The Stress Pill: 10 Things that Increase Your Stress

Good Morning. Let the stress begin.

Stress is known to be the number 1 killer in the world today. More even than accidents and war (which are also attributed to being stressed). Even the disease in the world are related to stress.

In my work with my coaching clients, I explain that our feelings and thoughts are a choice. My slogan is “happiness is a choice”. With this choice, there are three main pills: the happiness pill, the chill pill and the stress pill.

The happy pill

Smiling bouncy balls falling out of a bucketOver the years, I have collected many strategies to make people happy. I have tried to share them in this blog. When I write about them, I want each of them to be a happiness pill. Ever psot contains a “pill of happiness”.

The thing is, people seem to understand happiness better when they can compare it to stress. I have written some posts about stress in the past and found this to be true. That is how the idea for this series was born. So in this chapter I will describe thoughts, beliefs and ideas in the form of a “stress pill”.

This post is part 2 of 2 in the series The Stress Pill

From the Life Coaching Deck: Learning to Want

Couple holding hands under the table

A while ago, I told the story of Magda and learning about the “wanting muscle” and choice. She learned that she was allowed to want things for herself. That she had to live by her own expectations.

Two weeks later, I saw Magda for the second time. She looked so much more alive and beautiful. Her skin was shiny and she was smiling and happy. She behaved like a giggling teen when she told me the list of her wants was getting bigger every day. Funnily enough, her daughter was the one who helped her with this homework task. Which was good news for Magda, because she had managed to teach her daughter that it was OK to want.

“I saw my mom 4 days ago and I am going again after work tomorrow. I have decided to take 4 days off in between. It is bliss. She still complains but no more than she did when I was there every day”. She was grinning from ear to ear.

The Stress Pill: Seeing Shadows of Lions

Stress ball shaped like a pill

I have written a lot about happiness over the years. I think happiness (in all its variations) is what everyone wants in life. For example, researchers found that parents name happiness as the ultimate goal of their parenting role. Happy parents = happy parenting = happy kids.

Happiness is not only the goal of parenting, it is also a most basic human goal. We are here to be happy, to find happiness and to enjoy it. We want to be happy with our relationships, with our families, at work, with our health, with money. We want to be happy with our friends and hobbies, with our achievements, with our homes. We want to be happy with what we have and we also want to be happy about some things we don’t have. For example, if I don’t have sick kids, that makes me externally happy.

One small thing that gets taken away from us helps us feel happy about what we have in our lives. For example, it’s only when you get a muscle cramp from lifting too much that you learn to appreciate the simple ability to raise your hand to the steering wheel or to take off your shirt. That is basic human nature, to define happiness by comparing it to unhappy times.

The most common obstacle to happiness is stress. In reality, stress is fear. It is fear that manifests in tensions that drive us into primal behavior (fight or flight). In the old days, it was what made us freeze in the face of a lion. While in the past, it was very obvious that lions, snakes and other scary animals were the enemy, today, the enemy is inside of us. We get anxious and stressed just thinking about a possible scary future.

This post is part 1 of 2 in the series The Stress Pill

Save Your Marriage: Trust (or The Boy Who Cried Wolf)

Boy standing on a cliff crying wolf

Trust is a very important currency in marriage. It gives both partners a sense of certainty in the relationship, which helps it survive and remain strong. Certainty is a need we all have in life. Subconsciously, we would be willing to do a lot in order to have it met. When our sense of certainty is a bit shaky, we get anxious. This can be a killer in a relationship.

If you know the story of the boy who cried wolf, you understand why trust is so valuable. In the story, they boy would run to the village to beg the townspeople to help him. A wolf was chasing his sheep. The villagers rushed to help, only to discover that there was no wolf and the boy had lied. A week later, the boy did it again, and again, and again. The villagers came once, twice and even three time, and each time, there was no wolf. Until one day, the boy came running in a real panic, begging for help. A wolf was really chasing his sheep this time. But the villagers did not believe him. He had lied to them too many times. And the boy could only watch in horror as the wolf ate his sheep.

This post is part 28 of 28 in the series Save Your Marriage

Conflict Resolution in the Family

Definition of an argument

Every family has fights. Even in the most wonderful family, people fight sometimes. Fights can be between the parents, between parents and kid and between kids themselves. Fight create conflict and can damage the delicate fabric of relationships. However, if you come out of the other side of the fight stronger, it can in fact strengthen the bond between family members. This is why conflict resolution in the family is so important.

If you are a parent and you have fights in your family, rest assures you are perfectly normal. The science of fights and conflicts is easy to learn and master. Once you learn the tricks, life can be much easier. It does not mean there will never again be fights in your family, but it does mean you will have less fights and you will be able to bounce back from them faster and come out stronger.

Teachers can usually manage fights in the classroom much better than parents do at home. This is mainly because they have learned some tools to prevent fights and ways to manage conflicts if it does arise. What this means is that you might notice some kids fight more at home than at school. This is more to do with the person “running the show” rather than the kid themselves.

Save Your Marriage: Have Good Sex

Two hands clasped on a sheet - good sex requires a good connection

Sex is one of the top three reasons why couples divorce. That means that it is highly important to work on improving your sex life. Of course, good sex goes hand in hand with good communication, trust, respect and working on keeping the relationship alive.

Attitude to sex is something many couples need to work on. In our growing life, there is not enough education about the importance of sex for health and wellbeing. It is a very sensitive topic that most people are left to learn from experience, friends or even the World Wide Web through porn movies (which unfortunately present a very unhealthy picture of the importance of sex and how to enjoy it).

Many of the clients I see who are separated or considering divorce report that sex was a major issue in their relationship. Not enough, not satisfying or enjoyable, too much, too little, too fast, too slow, only when drunk, feels like a chore, they feel their partner does not deserve it, no romance, not sexy. Every one of these is sad and painful for both parties.

This post is part 27 of 28 in the series Save Your Marriage

Attachment Theory: Attachment Styles in Relationships and Marriages

Family walking through a park

So far, we’ve covered how attachment styles affect babies and individuals, but what about attachment styles in relationships and marriages?

Have you ever heard the theory that we pick partners who are similar to our parents? I have wondered about this over the years. My life partner, Gal is similar to my dad in some ways and totally different in many other ways. He is also similar to my mom in some ways and totally different to her in many other ways. I find it hard to either confirm or deny the theory.

While it is hard to decide if this theory works based on personal attributes, attachment theory claims that in some strange way we relate and attach to our partners and in a way that matches the attachment style that was created between us and our caregivers in those first years of our lives.

This post is part 6 of 6 in the series Attachment Theory

Be Kind Like Socrates: Triple Filter Test

Statue of Socrates - we can learn from him how to be kind

If there is a trait I want my kids to have, it is kindness. Being kind to others brings more kindness to your world. I want my kids to feel that they are surrounded by kind people.

Unfortunately, they are not always surrounded by kind people. At least not as I would like. It is frustrating because I can’t choose who they hang out with. When they were 5 or 6 years old, I could monitor their surroundings (even then it was not 100% of the time) but the more I wanted them to experience the world, the more I had to let go of this desire to control whether they hang around kind people or not.

My youngest daughter is now 13 years old and she is experiencing lots of the not-so-kind things her friends say about each other. There is a constant struggle for popularity and power through gossip and talking about each other behind backs. We as parents think this is the opposite of kindness and we don’t want our daughter to be part of it.

Talking about other people who are not present is not always bad. Our family rule is to only say nice things about others and “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything”. The more brutal version is “when you have nothing good to say, shut up!”.

Socrates had a very logical way to tackle the same problem. He called it the Triple Filter Test. Here is a nice story that explains Socrates way of deciding whether to talk or not talk about others behind their back.

Attachment Theory: Secure and Insecure Attachment in Teenagers

Grinning teen

Babies’ relationships with their parents in the first years of life has a significant impact on their future relationship. As babies, the attachment they have to their parents will become a blue print of their attitude towards themselves and others. During that period, they create a “navigating map” and use it until they become teenagers. In teen years, which are considered to be between 11 to 25, teens renew this map and the relationship between them and their parents becomes even more important for their future relationship.

For parents, this is the perfect opportunity to fix any problems in the relationship. For example, amending insecure attachment or making an already slightly secure attachment more secure. This is our second and the last one.

Like in early childhood, a secure attachment in teenagers is characterized by the ability to seek comfort from a meaningful figure when they are going through difficulties. It is also measured by how fast and how easily they are comforted and able to get them back on track, enjoying life and being available to absorb new experiences.

This post is part 5 of 6 in the series Attachment Theory

100 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Life

Three grown children on the beach

Everyone wants to have either a happy and healthy life or a healthy and happy life, in these orders. I think of happiness as a very inclusive concept: I want to be happy with my health, happy with my relationships, happy with my family, happy with my work, happy with money, happy with friends, happy with my art, happy with my friendships, happy with the direction I take in life and happy with an endless list of other things.

Here is one of my top tips for a happy and healthy life. Take the tips that resonate with you, feel free to change any of them to make them fit your style and your life, or add new ones if there are some that are not applicable to you.

If you have 100 tips and you follow one every day, your life will quickly become both happier and healthier.