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A Happy Healthy Person in a Happy Healthy Relationship

Consider these "life hacks" or personal mantras.

My counseling clients often took notes in their sessions with me, or intended to. They almost always took away something I said that struck them as meaningful or something they themselves said during our conversation that’s important or memorable. Because I like to leave each person I have counseled with a “takeaway,” I put together some important ones and had them printed on a 4 ½ by 5 ½ card with my contact information. It struck me that in more than five years, I have never shared it here. This is essentially it.

From the work of Virginia Satir, a communication pioneer (1916–1988). I have also added some explanatory words for clients of mine over the years.

Guidelines for a Healthy Person and a Healthy Relationship

Feel your feelings. Feel what you do feel instead of what you think you ought to be feeling. Acknowledge the present and tune into your body, not your thoughts about what you’re supposed to be feeling.

Focus on now. See and hear what is here now instead of what should be, what was, or what will be. In the words of New Age sage Ram Dass (1931-2019), “be here now.” Do not constantly worry about the past or the future but live in the present, focus on the moment.

Speak up. Say what you do feel and think instead of what you imagine is expected of you. Be true to yourself.

Ask for what you want clearly and directly instead of hoping it will be offered. Be proactive. Go after your desires.

Take risks on your own behalf instead of settling for the status quo. Be master of your own life.

Be able to say no firmly, kindly, and unmistakably without guilt. This is one of the most important time-saving skills a person can learn. Practice until you can do it with grace.

If any of these strike you as something that would be particularly helpful for you in life and in your relationships, memorize it. Write it on a Post-It and stick it on your mirror or on a piece of paper and have it on your car seat. You want to use it as a guide to improving your life so do so. Memorize it. Allow it to shape how you go through life more easily and productively. Go in grace.