How to be on time

By David Joel Miller

How do those consistently punctual people do it?

Clock keeps you on time

Being on time
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Some people are always, almost pathologically, on time. Others are chronically late. Our western society is run on time. Things start at a particular time and then we are off to the next thing which also has a time. It can feel like we are being controlled by the clock.

The twentieth century was heralded as the century of labor-saving devices. With all that time we saved you would think no one would ever be hurried again. The result has not been an increase in available time but more working over time to pay for all these labor and time-saving devices.

Even with all those technological advancements some people are always on time and some are always late. Without getting into a discussion of the psychological factors that affect punctuality, and there are many psychological reasons people are on time or late arrivals, let’s look at how the Punctual People do things

1. Punctual People get to bed on time.

If you think your day starts when you get up in the morning you would be way off. Getting plenty of sleep increases punctuality in the same way it increases productivity.

If you stay up late you will pay for it the whole next day. Tired people drag and then have to rush from thing to thing all day long.

2. Punctual People start their day early

Late risers are already behind schedule when their feet hit the floor. They feel rushed and harried from start to finish. Let one thing go wrong and the rest of their day is off kilter.

Burn breakfast and there is no time to make a new one. The kids or you go hungry.

Plenty of road rage is caused by people who start out late and then need to “make up time” on the road way. This rushing is bad for your driving and is bad for your health.

Start your day early and there is time if something goes wrong.

3. Punctual People allow enough time

You know that your morning drive takes thirty minutes but you hang around reading your email and drinking coffee till quarter till. The result you have to rush and you are still late.

The worst papers come in from the students who wait till the night before and then try to write a paper in a few hours that they should have been working on all semester.

Bosses can easily tell when someone only allows an hour for an activity that should take four. The result is hurried, partially done and almost always late if it is done at all.

Give yourself plenty of time for each thing you do and your will be more creative, do a better job and still get it in on time.

Be realistic about how long things will take and you will run on time a lot more.

4. Productive People do not schedule themselves 100% of their time.

Early in the industrial age factory owners leaned that you can’t schedule factories at 100% of capacity. Try to get above a certain productivity and something is bound to go wrong. A machine breaks or jams, shuts down the whole lie and the result is that productivity falls drastically,

People need down time for rest, relaxation and repair in the same way machines need maintenance if we are to avoid a major emergency.

Punctual people do not schedule themselves nonstop. They allow small gaps throughout their day so that if one activity runs long they do not throw their whole day out of whack.

5. Punctual People prefer waiting to being late

Punctual People enjoy those relaxing moments when they get somewhere before the event starts. They do not mind waiting on others. A few minutes to relax between things is both healthy and it keeps you on schedule the rest of the day.

6. Punctual People start early

If you begin your work on that report or paper early there is little need to rush and you are more likely to be done on time.

Getting off the procrastination ride and doing the hard things first assures they will get done on time. Waiting till the last-minute sets you up to run overtime and be off schedule from then on.

7. Punctual People use their calendar

Punctual people plan ahead. The plan on doing things on schedule and that means living enough time on their calendar for getting something done. It also means not scheduling things too close together so that getting from one thing to the next throws them off schedule.

8. Punctual people feel disrespected when you are late

Punctual people manage their stress by staying organized and planning ahead. They do not feel stressed because they started way before this meeting with you.

They may have gone to bed early, gotten up early and left home for your meeting early all to avoid rushing and arriving stressed. It is also likely that they have planned some flex time between seeing you and the next thing they need to do.

When you are late you take away that tranquility they have created and dump your stress directly in their lap.

When you are late there is less time to spend with you, less gets done, meetings are abrupt or hurried and if they run overtime you have just stolen some time that they had planned to spend with someone else.

There are some things in life where you do not need to observe a strict start and stop time. But most of life is run by the clock. Show up late for court and you may lose your case. Be late for a job interview and you reduced the chances of getting hired.

People who are on time are seen as dependable, they do what they say they will. So if you want to join the on-time club, consider adopting some of the characteristics of Punctual People and see if this does not reduce your stress in the process of making you a more Punctual Person.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at

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18 Ways you are a really bad parent

By David Joel Miller

18 ways to be a really bad parent

child alone

Insecure child – from Flickr

Here are 18 really bad ways to treat children. Do them enough and you can destroy a child’s life. Some parents do these things out of ignorance, others out of meanness. (Want to be a good parent then avoid these traps.)

How many of these child warping parenting techniques do you use?

1. Never tell your kids you love them

Parents are for discipline not love. They should know you love them, you feed them sometimes right?

You can be strict or you can be lenient as long as the kids know you love them. Strict without love is abusive. Lenient without love can turn into neglect.

2. Point out everything wrong with your child

Point out every mistake they make. Keep at them until they get it right or give up. Over the years I have seen a whole lot of people who came from non-affirming homes. No matter how hard they tried they could never please their caregiver. Eventually most stopped trying. They also developed a concept of themselves that they were incapable of doing anything well. Some of these people had extraordinary talent; just no one ever told them so.

Pick on them every chance you get. Point out the flaws in their face and how ugly they are. Prepare them to deal; with the “real world.”

The result of this sort of bullying is people who develop a victim mentality. They think they deserved to be bullied and they become permanent victims or they get angry and they strike out at anyone and everyone.

Constantly running a child down is a form of child abuse, not good parenting.

3. Belittle children in public whenever possible

Make sure you publicly belittle your child and you will teach them to avoid others. This can result in a lot of social phobias, people afraid to be in public because they know they will be put down by others.

Break their spirit while they are young and they will never have to attempt anything that might show you up.

4. Do all the things you told them not to

Remind your children to “do as I say not as I do.” This sets them up to be hypocrites and liars. Do not be surprised when they do sneaky things behind your back. You taught them to say one thing and do another.

5. Never teach anything, make them find out for themselves

Remind them you shouldn’t have to explain things to them. Call them stupid if they ask questions. Keep them ignorant and they will be slow to catch onto how lame their caregiver was.

6. Remind them you expect them to be a failure

Tell them often enough and they will live down to your expectations. Most kids want to be just like their parents.

7. Do not ever talk about the future with them, they have no future.

The best way to repeat the cycle of dropping out of school, early parenthood and a life on welfare with no job and no hope is to set this example yourselves. Let them know that you expect them to be an even bigger failure than you were.

Make sure you never share any of life’s lessons you have learned with them.

8. Remind them constantly you are the king in this castle and they are peasants

Set them up to be the victims in a controlling relationship the rest of their life. Undermine their self-esteem and intuitive.

9. Tell them how they should be feeling

Make sure you invalidate everything they feel. If they tell you a feeling tell them no they are not feeling that, they are feeling something else. Remind them that their only purpose in life is to feel the way you tell them to feel.

The expressions “You should not feel that way” and “you should be feeling the same way I do.” Will help undermine their ability to feel what they are feeling.

10. Never let them think for themselves

Make sure your children do not learn to think for themselves. This makes them easier to control. You will need to control them for a while though eventually they will become controlled by drug dealers, pimps or abusive partners.

Congratulate yourself you have created an easy to control adult with the emotions of a child.

11. Tell them everything, never ask

Convince them that their opinions do not matter. Make them doubt themselves and they will never attempt anything worth doing.

12. Never explain anything; it is over their heads anyway.

Create in your children the love of ignorance. This will protect them from schools, learning and the risk of ever accomplishing anything in life.

13. Family communication means you tell them

Do not let them ask to have their needs met. Keep all family communication a one way street. You didn’t talk to their other parent why would you want to talk to them?

14. Toughen them up for the real world

Make sure you instil a negative dog-eat-dog attitude in your children. You would not want them turning soft on you. People who do for others are soft. You are hardening your children up so they can be takers.

15. Teach them what a bully really looks like

If you beat the stuffing out of them they will know how to take the beating that others will give them. Make sure that they know the only thing they deserve in life is a good beating.

16. Never tell them the truth about anything, keep them guessing

You don’t owe children the truth. They wouldn’t recognize it if you told them anyway. Keep them, believing all the stories you tell then for as long as you can.

17. Give them nicknames – stupid, lazy, ugly, fats

If you call all your kids by pet names you can turn them into animals. It will be fun to watch them quarrel and hurt each other.

18. Forget being consistent, keep them guessing

Good parents are consistent and loving, two things you would never want to be.

If you enjoy doing all these things to your children you will love watching them do the same things to your grandchildren, should you get to keep them in your life that long.

If these recommendations appall you then make sure you do the opposite and nurture those children.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at

12 Relationships that make you unhappy

By David Joel Miller

Some relationships problems are guaranteed to make you unhappy

Humans have and need relationships whether you want them or not. Some relationships contribute to happiness and some create a great deal of misery. Romantic relationships can make us happy and they can be the greatest source of unhappiness. But lovers are not the only relationships that can be making you unhappy.

How many of these happiness sabotaging relationships are in your life?

1. You do not like yourself

If you do not like yourself you make it hard for others to like you. We teach others how to treat us and the primary way we do that is the way we treat ourselves.

Treat yourself poorly and you set up a life full of unhealthy relationships.

2. You have partners and associates but no real friends

There are all kinds of people who cross our paths each day. It is preferable to be on friendly terms with most all of them but having one hundred acquaintances is no comparison to having one true friend.

Casual acquaintances will disappear when times get tough; a true friend is there no matter what.

3. You are in love with money

Money and other material possessions is a totally unreliable friend. No matter how much money you have it is unlikely to turn an unhappy person happy. Having enough money for your needs can take the stress and worry out of life but making money your best friend is likely to make you really lonely. The people who friend you when you have something they want will disappear the second you can’t or won’t give them more.

4. You think your partner should make you happy

Happiness comes from inside. Expecting your partner to make you happy is a mistake. These days a lot of people think that their lack of happiness is their partners fault. The result is a lot of affairs, break ups and new relationships. If you leave one partner for another expecting the change to make you happy the odds are that you will very shortly be back in an unhappy relationship, this time with a new equally unhappy partner.

5. Your lover is alcohol or drugs

Lots of people develop very unhealthy relationships with drugs, alcohol, gambling and a host of other things. If your lover is a substance or a repetitive behavior like sex or shopping you are in an unhealthy relationship and this relationship is bound to make you unhappy.

6. You spend all your time with Anxiety

Some people think that being anxious is helpful. They spend most of their day worrying about things with a low probability of happening. If you are in a close intimate relationship with your anxieties and fears this connection will turn unhappy in a flash.

Consider professional help to get a trial separation from your anxiety and fears.

7. You are lonely when you are alone

Being alone should not make you lonely. Work on being your own best friend and you will not be lonely just because you are by yourself.

Chronically feeling lonely when alone sets you up to jump into a relationship, any relationship, just to avoid being alone. Most of those emergency relationships turn out to also be the very unhappy kind.

8. Your friends are toxic

If you hang out with unhappy people you become unhappy. If your friends are downers and want you to mellow down to their level you are headed for lonely street.

9. Your living in the wrong time zone

If you spend all your time and thoughts on the past, what should have been to make you happy, you will lose the present. Frankly the present is where you should be experiencing happiness.

Same problem if you spend all your time dwelling in the future. Do you time travel to some point in the future and tell yourself that if only you could get there then you will be happy. That time travel is leaving your present in the unhappy column.

10. The clock is your enemy – Procrastination – unpunctual – no time to yourself

If you are constantly fighting the clock you are living an unhappy life. Make the present your friend. Start on time end on time and do not put off things that need doing. Make sure that you are not so busy chasing happiness that you fail to have time to enjoy it when you pass it by.

11. You have not made friends with the bed

People who do not have a good sleep life do not have a happy awake life. Get lots of rest. If you have nightmares find out why and work with a professional counselor on dealing with those demons from your past.

A good health sex life is also a significant factor in being happy. Do not abuse your bed. Use it to sleep and to make love. Otherwise get up and get going.

12. You and your job can’t get along – you hate your job – spend the day avoiding work

If you have a bad relationship with work it will color the rest of your life unhappy. If you hate you job – figure out why and go about changing things. The best time to look for another job is when you have one. Look for a job that you would enjoy doing and you will look forward to going to work.

Work on improving your relationship with yourself, others in your life, your work and your feelings and you will find that as these relationships become happier you will spend more time in the happiness place and less time in the misery hangout.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at

The link between Smoking and Depression

By David Joel Miller

Cigarette Smoking and Mental Illness

Cigarette Smoking and Mental Illness
Photo courtesy of Flickr

Smoking may be the cause not the result of depression

People who smoke are far more likely to become depressed than nonsmokers. About 40% of smokers suffer from a mood disorder, largely depression, while the rate in the whole population is typically in the range of 2% to 10% in any one year.

The connections between tobacco smoking and mental health issues may be even more severe than was previously thought. The connections are not limited to depression or related mood disorders.

One recent study took another look at the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a large nationwide survey of mental health and addiction issues.  (P. A. Cavazos-Rehg, N. Breslau, D. Hatsukami, M. J. Krauss, E. L. Spitznagel, R. A. Grucza, P. Salyer, S. M. Hartz, L. J. Bierut. Smoking cessation is associated with lower rates of mood/anxiety and alcohol use disorders. Psychological Medicine, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291713003206)

This study surveyed 35,000 people; about 4,800 of those were daily smokers. The study participants were resurveyed 3 years later. Smokers in this study appear to have significantly higher rates of mental health issues.

Half of all smokers reported having “Alcohol problems” While 24% reported some form of drug use problem.

Over the course of the three-year period between studies some people quit smoking. Among those who quit smoking the rates of mental health and substance abuse problems declined, while those who continued to smoke continued to have higher rates of mental health and substance used disorders.

This challenges the conventional wisdom that in treating serious mental health or substance abuse issues the issue of tobacco smoking can be left for a later time.

Chemical use of many kinds is known to impact mental health. Excessive alcohol use results in depression. Many practitioners have been reluctant to treat someone for depression while they are still drinking alcohol.

Recently professionals in the mental health and substance abuse field have moved to thinking that substance use issues and mental health issues so thoroughly interact that both problems need to be treated simultaneously.

The evidence continues to mount that there is a connection between tobacco use and both mental health issues and substance use disorders. It is becoming clear that ending tobacco use might have a significant impact on mental health.

Recently I have been hearing of studies in which the seriously mentally ill were taught smoking cessation and the results of their recovery from both issues were essentially the same as the general population.

If you are a smoker quitting may well improve your mood and your mental health. If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder there is no reason to put off quitting smoking and there are a growing number of reasons to think that quitting will make your other problems easier to manage.

Have you seen a connection between your smoking and other life problems?

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at

16 Ways to create a happy life

By David Joel Miller

Not feeling very good about your life? Here are 16 ways you can make your life a happier environment.

Happy dog

Happy dog

1. Do things you can be proud of

When you do things you are proud of you feel good about yourself. When you feel good about yourself it makes you happy.

2. Do things for others

Doing good deeds will make you happier than doing selfish ones. Whenever we are able to help someone else we get an opportunity to feel good about ourselves. Make sure you are doing this because you want to do something for another and as a result feel good yourself. If you do a good deed because someone forces you to or you do one which you really don’t want to do, it will result in developing a resentment.

3. Make a new friend

Making friends will add to your happiness. Sometimes those friends are just for now. You talk to someone on the bus or in line and then you head off in opposite directions. Other times you will put out your hand, start a conversation or offer to help and the result will be a friend that will brighten your life for a long time to come.

4. Schedule time to take care of you

Make self-care a top priority. You can’t feel good or happy if you neglect yourself. Eat well, sleep enough to repair your body and give yourself time to relax.

5. Treat yourself to something positive you enjoy

Life should not be made up solely of the necessities. Sometimes you need to treat and pamper yourself. Be sure that these little treats for yourself are positive not negative pleasures. Do things for yourself that involve relaxation and pleasure not overspending or substance abuse. That would mean your pleasure comes at a cost that needs to be paid tomorrow.

6. Include humor in your life every chance you get

Laughter changes your mood. The more you laugh the happier you become. If watching an hour of comedy does not brighten your mood you may have a significant depression. In that case get help.

Take what you do seriously but do not take yourself overly seriously. Learn to laugh at your own foibles. We all have them, but the happy people can laugh at their oddities.

7. Make up a gratitude list

If you must compare yourself, pick people who have less than you to use for comparison. Be grateful for all you have. There are others, in your town or across the sea that have far less than you. Do not take blessings for granted but develop the practice of seeing those benefits when you have them.

8. Express yourself

There are all kinds of ways to express you. Some people do it by talking. You may also find that you can express yourself though a drawing, singing or dance. You do not need to be expert. You do not need to be any particular way. What you do need to do is to find ways that allow you to express and affirm who you are.

Draw, make music or write. Be creative.

9. Visit Mother Nature

We are getting a long way away from our roots. More people now live in cities than in small towns and rural areas. Make it a practice to stay connected to Mother Nature outside the times of inclement weather.

Take a trip to the beach or the mountains. Visit a park. Grow a plant. Take a walk and notice the things that are growing, flowering and reaching for the sky.

Marvel at the birds that manage to eke out a living in our cities and still can fly off to places in the trees.

10. Spend time with a favorite animal

Animals can be powerful connections to a happy life. Have a pet. Watch an animal that lives in your neighborhood. Visit a park and watch the birds and the squirrels.

11. Clean your glasses

If you start to long at a dirty world the lenses thorough which you look become dirty. The constant mudslinging on the news can color your view of the world.

Find a fresh positive way to view your world. Look for people who do good things. Find youth that are making a difference and encourage them.

12. Develop your intuition

Those nerve cells in your body are there for a reason. Learn to listen to those feelings in your stomach and those pains in your neck. They can help you identify risks and pleasures that your conscious mind has forgotten.

Notice the feel of the sun on your skin when you are cold. Live in tune with your senses for greater happiness wherever you find yourself.

13. Care for your body

The part you call your body is not some inconvenient appendage to your thoughts. The flesh is not a lessor creature to be abused. Get plenty of good healthy food. Sleep well. Do not over tax your body. Do let it have the exercise it needs to function well.

Maintain your body and you will get years of happy use from it. Do not make it carry excess weight or do more than it can with less rest and food than it needs.

14. Develop a schedule for you day and week

Create a rhythm for your life. Use schedules to bring certainty and predictability to your life. Keep those schedules loose and flexible enough to provide security. But do not become a slave to the tyranny of an excessively crowded schedule of your own making.

Include time in that schedule for happiness and the things that make you happy.

15. Nurture your mind and spirit

Spend your time wisely. All work leaves you an unhappy person with things. Invest some of that time you get each day on things that improve and nurture your mind and your spirit. Read, watch a play, practice your religious faith.

16. Forgive yourself

Making mistakes is a part of living life as a human. Learn to accept yourself warts and all. Let your mistakes go. Learn from experiences but don’t stay stuck in regrets.

These are some of my suggestions for creating a happy life. Do you have others that you would care to share?

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at

How to have a highly productive life

By David Joel Miller

Highly productive people, how do they do it?

1. Productive People Set Goals

Life happens whether you are ready for it or not. Knowing where you want to end up charts your course. Productive people think about the end result they want. What will it look like when they have accomplished that goal?

2.Productive People Plan the Steps

Goals are nice. Someday you want to own your own business or you want to be a professional athlete. What are the steps you would need to take to move that plan into reality?

Break that goal up into the steps you will need to take to get there.

What skills will you need to learn? What will you have to practice? Most importantly, what other pleasures will you need to forgo along the way. Lots of promising, talented people fade between the start and the finish because they get distracted by the pleasures of the moment and forget to do the work needed to get where they said they wanted to go.

3. Spend more time doing than planning

Planning is need. So is preparation. But if all you ever do is dream, the dream stays in your head and does not materialize in reality.

Once you have that goal set and know the steps to get their make sure that each and every day you are doing something, no matter how small that thing is, that will mover you toward your goal.

4. Evaluate what you are doing

The best plans do not always anticipate the changes that happen in the world. Circumstances change, plans do not work out or they need to be modified.

People with very productive lives periodically reevaluate their plans. They know what is working and what is not working. They also reevaluate that goal. Is that goal still where you should be headed?

5. Adjust plans as need be

Be open to modifying plans when it is clear that you need to do so. Do not make frequent changes out of insecurity and doubt.

That career you planed on in high school, those occupations may not exist. Technology changes, demand changes. You plans may need to change with the circumstances.

6. Get advice from a coach

When you are out there doing, you can’t see the things you are doing well or the things that need improving. Top athletes work with coaches who can spot flaws in their performance.

Working with a good coach can take your efforts to a whole nother level.

7. Have a plan B that flows from your plan A

If you plan to be a professional athlete what happens if you don’t make the team? You can keep trying, but eventually the dream meets up with reality. Even those who do reach that goal find that they can’t go on being a professional forever. What happens to you if plan A does not work out exactly the way you planned?

College athletes are well advised to get that degree and develop their other talents. After your carrier as an athlete, long or short, what will you do? With a degree you can teach. Maybe coach. Your options remain open.

8. Always be looking for the next step

Periodically you need to look off into the distance. What is the next step in your development? When you get this goal accomplished what then?

Many people set goals, achieve them and then lapse into a depression. Their one reason to exist is over. Now what?

9. Do not be easily discouraged

In attempting anything there will be setbacks. Expect setbacks. Plan on having failures. Learn from those obstacles and perfect you skills.

Learn and practice your skills along the way and you will find that you were able to accomplish much more than you expected. Do not quit before the miracle happens and if you continue to work you are bound to experience some miracles.

10. Do not let obstacles stop you

If one obstacle causes you to give up you will not get much done.  The more you accomplish the more the obstacles. Learn to climb over them. Sometimes you will need to change course and go around them.

An obstacle is a chance to improve what you do and how you do it not a permanent defeat.

11. Learn something new each day

Add to your knowledge base. You never know when something you learned will turn out to be useful in the future. Do not wait till you are desperate for an idea to go looking for one.

Many innovations have been the result of taking something that a person had learned in one field and applying it to another area. Be that creative person who can synthesize and create new and novel approaches.

12. Build a team by being a team player

Most highly productive people have a team that they can depend on that backs them up. Develop that team by being a team player. Get along with and value others around you.

13. Maintain your mental health

Take care of your emotional health. Do not let things discourage you. Do not become overwhelmed with anxiety.

In the area of mental health, prevention is important. Have a support system. Learn ways to manage your stress and when those problems of life overwhelm you get help.

14. Treat your body well

The mind depends on the body for its fuel and energy. Eat well, sleep well and play frequently. A health body is far more productive than an impaired one.

15. Get a support system for you non-work life

Great producers at work have good lives outside of work. Many a work problem originated at home and was brought to work. If you want a productive life do not neglect your non-work life.

16. Know your work type

Every job has its characteristic work type. If your personality fits the job you will be more productive and happier. Happy people are more creative and productive.

Look of projects that fit your personality and try to avoid taking on projects that will make you unhappy.

Keep these productivity principles in mind and work towards become more productive each day. Over time you will be pleased to see how much you have gotten done and how much your life has improved as a result.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at

19 features your potential mate should have

By David Joel Miller

You know the features you want in your next car. What features should be on your requirements list for a life spouse and partner?

Here are 19 suggested features you should be shopping for in a potential mate.

If you are currently in a relationship – how many of these features does your current mate have? How many do you have and how might you install more of your desired features in the relationship you already have. It is a lot cheaper and more effective to improve the relationship you have than to trade it in on a new one.

1. You have common goals, dreams and values

When you are taking a life journey it helps to have a common destination in mind. If you are all about family and that partner of yours would prefer to avoid children and relatives you are headed for a fork in the road.

Religious and political differences are not insurmountable but if you potential partner plans to be a missionary recruiting for a religion you do not share, neither of you are likely to be happy.

Does one of you expect the woman to be a stay at home mother while the other is thinking dual career relationship?

2. They trust you, which helps you trust them

Starting a relationship off when one of you has “trust issues” is a dangerous journey.

Behaving in ways that reduce or damage that trust makes for a relationship headed in the wrong direction.

Partners who do not trust each other are at an extra risk to become controlling. Over time that control can turn to abuse.

3. They know about your defects and accept you anyway

Far too many relationships begin by one or both of the parties hiding their true selves. If you feel you can’t be who you truly are around this other person then reconsider the relationship. Over time it will get incredibly difficult to hide your inner self.

If that other person can’t accept you for who you are in the beginning, eventually they will feel tricked and trapped. A relationship that begins with deception is headed for disaster.

4. They can tell you the things they like about you

If your potential partner spends most of your together time talking about the things that are wrong with you and insists you need to change – beware.

Couples who, in the midst of conflict can still think of things they like about each other can work through difficulties. If that potential partner can’t see anything good about you, then you will never be their first choice.

Why would you prefer to be with a person who sees you as inherently defective? You are better off alone than in a relationship that will constantly pull you down.

5. You feel good when you are with them

You should not have to suffer to be with this other person. Times together should feel like fun. If it feels scary, unhappy or anxiety provoking to be with this other person, you nerves, the ones, that signal you emotionally, are telling you to beware.

6. You are their star not a supporting role

Supporting roles are second place behind the star. If you are just a person to be with, eventually your partner will look for someone to be in the starring role opposite them in their life script.

You deserve to be the first choice in someone’s life.

7. They make time for you, not make you fit their schedule

A good relationship is built on shared experiences. You need to know that this other person would like to be with you more than to be doing something else.

Granted life is busy these days and earning a living can take a lot of time. But you need to know that this partner of yours will make you and your needs a priority.

8. You do not have to give up “me” for there to be an “US.”

In the early stages of relationships people want to be together a lot. For the relationship to thrive there will need to be a time when you each are able to have your own separate lives as well as your life together. Do you have to give up family or friends to be with this person? Are their hobbies or activities that you enjoy that the other person insists you give up to be with them?

Is this about them controlling you and trying to change you to be acceptable to them or are they right that you need to give up some unhealthy people in your life?

9. They do not expect you to always be available when they want you

A health relationship is when there is give and take. If your potential partner demands you make them your one and only priority then this is a bad sign. Your partner should want to be with you but also should understand that there are times when other people and activities need your attention.

10. They do not need to get everything their way and win all the arguments

Does this significant other of yours insist that they need to get their way all the time? Or can they compromise? Does giving in feel like losing to them?

11. They fit in with your family and friends not cut you off from them.

A good relationship should be a compliment to your existing life not a replacement for those other relationships in your life.

12. They are able to admit when they are wrong

The longer you are with someone the more times each of you will find out that you made a mistake. Being able to admit those mistakes and move on will help heal any conflicts you two may have.

Some people can admit their errors and try to change. Other people will keep arguing till they make you wrong. Before long you will begin to think either you are going crazy or this person just can’t accept ever being wrong.

A person who thinks they are never wrong can be extremely difficult to live with after a very short time.

13. They are rarely boring

Relationships do not need to be thrill rides full of adrenalin. But if you find yourself being bored when you are around this other person, you are in for a lot more boring when they are the primary person in your life.

15. Being with them is not a competition

A relationship is a collaboration not a competition. Constantly trying to outdo each other becomes old. Look for someone who can enjoy your triumphs and for whom you can cheer, not a partner that always needs to upstage you.

16. They admit their problems and are working on them

If your potential partner is working to become the best they can be there is always room for improvement. It is the very annoying person who insists that the way they are is “just the way I am” and that you need to change to accommodate them. If they are not willing to work on themselves, they are not likely to be willing to work on the relationship when those inevitable problems arise.

17. They are not moody and let you know why they are feeling down or distant

Someone who is constantly moody is not someone you can create a happy relationship with. Understand we all have our moods. Some people struggle with serious mental illnesses, depression or anxiety. You can still have a great relationship together.

What that other person needs to be able to do is to communicate with you about their moods and to let you know that these moody times are about them not about it being your job to make them feel any one way. They also need to be working on themselves not expecting you to adapt yourself to their mood.

18. They are past the impulsive years and ready to be responsible

Growing up is a process. Many people go through impulsive times. They make choices, try on new things and grow.

Make sure that your potential partner is past those stages before it becomes too serious.

It is not fun to stay home with the children while your partner is off in another city having fun.

Do they work? Pay their bills and are they off probation? You are getting their past as part of the deal. Is their wreckage involved? Are student loans in default?

19. They are not trying to change you

Change is a part of life. In any relationship both people change over time. You want to be changing in the same direction and also be accepting of the way your partner changes.

What is especially bad for any relationship is when one party in the relationship insists that the other person change to suit them.

Be wary of someone who says they would be willing to like you if only you could change into someone else more to their liking.

There are 19 features your potential mate should have. There are likely others features you may have on your list. What features would make someone an “ideal” partner for you?For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at