17 Ways to Connect with Teenagers

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Please read this blog at http://myhappylists.com/2010/02/17-ways-to-connect-with-teenagers/


10 Ways to get the most out of counseling

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Please read this blog at: http://myhappylists.com/2010/02/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-counseling/


17 Ways to Impress the In-Laws

Happy Lists has moved to http://www.MyHappyLists.com and this blog entry can be read over there: http://myhappylists.com/2010/02/how-to-impress-the-in-laws-17-ways-to-improve-your-chances/

Ways to Propose

Asking the person you love to marry you is one of the biggest moments of your life. You want it to be perfect and memorable.

1. Your Personality. When planning the way to propose to the love of your life, make sure it matches both of you. If you hate rock music, don’t propose at a rock concert. Brainstorm all the places you both love (water, mountains, cabins, movies, restaurants, gyms, trees, churches, anything), and now you have a list of place to propose. The location should match both of you to make it more meaningful.

2. Ask her. “What would be your dream proposal?” There is absolutely NO shame in asking this question. It shows that you are interested and care, and it’s not like you haven’t been talking about the possibility of marriage already. If she gives you a detailed depiction of her dream proposal, you have a great foundation! If she’s vague, try to get details about the following: Would she want it to just be the two of you? Or in a big stadium full of strangers? intimate dinner with friends? parents? family? The worst thing you can do is ask her in a crowded restaurant full of strangers when in her heart she always imagined it being an intimate and romantic private event by candlelight in the woods. If you ask how she (or he) wants it, you’ll have better chances of pleasing and providing the perfect proposal.

3. Permission? You better find out if she wants you to ask her father or mother for their blessing, or “her hand in marriage,” or their permission – however some people phrase it these days. This was very important to my best friend, but it would have mortified me to have my husband ask my dad for permission (as if I’m a piece of property that he owns? I don’t think so!). Every individual, even within families, may feel differently about this tradition. Find out!

4. Practice. Yes, practice. You’re going to be nervous and excited, and you want your speech about how much you love her to be coherent. So practice. It will relieve a little anxiety when it comes time to perform for real.

5. Message in a Bottle. If your woman is a sucker for chick flicks, she will love this one! Write the sweetest love letter you can think of. Write it by hand, and write it to “My love” and sign it “Your Love” (or something else that doesn’t give away hers or your identity). Say all the sweet things you can think of. Soak the paper in coffee, let it dry, and carefully burn the edges. This will give it that old and rustic but romantic look. Select a bottle that represents something special (her favorite soda, wine, beer, hard liquor, etc). Carefully roll up the letter into the bottle and seal it tight (use melted wax if you need to make sure it doesn’t leak). Choose a location with water (river, creek, pond, lake, ocean, anything!). Arrange for a friend to deliver the bottle to a predetermined location right before your arrival. Now take your sweetie there after a nice romantic activity (dinner, hiking, whatever you both like). Walk to where the bottle is. Let her find it. Even if it means hanging around the area for a little while. Don’t even give any hints. She will find it. Let her open it. Ask her to read it out loud. When she’s done, get down on one knee (even if it’s muddy) and give her your heart. Tell her all the reasons you love her and why you want to spend the rest of your life with her. Break out the ring and ask her.

6. It’s TIME. Has your partner been nagging a little bit? Has she mentioned how it’s time to get married – you’ve been together for so long. Is her “biological clock” ticking? 🙂 If so, then this may be the perfect way to ask. By hand, write her the sweetest love letter – all the reasons you love her, why she is so amazing, how your life is better because of her. Sign it. And write, P.S. I suppose it’s time. Fold it up (tie it with a ribbon of her favorite color for a special touch). Grab a clock in your house, pull out the batteries, and replace them with the letter. Tell her you can’t figure out why the clock isn’t working, and you think it might be the batteries. Ask her if she’ll take a look at it for you (because she’s so smart and helpful) and leave the room (if she says she’ll look at it). In the other room, have her favorite song ready to play on your radio or stereo. When you can hear that she has read your letter, turn her song on and come out (or just turn it on when she comes into the room). Get down on one knee and start pouring your heart out to her. Break out the ring and ask her. *If you want to do something bigger, make reservation at her favorite restaurant for dinner afterwards, and you can even arrange for a limo to take you.

7. You can sing. Can you sing? Has your parnter always wanted you to write a song for her? Do it. Write the song, take her somewhere special…and let the last words of the song be – Will you Marry me?

8. Crazy for you. Does your partner have a passion for or degrees in psychology, counseling, social work, or any other field where she works to diagnose people? If so, this may be the perfect proposal idea for you. Purchase a DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic Manual) (this will be the spendy part as they are around $40, but it will be a lifelong keepsake). Cut out a square in the book (in the pages) big enough for your ring or the box for the ring. Now, think of when and where you’d like to propose (see above), and when you do – finish with, “I am crazy for you.” Hand her the book, let her open it, and ask her to marry you!! It will be a fantastic story to share with her friends and family, and you can keep the book and the box as a wonderful keepsake.

9. Video down memory lane. This is a very romantic, thoughtful, and impressive way to propose that leaves you both with a remarkable keepsake. Obtain a video camera, and start going down memory lane. If you have the editing equipment, you can be a little more flexible in your filming. If you don’t, plan it out well. Start with the place you first met, your first date, and any other significant locations and places. At each place, put yourself in front of the camera and reminisce about your memories with your loved one. Once you’ve finished filming, add some music to it if you’d like or any other special touches. Now, how you present it is up to you. You can make this a private or public event (see above). For a private event, if you guys are very chill and just like to stay in and watch movies – pop some popcorn and pop it in. When it’s over, get on bended knee and do your thing. If you have a more outgoing and public personality, try to arrange for a local movie theater (with DVD projection capabilities) to make a special showing for you (maybe after midnight or during a really slow time). Invite all your friends and family to be there. Show up late, so she can’t see who’s in the movie theater. When it starts showing, she’s going to love it. When it’s over, arrange for the medium lights to go on, get on bended knee and do your thing. This will be a memorable event for a lifetime. Whether you do it privately or publicly, it will be something you will both have and remember forever.

10. Poster. Does your partner like posters?  If so, your proposal can be a poster she’ll never want to lose.  Select a picture of the two of you and design a poster.  You can do this in Microsoft PowerPoint pretty easily.  (Just go to help and find out how).  Be as creative or as simple as you’d like.  You can include just the picture and the words, “Will you marry me?”  Or you can include a quote, poem, your own words saying how much you love her, multiple pictures, graphic designs, etc.  Just design it from your heart.  You can go to Kinko’s and get them to print it for you (depending on size, it can cost around $50 – $100) and then get it framed. Based on whether you want to propose privately or publicly, you can present this poster to her in a variety of ways.  You can hang it up in a main room where she lives, cover it up, and present it to her after a fun evening or date.  Or you can call some local galleries and ask for their help.  You’d be surprised how helpful people will be when they hear you are going to propose.  If a gallery will help (and she would enjoy a public proposal), invite all of her friends and family to the gallery (without her knowing it), and take her out on an amazing date.  End with the gallery (time it out perfectly) and have your poster (or painting) in the back.  When you get there, she’ll see all her friends and family and get very suspicious.  Reveal your work, get down on bended knee, tell her lots of sweet and lovely thing, and ask her to marry you.  And now the two of you will have a beautiful keepsake to remind you of this exciting time in your life.


11. How you met.  How did you meet?  Meeting your loved one is what started it all, and incorporating how you met into your proposal is a meaningful move.  You can incorporate it however you want – propose at the location, have an egagement party there after you propose, have the friend who introduced you help, order the same food, etc.  Get creative!


*I’ll continue adding as I think of them. Good luck!

5 Ways to Beat the Post-Vacation Blues

When you get back from a vacation, do you experience the Post-Vacation Blues?  The post-vacation blues are what I refer to as the time after a vacation when you feel sad, depressed, unhappy, unmotivated, and grumpy about life, relationships, and work.  It’s that period of time when you have to come back down to reality and get back to the often-irritating daily grind of life.

For me, it can be really challenging.  I get extra-frustrated because vacations are supposed to be rejuvenating, right?  We’re not supposed to come back and feel worse than when we left.  But sometimes we do.  So what can we do to maintain those positive feelings when we get back from vacation?



1. Write.  Write about your vacation – all the fun stuff.  Even if it just happened (that’s actually the best time to write so you’ll remember the details), writing about how great your vacation was (and why) will have a positive influence on your state of mind.  So sit down and journal or write a blog about it.  Throw in some pictures so you can look back at it and make yourself happy. 

2. Keep vacationing.  Sure, you have to go back to work, family, and life, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun.  Think of atleast one thing you can do after your vacation that is fun and may even have some vacation-like characteristics.  Can you find a new park and go for a walk after work? Paint a picture? Take some pictures of random stuff around your town or neighborhood?  Find an entertaining activity to remind yourself that “getting back to the daily grind” can still mean having fun. 


3. Start planning.  Just because you might need to save up for another 6 months to afford your next vacation doesn’t mean you can’t start planning it now.  Fantasizing about your next fun adventure can be just the thing to help you disassociate from reality for a little while.  Don’t get carried away, but a little planning may be just the thing to lift your spirits.

4. Music.  While you’re on vacation, buy a CD.  It doesn’t have to be related to your vacation at all (you don’t have to buy Hawaiian music if you go to Hawaii) but it can if you like.  Listen to it while you’re there and associate your positive vacation feelings with the music. From now on, listening to that CD is going to make you think of that specific vacation.  When you get back, put it in the player, and when you’re getting ready in the morning and feeling particularly cranky about being back, pump up the volume and jam out.  Remind yourself that the vacation was meant to rejuvenate you, and this music is the tool to help that happen.

5. Short work week.  Do not return on a Monday!  Schedule your return for a Wednesday or Thursday so you have a super-short week to reacclimate yourself to the work day.  Even when you love your job, it takes a few days to get back into the groove.

Here are some additional sources for ways to beat the post-vacation blues:

Beat Those Post Vacation Blues

The Providence Center: Beating the Post-Vacation Blues

Dancing and Drumming Drive Post-Vacation Blues Away

Pamela Kruger’s Post Vacation Blues (you’re not alone!)

16 Ways to Feel Sexy

Whether you’re a man or woman, it feels good to feel sexy. It doesn’t matter who you are, feeling attractive boosts confidence and happiness. While many of these may be aimed towards women, I hope you can find a few creative and fun ways to feel sexy!

1. Cat Walk. If you’ve ever seen a model walk down the cat walk, the image of sexy, beautiful, and attractive probably comes to mind. No matter what you look like, you can walk sexy. Practice walking with good posture, confidence (fake it for now if you have to), head up, and think sexy things. Try walking like this for a week, and see if you notice any differences in the way people look at you.

2. Sexy Eyes. While you’re walking all sexy, make sexy eyes…not crazy eyes, but sexy eyes! Think and channel, “SEXY.”  Make your blinks a little longer, add a mysterious and sexy half-smile, glance at people and blink away. 

3. Smile and Laugh.  Who was the last cranky-butt you thought was sexy?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Now, you can rock the “bitchy sexy,” but that takes a lot more practice and the right crowd.  Stick with fun and sexy – more people are into that.

4. Get out.  People on the internet might provide you an opportunity to experience sexiness, but that doesn’t come near to getting outside the house and making physical eye contact with another individual.  If you just can’t pull yourself away from the cyber world, get a microphone and practice that deep, sexy, sultry voice. 🙂

5. Shower.  Seems obvious, but if you’re feeling dumpy and down – a shower can be the perfect thing to lift your spirits (and make you smell better). 

6. Dress Up.  After you take that hot and steamy shower, get dressed.  Hair, make-up, cute clothes – the whole shebang.  The more you put into your appearance, the sexier you will feel.

7. Workout.  Whether you’re a size “0” or a size “40” – working out will make your body feel good, give you more confidence, and make you feel sexier.  So whether you think you need it or not, and whether you think you want to or not, just do it.  Start small, do what you can, and start noticing how much better you feel.  Checkout my post on 20 Creative Ways to Get Exercise.

8. Write your fantasies.  You’re on the computer reading this, so you must know to work this thing.  Open up a word document, and start writing about some of your hottest fantasies.  Worried others will find your wild fantasies?  Two words: password protect.  Don’t how to do that?  Ask the little help wizard/paperclip guy in Microsoft Word.  Work on your fantasies, make them juicy and exciting.  Need to feel sexy? Write, read, and enjoy!


9. Tan.  If you aren’t white, you’re already one step closer to sexiness!  If you are pasty white and live in America – welcome to the culture of tanning.  Self-tanning lotion is great and safe, so I suggest that.  Start using it.  Take notice to how much sexier you feel.  If it doesn’t help, then don’t do it.  If it does, how easy is it to slab on some sexy every morning?

10. Water.  Water is the basis for physical and mental health.  To function at your best, provide your body and mind with the water it requires.  Start drinking enough, and you will start feeling better physically.  When a body feels good, a body feels good.

11. Flirt.  If you are single, get out and flirt.  Successful flirting is a skill.  If you have a friend you think is great at flirting, ask them to coach you.  If you are married, flirt with your partner.  Yes, flirt with your partner.  I don’t care that you’re married – you can still flirt with one another.  Remind yourself how much fun you had when you first met – re-spark that inner-sexiness from when you first met.

12. Dance.  Pump up that music and move your body.  Can’t dance? Learn.  With the internet, you can learn to do anything.  Practice in private and then take those moves to the dance floor!  Dancing is also a great way to improve your abs, as I talked about in 9 Creative Ways to Workout Abs (without crunches).

13. Connect to your body.  Feeling sexy means that you have complete control over your body and you feel great about what you look like, feel like, and what you are capable of doing with your body.  If you haven’t gotten “in touch” with yourself in a while (or ever, eek!) – go for it.  Knowing and understanding your body is essential to being a strong and sexy individual.  It also comes in handy when you want to be intimate with another individual – you know what you like and need and can have healthy communication about it.

14. The right clothing.  I understand that sweats are comfy, but NO – they won’t make you feel (or look sexy).  Find the right type of clothing to flatter your body type.  Do your research and bring an honest friend shopping with you.  Don’t have enough money to overhaul your wardrobe? That’s fine.  Go buy one flatter thing from Ross, Target, or a second-hand store like Good Will.  Looking good doesn’t need to cost a fortune.  Start small!

15. Get your beauty sleep!  It’s hard to feel sexy and energetic when you feel like your face is dragging on the floor.  Be sure to get enough rest!  Having trouble falling asleep? Check out these Ways to Fall Asleep and be sure to get the beauty rest your sexiness demands!

16. Say it.  “I am sexy.”  How many different ways can you say it?  Try it out loud.  I AM sexy.  i am SEXY.  I AM sexy. I AM SEXY. I am sexy.  Keep going it.  When you need a boost, see how many different ways you can phrase it (and remember to do it outloud for best results!)


 Need some more ways to feel sexy?  Check these out:

Ways to feel sexy in a flash

10 Ways to feel sexy again

10 Ways to feel sexier naked

37 Rules to Fighting Fair

Thousands of people have written about fighting fair.  Here’s a compilation of some fair fighting rules.  Resources are available at the bottom.  All partners and couples engage in conflict, but the key is resolving conflict without being destructive.

Couple Fighting

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to Fighting Fair.  I suggest copying and pasting it to a word document, then add and substract to tailor it to you, and print off a couple copies (one for you, and one for your partner).  When you start really getting into it, both of you should have these near you to remind yourself of how to fight FAIR!


1. Deal with the Here and Now.  What is the specific problem right now?  Anything older than 24 hours is garbage, so no garbage-dumping!

2. Take responsibility. Use “I” statements as a way to show you are taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions.

3. Be direct and honest about your feelings and what you want.

4. Listen and hear! Try to deal with the other person’s perceptions of the situation as well as your own. Be aware of his/her feelings as well as your own. Check to see whether what you heard is really what the other person is trying to express, and ask him to let you know what she hears you saying.

5. Give the other person equal time. Both people need to express their feelings and points of view to create a full mutual understanding.

6. Attack the issue, not the person. Name-calling puts people in a position to respond angrily and defensively. This is usually used when a person feels he is losing. Name-calling breaks down communication and destroys trust in the relationship.

7. Take a breather by paraphrasing what you think you  heard them saying. “I understand you want to tell me about your day but I need a few minutes to finish what I am doing.” This gives you time to think about your response.

8. Focus on solving a problem/reaching a solution rather than venting your anger or winning a victory. Think win-win.

9. Deal with one issue at a time. No fair piling several complaints into one session. Some people call this “kitchen-sinking” – talking about everything including the kitchen sink!

10. Limit your discussion/fight to no more than 30 minutes. Adults have relatively short attention spans – just look at television programming to confirm this. Long drawn out discussions/fights rarely reach resolution. Instead they just wear the participants out. And when you are worn out, the potential of saying or doing something you’ll regret is much greater. If you are unable to solve your problem in the 30 minutes that you’ve allotted, schedule another time to continue.

11. Brainstorm solutions. Be willing to compromise. Give a little to get a little.

12. Go forth as equals. Don’t use power plays. Gauge the intensity of your anger to the ego strengths of the other person and be responsible with the things your mate has entrusted to you in your relationship. YOU ARE ON THE SAME TEAM.

13. When necessary, take a time-out. A time-out is a short break to cool off, calm down and get perspective. Think of it like pushing the pause button on a video. It’s an opportunity to restore calm and be more reflective instead of reactive. Use the time-out to reflect on why you feel the way you do and how to express yourself in a positive way. Try to think about the other person’s feelings and point of view. Think things through before you speak. Then “push play” again and return to each other to resolve the issues calmly.  A time-out should be at least a half-hour long (but no longer than twenty-four hours). It takes at least a half-hour for your body’s physiology to return to a normal resting state and for your thoughts to become less hostile or defensive. It’s surprising how different a person’s outlook can be after they’ve had a chance to calm down.

14. Give each other the ability to withdraw or change their mind.

15. Speak softly.  If you and your partner have a natural tendency to raise your voice, try whispering.

16. Identify and Define your issue or topic, and stick to it!  Don’t change the subject or bring in unrelated items.  If you have a different item you’d like discuss, save it for the next discussion.

17. Hold hands. (We are not fighting each other, but talking over a problem we are mutually trying to resolve. )

18. Ask questions that will clarify, not judge. A question should never begin with the word “why.” That puts people on the defensive — and we know that defensiveness stops conversation rather than continues it.



1. Don’t Refer to past mistakes and incidences.  No garbage-dumping! 🙂

2. Don’t Blame. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements which automatically blame, making the other person defensive.

3. Don’t make comparisons to other people, stereotypes, or situations.

4. Don’t play games.  A game is being played when you are not being straight about your feelings, and when you are not being direct and honest about what you want or need in a situation.  Examples of games are; poor me; silent treatment; martyr; don’t touch me; uproar; kick me; if it weren’t for you…; yes, but…; see what you made me do; and if you loved me…

5. Don’t involve other people’s opinions of the situation (e.g.: “John’s mother agrees with me.”) The only opinions which are relevant are those of the two attempting to communicate at the time.

6. Don’t make threats (e.g., “Do this or else!”). Threats back people into a corner and they may choose the ultimatum in order to save face. You may find later you really do not want to carry out your threat.

7. Don’t demand to win. If you do, your discussion will surely become an argument.

8. Don’t say “always” and “never”.  (“You always…”  “You never…”) These are usually exaggerations and will put the other person on the defensive.

9. Don’t interrupt, talk over or make comments while the other person is speaking. Watch your non-verbal expressions too. Rolling eyes, smirking, yawning etc. all work against fair fighting.

10. Don’t walk away or leave the house without saying to your partner, “I’ll be back”.

11. No finger pointing.

12. Don’t save up feelings and dump them all at once, try to air feelings often.

13. Try not to yell.

14. No talk of Divorce. In the heat of an argument, threatening to leave the relationship is manipulative and hurtful. It creates anxiety about being abandoned and undermines your ability to resolve your issues. It quickly erodes your partner’s confidence in your commitment to the relationship. Trust is not easily restored once it is broken in this way. It makes the problems in your relationship seem much bigger than they need to be.

13. Don’t read your partner’s mind.

14. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind.

15. Don’t use the following: swearing, denunciation, obscenities, character assassination, contempt, sarcasm, or taunting.

16. Do not assume, guess, imagine, take for granted, theorize, surmise, speculate, make gestures, judgments, funny glances or faces about what your partner means. Find out!

17. No belittling each other’s accomplishments. No matter how small or odd they may be.

18. Don’t be afraid to apologize when you are wrong. It shows you are trying.

19. Don’t argue about details. Avoid exchanges like, “You were 20 minutes late,” “No, I was only 13 minutes late.” (An easy way to distract from the problem.)



Fair Fighting Rules: A Formula for Resolving Conflict

Fair Fighting: Turning Arguments into Discussions

Stay Happily Married: Fair Fight Rules

Crisis Center: Fair Fight Rules

Fair Fighting Rules for Couples

Dr. Irene’s Blog – Fair Fighting from Wayne Misner

Technique for Safely Bring Up a Problem