We all have the power to improve the quality of our life by making slight adjustments – tweaks – to the way we do things. These tweaks add up over time, with the same net effect as major adjustments without the pain of sudden, drastic change. The traditional wisdom of “no pain, no gain” does not apply when it comes to making significant life changes. This article examines four areas of our life: relationships, occupation, physical and mental health, and spirituality, to see how the concept of tweaking might apply.
Relationships, especially in a marriage, often get stale. Couples fall into habitual styles of relating. Sometimes relationships become dysfunctional, while at other times the relationship may simply lose its sparkle. In both case, the couple may think that there is no way of revitalizing the relationship without a massive overhaul. If they think in terms of a complete overhaul, they may get overwhelmed and simply either accept the status quo, or think that they ought to divorce. In my opinion, many relationships can be salvaged or spruced up if each party makes a commitment to seeking ways that each party can tweak the relationship. Below I will list a number of ways couples have found to tweak their relationship. It is not necessary that all of these suggestions be followed. Rather, you could do one of them for a month or two, and then when the mood strikes you could add a second, then a third, and so on. Each of these tweaks, when added together over time, adds up to significant movement. As with losing weight, it happens one pound at time.
Tweaks for your relationship
At first blush it may seem that only those who are self employed would have the freedom to tweak their job. To be sure, it is easier to tweak when it is your own business, but this does not mean that it is impossible to tweak when you are working for someone else. You just have to be more creative. The chances are that you have never given it much thought. You have never thought of the ways you can make your work more pleasurable. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you might tweak your work experience beginning with the commute to work.
Tweaks for work
YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
It is in this area that we set ourselves up for the biggest failures. One would think that we would do whatever we could to build our self esteem and to enhance our self image. Yet, by virtue of our desire for immediate results, we achieve just the opposite. We resolve to be a totally new and improved version of ourselves, fail, and end up feeling worse about ourselves than when we started. The trick once again is in tweaking. Rather than promising to be a totally new you, think tweak. Think about one area you could spruce up just a bit. Below are only a few suggestions; they should not be done all at once. Choose just one of them, or any other of your choosing, and do it consistently until it become as much a part of your life as brushing your teeth. Then add another one, and another, and so forth. Take your time. Gradually, by virtue of here a tweak, there a tweak, you will end up with that new and improved version of you. But it will not come upon you suddenly. Rather it will happen gradually, almost imperceptibly.
Tweaking your physical and mental health
I think it was Charles Darwin who said that what differentiates humans from animals is that only human beings can blush. Human beings can reflect upon their own behavior. They can experience a sense of something beyond themselves and can feel connected to one another. They have a higher consciousness. Human beings are conscious of right and wrong, good and bad; they are conscious of their own finitude. As such, we can say that human beings have a spiritual awareness as part of their existential makeup.
Most of us enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset, appreciate a mountain view, feel calmed by the ocean, and feel peaceful when stargazing on a clear night. At these moments, we feel connected with the universe, a part of something larger than ourselves. We feel moved by the good works of others, and feel a sense of awe at the birth of a child. We feel blessed when someone we love recovers from an illness. We often vow that we will stop to smell the flowers more often. We promise to attend our place of worship more frequently. We tell ourselves that we will make a contribution of time and energy to make this world a better place. Though we are sincere in these desires, somehow we seldom find the time to follow through. We want to feel connected to others and to our world, yet the time eludes us. Again, we believe that in order to be connected to our spiritual self, we have to make a significant change. We believe that we have to have a big impact. Overwhelmed, we gradually slip into our routine, everyday life, feeling just a bit disappointed in ourselves for not being the person we would like to be. As with the other aspects of our life discussed thus far, we can tweak our lives spiritually as well. The following suggestions might serve to stimulate your own thinking about creative ways to bring spirituality into your life.
We all have the power to improve the quality of our life by making slight adjustments – tweaks – to the way we do things. These tweaks add up over time, with the same net effect as major adjustments without the pain of sudden, drastic change. The traditional wisdom of “no pain, no gain” does not apply when it comes to making significant life changes. People often think that they have to wait until the children grow up, or that they have to divorce, in order to lead the life they would like. They then become overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. My contention is that we should think small. You do not have to wait, you can start tweaking today. Remember, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can tweak today.
Dr. Dreyfus has recently published two downloadable books: Someone Right For You: 21st Century Strategies for Finding Your Special Someone and Keeping Your Sanity (In an Insane World).
For forty years Dr. Dreyfus has been practicing as a clinical psychologist and life coach in Santa Monica, California where he specializes in individual psychotherapy, relationship counseling, and sex therapy. For further information or consultation regarding psychological issues, or life coaching, you may contact Dr. Dreyfus at (310) 208-5700, or visit http://www.docdreyfus.com