Tag Archive: love

Falling in Love

In 2015 Mandy Catron got curious. She’d been reviewing research from the 1990’s that was about intimacy between strangers. She wanted to know if what these researchers learned could be applied to falling in love with someone you don’t know.  After seeing that it actually worked, she applied it to herself and a distant friend.  And yes, they fell in love. And are still in love.

Mandy wrote an article about her experience that was published in the New York Times called How to Fall in Love With Anyone. At the time, she had her own blog with a few hundred readers, and knew this would generate more – maybe even a few thousand. What she got were more than 8 million readers from around the world.

She talks about her experience in the Ted Talk below.

Mandy re-discovered something that has been known for a very long time. I’ll mention one out of many leaders in psychology – Martin Buber – who’s main focus was exactly this.  He called it “I-thou”.
Buber gave as one example the relationship he had with his horse as a boy. He loved his horse, and every chance he could, he’d be with him. He couldn’t explain the unique attraction he felt; he only knew it was mutual, and that it was love.

Then one day while gazing lovingly into his horse’s eyes, he was startled by something. That broke his attention momentarily, and in that moment, his horse walked away.  The intimacy – the love connection – was broken. What had been an “I-thou” moment had become an “I-it” one.

Mandy and Martin each discovered how we fall in love, and passed this wonderful knowing to the rest of us.  The thing is, I suspect that every baby knows this already, and that we lose this knowing as we encounter life’s challenges.

I don’t know about you, but I have a new mission. And that is to fall in love with someone every day.

Mandy Catron – Falling in love is the easy partlove

Quote of the Week

The basic word I-You can only be spoken with one’s whole being.
The basic word I-It can never be spoken with one’s whole being. 

― Martin BuberI and Thou

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .


3 Secrets of Success

In North America, both in the US and in Canada (and – really – the world over), earning a good living, having a house, paying for your kid’s education, saving for retirement – all the things we all thought we’d be doing when we grew up – is no longer all that attainable for over 90% of us.  It may seem like it when you look at the number of house purchases. But if you dig even a tiny bit deeper, the real cost of getting that house shows up. In Toronto, we call it being “house poor”, because every cent you make goes into paying down the mortgage. For years. In fact, mortgages are routinely generated over 25 or 30 years, because otherwise it would be impossible to hold one.  This, along with student loans and other debts, generate huge debt loads that tie us down to whatever jobs we can get. Until we’re old.

I’ve talked about this before in The Wisdom of Insecurity. It’s one of the drivers for the tiny home movement: finding ways to shed that debt load and attain the freedom to do what you truly want to do. You might dream of winning the lottery, or making it big in business, spending thousands on the few coaches who have made it big in the hope that it’ll happen for you, too.  Sadly, I suspect that mostly isn’t true.

So, what is the answer? Making it big? Or not?  Either way, the reason for wanting to try is because you – like me – probably want to live a happy and fulfilling life.

If you could have that life, with or without a lot of money – wouldn’t that feel like success?  It would for me. The older I get, the more I value my health and the health and well-being of my loved ones. The more I value living in a community of happy and contented people.  Money, as long as my basic needs are taken care of, matters less and less to me.

What is success?  According to the online dictionary, it’s the accomplishment of one’s goals.  That is a kind of success. But life success – feeling successful and happy life, is more than that: it’s accomplishing the goals that mean a lot to us.  Richard St. John in his Ted Talk (below) lists 8 secrets that he gleaned from successful people.

I believe these 8 things can be narrowed down to 3:

  1. Passion: Passion for whatever it is you’re doing means that you’ll happily do whatever it takes to get it done. Passion will get you through the mistakes, inevitable failed attempts, criticisms, and dark nights. Working at something that you’re not passionate about is work. Doing something you love is fun – not work. It may be that you’re not sure if you’re passionate enough in what you want to do right now.  That’s OK – do it until something else takes over. There is no ultimate answer to what you should pursue – only that you love doing it.
  2. Focus: You may think this is a no-brainer, but believe me, doing what you love can be terrifying. All the nay-sayers, the bills, the lost security can make it really hard to focus on what’s truly important.  When I feel stuck, it’s always because I’m sitting in fear, where there are a lot of inner voices telling me that I’m not good enough, that I’m going to fail, that this is a stupid idea.  Then I distract myself with anything else so that I don’t have to feel that terror, ultimately wasting my time on what doesn’t matter.  If this happens to you, having a friend to talk to can help. And if that isn’t an option, try this: take your worst fear – say it’s “No matter what I do, I’m going to fail” – and turn it around to something that gives your heart a lift – like “No matter what I do, I’m going to win” (because in the long run, that’s what’s going to happen).  Use this turn-around whenever you begin to feel that fear, as a way to regain your focus.
  3. Love: This may seem corny, but honestly, if your feeling of love and good will towards yourself and others doesn’t increase with what you’re doing, then it probably won’t be sustainable.  Because without this kind of love, how can there be happiness.

Having said all that, if you want the added bonus of financial success, go for it! But first, go after your heart’s desire, because without that, money isn’t going to do it.
Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Richard St. John – 8 Secrets of Success success

Quote of the Week

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

– Maya Angelou



At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Moments of Peace and Joy

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

-Albert Camus

There are so many inspirational quotes like this one (there’s more below) that have the power to give us a lift just by reading them.  Each time, for instance, I read Camus’ quote, I feel my heart sigh – a spiritual pat on my back saying Good job! You can rest now.

For a few lovely moments I can feel a sense of accomplishment and be at peace.  And then in the next moment, I review my daily list (yes, I do have a daily list), and dig in. Then on days like today, I catch myself wondering what my life would be like if I felt this sense of peaceful joy most if not all of every day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life: I’m doing what I love, have pretty good health, and friends and relationships that feed my spirit.  Even so, when I’m challenged, there is a tiny voice inside me that can get loud and that is sometimes filled with terror. This tiny voice has a lot of power, because it can stop me from feeling that peace and joy, or even remembering it exists.

The voice isn’t fake – it’s real. But the reasons for feeling the terror aren’t real, at least not any more.  And yet it persists. You might also experience moments of discomfort, or even terror, and if you do … if it helps … here’s what I do to calm that voice down:

  • Be with your pain. That’s right! Sit mindfully with the voice, and the feelings in my body it generates. A know in my stomach, tense shoulders, whatever the sensation, I sit with the feelings and let them be whatever they need to be.  The important thing is to learn to accept the voice as real and genuine, and a natural part of who you are.
  • Limit your time with it. In my meditation practice, I always begin by focusing on my process of breathing; then move my focus to something else, ending with breathing. I do this so that I can begin and end on something that balances me, and breathing is our natural balancer. Each in-breath activates our sympathetic nervous system, and each out-breath activates our parasympathetic nervous system – together, this contributes to bringing us, naturally, into homeostasis. In the middle, I will take 10 minutes or even half an hour to be with my tiny voice and the sensations and feelings it generates inside me.  I will only spend this time on it, limiting it’s influence and impact on me, so that I – and not it – controls my day.  This is important! Being with anything or anyone doesn’t mean they get to take over – taking over isn’t a path to peace or joy. Ever! So limit the time you spend with your pain.  Contain it by giving it time and acceptance, then moving on.
  • Love yourself, including your pain. This may be hard to do, and yet it’s essential. If you can’t get past the judgments about this part of you that you wish didn’t exist, then at least respect it’s reality, and perhaps make an opening for love somewhere down the road.  One way to do this is to think of this part of yourself as a small child who’s been hurt – because in fact this is very likely the source of this pain.  Then ask yourself: What would I do if I were with a small child in pain?  Would I brush the child aside, or comfort him or her?  Then do the same to that small part of you that’s in pain.

None of us is perfect.  We’ve all lived and experienced pain and disappointment.  And this experience can leave scars as well as contribute to our maturity.  I believe we need to acknowledge and accept both to live a truly happy life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness


Quote of the Week
We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co


Affect Tolerance, or How to Love Pain


Affect tolerance is all about learning to tolerate chronic pain.  It’s a big topic, especially around mindfulness practitioners, because being mindful can help someone learn to be OK with chronic pain – even love it!

Having a mindfulness practice helps in at least three ways: it helps us bear pain, it helps us accept aspects of ourselves that we try to ignore (which only serves to intensify the pain), and it helps us adjust our priorities to those that are more in line with life and wellness.

  1. It helps us bear pain. Often when we’re in pain, we make it much worse with our self-talk. “This is intolerable!” “I just can’t do anything with this pain and it makes me so angry!” – are two examples of how we can make the pain we feel remain centre-stage. Learning to separate our negative and un-helpful self-talk from the actual sensations not only provides some objective detachment, but also calms the talk.  This can very effectively reduce the actual sensation of pain. You can see this yourself the next time you feel a pain, say, in your hip: sit in a way that supports that painful part of your body, close your eyes, and breathe.  Then go to the actual area of pain, and imagine breathing right into that area – without attempting to alter the sensation; simply breathing into it; being with it. Do this for a few minutes and notice if there are any changes in the sensation as a result.  Most often, you will notice there is a change – a diminishing or softening of the sensation.
  2. It helps us accept ourselves as a whole, instead of limiting that acceptance to certain parts of ourselves. Pain can be a “pain”, but it can also be a friend – by telling us when we’ve gone too far. As we age, our bodies become increasingly limited in their ability to respond to our demands. Instead of fighting this, honoring what our body is able to do – and not able to do – is going to make us – ultimately – more content, moving from self-judgment and self-criticism to self-appreciation and support.
  3. It helps us adjust our priorities – to those that better serve us. This is closely linked to self-acceptance, and is really an extension of that idea: comparison to others who we judge as more fit or less in pain can only lead to misery. For instance, I can compare myself to my slim friend who can eat anything she wants, then judge myself wanting because I can’t eat anything I want without gaining weight and adding pressure to my knees.  Or, I can chose to focus instead on my successes – my depth of knowledge on what truly nourishes me, for instance; which I have only because I must watch what I eat. My priority can be to be ‘better than’, or it can be to be healthy and happy with what I have.  My choice.

My mother, for a number of reasons, had severe osteoporosis in her old age.  Because of this ailment, she had trouble walking and was almost constantly in pain. At first she fought it and ultimately made things worse by doing so.  Then she learned to accept and live with it, getting on with her life as best she could. She didn’t have a mindfulness practice – not much was known about mindfulness in the Western world at that time – but she did learn to really appreciate what was available to her, along with her limitations.  I can only wonder now what having a practice could have done for her.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .