Finally THE Blueprint for Happiness (part 1 of 2)

Tony shares part 1 of a 2-part podcast on his “blueprint to happiness.” Tony goes back to the beginning, YOUR beginning, as he starts from birth in describing why it can be so difficult to be happy and what is necessary to maximize your opportunities for happiness. Tony breaks down competing definitions of happiness from Russ Harris’ book The Happiness Trap https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Trap-Struggling-Living-Second/dp/1645471160/ and then he shares what our attachment and abandonment wounds look like in childhood and how they play out in our adult relationships.

If you are interested in being coached in Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage Podcast,” please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and be kept entirely anonymous when the episode airs. 

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[00:00:31] So are you happy? I think that is the big million dollar question. I was speaking to a group of high school students recently and I overheard a young woman say to a young man, I think they probably were both between 16, 17, maybe 18 years old. And she leaned over to him and she said, Are you happy? And it was a tender moment. I could tell that this was about to be something pretty sweet. And I wish that I could tell you that they had a long philosophical discussion and that I learned so much about kids these days, and the future is bright [00:01:00] with our youth. But the young man said something to the effect of, Well, that’s a that’s a dumb question. And he pointed to his phone and he simply said, means, to which I first felt incredibly old. And second, I had to agree that while I have been really late to the game with regard to memes, they are pretty funny, but I don’t know if they are the key to happiness with regard to happiness. On another note, over the weekend, my wife and I saw a sign on the side of a car and I even took a picture of it because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do this justice as time passed and my memory eroded. But the sign said I own a home in and then insert local retirement community in my area there, which happens to be a very nice planned community for people 55 and older. That has not one but two golf courses, restaurants, a world class gym, softball complex, and it seems to be over a million pickleball courts.

[00:01:50] The sight of his car, the sign says, But I own a home in and then retirement community. Turns out it’s the best public dog toilet that money can buy. Clearly, [00:02:00] this man is the epitome of when I do my classic old man bit where I yell, Get off my lawn. But I would venture to guess that this man is probably not very happy, and he literally took time out of his day to have a very large sign made that he puts on a nice SUV as he drives around town advertising the public toilet nature of his lawn. Last week I did a podcast entitled What It Feels Like to Be You and What It Feels Like to Be This guy has a lot to do with whether or not dogs pee or poop on his lawn. And for the record, I am not saying that if I was running for mayor of the town, I would not run on a platform of a dog’s right to turf or tinkle to his or her heart’s content on whatever they choose to use as their toilet. But happiness. How about it? Coming up on today’s episode of The Virtual Couch, I want to begin by laying out basically everything that I feel like I have ever learned as a therapist on my quest for trying to understand what it truly takes [00:03:00] to be happy once and for all and what happiness even means. So we’re going to cover that and so much more coming up on today’s episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:03:22] Come on, take a seat. I will hurt you.

[00:03:29] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 336 of the Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. And yes, I put a little pause. I feel like very dramatically every time I read what number of podcasts this is, because it still blows my mind that there was an episode one and a two and a three, and now we’re at 336 of this one and over 40 of waking up to narcissism. And I have a few of my magnetic marriage podcasts in the can. I’ve got another project that I’m working on called He’s a Porn Addict. Now what? The podcast. I almost feel like we’re saying the musical and that it’s going to open on Broadway [00:04:00] at some point and maybe I don’t know where that one will eventually go with co author Joshua Scheer, but that means approaching nearly 400 podcasts out there, and that is just phenomenal. And I absolutely love doing this. So thank you for joining me. I’m your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach and creator of the Magnetic Marriage podcast that I just mentioned. And we are getting episodes recorded and put in the can and I feel very excited and confident to say that they are gold. So if you are wondering what couples therapy, couples coaching sounds like, looks like, if you’ve never been to that, if you want to see if that would be something that would be helpful in your marriage, you can reach out through Tony, over Macomb, sign up on my newsletter and you’ll be one of the first to find out when that one is going to launch.

[00:04:41] And if you happen to be a couple that is interested in actual coaching and it is all anonymous, and we’re finding that as I wrap up one session or one podcast recording, that it really feels like there’s a little momentum there. So probably going to have people on two or three times, giving them a little bit of homework and that sort of thing. So if that’s something [00:05:00] you’re interested in, you can reach out to me at Info at Tony over Macomb and let me know that you and your spouse are interested. And again, it’s going to be completely anonymous, but I do need you both on board. I’m not going to lie. And also the path back my path back recovery course seems to be picking up some steam as well. So if you were looking to put pornography in the rearview mirror once and for all is an unhealthy coping mechanism and doing so, all the while removing guilt and shame from the equation, becoming the person you always wanted to be. Then go to Pathbackrecovery.com and you can learn more about that. So let’s get into the concept of happiness. I want to start by taking a page out of the literally out of the books, pages out of the book.

[00:05:39] The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. One of my favorite acceptance and commitment therapy books by one of my favorite acceptance and commitment therapy authors. And it is so beautiful that I am going to I’m going to read it this section of the book in particular, and I then will move on from there. We’ll go from there. And to what I’d like to start calling your customized treatment plan. So [00:06:00] why is it so difficult to be happy? According to Russ Harris in the book Happiness Trap, he said The modern human mind has this amazing ability to analyze and plan and create and communicate. But it was not initially a feel good device. It was not initially designed so that you can tell jokes and write poems or say, I love you. And here’s where. When I speak about this, I throw in the concept of a court jester because you literally had to bring someone in that their pure job, their sole purpose in life was to bring a little bit of levity, and they had to dress up in some absolute clown suit. And if they were not funny, they could be killed. So he said our minds were up in a way to help us survive in a world fraught with danger. And early on, your goal was to eat, drink, find shelter, have more kids, and protect your family so that you could survive. That was it.

[00:06:47] So your brain was more of a don’t get killed device. And if you just stop right there, put a pause in that your brain is a don’t get killed device. Really starts to make sense, starts to make sense of things like anxiety, where your brain is trying to warn you or anger where your brain [00:07:00] is trying to control a situation or even withdrawing because your brain feels like I’m going to sit this one out, whatever that looks like. And recently I did a video on I talked about suicide and September coming up is Suicide Prevention Month. And so let me talk about this for a minute. So what my and I’m going to call it a hypothesis, but your brain, again, is a don’t get killed device, is trying everything you can to get your attention, starting with anxiety, maybe throwing some depression in there, some anger, some sadness and withdrawal. And all the while, what your brain is trying to say is, I do not want to die. So even if I have to just sit here and wait this one out, everything’s going to be better tomorrow. The old it’ll be better when story that our brain likes to tell us. So then I talked about a couple of times recently when I’ve been speaking at different events is the concept of I forget the guy’s name, but it’s one of the guys who had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived.

[00:07:53] I believe his name is Kevin and he’s a motivational speaker. And I talked about him long ago on a suicide prevention podcast episode, [00:08:00] but he goes around talking about when he let go, the first thing he thought was that was a bad idea. I did not mean to do this. And so I feel like that. Is this proof of that? Your brain is saying, I do not want to die, but I have tried I’ve tried anxiety, I’ve tried anger, I’ve tried depression, I’ve tried sadness. I’ve tried whatever it takes to get your attention for you to take action. Do something that really matters to you or to get help or to reach out to somebody and you haven’t done it. So maybe the brain starts to say, I don’t know, I’m going to throw a little bit of a Hail Mary pass there and I’m going to throw out I don’t know if I even want to live. I’m thinking about suicide. And so if you look at the brain as a don’t get killed device, then what is it doing? It is saying, I don’t know how else to get your attention, to get you to reach out for help or to get you to change jobs or careers or get out of a bad relationship. And part of the story that I told when I was expressing this was I was working with a client not long ago.

[00:08:51] This was a little while ago, I think, even when I did the podcast episode about suicide. So that was probably two or three years ago, but it was somebody that was in college and they had an [00:09:00] amazing opportunity. Their parents were paying for school, but they did not like the major that they were involved in. And they were coming to me to work through some depression and frustration and anxiety, and a lot of it had to do with their college experience and their major. And they felt so ungrateful because they had this opportunity to study at a really good university, but they did not like what they were doing at all. And so when they would express that to their parents, their parents would give them the old man, their parents. Ms. So well, they really I’ve been this parent before, but they gave them the old you can do anything, you put your mind to champ speech and we’ve done hard things and look, we’ve invested all this money at this point. And so the person just kept going back and forth on what’s wrong with me. And so eventually they just said, I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore. And this I mean, life. And so they they did they expressed their parent, their parents, that they were suicidal. And at that point, the parent said, hey, whatever you got to do, you take a year off, you take two years off.

[00:09:51] You don’t even have to go back to school. You can change your major. You can do whatever it takes. And so I was so grateful and appreciated the response those parents gave in that [00:10:00] moment. But then we had an amazing talk, a couple of talk sessions after that of where the person had been expressing that they didn’t want to do what they were doing and they’d been doing that, expressing that for quite a while. So why did the brain have to get to this point of saying, I don’t want to live anymore for everybody to finally take notice? So why can’t we start from a place of where if somebody says, this is not the major that I want, then instead of us saying, no, you do trust me, I know, because how do I know I’m not that person? So when Russ Harris talks about the brain as it don’t get killed device, then I think that will start to make a lot of sense for even why we have such crippling anxiety in certain situations or maybe around certain people. But maybe we can get to that a little bit more down the road here as we talk about how to become happy or more happy. So back to the narrative. He says, your brain was more of a don’t get killed device, but the better we became at anticipating and avoiding danger the longer we lived and the more kids we had.

[00:10:54] So each generation, the human mind, became increasingly skilled at predicting and avoiding danger. So now [00:11:00] our minds are constantly on the lookout, assessing and judging everything we encounter. Is it good or is it bad? Is it safe or is it dangerous? Is a harmful or is it helpful? But now Russ says it’s not as much animals or packs of thieves, but it’s about losing a job or about being rejected or about getting a speeding ticket or embarrassing ourselves in public or getting a terminal disease and a million other common worries. So as a result, we spend so much time worrying about things that more often than not will never happen. He said that we also have this inherent need to belong to a group, and we’ll touch on this a little bit more in a few minutes. But so early on, if your clan booted you out, how long would it be before you were devoured by wolves? Sometimes, he says, literally. So how does the mind protect you from getting booted out of this clan? He said, by comparing you to other members of the clan. Am I fitting in? Am I doing the right thing? Am I contributing enough? Am I as good as others? Am I doing anything that might get me rejected from my group, my people? So does that sound familiar? So you said our modern day [00:12:00] minds are continually warning us of rejection and comparing ourselves to the rest of society.

[00:12:04] So it is no wonder we spend so much energy worrying whether or not people will like us. And even as little as a couple of decades ago, we said we only had to worry about the people at our church or in our neighborhood or at school or at work. But now all we have to do is pick up our phone or glance at a computer screen, and we can find a whole host of people who appear smarter, richer, slimmer, more famous, more powerful than we are. And so then when we compare ourselves to others, we can feel inferior or disappointed or sad or depressed. And to make it even worse, he says, Our minds are so sophisticated that we can now even conjure up this fantasy image of the person that we believe that we would like to be. So now we can even compare ourselves to a version of ourselves that we assume would be much happier. So he said, It just sounds exhausting. That’s the old I’ll be happy when I have the car or I’ll be happy when I have more money. I’ll be happy when I have a six pack abs. And for the people that can get to that point, they realize, Oh, that was not it. [00:13:00] So maybe I need more money, I need a nicer car, I need an eight pack of abs, whatever that takes, then I’ll be happy instead of really working on well, what would make me happy now in the present moment? So where do we go next? So here’s where I want to introduce that concept of what even is happiness.

[00:13:17] And this is also from the happiness trap where Russ talks a. Two different definitions of happiness. And I think that this is where that don’t get killed device. That concept of the brain then followed closely by these two definitions of happiness. And I feel like now we’re starting to get a better idea of maybe we’re chasing the wrong things when it comes to happiness. So he says, What exactly is happiness? We all want it, we crave it, we strive for it, he said. Even the Dalai Lama has said the very purpose of life itself is to seek happiness. But what is happiness? So Russ here says the word happiness has two very different meanings. The common meaning of the word is feeling good, in other words, feeling a sense of pleasure, gladness or gratification. And we all [00:14:00] enjoy these feelings, so it’s no surprise that we chase them. However, like all human emotions, feelings of happiness, if we’re given this definition, they don’t last. Because no matter how hard we try to hold on to them, they slip away every time. And because life happens, things happen. People frustrate us. We’re late for work, our car breaks down, we break something, we slip and fall.

[00:14:20] We age. A lot of different things happen. So he says again, no matter how hard we try to hold on to them, these just moments of happiness, they slip away every time. And as we shall see, a life spent in pursuit of those good feelings in the long term is deeply unsatisfying, he said. In fact, the harder we chase after just simply pleasurable feelings, the more we are likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Now, the far, the other far less common meaning of happiness is living a rich, full and meaningful life. So when we take action on things that truly matter deep in our hearts, and we move in directions that we consider valuable and worthy, and we clarify what we stand for in life and we act [00:15:00] accordingly. Then our lives become rich and full and meaningful, and we experience a powerful sense of vitality. And it is not some fleeting feeling. It’s a profound sense of a life well lived. And although such a life will undoubtedly give us many pleasurable feelings, it will also give us uncomfortable ones such as sadness and fear and anger. And this is only to be expected because if we live a full life, then we will live a life that has a full range of emotions. So what have we learned already? Our brain is a don’t get killed device. It is difficult to be happy from the factory and we’re even probably working off the inaccurate, I want to say, wrong definition of happiness.

[00:15:37] It’s a definition, but is it the best definition of happiness or do you even know what really matters to you? Are you taking action on things that really matter and living this rich, full and meaningful life? Or are you just chasing that next, happy feeling, that next feel good feeling? And I love the fact that Russ talks about it is absolutely normal and human. I like I like having fun. I like having so much fun. But then I [00:16:00] can’t even describe how much better that is to number one. Can you have fun based more on value based activities, things that matter to you? Or can you have shared experiences with people that you really care about? Or are you just chasing this feel good feeling over and over again? I work so much in the world of addiction and people turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, and I feel like just simply by the definition that we just read about happiness is that chasing some temporary high of a phone or a pornography or a sugary foods which are amazing or just games on our phone or the next YouTube video or tik tok. Holy cow. I get sucked into the ticktock vortex so much, but we’re just going after that next little bump of dopamine. What’s next? What’s next? That anticipation versus taking action on something that matters, living this full, rich, fulfilling life.

[00:16:46] So one of the first things I talk about so often is figure out your values. And I love when I get to work with somebody and and I talk about this and even that, the course of figuring out their values will take so long because people will [00:17:00] go back to the story of, I got too much stuff to do right now. I know I need to get on the whole values thing and I’ll do that, but I’ve been thinking about it. But the simple fact or act of not taking action on figuring out what really matters to you or your values is another version of I need to figure out what makes me happy right now. That sounds like that’s going to be something that’s going to take a while, and I’d rather not deal with that. Or maybe we’re not even aware of that. It’s so much like the concept of mindfulness or meditation. I had a discussion with a client that I had not talked with in a long time just yesterday, and we were talking about mindfulness, we were talking about meditation, and it was it was an online appointment. And I could almost watch the person start to look a little bit uninterested as we were talking. And I gave them my again. Here’s another classic speech, patented speech where I say, that, boy, when I start working with somebody, I’m going to tell them it would behoove you.

[00:17:48] It would do you so much good right now to start a daily mindfulness practice. It’s some sort of guided meditation. And I cannot even believe if I go back seven, eight, nine years ago, I was not the person that [00:18:00] was giving the you need a meditation app speech, but here’s the way that works. So when you are meditating, you are paying particular attention here. You’re not trying to clear your mind of thought. That is the number one misnomer or inaccuracy. When people talk about mindfulness and this is a key to happiness, I will tell you. But it is not trying to clear your mind of thought. Good luck if that’s what you’re hoping you can do. But instead, when you have some sort of mindfulness practice, it is simply I just did it right now I sit up in my chair, I square my shoulders, I straighten up my back so that I can expand my chest because I’m about to do the breathing thing. My brain already knows this is what’s coming. Your your emotions travel much faster than your logic. Your brain has this visceral reaction or this warning system that is amazing and beautiful when you really think about it. The fact is, if I look down on the ground and I see a rope, my first thought is I will recoil a bit and think, is that a snake or is that something dangerous? And as soon as I realize, Oh, it’s not, it’s just a rope, [00:19:00] then I can move on and I can go forward.

[00:19:02] Think of the miracle that just happened there. Data went into your brain and it very quickly had to say, is this safe? And if it was not safe, what would I do? And my programing? I would have screamed like a young child, hopefully not soiled myself and then ran in the opposite direction. But that would have happened after the part went into my brain and said, Is this safe now for some people? They would then maybe stomp on the snake or grab the snake and pet the snake and go release the snake or whatever that would look like. But our brain don’t get killed. Device is reacting viscerally. That visceral reaction, a gut reaction that is programed in there before we even hit the logical part of our brain. Again, what an amazing device our brain is. So what do we do when we meditate? We are learning how to do it right now. Square my shoulders, swim in through the nose and out through the mouth, breathing. And as I do that, what am I doing? Lowering my heart rate? What happens when I lower my heart rate, my fight or flight chemicals in my brain? My cortisol kind of sits, takes a backseat, [00:20:00] says I’m not needed here.

[00:20:01] And so when I’m not in fight or flight mode, when I’m not in freeze or flee or fawn or any of those modes, I’m tapped into that prefrontal cortex of thought. I’m able to stay present in that moment and engage in whatever I’m doing. So a mindfulness practice, a meditative practice is training your brain to stay out of that fight or flight mode. And if you look at the way that visceral reaction works, again, what a miracle that what you’re training your brain to do any good mindfulness app. I feel like what it does is it gets you squared away. You’re breathing, you’re sitting, you’re and you’re calm and then it kind of goes quiet usually. And that’s where your brain says, I have a lot of things to do. This seems silly. I’m not a meditating person. And then at some point the app, I like Headspace, the wonderful British guy, and he comes back in and says, okay, let’s do a little body scan. Let’s start at your head, work through your back somewhere, and there is something called a solar plexus. And then I find myself ruminating and wondering, I got to look up the solar plexus. I’m not even sure what that is. Sounds like [00:21:00] some sort of NASA term at that point. And he’s talking about your gut or your butt on the seat or your legs against the chair or your feet on the ground or whatever that looks like.

[00:21:08] So you’re just thinking about those parts of your body in the places where they engage on whatever you’re sitting on. What am I not doing in that moment? I’m not ruminating. I’m not even thinking about how dumb this is anymore because I’m in that very present moment and then usually there’s some silence again and my brain will go everywhere. It will just start running with all the things I have to do, and then it’ll bring you back. Okay, let’s focus on your breath now. Let’s count one on the breath, two on the breath and see if we can get to ten. And let’s start over again. And just that process alone is not emptying my brain of thought, but it is coming back to the very present moment so that I’m not sitting there ruminating and worrying and freaking out about anything or overthinking anything. So that mindfulness practice is absolutely a key and a concept that will bring some happiness, bringing you back to that very present moment. So that comes off of that definition of what makes us happy. [00:22:00] Are you engaged in things that really matter or are you just chasing that temporary high or that euphoria? And so if you are not engaged in a mindfulness practice, I highly encourage it goes back to the speech that I realize now where I started this tangent. So I like to tell people 25% of the people will not meditate no matter how much I talk about meditation.

[00:22:18] And that is fine. 50% of the people are going to do it a little bit and then they’re going to think they got it down. They don’t know what they don’t know. So they’re going to say, Oh, no, I do. Every now and again, I’ll turn to my breathing. 25% are going to go Zen master and they are quickly going to adopt a grab a mat, a ponytail. And they are going to they’re going to say, well, I’m paying for your advice, so why am I not going to do it? Which is I love that type of client. So they start meditating on a day to day basis and then it takes a few weeks, but then at some point all of a sudden your body says, Oh, I know what we do. When this guy starts worrying about things, he’s going to do the breathing thing so the brain don’t get killed. Device It’s amazing. The brain loves patterns. That’s why we that’s why we form habits, [00:23:00] because our brain is working off of this premise that the more habitual we can make thoughts and actions and all the things that we do, the less electrical activity that we’ll use. So your brain wants to turn everything into some just habit, some habitual pattern. So what happens is that your brain says when your heart rate starts to elevate, you’re going to start breathing to calm it down.

[00:23:22] So let’s go ahead and get that rolling. We’re going to be a little bit more efficient so you don’t even have to you’re not even aware of it. All of a sudden, it’s what I was talking about earlier where I start even talking about this stuff and I’m squaring my shoulders up and I’m not some guy that sits like this all the time. If you’re watching on YouTube, I do it. I’ve become very straight backed and sitting up in my chair and my hands are actually literally on my chest right now because I’ve also done a couple of the meditations where it talks about just breathing in whatever sunshine, liquid gold, feel filling it, feel it, feel your chest. I’ve done some pretty amazing guided meditations that really help you become very present. So start that meditative practice. That is absolutely something [00:24:00] that’s going to bring you some joy and happiness. If you are struggling with any kind of an addictive behavior or tendency or coping mechanism, then when you notice that you’re triggered, there’s a trigger, you’re home by yourself or you’re on a business trip or whatever that looks like, and your brain says something. I always say there’s a trigger. Then the thought thought is, I could totally look at pornography. I can go overeat, I can just sit on my phone. And then the real magic, the key comes between thought and action.

[00:24:26] In between thought and action is this opportunity to do something else. And so a lot of times I say that the first thing that you can do is go do something. This is where the stuff like go to push ups, call your grandma, call one 800 number and talk to the person who is trying to sell you Ginsu knives and find out what how their day is going. You don’t have to buy the knives. But any of those things are going to break that pattern of turning to an unhealthy coping mechanism. Now, eventually, I want you to learn how to breathe through it. I want you to learn how to notice that I am wanting to take action on some unhealthy coping mechanism. But then when I notice that that’s how I’m feeling, come right back to the present [00:25:00] moment and I go take action on something that matters. So there’s where the mindfulness component comes in. We’re talking a little bit now about values. And so when you are not aware of your values now, you’re a little bit like a rudderless ship at that point. Maybe I’m still trying to just follow whatever path that someone else is doing because I’m just they look happy, so I’m seeking happiness. Which we’re talking about the blueprint to happiness. Now. Now, let’s slide into one of my favorite speeches about abandonment and attachment. And I was banging the drum on every podcast I could, I think, about a year ago.

[00:25:33] But if we take this all the way back and start in the womb. So when a baby exits the womb, their only need in life is to get their needs met, and then they will survive. So a baby emotes, it cries, it expresses itself. And because babies are squishy and pink and they smell okay, then what do we do? We rush to their aid and we clean their diapers and we feed them and we play with them and we coo with them. [00:26:00] And even if they cry and scream, usually we’re like, they’re baby. They’re so adorable. And so they get their needs met. Now, think about that from the word go that our setting is a human being is that I emote, I express myself and everyone gathers around and meets my needs and tells me I’m cute. That’s a pretty amazing way to live now. You hit two, three, four, however old you become. And now I like to say now welcome to the world of abandonment. So we’ve got the attachment and abandonment tracks is where we’re going. So we’ve got to get those needs met. And I want to be so clear about this, because this is one of those things that blessed my wife’s heart. She lets me know that the boy the fact that I talk about this stuff all day and the fact that I feel like it makes so much sense to me, I assume that all I have to say is the abandonment and the attachment track and everybody goes, Oh my gosh, here he goes.

[00:26:47] I love this bit, the abandonment and attachment track, but I know that’s not the case. So here’s what happens. So when we start to get into childhood and adolescence, we’ve got to get those needs met. How do we get those needs met? That’s [00:27:00] our attachment wound. We are going to figure out a way to get those needs met, and that means we’re going to become the star athlete or we’re going to become the star pupil, or we’re going to become the peacemaker, or we’re going to just become the person that does not even interfere in anything. I’m just going to sit back and just make sure that I get mine, my share, or we may only get our needs met by being angry or by being depressed or being withdrawn. And so slowly but surely, over time, that starts to almost feel like our identity, because that’s the way that people would interact with us. So that’s our attachment wound. We’re trying to figure out a way to get our needs met, because if we do not get our needs met. Here comes that. Programing from the factory, we die. So we’re going to do whatever it takes now. That’s attachment over here. On the side of abandonment is every little kid is an ego centered, bless their heart, basically walking, little narcissistic entity that thinks the world revolves around them.

[00:27:56] Because to them it does. And they lack empathy because [00:28:00] they’re a kid. And so when you do not give them what they want, when you don’t get them the pony for the birthday, or they can’t just go go live in Disneyland or they can’t just eat churros for every meal, then you must not like them because they’re expressing their needs, right? They’re emoting. And when they emote from the factory, their programing is when they emote, then everybody jumps and claps and says whatever you need. And all of a sudden there’s a lot of. No, no, but not right now, champ. Really? You think you can eat churros all day or we can’t afford to go to Disneyland or it’s not all about you. So we hear those things as a kid from well-meaning parents and so abandonment. So the only reason they must not be meeting my needs because my factory setting says they’ve been meeting them pretty good so far, but now all of a sudden, they’re not. Must be, because they don’t care about me. It must be because I am unlovable. I’m broken. Something’s wrong with me. Sound familiar? So now what are we doing? We’re moving into our adolescence, teenage years. Into adulthood with the old. What’s wrong with me story? Why are people [00:29:00] not meeting my needs? I’m expressing my needs.

[00:29:02] Or maybe I’m not even expressing my needs. But people should know. They should already know. It likes to be showed on. But people they should know. I’m withdrawing. Why is no one paying attention to me anymore? It must be because I’m unlovable, broken, and no one cares about me. So now we enter a relationship, and now we’ve got some good old attachment wounds. We’ve got some abandonment wounds. And now we say, I am going to. I’m going to I’m going to find my person and I’m going to enter a relationship. And what happens too often is we’re emotionally immature just because we are. And then we join a relationship and we are enmeshed and we are codependent. We are agreeing to everything. I’ve never met someone like this person. We agree on all the things that we want to do everything together and everything’s the best. And after just. Year, few weeks. I want to marry my very best friend in the world. I love those wedding announcements, but I also can’t help it in my mind. Say man, little confabulation or I’m creating. This is my best friend. I’ve known them for a few weeks and every single thing clicks [00:30:00] because we’re enmeshed and we’re codependent and it’s just we are. So then what happens? And I was talking about this at a conference I was speaking at recently, and I felt like I had some really good feedback afterward.

[00:30:12] A good discussion is where I’m going with this, but it was around the concept of I talked about Jane Austen. I’m not a Jane Austen fan, forgive me, but I have to stand in my authentic self. But I talked about how I had had a client at one point, and when we were talking about abandonment and attachment, they were saying that, yeah, the girl that they were dating who was beautiful, that they said, This is the person I want to be with for the rest of my life, my best friend. Even though I’d only known this person for three or four weeks that she had said, Do you like Jane Austen movies? And the guy had heard of Jane Austen movies. So the guy said, Love them, absolutely love them. They’re amazing. So what did she say next? Well, what do you like about them? What are your favorite ones? He’s like, Man, I can’t even pick. I don’t even know how to pick. Now, there are so many things going on right there. Number one is that he’s not aware, he’s afraid to be authentic, but he’s not even aware that he’s not aware. That’s what we do when we are enmeshed [00:31:00] and codependent, because in his mind, there’s a couple of things going on. Number one, I got to watch some Jane Austen movies, and I’m sure I’m going to like him because I like her.

[00:31:07] Or even if I don’t like him, I can find something to like because I like her. And if I say that I don’t like them, she may leave me. There’s the abandonment wound right there. Attachment wound? Yeah. I love Jane Austen movies. I’m going to say whatever it takes. I’m going to be that peacemaker. I’m going to be that person that just I agree with everything that you talk about and what’s happening on her end. This is what’s so beautiful about this example. I’ve been talking more and more lately about introducing a little positive tension into the relationship. So when we’re young and emotionally immature, then she says, her spidey sense goes up a little bit and she says, I don’t know if he’s ever seen a Jane Austen movie, but I don’t know. I don’t want to call him out on anything that would be really awkward and rude on a date, for Pete’s sake. So I don’t know. I’ll talk to him about it later, or I’m probably misunderstanding. Maybe people don’t remember exactly which movies they’ve seen, even though in her mind she’s thinking if he really likes Jane Austen movies, the way that he’s expressing, that he does feel like we should be able to have a conversation around this. But she’s going to put that [00:32:00] aside and he’s going to think, I need to watch some Jane Austen movies now. Is it going to do it? Probably not.

[00:32:04] Or if he’s going to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, maybe. But he’s going to think, can I talk about the zombie part? And I hope that the movie is similar. But so now we go down the road in this relationship and still from this, everything’s great, everything’s amazing. And if we start having disagreements, we start worrying. I can’t really express myself. We worry about that because if I really shared the true thoughts of my heart, what if this person disagrees and they may lead me and then I will be abandoned and that means I’m broken, and that means nobody cares about me. And that means I will die. There’s my attachment wound. So we start going through life and all of a sudden we graduate college and maybe we start having kids and we aren’t sure what career we want. We start trying to have conversations with our spouse and they don’t go well all the time. We withdraw and we feel like, Gosh, that didn’t go well. And we start establishing this pattern where we try to bring things up. But if they get bumpy or awkward, we just say, You know what? It’s not a big deal because [00:33:00] if I make things awkward, maybe he or she is not going to want to be intimate with me. Maybe they’re going to start getting frustrated with me and I don’t want that, so I’m just going to go along anyway.

[00:33:09] Here we go. We’ll deal with it later. We’ll deal with it when the kids are older. We’ll deal with it when we get my real job and I start making more money or when we get a little bit out of debt or we’ll deal with it after this vacation. Because I don’t want to ruin the vacation. I don’t want to ruin the mood leading up to the vacation. We don’t deal with it because we don’t have the tools to deal with it. So as I lay this out, I know that I’m talking about the blueprint, the happiness, but I just want to lay out I feel like most of the people listening are going to identify with a lot of parts of the story because any time I have ever done a podcast even similar to this, the feedback I get is, Hey, were you spying on me? Were you or were you involved in our relationship early on? And so then we get five, ten, 15 years down the road, 20 years, whatever that looks like. And now we’ve just been going about the business of being married. And at that point, maybe one of you are you’re not happy in your job, maybe you’re frustrated [00:34:00] and your parenting, whenever you try to communicate about it, you feel like you just kind of bicker or you don’t feel like you’re on the same page because maybe you don’t even have a parenting plan or a framework to operate from as a marriage therapist.

[00:34:12] Talking about my Magnetic Marriage podcast, my four pillars of a connected conversation, I will stand by day and night. They really are amazing and gold. And for anyone that was maybe just forwarded a podcast and told, Hey, this guy gets all excited about things and he’s talking about happiness, go find a four pillared podcast I’m talking about because they are gold pillar number one. I will say these like, any chance I get is that when someone brings something up to you, let’s say that your spouse is saying, I’m not really feeling very happy in the relationship instead of being offended. I think butthurt is the phrase that kids like to use. Maybe not. I feel like that’s one of those words the kid probably used a decade ago, and now I’m just now getting caught up on it. Just like memes. I guess if somebody says, I don’t know if I’m very happy in the relationship, what an opportunity to connect is. That person is expressing themselves because they’re not trying to hurt you or there’s [00:35:00] a reason why they’re expressing that and wouldn’t I want them to express it instead of just staying buried in a bunker and happy? So if my spouse comes to me and says I’m struggling, I’m not sure if I’m happy in this relationship is difficult as that can be.

[00:35:12] And hopefully we’re going to maybe bring up maybe a lower charge topic at first. But I’m going to assume good intentions and I’m going to there’s a reason why my spouse is coming to me and expressing whatever they’re expressing. Pillar one. Pillar two. I am not going to say, Are you kidding me? Or That is ridiculous or I don’t believe you, even if I feel like all three of those are true, even if I really do feel like, Are you kidding me? I thought we had the greatest marriage in the world. Or if I want to say that is ridiculous or you’re absolutely wrong. Because if I start down that path of now disagreeing or shutting that person down, that conversation is done. We’re going off into the weeds now. We’re going to start arguing, really go tit for tat. Well, you never even listen to me or you don’t do this or well, I would hear you more if you would show up more and get off your phone or whatever it looks like. So we’re trying to stay in the conversation. Pillar [00:36:00] three then is so key questions before comments. Questions before comments. Tell me more. Take me on your train of thought. Tell me why you’re feeling that way. How long have you felt this way? What are you feeling? Help me understand. And that is a lot more difficult than I’m making it sound. I know it is.

[00:36:18] And then pillar four is to stay present, lean in, do not go into this victim mode or mentality or energy. And I hesitated on using the word victim for so long. But I hope you can understand victim mindset. Victim energy. Pillar four is one where I could listen to my spouse and they could tell me I’m not happy and it could hurt and I and it makes me feel uncomfortable. And then pillar two, I’m going to say no. Are you kidding me? No, I’m going to stay. I’m not going to tell them. I don’t believe them. In pillar three, I’m going to say why. Tell me why you aren’t happy and I want to hear you and it’s going to be difficult. And here’s where we are so afraid of contention in any relationship that we avoid tension altogether. And tension is where some growth occurs. When we can learn how to sit and communicate in that tension, [00:37:00] we can start to we can start to connect more. And if I go back to the title of this whole podcast episode about happiness is that if we just keep kicking that can down the road, I’ll be happy. We’re not maximizing the opportunity we have to connect with another person, especially somebody close to us. And so we aren’t even giving ourselves or them the chance to show up in a way that will allow us to connect. Now, granted, we don’t have the framework.

[00:37:22] We don’t. Here’s a quick plug. Tony over Macomb Workshop. I’ve got a 90 minute workshop that I’m really happy with, and I talk about these things in more detail, including four pillars and differentiation and all the things that I’m talking about, but in a lot more detail. 19 bucks. Take it if you don’t like it and I’ll give you your $19 back. I have no problem with that. I just I really want you to know that we just don’t have the tools until we learn the tools. And we don’t even think that there are tools out there to be learned until we get frustrated and we feel like I got to do something. And if I go back to the brain as a don’t get killed device, if you are to the point where you are feeling like I want more in my marriage, your brain is telling [00:38:00] you that if you don’t address it soon, your brain is going to say, Hey, I know how to get through to this person. Maybe I want to try a little bit of chronic pain or who knows, whatever that is. Here’s where we go to. So the four pillars, that fourth pillar is staying present. So where I was going with that is I could assume good intentions. I could not shut my partner down when they’re expressing how they’re feeling. And then I can ask questions before I make comments and then if I feel offended, then my pillar for.

[00:38:26] Maybe I’ll say some. My opinion doesn’t matter. I’m just walking paycheck. Who cares? Everybody doesn’t like me or take care of take it. Everybody’s taking advantage of me. And so if I say that I just did three out of the four pillars, right. And the fourth pillar, I just went out in the weeds there. And that is going to be an unproductive conversation. So the communication piece is so important on this road to happiness, and you can insert those four pillars or this codependency and enmeshment, not just in your relationship with the spouse or significant other. But I believe we become codependent, enmeshed with whatever entity we are involved in, whether it’s our kids, whether it’s our [00:39:00] family, whether it’s our siblings, adult siblings, maybe whether it’s our religious institution or our work situation. And so part of that is the more that we go through experiences in life, the more we start to realize we have our own opinions, we have our own thoughts, feelings, emotions, because we are human beings. Nothing’s wrong with us. We’re not broken. We just are being ourselves. And the more life experience we have, the more things are going to come up that we are going to say, Oh, I’ve got a different opinion, or What are your thoughts about this? And then if we have already established that it is uncomfortable to communicate with our spouse and we’re going to kick the can down the road, I think you can see that we are going to kick it down the road because it’ll be happier later what we talked about at the very beginning of the podcast.

[00:39:39] So we have to have those tools to be able to communicate. And the fact that you start having your own thoughts, feelings and emotions, the more that you go through life and the more you go through experiences, that that is absolutely normal. Absolutely normal. So on this road to happiness, I think what I do is I’m going to wrap it up right now and I can get to a part two in the not too distant [00:40:00] future. But so at that point, though, now we’ve identified that it’s difficult it’s difficult to be happy. We haven’t even started talking about a negativity bias of the brain. I’ve been alluding to that a little bit, and we haven’t talked about the concept of where our brain craves certainty. We just want to know. I just want my crystal ball and I want to know what the future is going to hold. That is adorable. It really is. We think that we’re going to be able to think our way out of a thinking problem. We think we’re going to be able to ruminate and think, well, this is what’s happened in the past and I worry about this is what’s going to happen in the future.

[00:40:28] And we are missing the point where what we can take care of is the here and now. So we have these tools to go after the things that matter to us, figure out our values. And that’s a whole other story, because when we start taking action on the things that matter, our brain is like, whoa, whoa, whoa. That is the great unknown. So the brain is going to start throwing up the Abbotts. I mean, there might be people listening right now that say, okay, this guy’s kind of spastic. He’s talking about 400 podcasts later, I’m going to do a podcast and they might get a little dopamine bump and I’m like, I’m doing it, but then what does the brain get immediately do? And [00:41:00] maybe nobody’s going to listen. I don’t even know how all the Abbotts we’re not even arguing if those are true or false statements. If at your core you want to put a podcast together, man, can I get a witness? Then it’s like, Amen. Then do it and then watch your brain do all kinds of Yeah. Buts along the way. Yeah, but yeah but yeah but I don’t even know what it cost. Yeah, but what if I can’t get anybody on there. Yeah, but I don’t even know what to talk about. Who cares? We’re not even arguing if those are true or false statements. Are they productive? Workable thoughts toward your goal of creating podcast? In fact, if shoot me a note, I’ve got some stuff I’ve written out before when I was doing a little bit more podcast coaching or podcast consulting, but take action on the things that matter, what a joy that is, and then you’re not.

[00:41:41] That doesn’t mean that. Okay, there it is. I’m at point A and that is what Z looks like. Oh heck. Now point B might be I’m going to start investigating podcasts. Maybe I want to do one and point B is going to be I had no idea that there’s all this software now. There’s amazing software in my show notes every single time I don’t talk about this enough, there is magic [00:42:00] software by a company called Script. Go look in my show notes and click on the little link and go find a script. It takes out all the others and the ums. You can edit video and audio like a word or a text document. It’s mind blowing, but so you may then say, Oh my gosh, that part is fun. So maybe I got a friend who wants to do a podcast. I want to do the editing or the producing because that’s a blast. It really is, or the video editing or the sound mixing or whatever it is. But just start to do things. Even if you’ve got a day job, even if you feel like you don’t have enough time, do things that matter because that is what it’s going to start to put you on this road to happiness.

[00:42:34] Your brain’s going to say, Yeah, but what if I’m not making money? Yeah, but yeah, but yeah, but and that is the brain as it don’t get killed device is saying, hey, I know what it feels like to do what I’m doing right now, even if it’s not the most ideal situation. So if you go start doing things that we don’t know what that’s going to turn out, you may get hurt emotionally. You may get hit by a car on your way, walking over to get a podcast mic. Your brain is going to come up with all kinds of stories because it’s going to say, Let’s just chill. Can we do that? So [00:43:00] what do we learn today? There’s a couple of different definitions of happiness. One is that finding those feel good moments, and one is living a value based, purpose filled life. And I promise you that one is a much more satisfactory. It’s a cooler way to live. And because you’re still going to have the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the bumps and bruises of life. But as you then continue to turn back toward things that matter to of value, it is just a phenomenal way to live. I can honestly say right now that this value of authenticity is something that I just I have craved for so long.

[00:43:32] And I feel that I live for the most part in a world of being authentic. And I will often ask my clients when they come in, Where do you feel like you’re being authentic? Where do you feel like you can just express yourself and be yourself? And I am surprised that it doesn’t matter. I have had politicians and CEOs of companies and moms and dads and you name it, where people will say, I don’t know if there is a place like I’m continually trying to shift and be somebody that somebody needs me to be, and that is not the path to happiness. [00:44:00] I would love you if you have questions. Maybe I’ll get to them before part two. If you have questions, struggles, or challenges on your road to happiness, can you email me? Send it to that info at Tony over eBay.com or go through the contact form on my website and send me any questions, thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, any of those things. And let’s incorporate them in a part two. And then I’m going to cover a lot more. I’m going to cover the concepts of differentiation where one person ends and the other begins. We’re going to talk about more of those. Yeah, but so the challenge is we’re going to talk about what it means to go from point A to B, B to C, C to D, because you don’t have to have it all laid out in front of you.

[00:44:32] The process of trying to figure out your values and then taking action and moving forward is where you start. If somebody says, I’m not sure what my values are, one of the best ways you can find out is just start doing something. There’s a I wish I could give her credit. I did an acceptance and commitment therapy training where the person it’s online. But she said that she will often tell her clients if they’re still after a week or two saying, Yeah, I’m still working on my values. She just says, Go outside and walk around and you [00:45:00] let the games begin. Now I will start to recognize I like walking, I don’t like talking to strangers. I like petting dogs, you know, we just want to figure out what matters to you, and then we’ll start to figure out more of those, what values matter, and we’ll assign some some activities based off your values. I will go into so much more detail on a part two. I would love to hear your feedback, your questions and and we will implement those and put those into play in the next episode where I talk about what it takes to be happy. The Blueprint for Happiness. Thank you so much for your support. I cannot thank you enough. Taking us out, per usual is the wonderful, the talented, the now all over Tik-tok or Florence with her song. It’s wonderful. We’ll see you next time.

[00:45:39] Compressed emotions flying past. Start heading out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind. It’s wonderful. And that’s the question, Rob. A ghost floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most [00:46:00] to world.

[00:46:13] Takes up all my time. It.

[00:46:39] Setting news. A discount price. A million opportunities. The chance is yours to take or lose. It’s dollar. Phones are always on the back burner until the opportune time. You’re always pushed to go farther or shut [00:47:00] up.

[00:47:07] It my. And somehow. That seems to be.

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