OUR FIRST VIDEO EPISODE! Today we are going to be ULTRA present! I am out here in nature, one of my favorite places to discuss the power of Be Present. This is also the first episode of the Happiness Playbook that we are going to put out in video form as well so if you’d like to see the full production, head over to our YouTube channel and check it out!.

YOUTUBE CHANNEL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJCE2mr6QBhXUgeoQx4HnzA 

This Week’s PRO TIP is:

  1. Get outside! Go for a 30 minute walk and leave your phone behind if you can.
  2. Next time you sit down to get some work / homework done, focus on ONE THING at a time and write it down next to you on a piece of paper or whiteboard.

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show


As we bask in the outdoors today, we’re going to discuss the benefits of being present and “unplugging” and then some tips to help us put that in action. Let’s start with a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar:

How many birds in your life are flying away in neglect? That’s a tough question to answer sometimes. And I recognize there are seasons of busy...Aubrea and I have had our fair share of busyness throughout our lives, but when distraction becomes our default setting the quality of our lives deteriorates dramatically. Happiness has been scientifically linked to the quality of our relationships repeatedly and if we don’t make time for our friends we won’t have any. But being present for others is not the only focus here and we know by now that us being present with ourselves, and calming down the chaos long enough to hear ourselves think, process emotions, and ideate is VERY important.

There is loads of evidence of the positive effects of going outside and detaching from technology. 


Aside from the obvious vitamin D benefits, on Forbes.com we read: “Hundreds of studies have linked spending time outside to better health outcomes like decreases in incidences of diabetes and cardio-vascular mortality, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and better immune system function. In fact, these positive effects that are so well-documented that more and more doctors are issuing “nature prescriptions” to help treat a range of conditions from heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, to chronic stress, depression and anxiety, insomnia and even PTSD.”

That’s unreal! What a cool thing that even in the medical community there is traction around the concept of getting outside and how beneficial it is. On particularly stressful days it is very helpful for me to get outside. And if you don’t live right next to nature, a park or stroll down a quiet street can have a similar impact.


The change of scenary and fresh (or fresher) air can help us navigate stress and anxiety as well. On businessinsider.com the mental health benefits are highlighted as well:

“One study found that students sent into the forest for two nights had lower levels of cortisol — a hormone often used as a marker for stress — than those who spent that time in a city.

In another study, researchers found a decrease in both the heart rates and levels of cortisol of participants who spent time in the forest compared to those in the city. "Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy," the researchers concluded.  Among office workers, even a view of nature out a window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction.”

When you head outside, especially during stressful times (big presentation, tests, relational turmoil, or whatever it might be) you feel better. You get your blood pumping, you change your environment, and if you silence your phone or leave it at home, you’re able to better emotionally recharge and come back at the day with more focus and energy.

I’m so excited to have Steve Taubman with us today, a magician, author, and mindset expert, Dr. Steve helps people discover their blindspots and awaken to their true potential. Steve has a very diverse background and brings lots of perspective and experience to our conversation. He's definitely making big waves of positivity and I can’t wait for you to meet him!

This Week’s PRO TIP is: 

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show


Dr. Steve Taubman is a bestselling author and world class speaker who has dedicated his life to showing people how to thrive through their challenges. He's written extensively on the application of contemplative practices in stressful situations and has spoken worldwide on mindset mastery for goal-oriented and helping professionals. 

Having endured crippling anxiety and low self esteem early in life, Dr. Taubman made it his mission to understand the nature of happiness and the remedy for emotional turmoil. His search led him to neurology, holistic health, mindfulness, positive psychology, and hypnosis. Each of these disciplines is represented in Dr. Taubman's system for living a balanced life, free of neurosis and rich in accomplishment. 

Dr. Taubman's works include his bestselling book, UnHypnosis, his sales mastery program, The Magic of Inner Selling, his online productivity masterpiece, Procrastination Annihilation, and his latest book on thriving through stress on life's battlefields, Bulletproof. He's also written hundreds of articles for major publications and has produced specialized hypnotic programs for business professionals to remove mental barriers to success.  

Dr. Taubman continues to enrich his understanding of the science of happiness and its impact on achievement. When not writing or speaking, Dr. Taubman enjoys spending time in and around his home on the beautiful Burlington, Vermont waterfront.


[00:00:00] Neal Hooper: [00:00:00] I am so excited to have Steve Taubman with us today. A magician author and mindset expert. Dr. Steve helps people discover their blind spots and awaken to their true potential. Steve has a very diverse background and brings lots of perspective and experience to the conversation.

[00:00:21] And he is definitely making big waves of positivity. And I cannot wait for you to meet him. Steve, welcome to the show.

[00:00:30] Steve Taubman: [00:00:30] Neil. Thanks for having me. Wow. That's a great introduction. Thanks.

[00:00:33]Neal Hooper: [00:00:33] I'm just so excited to sit down with you. We have, we've had a few conversations now and each time it's just been so fun. You're just, full of light and have so many. Things to bring to the table. And I'm just exploding here with questions. So I'll try to stay on track, but I just want to dive right in here and you've just got so much value to add.

[00:00:55]I think a great place to start would be with a little background. [00:01:00] So let's get to know Steve a little bit. What's your story?

[00:01:03]Steve Taubman: [00:01:03] I was a chiropractor for many years. I had a sports medicine practice for about 14 years. And I hit a point in my career where I decided there was something calling to me to try something new, to do something different. And I had no idea what that was or why, although I did have a fascination and a passion for magic.

[00:01:23] Which was the way I was inflicting pain upon my patients. I was practicing my craft for them while I was learning to be halfway decent at it. And I started developing a side, a side hustle working with corporate groups and in restaurants and whatnot doing close-up magic. So I knew I had another skill and other interests, but I wasn't sure where I was heading career wise.

[00:01:45] But I did know at that point, after 14 years in practice that something was calling to me and that I needed out. And so I I ended up selling my chiropractic practice, taking a year, traveling all around the us and Central [00:02:00] America had some really interesting experiences along the way. And when I came back, I had essentially begun the reinvention process to reclaim some of my interest in entertainment and Oh humor and just, just being in the world in a different way and continuing to offer something of value.

[00:02:19] But rather than it being something of physical value, like what you do as a chiropractor, Something more of a mental, emotional, spiritual value, which is what you do when you're presenting something that creates either humor or laughter astonishment any of those things. So that's how my life has unfolded.

[00:02:35]Neal Hooper: [00:02:35] You've you mentioned one of your books on hypnosis but you've also written Buddha in the trenches and then Bulletproof. And these are just. So neat. Is there anything you could share about your books that might be interesting to know at a high level before we dive into the principles here?

[00:02:51] Steve Taubman: [00:02:51] Sure. First of all the first of the series was on hypnosis and I wrote that book about 15, 16 years ago. [00:03:00] And it came on the heels of an experience kind of a funny experience if you want to share it.

[00:03:05]Neal Hooper: [00:03:05] Please.

[00:03:05]Steve Taubman: [00:03:05] So I was I was performing hypnosis shows for MTV spring break. 30 jobs. Somebody has got to do it. And at the same time I was pursuing my spiritual practices and, learning to meditate and all that sort of thing. So I had already begun to look at things through the lens that we're talking, that we're looking through right now. And I was doing the hypnosis show in Jamaica in front of 2,500 semi inebriated college students.

[00:03:34] I use the word semi very loosely. And I was doing all the things that one does in hypnosis show. I've got people, they think they're milking a cow or conducting an orchestra. I've got one guy thinks she's pregnant. Another guy thinks he's the father. And. Yep. And so in the middle of the show, I decided I'm going to try something new and I which is what we're asked to do.

[00:03:59] Whereas, [00:04:00] whether you're a comic or a hypnotist or a magician, things are going well, and you're gonna take, you're gonna, you're gonna try some of your experimental material in front of a good craft. One of my subjects. And I said to him, I said you wake up three, things are gonna happen.

[00:04:13] And I said, number one, you don't believe you're hypnotized, even though you are. I said, number two, this is the worst show you've ever seen. And you're pissed at me. And I said, number three, there's an invisible wall, three feet in front of you. So I woke everybody up. I said, how's, everybody's doing how's everybody doing?

[00:04:29] And this guy screams, you suck. And it was him thankfully. And I said, what's the problem? He says, the show is terrible. I said, then leave. And the guy gets up and he takes three steps as if to leave the stage. And he hits this invisible wall.

[00:04:47] Neal Hooper: [00:04:47] No way.

[00:04:49] Steve Taubman: [00:04:49] Stop straight in his tracks. And he just looks very concerned and they started pushing and pushing and he can't get through it. And he finally sits back down and he crosses his arms and he starts to pout. I, And I [00:05:00] said, what's the problem. He goes, nothing. I said, are you hypnotized? It was no.

[00:05:04] I said, are you having fun? He goes, no. I said, then why don't you leave? I thinks for a minute finally goes, I'm not going to give you the satisfaction.

[00:05:16] Neal Hooper: [00:05:16] Oh, so big.

[00:05:19] Steve Taubman: [00:05:19] it was just, it was the funniest thing. And at the same time I had this epiphany in the moment and I realized, God that's all of us, we're all trying to get somewhere. And then we hit our invisible wall and we stopped. And we, and then what do we do? We first we tried pushing harder.

[00:05:35] So you've got this notion of what your life is supposed to be, what you want it to look like, what goals or dreams you're trying to accomplish, and you start moving toward them. And we all know that moment where we're all that enthusiasm suddenly stops dead in its tracks. Because of something inside something between our ears and it could show up as, as fear or frustration or overwhelm or boredom even.

[00:05:59] And we [00:06:00] just, somehow we don't go a step further. We start to sabotage ourselves and we try to use effort to push ourselves through that barrier. And you can't because the barriers in your head and, and it's also your head that's deciding to push. So you're pushing against yourself. And it becomes this vicious cycle this unwinnable conquest that you're trying to experience to move through your own barriers.

[00:06:25]And so what I realized was here's this guy who is clearly hypnotized and, this is obvious to everyone except for him. He's the only one who doesn't know that he sit in the ties. Are you hypnotized? No. Why don't you leave now? He's got to make up an excuse why he's not going to leave because the truth makes no sense.

[00:06:48] So I thought wait a minute. What if that's all of us? What if all of us are hitting with ties and as a result, we're all, moving toward [00:07:00] this thing we want. And then we hit our invisible wall. If that's the case, then. The only way to move through it. The only way to rise above it is to wake up. There's no other way, it's like being in a dream and you can't get out of whatever's going on in the dream. You've got to wake up from the dream in order for the dream to end. And you've got to wake up from the illusion of this barrier in order for the longer hold you back.

[00:07:28] Neal Hooper: [00:07:28] Wow. What a great story. And that, again I'm loving all the metaphors and analogies. You're bringing into the conversation. I'm a very visual person. And so that's so helpful to understand things and yeah, I think we can all relate to that feeling of almost being hypnotized. I actually last year I left the job in corporate America for.

[00:07:54] Fortune 100 company. I was there for two years and hypnotized is a [00:08:00] great adjective or that feeling of just being, sleep. You're just going through the motions and just totally miserable. And so I love that verbiage and that what a fun story to, to launch into that concept.

[00:08:13] But that is that's awesome. And I highly recommend. Everyone go pick up the books. We're going to link to the website in the show notes where you can go and find all of Steve's work. And so we highly recommend you go check that out. There's so many projects you're working on right now.

[00:08:32]And is there anything else exciting going on that would be fun to know about.

[00:08:38] Steve Taubman: [00:08:38] Yeah. I'm really fascinated by this concept of ritual. This is a really interesting area for me, because the first book on hypnosis was really about reinventing your life. Taking a look at taking a new look at yourself, comparing where you are with where you want to be, not just in terms of the job you have, but in terms of like how it's feeding, how whatever you're doing is feeding you on the inside.

[00:08:59] And [00:09:00] so that book was written with the presumption that, you're maybe doing something that isn't really. A good outer reflection of who you are on the inside. And then what I then evolved into was that second book, you mentioned Buddha in the trenches, which was much more about not necessarily reinventing your life or trying something new, but how do you bring your greatest resources to whatever it is that you are doing so that you could bring the maximum amount of inner peace and happiness and joy and productivity.

[00:09:28] To that. And so Buddha in the trenches to me was first of all, I think that's the best name for any book ever written

[00:09:34] Neal Hooper: [00:09:34] it's really good.

[00:09:35]Steve Taubman: [00:09:35] But unfortunately the business marketplace did not agree with me because, they're very sensitive to anything that sounds potentially religious.

[00:09:44] Neal Hooper: [00:09:44] what do they,

[00:09:45] Steve Taubman: [00:09:45] Yeah, exactly.

[00:09:47] I figured, I'm not going to buck tradition. So I essentially re-released the book with a few modifications, including the modification to the title. And that's what Bulletproof is. So Bulletproof is asks the [00:10:00] question. What if everything that bugs you that blocks you, or that brings you down didn't you know, what will your life look like if.

[00:10:07]You didn't hit that inevitable place where what used to be fun and purposeful and passion inducing was now causing you misery. How can you be more resilient? And the resilience is this quality of, I could keep going. I could keep going in a positive way. I can enjoy the process.

[00:10:26] I could be a good a good teacher to those around me. I could be a good example to others. That could be a good leader that, that's resilience. And when I looked around, I noticed that the conversation around resilience is now framed as mental toughness. So there's a whole thing called mental toughness, and I thought that's bullshit. Yeah, if you want, the that's BS and the reality is that resilience isn't about toughness. It's not about developing a thick, outer shell and, dogging, [00:11:00] determination and pushing on, despite all odds. There's a certain amount of sticktuitiveness and grit. That are necessary and that are part of it, but there's also a lot of emotional intelligence and equanimity and inner peace and self-awareness and flexibility.

[00:11:16] That need to be part of it. Those things are not taught typically to the business community when it comes to resilience.

[00:11:25]Neal Hooper: [00:11:25] No. There's a lot of work to be done there. You just shared some really neat things. I think also it's a great example of of one of the play three principles, except the build. Commonly known as yes. And the improv community in terms of, you release your book, you called it Buddha in the trenches.

[00:11:43] And instead of just, you want to talk about grit or uh, resilience instead of just, giving up or saying it was a flop. You went back, you accepted and built on that and released it with the new title and really, came out, swinging [00:12:00] and improved it. I think that's a great example of that.

[00:12:03]That's the segue into the question I want to ask you now, which is how does accept and build, help us reach our potential.

[00:12:13] Steve Taubman: [00:12:13] Good segue. Wow. I'm honoring you here in my mind. And thanks for, for noticing that w that story is a reflection of that. That's so true.  I think, first of all, and we're going to talk about inner parts and things like that as we go along.

[00:12:28] But I think, part of us has this tendency toward enthusiasm and invention and positivity, and then there's another part of us that's like waiting for the next good excuse to give up. And I think we're always, there's always that part there. And at times much worse than others. When we first spoke was just coming off, like the tail end of the worst two months of my life, having just lost my dog and use my travel and my bone is next.

[00:12:55]And so the idea of being productive [00:13:00] or creative was just. I didn't want that. I don't even want to think about that. It was just so in it. And I think one of the things I have noticed about being on that kind of journey of consciousness is that it does give you the faith that when you're in a big, deep, dark hole, that there is a place outside of the deep dark hole, but it doesn't necessarily take you right out of the hole. Sometimes it's good to have consciousness to know that you are where you are, but it's also sometimes you have to embrace where you are before you can move on. So that's a long way of getting to a point. And the point is yes. And isn't the same as no end. It's you don't disclaim the reality of what is.

[00:13:44] You just build on what is, yes. I'm depressed and there's more work I have yet to do in the world, yes. I wrote a book that had wisdom in it that wasn't accepted for based on the title. And [00:14:00] there's a different way of framing this. So the yes. Part, I think speaks to the the acknowledgement of what is and what isn't always necessarily pleasant and there's more beyond it.

[00:14:14] Neal Hooper: [00:14:14] and that's the part that's hard to remember. And I love how you share that. Each part of ourselves is working overtime to protect us. And I love that you bring that angle into it as well, because that's in those moments where it's really hard to accept this situation. Do you have any thoughts around how to get through those?

[00:14:36] And I know you're coming off a really hard chapter of life. And so how, when it's really hard to accept and build on a scenario, you mentioned a few things that, that help with that. I'm just curious if you have any other thoughts for those those situations specifically

[00:14:52] Steve Taubman: [00:14:52] Yeah, when you're in a deep dark hole and it's hard to pull yourself out of it. There, there are a few things that I always, you know, and these are definitely like the [00:15:00] resilience lifeline skills. And, one of them is other people. I think that's important. We don't exist in a vacuum.

[00:15:07] And when you can't be your best self by yourself, Sometimes you need to have the the wisdom, the insight, the perspective of others when yours is not particularly resourceful. So part of it is a willingness to lean on, rely upon open to the love, the acceptance, the feedback of others.

[00:15:29] But again, when we do that, we need to be careful about who those other people are. No. It's like you don't do yes. And you don't do improv games with people who are used to saying no all the time. You just don't, you don't do it. It's the same thing with this. Like when I, when Woody died I ended up deciding to do a celebration of life.

[00:15:48] For him. He was a very, he was not just a dog. He was an evolved soul and people would stop me on the street at least once a day to, to comment on him because [00:16:00] there was something very special about him and went everywhere together, all over the country and people knew him.

[00:16:05]His speakers would come into conferences. I spoke at, from other countries. So people all over the world knew Woody. And so I wanted to do a celebration of life. We had people from as far away as South Korea and Australia and New Zealand on this this virtual celebration of life for him.

[00:16:22] And several of those people were very conscious wise. People who said the right things, who whose way of being supportive was really spot on. And it was touching and helpful. And then there is still those other people who they mean No, it's not like they're trying to like to say the wrong thing, but they'd say things like, Oh, he's not really gone, or he's in a better place.

[00:16:46] I'd say, make up your mind. One of those things were helpful to hear, it was helpful. I'm so sorry, man. He was awesome. You had a great relationship with him. I remember when he did this or when you did that or, like reality stuff and what I realized is not that [00:17:00] people don't have something to offer, they don't care, but that when we're in a dark place, it's really important to choose our support system wisely.

[00:17:11] Neal Hooper: [00:17:11] I love that. And that is so key because if it is a dark hole that you are struggling to climb out of, and you need that rope to get thrown down to you. You need the right people to help you out in and, it's so important what you said too to know, it's hard cause there's the intent and then there's the action.

[00:17:34]You want to make sure is it Stephen R Covey, he wrote the book. The speed of trust. And he talks about character and competence. We may, and I love that, but surround yourself with people who are good people and they got the character and competence to help you in those moments.

[00:17:52] That's great.

[00:17:53] Steve Taubman: [00:17:53] Yeah, that's two great words to, to to think on. And that's, so that's one part of it, you asked what are the things [00:18:00] that you get you through these dark times? Another one is acceptance. Equanimity, the ability to know I'm in a really dark place. It's a really hard place to be.

[00:18:10] It's not permanent. There's gotta be in the midst of the darkest of times. There's got to be a shred of consciousness, a shred of what we call the witness. There's gotta be a part of us. That's able to see us in all of our pain and despair and know that it's not the sum total of who we are. There's gotta be the part that watches it, and that is unaffected by it.

[00:18:34] Almost like a loving parent, watching a kid, having a tantrum, the kids having a tantrum, you're the kid having a tantrum, but you've also got to be the loving parents, seeing the kid, having a tantrum.

[00:18:43]Neal Hooper: [00:18:43] I love that for a lot of reasons. And actually this is perfect because I'd love to shift gears now and talk about the present, because I think this is really where you start getting deep into that concept of mindfulness and how that can help [00:19:00] you really be resilient and get through these dark times.

[00:19:04] And so to build on that. I know you've mentioned ifs and you're talking about this inner child concept. Again, building on this idea of getting through the hard times and really striving for that happiness, the elusive, happiness and wellbeing that we want and that connection.

[00:19:21] What insights do you have around the benefits of being present and how that also helps?

[00:19:25]Steve Taubman: [00:19:25] I will use mindfulness and presence as essentially interchangeable concepts. And so being mindful, being present, being in the here and now, and not letting yourself be drawn off by, by thoughts and emotions of the past or future. But rather just really sitting like a like a Regal presence on a throne as things come past you.

[00:19:47]Whatever they are, they don't knock you off the throne. You don't cower. You just sit with sort of elegance and stateliness as all of these things present themselves to you. And so when we become mindful, when we [00:20:00] meditate, for example, or use other tools like meditation to develop mindfulness, what we're developing is this remarkable capacity to to sit in the eye of the storm.

[00:20:11] It's like all this commotion and turmoil is happening around you. And unless you've done mindfulness practice, there's literally no separation between the feelings and thoughts that are tumultuous, really making the way around your experience. And you don't know that there is a, you. Until you start doing mindfulness practice that you can, feel whatever you're feeling, whether it's anxiety or anger or whatever that is.

[00:20:37] And that it's possible to literally sit silently in an upright posture and notice those feelings, not as who you are, but merely as sensory experiences that are being played out, on the screen of your life. Like sitting on the side of a stream and watching the debris float down the stream.

[00:21:03] [00:21:00] Neal Hooper: [00:21:03] in with the analogies again. I love it. This is perfect. And that is so hard to do. I think, especially nowadays. Distraction is the name of the game. Everybody wants your attention. You're getting pulled so many directions and I think it's really easy if you're not careful to just default to that constant state of distraction almost to the point where if you do have some downtime, you're you just crave filling it with.

[00:21:30] Distraction and to be intentional to, to engage that mindfulness muscle and it is a skill to develop one that I'm still working on. I've got the apps that got. Headspace and these great apps to try to work on that, but it really is a skill and a muscle to develop. And I love what you're saying, about watching the debris float down the stream, because when you can remove yourself and like you mentioned earlier, train yourself to be the witness and not [00:22:00] be so much, the recipient of everything that's said happening.

[00:22:04]That is a very powerful state to be in.

[00:22:07] Steve Taubman: [00:22:07] It is. And it's something that I love. The fact that you use the word it's a muscle it's so much is a muscle. It's basically what you're doing by training. By practicing a meditation, mindfulness meditation is you're exercising, your focus muscle. You're exercising your ability to bring your attention into a particular, to a particular point, whether it be your breath or your physical sensation in your body or whatever it is.

[00:22:31] But without having developed that muscle without the capacity to direct your focus, your awareness to a particular point, you are therefore going to be much more. As you said, distractible, it's a computer or the TV, the phone, or whatever is going to distract your attention. It's going to do it much more effectively if you have no ability to bring your attention right back to the moment.

[00:22:56] And when you do, when you can start doing that and bringing your attention back into the [00:23:00] moment, then it starts to Dawn on you that all the things that you thought were crises. Usually aren't all the things that you thought I need to be fixed. Usually don't all the fights. You feel like you needed to win.

[00:23:12] You really didn't, it's just all stuff, right? The stuff becomes less fixed and less important. And yet at the same time, we know going into it that the ego, the thinking mind will always try to convince you that whatever it's thinking is vitally important and you must be thinking it now.

[00:23:32]Neal Hooper: [00:23:32] When your focus, is derailed, it's just that skill of just bringing it back letting that debris float down the stream and then just getting back on course. And that happens repeatedly.

[00:23:43] And it does take practice. Do you have any tips I'm getting practical here or tactical? I should say about developing the skill of mindfulness

[00:23:52]Steve Taubman: [00:23:52] For me, the one point of view, focus in meditation, that's been most valuable and useful for me is his [00:24:00] physical sensation. There are so many different ways to meditate, right? You could be meditating on a sound or a mantra or of candle flame or the sport or your breath as it goes in and out.

[00:24:10] There are so many things that you could cook. You could focus on On the image of a guru or on God or whatever, there are secular and non-secular choices you can make. But for me, what I find to be most effective is if I focus on physical sensation in my body now, what does it feel like at the top of my head?

[00:24:29] Where does it feel like in the palms of my hands? What does it feel like in the skin over my, or my torso and I just gradually move my attention down, like a scanner. Looking at what do I feel and not reject it. It's always awareness. Plus equanimity, meaning awareness plus acceptance. What is I feel this, I don't reject it.

[00:24:49] I just let it be. If you just stop for a moment, regardless of what you were doing, even if you were in the middle of grand central station, or you just had a big fight with your girlfriend and you just sat and you breathe and you sat [00:25:00] quietly and upright and just started to move your awareness in small chunks.

[00:25:06] Down your body, you start to dismantle the the momentum of whatever it was. That seemed so big. Now it's just little things at a time. It's, the inch by inch, it's a cinch constant. Yeah. So it's just okay, so now, maybe I was really angry a minute ago, but now, what does it feel like in my forehead?

[00:25:26] What does it feel like in my chest? And as you start doing this, w what happens is that you start developing this new, almost like a new set of eyes. That will that'll change everything in your life. Where before, anger was something that would trigger a whole set of thoughts that would trigger more anger, that would trigger more thoughts.

[00:25:45] And it was a vicious cycle. Now anger reminds you to go back into your body and to notice what you feel and whatever those feelings are, become less and less objectionable. They're just okay. So you just start to notice the feelings in [00:26:00] small doses throughout your body, and they start to dissolve, and then suddenly the things that were really, so over the top and so frustrating and aggravating and in need of your immediate repair aren't anymore, they're just, it just goes away.

[00:26:16] Neal Hooper: [00:26:16] And when you're in that state, you're in a state of power and control and intentionality is so easy to future trip and to get so concerned and that anxiety creates. You sin. And if you're not present, we like to say here on the show, if your anxieties in the future regrets in the past, but life is in the moment.

[00:26:37] And that really takes some intentionality for people that are not good at mindfulness, or just haven't developed that skill yet. That are starting out. Do you have practical tools or were there apps maybe that you recommend to people when they're first starting out or any other resources?

[00:26:56]Steve Taubman: [00:26:56] It depends how neurotic they are. If you're me, then you're starting out pretty [00:27:00] neurotic and you've got to, you've got to work with what you got. If you're, if you're just somebody who tends to be distractible, but you're fundamentally, pretty content and happy in life and yeah.

[00:27:10]You're just like living a little bit out of balance. Then those apps could be really useful because they're offering you a sound or a, an image or something to focus on. And anything you focus on is better than not focusing. Now if you're somebody who's, coming from historical trauma, And maybe you've got anxiety or depression, or you tend to err on the side of low self-esteem or you just tend to get really frustrated easily.

[00:27:37] Those are wonderful things. Yeah. We don't, we, I think that the idea of mindfulness or meditation is I've got to choose this external thing to put my focus on where the reality is that life is happening every minute. And if what you're experiencing is [00:28:00] irritation or aggravation, rather than saying I'm really aggravated, I've got to go sit down and I've got to stare at a candle to make the aggravation go away.

[00:28:07]Stare at the aggravation, just what where's aggravation in my body. What does it look like? What does it feel like where, how has it, how it moving through me? And, you just change it into a neutral inquiry and anything could become the subject of a neutral inquiry.

[00:28:25] Neal Hooper: [00:28:25] that is gold. That is awesome. I love the verbiage. Are you using there? A neutral inquiry? there's no need to judge it or label it. Just observe it. I love that. That is so good. 

[00:28:38]Steve Taubman: [00:28:38] As the guests and there is to just observe it and to observe it from the perspective or from the distance that is most useful. If you're. Really upset about something and you've got, know, you can try to move really far away from that almost as if, like, how would I feel about this?

[00:28:57] If I were looking at it from a different planet, it would probably [00:29:00] lose some of its momentum, or you could look at it from very close the way that, you know, in the old days, when they had billboards and the billboards were painted and they were a little dots of color that, when you step away from it, it turns into a big image.

[00:29:13] But as you move towards it, it just becomes lots of little dots of color and those little dots of color have no visual significance anymore. So the distance from which you observe your experience determines like how much power that experience has. If I move toward my pain, if I move toward whatever physical experience I'm having.

[00:29:38] And now, instead of looking at it from a distance where I see my whole body, now, I'm just looking at it from the distance. If I could only see four inches of my left side of my chest, what does it look like? There's no place where it looks bad.

[00:29:48]Neal Hooper: [00:29:48] Oh, that is so good. And I love the distance. I've never thought about it that way. That is a very good factor to add to that ingredient. [00:30:00] Or to the recipe of mindfulness and observation. I love that so much. I want to make sure we get to these last two questions and there's been so much good stuff shared already.

[00:30:11] We get in here and it would be well worth the price of admission, but I want to touch on let, go and play. And we've already, we've touched on that a little bit here and there, that is one core principle of play theory that we discuss here. And I just want to know, how can we leverage the power of letting go and playing and really leaving that comfort zone to pursue happiness?

[00:30:37] Steve Taubman: [00:30:37] Play is something that invites presence play is something that, if you're playing, you're not thinking about what else you're doing. If you're playing, if you're really enjoying what you're playing. Then, when the moment is completed in of itself and usually play involves other people.

[00:30:51] And so there's also the collaborative aspect of play and it, from a psycho neurological or immunological standpoint, we're releasing dopamine and all that other [00:31:00] stuff. So finding opportunities to play means finding opportunities to be more present and to to have a better neurochemical client climate inside your body.

[00:31:11]My first book was called hypnosis and it was about waking up from the hypnotic trance that we've all essentially fallen into. By virtue of the way we were raised. And we were all raised with this paradigm that you've got to grow up and go through school and get a certain kind of job and stick with that job.

[00:31:28] And that's the way it's supposed to be. So when we start to confront the possibility that there's something else there, like we've got another another way of expressing ourselves in the world, we smack right up against all of our childhood messages. You can't do this. That's, what are you crazy?

[00:31:44]You're successful. How can you leave the thing you're successful at? And so what I've noticed is that, that, although this transformational process is so powerful and it makes for better people. It also raises a lot of [00:32:00] discomfort. It causes people a lot of fear and anguish to think about the possibility of jumping into the void.

[00:32:05]The path through life is not that much different from a plane trip that you take, where you're getting from, the East coast to the West coast. And as you travel from the East to the West coast, the airplane is virtually never OnCourse.

[00:32:19] The entire time, it's either a little, a degree or two off to the right or a degree or two off to the left, or maybe it's a couple degrees or a couple of feet above its designated altitude or a couple of feet below it. And it's constantly making course corrections. It's an ongoing process. Now the problem with us is we don't make ongoing course corrections.

[00:32:38] Generally we wait until we're about to crash into a mountain and then we try to make them we're heading into the sea matey. Oh, okay. But why not? Why not make our course corrections moment by moment and become adept and and attentive enough to realize [00:33:00] when whatever we're doing. Isn't moving us in the direction we want to be going in.

[00:33:03] Neal Hooper: [00:33:03] Oh, that's such a good metaphor, Steve, because it's all about just rolling with the punches when we get so rigid. And we're just, digging our heels in to the direction without being open to the change. I think that's when when we're so afraid, it's really hard.

[00:33:23] Like you mentioned it, we're afraid to course correct because of, that void that we're jumping into, but really. Happiness, the skill of happiness. And that's, the topic of the day, every day, hear on the happiness playbook, but is being able to roll with the punches.

[00:33:37] And I love what you're sharing because, and not just from a professional perspective, but that applies much more broadly as well. To being able to make those little course corrections. And I love that analogy of the airplane because, from a distance, if you're looking on the literal tracker on the map, on the screen, it looks like a straight line, but it is not at all.

[00:33:55] And I love that. You're bringing that in very important.

[00:33:58] Steve Taubman: [00:33:58] Yeah. [00:34:00] And you brought up the thing about anxiety that, that getting rigid, it causes anxiety which brings up the fact that anxiety. Although we like to think of it as a pathology or a diagnosis, isn't, it's only a symptom of being off course and being unwilling to move back onto course.

[00:34:16]There's anxiety is not as, as we've created in our society. This is a, it's a disease and we've got a medicated. Now it's a it's a sign that that something is amiss, that something's out of balance that maybe you haven't been in touch with yourself and the way that you need to be in touch with yourself.

[00:34:33]And some of that has to do with where is the plane going? What's if we're trying to correct chorus constantly, which is what we should be doing, of course, to what, where are we heading? And I think if we think we're heading to some kind of wealth and fame, and that's where we're actually trying to go, then it's gonna be a lot of harder to make those course corrections.

[00:34:53] Then if we realize what we're heading toward is ultimate happiness. Where am I trying to go? I'm trying to stay on, I'm trying to stay on course [00:35:00] toward a happy life. And that means that I might make millions, of course, corrections that might mean career changes. Or changes in the way I interact with somebody else or changes in the way that I view something that I just did.

[00:35:12] These are all tiny course corrections, but all in the name of happiness. And so we always say choose happiness first so that every, so that all the course corrections are being corrected for the purpose of bringing you back on course toward happiness. Yeah.

[00:35:27]Neal Hooper: [00:35:27] Just dropping bombs of truth and nuggets, man. Thank you. That is so good. And yeah. Something that everyone needs the year. So I'm so glad that you dove into that. And they all tie together, don't they? So I love that you're tying that in because when we're in a state of play, that is the essence of presence and in, being in the moment and And that's so important, I think, to lower the stakes. And when you engage that, that playful nature, it's a lot [00:36:00] easier to leave that comfort zone.

[00:36:03] And when you can reframe the situation from being this high stakes, serious environment where the consequences are. Permanent and dramatic and instead view things in a more playful nature. We talked recently actually about the super Mario effect, which is a Ted talk.

[00:36:23] That's really good. But the guy talks about Mark Grover. He talks about. When you're playing a video game, you're playing super Mario brothers. When you fall down the hole, you don't just give up. It's it part of the game is to start over and then just use that as a data point and say, okay, I'm just going to jump a little sooner and get over there.

[00:36:40] And I love what you're saying though about this playfulness and how it really helps us be present. I love what you've shared also about letting go of the thought loop and that's a really powerful concept here as well that I don't know if you want to expound on that too.

[00:36:53] Steve Taubman: [00:36:53] Sure. First of all, I love the idea that we say, what, if this were a game, right? If [00:37:00] you're, if something is challenging you in life, If it were monopoly, you wouldn't get up and freak out and, you get in and start a new game. It's not that big a deal. And I often find that, just getting people to think along those lines that, Oh, it's just a game is a good way of reframing that.

[00:37:16] As you said, the seriousness of the situation. And in contrast, the thought loop is what do we do when we're addicted to an outcome? Then what we do is we start beating ourselves up. We start thinking about what we could have done differently. We get caught up in this thinking thing.

[00:37:33] And the thought loop is thought creates some kind of an emotional experience or a mood. And that mood becomes the. The fertile ground for the same kind of thought to reemerge. And then that thought creates a little bit more of the same mood and it's a vicious cycle. So we got caught in that loop of thought.

[00:37:48] And and the characteristic of that loop of thought is a sense that we know and believe that what we're saying to ourselves is actually true. And I always say don't [00:38:00] believe everything you think. Don't believe everything you think because as long as you play this, as if it were real, then you've got to justify all of your aggravation and you'd have to justify it through the next set of thoughts.

[00:38:12] And it becomes a cyclic thing you can't get out of.

[00:38:17] Neal Hooper: [00:38:17] And I love just taking that curious in playful. Approach and saying, okay, that's an interesting thought. What if, and when you add that element in there that is when the magic happens and it really allows you to maybe take a little more risk and to be a little more bold. Don't believe everything you think that is definitely going on the quote wall.

[00:38:41] I love that. And you've shared also in the past if you can't believe everything or if you're asking yourself really, if I can't believe everything, I think. Can I get out of my head and into my body. I love that approach as well, because that's really now helping you again, that ties into the mindfulness and the presence.

[00:39:00] [00:39:00] But as you're letting go of that thought loop and bringing in the curiosity and the playfulness that helps you really step into that observational role that we were talking about earlier.

[00:39:10]Steve Taubman: [00:39:10] That's why I advocate for a. Physical based mindfulness practice one where you're observing your physical sensation, because it just becomes much easier because you've been doing it that when you start getting into a thought loop, you immediately notice, Oh, that's a thought loop that thought is causing them an emotion, which is causing a thought, which has caused a good emotion.

[00:39:29] And I'm heading down the rabbit hole. And I know from practice that the only way out. Is to shift my focus away from this impenetrable, cycle of downward momentum and shift the focus instead to physical sensation. And Hey, I've been doing that for the last year and I'm pretty good at it now.

[00:39:46] So let me just do it now. And so now you get out of your head and into your body, you get out of the. Thought loop because your attention is now going back to this thing you've been practicing, what are my hands feel like? What am my feet feel like? What is it, w what happens if I allow myself [00:40:00] to breathe into this?

[00:40:01] Just, how has it shifted? How is it changing? So it's a really powerful strategy for breaking it, breaking the cycle and the reality here's the best analogy and probably chew on as we get ready to wrap things up here is think about sitting around a fire. And if you sit around a fire long enough, eventually a fire is going to go out.

[00:40:25] Unless you throw another log on the fire. And every time you throw a log on the fire that fire could keep going a little bit longer. And the logs in this analogy are your thoughts. So if you could learn to just sit and observe your emotions the way you would observe a fire. Oh, that's good. That there's anger.

[00:40:46] There's fear. How interesting. And you just watch it and watch for the tendency to want to throw a log on the fire, to start throwing thought into the mix. Because every time you do that, you're just making it go on longer. And some people will do it, their whole [00:41:00] lives. They've got a big stock of they've got a big woodpile.

[00:41:03] And they'll get in a fight with a family member that goes on for like decades or generations, because they never stopped throwing logs on the fire.

[00:41:11]Neal Hooper: [00:41:11] You guys listening to this? Oh, Steve. You're adding so much value for audience. I cannot. Thank you enough. These are all great nuggets. The last question we ask every guest. That comes on. The show is we always share a pro tip, which is a tangible way to apply a principle.

[00:41:28] And we've already talked about a number of those, but if you could narrow in on just one pro set that you'd like to share with our listeners, what would that be?

[00:41:38] Steve Taubman: [00:41:38] Okay. You're right. We went for a lot of this stuff already, but I think the, what I would say is, start out with the idea that everything that happens in your life. Is happening for you? Not to you. This is happening for me. Thank goodness that you know that my mother just insulted my girlfriend.

[00:41:57] Thank goodness. Yes. [00:42:00] It really aggravated to me and I really needed an operator Trinity to feel, to remind myself what aggravation feels like. So they could work on that. So I don't have to feel it so much anymore. It's every human being, every experience that you have that causes you outrage and is actually a teacher is actually a guide.

[00:42:18] And that's why on my wall. I've got, the, my house was funky swayed, and I have the wall where you've got pictures of all the the people who have had a spiritual impact on your life and right alongside of pictures of rom DAS. And the Buddha is a picture of this woman who used to work for me, who basically made my life a living hell. Because she was one of my spiritual teachers. And so the pro tip is to take a look at the things that aggravate you and bless them and thank them for being there. And then start going inside and letting yourself work the emotion the way you would digest your food. Just, be, just let it pass through.

[00:42:56] You just metabolize it, let it be grist for the mill as rom DASA.

[00:43:01] [00:43:00] Neal Hooper: [00:43:01] That is amazing. What a great pro tip to end on Steve. If our audience wants more of you, they want to support you and learn from you. Where do we send them?

[00:43:12]Steve Taubman: [00:43:12] I would say head on over to either my regular website, which is just Steve tubman.com. And there, you learn a little bit of in my speaking and some of my writings and whatnot. You can find all my stuff on Amazon or if you go to best of steve.com you could sign up for my newsletter and I'll send you a free digital download of the first chapter of Bulletproof.

[00:43:33] Neal Hooper: [00:43:33] Wow. Awesome. Freebie, awesome gift for our audience, Steve, I cannot thank you enough. This was beautiful. You are a beautiful soul and we are so grateful to have you on our team. Thank you for coming on today.

[00:43:49] Steve Taubman: [00:43:49] Thanks for having me, Neal, this has been great.

[00:43:51] Neal Hooper: [00:43:51] My pleasure.

What is the secret to being charismatic?! What animal sound are we going to hear today? And what is the chief cause of failure? Find out today on the happiness playbook! Today we tune into Russell Brand for some wisdom on how to be more charismatic through the power of presence! We go deep in this episode on the first principle in the Play Theory principle lineup.


This Week’s PRO TIP is: The next time you are having a conversation, ask yourself: “Who is this person before me?”

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show

You do not want to miss today’s episode...Clair Mellenthin is a very accomplished spreader of light. She is first and foremost a mother, a wife, a sister, and a friend. She has three rambunctious kids who she refers to as “her insanity makers and her sanity savers”.  She is married to her best friend and partner in all she does. Aside from those important details, she is a best selling author and has written several books and courses, she’s a world-renowned play therapist, and above all has touched thousands of lives for the better.

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Carry out a playful event or activity for your family (eg. Nerf gun battle with your family, ice cream party, spontaneously play). Don’t put it off, just start practicing PLAY! “Do or do not, there is no try” - (not baby) Yoda

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show


Neal Hooper: [00:00:00] [00:00:00]

[00:00:31] you do not want to miss today's episode. Claire Mellenthin is a very accomplished spreader of light. She is first and foremost, a mother, a wife, a sister, and a friend. She has three rambunctious kids who she refers to as both her insanity makers and her sanity savers. 

[00:00:54]She is married to her best friend and partner in all she does. Aside from those [00:01:00] very important details. She is a best selling author and has written several books in courses. She's a world renowned play therapist. And above all has touched thousands of lives for the better. I cannot wait for you to dive into this game changing conversation. It really did change my life and I'm so grateful that she was willing to come on our show. 

[00:01:25] And speak our language and enlightened us. So let's go.  

[00:01:30] I am so excited for our guests today. And I have been wanting to have Claire on the show for a while now, because she has such a unique perspective about so many things that we hold dear here on the happiness playbook.

[00:01:47] She is an expert in many areas, but she really has. Double down on play and using that in therapy to help families, children, [00:02:00] and individuals really get the most out of their life and manage conflict and communication and so many things. So there's a lot to cover here, but Claire, we are honored to have you on the happiness playbook.

[00:02:14] Welcome to the show.

[00:02:16] Clair Mellenthin: [00:02:16] Thanks so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here.

[00:02:20] Neal Hooper: [00:02:20] We are so happy to have you, and you know, there's a lot to unpack here, so I want to just dive right in and a good place to start is, what amazing projects are you working on? You're up to so many cool things. So just help us understand what you're doing, what you're passionate about and how did you get here?

[00:02:39]Clair Mellenthin: [00:02:39] I'm so excited. I have some amazing projects that are brewing. My latest book that I'm co-editing with some amazing play therapists is about to be in final production with our publishing company Rutledge. And that is un-group play therapy and contemporary.

[00:02:57] Life of just what we're experiencing and then [00:03:00] how clinicians can help children and families in a group therapy setting while we're harnessing the power of play to work through trauma, family, navigating family's circumstances, school hospital, like all of these things that impact families and children's and just everyday life and being able to really. Hone in and harness how play and playing together can help promote healing and connection and repair relationships. And this has been one of my little brain tiles. That's been brained for the last couple of years. So it's so exciting to be in the final stages of production and that should be out this fall.

[00:03:39]Yeah, I'm so excited. And then my other. A huge thing that's happening is we're putting together, I'm headlining a conference in a couple of months called the attachment summit. And this is, we've invited some of the biggest and brightest Names in the field and we're all coming together to talk about how we can [00:04:00] repair and understand attachment and create healthy bonds of communication and connection and families harnessing attachment centered play therapy, which is the model of that I've developed over the last several years, but really looking at how we can use play.

[00:04:15] To promote healing and repair and family relationships, especially between the parent and child. And so this has like the culmination of my life's work at this point. And coming together with some of, like with some of the names and humans have really created such a huge difference in our understanding of how the brain works.

[00:04:35] So like Dan Siegel and Sue Johnson and Daniel Hughes, and several other people are part of this. And it really is just one of the most exciting things I've ever been able to do. So I'm really looking forward to some of these things that are coming up in that both of these, AR will be open and available to the public.

[00:04:51]And. Even though they're geared for therapists. I think parents can get so much from really beginning to understand, what [00:05:00] happens internally, what's happening in the brain and what they can do in their own homes to incorporate some of these ideas to have healthy, happy homes and safe places for their children to grow up in.

[00:05:11] Neal Hooper: [00:05:11] Wow. That is awesome, Claire and that is so exciting. We're definitely going to get information in the show notes for anyone listening that wants to participate and sign up. And, view any of these things. And obviously your book, when that comes out will be a huge resource that we're excited about.

[00:05:30] So you are up to so many good things. You're just scratching the surface. That's just what Claire's working on now. But you got to look at our website, which we'll also put in the show notes. There's a lot to unpack there and you've just been such a force for good and really leveraging play, which obviously at the happiness playbook, we use play theory to foster connection and growth and development. And so it's something we're passionate about. I want to just take a second though and let you expound on what exactly is play [00:06:00] therapy. How would you describe that to someone who's never heard of it before?

[00:06:03] Clair Mellenthin: [00:06:03] That's a great question. So what play therapy is we are using the child's natural language, which has play in a therapeutic modality. And, the belief behind this is children, especially when they're young. They use play to make sense of the world around them. Like they, they play out, family life, they play out school life.

[00:06:28] They play out, all of the things that they're exposed to because that's how they're going to learn and grow. And it's what makes sense in their brains. And so if we can go down to the child's level and engage with them through play. That's where these connections are going to be made. And when we can then bring in the parent, and use play, and within these different therapeutic modalities, we can really improve family functioning, child, emotional and behavioral distress even mental illness, [00:07:00] that can come about through trauma or developmental disorders.

[00:07:03] It's through the use of play and really being trained in how to use this therapeutically, that we can make the biggest strides and in helping children and families.

[00:07:12] Neal Hooper: [00:07:12] Wow, that is so cool. And I, we have so many angles that we're going to take as throughout this conversation. And so I don't want to jump the gun here, but, I think, and we talked about this in a previous call children. Use play like that is their language, I think is you even said that, right.

[00:07:31] That is the language of children is play. But I would go out on a limb there and say, just because adults forget how to play or they get bad at it. I think it can. The concepts and the principles are still very effective at any age. Is that fair to say?

[00:07:49] Clair Mellenthin: [00:07:49] Absolutely. I use play therapy and expressive arts across the lifespan and with every client that comes in to see me in some capacity or another. [00:08:00] And I think that you nailed it on the head, of, as we grow up, we're socialized out of playing, but so much of what we experienced. There's no words to adequately articulate what that experience means to us, but when we can create it outside of us, like through Sandtray through art, through me, as that, whatever medium that we're using and make it a tangible thing that we can see in process that helps the words come.

[00:08:27]And that is important at any stage of the lifespan, and I think. So often as adults, we forget how important play really is because we get so busy and, it's frowned upon and considered weird if we're out, engaging in childlike play and we're in our forties, unless we're playing with a child and then it's appropriate, but the power of play, I think, is still so very critical.

[00:08:50] And it's, what's missing in so many adults life, which is where we have this out of balance. Conflict , that happens with us.

[00:08:59]Neal Hooper: [00:08:59] That is [00:09:00] huge. And I think that has led to a lot of. Issues. And again, I we're going to keep unpacking, play in how it benefits everyone from all walks of life here. But I think as we, it's an expression too, it's a way to express herself and get out emotions. And when we don't do that and you can bottle things up and it causes all kinds of problems and I'm not.

[00:09:26] The expert here, that's just based on things I've studied and researched, but I want to dive a little deeper into what are some of the core elements of play therapy or maybe walk us through a little bit of the journey you help take people on , to improve their situation through play therapy.

[00:09:45]Clair Mellenthin: [00:09:45] With play therapy has been used really for throughout the last century. And it has ebbed and flowed, in, in pop culture and, and the regular understanding of everybody. But play therapy has actually been around [00:10:00] for a really long time. And so all those many moons ago, it started in Europe with some of the more famous psychoanalysts that people are familiar with. Freud had a daughter named Anna and she was one of the first, known psychoanalysts that started working with children for, I did actually some work with children as well. But she started looking at how children played and noticing.

[00:10:24] The different quality of play and how that was based upon the child's functioning level, in a sense. And then it has spread throughout that time, during, the world Wars, Bowlby came in into the scene of through the attachment lens, but also looking at and observing how children had been exposed to significant trauma or prolonged separation or hospitalization.

[00:10:46]Sorry, what we had back then was like a silence where children who had developmental or neurological disorders were removed from their homes and sent to live in a silence, far away from their families. And looking at, and beginning to understand that children [00:11:00] aren't blink States.

[00:11:01] Right. Like the world impacts them and what they experience stays with them. And what we've found over time is that, when that's unprocessed and unacknowledged, that's what leads to so many distresses and dysfunction and adult life and their ability to navigate the world around them and relationships.

[00:11:23] And to make sense of, even having any type of words to articulate, what the experience has been. And so, you fast forward several years and, coming from Carl Rogers, like person centered therapy, that was adopted into the use of kids of really allowing it to be.

[00:11:40] Child led and what's referred to as child centered play and really empowering the child to be their own storyteller, to bring their stories and their experiences. And then we use toys and we use play therapy. I always tell people like these coy is like a vocabulary word for [00:12:00] a child and what they choose to bring into their play actually has meaning and importance.

[00:12:07] And when we can allow permission for the child to be an expert in their story, so to speak, they can begin to make sense of the world around them. The things that they've experienced, the emotions that they feel, even if they're not able to cognitively or linguistically, have verbal vocabulary words, or storytelling around it.

[00:12:28] They can make sense to start processing through this with, a trained therapist and those things that, that can help them to find reconciliation, to find hope and healing, to find an ability to integrate these different parts of their life into a coherent story. That makes sense.

[00:12:47] Neal Hooper: [00:12:47] Wow. And that is so interesting. Cause you don't really think about when you see a child playing. You may not even be. Looking into it that, from that perspective. And I'm just [00:13:00] curious, what's an example of that, where the toy actually has meaning that they're choosing to, to play with. Can you just give us an example?

[00:13:09] Clair Mellenthin: [00:13:09] Sure. An easy example as this is, I think globally for most of the parents is, in those patients. School kindergarten ages when your Sheldon starts playing house. And all of a sudden you hear your words coming out of their mouth for better, for worse, whatever that is. Right.

[00:13:30] And this is your title, like making sense of family life and parent roles and the dynamics between parents and how parents. Yeah, their own kids, and so we see this when they're playing house, when they're playing doctor, when they're playing school, this is actually your child processing their different experiences throughout the day and throughout their lifetime.

[00:13:55]What we've seen in the pandemic when there has been the absence of school is [00:14:00] kids have been playing zoom calls. Or in family life, playing house, you see this more and more frequently. It's like, hold on penny. I have to get on a call and they pretend to get on the laptop. Right. And they're making sense.

[00:14:12] And this is making sense of what is happening in their life.

[00:14:16] Neal Hooper: [00:14:16] Yes, that literally just happened to me  it was just last week. My older daughter looked at her sister and said, I got to go to work and then went into the closet. Cause that's where I'm working out of a room, and it was just so interesting to see that, but it is so cool because They are adapting, that's like you said, that's an example of their environment impacting their psychology and their imagination.

[00:14:45] And as things change around them, you can see that play out even as they're playing. And I'm curious obviously the pandemic has changed so much of the way we go about our day-to-day lives. Is that a concerning [00:15:00] trend with the children and their ability to play and interact with others.

[00:15:05] I'm just curious on your thoughts. Real quick on that.

[00:15:09]Clair Mellenthin: [00:15:09] The answer is it can be, and not necessarily how's that. I think so much of how our kids are making meaning and adapting and connecting really has a lot to do with how we are as the adults. You see this, for example, a mass green, right?

[00:15:25] Like it's a normal, natural, no big deal thing. Like, Oh, that's just what we do then it's a normal, natural, no big deal to the kids. But when there's that like, ah, this is so wrong. It's so suffocating me, coming from the adults, we see that being reenacted, right? The kids behaviors and emotional responses to that as well.

[00:15:43]One of my little kiddos that comes to see me, it's actually a really cute, but he's a little four year old and he's always brought his stuff, like one of his stuffed animals with them to play therapy. And the last couple of times his stuffed animals were in a mask. Like Kevin he's like, well, we just have to keep everybody safe.

[00:15:59] I'm [00:16:00] like, yep, you're right. We just have to keep everybody safe. And this is the most important person in his world. And so his little stuffed animal, like his cute mom made his most important toy, a mask too, which I just thought was such a beautiful way to create that connection and really valuing the child and their worries.

[00:16:21] And. As well as like that empowerment of, what we can be safe. Like we can still live our life. We can still go outside and, because you have asthma and your lungs sometimes not work very well. These are the things that we can do to keep us safe so that we can do all these fun things.

[00:16:39] And I just thought it was such a great way for the parent to create that holding space around that too, of like the world doesn't have to be big and scary, even in the middle of a global pandemic.

[00:16:51]Neal Hooper: [00:16:51] As a parent myself, it's really hard to not. Let your opinions or thoughts become [00:17:00] more important than the, the psychological state or the emotional wellbeing of your children. Regardless of how you feel about masks or the situation, being able to help your child feel like.

[00:17:13] Like, it's not, something's not wrong that that it's and it's okay. That it's safe. That can have a huge impact. Is that fair to say?

[00:17:21] Clair Mellenthin: [00:17:21] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that a lot of times we don't recognize how important and how deeply in tune our our children are with what comes out of our math. And what meaning our kids make from that, I mean, earlier in the spring when this, really felt super scary, but just if anything, to look back on, I'm like, Oh, we were freaking out.

[00:17:40] Cause I was 35 cases in Utah instead of how many thousands of cases that we've had now, 

[00:17:45] Neal Hooper: [00:17:45] it's

[00:17:45] Clair Mellenthin: [00:17:45] But I know for me, even as a parent, I got mad at one of my kids for, going out with a group of friends and I was like, you can't do that. Cause I was scared and stress and watching that translate into the world is scary and I can't [00:18:00] leave really took some, a lot of repair around that.

[00:18:03]And that's what the big kid, right? That's what the teenager let alone with the younger children. And so I think that. I think that is just so important for us as parents, that we are really being mindful about the language that we're using in our home. And know that, our words actually really do matter.

[00:18:20] Even if you don't think your kids are listening or they're brushing you off or they're, rolling their eyes, like whatever you're old, you don't know what you're talking about. I worked in actions do matter and our kids are paying attention. And I think that, that's not something to be scared about as a parent, but I think it's something to be really mindful about.

[00:18:37] Neal Hooper: [00:18:37] Yes. And one of them. Principals. We're really passionate about here at the happiness playbook is accepted and build. And I think it really ties into the conversation we're having, as a parent, especially, but I think, this applies much broader than just that parent child relationship.

[00:18:55] And so, but just, accepting where they're at and. [00:19:00] Building upon that and not trying to impose your perspective or your emotions even onto them, I think is huge. And the other principle that, obviously applies to a lot of different things, but is look outward. We talk about that a lot here on the podcast and, just keep them in mind, when you're feeling big things and wanting to react away, especially if it's a charged emotional topic, and again, I love that you said don't let that scare you because I think every parent at some point, or at multiple points in, On a daily basis, in some cases are so worried about traumatizing their kids. I know I have that thought in the back of my head all the time is like, Oh my gosh, did I just traumatize my kid?

[00:19:45]My, my messing them up. And, it's, I don't think it's helpful to dwell on that energy either, but it is important to recognize and be proactive in how you're translating the world and what's going on for them. And in trying to do that in a healthy way.

[00:20:00] [00:20:00] Clair Mellenthin: [00:20:00] I love that. And I think that comes into, so much of my approach, in my own life, as well as in, in my clinical work is. It's okay to mess up. Like we are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to say something. That's like, ah, how did that come out of my mouth?

[00:20:17]And that repair piece that coming back to rebuild, I really love that analogy of that. I think it's so important, for us to be modeling that for our kids. Cause it, it teaches them that, you know what, it's okay to make a mistake it's we can rebuild and repair. And when we can be accountable as the adult to have, what I messed up, I am so sorry.

[00:20:39] I lost my temper. I'm so sorry. I yelled at you. I didn't mean to say that word and actually sincerely apologize. I think that's something that as adults we've really have a hard time doing that on a regular basis, but it's so important to do because what we're modeling for our kids is that there's room for [00:21:00] you to grow in here too.

[00:21:01] And there's room for you to make mistakes and we can repair and we can keep coming back and circling back and connecting and just because a mistake happened, it doesn't mean that we're broken beyond repair too.

[00:21:16] Neal Hooper: [00:21:16] Oh, Claire, this is really important, what you're saying here. And I hope any parents that are listening to this right now are really marinating in this principle and topic because I think there in lies so much opportunity to really help foster and develop and grow. Children. And it's really hard to not let that perfectionism creep into your parenting and you want to be, respected and viewed as the authoritative figure.

[00:21:45] I know I'm speaking for myself. And maybe others, when I say that, But to be able to, and we call it, let go and play right. On the show, but to be able to let go of those imperfections, and again, accept and build on [00:22:00] them too. Right. Because it happened and what.

[00:22:03] That's okay. But now I need to build, and I love the word repair that you're using there. Because again, going back to the am I ruining my child. There's no such thing as a perfect parent, but your ability to really. Just accept what happened, take ownership and then make it right. And try to repair that. I love that.

[00:22:23] And I've seen just the times I have chosen to do that with my children. It's just been such a positive experience. And in the long-term, as you said, I love. This idea of you're modeling a behavior that I think all parents want their children to have, which is, we're all gonna make mistakes.

[00:22:40] That's okay. Get back up, make it right and move forward and don't spend so much time dwelling on it. And I love that you brought that up. Thank you.

[00:22:49] Clair Mellenthin: [00:22:49] Oh, absolutely. I believe in it.

[00:22:53] Neal Hooper: [00:22:53] When you're there on the front lines making this happen and teaching it and seeing the results firsthand. So I can only imagine the [00:23:00] stories you must have working with children and parents and adults too, and all these principles. While we're on the subject of parent child relationships and how to approach that.

[00:23:12] We talked about a few things already, but I'm curious, what other expert advice or tips would you give parents on how to leverage the power of play? To help their children become their best selves.

[00:23:28] Clair Mellenthin: [00:23:28] Oh, this is my favorite thing to talk about because not only can play help a child become. Their best self, right? It doesn't mean they're the best at it, but their best self in it. And what play is also doing is says actually, it's a critical attachment meek in family life and in parent child relationships.

[00:23:51] And what that means is that we can actually create healthier, emotionally safer relationships when we are [00:24:00] playing together. And what happens, just neurologically if I nerd out for just a second but when we're playing together, when we're engaged in that spontaneous, joyful experience, and we're being silly and goofy and engaging, and you're not thinking about the report that's due to your boss or what you're going to make for dinner, and you're actually present with your child in that moment of delight.

[00:24:24] We have these huge burst of oxytocin that happened in our brain and oxytocin's job. That's really, its only job is to create neurological bonds of connection between the two people in that moment. And so what you're literally doing is you're creating new neural pathways in your brain and in your child is amazing and overwhelming to think about that.

[00:24:50] But our brains are these amazing. Amazing organisms. And there's so much power in that, but what we're also doing is [00:25:00] we're creating space to truly see one another and for a child to experience their parents just delighting in them for who they are as they are, where they are. There is nothing more powerful that you can do.

[00:25:17]To help build a sense of self and a sense of worth and a sense of belonging, then giving permission to let go and be in these moments together. And we know as your child gets older, it's harder and harder to find the time. And sometimes willingness of the child to do that,  we laugh and we're like, okay, there's forced family fun.

[00:25:39]With a lot of eye-rolling and like, I don't want to be with you. Cause I have a house full of teenagers who they would much rather go play with their friends and they have less permission to go do that because that part of their development is so critical to you and there's that and in there, and we also have to create space for this to happen.

[00:25:59] Not [00:26:00] just a parent child, but we also have to do that between partners. So my husband and I, what we find is when we have stopped giving that space to really be together and to play and to be spontaneous and silly and just laugh together, what we find as we are at much higher levels of friction. And there's a disconnect and we're like ships passing through the night as like I missing you.

[00:26:25] And like, literally I am missing you. That happens across the lifespan.

[00:26:30]Neal Hooper: [00:26:30] There is so much good in all of what you just shared and. It's something so important I love. And you use the same verbiage we do, right. Be present. It's simple, but it can be challenging. Right. And I think a lot of, just like you said, not letting your brain wander over into your professional life or the stresses of adulthood.

[00:26:53]And the busy-ness I love, you mentioned that earlier, the busy-ness often is what takes us out of  our [00:27:00] practice of play. And if we allow that busy-ness to creep in, we're missing each other, that is such a powerful visual. It's like you are in the same room, but you're not connecting. And that oxytocin getting into the psychology. I love that you shared that because that really helps us understand what's happening at a neurological level, but we can feel it. At an emotional level too, when we have those moments. As a parent, when you really do, let go of all the worries and you just get present with your child and there's the laughter and the imaginations are running wild.

[00:27:38] It's just, it's magic. That's how I would describe it. And I love how you pointed out exactly what's happening and why that's important with the oxytocin in that bond that's happening there because I think that's what most parents want is a bond. And I think that pays dividends later in life too at the later stages.

[00:27:57] Is that fair to say 

[00:27:58] Clair Mellenthin: [00:27:58] yeah, it [00:28:00] hugely, because, you think about like our whole goal as a parent, is to raise a child who is going to ultimately become a healthy, successful member of society. And who can launch and make it work in their world. And when we've created a foundation of health of security, And connection in our home.

[00:28:18] That also means when they launch and they leave, there's a place for them to come back to maybe not like physically, like we don't want them to move into our basement, but in the heart. And in that connection, there's a place to come back to. And so you can have those conversations cause their safety in there of like, mom, I lost, I don't know what to do or.

[00:28:40]My mom's favorite is we have really had lots of conversations that she laughs about when I'm like, I'm sorry, I was such a Brown when I was a teenager.

[00:28:51] But that, there's this moment, there's this, there's a built in security and safety for those emotional connections to last throughout the lifespan, [00:29:00] which is what we also want. Right? Like, It's so painful to be the adult who launched and because you launched, there's been that emotional consequences and there's not a safe place to come home to.

[00:29:15]And that can be devastating and so crippling and, again, as a parent, really thinking about like, why am I doing what I'm doing is so important. Cause it's natural and normal and we want to like bubble, wrap our kids and make them not have to go through hard things in life. And it's it's so painful when they are, and we feel so helpless to do something different.

[00:29:36] And I think, a lot of the behaviors and a lot of the ways that we parent is actually rooted in good intent, but it can have the opposite or Well, maybe opposite. I don't know. It can have

[00:29:49] Neal Hooper: [00:29:49] Unintended,

[00:29:50] Clair Mellenthin: [00:29:50] an unintended consequence to it. Yeah. Like if our message is the world is scary and you can't go explore and you can never leave home.

[00:29:57] And if you do, you're abandoning me, right? Like these [00:30:00] messages, they do get played out and then they become internalized versus, like that example of, Hey, the world is safe. We can make a mask for your Teddy bear shirt. He can wear my wedding. You can wear one. And we can still like. It's okay for us to be present in the world, even if it feels scary, like we got this, like that kind of messaging and empowering is so very different.

[00:30:23]And I think it's, again, it's like that idea of allowing for mistakes to happen, allowing your kids to have a voice and an opinion, even if you don't agree with it or appreciate it as that maybe But that again, we have to be mindful about who are we trying to help these kids become?

[00:30:41]Neal Hooper: [00:30:41] I love that question so much because it gets, it just cuts to the core. And I think informed so much of what you do and how you do it. So I know there are I tend to be. More on the playful side, it it comes naturally to me. Not always, there are definitely days. That's not the case. [00:31:00] And sometimes to my wife's chagrin or disdain when it's bedtime and I'm getting, kids riled up and that's not the moment to do that, but that aside I want to know your opinion on, parents that maybe it doesn't come naturally,  I'm not saying I'm perfect at it either, but just maybe for those where it's not natural or it just is uncomfortable to really let go and play.

[00:31:25]And leave those worries behind. We talked about being present and I'm sure mindfulness really helps with that. But do you have any other tips for that, that demographic who might fall into that category?

[00:31:36] Clair Mellenthin: [00:31:36] Yeah, adults who, who experienced that way. And part of this is it's you don't know what you don't know. If you haven't been taught it. I mean, some of this, goes back into our own childhoods and like how our parents engaged with us or, the family circumstances of how much, playfulness was allowed.

[00:31:57] And I think sometimes, there's personality, parts [00:32:00] of this. You may tend to be a little bit more serious or you might not really understand like, well why do I need to go do that? Like emotionally, even though it's like, intellectually like, okay, I'm being told to do this, but it doesn't really make sense emotionally.

[00:32:11]And the things that I would suggest for parents, is be curious about what's coming up for you in those moments to be curious about. For those of you who were raised in non playful homes, cause that happens right. And sometimes it just is what it is. But to be curious about what would it mean for me, if I let go and took the risk to be vulnerable and present with my child, what would it mean for me to sit down and shut off my phone and have a tea party? What would it mean for me to. Allow, a mess and to be okay with that. And sometimes, as adults, we may need some extra support and help and guidance and doing that. And I think that this is where it's so important to [00:33:00] make sure that you have a good support system in place and your own safe places especially when some of this may be rooted in your own childhood and in your own past experiences and relationships.

[00:33:12] I think not being afraid to look at that and seek out help and support when you need it. Especially, for the parents who are being the change makers and so many parents out there, you are the ones who are making the family change and saying, you know what? I don't want to repeat what I experienced and I am going to do something different and it's like, Going out on a journey without a map.

[00:33:38] And you're trying to like bushwhack your way of creating something different. You're breaking the chain of abuse or, the intergenerational transmission of some of the trauma that you've been exposed to. And I think in those circumstances, and to one degree or another, all of us are being change-makers as parents, cause we're really changing the next generation [00:34:00] as we learn more and understand more about brain behavior, the relationship.

[00:34:04] But I think, especially when it's the harder scarier parts of things that we're trying to change to not be afraid to seek out some extra help and support so that you're not alone in the journey of doing that.

[00:34:18] Neal Hooper: [00:34:18] That was beautiful. And. Happiness is a skill. I think playfulness is a skill too, and it takes practice. I love everything you shared. Thank you so much. So we talked about the parent child elements, and that was so good. I love that you mentioned, a partner or a significant other and the role that play has for a relationship in that regard.

[00:34:40] And so I would love to shift gears a little bit and dive deeper there too, because. And I love what you shared too, that you can feel that it's that same disconnect, right. If you're not taking time to, to be playful and present and in connect on that level with a significant other I think it has a similar impact.

[00:34:59] Is that fair to say

[00:35:00] [00:35:00] Clair Mellenthin: [00:35:00] Yeah, it is. It's so interesting when you can sit back and think about, when's the last time, like we just did something fun together. When's the last time we just laughed together. And if it's been a moment, like a little season in your relationship, it usually, you can feel it because you start to feel disconnected.

[00:35:21] You start to feel more lonely, I think, in, in your partnership. And it's easier for the little things become big things because you don't have the safety of connection present in that moment with you. And so. One of the things, with adults, whether it's friendships or romantic relationships but as to allow for playfulness to be part of the relationship and sometimes in adulthood, that's more. A traditionally structured activity, like, okay, like, let's go take a fun cooking class together, or let's go on a hike together. Let's but the idea is we're doing it together and we're [00:36:00] creating these new novel experiences. And sometimes especially after a rough patch or you're in the middle of some repair work, having something new to focus on.

[00:36:11] And connecting can be some of the most important parts of healing. So you're not staying stuck in the things that have happened before. And it's like we're finding each other all over again and remembering like, Oh yeah, this is why I liked you. This is why we decided to be together, and.

[00:36:31] And remembering what it feels like, to see the sparkle and the twinkle in your partner's eyes, or to hear that belly laugh when it's just like that spontaneous, just joy in that moment. And those same neurological neuro biological factors are coming into play then where it's like, even if it's just these glimpses, we're having these moments of connection again.

[00:36:52] And this is where we can start to repair my build. When we feel like our house of cards got knocked down a little bit, or maybe we're, we're missing something in our [00:37:00] foundation. And those, of the listeners who aren't in a relationship right now, clay is still so critical for connection and to build friendships and a community.

[00:37:09]And I think that, this is where getting outside of yourself. In the sense really can make such a big difference in how you're feeling about your life, how you're feeling about yourself, as well as what you can contribute, and bringing joy and connection in somebody else's life.

[00:37:28] Neal Hooper: [00:37:28] Wow. And it really is so universally applicable, isn't it play is just enhances enhances every interaction and the concepts there. And we teach, let, go and play as a principle. And I'm putting you on the spot now. But I'm just curious in your opinion, what are the things that we're letting go of that allow us to play?

[00:37:54] Clair Mellenthin: [00:37:54] So it's letting go of your defense mechanisms and that fear of vulnerability [00:38:00] and showing up. That allows us to really connect in and play in for a lot of humans. That is not a comfortable thing. It's actually terrifying. Right. And this is where things like, for some people it's so interesting, like where they can do a lot of theater work and they can be this big boisterous, brave, vulnerable person on stage.

[00:38:22] Where they can let parts of themselves come out. And then as soon as they're off the stage, they revert back to, a more protective stance in their everyday life. But you know, the same process is happening, but I think finding your Avenue for them, outlet of what feels safe enough, what feels good enough?

[00:38:42] What feels playful enough? Is going to vary from person to person, and yet we all need it so much. And so desperately.

[00:38:52] Neal Hooper: [00:38:52] Oh, these are just man. I am. I'm just trying to, I'm [00:39:00] seeing if I can block out the next three hours. my calendar, I don't know about you, but well, we can keep going. This is so good. Claire. This has been so amazing and you've already shared so many amazing, tangible concepts with us. We do ask every guest that comes on , one last question, and that is what pro tip can you share with us about applying any of the principles we've discussed?

[00:39:30] Clair Mellenthin: [00:39:30] I think part of this. Comes from Yoda, right? Like there is no try, just do, and I, butchered that, but that part of starting to include and bringing play into your life yes. To start it and, go so by every member in your family and Nerf gun and go have a battle, like start it right where it doesn't have to be.

[00:39:57]Like, okay, I'll wait until we go on our family [00:40:00] vacation and then we'll go play in the ocean. No, like you start it now and get permission for it to happen now. And that is scary. And it's vulnerable to do that, especially if it hasn't been part of what has been present. Right. But I think in these small little ways, you just have to dip your toe in first. And so, having an ice cream party night, one night for dessert, where you just bust out, like, as okay, here's five different kinds of ice cream, and we're going to have all these toppings and we're just going to go play in this, right? Like it's just these spontaneous,  fun moments together.

[00:40:39] And every home and every family and every person that's going to like differently, for some families, it's gonna look like playing a board game for some families, it's gonna look like taking a hike for some families is going to, be a full-out Nerf battle.

[00:40:52] And but what's happening is you're allowing yourself to be present in that moment with the people you care most about. And for those of you who [00:41:00] are listening, who aren't in that life spot right now, like that's not part of your life or you're single, or, you're in more of like just the adult world.

[00:41:08] And outside of family life, what I would encourage you to do is actually something similar, find something that looks interesting and signup, yeah. Something new that you haven't done, or something that you used to love to do that you've forgotten. Even in the midst of this pandemic that we have, there are so many places, even if it's remotely where you can find connection with other people.

[00:41:31] And I think that's really what. We're all yearning for and looking for, and this is just an Avenue to do it.

[00:41:37]Neal Hooper: [00:41:37] that is so important. And I love what you're sharing. And getting really clear about what quote unquote play might look like because we hear play. And we might have, I have an idea, we're going outdoors and we're throwing a ball, but I love the example of an ice cream party, right.

[00:41:54] Just that spontaneity, that presence that that. Just being together [00:42:00] intentionally is a great way to foster that same connection. And that is at its core, a version of play as well. I'm grateful that you brought that into it. Claire, thank you so much. This has been amazing. We want to make sure our audience can find you.

[00:42:16] How do we connect with you? Where do we go to get more of this amazing concept, the play therapy and Claire

[00:42:26] Clair Mellenthin: [00:42:26] So you can always find me online. My website is just Claire Mellon, team.com and you're welcome to follow me on social media. I have several platforms that I'm on. And those of you who are local to salt Lake city, I'm just over at Westside family therapy. And so you can always find me locally as well.

[00:42:43] Neal Hooper: [00:42:43] That is awesome. And we will definitely put all of the social links in the show notes and the website and all that. Goodness. Claire. It has been an absolute delight. I mean that, thank you so much for coming on, taking time out of your day to share all of this goodness with us [00:43:00] and help us develop that coveted skill of happiness.

[00:43:04] Thank you so much.

[00:43:06] Clair Mellenthin: [00:43:06] Thanks so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

[00:43:09]  Neal Hooper: [00:43:10] Wow. Isn't Claire just delightful. This conversation with Claire was, as I mentioned, just the total paradigm shift for me and my life. And I hope it inspired you as well. This week prioritize, play. Whether it's your children. If you're a parent. Friends family members, or even strangers who might need a spark of light in their day. 

[00:43:35] Be present and spontaneous with those around you and leverage the power of play to connect with everyone in your sphere of influence. 

[00:43:47]Practice happiness this week and never forget that happiness is a skill and life is a team sport. Catch you next week.  

Happy Groundhog day, everybody. This is going to be a fun episode and I am so honored to be joined with LaRee Florence for today's episode. Why we do a deep dive into the classic Groundhog day with the one and only bill Murray. We're so excited to share some insights and to celebrate this momentous (and strange) holiday with you!

This Week’s PRO TIP is: This week we want you to try again. Every day is a fresh new start to your life. Whatever’s got you down, whatever project you have not completed, TRY AGAIN.

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show

It’s a new year! We have big plans but a lot of us are still shaking off 2020 and struggling to be present… and therefore productive.

Today I’m gifting you a master class in Being Present but more specifically in productivity. We’re going to discuss how eliminating distraction, changing your environment, and not relying on your finite willpower, is the game changing step toward actually BEING PRESENT and getting stuff done.

This Week’s PRO TIP is: For this week’s pro tip, I want you to give strong you the wheel of life and make the changes in your environment that weak you is going to hate you for. Delete an app, throw out some candy, write out a workout schedule...do whatever it takes to move the needle on your productivity in the right direction!

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show


It is a new year and a lot of us have big plans, but we still might be shaken off 2020 and struggling to be present in there for productive. Today, I'm gifting you a masterclass in being present, but more specifically in productivity. We're going to discuss how eliminating distraction, changing your environment and not relying on your finite willpower is the game-changing step toward actually being present and getting stuff done.

And I could not be more excited to share with you today,

400 families woke up on Christmas to $250 gift cards left on their porch. With a poem. That's $100,000. With all the hardships they endured in 2020 many people found it more difficult than usual to believe in Santa Claus. That's why Santa went out of his way for some folks in the Canadian city of Edmonton to make sure they knew he still believed in them.

A Saint Nick who chooses remain nameless left envelopes containing an inspirational rhyme along with $250 gift cards on approximately 400 doorsteps. Bringing unexpected, cheers to many families in the area. As we saw over the year, just past, even when things looked their darkest, there have been generous people around the globe who stepped up in big ways to fill SANAS snowy boots time. And again, whether or not you believe in Santa Claus. This spirit of giving has the potential to shine in all of us. What a great story and very generous gift for so many people in the area.

Time for coach Neil to give an update on operation. Domination. Okay. So we had some awesome team players, again, we're getting those numbers up and we want to share a really exciting milestone, but we need some more sharing to happen. And as we go into 2021, we really want to take the momentum from 2020 on the podcast and really move forward. So we need your help there.

But two quick posts that I wanted to share with you first, we had happy Mrs. Gardner on Instagram share about our last episode.

Some lessons learned from 2020 and positive outcomes from 2020. She said so many good things. I snuggled more with my family, talked more with my neighbors, spent more time in nature, turned an old barbecue into a planter, and found joy in the simplicity. Of curbside pickup. Awesome. Updates. Thank you. Happy Mrs. Gardner for sharing, and we are so grateful to have your contribution to the community. Thank you for pointing out the good things of 2020. Next up, we have Laurie who shared. I choose to see 20, 20 as a gift. I was gifted time with my family minus the normal interruptions time with myself to reflect and get better acquainted.

Given the opportunity to find new ways to connect and communicate. She started a YouTube channel for moms thrown into home, learning with their children, wrote letters and mailed them to friends and family. Played a lot more games, read more purposefully, stepped back and gained a great deal of perspective.

So we are so excited for you, Lori. Thank you for sharing. And we're going to link your YouTube channel in the notes for anyone who's interested. So I hope you can head over there and check. And check out Laurie YouTube channel for moms who were thrown into home, learning with their children.

Okay, so productivity let's dive in. How fun is it that we now get to say hindsight is 2020. Well folks, how fun is it now that we get to say hindsight is 2020.

Now there is some truth to that. 2020 is now behind us. And what was a very difficult year. That had lots of challenges also had some great lessons. If you haven't already checked out episode 20.

Our open letter to 2020, then you've got to do it. It's a quick one. It's 18 minutes long. And there's a lot of great insights there.

But now as we look forward to the future with hopes, aspirations, goals, resolutions. We got to be effective and to present in order to make the progress we want. And that's really hard. We want to be present and in the zone this year to make magic happen, but we have to eliminate distraction in order to do that. And that's what we're going to talk about today.

Clyde Beatty was a pioneer in the circus industry and the man who created one of the most daring acts in circus history where he mixed 40 lions and tigers of both sexes. And tamed them all in front of a crowd. Clyde Beatty was born in Bainbridge, Ohio in 1903. When he was a teenager, he left home to join the circus and landed a job as a cage cleaner.

In the years that followed BD quickly progressed from a lowly cage boy to a popular entertainer. And now to the legend that we all know him for. BD became famous for his fighting act in which he would tame fierce wild animals.

PDs act included a segment where he brought lions. Tiger's cougars and hyenas all together into the circus ring and taint the entire group. But the most miraculous part of Clyde Beatty story is his survival in an era. When the majority of lion Tamers died in the ring, BD lived into his sixties. In the end, it was actually cancer that took his life. Not Elian.

How did he manage to survive? It's very simple, actually. Clyde Beatty was one of the first lion Tamers to bring a chair into the circus ring. What does the chair have to do with taming Elian? You might ask. Well, Everything actually. The classic image you see of a lion Tamer is one of the entertainer holding a whip and a chair in facing down a ferocious lion. We often focus on the whip.

But it's actually mostly a prop. In reality, it's the chair that does the important work. When a lion Tamer holds a chair in front of the lion's face, the lion tries to focus on all four legs of the chair at the same time with its focus divided. The lion becomes confused and is unsure about what to do next.

When faced with so many options, the lion chooses to freeze and wait, instead of attacking the man holding the chair. As crazy as it sounds, this majestic powerful beast is diverted by a small chair with four legs on it. The powerful part of this story and metaphor. Is that we are each just like the lion with all of its majesty power and potential, but we to get distracted. By this four legged stools of life.

What are the four legged stools in your life and how can you overcome them? As we dive into this topic, I want to start by letting you in on a little secret. The very concept of motivation is bogus and almost all engagement techniques used today. Are embarrassingly outdated.

Now that might seem like a bold claim, especially coming from someone who has a high ticket program called the purpose driven professional. That's all about engagement and drive, but let me tell you a little bit more and explain what I mean. If we are, depending on our willpower to get us where we need to go, we have a lost before we even began. Willpower is a limited resource or at least our brain thinks it is. And resisting temptation and distraction. Actually weakens it. How many times have you hopped onto your computer?

With all the good intentions in the world to get something done. And two hours go by. And you look at the clock and realize you've done nothing except browse the internet. YouTube, social media, whatever your weaknesses. And let the time go by. The important thing to remember is that your environment has everything to do with your ability to execute. And your willpower actually has very little to do with it.

Ben Hardy, the author of the amazing books, willpower doesn't work and personality. Isn't permanent said most people, mindlessly and reactively walk through life. They are unaware just how much their environment is shaping them. They're unconsciously becoming something they wouldn't want to be. This happens when we're not present. When we're not in the moment we just washed down the stream of life and are not intentional.

The truth is if we are allowing our environment to be full of distraction. Disorganization and chaos, we will never be able to be fully present for the task and projects at hand.

So what are some ideas to eliminate distraction in your life and be fully present? Well, here's just a few. First off limit internet use with apps and filters. We all have our weaknesses online. Mine is YouTube. There's something about those recommended videos that just keep rolling in auto-playing that just get me every time.

I probably account for at least half of all the views on the daily dose of the internet. A channel. Whether it's YouTube, Instagram, Tik TOK, or the news setting limits on these websites can be a total game changer. I use an app called SelfControl for my Mac book. That allows me to create a black list of websites. I go in there and I enter every website that I just want to block.

And then it has a timer that you can set and you can go all the way up to 24 hours in length. But it prevents you from visiting all of those sites for as long as the timer is going, it's very powerful and I've been using it a lot. If you have an iPhone, the screen time app is a total game-changer as well for your mobile device. I found that implementing these changes allows me to be free from the temptation.

And decision fatigue that comes from relying on willpower alone. There's also an app called forest for Android and iOS, which is kind of funny. It's a, you gotta lock your phone and as long as your phone's locked, there's a little tree that grows for however long you set the timer. And if you open your phone, it actually kills the tree and it's weird, but it's actually very motivating to keep your phone locked.

Another thing you can do if that's not working. Is just put your phone in a different room altogether then where you are working or trying to be present. If the site blockers and screen time, isn't enough. Try just charging your phone in a different room. This is actually very helpful at night when it's time for bed. And it's something I've tried doing is you know, just charging my phone in a different room, or if I'm using it for my alarm, I actually just turn it on airplane mode and that's been very helpful as well.

Research shows that just having your phone in the same room as you. Can be a distraction to your focus, not to mention when you get that little buzz for an email or text. I don't know about you, it's nearly impossible to not check in. Even if you do resist the temptation, that thought is in the back of your mind, wondering who was that or what was it?

And that is taking up mental real estate.

The next tip is to start your day with some quick wins. Now, this is a little controversial, this recommendation of making, because a lot of people will tell you to eat the frog, right. To take on your biggest, most hairy task first. And there are days where that may be the right strategy, but more often than not.

I have found that in order to really gain momentum for my productivity, I do a brain dump of all the tasks I have to get done that day. And I do this every day. And then I categorize them, not just by what's most important, but by what will take the least amount of time to do. And then I start my work session by setting a timer for 30 minutes and I get as many of these little tasks done as possible. And you can do less than 30 minutes. If you want. Even 15 minutes could be a huge help.

But when the timer's up. I transition then into my most important task, but I do so with momentum and a boosted perceived capability, getting in those quick wins up front helps you stay present. And in that state of flow, because you're getting that dopamine hit as we check off those quick wins, but also because your mental real estate is no longer weighed down by those undone tasks in the back of your head. So I found that to be a very

Approach , to be present with those important tasks. Is that plan out those 15, 20, 30 minutes? Of quick wins in order to get momentum and my productivity.

Designing your environment for success is also key. If you want to work out in the morning. Why not set out your workout clothes next to your bed. This will be creating an environment that makes it easy to do the things you want and need to do. If you want to read a book at night, find an easily accessible place next to your bedside to place it. If eating healthy is important, throw out the junk food or give it away.

I know that it's easier said than done, but it will be the small movement. That becomes momentum and really empowers you to level up. There's a great concept called activation energy that Shawn Achor shares in his book.

The happiness advantage. And it really comes down to, you know, how much energy is it going to take you to do a task? And he talks about increasing the activation energy or friction. And for the things that you don't want to do. And that might look like. You know, burying an app that you don't want to have easy access to in a bunch of folders on your phone or deleting the app. Right. That would be an example of increasing the activation energy.

If you don't want to be really extreme. I know a guy who actually has a. Admin change the password on all of his social media accounts. During the week. So Monday morning she changes all of them and she doesn't let him in until Friday after work. And so he only checks his social media on the weekends.

So that would be an example of increasing the activation energy for things you don't want to do, but you also want to decrease the activation energy for things that you want or need to do. And again, we shared a few examples of those setting out your workout clothes that makes it easier to put those on a, you know, make it really easy to eat healthy. We just invested in a juicer actually, and that makes eating healthy, exciting, and easier because we have this produce and we just juice it and drink it on the go.

So those are some examples of designing your environment for success.

Another big one is to simply organize your environment. If you are surrounded by clutter and chaos, it is going to be incredibly difficult to stay present focused in on task. Even just five minutes of picking up is enough to really impact your environment and productivity.

And a bonus tip here for those working from home, especially is if you have work to get done. And your home environment's really distracting. You might consider going somewhere else. And if you can't leave your home, maybe try a different room, but if you can. You know, try a coffee shop or just go somewhere else. And

And change your environment and that separation and change of environment can also have a huge impact on your productivity and an additional.

Action. You can take with this tip is to actually leave your laptop charging cable at home. This will force you to work harder and it might seem dramatic. But knowing that your battery is going to run out, can actually create the urgency needed to produce the results and help you stay focused.

At the end of the day, there are hundreds of ideas and tips for being more productive and staying present when you're trying to get things done. But the key is taking action. And setting aside five brave minutes to actually change your environment and give strong you the steering wheel of life to make those changes.

Stop relying on that willpower. That's not getting you where you need to go. You've got to change your environment. And doing this will pay dividends in the long run and help you change your environment. Eliminate distraction, and stop relying on willpower to accomplish your goals. If we want to make the progress in 2021 that we so desperately want to, and really develop the skill of happiness, we need to take action and change that environment.

For this week's pro tip. I want you to give strong you. The rains and the steering wheel of your life and make the changes in your environment. That week you is going to hate you for. Okay. So five minutes of courage. And an action can have a huge impact. So I want you to set aside five minutes, set a timer.

And just start changing your environment. Delete an app, throw out some candy, right out a workout schedule. Do whatever it takes to move the needle on your productivity in the right direction.

As always, we want to hear from you. If you have a story, an idea, or feedback, head over to play theory.org. And leave a comment on one of the episodes we would love to hear from you. And if we've benefited your life in any way, if any of these tips were helpful to you. I hope that you'll look outward and send some love and leave a five star review on iTunes or share the podcast with your friends. If you know someone that's really struggling to get ahead with their goals or productivity, share this episode and let us know so that we can give you a shout out.

In our operation, joy domination update.

To wrap up today's episode. I want to share a poem entitled farewell mediocrity. Some lives are riddled with impulsive in short sighted efforts. But not mine. Some people have trained their subconscious to seek out the path of least resistance and reach for the mundane, worldly and enslaving. But not me. Some lik colorless dreams and the currents of mediocrity sweep them away down the stream of disappointment. Some let distraction, deception, and pleasure derail their golden train off the track of dreams and wonder. But not me. Not me. I live the higher law. I breathe in the magic freedom that inspires my soul to reach higher love, deeper and unleashed that determined the lion who relentlessly pursues my dream life.

As flashy and cheap thrills tempt me to meander off the trail that leads to my majestic summit. I will fix my gaze on celestial glory and that which is of true worth and joy. I don't feed the alligators. I starved them. I don't hesitate building my empire. I do the next right thing and move forward. I don't lose my way. I kill mediocrity one disciplined and focused step at a time. Let mediocrity die.

Let it die.

That is my invitation to you. Let's let mediocrity fade away into our memories like 2020.

Let's bid farewell to mediocrity once and for all and let the distraction and disorganization and all the other massive roadblocks to our progress and to being present. Drift down the stream and fall out of our lives. I can't wait to see what you achieve this year. As you get productive is you eliminate that distraction and get present. 📍

Let's eliminate distraction shape our environment and be present practice happiness this week and never forget that happiness is a skill and life is a team sport catching next week

Well here we are, we’re finally getting near to closing a very hard and trying chapter of humanity’s book of life...2020. For very obvious reasons to all listening right now, 2020 has been one of the hardest years across the globe. There’s a staggering list of reasons why 2020 was rough year:

Wherever you were in the world this year, you felt the wrath of 2020. And as hard as it was, and it’s been harder on some than others, there are some who not only survived 2020 but thrived! I want to note that whether you were on the thriving, surviving, or even suffering end of the 2020 spectrum, we want to highlight some key takeaways from 2020 as we launch into the new year.

This Week’s PRO TIP is: For this week’s pro tip, I want you to get out a paper and pen, notes app on your phone, or whatever form of note taking you prefer, and WRITE OUT THE LESSONS YOU LEARNED FROM 2020. Then I want you to go to playtheory.org and comment your favorite lesson learned from 2020 on this episode of the podcast! We want to hear your lessons learned and how you have grown in 2020.

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show

This is a fun one! It’s that time of year, hot chocolate, holiday parties, and of course Christmas Movies! Today we want to extract the principles of happiness out of some Christmas classics you’ve grown to love and give YOU a Christmas present from us here at the Happiness Playbook. Hold onto your cocoa, because here we go… 

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Look for Play Theory principles in your day to day life (movies or elsewhere!) and TELL US about your observation!

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show



[00:00:00] Neal: It's that time of year hot chocolate holiday parties. And of course, Christmas movies today. We want to extract the principles of happiness out of some Christmas classics. You've grown to love and give you an early Christmas present from us here at the happiness playbook of these insights. So hold onto your cocoa because here we go.

[00:00:56] I am delighted to be joined today by the one and [00:01:00] only Laurie Florence, founder of play theory and producer for the happiness playbook. Laurie, thanks for joining me today. 

[00:01:09] LaRee: Oh, you're so welcome. 

[00:01:12] Neal: The format we're doing is Laurie and I are just going to go through the foreplay three principles and we are going to pick some Christmas classic movies that have.

[00:01:23] Great examples of the play third principles in them, and then listen to some clips and react to those and help you practice examining and observing the play theory principles. So it will be a lot of fun and we got some good movies in the pipeline. Don't we? 

[00:01:42] LaRee: We do. If we, If we have half as much fun doing this, as we did talk about doing this, it's going to be great.

[00:01:48] Neal: Yes. spoiler alert, we're going to be talking in depth about the plots of all of these movies. So if you haven't seen them feel free to. Watch them and then come back and enjoy the [00:02:00] conversation. Let's start off. I am up to the bat first.

[00:02:04] So we're going to start with be present and for any new listeners be present is what it sounds like. It's the ability to focus, to pay attention, to be present in the moment that is be present and to illustrate this principle. We wanted to look to. The Grinch, which is a classic Christmas story.

[00:02:29] I love the story of the Grinch for so many reasons. And. How important it is to ground in the moment to experience joy. This is a principle that you might not even catch on if you're not paying attention, but the Grinch. And there's a few different versions of the Grinch. My personal favorite is actually the most recent animated version with Benedict Cumberbatch.

[00:02:55] LaRee: Really good. I was, I saw that was a little bit leery because I [00:03:00] liked the old cartoon one it's hard to, and Jim Carrey has some profoundly funny moments in the live action version. So I was like, how can they, how can they make a better? And I don't, I'm not going to say that it's better, but it's definitely worth watching.

[00:03:13] It was so enjoyable. 

[00:03:15] Neal: Yes, I totally agree. And who knew Benedict Cumberbatch had such a versatile voice? That was amazing. 

[00:03:22] LaRee: That is my one beef though is his lovely English accent is gone and that's an attractive, wonderful thing to listen to why we love English accents as Americans do the British.

[00:03:35]If you're listening over there and the answer to this. Please reply and let us know, but do they love American accents or do they prefer how they sound to themselves as 

[00:03:45] Neal: well? That version is really profound. And I think it's in that version where you can really extract this principle because the Grinch, he had such a terrible upbringing, he's in an orphanage.

[00:03:59][00:04:00] And. He just really grew to resent Christmas because of his childhood. And he became so fixated on the past and the trauma from his childhood that he could not enjoy Christmas at all. So let's listen to a little clip here and then we will react to it.

[00:04:26] He walked through the crowd. And the sound and the lights and his ears heard the thump of their joy and delight. And it took him right back to his earliest years to that loss lonely boy who cried all of those tears that lost lonely boy, isolated and sad with no home of his own. No mom, no dad.

[00:05:00] [00:04:59] And as the Grinch looked around, he felt downright scared as he remembered that Christmas where nobody cared, where nobody showed, not even a flee and there were no cards, no gifts and no tree.

[00:05:25] And as he watched other kids, one thing became clear that this was the single worst day of the year. So we see, and it's really sad. This really pulls at your heartstrings 

[00:05:43] LaRee: so sad. They do a really great job of showing his trauma without dragging you through it. But everybody's got their past, everybody has their traumatic stuff they've gone through and you can really empathize with him here. 

[00:05:57] Neal: And it's so interesting because. [00:06:00] He is there at the Christmas tree lighting and he's having, it's like a flashback and they're showing you the source of that anxiety and trauma, and it removes him from the moment and it fuels his.

[00:06:15] His disdain for Christmas because of that, that trauma and that sad, empty feeling. He remembered from his childhood where nobody cared. 

[00:06:27]LaRee: And I'm not a psychologist, but I would venture that if this was a real person, he probably wouldn't even be cognizant of that kind of flashback. He'd just be experiencing this anxiety or these.

[00:06:39] Feelings at a surface level or he's uncomfortable. And that's why he attaches them to what's happening around him, the Christmas lights and everything. And so he thinks they're, what's making him miserable when in reality it's this, this past horrible thing. And he just knows this bad feeling, Christmas makes him feel angry and sad and, he might remember those [00:07:00] days, but I think being present is one of the things that helps us separate from that past experience, because otherwise we bring it all the way through to our present with us.

[00:07:12] Neal: Yes. And it's so hard and we all do this where we let the trauma from our past, take us out of the present and even resent the present if we're not careful. Yeah. And the kicker is he was never shunned by the who's. He chose not participate because of this dwelling on the past. It's not until later as we fast forward, when he's about to he's robbed all the houses, all the gifts and presents, and he's about to push the sleigh full of gifts over the cliff on Mount crumpet.

[00:07:47] And. He hears the who's singing. And this moment is so well done too, because getting ready to push the slate full of gifts over the edge, and he hears [00:08:00] the who's singing and he's touched by the holiday spirit or the Christmas spirit. 


[00:08:06] And it's so interesting because especially in this version, they emphasize the Grinch being present and how that helps him feel.

[00:08:15] And it's as he really grounds. And he even asks himself kid, I feel. What she feels, and he's referencing Cindy Lou who describes the singing to him when they crossed paths in the house. And so there's this moment where he stops and he just listens to the singing. And it's only as he's being present.

[00:08:37] That's when his heart opens and grows, two times bigger. 

[00:08:42]LaRee: That's, that's so interesting because instead of being, the first, the clip that was shared where he's. Experiencing the singing, but then going back into these traumatized emotions in his past, and he's able to be present with the exact moment where he's at and not bring [00:09:00] that all into his moment with him.

[00:09:02] So he can have a future of his choice rather than bringing this baggage alone. 

[00:09:06]Neal: Cindy Lou, who actually comes back, and this is another edition in this version that just really, I love Cindy Lou who comes all the way back up to Mount crumpet and invites him to dinner. And it's, as he becomes vulnerable and opens up that he's able to connect with the who's and they have this beautiful Christmas dinner scene that plays out.

[00:09:27] And again, just to bring it all home. Sometimes our traumas from the past, if we're not careful can really distract from the present and harden our hearts and make us close off to the beauty that surrounds us just as this happens to the Grinch. And we're all, Grinchy in our own ways. And it's very tempting and comfortable even to dwell on the past.

[00:09:52] And even today, Pull up the victim card and to really re rehash and replay over and over [00:10:00] again, these terrible things that might've happened to us, but as long as we're reliving the past and feeling sorry for ourselves and not moving on, we can't experience the true joy in the moment. And that is I think the key takeaway for me.

[00:10:16] LaRee: Yup. That's a great example of being present and what's possible. That's awesome. 

[00:10:23] Neal: Yes. So the Grinch, it's a good one. 

[00:10:27]LaRee: A little movie moments like that. Some of them are harder to find, but home alone, that's a classic. And I just think about Kevin, this kid who is experiencing trauma in the moment, because he's been abandoned.

[00:10:40] I don't know how old he is in the movie, but, he was able to drill down and be so present that he had the. Presence of mind to set up his traps and all the little, the booby traps and things. And then rather than being an anxious mess and an unable to take [00:11:00] action, he was patient. It is time or bite.

[00:11:03] It is time and of course it's fictional, but the outcome was hilarious and he was able to take good care of himself. And so that's this little like metadata dive on how being present, allows you to take care of yourself and be more powerful in the real-time moment. Oh, that's fun to think 

[00:11:21] Track 1: about.

[00:11:22] Neal: I love that. And it goes both ways. I love that you brought that example in, cause that's, anxiety about the future. We talked about the Grinch. That's not trauma or depression, even from our past regret, both can take you out of the moment, whether you're going into the future into the past, both of those can distract.

[00:11:39] And in the example of home alone, he had to perform right to really hold it together and defend his. How w I'm gonna, I gotta insert the line nail from him when they come to the door and he says, this is it. And he talks the gun.

[00:11:59] Don't get [00:12:00] scared. Now 

[00:12:03] LaRee: be present just to throw it out there. Remember frosty the snowman. What snow fan is putting a stake in having a 90 year life? Frosty knew he had limited time on the planet. Barely, not even a season. But was a pretty jolly fellow. And he, I think would not have been able to do that if he wasn't able to be present and accept where he was.

[00:12:26] And if he was all worried about melting then or resentful that he was just A man made out of snow. He would have not enjoyed any of his life. So another great play theory, moral in our Christmas Bonanza of holiday movies. 

[00:12:40] Neal: That is awesome. Yes. Frosty the snowman. Our time is not maybe that limited hopefully, but but the principle applies.

[00:12:48] We gotta make the most of the time we have yeah. Awesome. Will that is our Christmas special on beat? Present? We have more for you though. Next up is let go [00:13:00] and play and I'm going to turn it over. 

[00:13:02] LaRee: Okay. I, that good money, everybody out there knows what movie I'm going to talk about. Yeah, it is buddy.

[00:13:11] The elf. 

[00:13:12] Neal: Yeah. 

[00:13:15] LaRee: Oh my goodness. Th the movie, the concept, the story, and will Ferrell's performance. I don't know how he was able to be.  Playful. He just is a playful person, but I watched this behind the scenes and we will put a link on that. So you can check it out. I think it might be on Netflix.

[00:13:32]So you might have to be a subscriber to Netflix, but we'll check that out. But if you get a chance, look into how they made it. And I wasn't aware of this, but a lot of the scenes where buddy, the elf is wandering around New York city. Those were just two. They just threw welfare on an elf costume and let him loose on the streets.

[00:13:50] Neal: I didn't know that. That's amazing 

[00:13:53] LaRee: where there's a guy who looks like Santa, but he's in a jogging suit and buddy. Comes up behind him and says [00:14:00] Santa. And I guess that gentleman was not an actor. He was just, on the screen and on him and paid the most of opportunity, let go, and play. So they were like, and playing, I was there making the movie.

[00:14:13] I wanted to focus on one that I think is more relatable and that is. When Zoe Dasha Nell's character is singing and buddy the elf overhears her she's like in the employee's washroom and is singing in the shower. And later on, he approaches her about you sing beautifully. You should sing, and she's too embarrassed.

[00:14:33] She doesn't want to sing she's uncomfortable. And can we relate to that? Not wanting to let, go and play. And she's pulling people doing a shower where no one's listening or she thinks no one can hear her. But then when somebody else is there, everything changes. And I think that's the gist of let go and play.

[00:14:51] It's let go of caring what people are going to think and do what makes you happy with her. It was singing and when she's in the [00:15:00] shower, singing, she's letting go and she's doing what is playful and makes her happy singing this beautiful song. But then when she's out in front of other people, she can't let go.

[00:15:09] And. How much more would we get out of life? If we were able to really let go of the belief that other people's judgments or condemnations or expectations or anything are really going to affect our ability to feel joy when we're doing something that we love. So that's the one that I wanted to share and there's a clip.

[00:15:28] That I don't have it in this document, Neil, so 

[00:15:31] Neal: buddy, he's the epitome of let go and play and just being playful. And it's so interesting because he really does not care what others think. And they play off that a lot in the movie, that he's just buddy, the elf and  you want to be considerate and you never want to be intentionally putting others in uncomfortable situations, but.

[00:15:55] There's a balance act there because he has this purpose  [00:16:00] and drive, he's an elf and his goal. And, we're going to get to look outward and maybe this is where that would apply to, but as you really gain that confidence, and as you said, not caring. What others think and not putting, not allowing others to value your self worth, to, to put a price tag on your self-worth.

[00:16:21]That is I think, a preceding step that allows you to let go and play. Where that with buddy he's just himself and he's having fun. And he wins people over eventually, right? Yeah. 

[00:16:34] LaRee: Not the movie, wherever he's playing and playful, others are joining in and they're having a lot of fun too.

[00:16:40] And that has absolutely been my experience. It's truly a gift when we let go of our self-consciousness and our playful and invite others to join in. So you want to play this clip where he's inviting Zoe dash and L's character to a. Trying to convince her of the merit of letting go and singing in this case.

[00:16:57] Neal: Yeah, let's roll it. [00:17:00] Thanks for, I don't say, Oh, it's easy. It's just like talking to louder and longer and you move your voice up and down. I can sing, but I just choose not to sing, especially in front of other people. If you sing alone, you can sing in front of other people. There's no difference.

[00:17:14] LaRee: Actually. There's a big difference. 

[00:17:17] Neal: No, there isn't wait. I'm singing. I'm in a store and I'm singing I'm in a store. There's no second in the North pole. Yes, there is. No, it's not. We sing all the time, especially when we make toys. See. That is awesome. 

[00:17:42] LaRee: It's so fun. It's just an interesting thing to be aware of what it is.

[00:17:47] You're not letting go of. What are you hanging onto? That's keeping you from letting you go and playing. And buddy's a great example. And again We don't want to give too much of the movie away if you haven't seen it, but if you haven't seen it, [00:18:00] heaven's just pause and go watch it right now, later on, the singing becomes more important because there's this moment where it's pivotal to the plot that this crowd starts to sing.

[00:18:12]Let's leave it at that Zooey, Deschanel or Zooey Deschanel as she. Has hung out with buddy and experienced and watched him letting go and playing. She now in this moment has gained the courage, but he's no longer with her in this moment. He's doing something else, but she recognizes this need to get the crowd singing and she steps in.

[00:18:38] And helps out. So let's listen to that one. 

[00:18:40] Neal: Yeah. Perfect. Let's roll it. He's 

[00:18:43] LaRee: making a list, 

[00:18:44] Neal: checking it twice, gone to find out who's naughty and nice. Santa Claus is coming to town. He sends you when you're sleeping. [00:19:00] He knows when you're away.

[00:19:09] shake. Oh, you 

[00:19:11] LaRee: better watch out. You 

[00:19:13] Neal: better not cry.

[00:19:23] I love that scene there at the end, too, because again, you can see. People who were really the shakers and movers in society were the ones willing to let go of? 

[00:19:37]LaRee: I like to think if you're so busy, worried about defining and identifying the box, you're never going to break free of it. And culturally, we always celebrate those who stepped out of the box and stepped onto it to new and greater Heights.

[00:19:52] Neal: Yes said, and that is definitely the lessons we learn here about let, go and play from [00:20:00] buddy 

[00:20:00] LaRee: the elf. Yeah. There's one more movie. I think that you got to talk just a little bit about. Which is nightmare before Christmas. And you are a big fan of this, and you're an inspiration to me to step out of my comfort zone and to explore and to be open, which is another way of summarizing, go and play.

[00:20:19] And if you think about Jack from the nightmare before Christmas he was out exploring and then he came across something unknown or new, and rather than shutting the door, being frightened, which. Maybe he should have, but, and he stepped out of the comfort zone and he tried new things and new relationships were formed and a great story was told and people grew and we're better for it.

[00:20:46] Neal: And the inherent curiosity of the song, what's this, when he's going through the town and just, exploring for the first time a snowflake and all these things, I think curiosity is such a powerful ingredient [00:21:00] as well to let go and play that. We see there with the nightmare before Christmas, for sure.

[00:21:05] I love that. 

[00:21:06] LaRee: Yeah. That's a powerful word. That's something to hang on to is curiosity. If you think about where children have it and where individuals start to lose it, or they no longer are interested. And the growth and development slows down exponentially. 

[00:21:24] Neal: I think those that maintain curiosity are the ones who really grow and progress in very powerful ways.

[00:21:30] So that is a very good nugget. 

[00:21:32] LaRee: Yeah. Wow. That is like a Lifespring. 

[00:21:36] Neal: That's right. Oh, Lifespring from Jack Skellington. That's ironic. But we got two more principles here to cover. Next up is accept and build and accept and build again. If you're tuning in for the first time and learning the principles that has to do with.

[00:21:56] Validating the offers that come your way, [00:22:00] whether from people or life in general, and then building upon those offers and and turning them into something even better. And so accept and build is a very powerful principle. And there were a lot of examples that we could have looked to But we're going to narrow in on Disney's the Santa Claus.

[00:22:21] And as you may recall, the film starring Tim Allen showcases the journey of an ordinary guy, assuming the role of Santa Claus. So a fun take on a classic story, but the lead character, Scott, Calvin. Is actually going through a nasty divorce, which is a very interesting element they included. And this is just a constant source of contention throughout the movie, as he navigates visitation rights with his son and simultaneously steps into the role of Santa Claus.

[00:22:55] And that's, I think the beauty here and where we really see this principle come [00:23:00] into play is he's resisting this new Call to be Santa Claus. And he's not only resisting that, but you can obviously see he's resenting the divorce and everything that means and how it's impacting his relationship with his son.

[00:23:16] And so it's really neat. As we develop through the movie and he really begins to embrace to, to accept not only. His role as Santa Claus, but to really just accept, the situation of, the divorce and everything going on with his family, as he accepts it. He not only is able to build his new life and really grow into that role of Santa, but he's actually able to build a much better relationship with his son and his ex-wife and even her new man that's in her life now.

[00:23:57] And there's this beautiful monologue at [00:24:00] the end that we want to play for you now. Where he goes into this. So let's listen to that. I think it's a much better idea that you stay here with your mom and Neil freely. No bus, Charlie. I can't be selfish. I can't be with you all the time. We're a family.

[00:24:21] You, me, your mom and Neil. And they need to be with you too.

[00:24:40] And don't go yet. I 

[00:24:41] LaRee: have something for you.

[00:24:49]Neal: It's my Christmas present for you with the custody papers. I want you to come and see, you can count [00:25:00] on it

[00:25:08] Merry Christmas. So again, we see as we stop resisting. The trials the new opportunities in this case as well, that come our way as we really accept those and then build upon them, we are able to take even a, an undesirable situation and really redirect that even, and turn it into something much more beautiful.

[00:25:34] LaRee: Yeah. They stay there's the same one. God closes a door, he opens a window and it's a great example of yeah. His marriage ended. But there was a window that opened, so he could continue to have this relationship. And he has a new role. Santa Claus is a pretty boss role and I love the idea of acceptance because.

[00:25:53]In this principle, we have to take the action and it's up to us at risk squarely upon our [00:26:00] shoulders to take that step. 

[00:26:02] Neal: There's lots of movies. Like I mentioned, that we could also touch on, there's the classic animation stop animation, Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer, where. He accepts his glowing nose and used it for good.

[00:26:14] And it's worth noting in the beginning. They're trying to hide his nose and make him feel ashamed, but it's only in embracing it and stepping up to the plate and capitalizing on his shining knows that they're able to save Christmas. So there's another example. All right. One more principle to extract here and a great Christmas classic.

[00:26:34] Laurie, tell us about look outward. 

[00:26:37] LaRee: I have heard some people say they haven't seen this movie because they consider it too old fashion. I'm just like, stop that snap out of it. You just need to go watch it's a wonderful life. And if you're still not sure, watch something that talks about, maybe we'll find a link and put it backstage about how this movie came to be.

[00:26:55] And it was just, it's a wonderful backstory and won't go into that, but [00:27:00] it's a treasure that we have this movie and Jimmy Stewart. Who does a wonderful job portraying the protagonist. It goes, it's shows us a moment in his life when he's a young boy or young man, he's working at the druggist the pharmacist shop and that man's name is Mr.

[00:27:22] Gower. And it's apparent through a verse. Looking or from Jimmy Stewart's character, seeing a telegram that has come. And Mr. Gower's behavior that Mr. Gallagher's son has just been killed in the war. And mr. Gower, isn't right in his head. He's obviously. Really upset and Jimmy Stewart's character, George Bailey realizes that the pharmacist has sent the wrong drugs to a family in need, and he realizes that they could be poisoned and he takes the fall.

[00:27:57]So we're gonna share that clip with [00:28:00] you really quickly, 

[00:28:03] Neal: really bright advisor characters.

[00:28:08] What I said,

[00:28:16] right? How did you know that? Boy?

[00:28:22] LaRee: You don't know what you're 

[00:28:23] Neal: doing. You put something wrong on those capsules or you're on your own. You got the telegram and you're upset. You put something bad, 

[00:28:30] LaRee: those capsules, it wasn't your fault, Mr. Gower. 

[00:28:34] Neal: Just look and see what you did up in the bar. The bar it's poison. I know you feel bad.

[00:28:54] I know you hear me.

[00:29:00] [00:29:00] LaRee: Oh, that's a tough one to watch 

[00:29:02] Neal: because George 

[00:29:03] LaRee: he's just trying to be helpful. He is looking outward. He needs. Able to recognize that Mr. Gower's in pain. And so he's willing to be more patient when Mr. Gower is angry and actually hitting him. And it's just a beautiful example of George, even at a young age, being able to recognize this man's very.

[00:29:28] Real deep need and watching out for him and then watching out for that family, that how would they have felt if they'd gotten the wrong medication and possibly died. And then how would Mr. Gower have felt again, the druggist, if he was responsible for killing a family, he could have gone to jail. So the wonderful thing about this, it's like this little taco of lookout word play theory because it's this cosmic wraparound because, and obviously the writers have done a beautiful job.

[00:29:57] But later on at the end of the movie, [00:30:00] when George Bailey is in dire straits, he is in need of some funding and some money to come through. And it's a beautiful moment. It's a wonderful moment in the movie where the townspeople rally behind him. And at this moment, someone shows up and says, quiet everyone.

[00:30:22] There's a telegram. And I let's just play it. And then I'll talk about it. 

[00:30:27] Neal: Yes. Okay. Let's roll it.

[00:30:35] quiet. Quiet. I'll get this. It's from London. Oh. Mr. Gower cable need cash. Stop my office instructed to advance you up to $25,000. Stop he hall and Merry Christmas Sam Wainwright.

[00:30:53] LaRee: did you catch that? It's a little hard to follow. And the first few times that I watched the movie, I didn't put [00:31:00] two and two together, but this person comes in and announces that when Mr. Gower. Who is now an old man heard that George Bailey needed help. He telegraphed a former resident of the community.

[00:31:16] That was an old friend named Sam Wainwright who had become quite wealthy and asked, let him know that George Bailey needed help. And Sam Y Wainwright then replied, saying you got up to. Back in their day. It would've sounded like millions, but $25,000. And so what a beautiful thing that here, Mr.

[00:31:39] Gower had the opportunity to look outward and do what was within his power. That to then help out George Bailey. I just. Love that's a special moment for me. I always cry. I always tear up 

[00:31:53] Neal: the thought of people not watching anyone going through your life and not watching this movie is really sad to me.

[00:31:59] Cause I [00:32:00] think there are, it really is. So if I put together life one Oh one as a course that everyone was required to take, this would be a part of the curriculum. 

[00:32:08] LaRee: It usually. I put together a curriculum. 

[00:32:13] Neal: Yeah. I will do helped put together the curriculum. I love how George Bailey, he did the right thing and he looked outward even when he knew that Mr.

[00:32:24] Gower, wasn't maybe going to be understanding and he wasn't initially, and that can be really hard. Those moments are hard to look outward when you're not going to be understood when there's lots of opposition. And, but you gotta do what's right. And I love that example here because. He does make the courageous decision, even though it costs him at least initially in that moment.

[00:32:48] And so that I think is very good. 

[00:32:50] LaRee: Oh, it's so true. And that, that is the some real amazing force behind this principle of looking outward. It gives you [00:33:00] courage and. I think for me it's because when I am looking outward, even when it's in the face of something and I've had to make some tough decisions and this principal has saved me because I don't go back and second guess and think, Oh, should I have done this?

[00:33:13] Or did I do it right? Cause I can go back and say, I know I was looking outward at the other person's best interest. And then even if. My efforts were rejected. Like George Bailey's were in that, that first clip. I can know that my intentions were aligned with my core beliefs of my authentic self and wanting to help the other person.

[00:33:34] And even if I got it wrong, even if I did the absolute worst thing in that scenario, because I misjudge things, I can still rest that I was thinking of the other person. And so it's a great way to. Encourage yourself to take the step to do those things that might take boldness beyond what you really feel because  you're thinking about that other person.

[00:33:56] Neal: And to have that as a guiding compass is just a [00:34:00] game changer as well. I love also how evident it is. Not that this is a reason or should be an objective and looking outward, but your net worth is not as powerful as your network. And when you see all the lives that George Bailey. Impacted in such a positive way in how they all come through for him in the most dire of circumstances, it's just such a powerful reminder of how important it is to build relationships and especially through looking outward and serving others and being there for them.

[00:34:36]Just what a safety net that is for you throughout life. And I can attest to that in my own life. How many. Countless times I have been saved, maybe not in as dramatic fashion as George Bailey, but certainly in dire circumstances because of, previous times where I had the courage to look outward and be there for people.

[00:34:58] And then that karma came back [00:35:00] for me. And so that was just such a beautiful moment in this film. 

[00:35:03]LaRee: It's wonderful because in different cultures you can call it a parable of Christ where cast your bread upon the water. It will come back, you can call it karma. There's. All kinds of other ways of labeling this idea that when we put ourselves out there for another person, it's going to be compensated often in ways that are larger than what we initially our initial investment was.

[00:35:25] And I really. I have seen that so many times, and this is one of the principles that people consistently will return to me. And thank me for introducing them to, or share an experience where they have been completely convinced of the authenticity of. Of this idea. So yeah, Christmas, it's a wonderful time because I think we, the season invites us to look outward.

[00:35:50] We're buying gifts for the other person is sometimes, it's all about what am I going to get for Christmas. But I think the most joy and satisfaction comes when, where. Thinking [00:36:00] about the other person. And I just have to end on a lookout word movie with frosty the snowman, going back to that it's a trite little tale.

[00:36:09] It's ridiculous. It's a snowman, but what a beautiful little message that when Karen, who is Frosty's little friend, it becomes too cold and it looks like she's not going to survive. The cold frosty is willing to go into the greenhouse because he knows it will save Karen's life. And. Yeah, he makes that sacrifice and he does it willingly.

[00:36:30] And we, we have that warm, wonderful feeling because I think we understand the truth of that principle of looking outward rather than trying to grasp, take and hold onto whatever we can get for ourselves. That's the source of true joy and happiness. 

[00:36:46] Neal: Oh, that's such a good example. And I love look outward.

[00:36:51] I love that. It's the last principle that we talk about because it's such a powerful one. And this time of year, it's all about giving. And I think look [00:37:00] outward is just such a natural such a natural principle to talk about as we look to give gifts and and to sacrifice our comforts, to hopefully lift the spirits of others.

[00:37:12] I love that. 

[00:37:13] LaRee: That's awesome. 

[00:37:15] Neal: Larry, this has been so fun, so insightful, and I love getting on here to just dive into these amazing principles of happiness. 

[00:37:25] LaRee: I really just scratched the surface though on all these principles and these movies. So we really hope people will step up and share so we can maybe talk about next year.

[00:37:34] We can talk about the ideas that they found. 

[00:37:36] Neal: Yes. I love that. As you can see, these principles are everywhere and we found some examples in Christmas movies, but we want you, as Lori said, to keep your ears to the ground, open your minds and hearts and see, and observe where they are in your life. And then share those examples, because we're all about practicing [00:38:00] the skill of happiness here on the happiness playbook.

[00:38:03] And. Life is a team sport and we are so glad to have you on the team. Laurie, I am so glad to have you on my team. Thank you for joining me. 

[00:38:13] LaRee: Oh, it's been a pleasure. I always love talking about play theory, especially with you Neil. 

[00:38:17]Track 1: Merry Christmas to everyone have happy holidays and we will catch you next week for a very fun and unique episode of the happiness playbooks.

[00:38:29] So stay safe, stay happy. We'll catch you next week.

Deep breathes, pink elephants, canyon hikes...we have a great show lined up for you today! Buckle up, because we are exploring Be Present!

Some mountain bikers talk about a phenomenon where whatever you look at while riding is where your tire is going to go. So if you notice a nail in the road and zero in on it it’s going to actually be HARDER to not ride over it. Now think about a cliff instead of a nail and you’ll wonder why people ride mountain bikes. Here’s the deal - this phenomenon can work in your favor too. You notice a nail in the road, then focus on the spot of pavement NEXT to the nail and you’ll clear it no problem. Riding on the infamous cliffside Portal Trail in Moab, Utah, riders have to focus on the trail and not the cliff in order to stick to the trail like a train on a rail. There’s another Mountain biking term called threading the needle. When faced with a technical challenge, a biker can thread the proverbial needle by keeping a sharp focus on the exact path before them, blocking out all other possibilities in their mind. 

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Voice mirror during conversations IN YOUR MIND. If you’re ever struggling to focus on someone you want to pay attention to try following along with their words in your head. It will help you stay present and increase your comprehension of what they are saying

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show

Secret link of the day… 43 GENIUS LIFE HACKS FOR AN EASY LIFE - YouTube

Today I sit down with Kristen Metzger, the creator of the Red Carpet Humanitarian podcast where she highlights the stellar humans she meets that should have paparazzi crowding their huts & homes. Bringing the red carpet to the humblest of influencers around the world. She is an actress, singer, director, world traveler and humanitarian living out her dreams as an artistic nomad. In 2019 she moved to the leprosy settlement in Kalaupapa, Molokai to serve the patients and write a film script based on the history here. She’s spreading light wherever she goes and I couldn’t be happier to play a role in helping the reach of that light expand.

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Try taking on a hobby or activity that is important or meaningful to someone else in order for you to connect with them in a more personalized and profound way.

Come join the conversation and play with us!

WEBSITE https://www.playtheory.org 

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/playtheory/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1652343491608927/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/playtheory4life/ 

Remember that Life is a team sport, so let's play together!

LINKS From Show

Secret link of the day… https://www.boredpanda.com/life-hacks/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram