Monthly Archives: February 2012

Give More Time To Family

Often we become so busy with work and other things happening in our day that we forget about the important things in life. One of these things is our family. Your family is important and sometimes we limit our happiness by not keeping a strong relationship with our families. You may live with your family and find yourself spending more time working, checking emails, returning phone calls, or rescheduling family events due to work or school. You may end up weakening your relationship with your wife, children or parents by not giving quality time to them. Others may be a long distance from their families but hardly have the time to make calls to your family. If you do call, these calls may be brief and have conversations lacking substance. You may end up being so overwhelmed with work, that whenever you have relaxation time you just want to focus on you and may not remember your family.

Happiness can be dramatically improved by improving the quality of time you share with your family. You do not need to take drastic steps to improve the quality of your family relationships. Here are some ideas for giving your family more quality time.

  1. List the reasons why your family is important to you. Remember, family has many definitions. Include whomever YOU feel should be on that list whether it’s an uncle, mother, sister, son, friend or girlfriend. Try and list why all these people are important to you. Just making this list will remind you how special these relationships are to you and how influential your family has been for you.
  2. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Small actions can add significant benefits to the quality time you and your family shares. Just giving someone a compliment or taking the time to tell them how you appreciate them can really mean a lot. Try conveying simple words of appreciation to your family.
  3. Try to find more time with your family. Start small first. Try not to overwhelm yourself. Share dinners with your family that include positive conversations. Place a goal that you will call your family at least once or twice a week, whichever is most appropriate. Commit to at least spending one day a week devoted to your family.
  4. Communicate with your family. Let them know what you are doing. Tell them about your life. Seek advice, ask for guidance. Relationships can be strengthened just by being open with your family. No matter the distance, with open and honest communication, the quality of a relationship can be improved. Communicating with loved ones may also help decrease some of your stress and remind you that people do care.
  5. Try to develop your relationship with your family mentally and spiritually. If you have children, try and attend events with them or share a hobby with your child. Attend church with your family. Start a date night with your wife or join a book club together. Plan to meet up with your sibling a couple of times a month to play video games and nerd out. Regardless of the relationship or interest, think of small ways you can develop your relationship. By staying active with your family and developing together, you are building a stronger familial relationship.

How To Learn From Others At Work

Some of us go through periods where we enter a new work environment and feel helpless. This can be especially stressful when we are starting work with a new company, applying our skills for the first time or entering college again. You may be looking for ways to increase the knowledge and skills you have to offer to your job, but are unsure where to begin.

I had experienced this form of helplessness upon working for a company. The job position was something I had limited experience with. I had mentioned this during the interview, but they still continued to hire me, trusting that I would have the skills to learn quickly. Due to this, I felt I really needed to learn things quickly so I could prove that I was capable.

The first week I felt like a fish out of water. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. After work, I would do extra research just to try and feel like I was doing something. I felt overwhelmed and was doubting whether I should have taken the position. I spoke to a couple of friends about it, and they informed me that they had similar experiences and that this was normal. Their advice was to communicate that I was struggling with some tasks with my coworkers and learn from them.

I did just that, and was genuinely surprised at how right my friends were.  I will admit that the first couple of months working there were rough, but things gradually improved. By communicating with others, I was able to more quickly learn and apply those skills. I was able to understand how things around the office typically worked. I learned skills much faster from taking the advice and guidance of others.

After a couple of months, I felt more comfortable and felt like I deserved my job. I was able to contribute in multiple ways. I could give advice to others. I developed skills independently and comfortably settled into a routine. I learned the best ways to communicate with coworkers and was better aware of the appropriate times to ask for help or when I had to try and do tasks independently.

It’s important to ask for guidance from others when necessary. Being able to communicate with your coworkers or colleagues can foster a better work environment and allow you the opportunity to feel less overwhelmed at work. Furthermore, you do not know everything. You can learn from your coworkers who may have strengths in areas that you need help in. You also have strengths that can help your colleagues.

Here are a few tips to help you learn from others.

  1. Do not be afraid to ask for help or additional information. While in school or at work, we may see others who are adept at tasks that we need to learn. Approach a coworker or colleague and ask them how to perform a procedure.  Ask for a demonstration. Inquire about any additional resources that he or she may find helpful. Be clear and explain that you need them to go through all of the steps with you. If possible, ask them if you can perform the task in front of them and if they can provide feedback on how to do that task better.
  2. Watch and learn. Observe how your coworkers handle issues or situations. Try to not repeat mistakes made by colleagues and do your best to mimic positive behaviors. Observing how your colleagues handle work can provide you with integral information about how to approach specific situations at your workplace.
  3. Show you are open to learning. Many are reluctant when seeking help which may result in someone mislabeling them as someone who feels they understand everything, one who works alone, and someone who may not be open to new ideas. This can be negative for someone just starting a new job or school. Show that you are open. If someone invites you to a seminar on how to learn something then go. If someone asks how you are doing while learning something then be honest. If you need tips or feedback then let them know. More than likely they will appreciate your honesty and willingness to learn the ropes quickly. If someone offers help and you need it, then accept that help. Showing you are open to learning will make it easier for you to learn from others and will show your colleagues that you will be receptive to opportunities for enhancing your knowledge or skills.
  4. Be open to helping others and return the favor to another. This will help strengthen your professional relationships and create an environment built on strong teamwork.

Be Enthusiastic, Get Excited!

Sometimes what drags us down is how we approach things that we do. The mood we put ourselves in, can sometimes set us up for having a bad time and not enjoying life to the fullest.

I remember a couple of years ago I was visiting Olvera Street in Los Angeles with a couple of friends. One of my friends, Claire, absolutely loves visiting that location and was looking forward to it. I was kind of in a neutral mood about the whole situation. I had been having a rough past week and was letting it affect my mood. My negative mood was fairly obvious to both of my friends who were present. After visiting a store that sold eclectic items, my mood was clearly lackluster. The other friend present, Simon, finally commented and said “you are only having a bad time because you want to have a bad time. If you try to have a good time, you’ll start to have more fun. Either way, it’s your choice but I want you to have a good time. Claire wants you to have a good time. So just have fun with us.”

As much as I didn’t like to hear it at that moment, I knew he was right. I was starting my day in a slightly negative mood. I wasn’t even trying to be enthusiastic in the slightest. We had planned a fun afternoon and evening together, but I was not putting myself in the mood to have fun. After he said that, I tried to smile more. We had a late lunch, and I tried to be enthusiastic and really  enjoy the food. The rest of the day, I was mentioning how excited I was for the sports game we planned to see that evening. I shared some amusing jokes with my friends and just had fun. I felt much better too. I was having far more fun than before. I was enjoying myself and just having a good time. By the end of the night, my mood had drastically improved and I was in a more positive state of mind. Thanks to the words of my friends and some effort on my end, I changed what could have been a day full of negativity and pessimism into one that was memorable and really enjoyable.

Sometimes the only person preventing you from being happy and enjoying your day really is you. If you find yourself sometimes having bad days and you simply don’t know why, then it’s possible you are approaching something with indifference. It’s also possible you are cultivating an environment of enthusiasm.

Some things you might want to consider…

  1. Try to smile, laugh, and show enthusiasm. Showing excitement can often impact how we feel on the inside.
  2. What do you get excited about? Sometimes we are doing things that just don’t make us enthusiastic. Try and find things that make you excited or give you something to look forward to. If you dislike your job, then find things to be excited about after work. If you are uninterested in most of the activities you do on the weekend, then encourage your friends to do more things you enjoy.
  3. If you are not sure what makes you excited, then this is the perfect time to start trying new things. Find things you are interested in and get out there and do it. Not only will you make new friends but you will learn something new. Join clubs, view online forums or blogs for ideas, try a new hobby or ask your friends and family for advice about what they think you may really like.
  4. Surround yourself with people who have positive attitudes. Being around others who are negative or unenthusiastic will not help your enthusiasm. Try to spend more time with people who are enthusiastic and positive.

20 Steps To Being A Better Listener

Hot Dog Crossing Sign, Caye Caulker, BelizeDeveloping your listening skills can dramatically improve your social relationships with others. Listening allows us the opportunity to really show empathy towards another and have a greater understanding of someone you know. Many of us fall into a trap where we spend more time talking about ourselves. We may not notice that we are spending more time speaking than listening to what another has to say. This can result in a relationship that seems self-centered and that could be preventing you from forming close relationships. Listening is an educational experience which helps you learn about another and maybe even provides insight into your own life. Listening also allows you to have better communication with others which can help solve issues with your partner, friendships or in a work environment. Learn to listen with sincerity and begin to experience the happiness associated with opening your ear to another.

  1. Create an environment for good listening. It’s easy to get distracted from listening with the television on, cell phone in sight, or around children or pets. Remove any potential distraction so you can focus entirely on the person you are speaking.
  2. Resist talking. This is one that many of us break, especially people who are ready to chime in with advice. Wait for the person to finish what they are saying. If it is not clear when the person is done talking, then simply ask if they are finished and if you may say something in response.
  3. Be open to what the person is telling you. Remember, we cannot assume that we understand how a person is feeling or what exactly they mean. Be prepared for the person to say anything. Be prepared for your assumptions to be wrong.
  4. Try to see things from their perspective. This requires some active thought. You must be actively trying to place yourself in their shoes and not allow your feelings or assumptions to influence how you perceive what they are telling you.
  5. Do not fault the person for what they tell you. Everyone is different. Sometimes it’s easy to listen to someone and think, “I would never have done that!” or “this is how you should be doing things”. Let the person talk to you and try not to judge them for that.
  6. Do not interrupt! No matter how tempting it may seem, just take a calm breath and let them continue. You can come back to whatever you wanted to say later.
  7. Allow the person the time to speak. You need to show patience. Some people need time to formulate their thoughts. Give the person enough time to be able to really say what they mean.
  8. Avoid making the conversation about you. If you feel you can relate to the other person, then stop yourself from saying “oh, I went through the exact same thing” or “oh this sounds exactly like what happened when I…”. Remember, this is not about you, but about the other person. If you can relate then that’s great but right now the other person just needs their time to talk.
  9. Don’t change the topic of conversation. Stay on topic. It’s easy for some people to think the conversation has ended and switch topics. Let the speaker switch topics. Do not change the topic since you may be doing it prematurely.
  10. Encourage the person to keep talking. Show them you are listening and are happy to listen. Nobody feels comfortable speaking to someone when they aren’t receiving cues that the person is listening or gets the vibe that the person wants to stop talking. Consistently show you are interested. Nod, smile, or make brief comments such as “I understand” or “Keep going” when appropriate.
  11. Try not to keep repeating what the other person is saying. That can get annoying easily and may turn the other person off from speaking with you.
  12. Don’t make the problem less than it is. The issue is important to this person. Remember importance is relative. Try not to trivialize the problem.
  13. Don’t attack the person. Try not to be insulting. You may be hearing things that are not easy to hear. Remember all you need to do is listen and be there for the person. Try not to judge and attack the person. Just sit back and listen to what he or she has to say.
  14. Try to look relaxed. Tension is easy to pick up on. It’s easier for the person to open up to you when you seem calm and not stressed out. Someone will feel uncomfortable speaking to you if they feel you are not in a good state for listening or are not in the mood to talk. Look relaxed. If possible, try to find a place to talk that is comfortable such as sitting on a couch or in a calm environment.
  15. Summarize what the person has been saying when they finish speaking. This will convey to the person that you have been listening to what they have been saying and it will also help you know if you are really understanding the situation from their perspective.
  16. Allow the person to correct you if any misunderstanding occurs. Giving the person the chance to clarify exactly what they mean will show you really want to understand.
  17. Ask meaningful questions. Remember to be a good listener involves you asking questions to get a better idea of what the person is going through.
  18. Be aware of facial expressions or changes in tone. A person may close up or feel hesitant about bringing up something. Try and be aware of this, and encourage the person to keep going. If you sense someone is hesitant then respond with phrases like, “tell me more”.
  19. When the person is done speaking, offer them whatever advice he or she needs. Wait for them to respond and continue the listening process again.
  20. At the end of the conversation let them know you are happy to listen. Tell them that if they ever need someone to talk to that you are there for them and you care. Let them know if they want to discuss the topic further, then you happy to keep listening.

Learn To Love Yourself


Why should I love myself? Love is a journey of discovery and exploration. Many of us find out later that we do not know how to really love someone. We can’t even recognize or appreciate the love that is given to us. The best way to truly understand the meaning of love, is by learning to love yourself. This is just a first step of many that will allow you to truly appreciate and understand love.

Many of us are faced with the challenge of loving ourselves. We spend so much time criticizing ourselves, wishing for a different life, and degrading ourselves with words such as “I’m stupid” or “I’m just not good at relationships” or “I wish I was different”. These are all words of someone who does not have true self-love. Others may go looking around for love, wishing and hoping that someone will love them just to fill the emptiness in their lives. We search around for that special someone who will give us the feeling that we are important and needed. Some of these people may find someone who loves them, only realizing that that happiness is temporary and it leaves a void of unhappiness and disappointment.

Cambodian Girl on Tree

You may be able to fall in love with another, but it will be very difficult for you to learn how to truly show love appropriately without being able to love and appreciate yourself. Living a life of happiness has to start with loving yourself. You cannot attain happiness when you do not love your life or who you are. You cannot expect to truly appreciate the things around you, until you can start appreciating and loving yourself. Respect, appreciate, value and take joy in your life. Until you can feel that way, you will continue to experience a cycle of disappointment and will have unrealistic expectations for your loved ones.

Let Go Of The Past

Holding on to the past and remembering prior mistakes will only keep us in this cycle of punishing ourselves. You have to learn to let go of those mistakes and live in the present.

Read more:

Forgive Yourself

It’s time to set aside your mistakes and forgive yourself. You have to accept that these things happen and it’s time for you to move on and start over. Remember, every day is a new beginning.

Do Good Deeds For Others

Be someone who displays thankfulness and kindness to others. Doing nice things for others will help put you in a more positive mood and show how you can have such a positive influence on other people’s lives.

Never Give Up

Keep working on loving yourself. Often, this does not happen overnight. It’s a long term process that can be easy some days, and more challenging on other days. Keep being persistent about loving yourself and eventually you’ll reap those results.

List Your Good Qualities

Focus on the positives about yourself. Try keeping a daily notebook that lists all your accomplishments and positive qualities. You can even list things that you may not normally think of such as “I decided not to get upset when he or she was annoying me” or “I haven’t got back into that addiction for a few months”.

Match Characteristics

What are traits you really like about your best friends? When you are considering your ideal boyfriend or girlfriend, what traits do you imagine him or her to have? Now think about those traits that you share. You’ll be surprised to learn that you also have many of those traits which should show that you do have positive qualities to give to someone.

Have More Fun

Get out and enjoy life! Placing yourself in positive situations will make it much easier to have a positive outlook on your own life. Try and live a more relaxed and carefree life.

Be Healthier

It’s amazing how much taking care of our physical bodies can influence how we feel mentally. Try to spend more time exercising and eating healthier. Not only will you maintain a healthier body, but you might end up feeling tons better about how you look. You will also decrease the likelihood of other diseases which can contribute to unhappiness.

Be Honest

Being truthful about your feelings about yourself is one of the first steps you can take towards loving yourself. We often spend time lying to ourselves, especially in negative moments. During my most negative moments, I said many things that were simply untrue about myself such as “I’m ugly” or “I’m just average, normal, nothing extraordinary.” Stop lying to yourself! Be honest about who you are. Acknowledge your positive and negative feelings with openness and honesty. Once you do that, you may be able to understand much better why you feel unhappy with yourself.

Find Beauty In Everything

Acknowledging beauty in others around us who have their own unique characteristics and imperfections will help us acknowledge the beauty in ourselves. Take joy in the beauty that everyone offers to your life. Learn to appreciate everyone for that unique quality they add to your life.

Read more about finding beauty here:

Don’t Be Afraid To Dream

Look forward to the future. Have dreams for yourself. Remember that all these dreams are attainable. Remember, that you are capable of achieving your dreams! Love the life that you are building for yourself every single day.

Surrender Yourself

Sometimes what is stopping ourselves from loving ourselves is we spend more time worrying about the future. We allow anxieties and fears to control our lives. Stop allowing the anxieties to control your life! Let yourself go from those worries. Remember, that some things are outside your control. Instead, do the best you can with rational thought and wisdom and remember that all you can do is your best right now, and leave the future to the future.

Please note that loving yourself does not mean being narcissistic. There is a difference between showing selfishness and pride and being able to appreciate and love who you are and your life. 

Stop The Gossip!

We have all been there before. We may end up spreading rumors about someone or finding amusement and entertainment out of talking badly about others. Gossip does not spread to just your enemies either. We use gossip against our family, friends or people we shared relationships with. Sometimes we continue this cycle of drama by purposely exaggerating or changing the usage of our words to make something sound much worse than it is. Gossip is typically something that may not be entirely true or even just completely false. Many of us have gossiped at least once in our lifetime or have been the subject of gossip.

Gossip is not the way towards finding happiness! Negative words about others can create tension amongst your social group and can start a hostile environment. At one point, I used to have a group where gossip escalated. I still think about it, because once I separated myself from that, I never realized how much more peaceful I felt and how I could focus more on my own thoughts than what others thought about me.

As an example, one person in this group of friends started speaking to us less. I will call her, “Maggie”. She was generally busy with life and was not the easiest person to get in contact with. We used to be best friends a few years ago, but over time we grew apart. One of my friends, “Theo”, mentioned to me that she was not hanging out with us because she did not like me anymore and didn’t want to be hang out with the group unless I was not present. That statement not only hurt my feelings but made me feel angry since in my mind I had done absolutely nothing against her. We had grown apart but other than that, I rarely spoke to her and was very friendly whenever we did see each other.

So afterwards, I spoke about this more with Theo, who had spread this to other people in our group. It had gotten out of control and people’s feelings were hurt so I decided to just call Maggie and ask her directly what was going on. She was shocked at what I had said. She told me she didn’t dislike me and that she wasn’t hanging out as much just because she didn’t have all that much time. She did admit that we have grown apart but she still liked me as a person and didn’t have any problems about me. She then told me, that she did not want to hang out with us as much because of Theo. Maggie mentioned how she was tired of the drama and it was easier to limit contact from that then to deal with it. After she told me that, I told everyone that things were fine and she was not busy. I did not mention how she felt Theo was a drama starter since I felt it would only make people feel more negatively and if it was something she felt other people had to know, she would tell them.

She was right, Theo was a person who loved to gossip and start rumors. I found myself doing the same thing whenever I was around him. I found myself saying things that weren’t true or having hurt feelings because of a few partially false words. After a certain point, I cut him off and a few of those other friends who were gossipers. After doing that I realized how much drama it was adding to my life and how much more negatively I felt just from gossiping alone.

If you are a person who likes to gossip or gets caught up in gossip then try to learn and stop. It’s one thing to vent about frustrations with a friend and another to talk about it all day long. If someone is annoying you then vent about it with a friend, and just a little bit. Don’t spend tons of time talking about this person and certainly don’t vent about this person with multiple people. If you feel really frustrated with someone, then consider not spending so much time around them rather than feeling the need to say negative things about that person.

Here are some things you can do to avoid gossip.

  1. If you feel very frustrated with someone or feel that you have to talk about that person then chose to discuss it with just one other person. Use it to vent, and only discuss it for a very limited amount of time, such as 10 minutes. Then let it go.
  2. Try to remove the person out of your life who is the source of your gossip. If removing them is not so easy, such as a coworker, then think about healthy ways to deal with being around that person?
  3. Focus on the good qualities about the person you are gossiping about. See them as a person and try not to focus on the mistakes they make or some of their imperfect qualities.
  4. If you are close with the person you are gossiping about, then maybe talk to them about the issue you feel the need to gossip about. Talk to them about the things you are bothered by. You may be genuinely surprised at what they have to say and it may relieve frustration and annoyance you have about the person. One of the reasons gossip is so dangerous, is because it simplifies an action someone made and assumes a lot about someone’s intentions. Getting the true story directly from the source may help you really get the picture of what’s going on.
  5. If you are around someone who loves to gossip, then ask them politely to stop. If it’s difficult for them to change, then try to kindly change the subject whenever it’s brought up.  If things get out of control then limit your contact with them.
  6. Try to understand why you are gossiping about something so much. With some people, gossip is a way to deal with our own guilt and insecurities. Think strongly about why you are gossiping and if it’s a way to deal with your own insecurities, then realize that and learn there are healthier ways to deal with your problems then with gossip.
  7.  Think strongly about how gossiping can improve the situation. Saying bad things about someone rarely amounts to anything good. Instead, look at ways you can positively handle the situation than gossiping about it. Do you need to give yourself space from this person? Do you need to confront this person directly? Think about other alternatives to gossiping.
  8. Whenever you feel the need to gossip, take deep breaths and think before saying anything aloud. Sometimes just thinking before doing something can make the difference between choosing to gossip or not.

Stopping the gossip is one way to find happiness. Gossip only adds negativity into our lives. Changing the way we deal with other people leads to better understanding of ourselves and higher appreciation of another.

Write Down Your Good Qualities

People tend to focus on negative occurrences and negative thoughts. Some people go through days, noticing all the bad things that happened and either forgetting the good things about the day or downplaying their significance. If you are feeling unhappy then it’s a good idea to create a list of all the good things that happened to you.  Note down all the positive thoughts you had, things that were inspiring, people that made you smile or laugh, and positive things you did for others. List everything that comes to mind no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

These types of list help you focus primarily on the good things and to even see the positive in seemingly bad events. Perhaps you felt stressed out at work, and at the end of the day, you are thinking about all that stress, but then you may forget about some of the positive encounters you had at work or how you woke up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to work or how hard of a worker you were today. There are plenty of things we miss just because we focus on negatives. Make it a daily habit to note down all the positive things about your day.

Overtime you will start to notice patterns and maybe get better clarity about what does indeed bring happiness into your life.

Here is a sample list my life during a normal Wednesday:

  1. Shared a smile with a stranger
  2. Had a good laugh with a colleague
  3. Received a nice email and text message from my partner
  4. Got thanked for spending time working on a project
  5. Got some time to read through this interesting book
  6. Talked with my mom on the phone
  7. Had a nice conversation with my roommate
  8. Learned something new
  9. Got to take a really warm and refreshing shower when it was cold
  10. Enjoyed a delicious dinner
  11. Writing this post!

Please remember that to be happy is sometimes a choice. You have to be willing to change the way you think to be happy. Constructing your own list is one step towards focusing on the positives and approaching life with a more positive outlook.

View The Beauty of Others

Everyone sees the world through their own lens. Many of us see people around us and have a thin line between people we like and people we don’t like. You have a poor first impression of someone and suddenly they are someone you dislike, for no reason, other than just an encounter that lasted 10 minutes. Other people may have friendships that have lasted for years that are suddenly broken due to a couple of mistakes someone made. Afterward, we only see the negative in this person and not the good.

To find happiness we must see the beauty in others. Everyone has beauty and good within themselves. Everyone does. Many of us have been through a circumstance where all we can seem to focus on is all the negatives about that person.

I remember a few years back, I consistently had negative thoughts about one of my employers at the time. She was consistently very strict with me to the point where I felt overwhelmed and very stressed out. At one point, she even said something negative about my personality. She was very difficult to get along with and other employees felt the same. The first few months working with her was a challenge but over time it just became overwhelming and I really viewed her with distaste. I will admit there were times that she was very kind and really meant well. It was always difficult for me to see her in these moments because those qualities were not consistent with the mean, horrible boss image I had given her.

After working with her, I have been able to adjust my lens and see her as a different. I can see that she was someone who had a good heart. I can now see that she meant well with her criticisms. Her criticisms were harsh and at some points, inappropriate but I realize she was doing the best she can to prepare me for success.  I realize that yes she was strict, but she wanted the best out her workers and she hired me, knowing that I could meet her challenge. I had a ton of wonderful opportunities from her encounter and I know now how to communicate better with someone like that. She did find out how dissatisfied I was with her, and surprisingly was kind about the experience. She understood that sometimes employers and employees aren’t the most compatible and still supported me after knowing my real feelings on the matter.

Ever since I’ve learned to try and see outside of just my lens. Doing that, I’ve been able to not regret working with that previous employer. If someone ever asks me about her as an employer, I will tell them she’s challenging, strict and honest but is concerned about your wellness and wants you to succeed. All you have to do is give her the benefit of the doubt and be honest with her about it.

Being able to find the beauty in people is really critical for being happy. It’s easy for us to pinpoint negatives or discuss how much worse your life is now that that person is in it. It’s too easy to feel angry with people and to show dislike.

It’s much more fulfilling to see the beauty in someone.

But how do you do this some may wonder?

Well here are some steps you can take to really find and appreciate the beauty in someone else.

  1. Listen to what that person has to say and try to see things from their perspective. Feel free to ask questions to get better clarity on how a person feels.
  2. Try and think about the positives that person has. Are they funny, honest, really kind, etc? What exactly do they bring to the table. Try to be aware of the positive qualities someone has, and if it’s not as apparent then look for it.
  3. Ask questions and learn about that person. It’s easy to miss beauty in a person when we allow ourselves to only see a small window of that person’s life. Ask questions and learn about that person’s life.
  4. Open yourself to the person. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are blinding ourselves to seeing someone because we aren’t open ourselves. When you allow yourself to be open, you give the person more opportunities to positively respond to you and allow for possible shared interests.
  5. Be kind  to the person. Showing kindness may place you in more of a positive perspective. That person, may in turn, also show kindness in their own unique way.
  6. Find a way to compliment the person. Make it a goal to tell the person a compliment over the next week. This will automatically get you thinking about positive qualities about that person.
  7. Try to place yourself in their shoes. It’s easy to make interpretations about someone. What’s not so easy is trying to understand a situation from their perspectives. Allowing yourself to understand why someone is acting a certain way or making decisions may broaden your perspective about that person.

Have Realistic Expectations For Yourself

Flying Birds in the Air


I have spent the majority of my life having high expectations for myself. I’ve wanted to live my life in a way that I felt was ideal. I remember at one point, I was performing spectacularly at work, in class, still trying to fit in social outings on the weekends and some weekdays, and was averaging about 3-4 hours of sleep per night. At one point, I hit insomnia, started getting very physically sick and experienced an overload of stress. I started thinking about my behavior and asked myself what am I doing? What am I trying to prove to myself? Am I trying to prove that I am super woman or something… that I can do it all and be successful? Was I truly happy?

These questions plagued my mind. I came to the conclusion that I was not happy with this lifestyle. I was living a life that had a lot of goals, many of which I successfully accomplished, but one where I was not spending enough time doing things that really mattered.

I still deal with this to some degree but here are some steps that I have taken that have done wonders for my life. I’m not as overworked trying to accomplish unrealistic expectations and I’ve learned to chill out a bit. This is my life, and I don’t want to spend the majority of it punishing myself for not being perfect and not receiving enough sleep just because I want to do so many things at once.

Nobody Notices

You will be surprised at how many things people don’t really notice or care about in regards to your life. It’s very easy for us to get wrapped up in our own worlds and think that people actually care about what is going on in your life. Some of our expectations are so high because we think it will really make a difference to people. Many times it does not. Everyone is dealing with their own life, and although your life is important to people close to you, in general people are not noting down every single activity you are doing and timing how fast or well you achieve that task. People have expectations of us but not to the degree we think it does. Lower your expectations for yourself because perfection is not what people expect of us and it will likely go unnoticed by many.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Good Work

People who have high expectations want to give A+ quality work. They don’t want to do well, they want to do great! Doing excellent work is possible, but remember that there is so much stress that will result from always wanting to perform the best you can. In graduate school, I once got caught up in that. I wanted to go over and beyond with everything. I wanted to do more than what was asked. I wanted to provide work that was high quality and exceeded the expectations of my colleagues. In undergrad I did this, and although it did result in some benefits, I found that I was setting a bar for myself that I always had to maintain. If I did good work, it felt like I was underachieving and disappointing others. I set that standard and had to keep meeting that standard.

Fortunately after a semester in graduate school, I stopped this cycle. I decided that it’s great to go over and beyond but not always. I took it down a couple of notches. I was honest and told my colleagues when I was too busy to complete a task. Normally, I would sacrifice my sleep and weekend, but this time, I just said, “I’m too busy, I’ll work on it next week”. This technique worked out well. I made deadlines, but still received time to relax and my colleagues were happy with my work.

In the past I might have gone over and beyond when writing a research paper for a conference. I wanted to avoid negative feedback and really wanted to convey that I was a spectacular writer. Now, I still do a good job, but I’m not striving for perfection. In the end, I’ll get some feedback and a few extra days to get the paper together, but with less stress.

If you fall in this trap, learn that there is nothing wrong with doing just good work. Make your deadlines and turn in quality stuff but you don’t need to always be in this cycle of over-performing.

Enjoy The Present

High expectations tend to come from focusing too much on the future. Enjoy the time you have now. Aiming for perfection can result in you missing out on wonderful relationships, losing friendships, not taking advantage of fun opportunities, having more stress, and being unhappy. At an interview for graduate school, I remember a particular overachieving prospective student who had quite a bit of questions for the enrolled graduate students. She asked, “Will I have time to really pursue a relationship in graduate school? In undergrad I was always busy and never made time for dating. Will I finally be able to do this in grad school or do I need to hold off?” She was admitting that she had stalled opportunities for meaningful relationships so she could go over and beyond in school. Again, it’s great to do well in school, but you must consider if it’s worth opportunities to make lasting friendships and relationships.

This was a lesson I learned as well. Once I learned to let go of the high expectations I had for myself, I ended up having a higher quality of life. I feel happier, more rested, less stressed and more appreciative of the world around me. I learned that happiness is a gift and I want to enjoy it, and not miss it because of distant dreams.

Be Rational About Your Situation

A common thought that occurs for most overachievers is that life is terrible if you are not aiming high. The world will suddenly end if you do not keep performing high. Be rational! Think honestly about your situation. Consider some of the worse case scenarios that could happen. You’ll be surprised that your life is far from that and you’ll be just fine if you lower your expectations a bit.

Be Nice To Yourself

You will not always perform at your best. You will not always make every goal you set yourself. And you know what? That’s fine! Just do what you reasonably can to achieve what you want, and give yourself realistic goals. Remember that failure and mistakes are a part of life that everyone endures. Many of the tasks we give ourselves may be incredibly tough. It’s fine if we don’t end up completing those tasks in the way we expect to, or with the deadlines we create for ourselves.

Also, take time to do something nice for you. If you are feeling overworked, then go out and enjoy life. Treat yourself to a mini shopping spree. Go out to dinner with loved ones tonight. Leave work an hour early. Take a nap. Instead of working on stuff for tomorrow, open up an entertaining book and spend your evening reading and enjoying yourself.

Lower Your Expectations of Others

Life can be tough and people around us can add to that frustration. Some of us navigate through life, just constantly disappointed with the people we share our life with. Everyone should have expectations but sometimes our expectations are much higher than they should be. This can cause problems with our own personal relationships and only add disappointment to our day.

Sea Lions in Channel Islands

We may meet someone new and be taken aback at the lack of effort he or she makes to start a conversation. We may find ourselves asking them questions and trying to get the ball rolling, while the other person simply sits there, lacking things to say. Some of us may have employers who seem to not notice the good work you have been doing. You may have some great accomplishments throughout your life time, and find that people you feel are important to you are not as enthused about that as you would like them to be. You may find yourself disappointed in the lack of romantic gestures that your partner shows to you. All of us have expectations of other people, and often these expectations are higher than they should be.

This does NOT mean that we shouldn’t have any expectations of people. That’s not the case I am saying in the slightest. We should have expectations for the way people around us treat us, but sometimes these expectations are unrealistic and only lead to disappointment. People often forget that we are simply people and everyone has a wide range of imperfections, and that people will not always respond to us in a way that makes us the happiest or that seems convenient.

My way is not always the right way. You may have noticed that over the years your standards or opinions have changed. When I was just beginning college, I used to have this unhealthy belief that in a long distance relationship, one should talk to their significant other at least a couple of hours a day. Boy, was I wrong about that and I even now, I don’t feel it’s necessary to talk that often to a significant other while having a long distance relationship nor would I place that expectation on any couple. My opinions changed. So learn that your way may not always be the right way. Who says that is the right way of doing things? If you have problems coming to terms with this, then ask someone you trust who has a different opinion on an expectation to explain to you why that is. You may learn something new, possibly change your own opinions and learn that everyone has different perspectives and ways of doing thing and that we have to accommodate for that.


Put yourself in their shoes. Would you act differently if you were in their shoes? Try and understand the situation from their shoes. We tend to have the notion that people are always doing the right thing, and that people’s moods are always the same. If someone is having a tough day, they may not respond so well. Sometimes people may not have the knowledge necessary to show the appreciation you deserve. For example, whenever I come back from travels, there are friends who will ask me loads of questions and seem excited and others who simply just say “that’s cool” and change the subject. I could get offended by the lackluster response, but I realize that the people saying that may not have gotten the opportunity to travel and may not really know what to ask or how to respond.


Realize people lower their expectations for you. None of us are perfect and everyone can think of at least a couple of mistakes we have made. Many of us can also think of times people have given us a break for not responding in a manner they wish or when we don’t treat them the way he or she expected. My boyfriend was reading me a poem he liked that recently got published by a journal. He was very excited by it, so he read it to me. He writes very abstractly, and it was tough for me to truly understand the meaning behind the poem. I told him I did like the poem but asked him to explain some elements of the poem. I know that by being with me he had to adjust his expectations by realizing that I never really read poetry before meeting him and that I am doing my best to try and understand his work.


You don’t communicate your expectations. Often we place un-communicated expectations on people. This is a trap some employers fall into. An employer may hire a few people and be genuinely surprised at the amount of effort people are NOT making. Then that same employer will be surprised to see how employees can make that effort once he or she communicated exactly what he or she expected out of that employee. Telling people what you want can really make a difference. Instead of inwardly getting upset for seeing someone not do something you want, just be up front and tell them what you want. If you are upset your friend is not contributing gas money, then simply tell him or her that’s your policy and you would like him or her to contribute. If you want your significant other to spend more quality time with you, then let him or her know that is what you would really like. Just be aware that people are not perfect and cannot always meet your expectations, but you can certainly make it easier for both of you by communicating your expectations.


Does the person understand your expectations? Just because you communicated your expectations does not mean that person understands. Misunderstandings can happen frequently. Follow-up with the person and see if they really understood what your expectations are. Also, check to see if he or she feels those expectations are fair and will try to meet your expectations.


Tell the person HOW to meet your expectations. Sometimes we automatically feel that everyone we interact with is a psychic and knows exactly what to do and how to do it. That’s not true. You may ask your boyfriend if he can be more romantic. He may respond by telling you “you’re beautiful” more often. That’s what he thinks is what you want and you may be disappointed. Instead, you should have communicated you wanted him to be more romantic by surprising you with random dates, sending you the occasional bouquet of flowers or sending you nice text messages every so often saying that he loves you. It’s not their fault if you failed to communicate how you want your expectations to be met.


Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your expectations. Our expectations are often not the correct way of doing things. Seriously consider the flaws in your expectations and how your expectations influence people. Something may be beneficial to you but not for another. Asking for a partner to spend all their time with you, may be nice for you, but you are virtually controlling your partner’s free time and not giving them the space he or she needs.


Adjust your expectations. Adjust your expectations for the people around you. Again, life does not revolve around you. You will have to adjust for other people, while people may have to make adjustments for you. Work with the other person’s system. Create expectations that are versatile and that are not rigid.  Realize your expectation that your mom will call you twice a week does not extend to long distance friends. Realize that although your prior employer sent you sincere thank you notes for great work, does not mean your current employer will do that. Have versatile expectations because we are surrounded by unique, versatile people.


Can the person meet your expectations? Again, keep adjusting for everyone. Some people in our lives will not be able to meet our expectations at all. That’s life. If that’s the case be aware of that and stop getting irritated with him or her about it. Lower your expectations for that person.


Realize your expectations are not the rules. This one is hard for some people to accept but there is no way we can enforce our expectations. We may be able to ground the kids if they don’t pass their classes, but in most cases, we cannot “punish” someone for not meeting our expectations.


Use these tactics to lower your expectations for other people. You will be pleasantly surprised at the increase of happiness you feel with your relationships. You may also be happy to realize that everyone is different and that it’s wonderful to adjust our expectations and have a greater understanding of someone else’s perspective.