You wouldn't throw all your trash in your living room. It would make your home look messy and smell awful. You would walk it outside to the trash can or recycling bin.

As I counsel individuals, couples, and families through making their lives and relationships more meaningful and more satisfying, I want each person to take out their own trash in their life and relationships, too.

This means everyone needs to be able to identify when they are stressed, and find a way to release that stress safely and productively. Children are included here, and I like their parents to help them find some possible alternative ways to reduce their own stress. As grown-ups, we need to be good role models in the stress management of our daily life. Do we salsa dance, run, meditate, pray, go to the gym, read, clean, garden, push the baby for a walk in the stroller, go for a bike ride, or see a friend? We each need to do something that helps us cope with our own stress.

It is NOT okay to take out your frustrations or stress on the people closest to you. This is what I mean about taking out your own trash. In relationships, we are each responsible for making ourselves happy, fulfilled, and managing our own stress well, and sharing our happiness with those closest to us. It's not a fair expectation of others who are close to you that they manage your stress, provide your life with meaning and purpose, or supply you with happiness. Some of these things are an inside job.

Stress is a regular part of our daily life; both good and bad stress. It's a part of our human experience. Learning some good coping strategies that work for you and are healthy and fun is a smart idea. Stress can be transmitted from one person to another, in a family, a relationship, and a workplace. Doing your part to stop the flow of stress means being aware of what situations and people stress you, setting healthy boundaries when you can, knowing how your body reacts to stress, and actively releasing that stress yourself so that you aren't a part of the stress dance.

So, the bad news is: you can expect stress as long as you are alive here on Earth. The good news: you can get really good at identifying signs that you are stressed, actively releasing it, and being a beneficial presence to others, rather than a part of transferring stress on to others. Load up that trash, and let's take it outside where it belongs.