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10 Tips for Fostering Mutual Respect and Appreciation
In today’s rough and tumble world, practicing courtesy, kindness and respect may seem out of place but NOT for us devotees trying to purify our lives! For us, it is imperative to practice these as ‘devotional service begins at home.’ It is so easy to lose respect and appreciation for each other due to the challenges of familiarity, conflicts, stress, unexpected events such as guests, illness, financial downs, hormonal changes, natural disasters, and even more serious ones such a shaky relationship, abuse or infidelity. These last 3 mentioned need marriage counseling and reading these tips and acting on them may be appropriate in the maintenance stage after your relationship has healed, not used as a substitute. Practicing respect and appreciation is not easy but the rewards are tremendous! It helps us become more loving, closer to Guru and Krsna and it ultimately takes us to the spiritual world where we all want to be. Acquiring divine qualities in turn brings us into a state of bliss and peace. Hence we wanted you to join in this adventure called growing in spiritual life by sharing some tips with you. Feel free to add whatever you think works for you. GENERAL TIPS ALWAYS try to see your partner/ dependents as gifts from Krsna, meant to be in your life for your spiritual benefit. ALWAYS keep Krsna in the center. ALWAYS visualize yourself and your partner close together at the base of an isosceles triangle, with KRSNA at the apex, this helps to feel connected even during stressful times. ALWAYS decrease stress by taking good care of your self, include exercise, good nutrition and refreshing sleep as MUSTS. ALWAYS prepare for unexpected events by drawing up a mutually agreed on plan, and develop a sense of humor! Our loved ones are our ‘PRANA’ [life] and this acronym may be useful to you. PRINT OUT AND PLACE WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT DAILY AND MEDITATE ON IT. Tip No. 1 PRACTICE respect and appreciation everyday either saying or doing something that honors the people in your life, including children, parents, elders etc. Say, ‘I am so blessed to have you in my life.’ Or ‘May I show you how much I love you/appreciate you by______[ helping you clean the dishes/mow the lawn?]”and then do something loving. Tip No. 2 RESTORE healing in relationships by forgiving and seeking forgiveness, repenting and making amends and trying not to hurt again. Simply expressing sincere regret by saying, ‘I am so sorry, please forgive me’ is very powerful provided you really mean it. Tip No. 3 AWARENESS of one’s challenges and working on one’s weaknesses is essential for us to grow out of unhealthy patterns of behavior. Inform your spouse that you are working on hurting behaviors and ask for feedback. Tip No. 4 NURTURE growth by spending good, quality time with the people in your life. Ask them what they’d like you to say/do and NOT what you think is good for them! Tip No. 5 ACCEPT that progress takes time, patience, determination, consistency and mercy. You want to develop divine qualities and become a ‘DEVA’ so use this acronym to help you progress! Tip No. 6 DEVELOP an “attitude of gratitude” for all the positive effects your spouse and other loved ones bring into your life. Tip No. 7 EVALUATE your self from time to time by requesting an honest appraisal from your loved ones about your attempts- have they noticed a decrease in anger, blaming, criticizing and an increase in listening, appreciation, respect? Tip No. 8 VALUE each loved one by telling/showing/doing something for them that conveys how they add value to your life such as a hug, a kiss, a card, doing/sharing a chore, writing a love letter, going for a walk with them, reading a book together etc. Tip No. 9 ACTIVE LISTENING- empathize, empathize, empathize! Practice empathy! Practice what it feels like to be in your loved one’s shoes and practice listening skills. Reflect what your partner is speaking, to convey that you understand. Listening actively and empathetically is the single most important gift of love that conveys respect and appreciation. Tip No. 10 Respect, love and appreciate YOURSELF! Reward yourself for every step you move forward in growing into the loving, exemplary devotee KRSNA wants you to be! Enjoy your growth and share your joy! Sridevi dasi, also known as Dr. Lakshmi Dajak, has a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working as a consultant marriage and family therapist in private practice. She also brings her considerable experience as a medical practitioner [M.D.; D.C.H.,Pediatrics and Neonatology] working with children and families in India to her work here in the USA. She is currently living with her husband, His Grace Nanda Suta das, at ISKCON, New Talavana, a rural farm community in Mississippi, USA.