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“I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Do you sometimes make critical snap judgments about others only to find out later that you were way off the mark? That happens because the problems we see in others are often projections that reveal more about our issues than they do about theirs. Off-hand critical assessments fail to consider the unique journeys of those they’re aimed at. When we learn more about the specific experiences and challenges others have encountered, we see through our own prejudices and experience…

Authentic compassion.

Jarl and Steve

Society measures success through all kinds of metrics, like fame, fortune and achievement. You may have even crossed off all the items on your bucket list of things to do before you die. But there’s one accomplishment that goes far beyond these commonly recognized measures of having arrived: Living your life in alignment with your own values. Widespread recognition won’t actually make you feel successful if down deep inside those things don’t really matter to you. Ironically, not overly concerning yourself with others’ opinions, might just be what paves the way to feeling…

Truly successful.

Jarl and Steve

How would you live if this was the last day of your life? Would you look at the sky and the trees and other surroundings differently? Would you lovingly connect with the important people in your life? Would you be grateful for all of the blessings you’ve enjoyed up until this point? Would you be completely present with whatever you do in order to savor it to the utmost? Though it’s likely that this is not the last day of your life, there are a lot of good reasons to live…

Like it is.

Jarl and Steve

Think of how your life would be if you allowed every detail of it to be as it is without judgment or stress. You wouldn’t spend any time or energy fighting what’s already happened. This kind of acceptance doesn’t mean you’re stuck with things as they are. It doesn’t mean you have to pretend to like what you actually don’t. It just means not resisting what’s beyond your control. Once the milk has spilled, all you have to do is deal with it. When you don’t have a story that something shouldn’t have happened, it’s…

So much easier.

Jarl and Steve

Do you ever find yourself dreaming of a time in which everything is finally just right? If so, ask yourself: What’s wrong with now? Usually, the reason this moment doesn’t feel so great is that we’re mentally somewhere else. A habit of not being present assures that when the desired future comes, we won’t be able to appreciate it because we’ll be in yet another imagined fantasy. The only way to stack the decks in favor of an enjoyable future is to get good at…

Enjoying the present.

Jarl and Steve

If you could drop all your stories about yourself and the world and exist totally in the present moment, as a fresh, eager and trustful human, would you? Does that image sound appealing? Every ‘legitimate’ concern is something that you’ve decided to focus on. They’re only real to you because of your story, so it’s quite possible that you’re worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter at all. The facts surrounding any possible catastrophe could change tomorrow. What if, in the most profound way imaginable, life is supporting you? Try this…

Pretend like it is.

Jarl and Steve

Our preferences come from our unique biological nature and cultural nurturing. It’s great to know what we want and to attain it, but it’s even more powerful to have the ability to peacefully co-exist with the reality of this moment, whatever it is. What you see now is a done deal, resisting it is worse than closing your eyes and pretending it’s not there. When your relationship with now is a “no”, peace is impossible. Acknowledge the moment for what it is, accept it and, if you’re compelled, try to make the next one…

Even better.

Jarl and Steve

Martial arts teach the benefits of yielding when attacked. When force isn’t met with force, opponents have nothing to push against and will topple from their own momentum. When our egos get threatened in relationships, we sometimes slip into relating to our loved ones as opponents. Thinking like a martial artist can help shift our reaction from opposing to yielding. Refraining from a (temporarily satisfying) counter-attack not only helps dissipate the friction and facilitate a faster resolution, it gives us a chance to go within and feel our feelings, the best way to heal any grievance.

Win-Win.

Jarl and Steve

 

 

Open channels of communication produce the best results in all relationships. In order to avoid long term build up of unexpressed issues, it’s important to let others know when something related to them is bothering us. The same goes for listening to their concerns. Pretending everything is okay creates grooves of anger and resentment that eventually turn into unbridgeable ravines that become too deep to traverse. Tell them how you’re feeling by using “I” statements without blaming them. Allow them to do the same. Having this kind of working relationship creates relationships…

That work.

Jarl and Steve

When we expect our loved ones to satisfy all our needs and keep us happy, we put unreasonable pressure on them and the relationship. The condition of any relationship is determined by the psychological well being of each individual. Though it is tempting to believe we can improve our partnership by fixing the other person, that approach is frustrating and causes resentment. It’s only when we take responsibility for our own happiness and accept our mates as they are, that we can expect to experience the joy and lightness found in…

Healthy relationships.

Jarl and Steve

Our relationships can reveal a lot about ourselves if we’re courageous enough to use them that way. For instance, when someone pushes our buttons and we go within to inquire about what’s actually bugging us, we’ll often find something in ourselves that we’re judging or not accepting. If it didn’t activate a place of self-rejection, it wouldn’t sting and we’d probably just see their behavior through the eyes of understanding and compassion. The next time someone irks you, look at what’s happening as an opportunity to evolve into…

Greater self-awareness.

Jarl and Steve.

* Please hit the reply button on this email and let us know what you find most challenging about relationships. (Your responses will remain anonymous.) We’ll really appreciate it. :)

Whether we’re seeing the world through a lens of judgment or compassion, limitation or possibility, problems or challenges, we subconsciously look for and find evidence that confirms our perspective. We all make up our own version of reality. When we’re unaware of our belief system, we blindly accept the story of reality we’ve been fed. When we’re consciously aware, we see more clearly the connection between our approach and our experience. Just as negativity and resistance are habit forming and self-fulfilling, so too are positivity and acceptance. It makes sense to develop habits that make us…

Happy.

Jarl and Steve

Though it may seem antithetical, honestly acknowledging our fears and actually feeling our unpleasant feelings is the path to inner peace. Anything that we avoid will simmer in the recesses of our minds and continue to disturb us. Once we allow our feelings to surface and feel them, we find they’re a lot less scary than we might think. When we face them head on we can see that even in the throes of discontent, it’s possible to simultaneously experience joy. That’s because authenticity…

Feels really good.

Jarl and Steve 

Minds that are free from excessive stress and fear are naturally at ease. But every additional judgment and resentment we carry makes it harder to be content. Each complaint adds to the list of things that we feel must change before we permit ourselves to enjoy life. The remedy is to let go of dissatisfaction over anything insignificant. When slightly annoying issues appear, we must question whether they really matter. If they don’t, it benefits us to drop them. Lightening our burden in this way frees us to see that most of what’s left…

Is very good.

Jarl and Steve

Magical moments and monumental events happen to everyone, occasionally. But a life well-lived isn’t comprised of a handful of extraordinary experiences or accomplishments. Spectacular vacations and exotic adventures are happy highlights, but there’s a much more attainable way to rock life on a regular basis. Developing our gratitude muscle enables us to find the sweetness, meaning and joy in everyday life. When we learn to see the good in everyone and focus on the beauty all around us, our whole life becomes…

A miracle.

Jarl and Steve

The way we say something is as important as what we say. Being mindful of our intention, tone of voice and word choice makes a huge difference in whether or not others will be receptive to our message. Using blame and shame can cause them to shut down emotionally. We can improve our ability to communicate and save a lot of energy and hurt feelings by consciously selecting our words and paying attention to how they’re received. A little consideration…

Goes a long way.

Jarl and Steve

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