As with most of life’s endeavors, a positive attitude goes a long way toward success. The same holds true for enjoying a more fulfilling sex life. If you feel sexy, you’ll become sexy. Positive thoughts generate positive emotions. Studies show that a positive attitude contributes to good physical health and mental well-being. This goes hand in hand with learning to accept who we are and embracing all our wonderful qualities. How we feel, and how we communicate our feelings to ourselves and others can also have a positive or negative affect on our sex lives. In her book, Molecules of Emotion, Dr. Candace Pert, a research professor in physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center, describes how our attitudes, beliefs, and emotions influence the biochemical and cellular levels of our brains and bodies. Her research describes a biomolecular basis for our emotions and how certain chemical reactions in the brain prompt the body to respond. Keeping a positive attitude will permeate your body language, which constitutes an outward reflection of your emotional condition and can make a significant difference in how others perceive you. Along these same lines, but from a more esoteric perspective, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author of the seminal volume The Power of Positive Thinking, wrote, “When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you. But if you expect the worst, you release from your mind the power of repulsion which tends to force the best from you. Expect the best, not the worst, and you will attain your heart’s desire.”
Dr. Peale’s philosophy follows the notion that if you believe you can succeed in something, you will. Or has Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
We all have choices in life. We can focus on the negative, or we can focus on the positive side of things. Easier said than done, at times, but worth the effort. How we feel is based in part on how we look. If we like what we see in the mirror, we should put on a smile and be happy. The positive energy is contagious. If we don’t like what we see in the mirror, then it’s time to do something about it.
Make exercise and healthy eating a part of your life. It’s never too late to start. If you look good, you’ll feel good. This doesn’t mean you have to be a marathon runner or make the Olympic team. It means you put forth some effort to improve your physical appearance through a workout you enjoy—walking, cycling, dancing, Zumba, Pilates, yoga, swimming, tennis, cardio machines, etc. There are more ways than ever to get your heart pumping. It doesn’t require money spent on infomercial toys or expensive gym memberships. A five-dollar jump rope will burn calories and build stamina as well as a thousand-dollar piece of gym equipment. Walking is another underrated exercise, yet it gets the job done and with less impact to your lower legs than jogging. When you exercise, you not only feel better physically, you feel better emotionally as well. Numerous studies cite aerobic exercise as a great stress reliever as well as a great way to increase blood flow to the pelvic area and genitals, which can improve lubrication, arousal, and even the intensity of orgasm. Lower stress aids in better health. And better health aids in better sex. Physical fitness also boosts self confidence. And self confidence will boost your sex life.
A positive attitude extends not only to how we feel about ourselves but how we feel about our relationship as well. No two people are perfect, and no romantic relationship is perfect either. Everyone has their good days and their not so good days. Welcome to the human race. Our romantic relationships follow suit. A positive attitude about our partner makes the good times even better and helps smooth those momentary bumps in the road. This implies accepting our loved one for who they are, not for who we want them to be.
If you want to have sex with a tall man, then date a tall man. If strong faith is important to you, then date a man who accepts God in his life. Don’t begrudge your beloved because they don’t fit your preconceived notions of how you believe they should look, think, or feel. The converse holds true as well. Your lover might physically resemble your former partner. He might even act like your ex-partner at times, but he doesn’t deserve to be punished for the sins of your former sinner.
Learn to accept your personality differences and not rebuke them. Focus on how your differences complement your relationship. Maybe you’re an early bird and he’s a night owl. Or one of you likes to eat in and the other likes to eat out. For me, I enjoy cycling for exercise. Most of the women I’ve dated do not. I like to cook. Most of the women I’ve dated do not. In the end, it doesn’t matter, as long as the right chemistry, communication, compromise, and commitment exist in the relationship. If you think about it long enough and are willing to compromise, you can make almost any scenario a win-win. The more you learn to adapt to one another, the more your relationship will thrive. The power of positive thinking is mightier than any negative influence in your life. If you let it, a positive attitude can transform your sex life from ordinary to extraordinary.
The Chuck It List
Most people are familiar with a “bucket list” defined as a list of things we would like to accomplish before our time on earth expires. It’s fun to draft a bucket list and dream about the things we want to do, places to see, people to meet, and what have you. Achieving goals and aspirations constitutes an important part of life. On the other hand, while we’re pontificating about all the wonderful things we’d like to do some day, we often accumulate stress in our lives. To some extent, a certain amount of stress will always shadow us. We can’t completely avoid it, but we can control how we manage it. Eliminating stress entirely from our lives is unrealistic, but reducing it is absolutely achievable and quite prudent. Consider the alternatives, where research indicates between fifty and eighty percent of all illnesses, including cancer, cardiac arrest, and autoimmune diseases, are stress-related. And aside from the impact to our physical health, stress invokes a negative impact on our relationships and our sex lives in general.
Now imagine a bucket with various stress spigots pouring water into it. Sometimes we have a few large spigots that allow more water—or stress in this case—to fill our bucket. Other times we have several smaller, yet consistent, stress spigots that drip non-stop like a leaky faucet, adding constant aggravation to our lives one milliliter at a time. The bucket will always exist, the way a certain amount of stress will always be present. Whether or not our stress bucket overflows is up to us. In other words, we want more stress flowing out of our bucket—and out of our lives—than flowing into it. How do we accomplish this? We start by identifying the frustrating events or experiences that bring stress. And there are many, including parenthood, lack of sleep, divorce, financial hardship, traffic, bad weather, dental visits, obesity, or simply being sick. Taken individually, these experiences can be managed through various means, but collectively, they can be overwhelming and hard to cope.
To keep your stress bucket from overflowing, start by identifying the stress-inducing experiences you can control through reprioritizing your needs and desires. For example, if you’re stressed about finances, take steps to correct the problem instead of letting it fester. Save more or spend less. Learn to live within your means. Seek help from a credit counseling service if necessary. To a large extent, you can effect certain changes to address this stress and lessen its impact on you.
If lack of sleep causes stress, adjust your schedule and make sufficient rest a priority. Easier said than done at times, but if you think about it, we often impose too much on ourselves and lose sight of the fact that we have more control over our routines than we like to admit. If you’re lacking sleep because you’re overcommitted at work or home, then take a few things off your plate and give yourself a break.
More complicated stressors like issues at work, traffic, divorce, or the death of a family member require a more strategic approach; one that might involve professional counseling, lifestyle changes, moral support from close friends and family, and guidance beyond the scope of this book.
Sometimes in our relationships, stress-inducing events stem more from our own attitudes or behaviors. Some of us carry the weight of grudges or the desire to keep up with Joneses. Some of us feel the need to look perfect while others constantly strive to be the best in our profession. Trying to change our partners and mold them into something we want them to be can inflict tremendous stress as well. These stress-inducing behaviors and attitudes will fill your stress bucket like a fire hose. Let go of the past. Focus on the present. No one is perfect. No partner is perfect. Relationships are not without their challenges. It’s okay to set high goals and strive to be the best as long as you manage your stress bucket and not let your need for perfection cause it to overflow.
Remember, you can’t stop all stress from entering your bucket, but you can control the amount of stress flowing into your bucket and how quickly you allow the stress to flow out by making small adjustments in your life. Treat stress like the useless spam pinging your inbox. Move it to your chuck it list and set it to auto delete. This will help you maintain a more positive attitude and reduce your overall anxiety level. The more stressors you can dismiss, especially the petty ones you can learn to ignore, the lighter your emotional load will be—and the more your sex life will improve.
Planning involves discipline, forethought, and the desire to reduce risk by analyzing variables to help ensure we make the right decisions given the facts at hand. But all the planning in the world doesn’t guarantee things will turn out exactly the way we intend, which is not to say planning is bad or ineffective. In the right frame of reference, it pays to be vigilant, cautious, and guarded at times about health, bills, job responsibilities, and other significant concerns. Planning is also important when it comes to anniversaries, birthdays, or other meaningful romantic events.
In terms of sex, important decisions on birth control, safe sex, and family planning come to mind.
From a man’s perspective, planning has always played an important role in the dating ritual. But at some point along the way, after the initial euphoria of a new relationship slowly tapers, many of us cling to our routines and plan everything as we go. Planning brings a measure of safety and comfort in our lives, but over time, if we plan every facet of our romantic relationships, complacency, lethargy, and boredom become the hobgoblins of desire. Fortunately, spontaneity can help balance the scales.
Spontaneity does not equate to reckless, madcap, irresponsible behavior. It equates to stepping outside our comfort zones and crossing the line a bit. No one wants to eat the same meals every day. The same way no one wants to wear the same clothes all the time. Many of us are creatures of habit, which is not a bad thing, but it can make our sex lives seem monotonous if we’re not careful. Being spontaneous doesn’t strictly apply to having sex in a bedroom behind closed doors; it applies to the notion of breaking out of our day-to-day routine and exploring everything life has to offer. Take a walk in a park you’ve never been to. See a movie on a work day. Have dinner last and sex first. Stay in bed late one morning. Stare at the stars instead of the TV. Rendezvous at lunch for a quickie. Make out in the car. Why put off until tomorrow what you can enjoy today? Variety stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain. Do what feels comfortable and safe, but make an effort to break out of your comfort zone. Or as fellow alumnus, Susannah Hopkins Leisher, wrote, sometimes you have to “jiggle the needle on the record of life.”
Most sex experts agree, the more foreplay, the better, especially from the woman’s point of view. This includes more time spent holding hands, kissing, hugging, touching, and enjoying the close proximity to one another without rushing into the main course of events. To experience passionate sex, we must be sufficiently aroused, both physically and emotionally.
Generally speaking, women take longer than men to reach a certain comfort level in their desire to have sex. For men, a state of erection can be instantaneous, as men are more visual creatures. For women, sexual arousal builds gradually through kind gestures, romantic words—think poetry and romantic comedies, or themes in films and stories involving affection and commitment with a partner. Women require sufficient warm-up or mental preparation to reach a similar level of arousal that men achieve from visual stimulation.
Foreplay doesn’t have to involve physical touch to stimulate arousal. For many women, the initial qualities that first attracted them to their partners remain the same qualities that keep them involved. Qualities like kindness, sensitivity, affection, and attentiveness can stir desire more efficiently than a particular foreplay technique itself.
Both physical and emotional intimacy play a role in foreplay and vary depending on the mood or circumstance. Soft caresses anywhere on the body and especially near specific erogenous zones can awaken sexual energy. The same goes for warm breath on our neck or behind our lover’s ear. And why stop there? Erogenous zones exist in many places on our bodies, including our lips, scalp, arms, and fingertips. A simple hand massage can prove incredibly soothing. In fact, aside from the mouth and genitals, the fingertips are the second most sensitive part of the human body. And don’t forget the lower abdomen, an area most women find very sensitive to stimulation through a feather-light touch or the gentle press of soft lips.
Take the time to savor your foreplay activity. Like most anything in life, foreplay gets better with practice. Couples who take the time to get to know one another on a physical, intellectual, and emotional level will discover what pleasures them most—an important step toward experiencing more fulfilling sex.