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In honor of Father’s Day, the NY Times ran an article “Now Dad feels as stressed out as Mom”. 

The author claims that fathers are struggling just as much or even more than mothers to fulfill their responsibilities at home and in the office

Even in dual career families men remain the primary breadwinner. When a father has the desire to spend more time with his children, work is reluctant to give him necessary time flexibility. Taking time to be with kids is discouraged and viewed as compromising his work commitment.

When men do contribute to child care at home, studies have found that mothers do not value their husband’s contribution enough.

A father helps to put children to sleep, make sandwiches for lunch, or give kids a bath. But his wife is not likely to value that contribution as much as he does.

Therefore, men have both stresses at work and at home.

Work-related stress varies between industries and choosing a corporate culture supporting fathers can be done prior to accepting a job.

The home stress results from the expectations related to the primary family roles. With father as primary breadwinner, mother often assumes the role of primary caregiver. This includes the physical and emotional care of the children and most often the upkeep of the household as well.

Therefore, when a man helps he is entering her domain of primary responsibility. Often when he spends time caring for children there is a sense that he is helping his wife. Since a mother only gets short reprieves from those responsibilities she often feels her husband’s contribution is minimal, or certainly less significant than he thinks it is.

A helpful suggestion is for father to take on primary responsibility for a period of time, with mother being out of the house. This can be at night or on a weekend.

Just as men must acknowledge their wives hard child caring work, a wife must communicate appreciation for what their husband is doing as a father.

Jennifer Davis made the distinction between being a father and being a daddy. Anyone can be a father she wrote, but being a daddy is something special to appreciate

I would suggest you read the beautiful essay she wrote on Father’s Day for a moving expression of appreciation for daddies. 

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I cannot think of a need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection” Sigmund Freund

This Sunday is Father’s day across America.

It’s no surprise that having fathers around is in the best interests of children’s emotional as well as physical health. Historical studies document that fact. Their primary, not exclusive, responsibility is different than a mother’s.

As a faithful Bible reader, I believe this model for mothers and fathers originates in the third chapter of Genesis in which God tell s Eve in the Garden of Eden: “your desire will be for your husband and he shall rule over you. “

Woman’s desire for a husband is the female inclination to value monogamous heterosexual relationships more than men. It is a reflection of a higher premium women place on human relationships, which is in the best interests of children and family.

During the past thousands of years, women were faced with the challenge of attracting males and encouraging them to maintain a monogamous relationship. That insured greater safety and regular sustenance for the family. Women’s greater skill in nurturing and caring for children required her to focus on that task, and have a male partner providing and protecting her and the children.

Despite the modern women’s movement belief that men and women are psychologically indistinguishable I think that the reality of caring for children and providing for the family has adjusted those roles but not changed them fundamentally. When taking responsibility for a family, just like a business or a sports team, it is important to have defined roles with primary responsibilities.

For a woman to maximize her potential in the role of nurturing parent she is dependent on a supportive male. Without adequate male support the emotional security and physical sustenance are weakened and stresses increase.

For a male to embrace the role of father, and not just provider, takes an investment of time and a lot of learning. Some tips include: spending positive quality time with your children; disciplining with love; being a positive role model; be a teacher; listen before you speak; and make time to eat as a family.

The best father is one with a loving relationship with his wife. And children thrive when mother and father respect and value each other’s importance as parents.

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In a study conducted in the 1970’s psychologists interviewed some lucky people who had won between fifty thousand and one million dollars in the Illinois State Lottery. Strikingly, less than a year after receiving the potentially life changing news of winning the lottery, they reported being no more happy than regular folks who had not experienced the sudden windfall. This led to a belief that happiness came from within. You were internally peaceful and happy or not, and changing your financial status would not affect your happiness.

Obviously that is not the case for people with severely limited resources. They worry more about satisfying basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing with little concern for life happiness. But it has been proven that once you have attained a level of income above poverty level, increases in money does not translate directly to increase in happiness. Therefore, for many of us, deciding how to invest our resources to maximize happiness is a challenge.

In his book Luxury Fever Robert Frank wrote about this challenge. He wondered why, as nations rise in wealth, their citizens become no happier. He examined why we are devoted to spending money on luxuries and other goods, which we take for granted quickly, rather than on things that would make us lastingly happier.

For Frank it is a question of how you spend your money. Whether you spend it on “Conspicuous or inconspicuous consumption”. Conspicuous consumption refers to things that are visible to others and that can be used as markers of a person’s relative success, where their value comes not so much from the objective value as from the statement they make about their owner.

Conspicuous consumption means the consumption has an objective tangible value. It is the difference between driving a Chevy Alero, Ford Focus, Honda Accord, Lexus 350, BMW 740 or a Porsche Targa. The differences are tangible, measurable, and conspicuous to all.

Inconspicuous consumption on the other hand, refers to activates that are valued for themselves. They are usually consumed more privately and are not bought for the purpose of achieving status because they are much more difficult to compare their value to those of others.

Two examples of conspicuous versus inconspicuous consumption relate to our salary and vacation at work. Which job would you rather have, one in which you earned $90,000 a year and your coworkers earned an average of $70,000 or one in which you earned “$100, 000 and your coworkers earned on average $110,000? Many people chose the first job, thereby revealing that relative position is worth at least $10,000 to them.

Another question is whether you would rather work for a company that gave you two weeks of vacation year, but other employees were given, on average, only one; or would you prefer a company that gave you a four-week vacation a year but other employees were given, on average, six? The great majority of people choose the longer absolute time. Time off is primarily an inconspicuous consumption.

Frank’s conclusions are bolstered by recent research by the psychologists van Boven and Gilowc, who identified the benefits of “doing versus having”. Their primary conclusion suggests that people derive more enjoyment when they use their discretionary income on experiential purchases than from discretionary material purchases.

They gave some interesting reasons why experiential purchases make people happier.
Experiences are more open to positive reinterpretations to the fact that they are more open than material possessions to increasingly favorable interpretations with the passage of time. People are not limited by reality in their evaluations of past experiences as they are with material possessions. We forget incidental annoyances and distractions that detract from the experience. It allows the “great storyteller” the opportunity to embellish and reconfigure to create a much rosier retrospective view than the event enjoyed originally. Even if we don’t verbalize it, or do to consciously work on it, our memory naturally is included to it for us.

With the material purchases, its value and perception to us remains constant or even detracts over time.

Experiences are happy because they have great social value and are more pleasurable to pleasurable to talk about. Social relationships which are closely associate with happiness … Furthermore, experiences are more likely to have a typical story narrative structure with a beginning, middle, and end. People like listening to and telling stories. Both listeners and storytellers may enjoy talking about experiences more than about possessions

Experiences are also more central to our identity. A person’s life is quite literally the sum of his or her experiences. The accumulation of rich experiences thus creates a richer life. That is why in working with parents if there is a choice between buying something for a child or panning a fun entertaining experience together the experience wins out all the time. It is a positive investment in relationships that enrich our lives.

When you invest your money remember that “doing” beats “having” all the time. Money can buy more happiness when you make the right decisions.

“Money is only a tool, it will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace the driver.” Ayn Rand”

Morris N. Mann, Ph.D.

Authentic Happiness Coach

Moving Forward to Happiness and Success

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One of the most powerful tools you can use in finding success at work is identifying your strengths. As a small business coach, I find that it is an important part of business and professional success and happiness.

The guru of this emphasis on personal strengths is Marcus Buckingham of the Gallup organization. He has written many books about the most successful and happiest people being those that identify and reinforce their strengths rather than compensate for their weaknesses. You can see some of his work on the site – www.simplystrengths.com

In the course of my coaching work with professionals, I often deal with accomplished professionals who are looking to expand their area of expertise or clarify their niche of work.

I often use Marcus Buckingham’s latest book “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”, to give direction. His understanding of strengths and suggestions about how to identify them is unique.

What should you look for when trying to identify your strengths?

Conventional wisdom dictates that you need objective confirmation from friends or people you have worked with, in order to evaluate exactly what you are good at. It assumes you need to some “objective” assessment to validate your “true” strengths.

Buckingham claims that the true strengths are “those activities that make you feel strong… and draw you back to them time and again”. Such activities leave you feeling energized, fulfilled and powerful.

In such a case you must listen to your own inner voice. You are the best qualified person to identify what keeps your interest and concentration.

The process of identifying your strengths can be done in a short or long time span. If we assume you dedicate a week to the process, what you should do is to take a three step method of: Capture, Clarify & Confirm.

THE PRACTICAL EXERCISE: IDENTIFY YOUR STRENGTHS

STEP 1 – Capture your strengths
To begin with start out with a small memo book with at least 40 pages, and carry it around with you. Take a blue or black marker and write in the top of the first 20 pages “I loved it”. On the last 20 pages use a red marker and write on top “I hated it”. Then carry the book around with you.

When you feel any of the following emotions after an activity – write it down immediately. Feeling: “powerful, confident, natural, smooth, high, great, authentic, awesome, when can I do this again”. Don’t wait until the end of the day, do it immediately after you become aware of the positive feeling.
Also write when you think “I can’t wait to start, I could do this forever, this is perfect for me, and can I find a way to do more of it.

Like wise, when you feel any of the negative feelings immediately write it down: drained, frustrated, irritated, bored, I can’t concentrate”. Also when you think: “I hate it when I have to do this, Will this ever end, and can I delay this and do something else.

Remember that you do not have to write something after EVERY activity. You will find many activities to which you are neutral.

At the end of the week, tear out your pages and spread them over a table and sort them into a pile with the most positive pages on top and the least on the bottom. Identify the first 3-5 most positive as they will be the basis for your strength identification.

STEP 2 – Clarify your strengths

In an attempt to direct your work toward areas of your strengths you will need to have a clear description, yet one that can be applied to many circumstances in the future. In order to clarify what aspects of the activity are irrelevant and which are important, ask yourself the following questions.

Does it matter WHY I do this, WHO I do this with, WHEN I am doing this, or WHAT this activity is about?

Now based upon the clarification of those questions, write on 3 separate pieces of paper – “I feel strong when …..” An example Buckingham uses is “I feel strong when I am leading a team to develop content for a new service project”.

STEP 3 – Confirm your strengths
This last step requires you to confirm you strength statements by answering the following questions as “strongly agree or agree”.

• I have been tremendously successful at this type of activity.
• Other people tell me I have a gift for this type of activity.
• I often find myself volunteering for this type of activity.
• This type of activity is a “gut reaction” for me
• I pick up this type of activity quickly
• I can’t wait to learn new techniques for doing this activity.
• I always look forward to doing this type of activity.
• It’s fun for me to think back to when I was doing this type of activity.

Try and incorporate as much of these strengths into your work on a daily and weekly basis. It will help you contribute to a successful business or organization too!

While acting on your strengths will propel you to success, remember that no one better than you can better identify which activities make you feel strong and which activities you love. Since these are work related activities and you are looking to sharpen your work focus, it may help you to engage a business coach on a for this short term project.

But remember, if you identify and confirm your strengths, then outstanding performance will follow.

Morris N. Mann, Ph.D.
Authentic Happiness Coach
Moving Forward to Happiness and Success

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