Episode #55 with Mike and Becky

 

Being Grateful For Your Trials

Mike and Becky seem almost too good to be true... and that's why I love them.

One thing that stood out to me as I re-listened to this interview is the attitude Mike and Becky have towards each other, and the respect and esteem they have for their marriage.

Their marriage inspires them to be the best version of themselves.

I believe they feel so lucky to have each other and have so much respect for their marriage that it has completely changed how they experience life. They don't want to threaten or jeopardize something they deem so sacred, so they put an incredible effort to preserve and nurture everything that is good within their relationship... and they find ways to turn the trials into blessings.

It takes a special kind of person to be grateful for the good in life along with the bad. During the interview Mike mentioned how one of their biggest trials was when his wife was diagnosed with diabetes... then not 10 minutes later, Becky talks about what a blessing her illness has been, and how she's been able to use it to help, serve, and uplift other people struggling with the same disease.

There is a level of love that remarkable couples tend to reach that sets them apart from others. It's a realization that their relationship with each other extends beyond personal satisfaction. Their love carries beyond their partner. It even spreads beyond their children and immediate family.

Truly incredible couples realize that they way they love each other, and they way they respond to their trials and challenges can have an impact on their community and the world. They use their marriage as a catalyst to inspire and uplift others. They set themselves as examples and role models. They see the value in sharing their struggles, and uplifting those who are hurting and suffering.

The lesson I learned from Mike and Becky is that life is what you choose to make it.

What did you learn from this week's podcast? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"]I hope you enjoyed our conversation with Mike and Becky. Here are some of the things we talk about in this episode, as well as some of the resources that were mentioned:

  • Waiting till marriage to have sex.
  • Burn the ships. Don't use the "Divorce" word.
  • Be grateful for each other and the work you do for each other
  • Child rearing conflicts. Good cop vs. Bad cop
  • The Love Monkey (holds love notes, and they'd hide him from each other)
  • When Becky got diabetes
  • Talking about sex with kids on their level
  • Focus on the Family
  • If you make it through one trial, you can be better prepared and stronger for the next one. There are no back doors.
  • Being grateful for the good and the bad
  • How much joy and excitement marriage can bring into your life
  • Finding your love language

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Episode #52 - The Tao of Dating with Dr. Ali Binazir

On this week’s episode, Melissa and I sit down with Dr. Ali Binazir, author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible and several other books. He's a super insightful guy, and we cover a lot of different topics in this interview including:

  • The 5 Principles of the Tao of Dating
    • The Principle of Abundance Don't think scarcity
    • Be. Do. Have. Be the kind of person. Do the kind of things. Have what you want.
    • Enlightened Self-Interest Good decision making = The decision that serves the most amount of people for the longest amount of time. How do you fill your life with the things and people that will have positive long-term effects on you.
    • Yin Yang You must have polarity in your relationships. Masculine and feminine. Giving and receiving. Different roles are essential to a dynamic relationship.
    • Get Out of Your Own Way Often times the only thing standing in the way of what you want is you.
    • The power women have to bring light into a relationship, act as a goddess, and inspire men.
    • By mentally wishing happiness upon others, you can completely change your neurology. "May you be happy."
    • The gift of appreciation and gratitude will make others feel valued and give you power in your relationships.
    • The men determine the direction of the relationship. The women determine the depth.
    • How meditation will transform your life and your relationships. "Bring your mind back from distraction."
    • The destructive notion of Soulmates.
    • A great way to tell whether or not you're a good fit for the person you're with is to notice what kind of person you become when you're around the other person.
    • The Magic Question - What's important to you about that?
    • We also reference Gary Chapman in this interview. You can find his interview here.

Remember that in life, everything that you want is outside of your comfort zone. Because if something is inside your comfort zone, it's either something you already have or something so trivial as to be undesirable: you don't want something you already have. So in order to get what you want but don't yet have, you have no choice but to venture outside of your comfort zone. -Dr. Ali Binazir

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How Gratitude Helped Me Find My Way To Monogamy

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I never truly believed I’d get married. As a little girl, I dreamed of being the beautiful woman in the ball gown that the Prince chose to dance with at the Cinderella ball.

"That one," he’d say, pointing at me.

I would feign surprise, of course. "Who? Me? No..."

But I wouldn’t really be surprised. After all, if you’re the type of girl who gets chosen by a prince, you probably never doubted your specialness.

Just as often, I dreamed of a line-up of Princes, and getting to take my pick. Given that this was the 80s, my choices were probably Ricky Schroder, Michael Jackson (Thriller-era), the Karate Kid, and maybe Bo from Duke’s of Hazzard. And they were all in love with me.

But I never saw myself having a life with a guy. As I got older and fell in love, I fantasized about spending the night with a man -- a whole night. But I always froze in terror at the idea of waking with bad breath and needing to use the bathroom. No, I thought, I’ll always live on my own. Then I could always go home before morning.

Even as an adult, I could never settle on one guy for long. When I was supposed to be getting into committed relationships, starting around age eighteen, I couldn’t be. I was a monogamy failure from early on, even though I loved being in love. I even loved the intimacy of being with just one guy.

But my eyes and my heart always wandered. I hate to say it, it makes me feel like a terrible person, but it’s true. I wasn’t looking for something better, necessarily. I was looking for someone else to remind me that I was good enough. Looking for yet another prince to point at me, to choose me, to make me valid and real and worthy.

If it sounds to you like I was a profoundly insecure young woman, you’re right. But I fooled everyone around me, including myself. I exuded confidence most of the time. I felt pretty and sexy and desirable... but only for so long. The sense of being good enough always wore off after one guy’s affirmation was no longer shiny and new, and I’d go looking for more.

I started to wonder if I could ever be married, ever have children. After marrying at 21 and divorcing before I was 24, I decided that I would never be a mother. I didn’t want to commit, I didn’t think I was stable enough in a relationship to ever make a home solid enough for kids. And mostly, I didn’t believe in life-long love.

It took a few years after my divorce to really trust a man again. I had a lot to work through before I could be a good long-term partner for somebody. Specifically, my need for external validation from guys and my tendency to develop outlandishly intense crushes needed to be addressed. And let me tell you, that was not an easy road to walk.

I wondered, after talking with friends who were in polyamorous or otherwise open relationships, whether that was who I was. I have come to believe that while being committed to a person is a choice, being poly- or monogamous is probably more of an orientation, like sexuality. Was that my issue? Did I have some sort of innate need for more than one partner? Could I really be honest and forthright with whatever partner I ended up with about my desires for other people? Would I be able to handle them being as open? Most successfully polyamorous couples suggest that rather than being a license to cheat, polyamory takes more commitment to the marriage, more honesty and two very healthy individuals.

In my late twenties, I met my husband, and he was (and still is) the most monogamous human being on the planet. He was also the absolute best partner I could have imagined for myself. Not only was he handsome (and still is), he had a truly optimistic outlook on life. He laughed easily, he thought I was a goddess, and he let me always be in charge of the music in the house or the car. He saw both my intelligence and my beauty, and made me feel I was the smartest person in the room, even though he is probably twice as intelligent as anyone I’ve ever met, myself included.

For him, it was monogamy or bust. The choice after that was easy: The best man I’d ever met vs. the great unknown, dictated by my own insecurities. That was when I fell into gratitude. I knew I had to let my gratitude for love, for the goodness of a true partner, become more important than my fear.

As committed as I thought I was to other guys in my past, I grew into real monogamy late. I’m grateful I was faced with that choice, and I’m grateful that at that one clear-eyed moment I was able to appreciate the value of the man standing in front of me, offering me real, life-long love (not to mention a family).

Once I finally accepted monogamy – not just as a rule I was being forced to live by, but as my own choice both physically and emotionally, I was finally capable of having a profoundly intimate relationship with someone, and to be grateful for what we built together. Others may be able to gain that type of intimacy in poly relationships or while dreaming of someone else, but I wasn’t.

I’m grateful for the strength of my husband, who valued himself enough to say, “This is who I am, this is what I want. Decide if you’re with me.” And I’m grateful that I finally got to a place where I could say, “Yes, I want you. Just you,” and learn to be grateful for the love that exists today, that is real, and that we built together.

[jbox title="About the author:" border="5" radius="15"] Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like xoJane, hlntv.com, and The Huffington Post. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. Her dream is to someday finish her almost-done novel and get some sleep. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Want to get the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge sent to your email inbox every day? Fill out this little form here:

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Choosing Gratitude while Expanding My Comfort Zone

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I would not consider myself a writer by any means. I think it’s been about four years since I’ve written something of length that was intended for other people to read. This article is the product of one, Eric Strack, stepping outside of his comfort zone, and choosing to be grateful for the experience. We are always at choice, so why not choose gratitude? Easy, right?!

WRONG!

When my wife, Nicole, asked me if I would like to write about gratitude for the Loveumentary’s 30 Day Gratitude challenge, and said “it might be a great opportunity to start writing...you know...like you said you wanted to...” I was instantaneously...let’s say...unenthusiastic. Scratch that, I was straight up afraid.

I was afraid of how long it might take me to write it, I was afraid of what people reading it might think of me, and I was afraid of looking dumb. I did not hesitate to say “thanks, but no thanks.”

[Spoiler alert: I ended up changing my mind.]

I was just on my way out the door, heading to the gym, when Nicole proposed this “writing about gratitude” thing. The gym is my temple, my happy place. So while plodding along on the elliptical, sweat dripping down my face, my fancy workout boxers running up my leg, I came to a realization: why not choose to see this as an opportunity to do the writing I’ve been saying I want to do, and be grateful for this opportunity as well? What a concept!!

Hold the phone, let’s change gears for a moment, I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. I dabble in personal growth and am fortunate to have married a self-help guru (check out Nicole’s blog here). Furthermore, I spent most of my life up until now as what I’d call a “spiritual agnostic.” Now I am learning more about myself through personal growth practices, while also contemplating my connection with a higher being, be it God, Spirit, Source, Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whatever you want to call it.

These two, relatively-still-new-to-me, areas of thinking have created a whirlwind of questions in my head. Like a tornado, which is created when hot air smashes into cold air, my new, self-confident, empowering, and spiritual beliefs are clashing with older, science-based, limited beliefs. I am attempting to wade through this storm to really know who I am and where I stand.

One of the most annoyingly hard-to-answer questions for me is about causality. Nicole believes that everything happens for a reason and that the Universe provides exactly what we need (which includes experiences that come in the form of challenges). These are wonderful ideas that I really want to believe 100%...right now I’m at about 90%...and closing the gap every day. That other 10% is holding on to my old belief that we humans are just really good creating connections between things, after the fact.

Old-me (the me that didn’t believe in a higher power) would say that there is a logical, science based answer for everything. For example, finding a $100 bill on the ground is a happy accident...too bad for the other guy who lost it.

New-me believes that: 1) I am always at choice, and 2) the Universe constantly provides for those who are acting for the greater good. Now, with these beliefs, that $100 bill is directly tied to the $100 check I wrote out to one of my favorite charities earlier that day. I now know that the Universe rewards those who are generous, and I choose to be grateful for it. This really happened to me, by the way.

So there I was: faced with the daunting task of writing something about myself and sharing my thoughts with lots and lots of people. Initially, I defaulted to the lingering Old-me way of thinking, and waved the writing off as a random annoyance. It took me going to the gym to come around to New-me, and to CHOOSE to see that this opportunity was placed before me so I could do something new & different, and I am so very grateful to have had this opportunity to share a little snippet of my life with you.

Thank you.

How Gratitude Conquered The Numbness And Gave Me Back My Life

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Some time ago, I was asked by a friend to participate in a Gratitude Challenge. As part of this challenge, I was asked to share a personal experience where gratitude had an impact on me and to share how I practice gratitude in my life. It may sound strange to you but I'm grateful for paper cuts.

Actually, I'm grateful for one particular paper cut...

It was in the spring of 2007, and I was traveling with my parents through New England. As a family, we had recently closed a very dark and wintry chapter in our lives and were eager to move forward. The surrounding countryside, positively satiated in springtime flowers, painted the promise of a new beginning.

While visiting a religious building, I fumbled with some informational brochures and accidentally gave myself a paper cut. The sting prompted a word that was—ah—shall we say...inappropriate for the location? (It was a swear word.)

As I covered my finger with a tissue, I was suddenly (and inexplicably) overwhelmed with gratitude—gratitude to be alive.

Six months earlier, I had tried to take my life. In fact, I would have succeeded had my dad not found me and taken me to the hospital. In the weeks leading up to my attempt, I remember one constant feeling: numbness. My entire world had been drained of color and energy. I felt so hollow, so void, and so dead that taking my life seemed like the only escape.

But in the months and years that have followed my suicide attempt, my family and friends rallied around me, offering me support, encouragement, and love. On one of those tedious nights immediately following my discharge from the hospital, I distinctly remember laying in my bed and being impressed with these words: "Seth, there are a lot of things in your life that have gone wrong. Yes, you're in pain. And yes, you have a lot of problems. But there are also a lot of good things in your life—like family, friends, a warm bed, good food, and air to breath. You've spent the past couple of years focusing on all the bad things in your life—and look what it's done to you. Maybe, instead of focusing so much on all of the bad things in your life, you could try to focus on some of the good things—because there are many."

Since that time, I have tried, to the best of my ability, to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Yes, I still struggle with chronic depression—I don't deny that. Yes, things go wrong and I still have bad days. But instead of focusing on what I lack, I focus on what I have. And that shift in focus has made all of the difference in the world. In a curious way, gratitude for life has actually expanded it. Every additional moment of my life, when coupled with gratitude, has only increased the joy and color of my life.

So as I stood there, clutching a throbbing paper cut, I was overcome with gratitude for that pain—because it meant that I was still alive. And later that day, while sitting on a couch with my parents, I reached across and put my hand on my dad's arm.

"Dad," I began. "I just wanted to thank you for saving my life."

My dad gave me a somber look. "I'm grateful I did," he said.

In our darkest moments, it's hard to even think about gratitude. Sometimes, the difficulties of life have a tendency to pull us inward and downward. But I ask you to try and shift your focus outward and upward. Consider your blessings—they are many. Take it from a guy who once hated his life so much that he nearly ended it: life is a beautiful and precious gift.

[jbox title="About the author:" border="5" radius="15"] Seth Adam Smith is the author of the book, Your Life Isn't for You: A Selfish Person's Guide to Being Selfless. He is an amazing husband, friend, and he writes regularly on his blogs here and here. You can check out his episode on the Loveumentary where he goes into more detail regarding his story and his marriage with his awesome wife here.

Want to get the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge sent to your email inbox every day? Fill out this little form here:

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