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?
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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.

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

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.

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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.

 

Pursuing the good life in 2016

There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.

– George Sand


There has been an amazing study done at Harvard that has lasted over 75 years.  Robert Waldinger describes this study in a new TED talk, and the findings are hopeful.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. For 75 years, we’ve tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.

It’s not more money, it’s not longer hours at work, it’s not fame and fortune . . . (*but we knew that didn’t we?)

What they learned is this:

The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this:

Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.

Three big lessons were learned about relationships.

The first is that social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic.

The second big lesson that we learned is that it’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.

And the third big lesson that we learned about relationships and our health is that good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your 80s is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper longer.

So in a nutshell, the study tells us that the good life is built with good relationships.  And we can all work on that.

I’d like to close as Dr. Waldinger closed, with a quote from Mark Twain:

“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”

 

 

I’d love to hear about how you nurture your relationships. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

Women and Men – maybe not so different after all?

“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”

– George Carlin


Ok, so I have to admit it.  I have learned so much from this recent argument with my husband. I guess I can even say that I appreciated the argument!

Yes absolutely men’s and women’s brains work differently.

There are fundamental variations between male and female brains that mean we communicate and respond to situations differently. In a relationship, these differences can unintentionally cause misunderstanding and conflict. It’s generally accepted now that women tend to be wired towards empathy, whereas men develop stronger interest in systems, or how things work and that impacts on how we speak and deal with people.

Neuropsychologist Dr Anne Moir, who featured in the video I posted about men and women being wired differently, believes that a better understanding of how we are wired differently will help us argue less. Well it certainly helped me move to a place of compassion.  After doing research and having a better understanding of how our brains differ, I was able to soften toward Jeff and better understand where he was coming from.

It also helped incredibly having a wonderfully rich and fascinating discussion with my dear friends, Jan and Trev.  They are both interested in neuroscience.  Jan with her background in Psychosynthesis; and Trev with an eclectic background and a wide range of studies, both helped me untangle and look at this stuff in a new way.

But actually the experience that really catapulted me into understanding was a situation I had with my own sister.  We had a disagreement about something, and she pointed out accurately that I went straight to my head about the situation, while she went to her heart, and emotionally she did not feel met.  I felt judged by her (as Jeff had said that he felt judged by me) and my sister said she felt like we were in completely different places while trying to communicate (the same thing that I had said to Jeff.)  It was fascinating, and yes, rather uncomfortable.  I had to really back-pedal on so much that I had laid on Jeff!  What an incredible learning experience.

I have several videos that I found educational and enlightening that I would like to share:

There is an educational one just describing an fMRI and how it works.

 

Then there is an intersting video from animal planet about male and female brains

 

There are also two interesting videos from talk shows, Jane and The View that feature the Neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Amen, where he describes fMRIs of men and women and points out the differences.

 

 

 

Maybe you’ll find all of these videos overload, too much information.  But I found it incredibly helpful. And navigating relationships is tough in the best of times.  I can use all the help I can get!

I’d love to hear what helps you navigate your relationship. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Feminization of Leadership

“Great necessities call forth great leaders.”

– Abigail Adams


Recent studies highlight a long-held suspicion about the brains of males and females. They’re not the same. I’m fascinated by the fact that men and women’s brains operate differently.

When I first started researching this, I wanted to learn more about how this impacted me personally, in relationship to the different communication styles between my husband and I. But the more I read about this, the more interesting it became on a much wider level.

A recent study showed Six Things Women Do Better Than Men. 

  1. Women handle stress better
  2. Women are better at sustaining relationships
  3. Women are better at communicating
  4. Women are better at grooming themselves
  5. Women have sharper memory
  6. Women are better with finances

Now of course this is a tendency, not a rule, and there are lots of things that men tend to do better than women. But this list interested me when put in combination with a discussion of a change in leadership style that is happening globally as the Baby Boomers retire and Gen X and Gen Y take the helm. A recent studey reported on CNN shows:

The rise of women into positions of power will create a “feminization” of leadership which will be reflected in the increasing importance of emotional intelligence, people skills and flexibility. The demands of the X and Y generations are aligned to the skill-set of female leadership styles.

Hanna Rosin, author and journalist, gives a fascinating TED Talk about the Rise of Women. She talks about Women’s skill sets and the new economy.

What the economy requires now is a whole different set of skills. You basically need intelligence, you need inability to sit still in focus, to communicate openly, to be able to listen to people and operate in a workplace that is much more fluid than it used to be. And those are things that women do extremely well as we’re seeing. If you read management books now, a leader is somebody who can foster creativity, who can get the employees to talk to each other, who can basically build teams and get them to be created. Those are things that women do very well.

I don’t know if this is really The End of Men, as Rosin’s book proclaims, but it is a fascinating theme.

 

 

Have you experienced The Feminization of Leadership?   Please take the time to share your stories.  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

Transformational Relationships

“What I need is perspective . . . perspective is necessary.”

– Margaret Atwood


I was honored to contribute a post to a blog that I follow,  The League of Champions It is a wonderful blog and well worth your time to explore.  In their blog, Kevin and Leanna help people reach their optimum creativity through finding inner peace and loving themselves.  Leanna and I agreed to do guest contributions, so I am very happy to share with you their post on Transformational Relationships.

In an age where we can have information as fast as we can type, communication seems to slipping further and further from our grasp.  When it’s easier to face a computer screen, we often neglect to tell other people our needs – and we forget to listen to what they’re trying to say to us.  Have you ever wondered, “Why isn’t this person getting it?  Why don’t they understand me?”

There is a solution – by communicating and looking from a different perspective, you’ll not only transform your relationships with others, but also experience a transformation within yourself.

Sometimes we’re so loud in asking to be heard that we drown out the requests others are making of us.  This is nothing to feel bad about; we’re not doing it intentionally.  We all desire acceptance, and ultimately, love.  And we deserve it, too – so it’s not uncommon to become more and more adamant about getting it.  We just go about it in the wrong way, sometimes.

The solution is simply to communicate.  Easier said than done, right?  However, remember that there is strength in revealing your feelings, not in hiding them.  This is where the self-transformation comes in.  You owe it to yourself to act as the real you, and let your outside world reflect who you really are and what truly makes you happy.  More of yourself is revealed in your interactions with other people.  Meditating and soul-searching is important, but to avoid including others is like watering seeds and never setting them out in the sun.  Put that soul you’ve cultivated to use by involving yourself with other people – touch them, and share your love.  A way to share your love is through communication.  Your relationships will blossom as a result.

Tell someone how you interpret their actions and words: “When you say this, I hear…” and then be truthful about how they are coming across to you.  This allows them to either confirm or clarify their perspective.  You’ll get the chance to look through their eyes and see that, the majority of the time, they’re not trying to hurt you.  They’ll see how you feel and understand why you’re acting the way you are, and vice versa.  Again, you’ll experience a self-transformation by opening yourself to other viewpoints and possibilities of looking at the world.

To practice communicating more effectively, start with low-stakes situations.  Ease into it.  Or just take the plunge.  Sometimes you’ve pent up your emotions so much that a release is the only way to deal with them.  Remember, feelings don’t make you weak – they just make you human.  And you deserve to say how you feel.  Remember, it’s not so much what you’re saying, as how you say it.  Keep the goal in mind – sharing, love, and communication – and emotions like fear or anger won’t get the better of you and cloud the message.

When has effective communication helped you?

The League of Champions was founded by Leanna Dindal and Kevin Rae, with the mission of empowering people to achieve their own, personal definitions of success.  Developed with artists in mind, The League focuses on unlocking your creativity and finding the inner strength to make your life anything you want it to be.  Leanna and Kevin strive to live as Champions: excellent individuals with lives of independence, boundless creativity, and their own, unique self-expression.  Find out more at http://www.theleagueofchampions.com.

Right or Happy? Not always an easy decision.

“Would you rather be right or happy.”

– Hugh Prather


I was on a beautiful bike ride yesterday on the new Hauraki Rail Trail.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and stunning.

The only problem was that on the first part of the journey, my husband Jeff and I were in an argument.  The argument wasn’t huge, it was a revisit of a common theme.  I tend to hyperbolize things . . . (OK and occasionally make stuff up to make a better story), and Jeff tends to want the TRUTH with a capital T in most situations.  On this particular occasion, I was talking about something financial, and I did a bit of spinning a tale, and Jeff reacted, in my opinion over-reacted.

I won’t bore you with details, but suffice it to say that it somewhat ruined the first half of the ride for me.  At the spot where we were going to turn around, Jeff put on his goofy grin and said, so “Do you want to be right or happy?”  Which allowed me some space to see the humor, which opened up our communication and we could talk about this latest argument.  We talked about the workshop we did with Hugh and Gale Prather in Tucson, AZ back in 1989.  It was a relationship workshop and a central theme was Right or Happy.  Sigh – I usually want both.

The important realization I had  though, was that after talking at that mid-way point on the ride, I had such a better time on the second half of the ride.  Although I didn’t prove my point and make him see that he was wrong and I was right, I was so much happier after we were able to communicate through the difficulty and move on. The ability to communicate through it was the central key.  We both listened and tried to understand the others’ point of view – not to say that the other person was right or wrong, just to understand the other side and accept it as valid for that person.

Please don’t get me wrong, this is not an easy decision, and anyone who knows me – knows that I really like to be right!  But usually (always?)  in relationships there are two sides of a story, two experiences in an argument and both are usually valid depending on which angle you are viewing it from.  And yesterday, on the bike ride I viscerally felt the feeling . . . I’d rather be happy.  But damn, it is not always an easy decision.

For those of you who have not read Notes To Myself  by Hugh Prather – it is a beautiful book, well worth a read.  Here is a very short clip by Hugh Prather about Attitudinal Healing.

 

 

Please let me know your thoughts on Hugh Prather and any experiences you have being Right or Happy.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

Authentic Happiness

The pleasant life: a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future.

The good life: using your signature strengths to obtain abundant gratification in the main realms of your life.

The meaningful life: using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are .”

– Martin Seligman


What is Authentic Happiness?  Is it really possible to achieve?  Martin Seligman thinks so, and in my opinion he makes a very convincing argument.

In the video below, Seligman discusses being authentically happy.  He introduces us to the idea of PERMA:
‘Positive emotions’
‘Engagement’
‘Relationships’
‘Meaning’
‘Accomplishment’

One of the most significant factors in finding authentic happiness is learning about our signature strengths and using them daily.

Discovering your signature strengths is easy and fun!  Take the free signature strength test here:

https://www.viame.org/survey/Account/Register

Once you discover your own signature strengths, then it’s your decision – do you aim for The Pleasant Life, The Good Life, or The Meaningful Life?  You decide.

 

 

If you take the Signature Strength test, I’d love to hear about your experience.  And let me know what you thought of Seligman’s video.  Positive Psychology is a popular topic on YouTube – there are several videos to choose between.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I appreciate it.