If you read our blog or follow us on social media, you probably know by now what The Back Forty is all about. It is about creating your second half of life as your best half of life and embracing the idea that your best is yet to come.
But how much do you know about our co-founders? Do you even know their names? Well, today I am unmasking the co-founders behind the curtain with 13 facts. So, without further ado, let’s learn about The Back Forty Co-Founders, Darrell Gurney and Alexandra Levin:
Now that you’ve gotten to know our co-founders a bit more, which of the above facts surprised you the most? Which fact made you the most interested? Who do you connect with knowing what you now know?
Today I want to inspire you to become happier. Everyone needs a little pick up every once and a while and today I am sharing with you 100 ways to make your day full of a little more happiness.
So, without further ado, let’s get happy!
If all of these happiness-inducing ideas aren’t enough, I have decided to start giving you something a little extra each time I write a new post.
Did you know that there are almost 1,500 National Days throughout the year? Some of them inspire conversation, others promote change, and still others just make you laugh. Here are the National Days that fall on April 25, 2017:
As we grow older it sometimes gets easier to focus on our significant other’s faults instead of their virtues. Pet peeves slowly become intolerable and your relationship becomes more routine and boring.
Where did all that happiness go?
It’s not that the happiness is gone, but rather that you have stopped nurturing the happiness. When was the last time you did something special for your significant other just to show them how much they are loved? Chances are, all of us could do special things for those we love more often.
But what am I supposed to do? I hear you asking. Look no further because I have compiled my list of the top six ways to fill your relationship with happiness by showing your love.
This might sound counterproductive but let me explain.
Does your husband love watching a certain sport? Does you wife have a favorite TV show? Chances are, there is something on TV that you hate as much as your significant other loves. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is a way to turn these experiences into loving gestures.
Order your significant other’s favorite delivery food (Pizza? Chinese? Mexican?) and schedule to have it delivered right before your husband or wife’s show starts. About 30 minutes before their show begins, say that you are going to bed, or another room, or whatever you normally do to avoid watching this show. Once you leave, send your significant other a text telling them that their favorite food is on the way, to enjoy their show, and that you love them.
Tah-dah! Suddenly, avoiding something you hate has been turned into a romantic gesture.
Do you get home from work before your significant other? Maybe you wake up earlier than them? Go to bed after them? Chances are, you are “alone” at home at one point or another throughout the week.
Turn this into a chance to show your love. What part of the house gets messy the fastest? The kitchen? The living room? Pick a room, and clean it before your significant other gets home. Not only will they notice, chances are they will also appreciate it and feel the need to reciprocate at some point.
This one is my favorite idea by far. Think about something that you request from your significant other on a regular basis. Do you ask them to stop at the store on their way home? Grab you something from the other room? Cook dinner? Walk the dog? Now’s the fun part, you get to turn that mundane obligation into an exciting surprise.
Ask them to do the obligation and then surprise them with a fun activity. Ask them to grab some cheese from the grocery store and then surprise them in the cheese isle with plans to go on a hike and have a picnic. Or ask them to grab your glasses from the other room and then have tickets to the movies or a museum next to your glasses. Ask them to cook some pasta for dinner and then have a giftcard or reservations for their favorite restaurant waiting for them next to the pasta.
It is entirely up to you on how simple or extravagent these surprises are. The important part is that you are turning something they don’t enjoy doing into a fun experience for both of you.
This might seem like a relatively simple concept, but when was the last time you actively planned a date on your own? I’m not talking about deciding that you need a night away from the kids and planning something together or deciding that neither of you want to cook and going out for dinner. I’m talking about taking at least 30 minutes on your own to choose something to do together and booking the neccessary tickets/activities. Plan to take a weekend getaway, go to the zoo, or even just make a dinner reservation.
It’s not the extravagance of the date that is important. It’s that you took the time to plan to do something together because you enjoy spending time with your significant other. It’s a great way to say I love you, which brings me to my next point…
Have you ever heard of the “magic ratio” discovered by psycholigist John Gottman? He says that there is actually a ratio of positive to negative comments in a relationship that can pretty much guarantee a stable relationship. What is this ratio?
For every negative comment you make to your significant other, you should make five positive comments. So think about it, what is your current ratio? How often are you saying “I love you”? How often do you tell your significant other that you appreciate them? Now, how often are you complaining? The longer we are in a relationship, the easier it is to take the positives for granted and become more frustrated with the negatives. This can cause our ratios to get completely out of whack.
So what am I suggesting you do? Figure out what your current ratio currently is, and then work towards that 5:1 ratio. Start with just a week and see the difference that it makes in your daily interactions when you try to stick to the ratio. Chances are, you will both become happier.
Pet peeves. We all have them. And we all have pet peeves about our significant other. Maybe they leave the toilet seat up, or they leave their clothes all over the bedroom floor. Chances are, by this point you are thinking about your biggest pet peeves about your significant other. Well, stop!
Think about your significant other’s pet peeves about you instead. You know what they are. Now, actively try to stop all of those habits. Start with just a day and see how long you can make it last. I’m not saying that you change forever, but make an effort and your significant other will notice.
With all of these new ideas, I know you can actively bring happiness into your relationship. Because, after all, who doesn’t want to be happier? Your relationship is important and worth the time it will take to strengthen it. Even if your relationship is already stable and relatively happy – these six tips can bring even more happiness into your relationship.
Do you have any other examples of special things you do for your significant other to bring more happiness into your relationship? Tell me your favorites in the comments below!
“If you want to be happy, be.”
If we wanted, we could just keep-it-simple-stupid (KISS) the quote above and that would be that.
But sometimes the simplest of truths call forth our complication-making machinery.
We entertain this reason or that, compelling “evidence” that it’s just not possible. The more legitimate the reason, the more we negate the simple truth.
For example, I woke up this morning with that nagging feeling that something just wasn’t right.
First, I looked to see if there was some hold-over issue from yesterday that I may have carried into my today.
Then, I looked to see if I could remember my dreams: was there something that went through my mind during the night still in my head?
Or – and here’s an even deeper cut to take: since our dreams access our most subconscious thoughts and feelings, IF I DID HAVE A BAD DREAM which left its remnants, what does that mean? Should I be worried about what’s going on in my subconscious?
It’s truly amazing how far down the rabbit hole one can go!
Harvard Business Review described a study in which folks were monitored for how their morning mood impacted the rest of their day.
And there’s some evidence that one of many external factors can play a part in the setting up of one’s mood at the outset of the day.
Yet, outside of any external factors, the real value is in the development of internal happiness control.
Aside from a healthy self-awareness and any good life-skills techniques we employ to embrace living, maybe it’s as simple as the choice to be happy.
Despite the rabbit hole of quandary as to what could be the culprit behind the questionable mood, exercise the power of your will and choose to be in a good mood today anyway.
Some therapists suggest anchoring the thought with 5 deep breaths…and then finding times throughout the day to take those 5 deep breaths again and remember that choice.
The day will no doubt present as many viable reasons as possible to choose to go to the dark side. In the face of the reasons, it adds so much to our inner confidence and sense of power over our life every time we can choose to choose a happy thought anyway.
What technique can you employ to pivot? Step away from the machine for a moment and do your 5 breaths? Play a mind game of counting of your blessings?
Here’s a little mind trick I like: Envision the Negative!
Think back to one of the best things that ever happened to you – a fortunate break, an unexpected gift, a chance meeting, a wonderful opportunity, an amazing relationship – and then imagine for a moment that it HADN’T happened…and where you’d be now. Sounds like it’s pointing toward the negative, but it’s a great way to jettison yourself into humongous gratitude and happiness in short order!
When it’s all said and done for the day, if you worked your KISS Happy muscle, a lot of “evidence” might already be in place to justify going to bed happy. However, if any slip-ups occurred, you might engage in a late-night, rest-prep workout.
What were the BEST things that DID happen today? How did they make you feel?
How DID you grow and expand today, and what are your intentions for doing so tomorrow?
I like the thought that the way to be happy is to choose every morning that I’m in a good mood, and to keep choosing that choice throughout the day.
I also like the thought that sometimes happiness is a feeling, and sometimes it’s a choice.
All feelings aside, what’s the biggest choice you can make today?
“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.”
My friend Bert’s book was titled, “The Free Bird Flies: Choosing Life After Loss”, and it was a chronicle of how she regained her balance after the accidental death of her 21-year-old son, Philip. I held it in my hand, thinking of the journey that she and I had shared as close friends for the past several years. The many small moments of laughter over something her children had said; the sounding-board conversations we had over a shared interest in business; and the deeper conversations of spirituality and the concepts that give meaning to life. She filled such a comfortable and valued place in my life, in the way that only friends who love you just as you are can do. We vibed on a profund level and I always looked forward to our daily phone calls.
“The most helpful thing that someone said to me after Phil’s death”, she said, “was that you don’t ever ‘get over’ your grief. You just learn to manage it.” I had some managing to learn, as Bert had just been diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease that had already stolen much of her ability to speak, and was very soon going to accompany her out of this lifetime.
I felt numb, overloaded with sadness. Bert was well-known in our community, and I got multiple calls on a daily basis from people who were just hearing the news and needed to talk. I did my best to listen as they poured out their shock and grief. We all wanted to connect with someone else who loved her like we did. I found my sadness growing, as if in some way, if I could just get sad enough, then all would be restored and Bert would once again be her regular funny self.
If I’m not paying attention in the morning, I sometimes overpour my cup of tea. It tops the rim and runs down the side of the cup, puddling at the base. On this particular day after the third such phone call, I felt like that cup of tea, my grief at the impending loss of my friend overflowing my heart and puddling at my feet. I knew that I felt that way because losing my friend was all I had been focusing on. It was the topic that took up all my available mental bandwidth. Understandable, but puddling nonetheless. I needed to shift my story, but wasn’t sure what to do.
“How else can I look at this?”, I asked myself as I settled in for a meditation. As I relaxed, I thought of all the friends of mine who had gone out of their way to do small acts of caring for me. A sweet text here and there. Delivery of food so I wouldn’t have to cook. A listening ear so I could unload what I was feeling. Long, comforting hugs from my sweetheart.
My eyes shot open. “Love! I am surrounded by love!” My heart grew, and made room for gratitude as I sent a mental blessing to each person who formed my network of support. I could feel my mood lift a bit – there was now a different emotion alongside my grief.
I didn’t know it at the time, but choosing to look for love and gratitude in the time of sadness forever changed my stance toward loss. In the two years that followed Bert’s death (or “transition”, as she liked to call it), I also lost two other close friends as well as my dad. While my grief was certainly there at those times, it was also accompanied by its new friend, gratitude. Making the choice to be grateful for all of the treasured experiences I had with each of these people who were so special to me acted as a salve for my aching heart. It gave a dimension and a richness to the grieving process that surprised me, and I learned that difficult things also come packaged with wonderful things. It’s our choice to look for them.
As we get older, losses big and small become woven into the fabric of our life experience and it doesn’t take a big loss like a death to make gratitude our daily companion. We have opportunities to focus on what we love every day, to learn to manage our losses instead of allowing them to define us. Choosing gratitude is a choice worth making.
Happy Saturday everyone!
If you are familiar with The Back Forty, you know that Darrell is a Co-Founder of the INFUSE Program as well and the movement as a whole. If you have attended a Back Forty event, you’ve probably met him. But, do you really know him?
I sat down with Darrell and asked him a few questions, including his most profound memories, his motto, and his favorite color (forest green).
Read below to find out more about Darrell!
I’ve been sharing with you that I am in love with my wrinkles. Here’s how I got to fall in love with them…
It all hit me one sunny Sunday morning as Darrell and I were making our way through Los Angeles traffic. I thought about how I have been transformed by the gift of my life’s challenges, wins and losses, and how much I love the older and wiser version of my Self that I have become. I saw that my wrinkles are not only part of the package that came with those life experiences, but they were the very stripes and awards earned due to them. I realized that who I am today is inseparable from the wrinkles that formed me.
Every wrinkle, every experience, every lesson I learned and challenge I faced, contributed to making me exactly who I am today. All the gifts and talents I now possess and use to create my life according to my own design, to live it on my own terms, and to contribute to others are represented in those wrinkles. Because of everything I claimed along with the territory of those wrinkles, I am now creating my own inspiring, playful, passionate, and radically purposeful second half of life.
According to the Ancient Art of Chinese Face Reading, when we erase our wrinkles, we erase our gifts. Our wrinkles show how we have lived our life and even what we are designing in our future. Horizontal lines on the face are signs of lessons learned in life when we experience challenging times. This philosophy states that, if we remove those wrinkles, we lose the lesson… which means we may encounter the same challenge again to re-learn the lesson. Now why would we want to do that!
My wrinkles remind me of my growth, the path I have traveled, and who I am becoming. They serve as road signs alerting me to utilize my choice of who I want to be. They wake me up daily to the power I have to transform who I am as a matter of my word and commitments.
In The Back Forty, we propose that we have all chosen the specific experiences and events of our lives to create a laboratory for research and development which, when assessed, allow us to discover what we are really here to do.
My wrinkles remind me of the lab experiments I chose to conduct in my life to gain the gifts, the learnings, and the growth I now possess.…which give me the keys to an exciting, joyful, and radical Back Forty – my second half – and to living it on my own terms.
I am in love with my wrinkles.
And I invite YOU to fall in love with YOURS.
Everyone’s midlife experience is different, but regardless of the path you are following, here are 6 ways to absolutely fail at midlife!
As I said earlier, those are some absolutely wonderful ways to fail your midlife experience. If you noticed yourself as being subject to some of those thoughts or if you are just looking for a way to make your midlife better, click here and get your Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half of Life!
I’ve been called a good sport, agreeable, and easy-going. All good things, right?
Wrong. For me, they are not.
I have been accommodating my entire life, starting when I was 2 or 3. I was a good girl – in fact the best behaved child around (my mom’s friends always told her so). Being a “good girl” became my instrument for being liked by others, and getting my family’s approval and love.
I’ve been a people pleaser. With a smile. Happy to oblige. I’ve thought others know better, are smarter, and that I should just do what is wanted of me. To keep this thinking in place, I’ve subconsciously surrounded myself with plenty of people to accommodate.
One example is my ex-husband of 15 years, who was scary-smart, headstrong, and had a temper. It was much easier to say “yes” and do things his way than to say “no” and stand my ground. So I went the easy route. Except it only looked easy.
The very hard costs were my respect for myself, my self-expression, and the absence of a stand for who I am and what I believe. I was lost to my Self. In the end, the marriage ended and I decided that the only way to break that accommodation pattern and allow for my self-expression was to stay away from relationships. That changed when another way of thinking and being came along, called The Back Forty.
In my Back Forty, I have no interest in being an accommodating, people-pleasing, agreeable good girl.
Change is not easy after being a people-pleaser and accommodator for 48 years. It is still much easier for me to agree (with you, them or whomever) than to stand my ground for my perspective, values and desires. Patterns of behaving and thinking are deep and well-established.
My brain has been trained for a lifetime to perceive failure to accommodate as a threat to my survival. The temptation to agree and accommodate is high. Yet I am learning to stand for my Self and my full Self-expression.
It can be messy, like a child first learning to feed herself. And while it can be easier to err on the side of continuing to accommodate and agree, I choose to err on the side of my stand, even if disagreeable. I’m ready, willing and fully able to make mistakes, clean up the mess, and move on. Change can and will only come this way.
I do this because being accommodating is deadly. It kills who I am, it kills my joy, and it kills my relationships and, interestingly, it kills other people… because it doesn’t require them to learn and deal with what they need to figure out or improve about themselves.
I choose to be a stand for my Self, as a way to honor those I love, those I care about, those relationships I treasure, and what is possible for me when I am fully Self-expressed. I choose to be disagreeable and unaccommodating when my Self is at stake and to risk argument and disapproval.
After many years of first-half-of-life research, I’ve learned that being a good girl is overrated. For my Back Forty, I choose ME – and the difference I can make – when I am true to my Self.
There is no doubt that our bodies change as we get older, and it seems as if middle age is the culmination of all of our fears surrounding aging. Estrogen and testosterone decrease in both men and women as they age and this can cause many shifts in our emotions, physical appearance, and viewpoints. It is common to experience changes in appearance, weight, libido, behavior, and sexual response. Because of this, many people end up believing countless myths about sex as they age. Well, today I am here to bust those myths!
People of every age have a desire to have sex. However, after you make it to midlife your sexual desires change. It usually just takes a time to figure out how your body and desires have changed. To prove this point, a National Aging Survey found that over 70% of people over the age of 60 who were having sex regularly found their sex lives more satisfying than in their 40s.
Aging does not cause erectile dysfunction – changing hormone levels do. As men age, they simply need more physical stimulation to become aroused. Also, women’s orgasms actually tend to increase in frequency and intensity after menopause due to the shift of hormonal ratios within the body.
Usually, the physical factors outweigh the emotional and psychological factors when it comes to decreased sex drive for women. When going through menopause, the decrease in estrogen can cause vaginal dryness. If sex is uncomfortable because of vaginal dryness, simply speak to your doctor and find a solution that works for you.
Baby boomers are reporting a surprising willingness to explore their sexuality in many different ways. They are exploring tantric sex, taking retreats surrounding sexuality, and reaching out to sex therapists and coaches.
People who are in middle-age are very interested in learning new ways to pleasure each other (since the way they are stimulated often changes due to hormone shifts). They are reading books, watching videos, and attending retreats to learn new skills.