Forgiving Myself and Others . . . Why Bother?

Forgiveness will not be possible until compassion is born in your heart.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh

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I recently had a rather intense conversation about forgiveness with a friend. She was adamant that there are some people that do not deserve forgiveness, ever. She went on to say that serial rapists and pedophiles do not deserve forgiveness period. And although there is very compelling evidence that forgiveness is good for the person who forgives, we came to an impasse.

I think a lot of us get stuck on the idea of what forgiveness actually means. Forgiveness is defined as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether you believe they actually deserve your forgiveness. Remember the act of forgiving is for you the forgiver, not the person you are forgiving.

Forgiveness does not mean that you gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offence against you. It does not mean forgetting nor excusing what has been done. It does not mean you have to reconcile with the person or release them from legal accountability.

As Anne Lamott puts it:

“Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You’re done. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have lunch with the person. If you keep hitting back, you stay trapped in the nightmare.” 

Forgiveness is for the forgiver. It brings the forgiver peace and hopefully freedom from anger.

It took years of therapy to be able to forgive my mother. I was convinced she did not deserve forgiveness. She chose alcohol over her own children, dying and leaving me motherless at the tender age of 16. But when I finally reached a place of letting it go, it was so liberating! I felt lighter and more energized than I had in my entire life. Forgiveness is so freeing. It loosens the knot in my stomach that comes from resentment and anger at another person.

I love Jack Kornfield’s definition of forgiveness:

“Forgiveness is, in particular, the capacity to let go, to release the suffering, the sorrows, the burdens of the pains and betrayals of the past, and instead to choose the mystery of love. Forgiveness shifts us from the small separate sense of ourselves to a capacity to renew, to let go, to live in love.”

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. And studies have shown that forgiveness can lead to better relationships; greater psychological well-being; less stress; lower blood pressure; fewer symptoms of depression and a stronger immune system. Just to name a few of the health benefits.

But as we all know, it’s a helluva lot easier said than done. Fred Luskin is a pioneer in the science and practice of forgiveness. He offers us nine steps toward forgiveness:

1. Understand how you feel about what happened and be able to explain why the situation is not OK. Then discuss it with someone you trust.
2. Commit to yourself to feel better; remember forgiveness is for you and no one else.
3. Remember forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to reconcile with the person who upset you; it does not condone the action. In forgiveness you are seeking peace for yourself.
4. Recognize that the distress now is coming from the hurt feelings and physical upset you are currently suffering, not from what offended you or hurt you when it happened.
5. At the moment you feel upset, practice stress management to soothe your body’s fight or flight response. Take a deep breath.
6. Stop expecting things from other people that they do not choose to give you.
7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you.
8. Remember that living well is the best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving power over you to the person who caused you pain, look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you. Put more energy into appreciating what you have rather than attending to what you do not have.
9. Amend the way you look at your past so you remind yourself of your heroic choice to forgive.

One of the best ways I can get myself to a place of forgiveness when I’m feeling stuck is to journal. I write pages and pages about why I’m angry and resentful and hurt. I write until it’s all out. And then I usually talk about it, and occasionally even write an article about it about because as Anne Lamott tells us:

Now you get to tell it, because then it will become medicine – that we evolve; that life is stunning, wild, gorgeous, weird, brutal, hilarious and full of grace. That our parents were a bit insane, and that healing from this is taking a little bit longer than we had hoped. Tell it.

I’d like to close with a beautiful meditation on forgiveness with Jack Kornfield.

I’d love to hear about how you practice forgiveness.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.
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Deepak Chopra’s Suggestions for Good Health

“If you consciously let your body take care of you, it will become your greatest ally and trusted partner.”
– Deepak Chopra 

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As I age, I need to watch myself, that I don’t start using unhealthy language.  Language like, ‘My eye sight just isn’t what it used to be’ or ‘Oh my ageing body doesn’t move as fast as it used it’ or the most common that I hear ‘Growing old is a bitch! Nothing works anymore.’  This kind of talk is training our brains to to be unhealthy.

 

According to Deepak Chopra, our health is up to us.  In a wonderful talk with Hay House President Reid Tracy,Deepak Chopra, M.D. shares his top 6 secrets to great health based on decades of scientific research and study. To hear the entire conversation you need to sign up for the Hay House Summit.

According to Chopra’s new book, The Healing Self,  95% our health is under our control, and he explains that most disease is reversible. His 6 secrets to a healthier life and better health are really simple and something we can all start doing now!

#6 – Connect to Earth and to Nature

Immerse yourself in nature, go for long walks in trees.  And he explains that the best way to connect is by walking barefoot outside.  Take a walk on the beach barefoot whenever possible.  You now have permission to indulge – it’s good for you!

#5 – Nutrition

It’s pretty simple, eat fresh and organic wherever possible.

#4 – Watch your Emotions and Relationships

Negative emotions and relationships can cause illness and disease.   Whereas positive relationships and feeling positive emotions help to create health and can actually reduce inflammation naturally. And it’s been proven that loneliness can harm your health. So find positive relationships and nurture them.

#3 – Movement and Yoga

Walking, especially barefoot, is good, but he explains that doing yoga is the best movement for the brain to help in healing your body and in staying healthy.

#2 – Meditate and Manage Your Stress Levels

Meditation not only helps to reduce stress, it has been shown time and again to help you heal.

#1 – Get Good Sleep

And finally, the number one thing that will help you to heal and to stay healthy is a good night’s sleep.  Chopra suggests 7 – 8 hours a night is best.  This is the absolute best way to heal and to stay healthy.

Arianna Huffington has been saying this for years as well and has written several books about it, including The Sleep Revolution.

This is all within our own control, we can be healthier.  So I make a commitment to watch my language about my health and start paying close attention to Deepak Chopra’s 6 secrets to health.

In closing, appropriately here is a video by Chopra called Only You Can Heal Yourself.

 

I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself.  How well are you following Chopra’s 6 Secrets?
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

April News

“Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
– Mother Teresa 

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In case you missed our April Newsletter . . .

Let’s be like Velcro for joyful experiences …
View this email in your browser

Welcome to This Way Up!

Thank you for being part of this community! Keep reading for more on making joy stickier, news about upcoming summits, and updates about the This Way Up Audio Book! You can always find me at ThisWayUpBook.com.

If Joy Is a Choice … How Can We Make It Stick?

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” 
~ Joseph Campbell

Joy is always a subject I like to write about. Recently I’ve found joy in listening to anything by Tara Brach, so it’s fitting that I should start this newsletter about joy with Tara Brach’s description. She describes joy as the aliveness and openness that occurs when we let ourselves be available to the whole play of existence. It’s a natural capacity, it’s in our wiring, and it can be cultivated.

Joy comes from a habit of thinking and interacts closely with our biochemistry. I explored this in a recent article on Thrive Global.

We sustain a joy “set point” based on what we think about and focus on. Deepak Chopra explains that when you activate a positive belief, your cells get the message.

One way to cultivate joy is through gratitude. Studies have shown that gratitude changes the body-mind chemistry. So when you have an experience and you feel good because of that experience, take time and allow yourself to feel good; pause and let it sink in. To use the language of technology: install it.

Rick Hanson suggests that we try to take in the good and make it stick. He explains that in order to create the trait , we must make it “stickier.” Taking that time to pause gives joy (or any experience) this stickiness. He explains:

“Scientists believe that your brain has a built-in negativity bias. In other words, as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was for carrots. That’s because, in the tough environments in which our ancestors lived, if they missed out on a carrot, they usually had a shot at another one later on. But if they failed to avoid a stick, a predator, a natural hazard, or aggression from others of their species—Wham, no more chances to pass on their genes.

“The negativity bias shows up in lots of ways. For example, studies have found that:

  1. In a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one.
  2. People will work much harder to avoid losing $100 than they will work to gain the same amount of money.
  3. Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.”

In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. That shades implicit memory—your underlying expectations, beliefs, action strategies, and mood—in an increasingly negative direction.”

You can read more about this and watch Tara Brach’s wonderful meditation about Joy on my latest blog post.

PS: Speaking of joy, it was with extreme joy that I discovered that people who bought books by Julia Cameron, Brené Brown and Anne Lamott also bought my book, This Way Up. What an affirmation!

Recent Podcast: Homework to Happiness

I had the pleasure recently to be featured on a wonderful podcast: Homework to Happiness with Sarah Jordan. We talked about an array of topics but of course really focused on happiness: what it is, its benefits, and how we tend to block it. You can listen to the podcast here:

You can find that podcast and other past podcasts and interviews on my website, on the media tab, under interviews.

Upcoming Summits: You’re Invited!

I am really excited to be participating in two upcoming summits:

Live Your Layered Life Summit

Live online now. Discover the secrets to self-care in your mind, body, and home! This summit is hosted by my friend Suzanne Choplin. It’s packed with great information and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Learn more and join the event.

Reinventing You Summit

This summit will be live from May 21-31. Watch this space for more information. The second summit is with my friend Naomi Sodomin. Naomi is the international best-selling author of Embrace the Mirror: Vision of Abundance and a Stronger You. And an incredibly all-around inspirational woman.

The summit will include information like:

  • Illuminating your greatest fears (aka blocks) – so you can finally move past them.
  • Identifying and overcoming challenges that are keeping you from taking action on the things that are important to you.
  • Getting clear on what it is you want to create, so that you can take those first steps, now!
  • And much more.

Learn more and join the event.

This Way Up Will Soon Be an Audio Book!

This Way Up is being made into an audio book! (Yes, the process is taking longer than I thought it would.) When it is ready, it will be available on my Amazon pageand I will send a special link for the book in my newsletter. I can’t wait to share this new version of the book with you!

Buy the Book!

“Author Patti Clark is a cross between Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron.”

This Way Up is a story of healing for women who yearn to lead a fuller life, accompanied by a workbook to help readers work through personal challenges, discover new inspiration, and harness their creative power. . .

Women spend so much of life nurturing and giving to others that when they find themselves alone—because of an empty nest, the end of a marriage, or the death of a partner—they often struggle with feeling purposeless. This Way Up provides a step-by-step way out of this sense of loss and into a life filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and joy.

Buy Online

Today I Choose Joy

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

– Joseph Campbell 

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Today I shall choose Joy!

And so does Stu Krieger.  Will you join us?

 

 

Let me know your thoughts on how you choose joy each day.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Five Invitations

“I have come to know that death is an important thing to keep in mind – not to complain or to make melancholy, but simply because only with the honest knowledge that one day I will die can I ever truly begin to live.”

– R.A. Salvatore 

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For those of you who missed my last newsletter, I’m posting it here.  There are links to articles and lots of exciting news about upcoming events.  If you want to sign up for my newsletter, you can sign up here – under ‘Stay Inspired.’ 

 

Welcome to This Way Up!

Thank you for being part of this community! Keep reading for more on what death has to teach us about living life, news about upcoming summits, and updates about the This Way Up Audio Book! You can always find me at ThisWayUpBook.com.

What Can the Dying Teach Us if We Are Willing to Listen?

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Once again I have so much to be grateful for in what my sons teach me. This time, I am grateful for both of them pushing me to explore the wonders of podcasts. Of course I have listened to podcasts, I’ve even been interviewed on several, but it’s been a half-hearted effort. On their last trip home, they downloaded a podcast app and steered me to several podcasts they enjoyed. Since then, I have been playing podcasts on every trip in my car. I’m hooked! Mind you, as most of you know, I’m an addict at heart—so everything I do, I often overdo! But at this point, I’m loving it and it doesn’t seem to be doing me any harm.

The first podcast that my sons turned me on to was an interview with Frank Ostaseski, a leader in the field of hospice and end-of-life care, on a podcast called Waking Up with Sam Harris. But actually Tara Brach is much more my style, so I then listened to her interview with Ostaseski on her podcast, Tara Talks.  I was so affected that I bought Ostaseski’s book, The Five Invitations.

I explored this concept, learning about life by listening to the dying, in my latest article on Thrive Global. The message in the book has five invitations to us based on what Ostaseski has learned from people who are dying:

  1. Don’t Wait.
  2. Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing
  3. Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience
  4. Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things
  5. Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind

Don’t Wait. The idea of the first invitation seems obvious.  If you are dying, you can’t wait to do things; there is an immediacy to everything.  But this has a message to all of us:

“This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet, embracing the truth of life’s precariousness helps us to appreciate its preciousness.  We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say, ‘I love you’ more often. We become kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving.”

Push Away Nothing. When I think about the second invitation, that feels very hard.  My logical mind says, but what about the horrible stuff?  I don’t want to welcome the bad stuff. Ostaseski explains, though:

In welcoming everything, we don’t have to like what’s arising or necessarily agree with it, but we need to be willing to meet it, to learn from it. The word welcome confronts us; it asks us to temporarily suspend our usual rush to judgment and to be open, to what is showing up at our front door. To receive it in the spirit of hospitality. At the deepest level, this invitation is asking us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.”

Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience is a good invitation for me. I often hold back, thinking I have nothing to offer here or I don’t know how to deal with this. I believe if I can’t contribute some kind of knowledge to something, then I should not contribute. I know this is from ego, that I want to look good if I’m going to contribute. But Ostaseski explains gently:

“We all like to look good. We long to be seen as capable, strong, intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, or at least well-adjusted. Few of us want to be known for our helplessness, fear, anger, or ignorance. Yet more than once I have found an ‘undesirable’ aspect of myself—one about which I previously had felt ashamed—to be the very quality that allowed me to meet another person’s suffering with compassion instead of fear or pity.”

Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things. The fourth invitation is a wonderful reminder for all of us, I think. After listening to the podcast with Tara Brach, I downloaded another app to help remind me to find a place of rest in the middle of a busy time.  The app, Insight Timer, has meditations on my phone to remind me and aid me in resting.

Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind. The fifth invitation is a Zen flavored-invite, one that describes a mind that’s open and receptive, one that is not limited by agendas, roles, and expectations.

“It is free to discover. When we are filled with knowing, when our mind is made up, it narrows our vision and limits our capacity to act. We only see what our knowing allows us to see. We don’t abandon our knowledge – it’s always there in the background should we need it – but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control.”

These five invitations are a gift to all of us, supportive in our life. They invite us to continue to explore and understand what it means to be alive now; not just to cope with death, but to live.

And I whole heartedly agree with Ostaseski, they are relevant guides to living with integrity. We need to live these invitations: to be truly understood, they need to be lived and realized through action. They indeed are “five invitations for you to be fully present for every aspect of your life.”

If you are interested in this topic, I encourage you to watch the conversation between Tara Brach and Frank Ostaseski. It is enlightening and inspiring!

Upcoming Summits: You’re Invited!

I am so excited to be participating in two events in March.  Each summit or master class is completely free and full of amazing information from a host of experts.

Authenticity Is Power: Get out of your own way and into success, by being yourself always!

Live online now.

Learn more and join the event.

Reclaim Your Life: Get Clear, Simplify and Do Something Worthwhile

Going live March 12.

Learn more and join the event.

This Way Up Will Soon Be an Audio Book!

This Way Up is being made into an audio book! The book is being narrated by the fantastic character actress, Janice Kent. When it is ready, it will be available on my Amazon page and I will send a special link for the book in my newsletter. I can’t wait to share this new version of the book with you!

Buy the Book!

“Author Patti Clark is a cross between Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron.”

This Way Up is a story of healing for women who yearn to lead a fuller life, accompanied by a workbook to help readers work through personal challenges, discover new inspiration, and harness their creative power. . .

Women spend so much of life nurturing and giving to others that when they find themselves alone—because of an empty nest, the end of a marriage, or the death of a partner—they often struggle with feeling purposeless. This Way Up provides a step-by-step way out of this sense of loss and into a life filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and joy.

Buy Online
 

 I’d like to close this post with a guided meditation by Tara Brach called Opening and Calming.  It is well worth the watch/listen.  It is soothing and calming.

 

Thank you for being part of this movement. Watch this space for more in the months ahead.  Stay informed about all of my upcoming events.  Sign up for my newsletter here.

What the Dying Can Teach Us About Living

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.”
– Leonardo da Vinci 

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Once again, I have so much to be grateful for, in terms of what my sons have taught me. This time, I am grateful that both of them pushed me to explore the wonders of podcasts. Of course I have listened to podcasts, I’ve even been interviewed on several, but it’s been a half-hearted effort. On their last trip home, over Christmas, they downloaded a podcast playing app and steered me in the direction of several podcasts that they enjoyed. And since then, I have been playing podcasts on every trip I take in my car. I’m hooked! Mind you, as most of you know that have been reading my blog for awhile,  I’m an addict at heart, so everything I do, I often overdo! But at this point, I’m loving it and it doesn’t seem to be doing me any harm.

The first podcast that my sons turned me on to was an interview with Frank Ostaseski on a podcast called Waking Up with Sam Harris. But Actually, Tara Brach is much more my style, so I then listened to her interview with Ostaseski on her podcast, Tara Talks.

I was so impacted that I bought Ostaseski’s book, The Five Invitations. A wonderful book that I highly recommend.

In an article in Daily Good, Ostaseski describes his journey:

“Over the past thirty years, as the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, people who were dying generously invited me into their most vulnerable moments. They made it possible for me to get up close and personal with death. In the process, they taught me how to live. I distilled their wisdom into five heart lessons for living fully and without regret.”

The message in the book has five invitations to us from what Ostaseski has learned from people dying.

1. Don’t Wait.

2. Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing

3. Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience

4. Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things

5. Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind

The idea of the first invitation, Don’t Wait, seems obvious. If you are dying, you can’t wait to do things, there is an immediacy to everything. But this has a message to all of us:

“This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet, embracing the truth of life’s precariousness helps us to appreciate its preciousness. We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say, “I love you” more often. We become kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving.”

When I think about the second invitation, Push Away Nothing, that feels very hard. My logical mind says, but what about the horrible stuff? I don’t want to welcome the bad stuff. Ostaseski explains though:

“In welcoming everything, we don’t have to like what’s arising or necessarily agree with it, but we need to be willing to meet it, to learn from it. The word welcome confronts us; it asks us to temporarily suspend our usual rush to judgment and to be open, to what is showing up at our front door. To receive it in the spirit of hospitality. At the deepest level, this invitation is asking us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.”

Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience is a good invitation for me. I often hold back thinking I have nothing to offer here, I don’t know how to deal with this. I believe if I can’t contribute some kind of knowing to something, then I should not contribute. I know this is from ego, that I want to look good if I’m going to contribute. But Ostaseski explains gently:

“We all like to look good. We long to be seen as capable, strong, intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, or at least well-adjusted. Few of us want to be known for our helplessness, fear, anger, or ignorance. Yet more than once I have found an “undesirable” aspect of myself — one about which I previously had felt ashamed — to be the very quality that allowed me to meet another person’s suffering with compassion instead of fear or pity. It is not only our expertise, but exploration of our own suffering that enables us to build an empathetic bridge and be of real assistance to others. To be whole, we need to include and connect all parts of ourselves. Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means no part left out.”

The fourth invitation, Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things, is a wonderful reminder for all of us I think. After listening to the podcast with Tara Brach, I downloaded another app to help remind me to find a place of rest in the middle of thing. The app, Insight Timer, has meditations on my phone to help me find rest in the middle of things, to remind me and aid me to rest.

“We often think of rest as something that will come to us when everything else in our lives is complete: At the end of the day, when we take a bath; once we go on holiday or get through all our to-do lists. We imagine that we can only find rest by changing our circumstances.”

 

And the fifth invitation, Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind is a Zen flavored invite, one that describes a mind that’s open and receptive, one that is not limited by agendas, roles, and expectations.

“It is free to discover. When we are filled with knowing, when our mind is made up, it narrows our vision and limits our capacity to act. We only see what our knowing allows us to see. We don’t abandon our knowledge — it’s always there in the background should we need it — but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control. The night before my open-heart surgery, my 26-year-old son Gabe and I had a tender conversation. Our sharing was filled with reminiscing, kindness, and laughter. At one point, Gabe became quite serious and asked, “Dad, are you going to live through this surgery?” Now I love my son beyond words, and like any father, I wanted to reassure him that I would be just fine. I felt into my experience before answering. Then I heard myself say, “I’m not taking sides.” My answer surprised us both. What I meant was that I wasn’t taking sides with life or death. Either way, I trusted that everything would be okay. I don’t know where the words came from; they spilled from me without censorship. I wasn’t trying to appear sage or to be a good Buddhist. Yet we both were reassured by my response. I think it was because we knew we were in the presence of the truth spoken with love.”

These five invitations are a gift to all of us, supportive in our life. They invite us to continue to explore and understand what it means to be alive now; not just to cope with death, but to live. And I whole heartedly agree with Ostaseski, they are relevant guides to living with integrity. Yes, we need to live these invitations, to be truly understood, they need to be lived and realized through action. They indeed are “five invitations for you to be fully present for every aspect of your life.”

The conversation with Tara Brach and Frank Ostaseski is truly inspirational, and I invite you to take the time to watch it now.

 

Let me know your thoughts on these Five Invitations.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Let’s Talk about Love . . .

“He who plants kindness gathers love.”

– St. Basil 

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For those of you who missed my last newsletter, I’m posting it here.  There are links to articles and lots of exciting news about upcoming events.  If you want to sign up for my newsletter, you can sign up here – under ‘Stay Inspired.’ 

 

Is love really all you need?
View this email in your browser

Welcome to This Way Up!

Thank you for being part of this community! Keep reading for more on clinging to a flawed definition of love, news about upcoming summits, and updates about the This Way Up Audio Book! You can always find me at ThisWayUpBook.com.

Is Love All You Need? Not Really.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ~ Mary Oliver

I was sitting in the seat of the car, looking out the window, pouting. The day was not going as I had planned it in my head. He should have known! He must have known how I wanted it to be. After all, we were married and he should know … he should be able to read my mind …

Lennon and McCartney tell us that “love is all you need.” But in the case of romantic love, is that true? Plenty of research and lived experience tells us: no, it’s not. Alain de Botton describes why we created and still live by the inaccurate, and often disastrous image of romantic love in his NYT article: “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person.”

I explored the concept that we are clinging to a flawed definition of romantic love in my latest article on Thrive Global.

The idea of romantic love tells us that we all have a soul mate out there, that it is our task to find our one true soul mate, and we will know when we find him or her because we will have a very special feeling. Botton describes this search for romantic love in his very entertaining talk “On Love” from The School of Life. You can watch this insightful talk here.

We are led to believe that when we find our soul mate, we will never be lonely again, that person will understand us completely and practically be able to read our mind. (Flashback to me in the car pouting.) We will feel completely understood and loved. This love shall be one long romantic holiday …

Anyone who has experienced a romantic relationship knows that this logic is flawed in so many ways!

For a relationship to last, we need more than that outdated version of romantic love. So what do we need to make a lasting and happy relationship? Well for one thing, we definitely need good communication. The day out with my husband would have turned out a lot differently if I had communicated my vision for the day instead of assuming that he should “just know.”

But aside from good communication, science is showing us that lasting relationships come down to two things: kindness and generosity.

In Atlantic magazine’s article “Masters of Love,” psychologists John and Julie Gottman describe their work. Together they have studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. From the data they gathered, they were able to separate the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages. Read more about this on my blog post.

Ultimately, if we are looking to live happily ever after together, we need to ditch the antiquated idea of romantic love and move forward in the spirit of kindness and generosity.

Upcoming Summits: You’re Invited!

I am so excited to be participating in several events in February and March.  Each summit or master class is completely free and full of amazing information from a host of experts.

Great Health Now: Reverse Aging, Feel Confident in Your Body and Have Fun Again!

Live now.

Learn more and join the event.

Ignite Your Creative Power

Live now. 

Free master class series where you will discover how to get unstuck, expand your vision and live your greater potential. This intimate, high-value, high-profile master class series wil explore the topic of the unlimited creative power of women to help them activate and realize their deepest desires and dreams.

Learn more and join the event.

Authenticity Is Power: Get out of your own way and into success, by being yourself always!

Going live February 27.

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Reclaim Your Life: Get Clear, Simplify and Do Something Worthwhile

Going live March 12.

Learn more and join the event.

This Way Up Will Soon Be an Audio Book!

This Way Up is being made into an audio book! The book is being narrated by the fantastic character actress, Janice Kent. When it is ready, it will be available on my Amazon page and I will send a special link for the book in my newsletter. I can’t wait to share this new version of the book with you!

Buy the Book!

“Author Patti Clark is a cross between Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron.”

This Way Up is a story of healing for women who yearn to lead a fuller life, accompanied by a workbook to help readers work through personal challenges, discover new inspiration, and harness their creative power. . .

Women spend so much of life nurturing and giving to others that when they find themselves alone—because of an empty nest, the end of a marriage, or the death of a partner—they often struggle with feeling purposeless. This Way Up provides a step-by-step way out of this sense of loss and into a life filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and joy.

Buy Online

Parting Words

“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it … it dies!”
~ Tony Gaskins

Thank you for being part of this movement. Watch this space for more in the months ahead.

Is Love All You Need?

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
― Anaïs Nin

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I was sitting in the seat of the car, looking out the window, pouting. The day was not going as I had planned it in my head. He should have known! He must have known how I wanted it to be, after all we were married and he should know . . . he should be able to read my mind . . .

Lennon and McCartney tell us that Love is All You Need. But in the case of romantic love, is that true?

Alain de Botton describes why we created and still live by the inaccurate, and often disastrous image of romantic love in his NYT article: “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person.”

In the past, people married for practical reasons, but in the 1800s, we replaced practicality with the romantic version of love:

“For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.”

Romantic Love tells us that we all have a soul mate out there and it is our task to find our one true soul mate, and we will know when we find him or her because we will have that very special feeling. Botton describes this search for romantic love in his very entertaining talk “On Love” from ‘The School of Life.’

We are led to believe that when we find our soul mate, we will never be lonely again, that person will understand us completely and practically be able to read our mind. (flashback to me in the car pouting) We will feel completely understood and loved. This love shall be one long romantic holiday . . .

 

The reality is though that what we are looking for when we fall in love is familiarity. We are not necessarily drawn to people who will make us happy, we are drawn to people who will feel familiar.

“What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.”

Botton adds:

“The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”

For a relationship to last, we need more than that out-dated version of romantic love. So what do we need to make a lasting relationship? Well for one thing, we definitely need good communication. The day out with my husband would have turned out a lot differently if I had communicated my vision for the day instead of assuming that my husband should just know.

But aside from good communication, science is showing us that lasting relationships come down to two things: kindness and generosity.

In Atlantic Magazine’s article ‘Masters of Love’, psychologists John and Julie Gottman describe their work. Together they have studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. From the data they gathered, they were able to separate the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.

The masters felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. Whereas the disasters were in a state of ‘fight or flight’ even when they were not fighting. It’s not that the masters had a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.

“Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird. The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that. People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper.”

Gottman explains that masters have a habit of mind in which they scan the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes. And it’s not just scanning the environment, it’s also scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or wrong; criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.

The Gottmans have found that contempt is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them will eventually kill the love in the relationship. On the other hand, kindness glues couples together. Kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated. Kindness makes us feel loved.

So if we are looking to live happily ever after together, we need to ditch the antiquated version of romantic love and move forward in the spirit of kindness and generosity.

I’d like to close this post with the video by Alaine de Botton that I mentioned above.  It is well worth the watch, both amusing and insightful.

 

Let me know your thoughts on romantic love and what makes a relationship withstand the test of time.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

Living Intentionally in 2018

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

– Mary Oliver

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Are you a New Year’s Resolution kind of person? Do you set new goals and resolutions at the beginning of each year.  I explored this concept in my latest Thrive Global article.

I usually tend to be a goal-setter in the beginning of each year, sitting down quite purposely to set my goals as the new year unfolds. This year however, I decided to try something different and focus on intentions rather than goals.

Admittedly, goals are important, but I know personally that I can become much too goal-oriented and forget to be present in the moment. I have found that living intentionally is more peaceful and fulfilling than living in a goal-obsessed way.

Being more intentional helps me to focus on how I want to be in any given moment, no matter what else is going on around me. By focusing on my intentions, I am better able to stay centered; I don’t get as caught up in the roller coaster of whether I am getting things done and if I’m doing them ‘right’. It helps me to enjoy the journey and not get lost in getting to the destination.

David Emerald, author of TED — The Empowerment Dynamic, beautifully describes the differences between goals and intentions:

Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.

Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.

Goals are external achievements. Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.

As I thought about this new focus, I received an email from my publicist, Joanne McCall. In her email, she quoted Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, and put forth 5 questions:

 1. If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do and why?
2. How would the world be different without you?
3. What values do you stand for and what is worth fighting for?
4. What five words would you want written on your headstone?
5. What will you do this year that is worthy of future memory?

The timing was perfect. I got out my journal and wrote; focusing not on what I

wanted to achieve, but rather on what I feel most passionate about; about my values rather than what I wanted to accomplish. These questions helped me focus on ideas that excite my spirit.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
— Oprah Winfrey

So what will Living Intentionally look like for me?

1. Being quiet and focusing inward, checking in on how I feel rather than what I need to do.

What do I need, how do I feel? Focus in, don’t just react to what I should be doing, or what others expect me to do.

2. Trying to understand why

Look at what I’m doing and ask myself why I’m doing it. Ask myself what my intention is for each activity. Am I doing things out of obligation or love? When I understand my intention, it will help me do things with more joy and hopefully less fear.

3. Trying to live in flow rather than reaction

Finding flow is not always easy, it takes space and is usually intuitive. My intuition always guides me better than trying to reason my way, or worse, react my way through life. When I am in flow, life feels spacious and creative.

4. Moving away from micro-managing my life

When I’m feeling stressed and fearful, I tend to micro-manage my life (and often other people’s lives as well!) When I’m in flow and not trying to control, I can relax and not spend my time trying to figure out every detail. When I can move into a place of flow, I am so much more creative and open, and life just seems to go better.

 

So as 2018 unfolds, I invite you to take time to think about your intentions. Perhaps grab your journal and write about Rabbi Cohen’s five questions. Give yourself the space to listen to the call of your spirit.

“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.”
— Rumi

I’ll close with a wonderful video about The Power of Intention by the incomparable Deepak Chopra.

I’d love to hear about your goals and intentions for the new year.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Practicing Conscious Gratitude

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” 
― David Steindl-Rast

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In the Muppets’ Christmas Carol Movie, Kermit sings: “Tis the season to be jolly and joyous” . . . But what if you’re not feeling overly joyous? As we enter the holiday season this year, many people are feeling less than joyful. The political scene is grim and there is a lot to feel anxious and unhappy about. And for many, the idea of spending more time with family during the holidays does not fill the heart with glee. How you feel is your choice, daily. But if you want to feel more joy, not only this holiday season, but in general, there is an answer.

Science tells us that happiness and joy are things we can cultivate. Thanks to the advent of fMRI machines (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we can now watch our brains in real time and see which areas of the brain light up when we’re angry, frustrated, or joyful, and we can also watch the brain change depending on what we focus on. The idea that our brain architecture can change has been termed “neuroplasticity.”

We can literally rewire the neural pathways that regulate our emotions, thoughts, and reactions. This means we can create new neural pathways that lead us to compassion, gratitude, and joy instead of anxiety, fear, and anger. We can reprogram our brains’ automatic response with a conscious effort to build new pathways.

 

In a study done by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, Neural Correlates of Gratitude, it was found that gratitude can be a natural antidepressant. When we consciously focus on what we are grateful for, certain neural circuits are activated; when activated, an increase of dopamine and serotonin is produced, which is similar to how many antidepressants work.

Building new neural pathways may not come easily at first. A good analogy is bushwhacking through a jungle. Imagine trying to walk through a jungle in a dense rain forest. It requires a machete every step of the way to clear the path the first time through. After a few more times, you might lay down some stones to keep the path clear and eventually the path becomes a road and soon it becomes easily travelled. As you walk the path more and more, you continue to reinforce it and make it even stronger. Eventually, this new neural pathway becomes a habit.

To add to the strengthening of some pathways, our brain also has a way to ‘prune’ the pathways used less often. Scientists call this “use-dependent cortical reorganization,” meaning that we strengthen whichever neural pathways we use most often, and lose the ones we use the least. Hebb’s Lawstates “neurons that fire together, wire together.”

                    Neurons that fire together, wire together

 

So how do we do this? How do we create these new neural pathways and start to rewire our brain towards happiness, compassion, and joy? Many studieshave shown that cultivating gratitude, or practicing Conscious Gratitude, is the most powerful way to start building new pathways.

Seth Godin, best selling author, recently stated in an interview: “I think that gratitude is a profound choice. It is not just something that some people do. There is a way to look at life as either “have to” or a “get to”. There are all these things in life we could do because we have to do them, or there are things in life we do because we get to do them.”

Godin goes on to explain that this has nothing to do with the truth of what is going on in the world around you. It has to do with our narrative about what is going on.

Living life knowing you “get to” do something is better than constantly feeling like you have to. Godin poses the question: “What is the opposite of gratitude?” And he believes the opposite of gratitude is entitlement. “People who believe they are entitled to something, walk around expecting that the world owes them something, whereas the people who are grateful for something are eager to share that gratitude with others, and that lines up exactly with “have to” and “get to.”

So if we agree that being grateful can lead to joy, then how can we start feeling more grateful?

“Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful. The opposite of gratefulness is just taking everything for granted. ” ― David Steindl-Rast,

David Steindl-Rast, the highly-respected Benedictine monk, author and spiritual leader, explains his methodology for staying in a gratitude mindset in Anatomy of Gratitude:

“There is a very simple kind of methodology to it: stop, look, go. Most of us are caught up in schedules, and deadlines, and rushing around. And so the first thing is that we have to stop, because otherwise we are not really coming into this present moment at all. And we can’t even appreciate the opportunity that is given to us because we rush by. So stopping is the first thing … and finding something in that moment … I don’t speak of this moment as a ‘gift’, because you cannot be grateful for everything. You can’t be grateful for war, violence, domestic violence, or sickness, things like that. There are many things for which you cannot be grateful. But in every moment, you can be grateful. For instance, the opportunity to learn something from a very difficult experience. So opportunity is really the key when people ask, can you be grateful for everything? No, not for everything, but yes you can be grateful in every moment.”

Seth Godin believes that acting “as if” is underrated. “If you start acting as if you are grateful, you start feeling more grateful and you will become more grateful.”

Here are some things you can do right now to start practicing Conscious Gratitude:

1. Choose a time and focus on gratitude

Choose a specific time everyday where you will stop for a moment and focus on what you are grateful for in that particular moment.
I use 11:11. I have an alarm set on my phone to go off every day at 11:11. I stop whatever I’m doing (within reason- if I’m driving on a highway obviously I don’t stop) and I silently focus on what I am grateful for in that moment. Even if I’m stuck in traffic, I can be grateful for my car or a good sound system or enough money for gas to get me where I am going.

2. First thing in the morning, before your feet hit the floor, be grateful

Before you hop out of bed in the morning, take 30 seconds, (it really does not take more than that) to think about 3 things you are grateful for. This can be done silently in your head. Or better yet, if you have a partner that you share your bed with, ask each other to list those 3 things. It can be as simple as gratitude for a comfortable bed, a warm house, and a good nights sleep. It’s been shown that starting your day in gratitude positively impacts you for the rest of the day.

3. Start a Gratitude Journal

Choose a journal that you like the feel and the look of, and make sure that it is used solely for writing about things your are grateful for. How you write this is up to you; it can be as simple as list making. I like using colorful pens playing in my journal, but use what ever works for you. Make it a routine, try to write in it daily, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.

4. Start new traditions in your family — like gratitude at meals

This may feel uncomfortable at first; but with time, the practice of going around the table and saying one thing you are grateful for that happened that day, can become a cherished family tradition. It’s a great conversation starter and a wonderful way to lift the energy at any meal time. Another tradition can be saying one thing you are grateful for before going off to sleep. If you have children, it is a wonderful way to end the day just before they go to sleep. Another tradition to reinforce gratitude in relationships is texting to a loved one in the middle of the day, one thing you appreciate about them. This works well with teens and couples with busy schedules.

So this holiday season, if you are hoping to embody Kermit’s words . . .

Tis the season to be jolly and joyous
With a burst of pleasure, we feel it arrive
Tis the season when the saints can employ us
To spread the news about peace and to keep love alive

. . . You can start by practicing gratitude consciously today. And if that doesn’t come naturally, start by ‘acting as if’ you are grateful. And pretty soon, what was once an act will become a habit.

 

I’ll close with a great interview with Brené Brown talking about Active Gratitude.

 

I’d love to hear how you practice conscious gratitude.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.