Excerpts from Dr. Michael's New 3 Volume Series
A User’s Guide to Your Mind
Volumes I, II, & III
Michael Ra Bouchard, Ph.D.
With the intention of harmonizing your mindset and
furthering psychological well-being through self-directed
behavior modification, this three-volume series of
“A User’s Guide to Your Mind” is organized as follows:
Scheduled for Summer 2023 Publication
“How to Win in Life & Get Along with People”
In Volume I, “How to Win in Life & Get Along with People,” 365 thoughtful guidelines for living, loving, and relating effectively with others are presented on a broad range of practical knowledge promoting the growth of social and emotional intelligence in everyday life.
Now Available for Purchase
“How to Win in Love & Get Along with Each Other”
In Volume II, “How to Win in Love & Get Along with Each Other,” fifty-seven essential guidelines for relating effectively with your mate are presented on a broad range of practical knowledge promoting the growth of social and emotional intelligence within a soulfully connected, pair-bonded kind of love relationship. Includes counsel on how to say good-luck and good-bye with gentle human decency when parting ways.
Scheduled for Summer 2023 Publication
“How to Win in Sex & Get Along With and Without It”
In Volume III, “How to Win in Sex & Get Along With and Without It,” a comprehensive selection of frank, factual, and practical sexual guidance is presented for lovers on promoting the growth of social, emotional, and sexual intelligence, in addition to pleasure and closeness, within physically intimate relationships.
To Purchase Signed Copies of Dr. Michael’s New Book Today
Click on the Link Below
Excerpts from Volume I
Scheduled for Winter 2016 Publication
A User’s Guide to Your Mind
Win in Life
& Get Along with People
Rational Guidance for Everybody to
Live, Love & Relate Well By
365 Mindful Guidelines for Exercising
In Everyday Life
1. You Have No Control Over Anyone But Yourself
People are going to think and do whatever they want to think and do. Experience teaches us early on that the ways people think and act are very often different from the ways we expect them to think and act. If we are to get along well with others, we must start by accepting the reality that people are going to think, say, and do whatever they want, many times in direct opposition to how we prefer they behave.
Everyone has a right to his or her own “wrong” opinions and choices. That means allowing others to behave in ways contrary to our expectations. It further requires of us to make every effort to give people space to be themselves no matter how unfamiliar, different, or odd it may personally appear to us.
Let’s face it, from the viewpoint of others, all of us are “a little funny” somehow or another. Our personal quirks are just one of those things that makes us, well, human. To get along well with people requires that we honor our differences by respecting everyone’s basic rights, and accept people as they are without trying to change them.
In actuality, other people’s behavior usually has less to do with them than it does with you, so be mindful to act in ways that don’t interfere with other people’s rights and dignity as a human being. Respect requires establishing healthy relationship boundaries to avoid manipulating, exploiting, or otherwise disrespecting others or to opening ourselves to being manipulated, exploited, or otherwise disrespected by others.
Each of us is responsible for our own choices. Even when our intentions are good, we are incapable of carrying the burden of life for anyone but our self. That includes “protecting” people from the pain that will teach and heal them. If you have not yet already done so, do yourself a big favor now and accept people exactly as they are. You have no control over anyone but yourself. What is essential to understand is that while we can’t change others, we can always change how we choose to react.
Trying to control anyone is a violation of free will choice. Let people be who they are. You will save yourself countless hours of frustration and disappointment once you do. At best, we may influence others, and others may influence us. Controlling other people is impossible, misguided, and plainly speaking, deserves our strongest objection and condemnation.
2. Be the Change You Seek
Forget about ever trying to change anyone’s behavior. Aside from never working, it will leave you frustrated and disappointed and create animosity in the other person. Accept the reality that you have no control over anyone but yourself, and even then, only if you work at it. Rather than attempting to impose our will upon others, far better for everyone that we become the change we seek, and in so doing, role model for others to follow should they so choose.
Setting a good example is the most persuasive argument. As change can only come from within, give to others exactly what you want to get from them. At every opportunity, take action that helps you to embody the change you seek. Your personal behavior can then serve as inspiration for others to adopt standards and values similar to those you exemplify.
Positive change occurs when you consciously make different and appropriate choices that bring you more of what you want and less of what you don’t want in your experience. Ask yourself what kind of person you would ideally be, or what kind of life you would ideally live, and then set out to be that person and live that life by thinking and acting accordingly. Never doubt that you can change the world by what you are and what you become.
Mindful is as mindful does. You cannot just make up your mind about wanting to change; you must also follow through by applying these principles of conscious thought and behavior in your everyday life, consistently and persistently, until the desired result is ultimately achieved. Put your doubts aside and act believing that what you do will make a difference. Release all worry and fear of the outer world and reinvent yourself—in both your thoughts and actions—as necessary. No matter your ultimate motive, you have to do something different if you want things to change and improve in your life.
You will not win in life until you learn to manage your own mind. If you want things to be different you must not only think and act differently but also strive to visualize yourself, others, and the world in a new reality as you evolve and redefine your perceptions. This is the only way we can ever move past our own self-imposed limitations and possibly influence others to follow suit.
Excerpts from Volume II
Now Available for Purchase
A User’s Guide to Your Mind
Win in Love
& Get Along with Each Other
Rational Guidance for Couples to
Deepen Connection & Go as Far as Your Love Takes You
Hook Up, Make Up, & Break Up
With Emotional Intelligence
1. Pursuit of Happiness
In their great wisdom, the Founding Fathers included the right to the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence. Note that they did not include the right to happiness itself, just its pursuit. They knew full well that the thing is we each have to catch up with it ourselves.
Happiness is a state of mind. You can be happy for no reason or for many reasons, depending on what you think or what is in your mind. You can be happy because the day is sunny or rainy or warm or cold depending on what you are doing and what you want to do. You can be unhappy for the very same reasons. It is all up to you. Happiness truly is an inside job—no thing or anybody can make us happy but ourselves. We are the sole architects of our own well-designed happiness or equally well-designed misery.
You are mistaken if you think that you can make someone happy when he or she is not happy with himself or herself, or that anyone or any relationship can ever make you happy. We each hold the keys to our own happiness within relationships. Whether to be happy or not is a choice we make over and over, every minute of every hour of every day of our lives. The best predictor of happiness at any given moment isn’t determined by what you are doing, but whether or not you are fully engaged in doing it.
Shakespeare’s masterful comprehension of the human condition is apparent in Hamlet’s observation that “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It is essential to understand that what happens to us is always less important than how we react to it. Regardless of the particular circumstances in our life, our personal happiness and unhappiness are primarily decided by the judgments we make on people and events, not by people and events themselves.
To expect fulfillment from anywhere other than within is to give your personal power away and to set yourself up for disappointment. You can’t depend on others or on circumstances to make you happy and whole. You need to fill the empty spaces in your life yourself. Think of it as practicing benevolent selfishness, as happiness benefits those around it. It could rightly be asserted that being genuinely happy is doing a good deed for everyone you encounter.
According to Aristotle, happiness and well-being are the result of an active life governed by reason. In the final analysis, the blueprint to having a happy life is to enjoy it while you can. The choices you make today determine the happiness you will have tomorrow. To have the happiest tomorrows refuse to worry and hold only good thoughts today.
2. It’s All About the Connection
Consider the following two formulas for love. When a relationship is composed of two essentially whole and well-adjusted individuals seeking to pool resources for their common good, one plus one adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Whereas in a relationship composed of two somewhat neurotic and needy individuals, each seeking to be made whole through the other, it just never adds up.
If we are to know the sweetest fruits of connection, each of us must strive to become emotionally and socially well-adjusted individuals. Be forewarned—seeking completion, validation, happiness, or anything other than genuine connection from another person is bound to lead to frustration and letdown. Only two emotionally and socially well-adjusted individuals stand a chance of becoming one emotionally and socially well-adjusted couple working together towards a common purpose. Without exception, love requires that couples be self-aware and deliberate about maintaining connection.
It is important to understand that pair-bonded love is a continual process of expanding and contracting emotional connection. Connection doesn’t just happen on its own—you have to work at it. Every couple is a unique system where one can find the most intimacy, friendship, and comfort in life as well as the greatest hurt and disappointment. For most people, a hallmark of a full and satisfying life is one blessed with a deep and lasting intimate relationship.
For any love relationship to last, we need to help one another and nourish our connection on an ongoing basis. We do this by spending quality time together, from countless and forgettable every day moments to sharing exciting adventurous experiences together. You must understand that lasting bonds with those we love require that when the going gets rough between us, we work through situations rather than quit on one another. Towards this end, a good rule of thumb for keeping your connection strong is always to address problems quickly before they become completely unmanageable.
Thriving relationships are built upon reciprocally cooperative joining and common purpose that cascades into mutual gain and benefits. Our interdependence as a couple flourishes and brings us happiness like nothing else. We connect and grow closer when someone special joins forces and resources with us towards our mutual betterment. We hitch our dreams to the same star as we set out side by side on life's great adventure. When fortune smiles kindly upon us, we share an abundance of joy and laughter as together we stroll, hand-in-hand, in loving companionship along The Road to Happiness.
Excerpt from Volume III
Scheduled for Autumn 2016 Publication
A User’s Guide to Your Mind
Win in Sex
& Get Along With and Without It
Rational Guidance for Lovers to
Expand Intimacy & Boost Lovemaking Satisfaction
Frank and Factual Sexual Guidance
Promoting the Growth of Emotional Intelligence
1. Getting Drunk in Love and Other Calamities
To grow emotionally as a couple, core values such as life goals, spiritual beliefs, family, career, and other key aspects of our lives need to be in sync. Smart couples understand that their values need to be more similar than different. As passion’s whirlwind sweeps you up, don’t get so lost in love that you lose yourself or your good sense. You have heard it before—you can’t hurry love. Love is knowing and accepting the good, the bad, and the occasional ugly in each other. Love is abundant goodwill and affection that promotes the happiness of our beloved and finds joy in their happiness. Above all, as love is on its own time schedule when it comes to revealing its multi-dimensional self, you must exercise patience and self-control to avoid unwanted consequences.
Before losing yourself in love, be sure you and your sweetie have more in common than sexual attraction or simply a desire to have a good time together. Make no mistake, getting drunk in love can lead to all sorts of calamities. It is vital to avoid confusing love and intimacy with sex. Otherwise, you soon could find your “love” morphing into nothing more than common and convenient gratification, the dubiously known “friends with benefits.”
Authentic intimacy includes love and friendship. Casual intimacy may include affection and friendship, or it may be that sex is the only thing you have in common. Casual sex or recreational sex—otherwise known as having sex just to have sex—may be fun and physically pleasurable, but its base motive lacks the elements of lasting closeness and caring that satisfy emotional needs. The rewards of casual sex are usually shallow and fleeting—not to mention that they pack about as much emotional nutrition as a paper sack full of junk food. As we all know, sooner or later there is a toll to be paid for the poor choices we make in body, mind, and spirit.
For this reason, it becomes imperative that we vigorously guard against becoming afflicted and lead astray by cultural or psychological dysfunctions that sometimes persuade us to behave in shortsighted ways to our long-term detriment. Plainly put, before ever doing something “spontaneous and stupid” that you will later regret each and every time you think about it, be sure to straighten yourself out at the first sign that you are heading in that crooked thinking direction.
One of your clues will be the fuzzy logic behind pitifully lame attempts to rationalize and justify your actions, even as you find yourself working furiously overtime to squelch any internal reservations that have you knowing better but playing dumb. Should you ever find yourself taking a cognitive joy ride and speeding down this road with visibility practically at zero, flip your “rational high beams” on quick to cut through the foggy bottom of your mind. Your doing so will make it all the easier to spot the potholes of unwanted consequences that lie ahead hidden in wait, ready to swallow you up whole. Trust me, the pain and sorrow avoided will be your own.
People are complicated. Everyone has multiple aspects to themselves, including our sexuality, which emerge or don’t depending upon context. Only by congruently integrating who we are with what we do will we ever feel whole in life. As biological beings, humans have an innate sex drive that is impossible to deny. Our sexuality requires that we consciously manage it—and ourselves—appropriately, if we are to reap its benefits while avoiding its drawbacks. Sexual experimentation is a normal, healthy part of life for all adults, and especially for young people. Even so, treat it as the precious blessing it is by respecting yourself during its expression.
Self-respect is a gift you give to yourself that requires creating healthy interpersonal boundaries with others, sexual and otherwise, by living your values and questioning your motives before acting. Sexual self-respect requires that you learn to control and manage your sexual impulses responsibly; otherwise, if allowed to run unbridled, your sexual impulses will eventually control and manage you with great detriment to your health and happiness.
Stand by your convictions! Respecting ourselves requires that we regularly search our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors to find anything we don’t like or want regarding our personal conduct, and when we find them, take strong measures that bring our actions back into congruence with our values. As poet Emily Dickinson noted, behavior is what a person does, not what he or she thinks, feels, or believes. Self-respect necessitates upholding your values without caving in to peer pressure or base animal urges. No one saying it will be easy, only that it is worth it.
Responsible sexual self-management demands consistent and persistent effort on your part to carefully monitor your motivations, and whenever necessary, resolute determination to slam the brakes down hard on any runaway sexual impulses heading on a collision course with your best long-term interests.
Now for a few words about so-called “casual sex.” Forget what you may have heard about “no-strings sex” being no big deal. If only. Deciding to have sex with someone is always a big deal. After all, just because you can physically have sex doesn’t necessarily mean you are emotionally and psychologically ready for it. Only individuals who are mature, independent, have good self-esteem and trust, and possess respect for their partner are psychologically healthy enough and ready for a fulfilling sexual and emotional relationship. These traits form the desirable qualities that are necessary for expressing love and caring through shared sexual activity, beginning with the vigorous exercise and protection of self-respect.
On the individual level, we must consciously develop sexual intelligence along with sexual self-respect that we extend unconditionally to others. This includes honoring your partner’s sexual limits consistently, and when necessary, vigorously enforcing your own by fending off unwanted advances from lewd or rude others. To help you stand your ground, tuck the following reminder inside the deepest folds of your brain: Someone who truly cares about you will never apply pressure or force you to do anything against your will or that otherwise could land you in serious trouble, including risking your health and pregnancy by having unprotected and unsafe sex. Anyone who continues to violate your personal boundaries and refuses your repeated demands to stop is behaving in an abusive and controlling manner that is inexcusable.
Should your partner ever demand, coerce, or otherwise try to force you to engage in unsafe sex or sexual contact that you don’t want, firmly insist that he or she respect your decision. Should they continue to test your resolve, demand that they stop immediately. No one has a right to put his or her hands on you without your permission. If their pestering persists, take whatever evasive actions are necessary to extricate yourself and escape the situation. Then drop him or her like a hot potato, run and don’t look back. You—not to mention your mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing—will be much better off finding someone new who respects your choices and honors your personal boundaries.
Of course, nothing creates clearer boundaries than deciding to forego sexual contact altogether for a period of your choosing. Admittedly, at times this restrained approach can cause physical frustration and the corresponding need for fixed and steely resolve. Suffice it to say, this sexually sober modus operandi is not for everyone. Nevertheless, it is a healthy choice that can be made at any age and stage of life, from teens to seniors and everyone in between. If the idea of taking a voluntary “sexual sabbatical” until you meet someone “special” feels right, perhaps a period of celibacy might be in your best interest. Or, maybe the idea of sexual abstinence personally resonates deepest—meaning you not only abstain from casual sex but also refrain from sexual activity within loving relationships until you are solidly committed or married.
For anyone so inclined towards sexual celibacy or abstinence, more power to you. Stay strong, and whenever your resolve starts to waver, take a lot of cold showers! Should the time come that you feel ready to share the precious trinity of your mind, body, and spirit intimately with that special someone, your enjoyment and satisfaction will be all the sweeter for not having sold out your values and sense of self worth for a few handfuls of cheap thrills.
Making up your mind to stay abstinent so that intimacy doesn’t become “a throwaway sexual experience” that empties your soul is a laudable choice. When you sincerely want and are ready for it, conscious relational sex is definitely worth waiting for. Should staying a virgin be your desire and intention, stick to your guns and never waver, no matter what. Finding a boyfriend or girlfriend and friends who share your sexual values makes it a lot easier to stay true to yourself, especially when you are feeling pressured by everyone else around you to “man- or woman-up” by having sex. This is a personal decision that no one can—or should—make for you. To be true to yourself, let it happen only if and when you are ready and feel the time is right.
Just because others may choose to engage in questionable and unhealthy behaviors hardly makes it a good idea, any more than does a thousand people jumping off a cliff to their death on the rocks below. Difficult as it often is to do in the moment, stubbornly resist caving in to peer pressure of this nutty nature, as it is good for nothing but trouble. Refuse to be so easily misled—keep your eyes open and ears peeled, then decide for yourself. When you observe just how silly, immature, and harmful sexually irresponsible actions can be, it becomes much easier to really mean it when you firmly state, “I want no part of it.”
On the other hand, conscious relational sex—with someone special to you—involves emotional closeness and caring about your partner’s needs and well-being as much as your own. Relational sex is built upon a foundation of mutual respect, safety, and trust. It considers the consequences of sex by using birth control and responsibly practicing safer sex every time. Choosing to have sex can have both positive and negative effects. Get clear on what you want from a relationship before things get too hot and heavy, and then stick to it. Such clarity and resolve best ensures your personal well-being, no matter the distance you and your love interest ultimately travel together.
Until you have sufficiently developed all of the requisite attributes of responsible sexual self-management—and just so you know, it usually takes years of diligent study, practice, and maturational growth before that happens—the intelligent approach is to delay sexual involvement with anyone. You would do well to otherwise concentrate your energy on self-awareness, character development, and relating well with everyone.
Copyright 1988-2023 Michael Ra Bouchard, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
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