When staying in a relationship doesn't make sense

Whether you've been with someone for a long time or only just recently began dating them, you may find yourself doing just about everything you can to keep the relationship strong.

Sadly, not everyone is similarly disposed.

Staying in a relationship makes no sense when you are the only one investing in it -- physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Relationships cannot maintain themselves. Just like an air conditioner or refrigerator can't operate without routine maintenance, a relationship is not self-sustaining.

Moreover, it isn't fair for only one person to shoulder all the work. Each partner deserves to feel loved and appreciated. Each person should feel as though the other has their best interests at heart.

Sticking around and hoping they'll change is not a risk worth taking when they've shown time and time again that what you see is what you'll get.

They don't have to say a word; their actions prove that either they're in the relationship for the wrong reasons (e.g., money, loneliness, etc.), or they simply do not value you enough to care more.

The more time and energy you spend on the individual, the less you have available for other people you care about in your life, not to mention a wonderful man or woman who could appear in your life at any given moment and potentially make a much better partner.

If telling them how you feel bears no fruit and they seem unwilling to contribute to the relationship in any tangible way, it is time to walk away.

You can take comfort in the fact that you tried your best, but your partner failed to reciprocate the time, love, and care you gave the ill-fated relationship.

As I've noted previously, it's always better to be single than in an unhealthy relationship that diminishes your self-esteem rather than enhances it. Your partner should bring you delight, not misery.

When one genuinely values their partner, they'll do nothing that can put the relationship at risk. Or, once they've realized their mistakes, take swift action to right the ship -- and never return to their selfish, inconsiderate ways.

Know your worth. Never allow anyone to take you for granted. You deserve to be happy. 

Here's how to make life more meaningful

The American essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) once said, "You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment."

Put simply, Thoreau meant that life is short, and we ought to make the most of every moment.

He is also been credited for saying, "Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify."

(In case you haven't read up on Thoreau, he lived in a cabin at Walden Pond for over two years. His purpose? To "live deliberately.")

If Thoreau were alive today, he'd be aghast at how so many people in the country -- and the world as a whole -- have fallen pray to consumerism.

Rather than finding ways to simplify their lives, people seem to be doing the exact opposite, saturating them with more stuff, more people, more noise.

When Thoreau exhorts us to live in the present and launch ourselves on every wave, he isn't saying we should set out on shopping sprees in pursuit of material stuff we may never need.

Instead, he is telling us to look beyond shallow, ephemeral, hedonistic pleasures -- to dig deeper, if you will. By turning to life's simple treasures -- from nature to friendship to knowledge -- we can achieve a real sense of fulfillment that fancy cars and shiny jewelry could never provide.

Indeed, we should soak up the present, for that is where true happiness lies. We can't change the past or do much about a future that has yet to arrive. All we can do is make today as good a day as possible.

Can you say you've taken for granted the sight of the majestic sun setting in the evening? How about the joy of eating something delectable after you've gone several hours without eating? What about the feeling of watching an engrossing film or show?

These moments are so simple and short-lived that we may overlook them without a second thought -- probably because we're preoccupied with our phones or distracted by other things or people in our midst.

While living in the moment for the bulk of our waking hours is a tall order, we should aim to  stop what we're doing and take at least a few minutes each day to focus on something simple -- whether the sound of birds chirping at the beach or the sight of someone painting a canvas near the grocery store -- and take pleasure in it.

Think of this way: Those who are blind or deaf would love to be able to experience things we might consider mundane.

While there's nothing wrong with buying stuff for ourselves -- we do, after all, work hard for our worldly possessions -- Thoreau reminds us not to get so wrapped up in the superficial that we lose sight of the things that really do matter in life. We can certainly find joy in the simple.

Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect

Being happy does not mean everything in your life is perfect.

It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections and haven't looked back.

Let's face it: There is no such thing as the perfect life. Between stress at work, mounting bills, obnoxious people, pesky health issues, financial pressures, and other challenges we face, our lives are never entirely carefree.

However, those who adopt a half-glass-full approach can view this as a positive.

Think about it. What would life really be like if we had no obstacles to overcome? How would we achieve growth? In what other ways could we acquire wisdom?

If we didn't have rough times in our lives, we'd be less likely to appreciate the tranquil, trouble-free periods. If we had no problems to resolve, we wouldn't know how gratifying it can be to resolve them, especially when it results in people becoming closer.

Sure, no one wishes for, say, health or money woes. But many would agree that only by struggling and experiencing adversity did they finally decide to shape up and make sounder decisions -- whether it be paying down their debt or losing weight -- that finally put them on the path to a happier life.

In other words, it is in the most trying situations that we build the strength, resilience, and wisdom to carry us forward. Thus, the very fact that life is imperfect empowers us to grow.

While our lives may be far from perfect, most of us can say we're in much better shape than many people out there. Things could be better, yes, but they could also be worse.

Many of us feel compelled to act as if our lives are perfect. Just log on to Facebook and you'll see countless pictures and videos of people who want to project that everything from their jobs and relationships to their family lives is impeccable.

But why give off this phony aura of an unblemished life?

By accepting that our lives are not ideal, we release a great load off our shoulders. We come to understand that the quest for perfection is a futile one, but the same doesn't hold for happiness. We can in fact lead happy lives even if things aren't as tidy as we'd like them to be.

Happiness can be anything from a hot cup of coffee on a wintry day with your significant other to taking a brisk walk on the beach under a starry sky.

Life is about taking the good with the bad. It's about knowing that just because you have a frown on your face doesn't mean you can't turn it upside down by refocusing your thoughts.

Even though our lives may be imperfect, that doesn't have to get in the way of our pursuit of happiness. As Havelock Ellis said, "The absence of a flaw in beauty is itself a flaw." 

Don't let others hurt your feelings

Over the years, people have told me that they wish they could free themselves of their own sensitivity, claiming it has led to deep heartache and hurt feelings.

I told them that nixing their sensitive nature will only demonstrate one thing: That they are succumbing to the desires of others. If you've read several other of my posts, you'll know that a recurring theme on this blog is the concept of individuality, and how important it is that we hold on to the things that distinguish us from other people.

By becoming the hardened, unemotional person others push you to be, you're just letting them win

So what is one to do?

Well, no one says you can't be sensitive and firm simultaneously. We can be kind, generous, and compassionate toward others without granting them the latitude to trample on our feelings.

The key is to make clear that although you have a soft side, you are totally capable of summoning a bolder, no-nonsense version of yourself that won't take BS from anyone.

When some people detect that you take to wearing your heart on your sleeve, they feel the compulsion to exploit that.

As I've noted in prior entries, we mustn't allow our hearts to govern our every decision. Instead, our choices should balance the yearnings of the heart with the rationality afforded by the mind.

Some of us are inclined to say "yes" every time someone asks for something. We can't help ourselves -- we're givers, almost to a fault. The bad news is that this is a surefire way to being taken for a ride by the more opportunistic people among us.

If you don't want to go along with something they propose, just say "no." If you take exception to something they say or do, speak up. Your voice deserves to be heard as much as anyone else's.

Indeed, we can be sentimental in some instances and assertive in others (much like we can be silly on certain days and more serious on others). Being overly emotional isn't a character flaw that needs correcting -- it's part of what makes you the person you are. However, if we're not careful, some people won't have any qualms about using our sensitivity to get the best of us.

Only by standing up for ourselves -- and remaining true to our principles -- can we command others' respect. If we always bend to others' will, they will persist in running roughshod over our feelings.

Stand your ground, even if it makes you uncomfortable sometimes. Don't yield to other people in hopes of getting their approval. You can be a kind, respectful person without resigning to being anyone's doormat.

Relationships end for this key reason...

Relationships don't die on their own.

They end because one or both partners fail to invest the time, energy, and effort to sustain them.

They put everything before the relationship -- work, chores, kids, hobbies -- and are then left wondering why things took such a bad turn.

A relationship can't maintain itself. Just because you've been with someone for 20 years, share the same interests, or you're convinced nothing could ever tear you apart doesn't mean it can't go down the tubes.

If both partners aren't actively contributing to the relationship, they can drift apart in no time, potentially opening the door to drinking, depression, cheating, and other circumstances that can put the relationship on a downward spiral from which it may never recover.

On the flip side, those who genuinely want the relationship to remain strong never cease doing the little things -- the love notes/texts, a surprise dinner here and there, a kiss upon waking up and before going to sleep. They want to make each other feel special because they value their bond wholeheartedly.

To be sure, we all have our "off days" where romance may be shunted aside a bit, and that's understandable. But if the relationship constantly takes a back seat to everything else going on in your life, it's headed down the road to ruin unless partners take action.

Along with trust, respect, loyalty, and honesty, communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. Partners must address whatever they feel is plaguing the relationship, whether it be that too much time is spent at work or that they never do anything spontaneous anymore.

In order to forge a healthy emotional connection, both individuals must refrain from judging or casting blame on each other. Instead, they should strive to see things from the other's perspective. Though they may not agree on everything, it's likely they can concede at least a few points the other is making.

If a relationship is to survive -- let alone thrive -- both partners' egos have to be checked at the door. A conciliatory approach isn't feasible if they're always trying to prove that they're right and the other person isn't.

When you're in a relationship, the two of you are a team. You're in it to work through problems together, not to see who can outlast the other in verbal combat.

Finally, when someone says their relationship simply "didn't work out," chances are that one or both people didn't apply sufficient time and energy into it. Sometimes it ends up being for the best, but in other cases people don't realize what they had until it's too late.