7 Ways To Make Your Life Happier From Dr. Ruth, Who Seriously Knows A Thing Or Two About Living Well
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is amazing. The vivacious octogenarian with the inimitable German accent is famous for her pioneering sex therapy, but she's also survived immense tragedy while managing to maintain her incredible zest for life. Through her eponymous live radio program, Sexually Speaking, TV program, 37 books, and countless articles and appearances, she has been improving our sex lives now for decades (not to mention furthering feminism). In her new book, The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre , she continues to counsel on all matters of the heart, but also shares private stories from her past, shedding light on how she's learned to live with joy despite heartache and loss.
Everyone undergoes life experiences that leave them shaken, sad, and depressed. Whether it's getting through a bad breakup, losing a loved one, getting fired, or enduring one of the many other difficult moments life can throw at you, sometimes it can be really hard to see the bright side. Like so hard you just want to curl up in your bed and never get out. Dr. Ruth's book is all about learning how to white-knuckle it through these moments in order to better embrace positivity. "[T]o allow the joy to come front and center in your life, you also have to feel your emotions, even the sad ones," Dr. Ruth explains. "If you bottle the sadness in, the joy gets bottled right along with it."
Gimme more of that brainpower, Dr. R.
Dr. Ruth sprinkles these little gems of wisdom throughout her book, teaching you how to nourish your intellectual and emotional spark through the tough times, and above all, how to preserve your sense of fun. And of course she throws in a little sex advice as well — this is Dr. Ruth after all. If you feel like I do, you're all about cramming as much joy into life as possible, so follow Dr. Ruth's legendary advice below, and get happy.
Keep an Eye On the future, But Live In the Present
As anyone who's ever been to a yoga class knows, being present in the moment is hard. Your brain is constantly running forward and backward, ping-ponging between what you're going to have for dinner, and the argument you had with your SO yesterday morning. But being able to let go of the past, plan for the future, and be present in the moment, no matter how difficult it is, may just be the key to happiness. As Dr. Ruth writes, "You can count on better days to come because of the good days that came before. And you can find joy in the moment because you have the resiliency to overcome the problems that may be hanging over you."
Embrace Your Passions
Following our passion is something we all want to do, unfortunately things like earning a living and paying rent have a nasty habit of getting in the way. But what would your life look like if you really just said eff it and pursued your bliss 150 percent? Well, look at Dr. Ruth for example. After losing her family in the Holocaust, she relocated to Palestine and was determined to help her fellow Jews keep their homeland in the 1948 War of Independence. So the 4"7' woman became a sniper for a paramilitary group. Seriously. "I have a knack for putting bullets exactly where I want them to go," she writes. Fortunately, she never had to kill anyone, but she refused to let anything stop her from helping her people. If Dr. Ruth can become a sniper, you can become a coder, or a Sherpa, or whatever it is your heart desires.
When it Comes to Sex, Speak Up
Good sex is a great way to up the joy factor in your life. The key to having it on the regular, according to Dr. Ruth, is to communicate with your partner. "It's true that as part of a couple, the more openly you can discuss your sex life with your partner, the better the communication, the better your sex life is likely to be." This doesn't mean you have to go around advertising your favorite position, "[Y]ou can be a very private person and still have orgasms," Dr. Ruth clarifies. But don't be afraid to be candid about what you want in the bedroom. You'll get way more satisfaction in the sack, and the improved communication will benefit other areas of your relationship.
Let Yourself Be Sad
This may seem a little counterintuitive, but the harsh truth is that you don't get the good without the bad. Sorry guys, but in order to fully embrace your joie de vivre, you have to let yourself experience all the feels, including the heartbreaking ones. One of my favorite Dr. Ruth-isms is her idea that you aren't going to fully appreciate your happy times unless you have the sad times to compare them to. "To fully live life, there's an entire range of emotions that you need to feel, and that even includes sadness," she writes. "Joie de vivre isn't only about experiencing joy, but being open to all your feelings."
Never Stop Learning
Dr. Ruth has a doctorate, obviously, and several other degrees, but she doesn't have a high school diploma. As a child she was sent to Switzerland to escape Nazi-occupied Germany, where she cleaned classrooms but wasn't allowed to attend courses. Her desire for knowledge is insatiable, and although she values learning immensely, she also "appreciate[s] that education doesn't necessarily have to be of the formal variety." Keep an open mind and explore things that interest you — travel, learn a new language, read more, and, above all, stay curious and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. In Dr. Ruth's inimitable words, "You can't have good sex and be a bystander, and you can't learn that way either."
Dr. Ruth hitchhikes. I'm serious. She doesn't advocate it, and she knows it's risky, but she also thinks that "the average psychopath looking to pick up a young girl or boy isn't going to stop for a short, older sex therapist who might just talk him out of his mania." I'm not suggesting that you start taking rides from strangers, but I am saying that at some point, you should probably just put it all on the line (except your actual life, of course). Dr. Ruth has been on her own since the age of ten, and with an indomitable will and cojones of steel she has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. You won't gain anything unless you're willing to lose something as well, so take a deep breath and take a risk.
Surround Yourself With Joyful People
Good friends who know how to lift your spirits are one of life's greatest pleasures. The more joy you exude, the more attractive your are to other joyful people, and when you get together it's like an euphoric explosion of unicorns and rainbows. Seriously, though, as Dr. Ruth writes, "People [will] want to be around you because they get to share in some of your positive energy." Surrounding yourself with joyful people will only add to everyone's personal sense of joie de vivre, and the good vibes will abound. Plus, writes Dr. Ruth, "one benefit of making yourself the life of the party is that wherever you go, a party seems to appear!" Advice straight from the legendary doctor herself— make a joyful noise and party on, people.
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