The most important metric: building better relationships by managing your energy level

A few weeks ago, my partner and I arranged a big get-together for both our families. Everyone met up in my partner’s house, chatted for an hour, and then hopped over to Mario’s, the famous buffet restaurant nearby. Several more hours of fun, laughter, and talk followed.

Finally it was all done, and my partner and I had some time to ourselves. We were both happy, but tired.

I took a quick nap that afternoon, but still felt somewhat depleted when I woke up. By the time we were relaxing back at my partner’s house after dinner, I was practically in a daze.

As I prepared to head home, my partner noticed my sluggish responses to her, and my thousand-yard stare. She smiled and said, “It’s okay. I know you’re tired.”

That woke me up a little. I smiled sheepishly at her, grateful for her understanding; but inside, I was thinking, “Damn. I messed up.”

I had let my batteries run out.

Personal Energy: A Critical Resource

I don’t need to say much about the difference between having plenty of energy during the day, and struggling along on very little. Everyone knows that they are happier and more productive when their energy level is high. The better you manage and preserve your personal energy, the better you perform at everything. You become a more productive worker, a more attentive and selfless lover, and a happier human being in general. The better you take care of yourself, the more attention and focus you will be able to devote to other areas of your life — including your relationships.

So being thrifty about your energy levels is not selfish; it’s a smart investment that can provide large returns in all aspects of your life.

Aside from what we already understand instinctively about managing our personal energy, I’m going to add two ideas to the concept:

  1. Your energy level (both physical and mental energy) is the most important metric that you must track each day. It’s more crucial than managing your money. It’s even more crucial than managing your time, which is saying a lot. Why? Because just as having lots of money is worthless if you don’t have the time to spend it, having lots of time is also worthless if you don’t have the energy to use that time well. You can have the entire day free to yourself, but that won’t translate to anything meaningful if you are so exhausted that you spend the whole day in a mental fog.
  2. Proper management of your energy level isn’t just about replenishing it when it runs out. It’s also about making sure it never gets too low in the first place. Your performance at pretty much everything you do will suffer as your energy level goes down, so keep it topped up as constantly as you can; don’t even wait for it to go into the red.

Point number 1 is not my own idea. Scott Adams, creator of the successful Dilbert comic strip, believes in the beneficial spill-over effect of a high energy level. In his book, he writes:

When I get my personal energy right, the quality of my work is better, and I can complete it faster. That keeps my career on track. And when all of that is working, and I feel relaxed and energetic, my personal life is better too.

Best-selling author, entrepreneur, and investor Tim Ferriss talked in this blog post about how free time is useless without attention:

Income is renewable, but some other resources—like attention—are not. I’ve talked before about attention as a currency and how it determines the value of time.

[…] is your weekend really “free” if you find a crisis in the inbox Saturday morning that you can’t address until Monday morning?

Even if the inbox scan lasts 30 seconds, the preoccupation and forward projection for the subsequent 48 hours effectively deletes that experience from your life. You had time but you didn’t have attention, so the time had no practical value.

In this case, I consider “attention” to be practically the same concept as “personal energy” (especially mental energy), because the two are so closely linked. I find that my ability to pay attention to things is a direct result of my energy level at the moment.

Point number 2 is inspired by advice given by Dale Carnegie, an author and expert on interpersonal skills. In one of his books, he wrote:

So, to prevent fatigue and worry, the first rule is: Rest often. Rest before you get tired. Why is that so important? Because fatigue accumulates with astonishing rapidity. The United States Army has discovered by repeated tests that even young men — men toughened by years of Army training — can march better, and hold up longer, if they throw down their packs and rest ten minutes out of every hour.

Based on this idea, we can think of both physical and mental rest as something we can do in anticipation of fatigue, and not just as a cure for fatigue. Instead of letting ourselves become tired and then resting afterwards, we can sprinkle rest periods throughout our day so that we never become too tired in the first place. Even if the second method is ultimately no more productive than the first method, the second method will probably feel easier. This is because we will never have to experience heavy fatigue in the first place; and knowing that there is always a short break just around the corner is good for morale.

All right, these are cool things to know when it comes to our personal lives. But how can this knowledge help us improve our relationships?

Once we accept the importance of personal energy level as a resource to be managed wisely, we can avoid a lot of potential conflict with our partners. By keeping our energy levels high, we keep ourselves in a good mood, which drastically reduces the chances that we will say or do something towards our partners that we will regret.

Action Steps

We’ve seen the wisdom of guarding our energy levels throughout the day, as well as recharging before we get tired. Now what are the nitty-gritty tactics we can use to improve our relationships and daily interactions? Consider these examples:

  • Experiment with treating your personal energy level as the most important resource that you must manage. Decide to truly make it a top priority; that is, be willing to sacrifice other things in order to keep your energy level high. Invest your money in healthy food that will keep you energized all day. Make time (if necessary, force time) for activities that can restore your mental energy and peace of mind: adequate sleep, relaxing outdoor walks, meditation, social interaction or isolation (depending on your preferences), et cetera. Even if these activities take some time away from other things that are also pretty important (family management, career, hobbies), remember what Scott Adams said: high personal energy will positively affect other areas of life. Experiment with making the investment.
  • As a personal example, I know that I am an introvert. I know that solitary time recharges my mental and emotional batteries, and interaction with other people drains those same batteries. (This is true even when I am enjoying the social interaction.) I also know that when my batteries are depleted, I become either irritable or cold towards anyone who tries to talk with me. Using my knowledge about preemptive resting, I can tell people: “I’ve enjoyed talking with you, but I feel myself becoming tired now, and I’m not really at my best when I’m tired. Let’s get back together again sometime, but for now, I’d like to call it a night. How does that sound?” While this may sound anti-social or even rude to some people, I know that I can become a lot more anti-social when I’m really depleted! It’s much better to make a polite exit while I still have some battery power left. This strategy works regardless of who I am interacting with: my partner, family, friends, even strangers.
  • Consider keeping a packet of chewing gum or candy with you at all times, in case you need a quick hit of energy-replenishing sugar. I keep several pieces of Juicy Fruit gum with me wherever I go, and it’s made a big difference several times. Some studies (here and here) show that attention/energy/willpower are influenced by the amount of glucose in our bodies; too little glucose, and we enter a state of “ego depletion“.
  • When you’re about to go into a situation that you know will be draining, fill up your batteries beforehand. Eat, sleep, and indulge your introversion or extraversion.
  • During the draining situation, take mini-breaks regularly. Take quick naps if you can get away with it. (Here is a fantastic infographic about the benefits of naps, and strategies you can use when napping.)
  • Finally, make your exit from the draining situation before you become totally depleted.

Now you’ve seen these ideas about the importance of personal energy, as well as my suggestions about how to preserve and maintain that energy. Now we’d like to hear from you. What strategies do you have in place (or plan to use in the future) for keeping your energy level high? Do you agree that personal energy is the most important resource to manage, or do you feel that there are more effective metrics to track? Make yourself heard in the comments.

[To leave a comment, please use the “Leave a Comment” link just below the title of this post.]

Strategic Self-Centeredness: How to Get Your Partner to Like You More

A few years ago, my father and I were having dinner with some of his business colleagues. Everyone had one or two stories to tell, but one fellow really took the cake when it came to talking about his experiences. He shared one long story, mostly centered on projects he had been working on and his views on various business topics. On and on it went, twenty minutes, thirty minutes, as the rest of us listened in silence. Finally, as the meal came to a close and the story went on, my father said, with a raised eyebrow and a wry smile:

“Does this story have an ending?”

We all shared a chuckle at that, and the speaker soon wrapped up his tale. But I never forgot that experience, and the nugget of truth about human nature I saw that night: people can be pretty self-centered. Sometimes they realize it, and sometimes not. Maybe some of them don’t particularly care.

But rather than become depressed about this fact, we can learn to take advantage of it. We can combine this truth with various social strategies that can actually encourage people to like us more — even those people who are a little more self-absorbed than average. This is true for friends and family, as well as for romantic relationships.

How do we do this? In a few words: listening the right way, and asking questions the right way.

Let’s take a look at the details.

The Bright Side of Human Self-Centeredness

People love to talk about themselves — their opinions, their experiences, their plans. While this can be bothersome in the case of those who take it too far, there is a bright side: we can make others feel good (as well as make them like us better) by strategically giving them opportunities to talk about themselves.

When my partner and I are in conversation, I can make her feel good not just by listening to her sincerely and actively, but also by encouraging her to tell me things about herself, her opinions on various matters, what she’s been doing lately, et cetera. Giving my partner opportunities to talk about herself is a small but powerful gift, and the benefit goes both ways. My partner gets the pleasure of talking about her views, which will help her feel more love and gratitude towards me. Everybody wins.

In terms of specific conversation tactics, asking open-ended questions allows for this kind of transparency and openness, much better than “one or the other” questions do.

This also opens the door to longer and deeper conversations, instead of things being reduced to the usual back-and-forth scripts. If both partners are self-aware and generous enough to ask each other questions in this way, then talk becomes spontaneous and fun again. Conversation with your partner becomes a mindful activity, instead of degrading into just another check-box in the day’s task list.

Two Scenarios

Let’s have an example scenario. Contrast the two sample conversations below, and take note of the underlined phrases and the effect they present.

If I stuck to asking my partner “one or the other”-type closed questions all the time, the conversation might proceed this way:

Me: Did you enjoy your dinner with friends tonight?

Her: Yeah, it was fun. Good to see them all again.

Me: Did you eat at that new sushi restaurant down the street?

Her: We did, and the food was tasty! Everyone enjoyed it.

Me: Jay and Sam were there, right? I haven’t seen them in a while. Are they doing okay?

Her: Yeah, they’re great.

Me: That’s good.

Her: …..

Me: …..

In this first example, my partner doesn’t say much in the way of descriptions or details about her night out with friends. It’s not just because she’s bored or being short with me — it’s because I don’t give her the opportunity to be descriptive or detailed, since I am only asking closed questions. Each of the underlined phrases above sounds like an interrogation question for which there are only one or two acceptable answers. Did you eat there? Yes or no. Did you enjoy it? Yes or no. Are your friends doing okay? Yes or no. I’m not giving my partner options.

There is a logical/psychological error similar to this mistake, called the False Dilemma. Falling prey to a False Dilemma means believing that there are only a few options available, even though there are actually many. If I stick to asking my partner “closed” questions all the time, I might be pushing her into a False Dilemma scenario without realizing it.

Now let’s see what kind of scenario might take place if I ask open-ended questions, and invite my partner to give descriptions and details.

Me: You went out for dinner with your friends tonight, right? Tell me about that. [Say this with a smile and with friendly body language — we don’t want to sound as though we’re interrogating her, or as though we are jealous. Remember our first principle!]

Her: Oh, it was fun! Bit of a hectic start, though.

Me: A hectic start? What happened, exactly?

Her: Well, we were supposed to meet up at six, but Sam and Jay were late — as usual! But it turned out that they were only late because they’d gone out to buy gifts for you and me. For no reason, can you imagine?

Me: Wow! Those two always were real nice. What have they been busy with lately?

Her: Well, you know Sam just finished her medical studies, so she’s just gotten residency at a local hospital. And Jay is planning a trip to Hong Kong next month, to attend that meditation seminar he’s been talking about.

Me: Exciting lives, those two! So the gang’s all there now — What did you guys do next?

Her: Well, we were all pretty hungry by that time. So we went out to eat at that new sushi place.

Me: Aw yeah, sushi! What dishes did you try? What were your favorites?

Her: I’m gonna go with just their plain tuna sashimi, it was delicious…

Look at how much description she goes into during the second conversation. That kind of outcome is much more likely if I give her an invitation to tell me the details. That invitation comes in the form of my asking open-ended questions — questions to which there are many possible answers, not just one or two.

Action Steps

Now that we know the power of asking open-ended questions, and how they can transform our conversations for the better, how can we apply this in our own interactions with loved ones? Consider these tips:

  • Phrase your questions in such a way that there are many possible answers. Try not to ask questions that can be answered by just a yes or no. For example, ask “What did you think of the movie?”, instead of “Did you like the movie?” (Not only does the second option only have a yes/no answer, it also puts some social pressure on your partner — they probably won’t want to say outright that they disliked the movie, even if they did.)
  • Encourage your partner to tell stories, via the way you ask questions. Ask questions such as, “What happened?”; “What did you do next?”; “How did it all end?”; et cetera. Or give an indication that you know what they did that day, and ask for a story. “You told me that you would be giving that big presentation at work today…tell me about that.”
  • Don’t forget to use active listening while you encourage your partner to be descriptive and detailed. Use eye contact, receptive body language, occasional sounds such as “ah” and “mm-hm” — and of course, actually give your partner your full attention. There’s no point in encouraging your partner to go into stories and details, if you’re just going to let your mind wander as she talks.

A few small tweaks to the way we listen and converse can have a profound positive effect on our relationships. As I’ve said before: in a frantic, fast-paced world where nobody seems to have time or patience for anyone else, giving your partner your full attention and full engagement is a rare and precious gift.

I’ve given a few examples and tips above, but now I’d like to hear from you. What can you modify about your speaking and listening habits, to encourage deeper and more detailed conversation with your partner? Let us know in the comments.

[To leave a comment, please use the “Leave a Comment” link just below the title of this post.]

Advice from a husband and father: on taking sides when necessary

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Caught in a lose-lose situation?

I had a long talk recently with Tito Jun, my romantic partner’s father. It was a real man-to-man talk, from an older man to a younger one, about what is really important in life and in relationships.

I went into that conversation knowing it would be important, yet I still underestimated its significance. We talked about many things, but there was one piece of advice that I will always remember, and I suspect it will be something I can turn to in future moments of difficulty and doubt.

Today I share that advice with you.

When you need to take sides

Human relationships are always going to be a two-sided reality. There will be happy times and good memories; and there will be frustrations and misunderstandings. This is especially true when the larger families of the two lovers are involved. And, unfortunately, there may be times when it becomes necessary to take sides — times when staying neutral will only prolong the problem, and create more resentment and hostility. Choosing sides isn’t always fun, but sometimes it’s the least of all possible evils.

I remember a nasty incident during my family’s Christmas Eve celebration a few years ago. The delicious Christmas dinner had been eaten, midnight was approaching, and it was time for the ritual of exchanging and opening gifts. But a disagreement arose at this point: one of my family members believed that the gift-opening time was to be that night, while another family member insisted that it had always been done the morning after. The situation was made even more complicated because my family’s Christmas celebration is usually divided between several different houses, on different days during the season.

To make an ugly story short, the disagreement escalated into an exchange of insults in front of relatives (including relatives visiting from abroad), culminating with one family member storming out of the house, not to be seen again for the rest of the night. No one knew where he had gone. (He eventually returned home, safe but still angry.)

So much for “the season to be jolly”.

Clearly, this sort of situation is very delicate. At times like these, a decision has to be made. One side may have to be chosen over the other, at least to a certain degree. Looking back at that Christmas incident now, I realize that I really could have used the kind of advice that Tito Jun gave me recently. Faced with this kind of unpleasant scenario, how can we know which side to take?

The answer, according to Tito Jun, is: you need to make that decision before the bad situation happens in the first place.

When you are single and romantically un-attached, you have one family: the family you are born into. Once you are in a relationship, you have two families: the one you were born into, and (to some extent) your partner’s family. If you choose to get married, you will now have three families — the third one being the family you will be starting with your spouse.

Almost inevitably, disagreements are going to arise between these multiple families. Before this even happens, we need to have decided which family to stand behind. And once that decision has been made, we will need to stick with it.

Let’s have an example, to make things clearer.

The scenario and the solutions

Scenario: I am newly married, and my parents are inviting me and my wife to a long vacation with them in Tagaytay (a scenic and popular tourist destination in the Philippines), to celebrate the new marriage. For my part, I would be equally happy whether I go on this vacation or not. However, my wife doesn’t really feel like taking this trip with my parents. She’d rather take a trip with just the two of us alone.

I don’t want to appear snobbish or unappreciative towards my parents; but at the same time, I certainly don’t want to put my new wife through something unpleasant just as we’re starting our life together. What can I do? What guidelines can I use to make a good decision?

If, by this point in my life, I had not made any prior decision about “which family” to prioritize, I would be in trouble. I would be caught in paralysis by analysis, arguing against myself, trying to stay neutral in a situation where neutrality is inappropriate, and eventually alienating both my parents and my wife.

But if I had made my “which family” decision early on, before this situation arose, I would be able to avoid the stress of a last-minute decision process. I would know whether to focus on strengthening my bond with my new wife, or maintaining strong ties with my “old” family.

It need not be an all-or-nothing decision, either. Prioritizing one does not mean completely rejecting the other. For example, if I choose to prioritize my wife, I could say to my parents:

“Mom and Dad, I appreciate your invitation, and I am grateful for everything you’ve done in terms of raising me and preparing me for this new life. For now, I would like to spend plenty of time bonding with my wife, just the two of us. Let us pass on this Tagaytay vacation for now. But maybe the four of us could do something simple and fun in the future, once my wife and I are more settled. How does that sound?”

If I choose in this instance to lean towards my “old” family, perhaps I could say to my wife:

“I know that you would like us to spend more time alone together, since we’re just getting started on our new life. I would love to spend more time with you, too. But I feel that my parents are sad that I am leaving them, and would like one last adventure with all of us together. I’d like to give them this last trip with us, and then afterwards, you and I can really focus on each other. Why don’t we take our own trip together, just the two of us, sometime in the near future? Does that sound fair to you?”

In both cases, I am able to express my own preferences, while at the same time staying as diplomatic as possible and minimizing damage to all the relationships involved. Even though we recognize the need to sometimes choose one side over another, we also want to keep any long-term relationship damage as low as possible, even towards the party that we decided against. There is no need to burn bridges — “I disagree with you this time” does not need to mean “We will be enemies forever”.

(Personally speaking, in a scenario such as the one described above, I would be much more likely to prioritize my wife over my “old” family. I believe that if I am going to be married at all, it wouldn’t make sense to frequently side with anyone other than my spouse. However, for the benefit of those who may believe differently than I do, I included possible solutions for both the “new” and “old” families. These solutions can also be used by someone who wants to sometimes side with the old family, and sometimes side with the new.)

Summary

Familial conflict is nearly unavoidable, and pretty much always unpleasant.

However, it need not end up like my family’s Christmas mess — if we make the effort ahead of time to sit down, think about our priorities, and decide which side to take, should the need arise. It can be tempting to stay neutral, but there are times when neutrality will only allow the argument to escalate further. We need to have the mental preparation and the verbal tools to choose a side when necessary, without completely destroying our relationships with the un-chosen party.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What about your own relationships (romantic or otherwise)? Has anything like my family Christmas story ever happened to you? What did you do, and would you have done things differently if you had heard Tito Jun’s advice beforehand? Let us know in the comments.

[To leave a comment, please use the “Leave a Comment” link just below the title of this post.]

The Power of the Small

The door opens, and there she is, fresh-faced, beautifully dressed, and smiling in the morning sunlight.

I return a smile of my own, and step into her embrace.

For the past several years, my partner and I have made it a ritual of greeting to hug each other every time we meet. We always have, and we always will.

Late that night, after a full and satisfying day together, we stand at her doorstep, ready (but not quite willing) to part ways for another week.

She gives me another smile, still as captivating as the first smile of the day she gave me twelve hours ago. “I love you”, she says. And I say, “I love you too.”

For the past several years, we’ve made it a habit to verbally express our love just before we part ways for the day. We always have.

And we always will.

Why the small things matter more

The greeting hug. The parting words. Hand-holding. Neck and back massages. We have decided to place a great deal of importance on these simple gestures, and we perform them frequently — as regularly as clockwork, in fact. After seven years together, we recognize the power of these small actions — that they are often more powerful than large gestures, in terms of keeping the romance alive.

But why is this the case?

Because small, frequent gestures are the reliable day-to-day glue that will keep the relationship always in working order. More than the practical effect of the action itself, what will really make your partner happy is evidence that you were thinking about them.

Through these small frequent actions, I am saying to my partner:

  • You are often on my mind.
  • To me, you are not just “set it and forget it”. I want to show you my love consistently.
  • You are worth the constant tending that it takes to maintain a lasting relationship.

Of course, this does not mean that the occasional large gesture is worthless. Large gestures can create surges in happiness for the recipient, as well as add much-needed variety to the relationship. But if you are looking for a simple and easy way to keep the love alive on a day-to-day basis, the small gestures will carry you far.

Harnessing the power of the small

Knowing this, how can we harness the power of small, frequent gestures to improve our own relationships? Here are a few ideas:

  • Compliment your partner’s physical appearance. The best way to do this is to be specific, and observant to details. We can do better than saying, “Nice shirt!” Try, “I love the blue of your blouse. It’s like the blue of a summer morning. Just looking at you makes me feel happier!”
  • Express appreciation every time your partner does something for you. Again, be specific and observant. Let your partner know that you are aware of the trouble they went through in order to help you. For example: “Anna, I really appreciate your going to the store to pick up that milk for me. I know it was a little out of your way, and yet you still did it. Thank you for that.”
  • Make a sincere effort to listen to your partner during conversation. Do not underestimate the awesome power that this can have in improving your relationship. In a frantic, fast-paced world where nobody seems to have time or patience for anyone else, giving your partner your full attention is a rare and precious gift indeed. Consider these tips:
    • As they are speaking to you, remove any distraction that might prevent you from giving your full attention. Put down the phone; turn away from the computer (these things will still be there later today — I promise).
    • Turn your body towards your partner. Present a visual sign that you are focusing totally on them, right here, right now.
    • You can also experiment with providing an audio sign that you are listening. As they speak, you can occasionally give a soft verbal sound like “ahh”, “mm-hm”, or the like. Some people may appreciate this; some may find it distracting. Experiment.
    • Use eye contact — soft and steady, not too harsh. However, you probably shouldn’t maintain unbroken eye contact 100% of the time. Move your eyes occasionally, but come back frequently to eye contact.
    • Resist the urge to respond in real-time to every phrase or sentence they say. Let them get into the flow of talking, without interruption.
    • Finally, as your partner finishes speaking, give them a short summary of what they talked about, plus one or two responses you may have. For example: “Wow, Anna, it sounds like you had a crazy day at work today. I couldn’t believe it when they asked you to do that overtime work at the last second. That seems unfair to you.” This short summary will prove to your partner that you have been listening to them this entire time, instead of letting your attention wander as they talk.

Do not underestimate the power of small, frequent gestures in holding your relationships together. Use these tips and knowledge daily, along with the occasional large gesture or surprise, and watch your relationship stand the test of time.

Your turn

Now that you are more aware of the power of the small, what small, frequent, and meaningful gestures will you display in your own relationships — romantic or otherwise? Let us know in the comments below.

[To leave a comment, please use the “Leave a Comment” link just below the title of this post.]

The Handful of Sand Principle

Welcome to A Handful of Sand. The purpose of this blog is to explore concepts related to a person’s internal psychology — emotions, mental habits, potential errors in thinking — with the ultimate goal of improving one’s relationships with others. I am excited to be starting this project, and grateful that you have decided to give it a chance.

Before anything else: why is this blog called A Handful of Sand?

This is based on one of the principles — probably the most important principle — that has helped me maintain and nurture my seven-year (and counting) relationship with my romantic partner. I am certainly not the first person to come up with this principle, and I don’t know where it comes from or who first thought it up. The only thing that matters is that it works, and it has worked for me for seven years.

The principle is this: I hold onto our relationship softly. Unpossessively. Like you would hold a handful of sand. You can only hold onto it by grasping softly. The moment you tighten your grip in fear, in possessiveness, in greed — that’s the moment when the sand starts flowing out of your hands.

That old idea, “If you love something, let it go”, has a strong grain of truth in it. If I were to amend it to help express the principle above, I would say, “If you love something, hold it softly.”

I have found that if I hold on to the relationship this way — always with an open gate, without jealousy, with trust — then the relationship becomes self-strengthening. Trust and a lack of jealousy lead to gratitude and commitment, which lead to more trust and lack of jealousy. The more I apply the Handful of Sand Principle, the more the love grows.

What does this entail, in practical terms? To give one example, my romantic partner will occasionally go out for drinks with an old friend who used to be attracted to her, and in whom she was also interested. I know about this, and I encourage it with a smile, never asking where they went or what they did. It doesn’t bother me — because I have decided to hold onto to our relationship without jealousy.

For my part, I am lucky enough to be surrounded every day (at my office job and also at my weekend classes) by many attractive, intelligent, ambitious, inspiring women. My romantic partner has often heard me talk admiringly about these female colleagues and friends of mine, and it doesn’t bother her one bit — because she has also decided that there is nothing to gain through jealousy.

By doing things this way, we constantly give each other even more reason to love each other and come back to each other every time. Again, the relationship becomes self-strengthening. Would you rather stay with a jealous and possessive partner, or one who gives you a smile and a hug as you go off to meet your friends, and then welcomes you back with open arms at day’s end?

Of course, the Handful of Sand Principle works best when both partners in the romantic relationship apply it. I am fortunate that, right from the start, I found a person who is naturally unpossessive and not at all jealous. The application of the principle was mutual. Yes, I was lucky, and I know that not everyone is. But I believe that a relationship that is shadowed by jealously, possessiveness, and distrust is not a relationship worth keeping — or even starting. Find the right person, someone un-jealous, someone who is willing to apply the principle for you, as you would for them.

And then hold each other softly.

Thank you for reading the first post on A Handful of Sand. Join me as we continue the journey of self-discovery and self-improvement. We are all students of life, and we have plenty to learn from each other. I’d love to have you along for the ride.

[If you wish to leave a comment, please use the “Leave a Comment” link just below the title of this post.]