Posts Tagged ‘you can control your attitude’


Singles, Here’s What You’re Doing Wrong!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The other day, I was trying to get a spark going in our fire pit, when a friend of mine stopped me and said, “Here’s what you’re doing wrong…” I found myself stiffen a bit, a precursory defense, steadying myself for the blow. It turns out I wasn’t pulling the butane lighter’s saftey back while I was pressing the flame button. A simple fix. Too bad all of life isn’t that easy, right—especially in dating. Well, maybe it is.

Are you tying yourself up in knots with the negatives?

Are you tying yourself up in knots with the negatives?

I realized after fixing my butane button issue that hearing “Here’s what you’re doing wrong” is enough to make anyone stop in their tracks and pay attention. This isn’t easy for me to do that for you: I’m a dating optimist. My first book, Meeting Your Half-Orange, is all about loving who you are and being authentically, gloriously happy in your own skin while you focus all your energy on how you want to feel in your ideal relationship. Which is to say I believe every “single” person is uniquely awesome and that you’re not doing anything “wrong.”

But if you’re killing yourself trying to come up with the end-all reason for why you’re still frustratingly single, the fact is, you are doing something wrong. And to be all “meta” about it, here’s what it is:

What you’re doing wrong is that you’re focusing on what you’re doing wrong.

What you focus on, you see, is everything. And that’s because what you choose to focus on actually affects the neuronal pathways in your brain, which affects how you perceive the world and how the world perceives you. The scientific term in play is neuroplasticity, and I explain how it all works in relation to dating and love in Half-Orange. It is utterly fascinating stuff and it’s no joke!

If you’re single and focusing on “what you’re doing wrong,” then it’s all you’ll see, and it’s all your brain will store in its implicit memory. In other word, it’s time to stop the cycle. Today, focus on what’s right—and only what’s right. Just for today, at least, don’t think about how old you are, or how long you’ve been single, or what past boyfriends or girlfriends or spouses have said about you for a minute. That’s all irrelevant. All that matters is who you are right now, this minute. And if you can look at what’s right about your dating life, you can change what ensues from this minute on.

So do this for me: List three things that you’re doing right, right this minute:




Visualize what you’d write in those blank spots—the awesome things you’re doing that are spot-on. Maybe how you’re giving it a shot with dates you’re not 100% on, because you’re open to seeing what might happen. Maybe how you’ve come to love a physical aspect about yourself—a mole, a height, a curve—and will settle for nothing less than a partner who loves you for it. Maybe how you’ve mastered making tapenade and can’t wait to show it off.

Fill in those blanks your own way. If you don’t, well, that’s what you’re doing wrong. You owe it to yourself and to your love life to give yourself positive props every single day. The more right you see, the less wrong your life will feel, and the better the energy you’ll be putting out there for your wonderful other half to come find you. It’s an easy fix: Pull back the safety and push the right button, and you’ll light the spark you’re working on, too.

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Whaddaya Doin’ New Year’s Eve?

Big love and happy listing,

Amy Signature 4




“Half a Life”: How To Get Past Your Painful, Terrible Love Scars

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Most often, I write about peppy things. I encourage you to focus on the bloom not the thorn, the sun not the clouds, the healing not the injury. But last night, I was reminded it’s also important to address those injuries sometimes, because we all have scars in varying shapes and sizes. Especially in love.

The new novel by Darin Strauss (McSweeney's Books). It's up to us to find hope through the pain.

This all came to mind last night during an event at Skylight Books in L.A. where my friend Darin Strauss read from his new book Half a Life.

I’ve known Darin for over twenty years (we lived just a few miles from each other growing up) and if you don’t know his work yet, you’d be wise to check it out. He’s published some very successful novels (Chang & Eng,The Real McCoy, More Than It Hurts You) and this, his first memoir, is getting rave reviews. (He read from the book on This American Life, GQ magazine excerpted it, and here’s the review from The New York Times.) In a word, it’s incredible.

Half a Life is the true story of a painful incident in Darin’s teenage life when his car hit a girl on her bike and killed her. It wasn’t his fault, but he spent the next half of his life dealing with the guilt and judging his life through the glasses of the tragedy. In the book, Darin writes:

“The accident taught me this. Things don’t go away. They become you. There is no end, as T.S. Eliot somewhere says, but addition: the trailing consequence of further days and hours. No freedom from the past, or from the future. But we keep making our way, as we have to.”

It makes me think of all the hurts that happen to us in love and relationships that we also have to keep making our way with—for weeks, months or decades. Maybe it’s a partner who cheated or lied and you wonder what you did wrong to deserve it. Maybe it’s a love that unraveled over time and you keep replaying what you could have done differently to stop it. Maybe it’s emotional or physical abuse that scars your heart like a gash can scar a face for good. Or maybe it’s a death or a loss that makes you question if it’s worth loving at all if things hurt this much when it ends.

As Darin’s book reminds us, the painful, terrible scars on our bodies and in our hearts will always be there. But it’s up to us to learn how to live without blaming the people or things that have hurt us, and without blaming ourselves for how long it’s taken to get over it. Life is not about denying the scars from our past, but about weaving them into our present lives and making what good we can of it.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s not fair. But if you can learn to see it from the right angle, those injuries, over time, can become vehicles for something greater for you. Let your scars make you stronger, wiser and more empathetic. Let them deepen who you are as a human, not shield you from wanting to feel things in your future. And let them build you a better life not confine you to a ruined one. We’re stronger than we think, and as our scars heal, so should we.

If you like Half a LifeDarin is blogging about his book tour on—and today he gives a shout-out to Meeting Your Half-Orange and how optimism can help.

You might also like:

Wise Words from an Undone She

Big love,

Oh, Sherri: Her Lessons in Love!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

So I had to watch Sherri last night (on Lifetime)—those previews of Sherri Shepherd slinging hilarious one-liners sent me straight to the DiVo record button. And I have to say, I thought the show was really funny and really sweet. I actually laughed out loud a few times, and how often does that happen from a supine position on the couch…

Picture 1

Go, Sherri! (Image:

What I loved most about it? Sherri came off as strong, wise and funny as hell, but she also showed us that side we all have: when you’re unsure of what’s coming next. When you’re tired of being beat down by life, of being sad or single. When you just want to put your head on your dad’s shoulder and say, “I need a pep talk.”

In fact, let’s let the show give us a pep talk, because what I saw were some great lessons about life and love:



Whaddaya doin’ New Year’s Eve?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I was in line at the drugstore the other day (wait, how funny is that word: drugstore?).

Toast to yourself! (Image:

Toast to yourself! (Image:

Anyway, I heard these two girls talking about a guy who’d sent one of them a perfectly cryptic text message, and how she had decided, “That’s it! I’m over it!” The girl said she wasn’t going to call or text this guy back ever again. Well, as soon as she sent this one last text to put him in his place…

It reminded me that one reason lots of people have trouble embracing the idea of moving forward into a healthy relationship is because they’re still looking back on an old one! That’s where my friend Lisa Steadman, author of It’s a Breakup Not a Breakdown and “heartbreak reinvention coach” comes in.

Lisa is now prepping for one of her next projects, a bootcamp teleclass to Heal Your Heart by the Holidays.” And to give you a peek into what she means, I love her advice to ask yourself one big question:  Where do you want to be by New Year’s Eve?

Here’s some of what Lisa says:

“What do you want to be thinking, feeling and doing on New Year’s Eve? If, today, your thoughts are obsessing about your ex, wondering where he is, who he’s with, what’s happening with him, then you’re far too focused on his future and what will happen for him by New Year’s Eve. What you’ve got to do is take the focus off of your ex, and put it on yourself.”

I think that’s great advice whether you’re trying to take the focus off an ex or a million other things: your boss, your madcap family, your work, or even someone you have a crush on who’s not asking you out. Your happiness is all about you! So whether you’re in a relationship or not by the holidays, whether you’re employed or not, whether you’re balancing a to-do list like a toilet paper roll or not, how do you want to feel in your future? That, my friend, is all up to you.

It’s like what they say to people who are afraid to go to back to school. Sure, you might think, “If I go to grad school now, I won’t graduate until 2014.” So ask yourself: “Well, what will you be doing in 2014 if you don’t go to grad school?” The future is coming whether you like it or not! And you can either picture yourself stuck in a place of uncertainty and insecurity, or you can decide that you will be happy, fulfilled and kicking ass by the time the ball drops. I think confidence and happiness will suit that champagne glass so much better, don’t you?

You might also like:
Michael J. Fox, An Incurable Optimist, Has Dating Advice, Too!

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

What’s the Upside? The Tale of the “Halo”

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

My friend Brandon had a skiing accident some time ago that knocked his neck around and left him in a clunky metal “halo” that was screwed into his skull, its huge metal arms resting on his shoulders to keep his head from moving a millimeter. And it made him stand out in a crowd in a very Joan-Cusack-in-Sixteen Candles kind of way…


Can you find the upside to this?

Can you find the upside to this?

Not that Brandon expected the attention, mind you. The first morning he went outside in public, he pulled on a pair of shorts and said, “Oh man, I’m so pale, do you think I’m going to look stupid?” We had to remind him, “Um, Brandon? They’re not gonna be looking at your legs….”

For many people, getting screwed into a halo would keep them home. Did it stop Brandon? Hells no! The first time I saw him, he was wobbling into a Hooters of all places, for wings and beer. He went on hikes, hit the beach, rode the ferris wheel and drank  champagne cocktails at my husband’s art party at a loft downtown all while wrapped up in goofy sweatshirts cut open to fit over his contraption. And you know what I saw? Girls flocking to him like moths to flame, mice to cheese, Mad Men characters to cigarettes.

Brandon didn’t feel a bit sorry for himself, and it made the people around him feel the same way. What women saw when they spoke to him was a guy with a zest for life, a great sense of humor, and a spirit that would not be squashed, not even under the weight of a 20-pound chunk of metal. Instead of groaning about his halo, he had girls put flowers in it! Instead of focusing on the outside, he looked at the upside.

Making the most of a bad situation (Image: AS)

Making the most of a bad situation (Image: AS)

Brandon’s healed and free of his halo now, but his story sticks with me. I know, for instance, I used to pity myself at times when I was single—over my dried up dating life or the crappy day I had or the people who didn’t call me back. (Clearly, I should have read 11 Ways Being Single Beats Being in a Relationship!) But then I’d look at people who keep a positive attitude through far worse experiences, and I was reminded that no matter what life doles out, it’s our job to find the upside within us. Our life is what we make of it from the inside. Your wonderful attitude is what’s going to bring you the happiness you seek and the love you’re looking for. So find the upside. There’s nothing more attractive than an unstoppable optimist!

You might also like:
WWJS: What Would Joan Say?

Big love,

Amy Signature 4