5 Rules for Relationships

I know about love just as much as the next person. In fact, I probably know even less. However, seeing as it is Valentine’s Day and I am in the business of giving advice I thought I would share five rules for relationships that I have developed from what little I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Never stop showing kindness. It’s a way of giving your partner affection and showing that you appreciate them. Even though your feelings may be obvious, it’s still important to remind your partner that those feelings haven’t changed.
  2. Understand that people communicate in different ways. Our style of communication isn’t only about our word choice or turn of phrase. Our body language and our actions also demonstrate how we feel. We need a combination of these techniques to communicate what we’re really thinking and the methods we use influence how we interpret the way other people communicate, which can lead to misunderstandings. It’s important to acknowledge what’s really being said instead of focusing on how your partner is saying it.
  3. Separate the conflict from the relationship. We avoid conflict because we fear it will result in ultimatums: the relationship is over, I’ll never see him again, etc. In fact, being in disagreement with your partner is a sign that you are two separate people, not a sign that your relationship is about to dissolve. Conflict is natural, healthy, and (unfortunately) unavoidable. Arguing with your partner may be uncomfortable, but it’s evidence that you care enough about each other to want to work things out.
  4. But if you do have to fight, fight fair. No name calling. Leave the past in the past. Emotional triggers? Out-of-bounds. Similarly out-of-bounds: your partner’s family, their views on politics, religion, or past relationships. Pay attention to your emotions and focus on exactly what it is you’re fighting about. And there’s no making accusations without having evidence to back them up.
  5. It has to be about you, sometimes. Too often I have seen people lose themselves in a relationship, constantly giving and giving and never receiving in return. Real love is about wanting what’s best for your partner, so your partner needs to understand and respect the decisions you make in order to be your best self. If you practice self-care and cultivate your own independent relationships and interests, you pave the way for a relationship that’s more varied, exciting and healthier for the both of you. Someone who doesn’t want you to do your own thing simply isn’t worthy of you.

In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.

What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to keepingbusywithb@gmail.com.

The Friendship Connection

I can’t start a post about friendship without first acknowledging some of the wonderful friends who have made a difference in my life. They have fed me emotionally, spiritually, and yes, even physically. In some ways they take better care of me then I take care of myself and if you are ever in the position to have friends who are like mine then I hope you consider yourself very lucky, because I know that I am. I’m not going to lie, however, because it took me a long time to find my tribe. Once I did, it took me even longer to realize that friendship is something that you work at- it is an ever-evolving, changing thing.

I used to think that I could be an island and that I never needed anything or any help from anyone. That attitude earned me a lot of really great acquaintances but not many close friends. I guess I was just so worried about feeling vulnerable and insecure I could never really open myself up to anyone. It wasn’t until later on in my life that I realized that true, meaningful connections take work. They require you to not only open yourself up emotionally, but you have to be willing to put in the physical amount of time and effort.

In this day and age, making time for others is not easy! (It’s a struggle even to find time for ourselves.) Consider this, though: study results published in the Scientific American found that having friends can increase our survival rate by up to 50%. This study found that friendships can actually strengthen marriages and this article suggests that friendships can improve our health, lessening the risk of chronic disease and depression (especially among the elderly).

Not that you really need convincing, of course- we all to spend more time with our friends. Especially as social media continues to replace real-life interactions, it’s important to make the effort to get that (real) face time in so that we avoid becoming even more socially isolated. You know what that means- everybody put down your phones, or at the very least, try and make your online interactions meaningful. For example, instead of just liking a post, comment by sharing a memory, answering a question, or starting a conversation. And if you are brave enough to put away your phone, why not do something during and leave it in your purse the next time you grab coffee with a friend so you can actually look at each other.

If we try to build these small connections into our everyday lives, every day we’re making bigger strides to maintain the friendships we’ve worked so hard to build and keep. Even something as small as an out-of-the-blue message can mean a lot. So go ahead- brighten someone’s day today! I dare you to!

In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.

What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

You Are Your Own Goal-Keeper

Making goals at the beginning of the year is easy: you feel more optimistic and motivated to make a fresh start. Come of the end of January, however, a lot of us find ourselves falling off of the wagon. It takes about 21 days, or 3 weeks, to develop or kick a habit. If we haven’t set realistic goals for ourselves then it’s less likely we’re going to form new habits and stick with them. Plus, once the shine of the new year wears off, you begin to feel less motivated, especially here where the days are still short and shockingly cold.
I’m the last person to be talking about setting New Year’s resolutions, though. Every year I set the same goal of reading more (50-60 books/year) and even though I read a little bit more every year, I still find myself falling short. I’ve set myself goals on Goodreads. I’ve announced my goal to all of my friends (who generally think I’m crazy). I started a reading journal but seeing as I already journal I found the practice difficult to sustain. I even promised myself that I would try and read an hour every night beforehand, which works out great (not) because I’m not always great at having a set bedtime.
The reason I don’t make my goal every year is because it’s ill-defined; I rely on others and the formation of other habits I don’t already have in place to try and get what I want. I am not my own goal-keeper. If you’re not keeping your resolutions, you might not be your own goal-keeper either.
In life, you’ve got the opposing team (your competition and your enemies) and your team (family and friends). These are the people who will act as your defense and sometimes even participate in your offense. But you’re the only one that’s watching the goal.
Asking your defense to watch your goal means they have to take their eyes off of the offense, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Plus, each member of your team has their own goals to watch. They don’t have time to check your position.
Relying on a teammate you don’t have, or a piece of equipment that isn’t there doesn’t make sense either because you need to be able to fit those things into your game strategy now. If you think that you’ll get x just as soon as you get y then your goal is really about getting the y and not the x. (For example, I can’t read before bed if I don’t have a set bedtime. Then setting the bedtime becomes the goal, instead of reading beforehand.)
Well, no more. This year, I’m my own goal-keeper, responsible for my own goals. I’m doing this by being realistic and making my goal tangible: instead of setting a goal to read more (what is more?), I’m blocking off an hour every day on my calendar (when I know I’m awake) and dedicating it to reading. No excuses. No pretending. It’s there in black and white, so there’s no arguments and because it’s in my planner I’ve got no one to blame but myself if I miss a day.
Is it a perfect system? No. But can I keep up with it consistently? 90% of the time the answer is yes.
Right now, I’m kind of ok with those odds.
In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.

What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to keepingbusywithb@gmail.com.