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

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.

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.

What to Stop Doing if You Want to Be Happy

Stop Signs

Happiness is a journey and a choice. Happiness has been one of my biggest goals for many years. In the most recent years, I have been writing about happiness in this blog and in my books. The topics of my posts may be different but the focus is always on one thing – being happy.

To reach happiness, we need to focus on what we can do to make our life happy, rather than what we need to stop doing in order to avoid being miserable. Aiming forward, towards a better life, is a better journey than running away. Focusing on the good has been my motto for years. I teach my clients to avoid pink elephants, stop talking about the past, about what not to do, and move forward.

In recent years, I realized that there is a group of people that are not able to move forward because there is no space in their minds for good and happiness. They are so consumed by attitudes and behaviors they have formed as habits that they cannot even make that first step. For these people, the first step towards happiness is often stopping the things that make them unhappy. The things that keep them stuck, in the junction of life, miserable and sad, frustrated and angry, feeling like a failure. I want to go over all the things they must stop doing, before they can start moving forward.

From the Life Coaching Deck: The Want Muscle

Not enough

Magda came to see me after 16 years of heartache and pain. She was referred by a client of mine. She had seen psychologists and psychiatrists before, but felt very criticized and had never gone for a second session with any of them.

When I finally got to meet her, I was a bit surprised. She was in her early fifties and looked amazing – almost like a doll. She was tiny and very well presented with beautiful skin.

Yet, during the first 10 minutes of introductions, she managed to say only bad things about herself. The gist of them was that she was not good enough, unworthy and helpless. She said 27 bad things about herself in those 10 minutes. I counted!

This made me very curious about her because at that point we had just met and I knew nothing about her.

Coaching is very much like solving a puzzle. I tried to gather information that would allow me to help Magda in a way that the other therapist could not. As it turns out, Magda was an only child, born to very old parents. Her dad died when she was very young and her mom never had another man in her life.

This post is part 10 of 11 in the series From the Life Coaching Deck

Ronit’s 100 Happy Valentine’s Day Tips

Loving couple on a park bench - take your Valentine

This year, Gal and I are celebrating our 34th Valentine’s Day and we are very proud and happy to be together. We are also sad to look around and see that fewer and fewer couples are able to find happiness and love on this day. Over the last five years, more of my clients experienced relationship breakdowns than ever before. Divorce and separation are very sad and challenging for the couple and for their families.

This week, I received a request from a radio show to share 5 Valentine’s Day tips with their listening couples. This made me think that I have many more tips and the fill list from my relationship tool kit is below.

I highly recommend having such a list for yourself. If you could give other couples advice on how to have a happy relationship, what would you say? Write down your ideas and read them every once in a while (even I have to read my own advice from time to time, especially in tough times).

From The Life Coaching Deck: Abusive Parenting Cycle

Cow in a meadow

Recently, I wrote a post about parents who justify their bad parenting style by claiming they are better than their own parents. Parenting like this creates a cycle: bad parenting, leads to difficult children, who become bad parents, who raise difficult children, etc. Over the last 28 years, I have dedicated my work to breaking this cycle. To helping kids through helping their parents.

Last week, this topic came up again when I met a 16-year-old girl who came for teen coaching. I sat in front of her for almost 2 hours and was shocked at how mature and aware she was. She was sitting in the same balcony in which I have seen many grownups who did not understand half of the things she did. Last year, I started writing a fictional story about a girl with parent problems and anorexia. In front of me was this most beautiful, good looking girl with a similar story. It amazed me to discover that the story is so much worse when you see it in real life.

She was a 16 year old, living with abusive parents, who believed they were better than their own parents, because unlike them, they did not use physical violence. It surprised me that they sent her for life coaching though. It seemed very contradictory to what a controlling and abusive parent would do. Never-the-less, I asked about her grandparents to get a better picture. Things became crystal clear: they had been abusive parents, who raised abusive kids, who become abusive parents. This cycle would go on and on unless this troubled, 16 year old teen could stop the cycle with her awareness (if she survived the emotional abuse).

This post is part 11 of 11 in the series From the Life Coaching Deck