What do icebergs and sourdough bread have to do with happiness? Find out today as we explore the question of how we change culture, and develop the skill of happiness together. Today we’ll find wisdom in uncommon places in this soul filling episode of the Happiness Playbook. Let’s dive in!

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

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Ask this question what is needed and then courageously act on the thoughts that follow in order to improve the culture. 

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

Today we I sit down with my dear friend Erik Eckern to discuss Play Theory in high pressure situations, navigating toxic culture, and how to build relationships. Erik is currently the director of marketing analytics with a team of 9 where they work with clients to improve their ad campaigns and marketing. Erik has taken the principles of play theory and applied them on his team and pushes his colleagues and direct reports to establish relationships with clients, collaborate with other groups at the office, and incorporate Play Theory principles into their daily interactions and motivations. He has 3 kids and has been married for 10 years to his beautiful wife.

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

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Be bold and courageous in applying Play Theory in social settings. Start small by being present and not multitasking during meetings, then level up by asking sincere follow up questions to those you are serving.

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!

Today’s show is very special and jam packed with tons of value. Trust me, you will not leave today’s show anything but inspired. Back by popular demand...we dive back into the mind of the one and only BILL MURRAY!!!

We learn a little bit more about Bill’s past and teachings that led to such a beautifully unique perspective on life and how we can be a little more like Bill Murray and good at let go and play.

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Ponder this quote from the one and only Bill: “Be available for life to happen.” - Bill Murray. Take a bit of time and LET GO OF the busy in your life in order for life to happen. Slow down and let go of the shoulds, to make room for the coulds. Answer this question: “How can you make yourself more available for life to happen?”

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

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.

Dripping paint, curveballs of life, and the secret to true satisfaction...these are just a few of the golden crispy nuggets you can look forward to on today’s episode of the happiness playbook as we accept the good and the bad, and build upon life to create awesome-ness!

Neal shares some profound “Accept and Build” lessons learned during a duplex renovation that took place over the past few weeks. He shares below in the transcript.

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Think of something you are struggling to accept and build upon right now...and reach out to someone who can provide experience, tools, or insights into helping you accept and build your way through the situation.

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


Not sure if I’ve brought this up already but my wife and I decided to renovate a duplex and jump into the homeowner scene and it has been a LOT of work. I couldn’t help but think of the beautiful play theory principle of accept and build as we quite literally accepted, tore down, and built upon a duplex to make it even more desirable place to live for our future tenants. 

There are all kinds of reason why the principle of accept and build was one i learned so much about as we embarked on this ambitious project and I am grateful for everyone of them:

First off you have to realize exactly how big a project lay before us and how little time we had to pull it off…

It didn’t take long to realize just how limited my skills were and how desperately I would need to accept my lack of skill and build as best I could using the collective knowledge of my family and YouTube DIY channels. A particularly tricky part of the renovation was cutting the countertops to fit the cabinets along side a not perfectly flat wall. I immediately knew that cutting the countertop just perfectly to fit against the sloping wall was going to require some advanced measuring and cutting that was beyond me. Thankfully I had my father-in-law there who provided not only years of experience that would come in handy, but also the very nice and effective tools including a table saw, squares and measuring tools, and many other gadgets that made it not only possible but infinitely quicker than it would've been if I were trying to accomplish the task by myself. This experience lead me to ask myself: “When there is a particularly hard or undesirable offer before me that I know there is no way around, am I seeking out those with the experience and tools necessary for me to accept and build upon these situations? We’ve all been there, seemingly insurmountable tasks and scenarios that make us want to curl up into a ball and sleep until it’s over. Maybe a hard test or project, maybe it’s a breakup or loss of a loved one. These hard and trying times can be mourned for sure, but it’s only in the acceptance and building upon them that we can continue creating and progressing in this beautiful life of ours.

The next accept and build lesson was learned several times during the project. We had several unexpected things happen that threw off our very strict timeline and made the project much more difficult. Whether it was cabinets not getting shipped on time, finding out the wall we were tearing down had concrete and chicken wire in it, or even discovering that the drill bit we JUST purchased was the wrong size for the hole we had to cut. There were so many curveballs, as we now know are inevitable during remodel projects, that came up and gave us the choice: to accept and build? Or to reject and remain unskilled. You can imagine how horrified I was when after loading up the paint gun we borrowed from my father-in-law and doing an entire coat of fresh paint, seeing that several walls had the paint run off completely due to the material and temperature of the wall. I begrudgingly accepted that what was going to be a rather simple 2-coat paint job taking only several hours, was going to turn into an all nighter requiring me to bring in heaters to dry the running paint, renting a sanding tool to grind off the paint and texture the walls, put on a thick primer, and only THEN be able to finish the paint job. I did indeed pull an all nighter but thankfully I had lots of good audiobooks, podcasts, and caffeine to get me through it. What helped me take the plunge on this undesirable turn of events was partly due to realizing just how high the stakes were since the flooring crew was coming in the next day and I HAD to have the painting done for them to get going on it. But it was also because I was able to stay present...this is where we see some of the principle overlap as we often do. If I had freaked out and gave into my anxiety, I’m sure I would’ve become paralyzed by the enormous task at hand and not gotten the job done, but it was only as I doubled down on the present and, again, relied on the knowledge, experience, and counsel of others much wiser than myself, that I was able to perform. How often in your life do you give in to the anxious stories about your future and become immobilized by the task at hand? It’s hard not to, but that’s why be present is the first principle in the PLAY THEORY soup and actually helps us accept and build especially on the curveballs of life and we all have those...curveballs can be especially hard because of the excitement and hope that dies with dashed dreams and goals, but being present, letting go of the fear and ego, and then accepting and building upon these curveball offers that come our way truly is the way to progress and move forward. 

There were many lessons learned this past month as we embarked on this journey in the unchartered waters of renovation, but overall the biggest lesson learned was that it’s only in the accepting and building upon the offers, as crazy and stretching as they sometimes are, that you feel the satisfaction and growth that deep down our souls are always craving. Looking at the completed unit with brand new flooring, cabinets, paint, and appliances, and hearing the delight of our tenants as they saw their new home, it reminded me of a quote by Gandhi who said: “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” It’s as we accept and build upon both the seemingly insignificant AND the grandiose offers that come our way that we are growing and experiencing the satisfaction that accompanies such effort.

We have a special guest on our show today, on today’s show we go deep on how to apply play theory in relationships and processing trauma from a licensed therapist - Jennifer Lehr. Jennifer specializes in educating couples on the relationship skills they need to build a solid, connected and loving partnership. She has had advanced training in many couples modalities and uses her knowledge to help others. Jennifer has been helping couples for nearly 20 years. She is a regular contributor to her 3 blogs, which are designed to help people improve their lives and relationships: Healing Tips Blog, WeConcile’s Blog and Jennifer’s Blog, as well as other media. Jennifer Lehr also writes and talks about her journey from a difficult relational beginning to creating a beautiful relationship with her husband.

I’m so excited to welcome our guest today and dive deep into the principles of happiness and relationships. 

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Be curious about your partner! 

BONUS TIP: Do yoga!

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]We have a very special guest on our show today. On today's show, we're going to go deep on how to apply play theory in relationships. In processing trauma, and we have a licensed therapist today. Jennifer layer, Jennifer specializes in educating couples on the relationship skills. They need to build a solid. 

[00:00:54] Connected and loving partnership. 

[00:01:01] [00:01:00] She has had advanced training in many couples modalities and uses her knowledge to help others. Jennifer has been helping couples for nearly 20 years. She is a regular contributor to her three blogs, which are designed to help people improve their lives and relationships. And those are healing tips, blog. We can Siles blog and Jennifer's blog as well as other media. Jennifer layer also writes and talks about her journey from a difficult relational beginning to creating a beautiful relationship with her husband. 

[00:01:32]And I'm not sure what was going on with the audio when we recorded this on our platform, but it took a hit. So, uh, forgive me for the audio quality. And we're just going to let go of that and a play with it. And roll with it and accept them, build on that, but really excited for you to listen to this episode And with that, let's roll right in to the conversation.  I am very excited to [00:02:00] introduce you to our guests today. Jennifer layer. Has many qualifications as you heard in her bio, but really she is on a mission and we totally agree with the mission she is on.

[00:02:14] Let me pull up your one pager here. I love this says. Jennifer layer is on a mission to create a world filled with connection instead of conflict. That is awesome. And something here at the happiness playbook, we are very passionate about. I think everyone, these days could use a little more connection and less conflict.

[00:02:38] So we're very excited that Jennifer is joining us today to help us learn how to do that. Jennifer, welcome to the show.

[00:02:45] Jennifer Lehr: [00:02:45] Oh, thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here.

[00:02:49]Neal Hooper: [00:02:49] I just want to dive in here cause you have a lot of value to add and I'm excited for our audience to learn more about you and in what your message is in some of the [00:03:00] principles that you teach others. So maybe a great place to start is just with a little background. So what's your story, Jennifer?

[00:03:07] Jennifer Lehr: [00:03:07] Oh, I have a long story. So my story is I grew up in a family that was had a lot of conflict, a lot of anger and bad communication and connection skills. So I went out into the world not very developed in those areas and through the course of my life and relationships, I started working on all that because.

[00:03:30] I wanted a good life and it wasn't going to happen the way it, the way I came out. So, I eventually became a therapist and did a lot of my own personal work as well as worked with people, a lot of trainings. And then I also decided that realize that couples needed a lot more resources than they have.

[00:03:49] And I started, I created an educational system for couples called we concile, which we're now currently turning into an app.

[00:03:57] Neal Hooper: [00:03:57] Wow.

[00:03:59] Jennifer Lehr: [00:03:59] that's the short [00:04:00] version of the story.

[00:04:01] Neal Hooper: [00:04:01] That's awesome though. It's so interesting. Cause we all, if we look deep enough, we all have baggage. Right. And I love that you bring that up. And also, that there's hope for us to get tools to overcome that that natural tendency, I think, to. To fall back on the conflict.

[00:04:20] Right. Which is something we're really good at. I'm just curious. And I'm kinda, coming out of left field here with this question, but you've had 20 years of therapy and you have seen a lot of people you're on the front lines for this, a battle for emotional wellbeing and mental health.

[00:04:38] And I'm sure you have. So many stories, but I'm just curious, what are some of the most common forms of baggage that people are bringing in to their lives and relationships? What are the biggest perpetrators.

[00:04:52]Jennifer Lehr: [00:04:52] People have wounds, we all have wounds places where we didn't get what we needed. And so we come into a relationship with [00:05:00] another wounded person and we don't understand each other's wounds. We're usually hungry for connection, but we don't know what to do when there's.

[00:05:08] A conflict or disagreement or we come at things from different angles because we're hungry and we don't know, we often don't have the space for the other person to really listen to what's going on for them because of our own, we're filled up with our own stuff.

[00:05:25] Neal Hooper: [00:05:25] wow. Is such a good way to put it wounds. I love that visual because I think that is a great thing. We view it as that the person is hurting, when someone's acting out or even acting out in a inappropriate way or a malicious way, it's because they're hurting. And I think that's a great perspective to take going into that.

[00:05:48] So there's a lot of tie-ins to the play three principles that we talk about and your message. And we'll kind of sprinkle those throughout. But you have a great message and kind of [00:06:00] framework around attachment. Theory. And so I just want you to dive into that and help us understand a little bit more about attachment theory and really the process and system you've used there.

[00:06:13] Jennifer Lehr: [00:06:13] Okay. So there's attachment theory and then there's attachment types, but we're going to talk about attachment theory. The types are you can Google attachment types and you get, avoidant there's like disorganized secure anxious. But we're going to talk about attachment theory and attachment theory is the mammalian need to connect.

[00:06:31] So mammals need to connect, and that means translate it into human terms. Am I important to you? Am I valuable to you? Do you care about how I feel? Am I safe with you? Am I enough for you? W the deep feeling level of what we need is my partner accessible. Interested curious. So it's about the deep emotional need.

[00:06:56]The human attachment means that we feel safe. [00:07:00] If we're sick, we want to be safe and secure in our relationships. And that's what secure attachment is.

[00:07:08] Neal Hooper: [00:07:08] And that's helpful to understand because in any relationship and correct me if I'm Wrong here, but that could be in a marriage. Could that also apply to a parent child relationship? Is that any relationship?

[00:07:23] Jennifer Lehr: [00:07:23] All close relationships that re that have vulnerability and, intimacy, vulnerability, that kind of thing. Yeah.

[00:07:31] Neal Hooper: [00:07:31] Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So those are, and remind me again, what are the things we need to have that attachment? Within the relationship again, it's safety.

[00:07:41] Jennifer Lehr: [00:07:41] well, there's a whole, we want to feel safe. We want to know where we're at and we want to know where valued. We want to know that we're enough. There's it's the list could go on, but those primary, yeah.

[00:07:54] Neal Hooper: [00:07:54] that's so good. And we're a huge here in having this playbook about a [00:08:00] principal. Which is lookout word and everything you're saying there it's really easy to not feel those things in a relationship when we're looking inward and we're thinking of our needs. And it's always, you got to mention the caveat that you're only able to serve to the degree that you have, engaged in self care and maintain your own wellbeing.

[00:08:21]But really it's that looking outward and in those intimate relationships, Creating that, helping people answer that question affirmatively, I do feel safe. I do feel needed. I do feel important. So what are so style, a little deeper there and how, when you see a couple or any. Two people right there, their relationship is just in the dumps and how do you help them work through that and go from not having those things, to feeling that connection and attachment.

[00:08:55]Jennifer Lehr: [00:08:55] Every therapist would work somewhat differently and it also depends on what your [00:09:00] training is, what modality you're sort of drawing on, but you want to get the couple to first identify how they keep getting stuck. So, When you when your tone got sharp with me, I left the house and slammed the door and then you cried.

[00:09:16] And then I got mad and yelled. In other words, what's actually happening. What are the behaviors you want to identify that because people have to take responsibility for what they're doing, because you can't create safety with that kind of behavior going on, and you have to create safety to get down into the deep, vulnerable feelings.

[00:09:35] And that is. When you had that tone, it reminded me of how my mother used to talk to me and that made me bristle and I, made me feel like I wasn't important. So you have to get into the story and into the deep feelings and you can't communicate that with bad behavior going on.

[00:09:56] Neal Hooper: [00:09:56] Okay, this is so good because [00:10:00] you have to let go right of the bad behavior. You have to let go of  those disruptive emotions just long enough to then get present, right? Is that, am I hearing you correctly? Cause you have to play that observational role and kind of process, what's going on and what the causes are for those emotions.

[00:10:19] Is that fair to say?

[00:10:21] Jennifer Lehr: [00:10:21] Yes. So present being present moment to moment awareness is very important. Because you have to be in your body and in yourself to really even be able to connect with the deeper emotional feelings. And you also have to be clear in order to say, Oh, I did this and that. Wasn't okay. I did that it wasn't.

[00:10:40] Okay. So if you're not present you're you tend to be spinning. You could be caught and you're not, you could be in the past spinning. You could be, but you're spinning more with anxiety or something's going on. That's keeping you out of right here right now. What's going on. And I can think of an example.

[00:10:58] I can think of a couple. I worked within [00:11:00] the w the woman in the couple. Was just furious with her partner for good reason, but she was furious. And so she was coming at him like a train, but she wasn't aware of herself. She didn't even see that she was pushing him away with her velocity of anger.

[00:11:15] And so she had to be, or I had to stop her slower down, get her to breathe and get her to identify. I know you're really angry, but what's going on. And underneath was this horrible feeling that. He didn't care about her and that's what was driving the behavior, but she had to be put into the present helped into the present moment.

[00:11:35] So she could connect with that. Okay.

[00:11:37] Neal Hooper: [00:11:37] Oh, that's so good. And really hard to do. And so you mentioned a few things just now. Deep breaths obviously are helpful. What other approaches or tactics do you teach people to get present so that they can play that observational role?

[00:11:52]Jennifer Lehr: [00:11:52] Well, we can sell it. I use what's called the lenses. So there's a body awareness lens, a thinking lens, a feeling [00:12:00] lens sensation, image lens there's 12 lenses and these are portals into experience. So I'll give you an example. I've talked about this before about my husband and.

[00:12:11] We are in some kind of disagreement. And I asked him, what is going on for you right now? And he said, my stomach feels really tight and cold. And I said, Oh, what's that about? What does that remind you of? And he said, that reminds me when I was a little kid and my dad was having a temper tantrum. I said, Oh so that, that moment of tuning into the body opened up a story that informed him and me of how he was being impacted by our disagreement. So, which was useful.

[00:12:43]Neal Hooper: [00:12:43] I read and my wife actually has finished the book, but it's called the body keeps the score.

[00:12:50] Jennifer Lehr: [00:12:50] Yeah. I've heard, I've read it. I've heard of it

[00:12:52] Neal Hooper: [00:12:52] okay. And I think the concept, again, I, it didn't get very far into it, but is that you can actually tap into and [00:13:00] understand traumas or things from your past and how they've affected you, but you can actually feel those or identify those based on how it's manifest, even physically in your body.

[00:13:11] And so like the story you mentioned there is there any thoughts to that? Have you found that to be true?

[00:13:17] Jennifer Lehr: [00:13:17] Oh, yeah, the body it's all in the body. Cause we're physiological, being and all our experiences are stored in the body and in how we're wired. So here's another example. So I'm thinking of a person who goes into an altered state when big due to trauma and You can use EMDR eye movement desensitization. Which is a form of therapy where you start working with either a light or a pattern going back and forth, and you start integrating the memory from one side of the brain, into both sides of the brain, and that enables the body to metabolize. And that's one way there's other ways to metabolize trauma.

[00:13:55] So one way the body can start metabolizing trauma instead of having it be [00:14:00] caught somewhere. Where you have no control over it. And it just sort of jumps out and grabs your psyche and causes you to behave in ways that are destructive.

[00:14:10] Neal Hooper: [00:14:10] Wow. That is kind of the first step in play theory with the four principles they're actually in order. And we start with be present because if you're not present, it's kind of , a non-starter and it's hard to really. Except in build, let, go and play and look outward if you're not present.

[00:14:29] And if you're just distracted and giving into all these emotions inside, I love, it sounds similar that, that's the first step is let's get present. What's observed and learn

[00:14:39] Jennifer Lehr: [00:14:39] Yep. Yeah.

[00:14:41] Neal Hooper: [00:14:41] very cool. Now you have what you call the relationship roadmap. And I would love for you to share a little bit more about what that is and and the approach you take

[00:14:55]Jennifer Lehr: [00:14:55] If you're a couple and you want to sort of start Harmonizing [00:15:00] better together, that sort of rhymed you want to, so the first step would be, or the first question I would have is have you talked about your goals?

[00:15:10] What is each of your purposes and your purpose? Do you have a purpose for your relationship? Like if somebody wants to travel and the other person wants to live in a little house with a fence, in a yard those two goals in life might not fit together. So the first step is who are we together?

[00:15:28]Sometimes couples get together and they don't even go there. They just get together and they're married and all of a sudden they find out that one person wants to go to grad school and the other person wants that person to make money so they can buy a new, new thing. So.

[00:15:41]So that's the first step. Have you talked about your dreams, your goals, and are you on the same page? The second step is what we already talked about. When you get into a fight, what is your pattern, each of your patterns and start deconstructing that, Oh, you did that when I did that, then I did that [00:16:00] and that means you're also.

[00:16:03] Becoming a team against the pattern, which is called externalizing. The problem instead of you getting caught in the problem and you're BA I'm bad and you're pointing fingers at each other. You go, Oh, the pattern is the problem and we have to break it. So let's step two and that's not easy to do because we tend to blame

[00:16:20] Neal Hooper: [00:16:20] Well, and that's really hard because we're so used to pitting ourselves against each other, but what you're really doing is letting go of, that perspective and that that angle, I had a mentor, so I'm kind of jumping around here, but he had a disagreement.

[00:16:36]He had a disagreement with his wife and they were sitting across from each other on a table and they were having this disagreement and I'll never forget. He said after a while it was not dealing any fruit. It was not being very effective. And so he wrote the problem on a piece of paper, put it on the table and then went on and sat next to her.

[00:17:00] [00:17:00] And so they were looking at the problem. So I think that's a great visual of exactly what you're sharing.

[00:17:04] Jennifer Lehr: [00:17:04] Externalized it. So then the third step is getting into attachment language. Now we touched on this attachment language. Isn't, I'm so mad at you that you forgot my BR that you went to your mother's house when it was my birthday, whatever some issue, attachment language is.

[00:17:22] When you forgot my birthday, it made me feel like you didn't value me. And it really hurt me. And I love you. So I need you to value me and not forget my birthday. So it's getting down into what's really going on. So you have to develop an ability to talk about your attachment needs and your attachment fears.

[00:17:41] I'm afraid, blah, blah, blah. But, and I need to know that you will consider what I want to, I need to know that what I want is important to you. I'm afraid. You'll forget me. I'm afraid I'm not good enough. I'm afraid you don't value me. I need you to do these things. So you have to start developing language because when you're [00:18:00] in a disagreement of some kind, right.

[00:18:02] There's almost always a level of attachment language that could be spoken that would help the people connect better, and understand each other better. So that would be step three.

[00:18:14] Neal Hooper: [00:18:14] Awesome. And what role does validation play in? Step three.

[00:18:19]Jennifer Lehr: [00:18:19] It's really important to listen and tend means you're actually. Your health, helping the person express themselves. You're curious. You want to hear what they have to say? You're not like, okay, let's just move on. I got things to say, you're like, wait, I want to understand you, let me give, allow me the privilege of stepping into your world. So that's that's, really important to be able to do that.

[00:18:46] Neal Hooper: [00:18:46] That's great. And that ties in perfectly to accept and build. Which is another way people see that one in the improv community is yes. And right. But you're taking sounds like you're taking where they are and you're not [00:19:00] just validating and accepting them. You're building on it and you're helping them feel comfortable to extract more.

[00:19:07] Jennifer Lehr: [00:19:07] Right. Exactly. And there's specific steps that that you can learn in order to do that but that's what you're doing. You're, reassuring them. You're often repeating, you're asking, clarifying questions, all of that, to help them elicit, to help elicit a larger who are you in response?

[00:19:23] Yeah.

[00:19:24] Neal Hooper: [00:19:24] I love that. I love step three. That's a great one.

[00:19:27] Jennifer Lehr: [00:19:27] And then step four is what I talked about. The lenses. It is getting into understanding a moment to moment. Your experience. So let's suppose there's a couple and one of the, let's say the woman, cause I'll go, stereotypical says, well, what are you feeling, Neil? And Neil says I don't know.

[00:19:49] And 

[00:19:49] Neal Hooper: [00:19:49] Yeah, that sounds great.

[00:19:53] Jennifer Lehr: [00:19:53] the person into the feeling and the way you do that is through the lenses. What are your thoughts doing? What are your [00:20:00] emotions? What is your body doing? What's happening? Is your, where is your heart beating? Is your stomach tight? Do you feel, what is it starting to help people get into their direct experience to understand what's going on?

[00:20:12] So when someone says, what are you feeling? They don't say they don't shrug and say, I don't know. They could say. I'm having this image of my mom chasing my father with the knife. And that really scares me. And, they could have some, and then you're like, Oh, you're having a real, something is really happening here.

[00:20:28] So you're not feeling you just are, you're being hit by stuff and you don't even know how to verbalize it. It just gives dialogue and language to experience when people often just go, I don't know, because they haven't learned to scan the body, the mind, the emotions and figure out what's going on.

[00:20:46] Neal Hooper: [00:20:46] wow. That is awesome. Very clear framework. I love the steps and it's a very clear how that would help you come together. Really understand [00:21:00] what's going on and then move forward. So I love that there's tons of be present, accept, and build, and a lot of let, go and play too. 

[00:21:08] Jennifer Lehr: [00:21:08] And there are other steps too, but those are the first four.

[00:21:11] Neal Hooper: [00:21:11] I'm so sorry. I'm jumping the gun here, please. Oh, there's more. Let's keep going.

[00:21:16] Jennifer Lehr: [00:21:16] the next step for, and these are, at this point they can start, they can move around but you have to be aware of these different we'll call them building blocks of connection, areas where you actually need to have some professor proficiency, but one of the steps is.

[00:21:31]How you've been impacted by your past. And, I worked with many people and I asked him how he w you know, what was your childhood like? Oh, it was great. Big red flag. Maybe a big red flag and yeah, there are people with great childhoods, but there's also a lot of people who didn't have great childhoods and they don't know it because that memory has been pushed away.

[00:21:52]And I can think of a particular situation where I was in a parking lot and there was a mother and a little boy who was, [00:22:00] let's say he was. Four. He was little and she was screaming at the top of her lungs at him and he was wailing and I just thought, Oh God, this poor kid. So what's going to happen to him when he's older, when he's trying to have a relationship, where are what's?

[00:22:16] Where, what will he have done with his feelings? He might not have any feelings by then. He might have got rid of them, not safe to have feelings. I whale. And my mom just screams at me. I mean, who knows what his story would have been, but I call these survival skills, survival strategies. So if you're an adult and when you feel a certain way, you might act a certain way because you learned how to do that to survive as a kid, but you don't, there's no link.

[00:22:44] You don't know, Oh, I'm doing that because I learned that as a kid, because whenever I had a feeling that I got slapped or whatever, So you so unpacking the impact of the past can have a huge it can really help, people [00:23:00] understand, Oh, that's why I do this. And I don't have to do it this way.

[00:23:03] There are better ways of responding of being.

[00:23:07] Neal Hooper: [00:23:07] That is so good. And again, awareness and that presence and observations the first step. Cause you can't let go of something you're not aware of. And that's a big one. I imagine that's it was just, that takes a lot of work sometimes to get that out of people.

[00:23:21] Jennifer Lehr: [00:23:21] Well it's really? Yeah, because you can't just rip someone open. You have to slowly, build a relationship and start understanding who they are and start opening little doorways and having them start going, Oh, are little lights go on and eventually more and more opens and they get a clear picture of who they were, what they experienced, how it impacted them.

[00:23:44] And what they're so carrying around that doesn't work.

[00:23:48]And we could keep going, but that's the basic that's the basic, I mean, there's, you go deeper and you refine and refine as you go on and you do more connecting of. The surface feeling what's under it. How does it [00:24:00] affect your cycle changing, and learning how to communicate differently, because you become more aware of the nuances of your experience.

[00:24:09] Neal Hooper: [00:24:09] wow. Okay. That's huge. And I love the framework again. I think it's very thorough and again, really tying into the relationship piece, but also just being able to it's a function and move forward with confidence and feeling good about yourself. So I think there's a ton of value there and obviously as high level, and I'm sure there's a lot more that goes into each one of those steps, but thank you for sharing that.

[00:24:35]We would love for us to all just be experts right. At this relationship in life thing. And the truth is, especially in relationships, I'll take that angle because that's kind of what we're discussing here. But there is trauma that happens. There are mistakes that are made and trust is lost.

[00:24:56] And I know that's another area of expertise for you is actually [00:25:00] rebuilding trust and intimacy in your relationship after there's been an event of betrayal or some kind of loss of trust. And so I'd love for you to dive a little deeper into that and help us understand how we can do that.

[00:25:12]Jennifer Lehr: [00:25:12] Many kinds of betrayal. One of the common ones. Cost courses infidelity, but there are many kinds of betrayal, emotional betrayals just different kinds. So when you have two people and there's been a big betrayal and we'll use infidelity in this example, the party who, who will call the perpetrator, just for lack of a better word, the perpetrator needs to be able to.

[00:25:38] Have empathy and not just, I'm sorry I did that, but my heart is breaking because I broke your heart a very deep level of, Oh wow. I really hurt you. And that hurts me. They have to be able to get to that level of empathy. Often the person who cheated [00:26:00] or was the perpetrator.

[00:26:00] However we want to call it is defensive? And that's a roadblock you'll you won't get anywhere and it's not possible. So that's the first thing that has to happen 

[00:26:10]Neal Hooper: [00:26:10] And just real quick on that note, it's that looking inward that is preventing any progress from happening. And I love that you pointed that out because that level of empathy, that level of looking outward. Is incredibly humbling. And I would say, very rare even, is that fair to say

[00:26:32] Jennifer Lehr: [00:26:32] Yeah, it's hard if people don't get there right away generally. And there's a lot of shame when you've hurt someone it's shameful and there's a lot of defensiveness. People don't want to feel shame. They'll, it was your fault. I mean, people throw the blame around because who wants to feel shame and.

[00:26:48] It's a hard, it's the hardest feeling. So, yeah. So then you, so then the next thing the person who was betrayed, they're not going to forgive right away, but they would need to [00:27:00] have it as a goal. I would like to trust you again. I would like to forgive you someday.

[00:27:05] Obviously it's not going to happen in three seconds, but it has to be a goal. If they have no intention of ever forgiving or one trust person, again. That's also a game stopper. There's nowhere to get. So there's those two big pieces eventually, and this is way down the line. You have to look at the dynamics of the relationship.

[00:27:23] That allowed this to occur because I can think of a relationship I had years ago where my boyfriend cheated on me and I just wasn't tuned in enough to, I wasn't tuned in enough. And had I been, I might've said this guy really isn't fully there for me and I need to get rid of him, but I wasn't tuned in,  I was young.

[00:27:43] And so really knowing. That there's always a S a whole picture. It's not, I mean, someone might have an addiction, a sexual addiction that could cause it, but generally both parties have a role, but you can't get to that until way later, because first you have to deal with the [00:28:00] injury and rebuilding trust.

[00:28:02]Neal Hooper: [00:28:02] You kind of alluded to this and I just want to clarify. Obviously infidelity there's a whole spectrum there of what that could mean. And on one end you have, the act of going out and cheating on your significant other, and somewhere in between, there's probably online activities.

[00:28:22]Catching a partner, viewing pornography, for example could have a huge impact depending on their perspective. Is it is it the same process, even at those earlier stages?

[00:28:33]If there's that loss of trust or betrayal.

[00:28:36]Jennifer Lehr: [00:28:36] I think it is. I mean, obviously different people have different tolerances for many different things and different people have different wounds. And for some people, the partner using pornography is that non-issue and for other peoples it's devastating. But regardless if there is a wounded party who feels betrayed, the process has to be what I outlined earlier, because that person needs to know that [00:29:00] it won't happen again, that their feelings are valued, that they can, that, that they won't ever have to.

[00:29:06] Yet. Nobody wants to go through trauma more than once.

[00:29:09]Neal Hooper: [00:29:09] Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. Thank you for those those clarifying points. 

[00:29:13] Jennifer Lehr: [00:29:13] It's just to be aware that infidelity and betrayal is a tsunami in the relationship and you will have a new relationship. You will not be able to keep the same relationship if you repair it. You actually have to create a whole new relationship because the old one is over and it's that way it can be good because you could end up with something that is much better than what you started with, but it's not an easy process at all.

[00:29:40] Neal Hooper: [00:29:40] wow. And that's the ultimate, let go and play in my opinion, because that is. And we've chatted about this earlier in the conversation. That's going to be really hard to not hold onto what you had and to just kind of start over clean. But that's a very important part of the process.

[00:29:56]You mentioned something earlier and [00:30:00] that I thought was interesting about needing to and you might have to remind me the wording here, but yeah. Kind of your new identity as a couple versus your identity as an individual. And is that a fair way of putting it

[00:30:16]That, that when you come together, you gotta figure out what your new identity is.

[00:30:20]As a couple rather.

[00:30:21]Jennifer Lehr: [00:30:21] I would just send you that when you take two individuals and they let's suppose we're formed and we have ideas about ourselves in our lives. And you put them together that, so in that context you do have to figure out what, who are we as a couple? This is a little different than when I'm talking about repairing and fidelity, because in that case, the relationship and the ways you were is over, because it allowed something to happen.

[00:30:47]Neal Hooper: [00:30:47] When you mentioned it earlier, I was thinking when my wife and I got married, it was funny because. As a single person, you make friends and you're just factoring in how you and that individual gel, but then [00:31:00] after you get married and you're trying to make friends, it kind of creates this whole new dynamic and you have to think through, okay, us as a couple now are going to gel very differently than I did as an individual with certain people.

[00:31:11] And so I just thought that was a good thing to keep in mind. 

[00:31:14] Jennifer Lehr: [00:31:14] Yeah, well, I think to have a healthy relationship, you have to work out of, like, I have friends that  my husband knows them, but he's not really friends with them the way I are. And he has friends that I know, but I don't, I'm not really close to them the way he is. And then we have friends that we know together that work, and that just part of, there's no, what is it?

[00:31:31]The Venn diagram with the overlap

[00:31:34] Neal Hooper: [00:31:34] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:31:35] Jennifer Lehr: [00:31:35] and different people have different overlaps, according to what they need. And, you do run into a problem if one wants a complete overlap and the other one wants to circle to very barely touch, right? But that's that's part of figuring out how to be a couple, how to be the specific couple that you are to the best ability.

[00:31:53] Yeah.

[00:31:54] Neal Hooper: [00:31:54] wow. That is awesome. You've shared so many good nuggets and I [00:32:00] just so grateful for your expertise and. I would love to know in your experience again you've had a lot of experience. You've worked with a lot of people.

[00:32:08] What's like, what's been the. The best victory, I guess, for a couple that's come and worked with you or maybe that's come from that most dire circumstance and then had a big win. I don't know if you have any stories like that off the top of your head, you could share.

[00:32:22]Jennifer Lehr: [00:32:22] I would say my relationship is the best victory because my first marriage was extremely difficult and I'm in my second marriage. And we did in, I mean, we had, the first six months is generally bliss, which it was, and then you start hitting the, the problems. And we did some therapy together.

[00:32:40] I think I did every other week for a year or two with him, but I was writing, we can sell. So I was learning a lot and I was writing and he was reading and editing and we had a lot to talk about because of that process. And it enabled us to. Really work, understand each other work through huge like differences.

[00:32:58]Like I understand why he [00:33:00] reacts the way he reacts sometimes because of the conversations we've had and he understands why I get upset the way I, so there's a much it's like the weaving of the two cloth, the two cloths get woven together with understanding and story and a bit bility too.

[00:33:15] To connect in a deep hole, deep way where both people, their whole selves are coming in and that's, I'm just using me for an example because I think we have a particularly good relationship. And so that's why I'm bringing that up.

[00:33:30]Neal Hooper: [00:33:30] I like to brag about my marriage as well when I get the chance to, so that's awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful concepts with our listeners. And we're so excited to to share this before we get to our last question, the pro tip that they can take and apply.

[00:33:50] I just want to know if our listeners want more Jennifer, they want they want to learn more about what you're doing. Where do we send them?

[00:34:00] [00:34:00] Jennifer Lehr: [00:34:00] You can sell.com w E C O N C I L E like reconcile, but we can style. That's the website. I have a blog with a lot of articles on relationship in different subjects. I also, Jennifer Lear mft.com where I do more personal writing. I have a free quiz or relationship quality quiz. We consult.com/quiz. I'm on Instagram and Facebook at wee concile.

[00:34:24]Those are. Yeah that's probably the best way to

[00:34:27] Neal Hooper: [00:34:27] That is awesome. Okay. So you heard it here. She's got a free quiz, so make sure you go check that out. We'll put it in the show notes, the link for that. So you can go and and again, for this quiz, what are they learning about themselves when they take this.

[00:34:41]Jennifer Lehr: [00:34:41] It's just 10 questions. So I made it short. But they're going to learn how they score. In a couple of different areas, including hope about the relationship, sexuality conflict understanding of each other, blah, blah. There's like, I think six, probably six categories. I'm not sure. And [00:35:00] yeah.

[00:35:00] And so then they get actually a score that says, okay, you're doing good or okay. You better jump on this before it's too late. So

[00:35:07] Neal Hooper: [00:35:07] Okay. Awesome. That sounds very valuable. Thank you so much for offering that to our listeners. And and again, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us. Now for the last question, what is one pro tip for applying and developing the skill of happiness that you would share with our audience?

[00:35:28] Jennifer Lehr: [00:35:28] Oh, my there's so many tips. So, I'm gonna, this is an odd tip, but I'm gonna throw it in there. Because it seems disconnected, but it's not. So I've practiced yoga for how many years. More approaching 30 years now which is a long time and what it taught me, you're on the mat and that's your little universe and you notice, Oh, I don't like this isn't fun.

[00:35:55] Or that person's doing it better than me or. Oh, I don't like that [00:36:00] teacher she's ganja yet. And you start witnessing a lot of yourself because you're stuck in this spot . And it's a really good way to to develop, present centered awareness which you need. If you're working on a relationship, now I could give other tips.

[00:36:16] That's a very sort of general how to develop presence, centered awareness. But it's a really good one, a good method to do that. In terms of relationships you want, if you're not curious about your partner, you want to look at the blocks to your curiosity. So your partner's upset and you're mad at them for being upset.

[00:36:36] Can you be curious? Why are they upset and why do I not want to be curious about this what's going on? So that would be a good thing to just take us. Self-inquiry.

[00:36:48] Neal Hooper: [00:36:48] wow. What a great question to ask, because that is huge and that applies to couples, but also if you're. On a date with someone I'm assuming [00:37:00] that applies as well there. So that is awesome. Jennifer, thank you so much. You've been so gracious with your time and your knowledge and we are so enlightened and better off for having had you with us.

[00:37:13] So thank you so much

[00:37:14]wow. That is good stuff. Whether you are in a relationship or marriage or you're in the dating scene. And you're just trying to find out how to connect with people. Today's show armed you with a lot of very concrete applications of play theory in relational setting. So I hope that this week you will move forward, that you will become introspective. And remember the pro tip that she shared. 

[00:37:40]To be curious about your partner. And again, that applies in friendships as well as relationships. 

[00:37:48]So take that one to the bank. 

[00:37:50]Thank you so much for joining us today on the happiness playbook. Remember to look outward, to let go and play this small stuff and accept and [00:38:00] build upon the hardships and become a better you and to build a better relationship. 

[00:38:06]Thanks for tuning in and as always, I just wanted to remind you 

[00:38:10] that happiness is a skill and life is a team sport and we are so glad to be on your team. Catch you next week. 

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.  

Jennifer Jerald is an international 2 time #1 Best-selling author, speaker, and dedicated transformational coach who knows what it takes. Join us as we discuss the power of PLAY THEORY and overcoming trauma through the HEAL framework. 

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Do the thing! Or “do the next right thing…” for you Frozen fans 😉 Take baby steps toward your dream life and goals.

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

Today I sit down with a very special guest, David Butler, to discuss everything from leadership, employee engagement, and how to live a fulfilling life. You don’t want to miss this one! David has over 30 years of leadership, consulting, and enterprise growth experience. His international business portfolio is impressive. He is the founder of Spanvest, an organization focused on helping “Companies Get and Keep People Motivated & Enthusiastic Even When Things Are Constantly Changing”. He’s been in top positions for renowned organizations such as Franklin Covey, Brian Tracey International, and is a certified global leadership coach, stakeholder leadership coach, and certified partner for everything DiSC. David received a Master in International Management from Thunderbird Global School of Business, and an MBA from Esade Business School from Spain.

It is my sincere pleasure to sit down with such a qualified and stellar human being. David welcome to the show!

This Week’s PRO TIP is: We want you to go through David’s list of 7 tips for happiness and just pick one to really focus on and incorporate into your life this week. The list is

  1. Serve others
  2. Get regular exercise to move.
  3. Express gratitude
  4. Live in the moment
  5. Define true success (hint: success is not happiness when you have more money)
  6. Surround yourself with positive people
  7. Make the choice to be happy

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

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