sound cold, even calculating, to assess people in this way. But the reality is that you have a finite amount of time. Spending this precious resource on those you cannot help and who cannot or will not help you is useless. Better to establish a basis for a relationship from the outset, intentionally setting the stage for mutually supportive, productive interaction.

Question – How do you decide with whom and what kind of relationship you will have with someone?

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Thousands Could Live Happier Healthier Lives Who Never Thought They Could

Henry Higgins: I’m an ordinary man

Colonel Pickering: . . . Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?

Higgins: Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?

Pickering: Yes. Very frequently.

Higgins: Well, I haven’t. I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself become friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical . . . After all, Pickering . . . I’m an ordinary man . . .

Excerpted from the 1956 musical comedy My Fair Lady, this dialogue between confirmed bachelor Professor Henry Higgins and his friend Colonel Hugh Pickering is a comedy highlight of the show, most likely because it describes how the genders sometimes actually feel about marriage. Yet it also brings out one of the most important reasons that men, especially young men, need to marry.

Thousands Could Live Happier Healthier Lives Who Never Thought They Could

Ironically, Professor Higgins’s self-criticism underlines among the most important purposes for marriage: to provide a sphere in which men’s “selfish and tyrannical” nature can be tamed. Then they can be subjected to the meticulous standards necessary to develop to adulthood. As he recognizes at the end of the show when he decides to marry Eliza, she is “exacting . . . and a damned nuisance” because he wished to hold onto an adolescent bachelorhood. Once he realizes he needs her as much or more than she needs him his opposition disappears.

One of the most common complaints I hear when counseling female sailors, the single ones, is that there are no men to marry. While women have long groused about this, today it cannot be attributed to a scarcity of men such as there was during the decades after World War II. Two factors appear to be driving this trend: young men remained mired in immaturity and young women are unwilling to be the agents of maturation that they historically were.

Men use the justification of insufficient financial resources to avoid marriage. However Charles Murray, in his book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, debunks this excuse. I challenged him on what I thought was the most obvious flaw in his theory but his response proved me wrong.

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Despite an abundance of evidence that married men are healthier and happier than single men, freedom from responsibility retains its mythical hold. Coupled with the easy availability of sexual gratification without marriage and for a young man who does not seek spiritual fitness and pays scant attention to physical and mental fitness, there seems to be no reason to commit to marriage.

Short of accepting the results of multiple generations of men who remain adolescents into their old age, society must re-examine the decision not to pressure young men to marry. As well, people need to consider re-adopting the ideal that seeking growth in all areas of their lives is a core value.

Change can be positive. But often there are unintended consequences. The true test of wisdom is whether a society is willing to undo change when its ramifications prove negative.

Question – Why have so many young men abandoned marriage?

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Create Healthy Relationships You Can Be Proud of

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Once you have begun building a foundation of fitness in the physical and mental pillars, the profoundly challenging and rewarding task of attaining fitness in the spiritual pillar awaits.

Create Healthy Relationships You Can Be Proud of

The spiritual pillar of fitness has three realms:

  1. Family – Spouse | Parents | Children and Other Family Members
  2. G-d – Prayer | Duties | Rituals
  3. Mission - Core Values | Purpose | Life Mission

The process is similar to attaining fitness in the other pillars. First, assess where you currently are with respect to each realm. Some questions to ponder are:

  1. Do you believe in G-d and if not should you?
  2. Why is it important to acknowledge a power higher than yourself?
  3. How do you put your beliefs into practice?
  4. How often do you engage in spiritual exercise?
  5. What is the quality of your marriage?
  6. When was the last time you saw your parents and children?
  7. How productive or destructive are your familial relationships?
  8. To what system of values do you adhere, and how well can you express these values?
  9. What is your plan for upholding your values?
  10. How well do you maintain your values?

As you begin answering these questions others will arise. Especially in the spiritual pillar, this is a lifelong process. Just like with the other pillars, you may need to consult with professionals to aid your assessments. Roadblocks may arise. For example, you may harbor an aversion to religion based on childhood experiences. A brief story:

Shortly after getting married, as the cook of the house, I had prepared dinner. Sitting down at the table my wife Melanie pointed to something on her plate and asked, “What are these?”

Me: “They’re Brussel Sprouts. They’re great.”

Melanie: “No they’re not, they’re horrible.”

Me: “When have you ever had Brussel Sprouts?”

Melanie: “I was five.”

Me: “Do you mean to tell me you still hate everything now that you hated when you were five?”

Melanie: “Yes!”

Me: “Well, that’s very good information for your new husband to have ‘cause I bet you hated boys when you were five.”

Melanie tried Brussel Sprouts again and lo and behold she liked them. Your tastes change as you mature. What seemed distasteful, boring, or annoying when you were a child may be very nourishing now that you are an adult. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your dislike of religion in light of how important a factor of your spiritual fitness it can be.

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Information gathering and assessment will tend to overlap more so than in the other pillars. As well, if you are not already affiliated with a religious denomination, seeking a spiritual connection within one or outside of religion requires extensive research. Some of the resources I use or other clergy recommend are:

Judaism:

Chabad

Aish Hatorah

Orthodox Christianity:

Discover Orthodox Christianity

Ancient Faith Radio

Orthodox Christian Network

Protestantism:

Patheos Library

Christianity Today

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

University of Nottingham – Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Roman Catholicism

Some of my tweets cover spiritual fitness in a non-religious context so consider following me on Twitter. My Wednesday blog post is called Parsha Nuggets, which provides food for thought from the Old Testament as you explore your spirituality. You can sign up to receive my newsletter here.

Now, start setting goals. You may think that having defined benchmarks to reach on a spiritual journey is counterproductive. But if you wish to make progress incentivize yourself. Contrary to popular thought, spiritual fitness will not develop spontaneously.

While we are spiritual beings, this does not preclude the necessity of exercising your spirit so as to make it an equal pillar. In addition to self-discipline and self-awareness, the indispensable quality required for deep spiritual fitness is empathy. Without the ability to create heartfelt, meaningful relationships with others, especially G-d, your spirit will be unprepared to support you through the vicissitudes of life.

These three aspects of self-development: self-discipline, self-awareness, and empathy, while indispensable are not exclusive to each pillar. Self-awareness will improve your fitness in the physical and spiritual realms. As well, other traits, such as being an adept communicator, will enhance your fitness in all realms. Yet note that if you are truly empathic, you will find a way to relate to those with whom you create your spiritual life.

Question – How do you build your relationship with G-d?

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You Get to Choose if Your Life is Blessed

“See I place before you today, a blessing and a curse. The blessing that you will listen to the commandments of your G-d, that I command you today. And the curse if you will not listen to the commandments of your G-d . . .” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 11:26-28). The Hebrew word for see, re’eh, is in the singular form. So when Moses begins his address, he makes it a point to emphasize he is speaking to each person individually lest someone think that Moses is speaking to his neighbor, not to him. But what is the true meaning of his message?

You Get to Choose if Your Life is Blessed

The parsha for this Sabbath is Re’eh. In it we learn about the blessing and curse that the Children of Israel will receive soon, the holiness of the land and more about how the Israelites will be required to conduct themselves there, how to respond to a false prophet and one who tries to entice another to go astray, what it means to be G-d’s treasured people, tithes, forgiving loans, being generous with ones fellow Jew, how a Jewish slave is to be treated, and the three pilgrimage festivals.

One of the most difficult aspects of my work as a chaplain is helping people who have lost their sense of purpose. Especially among those who ideate suicide, such a deficit can be catastrophic. Recovery is extremely difficult since filling a physical, emotional, and spiritual void is a lengthy, arduous endeavor.

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Sforno comments that Moses’s personal charge leaves no middle way. If you live by the commandments, which are the ways you create a relationship with G-d, you will live a blessed life. If not, you will live a cursed life. The practical side of the commandments is they infuse your life with meaning. Thus, although later in Deuteronomy G-d will give details about the nature of the blessing and curse, the purpose you get from living a life devoted to creating a relationship with the Creator is the biggest blessing you can ever receive. When you internalize the idea that your Heavenly Parent loves you, is interested in your welfare and growth, and wants to be a part of your life you need never feel alone again.

The reverse, to lead a life devoid of meaning, is to lead a cursed life.

You get to choose. While the allure of a life of abundance may seem the greater blessing, wealth has its own curses. That is why when you choose to follow the commandments you literally are choosing life. What could be more valuable than that?

Question – When G-d brings hardship into your life, how do you turn that misfortune into a blessing?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Achieve More and Still Have Peace of Mind

 “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Albert Einstein

While fitness in the physical pillar is basically objective, your path to emotional wellness and intellectual satisfaction will be much more individualistic. The psychological inputs you had during your life are unique. Your path to resolving the challenges developed during your childhood is likewise unique. The topics you and I find mentally stimulating may be quite different.

How to Achieve More and Still Have Peace of Mind

The mental pillar of fitness has three realms:

  1. Emotions – Cognitive Development | Societal Habituation | Mental Resilience
  2. Relationships – Friends and Colleagues | Community Connection | Pets
  3. Learning – Education | Reading | Avocations

Having been through the process of attaining physical fitness, you will find it is similar for mental fitness. First you need to assess your state with respect to each realm. Some questions are:

  1. How content do you generally feel?
  2. How resilient are you when faced with life’s emotional ups and downs?
  3. How often do you feel the blues or depressed?
  4. How well do you bounce back from setbacks?
  5. Are you able to build and maintain satisfying relationships?
  6. Do you feel connected to a larger community?
  7. What is your plan for lifelong learning?
  8. What interests do you pursue and how passionately?

Use these to start your discovery of your state in each realm. As you identify challenges you may need to consult with others. Significant psychological issues may require your seeking help from a competent mental health professional. Yet this need not prevent you from making progress in other realms.

Next gather sufficient information from reliable sources on such issues as emotional health and resiliency, relationships, and education, so that you are comfortable making decisions about your life direction in each realm. Some of the resources I use are:

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Now, start setting goals. Unlike with fitness in the physical pillar, setting measurable goals is more difficult in the mental pillar, especially if you want to boost your emotional soundness or relationships. Improvement will come through identifying quantifiable behaviors that you can habituate. For example, to improve my marriage every day I write something positive about Melanie in my journal.

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The key to fitness in the mental pillar is self-awareness. Without this quality, you will not know the true state of your emotional and intellectual fitness. As well, you will be unable to ascertain your progress. Of course, as with any behavioral change self-discipline is crucial. But unless it is coupled with candid, periodic self-assessment it is too easy to conclude you are on the right track when this is not the case.

I learned a terrific practice from Michael Hyatt in his blog post The 7 Benefits of Keeping a Daily Journal. He recommends noting your emotional state each day. Having used this technique for a few months, I have made more progress on one of my key issues than in years of trying any other approach.

While college degrees purportedly attest to greater fitness in the mental pillar, they confer no such condition. Your emotional and intellectual fitness is highly subjective and cannot be measured against that of another person the way physical fitness can. In any event, the goal is not to become superior to others, but through self-awareness and self-discipline to intentionally direct improvement on your path to holistic fitness.

Question – What exercises do you use to gain greater self-awareness?

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