Fabulous Relationships

Relationships can be hard. Sometimes, really hard. Finding somebody you want to spend time with can be difficult enough, but once that happens, you’ve got to deal with the difficult task of maintenance: holding hands

This includes keeping things fresh, finding time for each other, and generally just coming up with ways to navigate the tricky ups and downs every partnership faces. It’s enough to occasionally drive anyone—even those in the most secure relationships—crazy. Lucky for you, we’ve come up with 25 relationship tips—some big, some small—that’ll help you improve any partnership. We’ve got 25 relationship tips that you can start implementing right now, so start reading!

1. Listen. It might sound obvious, but when you really allow yourself to listen—and ask questions about—what your partner says, it not only leads to better conversations, but also better communication.

2. Take a few days apart. Missing each other is a great way to reconnect. Try grabbing some girlfriends for an overnight or a weekend getaway every few months.

3. Find a support team. Have a handful of great friends or family members you can call so your significant other doesn’t have to hear every small grievance going on your life.

4. Put away your phones. One of the biggest relationship tips is to give your undivided attention when your partner is speaking. It’s is one of the most important things you can do.

5. Volunteer together. Giving back is a great way to keep perspective of how great your relationship is, and how lucky you both are.

6. Create a checklist. Jot down new and fun things you want to accomplish for the day, week or even for the year as a duo.

7. Talk to couples over 65 years old. Get relationship tips from them, and see what you can take away to apply to your relationship.

8. Take a class. It’s proven that couples who learn together connect deeper. Find some common ground (cooking? art? science?) and go from there. Take a class together

9. Revisit the questions you asked in the beginning. What are you hoping to accomplish in the next year? What are you scared of? These answers change, so we need to keep asking these questions.

10. Find 10 things you really love about them and tell them. Guys need confidence boosters, too! MORE: Here’s the One Time You Shouldn’t Text Your Boyfriend

11. Stop nagging. Seriously, stop. Take a step back and figure out the big things about your partner that truly bother you, and approach them from a place of concern and support instead of nitpicking for sport. That’ll get you nowhere.

12. Get over needing to be right. Learning to say “I was wrong” is a skill worth learning. Sometimes you just have to say to yourself “I can be right, or I can be happy.”

13. Take care of yourself. No relationship can be successful if you don’t feel good about yourself, both inside and out, mentally and physically.

14. Know what you need, and then ask for it. You’re dating a human, not a magical psychic. They don’t know unless you tell them.

15. Stop and appreciate all that your relationship is this very second. Stop living for what it can be. This person is choosing to be in your life every day, not every day in the future.couple

16. Stop complicating things that aren’t complicated enough. Don’t pull a Carrie Bradshaw during the Aiden years: If you bemoan the fact that your relationship is going too well, you might need to revisit why you’re constantly seeking out Drama.

17. Assume that if something was said that hurt your feelings, it wasn’t intended that way. Why would they want to upset you or hurt you? Give your partner the benefit of the doubt, but if it’s really bothering you, don’t be afraid to bring it up.

18. Write notes. Whether you have study hall together or live together, handwritten notes are personal touches in today’s highly digital world. A random sticky note left in a lunchbox, on the bathroom mirror or in the car can brighten someone’s day!

19. Pitch in. Help each other with chores and other necessary, if banal, activities — cooking, cleaning, re-organizing, etc. Not doing them if you live together can create tension, and always doing them can create unfair expectations. Act as team of equals.

20. Disconnect. Step away from the laptop during quality time. Everything on the Internet will still be there later. You can always update your Facebook status later.

21. Allow things to be what they are. Sometimes bad days and bad moods happen. Don’t take it personally. Don’t go crazy trying to make everything better. Just be supportive and loving, because just being there at the end of a bad day can make it better for both of you.

22. Create mini-traditions. Creating small rituals can really help hold up a couple because they become “your thing.” Whether it’s a fancy night out during the holiday season, or watching a certain show every week, these are things that’ll give you both something to look forward to, and it’ll bring you closer together.

23. Be an open book. They can either deal with it or they can’t, but if you can’t be your most honest self with this person, it’ll come out eventually.

24. Compliment, and often. You’re there to make each other feel like your best selves, so let the genuine praise flow freely. Like his outfit? Tell him! Like her hair today? Let her know! Be sincere and genuine, but don’t hold back that compliment!

25. Acknowledge positive actions. This is one of the most important things you can do. When you and your partner see positive actions, solutions, or behavior in one another, acknowledge it, and remind each other to keep it up. Everyone wants to know that their positive actions are being appreciated.

The best relationships are ones in which both partners feel like the luckiest person in the world. 
Find ways to communicate that and foster that feeling in each other, and you’ll be on your way to a fabulous relationship!

Compassion is Fabulous…

Fabulous & Compassionate

In the so-called age of narcissism, it’s been said that empathy is declining — and some research has shown that social media is causing us to become more self-obsessed than ever before. But whether or not selfishness is actually on the rise, it’s safe to say that we need compassion more than ever.Compassion

Eastern spiritual practices have long touted the importance of compassion as a necessary ingredient for building happy lives and peaceful nations (“Without [compassion], humanity cannot survive,” the Dalai Lama wrote in The Art of Happiness). Now, Western science is catching up to this ancient wisdom.

New research from the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (CCARE) at Stanford University (some funding for which has been provided by the Dalai Lama) is shedding light on the human capacity for goodness. Through his work at CCARE, James Doty, the center’s founder and director, has become convinced that young people are actually becoming more compassionate.

“We’re really seeing a sea change in how people perceive their place in the world,” Doty recently told New Scientist. “The millennium generation is the first to grow up with 24/7 access to global information. When you see the suffering of others, you realize that those individuals could just as easily have been you. It’s much easier to say, ‘I can’t let that happen — I feel their pain.’ That is how humanity is going to survive.”

Doty and other neuroscientists and psychologists have made compassion a growing field of study, looking at how empathy and altruism work in the brain and how we can increase our capacity for goodness. Here are six insights that will change the way you think about compassion — and revolutionize your approach to giving and social connection.

We’re wired for compassion.

For thousands of years, scientists and philosophers have asked whether humans are self-interested or altruistic. Historically, it’s been thought that our actions are largely selfish in motivation (look no further than the popular theory of Social Darwinism), but that school of thought has started to give way to a new, and more compassionate, picture of human behavior.

Many psychologists have suggested that we developed altruism as an evolutionary advantage — helping others is in fact a powerful way of helping ourselves, and key to the development of tribes and social groups. Datcher Keltner of the University of California has presented a wide body of research to support the idea humans have a “compassion instinct” — in other words, there is a biological basis for treating others well.

“It has long been assumed that selfishness, greed, and competitiveness lie at the core of human behavior, the products of our evolution,” Keltner wrote in a report for the Greater Good Science Center. “But recent scientific findings forcefully challenge this view of human nature. We see that compassion is deeply rooted in our brains, our bodies, and in the most basic ways we communicate. What’s more, a sense of compassion fosters compassionate behavior and helps shape the lessons we teach our children.”

Compassion is good for business.

More than 80 percent of US workers say that their jobs cause them stress, and this high level of employee stress can have a high cost for businesses. Workplace stress can result in lower employee productivity, engagement and retention, and higher health care costs. But recent research has found that creating a culture of compassion — a workplace in which managers and employers are friendly and help one another — can make employees happier and more productive. A 2005 study, conducted by Jonathan Haidt of New York University, found that when managers were fair and self-sacrificing, employees experienced “elevation,” a state of heightened well-being, and were more likely to feel loyal to their company and act kindly toward their co-workers.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner knows this well, and runs his business accordingly. Weiner calls leading compassionately his “first principle of management,” and wrote in a 2012 LinkedIn blog that the Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness taught him compassion and empathy. Weiner has also spoken about the potential of meditation to boost compassion.

Compassion makes you happy.

The Dalai Lama has long held that compassion is the key to happiness and good physical health, and recently, brain-imaging studies have shown that doing good for others does provide pleasure and boost well-being. A 2006 National Institutes of Health study showed that the brain’s reward centers are activated in the same way when we give to others as when we receive money ourselves.

“I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives,” His Holiness wrote in The Art of Happiness. “I’m not talking about the short-term gratification of pleasures like sex, drugs or gambling… but something that will bring true and lasting happiness. The kind that sticks.”

Meditation can increase the brain’s capacity for compassion.

Neuroscience research on Tibetan Buddhist monks has found that meditation on compassion (metta meditation) can produce powerful changes in the brains of experienced practitioners. When asked to meditate on “unconditional loving-kindness and compassion,” the brains of the monks generated powerful gamma waves that may have indicated a compassionate state of mind, Wired reported. The research suggests that empathy can be cultivated by exercising the brain with loving-kindness meditation.

But meditation doesn’t just boost compassion among monks. University of Texas psychologist Kristin Neff says that cultivating mindfulness — the focused awareness on the present moment, which can be increased through meditation — is the first step for anyone to develop compassion for the self and for others.

“In order for us to open our hearts in the face of suffering, we need to be mindfully aware that suffering is occuring, and we need to be able to turn toward it and be with it as it is,” Neff explained in a Greater Good Science Center talk.

Compassion can be taught.

Just as we can wire our brains for happiness, we can also optimize the mind for altruism. Compassion training developed at Stanford has been shown to be effective in boosting an individual’s level of care for others. Preliminary data shows that subjects who participated in Stanford’s nine-week compassion cultivation training demonstrated significantly enhanced compassion in the three target areas of compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and self-compassion.

“There’s a small subset of people on the side of extraordinarily kind, compassionate, and that’s their baseline — Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama,” Doty explained. “And then there’s a fairly small group who, no matter what we do to try to potentiate their capacity for compassion, don’t have that capacity. Between those extremes are the rest of us, who can probably benefit from some kind of intervention or training when it comes to our ability to be altruistic or compassionate.”

Compassion is contagious. Heart-shaped-hands-and-compassion

Here’s a good reason to pay it forward: It turns out that there’s scientific proof for the idea that “kindness is contagious.” A 2010 social science study from the University of California and Harvard found that being kind to others is like yawning: It catches on. Small and large acts of generosity, compassion and helping others can inspire a chain of more good actions from others — and this social influence spreads for up to three degrees of separation. Huffington Post