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Newsletter Dated: 11/2/2006 11:45:03 AM
Subject: Happiness Tips from Tina: Life Lessons
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Happiness Tip: Life Lessons
In this month of giving thanks, I am grateful for the lessons of my life. Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that a meaningful life is about growing your soul, and it happens slowly, in the process of engaging life.
My own soul was battered early, when all the closest people in family died during my teenage years, and I was left alone, terrified, without money, education or an idea of what to do. I just stumbled through the days, months and years, too afraid to feel what I feared was inside me, grasping at the wrong lifelines, and clinging to the wrong people until, divorced, bereft, suicidal, and single, at age 27, I entered therapy and began to develop my soul is through exploring my feelings. It would save my life, and be the basis for a personal renaissance. As I searched for meaning and purpose, I began to understand I’d been put on Earth to learn and grow, and to use what I’d learned in the process of healing myself to help others. Now that I’m about to turn 63, I find that sense of purpose is still serving me well, and has been the source of many blessings.
As a child with no religious training, but growing up in the beautiful surroundings of the Catskill mountains, I sensed a Power behind the workings of the Universe, which has inspired me to yearn and aspire, comforted me in times of pain, and provided clarity and direction when I needed it. Human relationships bruise, batter and comfort me and teach resilience and humility. Love urges my soul to blossom and glow, compassion causes it to blur at the edges, and so I learn to accept others as they are.
Every day, I have the delight and privilege of loving Richard, my husband, a real, human, fallible man. We’re about the same age, he’s losing hair, I’ve gained weight. But, after almost 20 years, we have fused our hearts and souls, if not our personalities. He makes it clear that he loves me, though I often frustrate him, and I am grateful for his presence in my life on a daily basis. Our intimacy is lovely, thank you, even if it doesn’t match movie fantasies. We laugh together, we share the struggles of daily life together, and the thought that he might die before I do fills me with dread. It took me 37 years to find him, and no media beefcake image could replace my very own, live and kicking, formerly red-haired leprechaun. I am so grateful to share life with him.
My friends are equal blessing and challenge. We can be cranky, we occasionally carelessly hurt each others’ feelings, and we don’t always say the right thing. But, we are here for each other when we’re really needed, we do our best to be caring and kind, and we forgive each others’ imperfections. I give thanks for friends daily.
Soul growth often comes out of crisis. Most of my clients come to me, not focused on gratitude, but on some crisis in their lives: a relationship disaster, marriage or family problems, lack of direction and motivation, some huge loss for which they’re grieving, an emotional problem such as anxiety or depression, or perhaps even for help in recovering from an addiction. As we sort through the crisis, handle immediate problems, and get everything settled down, and then embark on an extended process of figuring out what happened and what must change, life gets easier.
Then, frequently, they ask: Now that I'm in charge of myself, and have a lot of extra energy, because life is a lot easier and my relationships are working, it feels like I'm missing something -- what am I doing here?”
This begins a spiritual search for meaning, which I've written about in The Real 13th Step, and The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow explained in his “Hierarchy of Needs” that once the basics of life are established, people need a sense of meaning and a higher purpose than just survival. When self-confidence and self-esteem are in place, we need a challenge to feel satisfied, a way to express our uniqueness and individuality to ourselves, to friends, and to the world.
But if your life's purpose is not evident to you already, how do you find out what it is? Where does a sense of purpose come from? It comes from within, and cannot be not imposed or chosen from outside. Your purpose may be your livelihood, or it may have nothing to do with how you make a living. Your purpose may be a simple one, like making a good, healthy life for yourself and your children, or it may be more dramatic, and based on what you learned by healing your own childhood experience. Inner purpose has the power to transform anxiety, anger, fear and rage into powerful, life-affirming action. A life purpose gives you the means to control your destiny, no matter what the force of the hardships you have incurred.
Most of the world’s spiritual thinkers have said that the wisdom guiding each of us is available if we just listen and trust what we hear. Purpose may make itself clear in one instant flash, or gradually, by following clues, one at a time. Whether you get it all at once or a piece at a time, it will still take work and experience to bring it about. Inner wisdom is not rational or practical in nature, but more intuitive and spiritual. It can provide a way to see the big picture, or a more detached and objective viewpoint of the issues and problems of life. Each new idea must be tested through practical use, to see how it works. Step by step, using both intuitive wisdom and clear thinking, you can bring your inner motivation to the surface and use it to create what you want. A combination of inspiration expressed through action will develop the meaning of your own life.
Here’s how I expressed my own experience of it, in a poem called “Grace”
On a wheel
Formless base clay
Rising coaxed, caressed,
Coerced and beaten into shape
Tested in passion's consuming fire
Until worthy to catch and hold
A bit of the liquid grace
Pouring unceasingly over us.
© 2006 Tina B. Tessina (adapted from It Ends With You and The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again)
If you want more, here are some related articles you can download from my website at http://tinatessina.com/monthly_column.html
Attitude: From Negative to Gratitude
The Colors of You
Getting Out of Your Way
Into Every Life
The Meaning of Life
Surviving Loss & Thriving Again
Winning The War Within
upcoming radio shows, TV, and lectures are all posted on my website at www.tinatessina.com
You can find me on the Internet, as the "Dating Doctor" on www.couplescompany.com, "Dr. Romance" on Yahoo!Personals at http://personals.yahoo.com/us/static/content_date (Look for my predictions for romance for 2006!), a designated Expert for Redbook Love Network and I'll also answer your questions at http://www.tinatessina.com.
Through my website, you can get CE credits online based on my books: It Ends With You; How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free and The Real 13th Step To sign up for classes or browse my books, visit www.tinatessina.com.
I welcome your feedback and support, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you joy,
Tina B. Tessina, PhD
Re: Be Irresistible
Congrats on your new book deals! You go, girl! You remain an inspiration.
Thanks for all the support, Alison.
Congrats on your book deal! Way to rock, girlfriend. And I love your irresistible tips for mates. After 31 years of marriage, I still have a ton to learn. Bravo to you, and just let me know if I can assist you. Many blessings, Always happy,
Thanks for your offer of help, Cynthia. I appreciate your generosity.
Congratulations on your two upcoming books! Have fun writing. I look forward to your articles.
Thanks, Judy, I always enjoy hearing from you.
MaryGrace Patterson Excellent advise Tina. If every one could read this
and do it, their marriages and relationships would be much better........M
Congratulations on the new book deals! Two at once?! You are a human powerhouse!
Thank you for more words of inspiration. I love reading your mails. There is almost always some new idea for me to meditate on, and even when you write things I already know, it is always in such a manner as to cause me to take it in afresh. Point No 1 had me nodding my head appreciatively. For some reason, I have had a lot of success lately at that one.(Finally!!)
It is very gratifying to find that the world doesn't fall apart when I let something go (not try to prove myself right every time). Even more, I can usually find some merit in what my Beloved has to say when I resist the urge to react, and if he is, in fact, incorrect, it is soo much easier for me to make my point if I haven't jumped in and bitten his nose off first!!
You are a sweetheart, and we are lucky readers to have your words just come dropping into our mailboxes like this.
Thanks, Mel – it’s great to hear how you’ve taken the ideas and run with them.
Hello..Tina: I 've been reading your newsletters for a few months now. I realized that I've never really known or tired to approach a relationship in the right way. Thank you, Susan
You’re welcome, Susan. I know you can learn what you need to make your relationships work.
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