In the big wild world

Cheering each other on


Dolphins, Moose and Dating

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

The other night, my husband told a guy he knew that we were heading to Japan soon. (We’re going Sunday and I’m stoked!) The man shook his head, and said, “Have you seen The Cove?”

A photo of a diver with gorgeous dolphins from

“Not yet,” said Gustavo.

“Oh man,” the guy said of the film that won the Best Documentary Oscar this year. “It’s so messed up. Watching those Japanese fishermen slaughtering those dolphins made me lose respect for them. I can’t go to Japan now after seeing that.”

“It’s really sad,” said Gustavo, “I hear ya.” They stood there for a second taking in the weight of it.

“So,” said Gustavo, changing the subject. “What are you up to this weekend?”

“I have the best plans,” said the guy. “My friends and I are going elk and moose hunting!”

Okay. So. I know this topic is sensitive and we could debate the “We eat cows, they eat dolphins” and “Why do we eat any animals at all” topic until we’re blue in the face. But what I want to focus on right now is not the debate, but that this guy did not recognize the mixed message he was sending: After a rant about how bad it is to kill one animal, he was setting out to kill another one!

I was blown away by his blindness until I realized how much we all speak in mixed messages in more subtle ways.

If you’re single, you may have said at some point, “Dating sucks. All guys/girls are jerks. Ugh, I’m so over it.” And yet if I asked you why you were dating, you probably would have said, “To have a happy, fulfilling, wonderful relationship in love.” In its own way, those two ideas are like the dolphin and the moose. You want a happy, uplifting, loving relationship, and yet you’re growling about how sucky everything is with a scowl on your face? Talk about a mixed message.

Don’t think you can complain about being single or sarcastically groan about dating or roll your eyes and mock the whole thing…and then hope that your secret desire for a bright happy relationship will come! Nuh-uh. Life doesn’t work like that. You have to be the part you want to be.

You only get the promotion when you talk positively about how much you want it. You only get picked for the football play when you tell your fellow players you’re confident you can pull it off. You only get the loan when you convince the lender you have every positive intention of paying it back. And in love, you only get a happy, wonderful, loving relationship when you positively express that you actually want one!

Whether you’re talking about dolphins and moose or talking about what you want out of life, look at the message you’re sending. Do your words match your intentions? Because your words need to match your intentions! If you’re talking about how much dating sucks, it will suck. Un-mix your message and start talking about what you want. I’m going to finish watching The Cove on my TiVo and try to do the same.

You might also like:
If You Think You’re Happy…
Can You Be a Cynical Optimist?

Big love,

My 4 Favorite Love Lessons from “Eat Pray Love”

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Ate Popcorn, Learned, Loved

I was a little behind the eight ball on seeing Eat Pray Love, but I finally got armed with a large bucket of popcorn and saw it. Sure, it was a little cliché here and there, but I thought Julia Roberts playing Liz was adorable and gorgeous, and the message about taking control of your destiny (like I wrote about in The Tightrope Walk of Negative Thinking) was spot on.

I suppose there are small subtle SPOILERS here, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, take heed. Here are my four favorite lessons:

1. Eating for your inside is more important than starving for your outside. I love love loved the scene in the pizza place in Naples where Liz and her friend Sofie are about to chow down on a pie. When Liz worries it’ll make her fatter, Liz goes on a rant about how sick she is of people holding back on the good things for fear of gaining weight. Then she says something like: Right now we’ll enjoy this, and tomorrow we’ll go buy bigger jeans. I feel like it’s a lesson that pertains to so much more than eating. It’s about taking in all good things, splurging with life a little. So what if the hot coffee barista who asked you out is ten years younger? If you’re single with no other commitments, live a little. Right now, enjoy the date and tomorrow you can get back on the serious relationship train. Eat all the pizzas and Napoleans and full-fat lattes of life!

2. Ashram statues don’t have all the answers. It took Richard from Texas to remind Liz that she’s not going to find all her answers in the meditation room in India; we have to find the answers within ourselves. Obvious? Yes. Worth repeating? Hells yeah. It’s like writing, too: People say that if they could only get away to some magical, inspiring place, then they’ll be able to start writing; but writing doesn’t come from the place, it comes from inside. So if you find yourself stalling instead of dealing with an issue that may be, say, holding you back from intimacy, stop looking everywhere else but at yourself. You are where change begins.

3. Bali is freaking beautiful. I don’t know about you, but I’ve put it on my list of Must-See places to visit.

4. Sometimes, it’s okay to pray. I say sometimes because many people don’t pray and for those people, I want to say; it’s okay. It doesn’t matter what God you choose—Catholic, Hindu, or an energy of the universe you want to call God—but sometimes life feels hard enough that it’s time to put your problems and your choices in someone or something else’s hands. This is why I was so moved by the scene before Liz ended her marriage, when she gave it up to God and asked for guidance. Marianne Williamson encourages doing this, and as uncomfortable as the idea might feel for you, if life seems heavy and hard and you cannot see an end to the pain or pressures, sit down, get quiet, and pray for an answer. Let guidance come to you.

You might also like:
Julie & Julia: Your Optimism Gurus!
3 L
ove Lessons from It’s Complicated

Big love,

The Bachelorette: The Way to Love, The Way to Lose

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

I'm hoping this happy ending with Roberto continues. (Image: Matt Klitscher, ABC)

Sigh. I loved last night’s episode of The Bachelorette. As we’ve all been saying, this was the first time in, like, forever that we would have been happy for both guys to win. And because both guys seemed like such pure-hearted, solid people, they each taught us something valuable about being on both sides of the love coin.

Whether you’re winning or losing in love (and whether or not you’re doing it on a national reality television show) on your path to meet your half-orange, here are four of my favorite quotes from last night on how to do it, which of course made me cry.

The Way to Love

When Roberto proposed, it seemed like he really spoke from his heart, which of course made me cry:

“You told me how important it was to you for your husband to love you unconditionally and to always be by your side no matter what,” said Roberto. “I just…I want to be that man for you. I want to be that man for you. I want to make you laugh, just like this. I want to make you smile. I want to make sure that you wake up every night, every morning for the rest of your life, knowing you’re so so loved.”

The Way to Lose

Chris L's great attitude will lead to a great love. (Image: ABC)

When Ali let Chris go and he looked up to see that rainbow—a sign of his mother looking down on him—it of course made me cry:

“In all this hurt and confusion and what the hell’s going on,” said Chris, “I was like, Wow, that’s just my mom saying, ‘You know what? When you put yourself out there for love, there’s always a chance you’re going to get hurt‘ and I did. I have allowed myself to open up and I’m not good at that, I’m not. And I know she’s like, ‘(clap clap) Good job Chris.’ As much as it sucks losing Ali, I know that’s my mom telling me it’s going to be okay.”

Now, we can’t always know what side of the coin we’ll end up with, which is why love is such a gamble. And so, here’s my favorite insight on…

The Way to Try

As Roberto said…

Even if there’s the slightest chance that I could end up with her and be happy with her, um, I’ll take it. Even if there’s a chance that I’ll, that my heart will end up broken. I mean, to me, that’s worth it, and I want to take that chance. Ali’s the kind of girl that you take that chance for.”

And while Chris did take that chance and it didn’t work out, remember what he said afterward…

“If I could do it all again,” said Chris, “I wouldn’t change a damn thing. I just have to learn from it and move on.”

I stand on the side of the fence hoping that Chris will move forward as the new Bachelor. In the meantime, I’ll try to move on from The Bachelorette—and yes, Bachelor Pad will help. Which of course makes me cry. But see? Even in the midst of cheesy television, there is some truth about life. Love’s tough, it’s always a gamble, but it’s worth going for in the end.

You might also like:
The Bachelor “Say It” Myth
Baseball and The Bachelor: Believe

Big love,

Just One Thing: See the Good in Others

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I’m a big fan of a neuropsychologist named Rick Hanson, Ph.D. He’s the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, a contributor to Huffington Post and, and one of those all-around smart-as-hell kind of guys.

What's good in others? If you look at what they're giving, you will find it. (Image: Amy Spencer

A few months ago I went to a seminar he held about the neuroscience of positive thought and happiness and learned more in those eight hours than I would have watching eight hours of one of the The Real Houseswives Of… marathons. Go figure. But I mention Rick today because of something in his weekly newsletter called “Just One Thing” that caught my eye today.

I know that as a dater, it’s typical to walk away from a date thinking either, “What a waste, I could have spent the night watching reality TV” or “That guy or girl was totally playing me.” Either way, you come home from meeting them feeling worse about yourself and dating than you did before you went out! But Rick Hanson reminds us the importance of recognizing good qualities and intentions in others. As he writes in his most recent Just One Thing newsletter:

Unfortunately, if you feel surrounded by lots of bad or at best neutral qualities in others, and only a sprinkling of dimly-sensed good ones, then you naturally feel less supported, less safe, and less inclined to be generous or pursue your dreams. Plus, in a circular way, when another person gets the feeling that you don’t really see much that’s good in him or her, that person is less likely to take the time to see much that’s good in you.

Seeing the good in others is thus a simple but very powerful way to feel happier and more confident, and become more loving and more productive in the world.

I love this. It’s a reminder that no relationship should be taken for granted. Everyone we meet is someone worth paying attention to, giving credence to, learning from. As Rick says, “See the good in others.” We’re all trying to get by in this crazy world, right? And when it comes to dating, we’re all looking for that wonderfully well-suited other half. By paying attention to the good in others—their positive qualities, the parts that make us smile—it puts our attention where it should be, and keeps our focus on the happy angles that count. The more you appreciate others, the more  you’ll tune into the good in yourself and the good in life. And that’s where your half-orange will be.

You might also like:
30 Rock: Are You a Cranky Cow?

Big love,

How to Be Happy: It’s Easy!

Friday, June 11th, 2010

My sister found this on Facebook, and all I could think was: I have to share this with my dating optimists! Here, your short-cut formula on how to be happy:

What works in life works in love, and vice versa. So ask yourself this same question about your dating life, your single status or about the so-so, on-off, kinda-sorta person you’ve been seeing lately. Are you happy? Do you want to be?

You know what to do in your heart. You know that if you’re stuck in destructive patterns that it’s up to you to wise up and change what you’re doing. The key now is to do it. Do what makes you happy and you will create a change in your brain and your being that people will read a mile away. The happier you are, the truer you’ll be to yourself, and the better chance you have of meeting your half-orange and knowing he or she is right for you when you do.

Big love,