Curiosity + Gratitude = Joyful Authentic Connection

curiosity-and-gratitude.jpg

Someone: “You were right.” Me: “I’m sorry, what was that? I couldn’t quite hear you...”

Someone: “You were right.”

Me: “Oh, I was RIIIIIIGHT!” *insert condescending chuckle here*I told you so. Never doubt me.”

Have you ever said, “I told you so” to someone? Did you feel totally validated and in-your-face-victorious! after you said it? I certainly have and I certainly did. Up until a few years ago, I used to REALLY relish being right, and I also loved rubbing people’s noses in my right-ness. I thought that “proving my worth” to people via being right would mean that I was worth something...that I was worth loving...and I was gravely mistaken in that belief.

Worthiness is not tied to right-ness. Because I doubted my worthiness, I attempted to prove it to people by being right. I didn’t see that my strong desire to be right [read: externally validated] was actually just pushing people away.

Everyone on the planet is born worthy of love and remains worthy of love for the entirety of their life. I have finally embraced this as a fact, and as a result, my whole outlook on life has changed. Instead of attempting to prove my worthiness through being right, I now stick to choosing love and letting things go. I don’t verbally fight to the death over things that don’t matter anymore [and here’s a secret: most of the stuff I used to fight to the death over didn’t really matter to begin with!].

This has completely changed my relationship with my husband, Eric. I used to think that there was only ONE way to do everything: MY WAY. My way was obviously the most efficient and logical and strategic way to do it...so that was clearly the best and only way.

Yikes...not much room for collaboration with a mindset like that operating in a relationship, is there? I can answer that question from firsthand experience: no, no room for collaboration at all. Well then, what’s the point of choosing to share my life with someone if I’m not open to his contribution? No point, really...I might as well be dating myself.

Luckily for me, Eric has stood by me as I’ve shifted away from the, “I’m always right” mindset and toward a more curious mentality of, “Teach me how you see the world and how you process things...share your thoughts and beliefs with me so I can understand you better.”

This shift in my disposition has created an extraordinary shift in our relationship. Instead of seeing him as wrong when he sees things differently than I do, I get curious about his point of view. By choosing to be grateful for our differences, I’ve opened my eyes to the authentic Eric, instead of attempting to make him another me.

And my goodness, he is interesting! *insert goofy grin here*

I’m fascinated by the way that he sees the world, and his perspective on life has helped me to let go of a lot of my old limiting beliefs. Eric and I have different views on a lot of things, and instead of categorizing our views as right vs. wrong, I now see them as two valid views, and thereby expand my outlook on life and the world. Choosing curiosity and gratitude over right-ness and judgment has taken our relationship to a level of connectedness that I didn’t even know existed!

Below are some actions you can take to help you choose curiosity and gratitude in your interactions with others:

  1. First things first: stay focused on your desired outcome and eliminate “I told you so” from your vocabulary - when you operate from a place of genuinely wanting the best for others, you won’t need the validation of saying “I told you so” if the advice you gave them worked out...you’d just be happy for that person because they had a positive outcome, regardless of where the advice came from. A desire to say “I told you so” comes from the I’m-not-good-enough insecurity, and causes you to seek out external validation. Focus on supporting the other person in manifesting what they truly want, instead of making it about you being right.
  2. Pay attention to your body - right-ness brings with it a physical response...it might be a knot in your stomach, heat rising up your face, a tightness in your chest, a combination of these feelings, or something else altogether. Whatever it is, stay aware of your body and notice when it starts to engage in “fight or flight” mode. Take a moment to BREATHE...take a few breaths and think through what’s happening inside of you. What thoughts have brought up these physical feelings? Is your not-good-enough insecurity bringing up the desire to “prove” your worthiness? Acknowledge your physical response and then...
  3. Get curious, ask questions, and reevaluate - instead of spewing your own opinion all over a conversation, get curious about other people’s perspectives. Seek to know more about their point of view, and be open to changing your own point of view as a result of hearing theirs. There’s no shame in changing your mind about things, and the more open you are to other perspectives, the more well-rounded and accepting your view of the world will be. Stay committed to learning and growing, instead of holding on to being right. Reevaluate your own position, and if you do change your opinion and someone throws an “I told you so” your way...welcome it with the truth, “Yep...you did. Thank you for sharing your perspective with me.” :) Remember that their “I told you so” isn’t about you, it’s about their insecurity, so don’t let the potential for an “I told you so” stop you from open-mindedly evaluating and reevaluating all sides of the coin.
  4. Choose gratitude and fascination - no two people are the same...even identical twins have different likes and dislikes. Instead of judging a difference in perspective as being a negative thing, choose to be grateful for learning a new way of looking at the world. Be fascinated by the incredible diversity of the human race, and by how people can view the world so differently. I firmly believe that everyone is making the best choice they can, given the awareness they have in that moment, and that’s what makes this life so interesting!

Sending you love on your journey through life!

[jbox title="About the author:" border="5" radius="15"] Nicole is a personal growth blogger and a photographer. Her life’s mission is to live authentically, connect wholeheartedly, and share openly. She’s married to her best friend, and because of the love they’ve created, Nicole knows that true love is way better than the stuff of fairy tales.

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

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[/jbox]

What You Actually "Do" When You Say, "I Do"

everest-gratitude.jpg

From the moment I said “I do” on August 3, 2006, I really had no idea what I was going to have to actually “do” over the next eight years of my life. Yes, I chose him in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, for better or worse (mostly “better” because as a newlywed, you don’t really anticipate just how bad things can be nor how “worse” they can become). What was somehow left out in my vows was, “Do you choose and commit to him through years of sexual challenge? Do you choose and commit to him while you both struggle in the uncharted territory of parenting? Do you choose and commit to him when you feel emotionally and spiritually a thousand miles apart?”

My story of gratitude begins on the best and the hardest day of my life -- the day I made it metaphorically to the base of Mount Everest. I abruptly realized that I don’t just get to set-up camp there and reconnoiter for a few months before making the climb. No, with the words “I do” my ascent began, ready or not (mostly not). Staring up at the daunting mountain, I reminded myself that I willingly choose to climb it with no training or experience; but ,thankfully, not without a guide or guides.

Gratitude and willingness have been my guides.

Like most people, I did not come from a childhood free from dysfunction. However, I also didn’t come from a childhood devoid of love. Thanks to the combination of both, I sought out therapy early in my life. I saw it as a positive for me and a way to learn and grow. I was going through therapy while dating different guys, always hoping to find my “one.” I had a general list of traits and qualities that I was looking for, but always wanted something deeper than “someone who can wakeboard” (one of my life’s passions.) I always knew that one day that wakeboarding champion could get injured, get old, or grow out of being a wakeboarder like other surface traits.

Through the gift of therapy, I learned that everyone has his or her crap. Everyone. This helped me conclude that I needed to find some “one” who would be willing to do “the work,” some “one” who wanted to climb Everest with me and recognized that we would need to confront challenges, dysfunctions, trials and growth edges.

Through many heartbreaks for which I am thankful, I met guys who wanted the great relationship without the work -- or expected that if it were really true love it would just work. Somehow, I knew that naïve approach simply wasn’t going to work. Call me a romantic pessimist, but when choosing to meld my life with someone else’s, I erred on the side of realism rather than romantic ideals. I finally found my “one” – a handsome, intelligent, fun, romantic guy (yes, he was a good wakeboarder, too) who was more than willing to do “the work.”

We are now eight years into our climb. When I look back I realize we have had a lot of moments where we were eye-balls’ deep in snow that could have sucked the life out of our relationship. However, we’ve also had moments where the sun has broken through, giving us the gift of warmth and the opportunity to sit, rest and just enjoy each other’s company. We have been in one of the hardest years of our climb – with the stresses of having two kids, with another on the way, but it’s also been the most transformative and beautiful. I find myself continually grateful that I have a partner who has never looked at me and said, “I’m done climbing, it’s not what I thought it would be” or “You climb and carry me; it’s your fault that our relationship is so hard.”

I treasure the moments where he has looked at me with watery eyes and a softened heart and thanked me for choosing him. It gives me the fuel I need to climb another day, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When he expresses his gratitude and genuinely sees me for who I am and the strengths I bring to the table, it brings me a bit closer to him. It causes me to soften my sharp edges toward him and gives me the perspective to see him as we all are ... just trying to do the best we can with where we have come from and wanting to go to places in our relationship we have never known. I’m grateful that he sees me with gratitude as well.

I have a partner who has willingly engaged in “the work” or the metaphorical climb from day one. It’s not always fun but he he keeps climbing with me. Our mutual supportiveness and gratitude have carried us through storms that neither of us could have predicted when we said “I do.” As I see relationships around me crumble and fall, my gratitude for all we have only grows. No, our relationship isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t choose any other partner to ascend the mountain. I have my daily moments where I write down what I am grateful for with my partner, and it guides me to the peak of Everest. The moment I said “I do” was the moment I said “I do commit” to keep doing the work, to keep climbing with my partner, with gratitude and willingness as my guides.

[jbox title="About the author:" border="5" radius="15"]

Kristin Hodson is a Sex and Intimacy Therapist and Founder of The Healing Group: Where Women Go For Hope, Growth and Healing. She has the mantra of work hard, play hard, love hard and lives life passionately outloud. She is an adjunct Professor at The University of Utah in the Social Work department, is co-author of the book, "Real Intimacy: A Couples' Guide to Healthy, Genuine Sexuality" and is currently co-authoring her second book, "Yes, You Can Talk To Your Kids About Sex." . She feels the greatest and most fulfilling pursuit in her life is having the privilege to mother her two spirited children and always being refined into a better person because of her husband.

This post is part of a 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. If you want to start from day 1, click here.

If you want these emails delivered to your inbox, subscribe here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[/jbox]

Episode #39 - Kendall and Bradford: Ready? Set... Laugh!

Kendall and Bradford are hands down one of my favorite couples. I've never met a couple who knows how to laugh like they do.

The more people I meet in life, the more I realize how rare, special, and important are they who can laugh loud and long about nearly anything. Everyone loves to be around someone who laughs. I think the only thing better than laughing is the feeling you get when you make someone else laugh... like really really laugh. It's euphoric.

One of the saddest things in the world is when I see couples who have forgotten what it's like to laugh together. They're souless, and boring, and depressing.

Laughter is like the fountain of youth for relationships.

Some people think that keeping the passion alive in your partnership means having wild passionate swinging-from-the-rafters sex forever. Personally, I can't think of anything more beautiful or incredible than a couple in their nineties that can still make each other laugh until their bellies hurt and tears stream out of their eyes. That's the type of passion I'd prefer.

I mean, what good is sex if the person you're with can't even make you smile?

Laughter can brighten a cloudy day. It can ease a tense situation, and calm troubled nerves. Laughter can unite people under the banner of a new inside joke, or make an embarrassing moment more tolerable. Laughter relaxes the muscles of the body, releases endorphins, decreases stress, and improves blood flow.

Laughter is awesome.

You guys! Life is too short not to laugh all the time... every day!

Bradford and Kendall have been through their share of conflicts and dramatic moments, but they know that if they hold on to the negative of those situations and refuse to laugh at them, the negativity will rule their relationship. Laughter releases you of the bonds of dread, shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, resentment, and sadness.

If you need help remembering how to laugh - or even what to laugh at - watch this Pete Holmes video. His point is so beautiful, and articulates some of my favorite qualities in Bradford and Kendall.

If you need a good example of how laughter can help a relationship succeed, click here.

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] Want to keep in touch with Bradford? Here's his blog!

[/jbox]

Episode #38 - Dr. Wendy Walsh on The Value of Sex

 

The Price of Sex

(Excerpt from the podcast)

The price of sex has dropped from, in our grandmother’s generation, it was probably a year of dating, in my generation it was 3 dates. We had a thing called the 3-date Rule in the 80’s. Now the price of sex has dropped down to the barrel-bottom price of one well-worded text.

What it takes to grow a long term bond isn’t sex. It’s everything else! It’s communication skills, conflict resolution skills, empathy, compassion. It’s really hard to develop those when your brain is being assaulted with a dopamine rush not unlike the one you get from heroine that you get from a new sexual relationship.

Men can have sex with the same woman every week for 6 months and not like her any more after 6 months than they did on the first day.

Just because you're having sex, doesn't mean you're in love.

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] Dr. Wendy Walsh is internationally renown as the “Love Guru.” She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work as co-host on The Dr. Phil spinoff, The Doctors TV show. She also hosts Investigation Discovery Network’s “Happily NEVER After,” as well as being part of Dr. Drew’s Behavior Bureau on HLN Network. On CNN and 9 Network, Australia, she breaks down the psychology of sex, love, gender roles, divorce, parenting and other human behaviors.

Check out Dr. Walsh's book here:

Intro music: Daft Punk - Digital Love

Outro Music: [/jbox]

Episode #27 - Overcoming Divorce with Garrett and Jenn

Garrett and Jenn have both been divorced. They'd both agree that divorce is really crappy, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Here are some things you can do to help yourself get through the big-D, and get back to your life again:

Learn Something

Divorce can be a mess. Legal battles, lawyer fees, broken hearts, and dividing assets all tossed together is a recipe for a lot of heartache and pain.

Remember that despite all the things that have gone wrong, this is an opportunity for you to learn and grow. Use this experience to become a better version of yourself. Use it as a fresh start. Identify what you can do better down the road, and commit to doing it... whether that's becoming a better communicator, going to codependency group meetings, seeking therapy, or learning to forgive.

If you don't learn anything from divorce, then it was all for naught.

Take Ownership Of Your Stuff

Every relationship is a two-way street. Playing the blame game and not taking responsibility for your part in the divorce doesn't do anyone any good... especially yourself. Be willing to own your mistakes. Even better... be willing to apologize for them. Nobody is perfect. Not even you.

Don't Be Selfish

Especially if kids are involved. Just because someone makes a bad spouse doesn't mean they are a bad parent. Don't let your anger and hurt bleed through and effect the relationship your kids have with their mom/dad.

Divorce is your problem, not theirs. Unfortunately, it affects them... but as their parent, it's your job to make sure the impact is minimal, and that they feel loved even if you don't.

Forgive

Forgive the other person. Forgive yourself. It may seem like the end of the world. It may seem like you will never love again. It may seem like you're not capable of being loved again.

Let go of those thoughts. Take your time. Breathe deep. Life works out, it always does. When you learn to love yourself again, the love of others will be felt like a rushing river into your heart.

If you don't believe me, listen to this podcast.

And don't forget about our Kickstarter project! Here's 3 ways you can help spread the word:

[jcolumns]

Share to Facebook

Share America, In Love with your friends on Facebook.

[jbutton link="http://goo.gl/7nEQ4o" halign="center" size="medium" color="blue" rounded="no"]Share[/jbutton]

[jcol/]

Post on Twitter

Tweet your followers about America, In Love!

[jbutton link="http://goo.gl/F9sY4B" halign="center" size="medium" color="white" rounded="no"]Tweet[/jbutton]

[jcol/]

Watch our Video

Thanks in advance for backing America, In Love.

[jbutton link="http://goo.gl/ArZH0W" halign="center" size="medium" color="green" rounded="no"]Play[/jbutton]

[/jcolumns]

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] Don't forget to subscribe to The Loveumentary on iTunes. And check out Garrett's awesomely inspirational company, DFS Lifestyle.

[/jbox]