What makes two things great together?

I have never been much on class reunions. No particular reason, I have just never really gotten into them and thus have never been to one. Needless to say, for me, it’s been a long time and some 500 miles since I’ve walked the halls of my high school. Heck, it’s been 15-plus years since I have even been to the city in which I spent my younger years. So, Rachel and I decided we were ready for an adventure, so off we will go. We don’t actually have tickets to the reunion (it is sold out), so it is still uncertain if we will actually make it to the reunion itself.

And this upcoming reunion got me thinking: Not so much about high school itself, but the era in which I grew up. Often when we reflect on the past, we think of fashion, popular activities, popular television shows, and possibly news headlines of the day. I ended up thinking of television commercials. There was one commercial in particular that really stood out for me. Why it did will become evident later. For me, this commercial was the introduction of quite possibly the greatest of all American inventions.

Here’s the scenario:

Two people are walking down the street, one eating peanut butter and one eating chocolate, and they collide. One person exclaims, “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!” and the other exclaims, “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”. They then sample the mixture and remark on the great taste, tying in with the slogan “Two great tastes that taste great together.” Have you guessed yet? It was for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the campaign was a huge hit; it even featured celebrities at one point.

Do you remember this one? A Classic. 

Opposites attract and compatibility

Opposites attract art by Priscilla WolfeDuring this same era, I also remember a phrase that was used in describing friendships and relationships. That phrase was “opposites attract” just like chocolate and peanut butter!

With so many dating services airing commercials (several which are quite comical), all we hear about is “compatibility.” So, if opposites attract (my era) then what’s all this about compatibility (the current era?) Confusing at best, but the more I think about it, the more there’s an argument that they can work together. Hear me out.

What does all this have to do with happiness? Actually, a lot, bear with me.

At the very core of all our happiness is our relationships. First, our relationship with ourselves and second, our relationship with others. Here is why I think the phrase “opposites attract” is so powerful in our relationships.

One of the struggles we can have as we go through life is reconciling with ourselves our own weaknesses. Our weaknesses represent areas in our lives where we can feel vulnerable. As a consequence, we often spend an inordinate amount of time trying to hide these weaknesses instead of polishing our strengths.

I believe that when we join with others who have different strengths, and we gain the trust of those people, we are able to allow them to overshadow our weaknesses so we don’t have to try and cover up these weaknesses any longer. Thus, we can return our focus back to our own strengths.

And here’s where compatibility comes in.

I don’t tend to speak up in crowds. I generally would never even ask a question in class; however, I always had a friend who was nearby who would. I would simply whisper or make a statement or ask a question under my breath and they would be sure to blab it out. This would allow me to use my brain to think up more questions and comments and not using my brain to beat myself up for not speaking up. Opposites? Yes. Compatible. Well, in a way, right? Definitely symbiotic! 

We have to look no further to see the benefits of “opposites attracting” and compatibility than that simply delicious little confectionary delight we’ve all come to know as the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. See what I did here? Yum!

However, and not to put too fine a point on it …

I’m not trying to knock dating/match making sites; they certainly have their place in today’s society. But, I do think that maybe too much emphasis is being placed on compatibility as a goal, a black and white up or down vote. I mean, think about it: If two art-minded people get together, who’s going to balance the checkbook or if two math-minded people get married who’s going to going to create something new for supper?  Of course, if they are both successful, they could eat out every week and hire an accountant. But, for most of us, life, relationships and compatibility is all about balance – and that will make one much happier.

Read this Related blog post: “Opposites Attract”

Now… about that reunion …

Soulful Quote:

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

  • Carl Jung Psychologist (1875-1961)


  • “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (Just because the powers-to-be wouldn’t let us have it for our class song!)

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Take a few minutes to think about your closest friend(s) and/or spouse if you are married. How does “opposites attract” fall in your relationships? And please allow yourself to enjoy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the process. (sorry for all of you with peanut allergies …)


How to Be Happy? A Nearly 90-Year-Old Has Some Advice

Judith Viorst, the author of iconic children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, has never loved her life more than she does now. She’s also almost 90.


Self Reliance: What is it? What does it mean?

Is it a good thing or a not-so-good thing?

A school of thought says man is to live in community, therefore all must contribute to the community, and all must rely on the community. This contribute-and-rely relationship forms a bond between the individual and the community. This may sound like a great concept, but it has a major flaw: It overlooks individuality!

Humans are born as individuals; this is a biological fact. A child is born as its own individual. Yes, it carries jeans – I know it’s “genes,” but I’m trying to lighten up this heavy, but important subject – and to see if you were paying attention. 🙂

From each parent the child inherits those genes, so there are direct similarities, but the child is also uniquely different. This unique difference and its importance to life is huge.

How does this relate?

Bear with me … We are all unique, thus we are all, to use a well-meaning metaphor, meant to be the “black sheep.” For some, this uniqueness is obvious and for others it is much subtler.

Discovering our uniqueness is key to finding happiness because it defines us as an individual. When we know who we are as individuals, we can be ourselves, comfortably without having to try and prove to others who we are.

Although this may sound simple and straight-forward, discovering this uniqueness is complicated by the fact that most of us spend the first eighteen years of our lives living is close relationship (community-family) with people whom we share similarities (genes) and perhaps not much else. As we start out as infants, we rely totally on our parents and, sometimes, even older siblings.

Related: 10 key lessons in the art of being self reliant 

Choosing your battles wisely

As we grow older, this family attempts to mold us into a shape that fits the family. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing – it just is. This process is where rebellion comes into play as individuals seek individuality apart from their family. Whereas rebellion is a natural part of maturing into an individual, it can often linger for a lifetime. This occurs when the individual is rebelling for rebellion sake and not rebelling as a natural process of becoming their own self. (I see a lot of nodding heads out there).

To complicate matters even further is that our lives incorporate more than just our family. Our community grows to include all the people that we live and interact with daily. As we get older, especially in the teen years, this larger community begins to influence us as individuals to conform to the shape or norms of the community.

Okay, a little deep, I understand, especially for a layman and not an accredited psychologist, so let me move on. However, seeing it for what it is helps us understand the magnitude and relevance our community plays in our lives. Breaking away from the conformity of the community can be difficult. I’m not saying to become the Unibomber  – a society has to put some bounds on freedom. But, your unique individuality is important to the community. Choosing to become a productive part of the community that people can depend upon – rather than someone dependent upon others – is why self-reliance is so important.

Where self-reliance comes in

The breaking of this bond with the community is called becoming self-reliant. Ok, so why is this so important? Because self-reliance equals freedom.

Self reliance is quite simply the ability to take care of yourself.

Let me explain:

Think of your unique individuality as a bird in a series of cages: The first cage is your heart, the second is your mind, and the third is just this big cumbersome cage that sort of holds the other two cages in place, call it the body.

Parrot in a cageIt is somewhat easy to let the bird out of the first cage because it is our true desire our yearning. The second cage is a real bother because family, friends, and society all have their hands on all the cage doors. “You don’t want to do that! You would be better off doing this!” Once we are able – if we are able – to break out of second cage, the third becomes somewhat easier. This is the cage of the “self.” Represented by the body because of the physical nature, as our bird leaves this final cage, it will be exposed to the world. It will be shot at, it will be laughed at, and it may be ridiculed: “what an ugly duckling,” comes to mind; yet, out of all three cages, out past the blazing guns and laughing hyenas, lies happiness.

Although getting out of all three cages is difficult, there is one key that works on all three cages – that key is self-reliance!

Once you become self-reliant, you can live a fulfilling and purposeful life by sharing your unique gift and your talents with the community.

This is Happiness! And you can get there. Don’t Be A Cow!