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How long can a person stay happy, excited and motivated about something new?

How long can a person stay happy, excited and motivated about something new?



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I'm interested in learning more about studies or experiments that determine how long a typical person can stay excited about something new:

New job new project new relationship new idea new purchase/toy

Is there any evidence to support the hypothesis that humans are excited by new things/prospects, but only for a short time? If so, how short? Is it days, weeks or a "honey moon"?

A while ago I've heard a talk on TED.com that happy people are up to 30% more productive (Does happiness affect productivity?), and I'm wondering if this is applicable to "being excited about something new" - i.e: are people more effective/smart when they are taking on new project, new job or a new relationship? Are people more excited, energized and engaged when they conceive new ideas?

It would also help if I get to learn what the search term for "being excited about something new" is.

Update: Looking into happiness and productivity produced two terms: "Happiness economics" and Hedonic Adaptation. The article on hedonic adaptation says that happiness is homeostatic in nature

a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, relatively constant condition of [its] properties

Reading that happiness regulates itself (as in negative feedback) sounds very reasonable to me, and I recall reading about antidepressants and Serotonin, which also mentioned that Serotonin production uses negative feedback, where more Serotonin released now inhibits release of more Serotonin, thus antidepressants dont work immediately and require a couple weeks to take effect[looking for a link].

I'm wondering if the process of being excited about something new is also homeostatic in nature?


Probably the most striking evidence of "happiness homeostasis" is a now classic study by Brickman, Coates and Bulman (1978) which compared the self-reported happiness of lottery winners and accident victims with a control group. The following quote describes the part of the outcome you'd be interested in succinctly:

Lottery winners and controls were not significantly different in their ratings of how happy they were now, how happy they were before winning (or, for controls, how happy they were 6 months ago), and how happy they expected to be in a couple of years.

Except for one, the lottery winners were between one and 18 months removed from their winnings, while the group of accident victims were one to 12 months removed from their accident. This seems to indicate that yes, happiness is broadly speaking a homeostatic process (but as with most homeostatic processes, it's likely complex).

That's probably not the precision level you were looking for, but there's quite a literature--almost 1600 citations on Scholar for this paper alone. One other limitation of it is that it uses interviews instead of ecological momentary assessment, which a more modern paper would likely want to employ. That might be another term to keep in mind.

References

Brickman, P., Coates, D., Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 36(8), 917-927.


Final thoughts

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  • Avoid bargain hunters who may overuse your customer service resources and never convert into loyal, returning customers.
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How have you used special offers to grow your business?

This post originally appeared on Receiptful's Ecommerce Success Academy and is republished with permission.

Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He is also a digital marketing consultant and freelance writer. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn.

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When you&rsquore inspiring people, you&rsquore not telling them exactly what to do or giving them precise directions. You&rsquore empowering them to be their best, trusting that they will then do the right thing. And the right thing they do may not be what you were expecting it may be something beyond your wildest expectations.

People aren&rsquot inspired by doing the ordinary or by meeting expectations. They&rsquore inspired by the exertion, creativity, and sacrifice needed to exceed what they themselves thought possible.

Motivation and inspiration are not the sole province of professional speakers and preachers. They&rsquore tools leaders use all the time &ndash in one-on-one conversations, in meetings and in formal presentations &ndash to bring out the best in their people. It&rsquos just a matter of knowing the right time and the right situation.

When there&rsquos an immediate, short-term and specific goal that you want your people to achieve, you need to motivate them. When you want to shape people&rsquos identity and their long-term aspirations and commitments, you need to inspire them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French aviator and author of &ldquoThe Little Prince&rdquo, wrote, &ldquoIf you want to build a ship, don&rsquot drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.&rdquo Sometimes you need to do both. You need to enlist and organize people to do a specific task-to build a ship according to specs, on time and on budget-and sometimes you need to activate people&rsquos desires and stand aside. Who knows, you may be surprised by what they do.


7 creative ways to stay passionate at work

I’m sure you’ve heard this so many times, “You have to be passionate to be successful at what you do.” I agree with that statement, but I also think that it will be helpful to find ways of helping people that are less passionate about what they do, to find some passion at work. If finding passion is a pre-requisite to achieving success, then teaching people how to become passionate at anything they do will essentially help more people to achieve success.

Passion is vital in everything we do. Passionate people carry more energy, enthusiasm, and they always seem to be happier than the apathetic folks. In the workplace, passionate people are always at the forefront when it comes to coming up with ideas, executing on projects, and achieving meaningful results.

If you want to achieve more, become more, then you need to find creative ways to connect passion with your work. Passion is that natural pull that attracts you towards what you do. When talking about your career, passion is what should ideally get you up in the morning, it is what gets you excited about driving to work, and it keeps you motivated at work to achieve meaningful results.

I once had a job that I was not so much passionateꂫout because it required to traveledਊll around the country for a long stretch of time. Although I enjoy traveling, the locations that I typically go, and coupled with the fact that I had a young family then made it challenging for me. I know that to excel at my work, I needed to find ways to stay passionate in that unwanted situation. So shifted my focus from the regular travel to the perks that come from each of my trips.

Needless to say, I began to look forward to the trips because I was able to find things that actually motivate me to go on the trips, and I was able to stay motivated and found passion at work. I believe that in every bad situation, there can be some little bit of good things hidden somewhere, you only have to look around to discover them.
Are you working at a job that you are not passionate about today? Would you like to turn that situation around by connecting passion with your work? Here are the seven creative ways to stay passionate at work.

So, Let me go ahead and share seven ways you can stay passionate at work.

1.    Identify the purpose of the role: ਊre you in a position today that you are not excited or passionate about? Find the purpose of why you are hired. Is it because you need to make more sales so that your company can make more money? Is it to help the company to design its new product that will solve specific challenges for humanity? Whatever the case may be, you need to understand your impact on the organization. You need to know why you were hired, and you must have the sense of teamwork, and know that if you are not doing your best job, it can impact the overall performance of your team. So, identify your role at work, and it will help to motivate you to stay committed and excited about the job.

2.    Commit to making the situation temporary:  If you are currently working in a job that you are not passionate about, I need you to ensure that it did not become a permanent situation. You cannot live to your fullest potential if you stay long at a job that you are not passionate or happy about. Make it temporary by working on getting a better position that will closely match your desires.

3.    Build needed skills to excel:  You found yourself in a position that you are not passionate about, you need to do everything you can to learn and acquire as many skills as you can in the role, and do all you can to find something else that you can enjoy and be more productive. When I used to travel to those remote locations, I had the opportunity of meeting new people from time to time. I learn the skills of connecting and interacting with people, and later in my career, I found myself in another position that involved regular interaction with clients. The skills that I learned on the job that I was not passionate about helped me to connect and understand my customer. So build some skills in that position is the message here.

4.    Re-assess the situation:  Is it possible that there was something in particular that you did not enjoy about your job? Is there anything you can do to take out that specific thing that you don’t enjoy? Let me give you an example, let’s say you are employed by Walmart to work as a Cashier at the checkout point, but you do not like this particular role. You should try other positions within Walmart – Sales associate (help customer finds what they want), Stocker (keep shelves stocked for customers). The point here is that you need to identify what you don’t like, and find ways of doing less of those things, and move towards what you considered enjoyable. That way, you will be able to work and stay passionate at work.

5.    Embrace the challenges:  Why are you not enjoying the job? Was it because of the difficulties, you may need to step up and embrace the challenges that come with the position to have some fun and stay passionate in your career? Be a learner, and understand that problems are part of the growth process. Without confronting and learning from those challenges, it will be difficult for you to grow and advance in your career, so you need to see the challenges as opportunities to learn and that the reward for you, if you learn, is career growth and progression that will come as you overcome the obstacles and difficulties in your job.

6.    Find allies & mentors:  Is your work a friendly place? Maybe you need to find friends and associates at work. Do you need to develop a close relationship with your colleagues at work? You can also find mentors at work that can guide you on how best to maximize your potential and enjoy your work. Having allies at work will help you to develop the necessary relationship and build the essential network that you can share pains and struggle together, and of course, you can also share your success stories with your allies. The message here is that you need to find some sweet spots at work that will make the place more interesting to go.

7.    Be bold & quit:  There is a common saying that “Winners don’t quit.” While I consider perseverance as a great skill, I also believe that knowing when to quit is a useful attribute to possess. Is the job situation not improving? You have tried all the suggestions above, and nothing seems to be working. I would rather have a happy quitter than a sad winner on my team. If you are not excited and passionate about your work, then you should be bold enough to leave and look for something new to do.

Many people go to work that they are not passionate about. They work for a living without actually living. They are in a constant sad state and are only happy on weekends. I don’t want you to live your life that way. I want you to thrive and grow in your career. The only way to do so is to connect purpose with your work and do your job so passionately that you are ready to go the next day. That’s the way to live to your fullest potential. That’s the way you can say WORK IS FUN.


How the Most Successful People Motivate Themselves (And Stay Motivated)

Often the biggest problem people have with achieving their goals--New Year Resolution's included--is getting started. It seems that Sir Isaac Newton got it right with his First Law of Motion: Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. Many people just can’t seem to get underway and as a result they simply don't take action.

So, what does it take to get started? One easy way is to have someone light a fire under you—“if you don’t do X, by such and such a time, you’re fired”—or you light one under yourself. (“I am not going to sleep tonight until I have taken a first step toward finding a new job.”)

The problem with lighting a fire under yourself (or having it lit for you) is that eventually your backside gets burned. It’s not a great long-term strategy. Once the threat ends, you have no real motivation to continue. And if you are operating in an environment where you are constantly threatened, it gets demoralizing very quickly.

So, what is the best way to get started?

  • Something that you want and
  • Something that you can do about it with your means at hand, i.e. taking an action that is within your level of acceptable loss. (The the cost is minimal, if the action doesn’t work out.)

Put that way, there are only four logical explanations for why you are not moving toward your goal:

The fourth is rarely the case. Most people who say they want to get a new job, or meet someone or lose weight really do want to find new employment, find that significant other or be thinner. As for habit, in this case, that’s “simply” a matter of getting used to taking action. (More on that in a second.)

So this means is if you aren’t taking action toward what you want, you either perceive taking action as either being too costly, or too risky.

It seems simple, doesn’t it? Reduce the cost and risk to acceptable levels, so that you could get underway.

Now, if it were as easy as all that, you would have done it. So, you need some help.

Here’s one easy solution. Talk to a friend about the challenge you face. (“I really want to find a new job, but I just can’t seem to get going.”)

Together, come up with a list of possibilities, being as specific as you can. In the case of the new job, you would identify what you want to do whether it makes sense to do it on your own—i.e. start a company—or work for someone else, etc.

Figuring all this out could take a couple of conversations, and that’s fine. But don’t wait until the end of all your talks to get moving. Remember, we want to make sure that habit, that is you are in the habit of not moving toward what you want, is NOT the problem.

So, at the end of the first conversation, the one where you decided your next job will be with another company, you immediately start compiling potential firms to contact and maybe even go so far as to talk to people who have the sort of job you want.

At the next meeting, you and your friend would try to come with a complete list of places that might hire you, as well as who to contact at those firms.

Then you’d set a deadline—say a week—when you will report back to your friend. At that meeting you say what you did to follow up, or explain why you didn’t do anything.

Isn’t setting this deadline the same as lighting a fire under yourself? Yes…but also no. Yes, in the sense that you have drawn a proverbial line in the proverbial sand. But no, because you are acknowledging up front that you may not take action.

Let’s suppose you don’t. At the next meeting with your friend, you would explain why. Maybe it was because you were sick and so you give yourself a pass. But it could be you didn’t take action because you found the idea of cold calling companies too intimidating.

In that case, you and your friend would try to break down the next step into even smaller parts. (Is there someone you know, who can get to someone they know at the company is it possible to find out if they take online applications seriously. If that is the case, you wouldn’t have to cold call.)

And so the process would go until you reduced taking the next step to a point where it is doable.

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Examples of best answers

When answering this question, be sure to be as specific as possible, provide real-life examples and tie your answer back to the job role. Here are a few examples of well-crafted responses:

Example 1

𠇊s a marketer, I’ve always been motivated by creative projects, teamwork and being able to draw a connection between my efforts and the organization’s bottom line. One of the things I loved about my last job was witnessing the results of our team’s campaigns and watching as the leads we nurtured became customers. Having the opportunity to lead campaigns from ideation through launch was one of the reasons I was so excited to apply for this role.”

Why interviewers like this: This candidate shows the interviewer that they have a strong desire to execute the role responsibilities. Their specific example conveys their depth of experience with and passion for the job. In addition, it’s always helpful to include how your motivations would drive your future with the company.

Example 2

“The gratification of overcoming an obstacle is my greatest motivator. For example, math has never been my best subject, but I opted to take calculus in college, even though it wasn’t required for my major because I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. The course wasn’t easy, and I spent many nights studying late, but I passed with an A. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with exceeding challenging goals is what drew me to a career in sales.”

Why interviewers like this: This answer gives the interviewer a good preview of how the candidate would perform at work. It let’s the employer know they’re self-motivated and willing to leave their comfort zone to meet ambitious goals. In this case, the interviewer could infer that because the candidate is motivated by a challenge, they’ll likely perform well under pressure and help the company thrive.

Example 3

“I’m motivated by the fact that, when I leave work at the end of a shift, I know I’ve helped make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families. Seeing the smiles on their faces and watching them improve makes me look forward to work. That’s why I became a nurse, and why I’m pursuing a position in pediatrics.

Why interviewers like this: This answer shows that the candidate is intrinsically motivated which is especially useful in fields such as the medical industry which can be physically and emotionally taxing. By showing their willingness to provide quality care in order to see others succeed, the candidate indicates how their motivation makes them a passionate and dependable employee.


Neuroscience confirms that to be truly happy, you will always need something more

What’s the sign of a life well lived? If you were to judge by LinkedIn resumes alone, you might be impressed by prestigious job titles and accolades. But in person, the importance of these formal achievements quickly fades away. Regardless of career success, there can be something very dispiriting, almost lifeless, about someone who moves without strife through the ranks of their law firm. Nobody’s deepest yearning is to be a decently-salaried professional whose only goal is to get a table at a trendy restaurant.

Whether we’re striving for a new job, more meaningful relationships, or personal enlightenment, we need to actively want something more in order to live well. In fact, neuroscience shows that the act of seeking itself, rather than the goals we realize, is key to satisfaction.

Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp argues that of seven core instincts in the human brain (anger, fear, panic-grief, maternal care, pleasure/lust, play, and seeking), seeking is the most important. All mammals have this seeking system, says Panksepp, wherein dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to reward and pleasure, is also involved in coordinating planning activities. This means animals are rewarded for exploring their surroundings and seeking new information for survival. It can also explain why, if rats are given access to a lever that causes them to receive an electric shock, they will repeatedly electrocute themselves.

Panksepp notes in his book, Affective Neuroscience, that the rats do not seem to find electrocution pleasurable. “Self-stimulating animals look excessively excited, even crazed, when they worked for this kind of stimulation,” he writes. Instead of being driven by any reward, he argues, the rats were motivated by the need to seek itself.

The human desire to seek can help make sense of studies showing that achieving major goals, or even winning the lottery, doesn’t cause long-term changes in happiness. But our drive to look ahead needn’t cause a permanent state of dissatisfaction, as seeking is itself a fulfilling activity. Evan Thompson, a philosophy professor at the University of British Columbia, says that the entire field of philosophy can be seen as an expression of this seeking impulse. Rather than coming up with a philosophical answer and then resting, content with the solution, Thompson says many philosophers would say the quest is an end in itself.

The same is true, he points out, for the arts and sciences.

“If you’re an artist there are always new modes of expression, new things to create and communicate. The world isn’t fixed, it’s always changing, so that means you have to create anew in light of the changes,” he says. “I don’t think any good scientist thinks one day science will come to an end. Science is about questioning, new ways of looking at things, new devices. That’s entirely open-ended.”

The innate human desire to seek means that we can never truly feel that every desire and wish has been met. There will never be an end to the to-do list, future goals and plans, the things we want to achieve and see. But the fact that we don’t have everything we want is exactly what makes life so fulfilling.


3 Stages of a New Relationship and How to Handle the Changes

When I was younger, I assumed that when I found the ideal person for me and was in my ideal relationship, it was going to be easy, and I was going to feel comfortable and safe all the time.

I would be floating on clouds, feeling blissful and light, and I’d love everything that person did all the time. That’s what being with ‘The One’ would feel like. I have come to learn, through countless emotional outbursts, anxious moments, doubt-filled thoughts, hard conversations, and extreme emotional discomfort, that my belief of the ideal relationship was pretty misguided.

When I met my boyfriend, I knew he was what I had been searching for. He was open, loving, honest, kind, caring, and funny, and his spirit just sparkled through his eyes. However, I was nervous.

I knew from all I had learned about relationships that they bring up emotional stuff, enabling us to heal wounds we may not have identified if someone else hadn’t triggered them. I knew I was going to learn a lot from this beautiful soul, but I didn’t expect the anxiety that came up within me once things began to get serious.

At times I felt extremely co-dependent and didn’t want him to spend too much time out of the house, or working, or pursuing his passions, even though I knew it was healthy and normal for him to do that.

I would keep track of how many hours he was away and would share how hard it was for me to trust him. We would talk openly about my feelings and issues because I never blamed him or asked him to change his actions. I just knew that I had to communicate what was going on for me in order to sort out my feelings and for us to be able to work together on healing.

Before we met I’d wanted this open communication and healing in a partnership, and I knew this is what real relationships were all about, but that didn’t make bringing my wall down any easier. Our conversations and my fears would bring things up for him, as well—emotions and fears from his past and how he felt controlled and supressed by me now.

I now believe that the ideal relationship doesn’t always feel comfortable, but you always feel comfortable and safe sharing with your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together.

I have grown to realize that all relationships have stages. When we meet someone new and begin spending time with them, these stages can seem scary and can inflict doubt. I hope to shed some light on these stages and help you feel more comfortable with experiencing them for yourself.

First Stage: New Relationship Bliss

The first stage in most new relationships is bliss! We are perfect, the other person is perfect, and the relationship just flows. You make time for one another however you can, you communicate with each other constantly, and it just feels easy.

There are no triggers or things the other person does to upset you, the attraction is unreal, and you think, “This is it! I found them! My person. Finally. I can rest.”

Even with my anxiety and fear, I managed to feel this with my boyfriend. We talked every day. I’d get my “good morning beautiful” text when I was at work, the “how is your day going?” message at lunch, and then we’d talk or see each other on most nights.

We each put forth equal effort to get to know one another, and I was open and loving toward any part of his behavior. I had patience, understanding, and joy in getting to know his quirks, thoughts, and patterns, and he had seemingly limitless energy to listen to me, talk to me, and sympathize with my emotions.

This first stage sets a foundation for the relationship and builds connection, but there’s just one small problem: It never seems to last! Does this mean we aren’t meant to stay with that person? Nope. Not at all.

Though it can feel very much like this, it only means that your relationship is changing, and that’s okay. It’s completely natural, and this process of change is what takes us into an even deeper connection if both partners are open to going there.

Second Stage: The Inevitable Turn (When One Person’s Fear Shows Up)

So what exactly is happening when the dreaded, inevitable “shift” happens? You know the one. We feel like the other person is either pulling away or becoming more controlling, our “good morning, have a good day” messages have become less frequent or stopped, and we feel like we are becoming distant from each other.

There’s a big shift when our comfort level eventually builds in a relationship and we let our guard down a bit. This seems to be the perfect time for our fear to kick in. This is what happed in my relationship.

One day, my “good morning beautiful” message didn’t show up, the next week my boyfriend had plans besides spending hours with me on Friday night, and our conversations dwindled a bit. My emotional triggers went crazy, and all of a sudden my past fears of emotional and physical abandonment kicked in.

I no longer felt emotionally stable, relaxed, or happy. I was upset all the time, I felt anxious and taken advantage of, and my mind came up with a million reasons as to why this treatment wasn’t fair.

I felt like I was the “crazy, needy girl” who wasn’t okay with her partner doing normal things. And I wondered all the time why things had changed. Was it something I did wrong? Did I expect too much? Was I being completely unreasonable, or did I just have too much baggage?

Most of the time we aren’t aware of what’s really going on we just notice we feel differently. We might think it’s because our partner’s behavior has changed, but what’s really going on is that our past has crept into this new relationship.

Our past fears, hurts, and childhood wounds have surfaced for more healing, and if we aren’t aware of this, our new, wonderful, blissful relationship begins to feel just like the rest of them: disappointing, suffocating, abandoning, unsupportive, untrustworthy, and unloving.

The appearance of this fear is a natural, necessary step in any relationship, though, and we need to embrace it rather than run away from it. This is when a lot of relationships end, but they don’t have to if both partners want to stay and build on this stage.

Third Stage: Communicating the Fear

After years of discomfort, spiritual work, counseling, healing, and reading I’ve learned that we must communicate our fear, whether we are the one who experiences it first or the one who sees the change and doesn’t know why.

You can start the conversations by saying something like “I’ve felt a shift in the energy of our relationship, and I’m feeling anxious about this change. I’m even nervous to talk to you about it because I don’t want to put pressure on you, but I need to communicate what’s going on for me. Can we talk about this a bit?”

This can be challenging if we aren’t aware of what is really going on, but let that shift, that change, that first feeling of doubt be your signal that fear has entered the relationship. And know that it’s okay for it to be there!

Every time I felt upset I had to force myself to bring up my fear of our relationship ending, fear of being abandoned, and fear that we would never connect on a deep level. There is no shame in having these fears, and it’s not a sign that the relationship is doomed.

The fear is there as a message. It’s asking to be listened to and it is a gift necessary for our own growth. When we share our fear, and own that part of us, we’re not blaming the other person. We don’t share our fears to have the other person change, or to have them fix us, but merely to allow our hearts to open up.

By owning our stuff, we are taking care of our own healing, and this is what keeps our past from damaging the relationship in the future. It’s how we clear our past patterns and allow ourselves to move forward in a new and healthy way with someone else.

The best part is that we get to see how our partners handle this as well. Our relationships need this stage and this shift from the easy, wonderful bliss, because without it, our bonds would never grow.

If things are easy all the time, where is the room for true, deep intimacy? How do we learn to truly support our significant others, and ourselves, if we never experience pain, anxiety, anger, or annoyance?

We don’t, and that’s why after years of being with someone, we can feel like we don’t know them. If we’ve remained closed off and worked our hardest to keep things going smoothly, we only know that level. And the truth is there are deeper, richer, more intimate layers to us as humans and to our relationships.

Once you have opened your heart and begun communication around your fear, a small amount of vulnerability has been introduced into the relationship, and there is room for your partner to do the same. There is room for you to grow together.

It’s never too early to begin communicating our fears. If we wait for the problem to just go away, we essentially keep the cycle of anxiety, doubt, and tension going, because our actions, words, and energy reflect our uneasiness in the relationship.

I opened up to my partner two weeks into dating about my anxiety, fears, and panicked thoughts about seeming needy and wanting too much. I told him I was scared I was going to push him away.

When I opened up and took responsibility for my feelings, it brought us closer together. Acknowledging my anxiety without expecting him to change anything diffused the tension within our relationship, and I believe this is why we are still together today.

I don’t demand anything of him I share my feelings, no matter how strong they are, and then he has space to make decisions based on that knowledge and to communicate his own feelings.

Stay connected to yourself and speak your truth—the whole, messy, amazing truth. Let your partner see the whole you, quirks and all, and enjoy taking your walls down together, brick by brick.

About Laura Smilski

Laura Smilski is a Holistic Love Coach and the owner of Luminous Living. She is passionate about helping single, professional women create clear, simple goals that will guide them towards loving themselves and being excited about dating and relationships. Sign up to receive her free blog updates and special Access Love Video and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People

I often teach about happiness and what has become exceedingly clear is this: There are seven qualities chronically unhappy people have mastered.

According to Psychology Today, University of California researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky states: "40 percent of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change."

If this is true and it is, there's hope for us all. There are billions of people on our planet and clearly some are truly happy. The rest of us bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness depending on the day.

Throughout the years, I've learned there are certain traits and habits chronically unhappy people seem to have mastered. But before diving in with you, let me preface this and say: we all have bad days, even weeks when we fall down in all seven areas.

The difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.

Here are the 7 qualities of chronically unhappy people.

1. Your default belief is that life is hard.

Happy people know life can be hard and tend to bounce through hard times with an attitude of curiosity versus victimhood. They take responsibility for how they got themselves into a mess, and focus on getting themselves out of it as soon as possible.

Perseverance towards problem-solving versus complaining over circumstances is a symptom of a happy person. Unhappy people see themselves as victims of life and stay stuck in the "look what happened to me" attitude versus finding a way through and out the other side.

2. You believe most people can't be trusted.

I won't argue that healthy discernment is important, but most happy people are trusting of their fellow man. They believe in the good in people, versus assuming everyone is out to get them. Generally open and friendly towards people they meet, happy people foster a sense of community around themselves and meet new people with an open heart.

Unhappy people are distrustful of most people they meet and assume that strangers can't be trusted. Unfortunately this behavior slowly starts to close the door on any connection outside of an inner-circle and thwarts all chances of meeting new friends.

3. You concentrate on what's wrong in this world versus what's right.

There's plenty wrong with this world, no arguments here, yet unhappy people turn a blind eye to what's actually right in this world and instead focus on what's wrong. You can spot them a mile away, they'll be the ones complaining and responding to any positive attributes of our world with "yeah but".

Happy people are aware of global issues, but balance their concern with also seeing what's right. I like to call this keeping both eyes open. Unhappy people tend to close one eye towards anything good in this world in fear they might be distracted from what's wrong. Happy people keep it in perspective. They know our world has problems and they also keep an eye on what's right.

4. You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.

Unhappy people believe someone else's good fortune steals from their own. They believe there's not enough goodness to go around and constantly compare yours against theirs. This leads to jealousy and resentment.

Happy people know that your good luck and circumstance are merely signs of what they too can aspire to achieve. Happy people believe they carry a unique blueprint that can't be duplicated or stolen from -- by anyone on the planet. They believe in unlimited possibilities and don't get bogged down by thinking one person's good fortune limits their possible outcome in life.

5. You strive to control your life.

There's a difference between control and striving to achieve our goals. Happy people take steps daily to achieve their goals, but realize in the end, there's very little control over what life throws their way.

Unhappy people tend to micromanage in effort to control all outcomes and fall apart in dramatic display when life throws a wrench in their plan. Happy people can be just as focused, yet still have the ability to go with the flow and not melt down when life delivers a curve-ball.

The key here is to be goal-oriented and focused, but allow room for letting sh*t happen without falling apart when the best laid plans go awry- because they will. Going with the flow is what happy people have as plan B.

6. You consider your future with worry and fear.

There's only so much rent space between your ears. Unhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right.

Happy people take on a healthy dose of delusion and allow themselves to daydream about what they'd like to have life unfold for them. Unhappy people fill that head space with constant worry and fear.

Happy people experience fear and worry, but make an important distinction between feeling it and living it. When fear or worry crosses a happy person's mind, they'll ask themselves if there's an action they can be taken to prevent their fear or worry from happening (there's responsibility again) and they take it. If not, they realize they're spinning in fear and they lay it down.

7. You fill your conversations with gossip and complaints.

Unhappy people like to live in the past. What's happened to them and life's hardships are their conversation of choice. When they run out of things to say, they'll turn to other people's lives and gossip.

Happy people live in the now and dream about the future. You can feel their positive vibe from across the room. They're excited about something they're working on, grateful for what they have and dreaming about the possibilities of life.

Obviously none of us are perfect. We're all going to swim in negative waters once in a while, but what matters is how long we stay there and how quickly we work to get ourselves out. Practicing positive habits daily is what sets happy people apart from unhappy people, not doing everything perfectly.

Walk, fall down, get back up again, repeat. It's in the getting back up again where all the difference resides.


We can improve our mood by focusing on the small things that bring happiness to us each day

5. Focus on the small things.

It may be wise, then, to spend less time trying to become happy, and focus more on the little things that make us happy.

In her book Ten Minutes to Happiness, Sandi Mann, a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, advocates keeping a daily journal. Her strategy is based on “positive psychology” – a well-established area of psychology that suggests we can improve our mood by focusing on the small things that bring happiness to us each day. Mann says that answering the following six questions, a task that should only take 10 minutes, can help us to find more happiness in life.

1. What experiences, however mundane, gave you pleasure?

2. What praise and feedback did you receive?

3. What were the moments of pure good fortune?

4. What were your achievements, however small?

5. What made you feel grateful?

6. How did you express kindness?

The benefits of keeping a short journal like this are two-fold. When we write, it helps to remind us of the small things that brought us happiness. It also provides us with an archive of everything that has made us happy in the past, which we can reflect on at a later date.

Italians wave next to a banner reading "Tutto Andra Bene" (everything will be OK) (Credit: Getty Images)

6. Clean up – maybe.

Should you find yourself quarantined, take this opportunity to clean your house. "Kondo-ing" your home has been shown to carry many benefits. Clutter makes it harder for us to focus on tasks, so should you find yourself working from home, a quick tidy up might help you to get your jobs done. A messy bedroom has been linked with difficulty sleeping, and messy kitchens with making poor health choices, like reaching for junk food. If you are going to be spending more time in the house, it will be worth your while getting your living spacesin order.

However, de-cluttering is not for everyone. Hoarders use physical objects to reinforce feelings of comfort and security. For those people, tidying up activates the brain’s pain-processing regions.

7. Balance your social media consumption.

Social media might appear to be filled with bad news, but for many it is also a key way to stay updated and connected with friends and loved ones. Keeping your phone out of your bedroom, or self-imposing screen-free time, can help you to balance the negativity with the benefits social media brings.

8. Get out of town.

If you live in a city, another option might be to leave it behind for a short while – only if you can do so while maintaining safe social distancing and safeguarding your, and others’, health.

People in cities suffer from disproportionately high rates of mood disorders. Meanwhile, views of water and blue skies can undo the effects of ill moods. As little as “a 20 to 30% increase in blue space visibility could shift someone from moderate distress into a lower category”, suggests one paper from 2016.

Interestingly, the effect is not seen with green space, so the seaside will be better for you than the country.

So the next time you find yourself worrying about the world, consider taking some of these steps instead of ruminating, refreshing your social media feeds or, perhaps for some, even meditating. Remember: emotions are what we make of them.

As an award-winning science site, BBC Future is committed to bringing you evidence-based analysis and myth-busting stories around the new coronavirus. You can read more of our Covid-19 coverage here.


Tip 4: Focus on helping others and living with meaning

There is something truly fulfilling in helping others and feeling like your actions are making a difference for the better in the world. That’s why people who assist those in need and give back to others and their communities tend to be happier. In addition, they also tend to have higher self-esteem and general psychological well-being.

Here are some ways to live a more altruistic, meaningful life:

Volunteer. Happiness is just one of the many benefits of volunteering. You’ll get the most out of the experience by volunteering for an organization that you believe in and that allows you to contribute in a meaningful way.

Practice kindness. Look for ways to be more kind, compassionate, and giving in your daily life. This can be something as small as brightening a stranger’s day with a smile or going out of your way to do a favor for a friend.

Play to your strengths. The happiest people know what their unique strengths are and build their lives around activities that allow them to use those strengths for the greater good. There are many different kinds of strengths, including kindness, curiosity, honesty, creativity, love of learning, perseverance, loyalty, optimism, and humor.

Go for the flow. Research shows that flow, a state of complete immersion and engagement in an activity, is closely associated with happiness. Flow happens when you’re actively engaged in something that is intrinsically rewarding and challenging yet still attainable. Anything that completely captivates you and engages your full attention can be a flow activity.


Neuroscience confirms that to be truly happy, you will always need something more

What’s the sign of a life well lived? If you were to judge by LinkedIn resumes alone, you might be impressed by prestigious job titles and accolades. But in person, the importance of these formal achievements quickly fades away. Regardless of career success, there can be something very dispiriting, almost lifeless, about someone who moves without strife through the ranks of their law firm. Nobody’s deepest yearning is to be a decently-salaried professional whose only goal is to get a table at a trendy restaurant.

Whether we’re striving for a new job, more meaningful relationships, or personal enlightenment, we need to actively want something more in order to live well. In fact, neuroscience shows that the act of seeking itself, rather than the goals we realize, is key to satisfaction.

Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp argues that of seven core instincts in the human brain (anger, fear, panic-grief, maternal care, pleasure/lust, play, and seeking), seeking is the most important. All mammals have this seeking system, says Panksepp, wherein dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to reward and pleasure, is also involved in coordinating planning activities. This means animals are rewarded for exploring their surroundings and seeking new information for survival. It can also explain why, if rats are given access to a lever that causes them to receive an electric shock, they will repeatedly electrocute themselves.

Panksepp notes in his book, Affective Neuroscience, that the rats do not seem to find electrocution pleasurable. “Self-stimulating animals look excessively excited, even crazed, when they worked for this kind of stimulation,” he writes. Instead of being driven by any reward, he argues, the rats were motivated by the need to seek itself.

The human desire to seek can help make sense of studies showing that achieving major goals, or even winning the lottery, doesn’t cause long-term changes in happiness. But our drive to look ahead needn’t cause a permanent state of dissatisfaction, as seeking is itself a fulfilling activity. Evan Thompson, a philosophy professor at the University of British Columbia, says that the entire field of philosophy can be seen as an expression of this seeking impulse. Rather than coming up with a philosophical answer and then resting, content with the solution, Thompson says many philosophers would say the quest is an end in itself.

The same is true, he points out, for the arts and sciences.

“If you’re an artist there are always new modes of expression, new things to create and communicate. The world isn’t fixed, it’s always changing, so that means you have to create anew in light of the changes,” he says. “I don’t think any good scientist thinks one day science will come to an end. Science is about questioning, new ways of looking at things, new devices. That’s entirely open-ended.”

The innate human desire to seek means that we can never truly feel that every desire and wish has been met. There will never be an end to the to-do list, future goals and plans, the things we want to achieve and see. But the fact that we don’t have everything we want is exactly what makes life so fulfilling.


Examples of best answers

When answering this question, be sure to be as specific as possible, provide real-life examples and tie your answer back to the job role. Here are a few examples of well-crafted responses:

Example 1

𠇊s a marketer, I’ve always been motivated by creative projects, teamwork and being able to draw a connection between my efforts and the organization’s bottom line. One of the things I loved about my last job was witnessing the results of our team’s campaigns and watching as the leads we nurtured became customers. Having the opportunity to lead campaigns from ideation through launch was one of the reasons I was so excited to apply for this role.”

Why interviewers like this: This candidate shows the interviewer that they have a strong desire to execute the role responsibilities. Their specific example conveys their depth of experience with and passion for the job. In addition, it’s always helpful to include how your motivations would drive your future with the company.

Example 2

“The gratification of overcoming an obstacle is my greatest motivator. For example, math has never been my best subject, but I opted to take calculus in college, even though it wasn’t required for my major because I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. The course wasn’t easy, and I spent many nights studying late, but I passed with an A. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with exceeding challenging goals is what drew me to a career in sales.”

Why interviewers like this: This answer gives the interviewer a good preview of how the candidate would perform at work. It let’s the employer know they’re self-motivated and willing to leave their comfort zone to meet ambitious goals. In this case, the interviewer could infer that because the candidate is motivated by a challenge, they’ll likely perform well under pressure and help the company thrive.

Example 3

“I’m motivated by the fact that, when I leave work at the end of a shift, I know I’ve helped make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families. Seeing the smiles on their faces and watching them improve makes me look forward to work. That’s why I became a nurse, and why I’m pursuing a position in pediatrics.

Why interviewers like this: This answer shows that the candidate is intrinsically motivated which is especially useful in fields such as the medical industry which can be physically and emotionally taxing. By showing their willingness to provide quality care in order to see others succeed, the candidate indicates how their motivation makes them a passionate and dependable employee.


Tip 4: Focus on helping others and living with meaning

There is something truly fulfilling in helping others and feeling like your actions are making a difference for the better in the world. That’s why people who assist those in need and give back to others and their communities tend to be happier. In addition, they also tend to have higher self-esteem and general psychological well-being.

Here are some ways to live a more altruistic, meaningful life:

Volunteer. Happiness is just one of the many benefits of volunteering. You’ll get the most out of the experience by volunteering for an organization that you believe in and that allows you to contribute in a meaningful way.

Practice kindness. Look for ways to be more kind, compassionate, and giving in your daily life. This can be something as small as brightening a stranger’s day with a smile or going out of your way to do a favor for a friend.

Play to your strengths. The happiest people know what their unique strengths are and build their lives around activities that allow them to use those strengths for the greater good. There are many different kinds of strengths, including kindness, curiosity, honesty, creativity, love of learning, perseverance, loyalty, optimism, and humor.

Go for the flow. Research shows that flow, a state of complete immersion and engagement in an activity, is closely associated with happiness. Flow happens when you’re actively engaged in something that is intrinsically rewarding and challenging yet still attainable. Anything that completely captivates you and engages your full attention can be a flow activity.


7 creative ways to stay passionate at work

I’m sure you’ve heard this so many times, “You have to be passionate to be successful at what you do.” I agree with that statement, but I also think that it will be helpful to find ways of helping people that are less passionate about what they do, to find some passion at work. If finding passion is a pre-requisite to achieving success, then teaching people how to become passionate at anything they do will essentially help more people to achieve success.

Passion is vital in everything we do. Passionate people carry more energy, enthusiasm, and they always seem to be happier than the apathetic folks. In the workplace, passionate people are always at the forefront when it comes to coming up with ideas, executing on projects, and achieving meaningful results.

If you want to achieve more, become more, then you need to find creative ways to connect passion with your work. Passion is that natural pull that attracts you towards what you do. When talking about your career, passion is what should ideally get you up in the morning, it is what gets you excited about driving to work, and it keeps you motivated at work to achieve meaningful results.

I once had a job that I was not so much passionateꂫout because it required to traveledਊll around the country for a long stretch of time. Although I enjoy traveling, the locations that I typically go, and coupled with the fact that I had a young family then made it challenging for me. I know that to excel at my work, I needed to find ways to stay passionate in that unwanted situation. So shifted my focus from the regular travel to the perks that come from each of my trips.

Needless to say, I began to look forward to the trips because I was able to find things that actually motivate me to go on the trips, and I was able to stay motivated and found passion at work. I believe that in every bad situation, there can be some little bit of good things hidden somewhere, you only have to look around to discover them.
Are you working at a job that you are not passionate about today? Would you like to turn that situation around by connecting passion with your work? Here are the seven creative ways to stay passionate at work.

So, Let me go ahead and share seven ways you can stay passionate at work.

1.    Identify the purpose of the role: ਊre you in a position today that you are not excited or passionate about? Find the purpose of why you are hired. Is it because you need to make more sales so that your company can make more money? Is it to help the company to design its new product that will solve specific challenges for humanity? Whatever the case may be, you need to understand your impact on the organization. You need to know why you were hired, and you must have the sense of teamwork, and know that if you are not doing your best job, it can impact the overall performance of your team. So, identify your role at work, and it will help to motivate you to stay committed and excited about the job.

2.    Commit to making the situation temporary:  If you are currently working in a job that you are not passionate about, I need you to ensure that it did not become a permanent situation. You cannot live to your fullest potential if you stay long at a job that you are not passionate or happy about. Make it temporary by working on getting a better position that will closely match your desires.

3.    Build needed skills to excel:  You found yourself in a position that you are not passionate about, you need to do everything you can to learn and acquire as many skills as you can in the role, and do all you can to find something else that you can enjoy and be more productive. When I used to travel to those remote locations, I had the opportunity of meeting new people from time to time. I learn the skills of connecting and interacting with people, and later in my career, I found myself in another position that involved regular interaction with clients. The skills that I learned on the job that I was not passionate about helped me to connect and understand my customer. So build some skills in that position is the message here.

4.    Re-assess the situation:  Is it possible that there was something in particular that you did not enjoy about your job? Is there anything you can do to take out that specific thing that you don’t enjoy? Let me give you an example, let’s say you are employed by Walmart to work as a Cashier at the checkout point, but you do not like this particular role. You should try other positions within Walmart – Sales associate (help customer finds what they want), Stocker (keep shelves stocked for customers). The point here is that you need to identify what you don’t like, and find ways of doing less of those things, and move towards what you considered enjoyable. That way, you will be able to work and stay passionate at work.

5.    Embrace the challenges:  Why are you not enjoying the job? Was it because of the difficulties, you may need to step up and embrace the challenges that come with the position to have some fun and stay passionate in your career? Be a learner, and understand that problems are part of the growth process. Without confronting and learning from those challenges, it will be difficult for you to grow and advance in your career, so you need to see the challenges as opportunities to learn and that the reward for you, if you learn, is career growth and progression that will come as you overcome the obstacles and difficulties in your job.

6.    Find allies & mentors:  Is your work a friendly place? Maybe you need to find friends and associates at work. Do you need to develop a close relationship with your colleagues at work? You can also find mentors at work that can guide you on how best to maximize your potential and enjoy your work. Having allies at work will help you to develop the necessary relationship and build the essential network that you can share pains and struggle together, and of course, you can also share your success stories with your allies. The message here is that you need to find some sweet spots at work that will make the place more interesting to go.

7.    Be bold & quit:  There is a common saying that “Winners don’t quit.” While I consider perseverance as a great skill, I also believe that knowing when to quit is a useful attribute to possess. Is the job situation not improving? You have tried all the suggestions above, and nothing seems to be working. I would rather have a happy quitter than a sad winner on my team. If you are not excited and passionate about your work, then you should be bold enough to leave and look for something new to do.

Many people go to work that they are not passionate about. They work for a living without actually living. They are in a constant sad state and are only happy on weekends. I don’t want you to live your life that way. I want you to thrive and grow in your career. The only way to do so is to connect purpose with your work and do your job so passionately that you are ready to go the next day. That’s the way to live to your fullest potential. That’s the way you can say WORK IS FUN.


How the Most Successful People Motivate Themselves (And Stay Motivated)

Often the biggest problem people have with achieving their goals--New Year Resolution's included--is getting started. It seems that Sir Isaac Newton got it right with his First Law of Motion: Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. Many people just can’t seem to get underway and as a result they simply don't take action.

So, what does it take to get started? One easy way is to have someone light a fire under you—“if you don’t do X, by such and such a time, you’re fired”—or you light one under yourself. (“I am not going to sleep tonight until I have taken a first step toward finding a new job.”)

The problem with lighting a fire under yourself (or having it lit for you) is that eventually your backside gets burned. It’s not a great long-term strategy. Once the threat ends, you have no real motivation to continue. And if you are operating in an environment where you are constantly threatened, it gets demoralizing very quickly.

So, what is the best way to get started?

  • Something that you want and
  • Something that you can do about it with your means at hand, i.e. taking an action that is within your level of acceptable loss. (The the cost is minimal, if the action doesn’t work out.)

Put that way, there are only four logical explanations for why you are not moving toward your goal:

The fourth is rarely the case. Most people who say they want to get a new job, or meet someone or lose weight really do want to find new employment, find that significant other or be thinner. As for habit, in this case, that’s “simply” a matter of getting used to taking action. (More on that in a second.)

So this means is if you aren’t taking action toward what you want, you either perceive taking action as either being too costly, or too risky.

It seems simple, doesn’t it? Reduce the cost and risk to acceptable levels, so that you could get underway.

Now, if it were as easy as all that, you would have done it. So, you need some help.

Here’s one easy solution. Talk to a friend about the challenge you face. (“I really want to find a new job, but I just can’t seem to get going.”)

Together, come up with a list of possibilities, being as specific as you can. In the case of the new job, you would identify what you want to do whether it makes sense to do it on your own—i.e. start a company—or work for someone else, etc.

Figuring all this out could take a couple of conversations, and that’s fine. But don’t wait until the end of all your talks to get moving. Remember, we want to make sure that habit, that is you are in the habit of not moving toward what you want, is NOT the problem.

So, at the end of the first conversation, the one where you decided your next job will be with another company, you immediately start compiling potential firms to contact and maybe even go so far as to talk to people who have the sort of job you want.

At the next meeting, you and your friend would try to come with a complete list of places that might hire you, as well as who to contact at those firms.

Then you’d set a deadline—say a week—when you will report back to your friend. At that meeting you say what you did to follow up, or explain why you didn’t do anything.

Isn’t setting this deadline the same as lighting a fire under yourself? Yes…but also no. Yes, in the sense that you have drawn a proverbial line in the proverbial sand. But no, because you are acknowledging up front that you may not take action.

Let’s suppose you don’t. At the next meeting with your friend, you would explain why. Maybe it was because you were sick and so you give yourself a pass. But it could be you didn’t take action because you found the idea of cold calling companies too intimidating.

In that case, you and your friend would try to break down the next step into even smaller parts. (Is there someone you know, who can get to someone they know at the company is it possible to find out if they take online applications seriously. If that is the case, you wouldn’t have to cold call.)

And so the process would go until you reduced taking the next step to a point where it is doable.

Please note the Action Trumps Everything blog now appears every Sunday and Wednesday.

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We can improve our mood by focusing on the small things that bring happiness to us each day

5. Focus on the small things.

It may be wise, then, to spend less time trying to become happy, and focus more on the little things that make us happy.

In her book Ten Minutes to Happiness, Sandi Mann, a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, advocates keeping a daily journal. Her strategy is based on “positive psychology” – a well-established area of psychology that suggests we can improve our mood by focusing on the small things that bring happiness to us each day. Mann says that answering the following six questions, a task that should only take 10 minutes, can help us to find more happiness in life.

1. What experiences, however mundane, gave you pleasure?

2. What praise and feedback did you receive?

3. What were the moments of pure good fortune?

4. What were your achievements, however small?

5. What made you feel grateful?

6. How did you express kindness?

The benefits of keeping a short journal like this are two-fold. When we write, it helps to remind us of the small things that brought us happiness. It also provides us with an archive of everything that has made us happy in the past, which we can reflect on at a later date.

Italians wave next to a banner reading "Tutto Andra Bene" (everything will be OK) (Credit: Getty Images)

6. Clean up – maybe.

Should you find yourself quarantined, take this opportunity to clean your house. "Kondo-ing" your home has been shown to carry many benefits. Clutter makes it harder for us to focus on tasks, so should you find yourself working from home, a quick tidy up might help you to get your jobs done. A messy bedroom has been linked with difficulty sleeping, and messy kitchens with making poor health choices, like reaching for junk food. If you are going to be spending more time in the house, it will be worth your while getting your living spacesin order.

However, de-cluttering is not for everyone. Hoarders use physical objects to reinforce feelings of comfort and security. For those people, tidying up activates the brain’s pain-processing regions.

7. Balance your social media consumption.

Social media might appear to be filled with bad news, but for many it is also a key way to stay updated and connected with friends and loved ones. Keeping your phone out of your bedroom, or self-imposing screen-free time, can help you to balance the negativity with the benefits social media brings.

8. Get out of town.

If you live in a city, another option might be to leave it behind for a short while – only if you can do so while maintaining safe social distancing and safeguarding your, and others’, health.

People in cities suffer from disproportionately high rates of mood disorders. Meanwhile, views of water and blue skies can undo the effects of ill moods. As little as “a 20 to 30% increase in blue space visibility could shift someone from moderate distress into a lower category”, suggests one paper from 2016.

Interestingly, the effect is not seen with green space, so the seaside will be better for you than the country.

So the next time you find yourself worrying about the world, consider taking some of these steps instead of ruminating, refreshing your social media feeds or, perhaps for some, even meditating. Remember: emotions are what we make of them.

As an award-winning science site, BBC Future is committed to bringing you evidence-based analysis and myth-busting stories around the new coronavirus. You can read more of our Covid-19 coverage here.


3 Stages of a New Relationship and How to Handle the Changes

When I was younger, I assumed that when I found the ideal person for me and was in my ideal relationship, it was going to be easy, and I was going to feel comfortable and safe all the time.

I would be floating on clouds, feeling blissful and light, and I’d love everything that person did all the time. That’s what being with ‘The One’ would feel like. I have come to learn, through countless emotional outbursts, anxious moments, doubt-filled thoughts, hard conversations, and extreme emotional discomfort, that my belief of the ideal relationship was pretty misguided.

When I met my boyfriend, I knew he was what I had been searching for. He was open, loving, honest, kind, caring, and funny, and his spirit just sparkled through his eyes. However, I was nervous.

I knew from all I had learned about relationships that they bring up emotional stuff, enabling us to heal wounds we may not have identified if someone else hadn’t triggered them. I knew I was going to learn a lot from this beautiful soul, but I didn’t expect the anxiety that came up within me once things began to get serious.

At times I felt extremely co-dependent and didn’t want him to spend too much time out of the house, or working, or pursuing his passions, even though I knew it was healthy and normal for him to do that.

I would keep track of how many hours he was away and would share how hard it was for me to trust him. We would talk openly about my feelings and issues because I never blamed him or asked him to change his actions. I just knew that I had to communicate what was going on for me in order to sort out my feelings and for us to be able to work together on healing.

Before we met I’d wanted this open communication and healing in a partnership, and I knew this is what real relationships were all about, but that didn’t make bringing my wall down any easier. Our conversations and my fears would bring things up for him, as well—emotions and fears from his past and how he felt controlled and supressed by me now.

I now believe that the ideal relationship doesn’t always feel comfortable, but you always feel comfortable and safe sharing with your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together.

I have grown to realize that all relationships have stages. When we meet someone new and begin spending time with them, these stages can seem scary and can inflict doubt. I hope to shed some light on these stages and help you feel more comfortable with experiencing them for yourself.

First Stage: New Relationship Bliss

The first stage in most new relationships is bliss! We are perfect, the other person is perfect, and the relationship just flows. You make time for one another however you can, you communicate with each other constantly, and it just feels easy.

There are no triggers or things the other person does to upset you, the attraction is unreal, and you think, “This is it! I found them! My person. Finally. I can rest.”

Even with my anxiety and fear, I managed to feel this with my boyfriend. We talked every day. I’d get my “good morning beautiful” text when I was at work, the “how is your day going?” message at lunch, and then we’d talk or see each other on most nights.

We each put forth equal effort to get to know one another, and I was open and loving toward any part of his behavior. I had patience, understanding, and joy in getting to know his quirks, thoughts, and patterns, and he had seemingly limitless energy to listen to me, talk to me, and sympathize with my emotions.

This first stage sets a foundation for the relationship and builds connection, but there’s just one small problem: It never seems to last! Does this mean we aren’t meant to stay with that person? Nope. Not at all.

Though it can feel very much like this, it only means that your relationship is changing, and that’s okay. It’s completely natural, and this process of change is what takes us into an even deeper connection if both partners are open to going there.

Second Stage: The Inevitable Turn (When One Person’s Fear Shows Up)

So what exactly is happening when the dreaded, inevitable “shift” happens? You know the one. We feel like the other person is either pulling away or becoming more controlling, our “good morning, have a good day” messages have become less frequent or stopped, and we feel like we are becoming distant from each other.

There’s a big shift when our comfort level eventually builds in a relationship and we let our guard down a bit. This seems to be the perfect time for our fear to kick in. This is what happed in my relationship.

One day, my “good morning beautiful” message didn’t show up, the next week my boyfriend had plans besides spending hours with me on Friday night, and our conversations dwindled a bit. My emotional triggers went crazy, and all of a sudden my past fears of emotional and physical abandonment kicked in.

I no longer felt emotionally stable, relaxed, or happy. I was upset all the time, I felt anxious and taken advantage of, and my mind came up with a million reasons as to why this treatment wasn’t fair.

I felt like I was the “crazy, needy girl” who wasn’t okay with her partner doing normal things. And I wondered all the time why things had changed. Was it something I did wrong? Did I expect too much? Was I being completely unreasonable, or did I just have too much baggage?

Most of the time we aren’t aware of what’s really going on we just notice we feel differently. We might think it’s because our partner’s behavior has changed, but what’s really going on is that our past has crept into this new relationship.

Our past fears, hurts, and childhood wounds have surfaced for more healing, and if we aren’t aware of this, our new, wonderful, blissful relationship begins to feel just like the rest of them: disappointing, suffocating, abandoning, unsupportive, untrustworthy, and unloving.

The appearance of this fear is a natural, necessary step in any relationship, though, and we need to embrace it rather than run away from it. This is when a lot of relationships end, but they don’t have to if both partners want to stay and build on this stage.

Third Stage: Communicating the Fear

After years of discomfort, spiritual work, counseling, healing, and reading I’ve learned that we must communicate our fear, whether we are the one who experiences it first or the one who sees the change and doesn’t know why.

You can start the conversations by saying something like “I’ve felt a shift in the energy of our relationship, and I’m feeling anxious about this change. I’m even nervous to talk to you about it because I don’t want to put pressure on you, but I need to communicate what’s going on for me. Can we talk about this a bit?”

This can be challenging if we aren’t aware of what is really going on, but let that shift, that change, that first feeling of doubt be your signal that fear has entered the relationship. And know that it’s okay for it to be there!

Every time I felt upset I had to force myself to bring up my fear of our relationship ending, fear of being abandoned, and fear that we would never connect on a deep level. There is no shame in having these fears, and it’s not a sign that the relationship is doomed.

The fear is there as a message. It’s asking to be listened to and it is a gift necessary for our own growth. When we share our fear, and own that part of us, we’re not blaming the other person. We don’t share our fears to have the other person change, or to have them fix us, but merely to allow our hearts to open up.

By owning our stuff, we are taking care of our own healing, and this is what keeps our past from damaging the relationship in the future. It’s how we clear our past patterns and allow ourselves to move forward in a new and healthy way with someone else.

The best part is that we get to see how our partners handle this as well. Our relationships need this stage and this shift from the easy, wonderful bliss, because without it, our bonds would never grow.

If things are easy all the time, where is the room for true, deep intimacy? How do we learn to truly support our significant others, and ourselves, if we never experience pain, anxiety, anger, or annoyance?

We don’t, and that’s why after years of being with someone, we can feel like we don’t know them. If we’ve remained closed off and worked our hardest to keep things going smoothly, we only know that level. And the truth is there are deeper, richer, more intimate layers to us as humans and to our relationships.

Once you have opened your heart and begun communication around your fear, a small amount of vulnerability has been introduced into the relationship, and there is room for your partner to do the same. There is room for you to grow together.

It’s never too early to begin communicating our fears. If we wait for the problem to just go away, we essentially keep the cycle of anxiety, doubt, and tension going, because our actions, words, and energy reflect our uneasiness in the relationship.

I opened up to my partner two weeks into dating about my anxiety, fears, and panicked thoughts about seeming needy and wanting too much. I told him I was scared I was going to push him away.

When I opened up and took responsibility for my feelings, it brought us closer together. Acknowledging my anxiety without expecting him to change anything diffused the tension within our relationship, and I believe this is why we are still together today.

I don’t demand anything of him I share my feelings, no matter how strong they are, and then he has space to make decisions based on that knowledge and to communicate his own feelings.

Stay connected to yourself and speak your truth—the whole, messy, amazing truth. Let your partner see the whole you, quirks and all, and enjoy taking your walls down together, brick by brick.

About Laura Smilski

Laura Smilski is a Holistic Love Coach and the owner of Luminous Living. She is passionate about helping single, professional women create clear, simple goals that will guide them towards loving themselves and being excited about dating and relationships. Sign up to receive her free blog updates and special Access Love Video and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People

I often teach about happiness and what has become exceedingly clear is this: There are seven qualities chronically unhappy people have mastered.

According to Psychology Today, University of California researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky states: "40 percent of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change."

If this is true and it is, there's hope for us all. There are billions of people on our planet and clearly some are truly happy. The rest of us bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness depending on the day.

Throughout the years, I've learned there are certain traits and habits chronically unhappy people seem to have mastered. But before diving in with you, let me preface this and say: we all have bad days, even weeks when we fall down in all seven areas.

The difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.

Here are the 7 qualities of chronically unhappy people.

1. Your default belief is that life is hard.

Happy people know life can be hard and tend to bounce through hard times with an attitude of curiosity versus victimhood. They take responsibility for how they got themselves into a mess, and focus on getting themselves out of it as soon as possible.

Perseverance towards problem-solving versus complaining over circumstances is a symptom of a happy person. Unhappy people see themselves as victims of life and stay stuck in the "look what happened to me" attitude versus finding a way through and out the other side.

2. You believe most people can't be trusted.

I won't argue that healthy discernment is important, but most happy people are trusting of their fellow man. They believe in the good in people, versus assuming everyone is out to get them. Generally open and friendly towards people they meet, happy people foster a sense of community around themselves and meet new people with an open heart.

Unhappy people are distrustful of most people they meet and assume that strangers can't be trusted. Unfortunately this behavior slowly starts to close the door on any connection outside of an inner-circle and thwarts all chances of meeting new friends.

3. You concentrate on what's wrong in this world versus what's right.

There's plenty wrong with this world, no arguments here, yet unhappy people turn a blind eye to what's actually right in this world and instead focus on what's wrong. You can spot them a mile away, they'll be the ones complaining and responding to any positive attributes of our world with "yeah but".

Happy people are aware of global issues, but balance their concern with also seeing what's right. I like to call this keeping both eyes open. Unhappy people tend to close one eye towards anything good in this world in fear they might be distracted from what's wrong. Happy people keep it in perspective. They know our world has problems and they also keep an eye on what's right.

4. You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.

Unhappy people believe someone else's good fortune steals from their own. They believe there's not enough goodness to go around and constantly compare yours against theirs. This leads to jealousy and resentment.

Happy people know that your good luck and circumstance are merely signs of what they too can aspire to achieve. Happy people believe they carry a unique blueprint that can't be duplicated or stolen from -- by anyone on the planet. They believe in unlimited possibilities and don't get bogged down by thinking one person's good fortune limits their possible outcome in life.

5. You strive to control your life.

There's a difference between control and striving to achieve our goals. Happy people take steps daily to achieve their goals, but realize in the end, there's very little control over what life throws their way.

Unhappy people tend to micromanage in effort to control all outcomes and fall apart in dramatic display when life throws a wrench in their plan. Happy people can be just as focused, yet still have the ability to go with the flow and not melt down when life delivers a curve-ball.

The key here is to be goal-oriented and focused, but allow room for letting sh*t happen without falling apart when the best laid plans go awry- because they will. Going with the flow is what happy people have as plan B.

6. You consider your future with worry and fear.

There's only so much rent space between your ears. Unhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right.

Happy people take on a healthy dose of delusion and allow themselves to daydream about what they'd like to have life unfold for them. Unhappy people fill that head space with constant worry and fear.

Happy people experience fear and worry, but make an important distinction between feeling it and living it. When fear or worry crosses a happy person's mind, they'll ask themselves if there's an action they can be taken to prevent their fear or worry from happening (there's responsibility again) and they take it. If not, they realize they're spinning in fear and they lay it down.

7. You fill your conversations with gossip and complaints.

Unhappy people like to live in the past. What's happened to them and life's hardships are their conversation of choice. When they run out of things to say, they'll turn to other people's lives and gossip.

Happy people live in the now and dream about the future. You can feel their positive vibe from across the room. They're excited about something they're working on, grateful for what they have and dreaming about the possibilities of life.

Obviously none of us are perfect. We're all going to swim in negative waters once in a while, but what matters is how long we stay there and how quickly we work to get ourselves out. Practicing positive habits daily is what sets happy people apart from unhappy people, not doing everything perfectly.

Walk, fall down, get back up again, repeat. It's in the getting back up again where all the difference resides.


When you&rsquore inspiring people, you&rsquore not telling them exactly what to do or giving them precise directions. You&rsquore empowering them to be their best, trusting that they will then do the right thing. And the right thing they do may not be what you were expecting it may be something beyond your wildest expectations.

People aren&rsquot inspired by doing the ordinary or by meeting expectations. They&rsquore inspired by the exertion, creativity, and sacrifice needed to exceed what they themselves thought possible.

Motivation and inspiration are not the sole province of professional speakers and preachers. They&rsquore tools leaders use all the time &ndash in one-on-one conversations, in meetings and in formal presentations &ndash to bring out the best in their people. It&rsquos just a matter of knowing the right time and the right situation.

When there&rsquos an immediate, short-term and specific goal that you want your people to achieve, you need to motivate them. When you want to shape people&rsquos identity and their long-term aspirations and commitments, you need to inspire them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French aviator and author of &ldquoThe Little Prince&rdquo, wrote, &ldquoIf you want to build a ship, don&rsquot drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.&rdquo Sometimes you need to do both. You need to enlist and organize people to do a specific task-to build a ship according to specs, on time and on budget-and sometimes you need to activate people&rsquos desires and stand aside. Who knows, you may be surprised by what they do.


Final thoughts

Ultimately, the best discounts, promotions and free products strategies help you:

  • Avoid bargain hunters who may overuse your customer service resources and never convert into loyal, returning customers.
  • Preserve your brand's integrity by limiting the number of coupons customers can use and steering clear of deep discounts.
  • Encourage new product trials, repeat purchases and higher average order totals through incentives that motivate buyers to add more items to their cart and to complete their order.

How have you used special offers to grow your business?

This post originally appeared on Receiptful's Ecommerce Success Academy and is republished with permission.

Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He is also a digital marketing consultant and freelance writer. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn.

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