Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Building Love with Maria Baltazzi
[0:00:03] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 453 of Live Happy Now. As we approach February, our minds turn to love. For the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about that many ways love shows up in our lives and how we can create more of it. I’m your host, Paula Felps, and today, I’m talking with Maria Baltazzi. In her book, Take a Shot at Happiness, Maria outlines eight happiness essentials and not surprisingly, one of them is love.
Today, she’s here to talk about some of the different types of love we may be overlooking and what practices we can use to build more love into our lives. Let’s have a listen.
[0:00:42] PF: Maria, it is so wonderful to have you back on Live Happy Now.
[0:00:46] MB: Thank you for having me back. I’m so excited to have another conversation with you.
[0:00:52] PF: As we’re getting ready to go into February, we have a lot of conversations around the topic of love around your heart, because February is also heart month and everything becomes heart centered and all about love. In your book, Take a Shot at Happiness, where you map out the happiness essentials, your number two happiness essential is love. That makes you the perfect person to sit down and set up the month that we’re walking into and talk about love. My very first question, as we talk about love, what are we talking about? Being loved, loving others, in terms of it being a happiness essential?
[0:01:30] MB: Yes. All of it.
[0:01:32] PF: All the above.
[0:01:32] MB: All of the above, because it all factors in. I think that you start with self-love. When I talk about self-love, I don’t mean the selfies, narcissistic tendencies that we have taken on in the social media world. I mean, self-love in terms of respecting yourself and caring for yourself. There’s so much research that supports the importance of self-care. When you think about the analogy, and you probably have heard this, but it’s a good one, when you are on an airplane and the steward says, “In the invent of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop down. Put it on yourself first before helping others.” That’s what self-care is. It’s putting on your oxygen mask first, so you can show up better for others.
[0:02:39] PF: Do you think that self-love is the platform that we start building with to create strong other types of love?
[0:02:48] MB: I think so. I think when you have a good relationship with yourself, when you have a good understanding of yourself, that enables you to then extend that out to others. There’s that Jerry McGuire line that’s so famous when he says to Renée Zellweger, “You complete me.” No. No.
[0:03:15] PF: That’s not how it works.
[0:03:16] MB: No. You complete yourself. You complete yourself first, so then when you are in relationship, whether it’s romantically, with your children, with your friends, they’re complements. They’re not completing you. They’re not defining you. You do that for yourself. You can enter into relationships in a way that is strong and healthy and not needy. We’ve all been in those icky relationships, where people just cling on to you so much. They need you for everything and well, it’s, one, it’s exhausting on you as a human when you are in good relationship with yourself. You are better able to be in good relationship with someone else, whatever that relationship, because you have the know-how. You understand what it is to be in good relationship.
You’re not looking for somebody else to tell you how to be in a good relationship. You’re not looking for somebody else to define you, because you are in a particular relationship. I think it’s really important that you love yourself first, so you can show up stronger for the relationships that you’re in, whatever kind of relationship they are.
[0:04:49] PF: You really do talk about that. You have to explore, nurture, love in all forms. I mean, from yourself to your family, to friends, to co-workers, to pets, there’s so many different forms of love that we need to be more attentive to.
[0:05:07] MB: Well, and some of those love relationships aren’t necessarily healthy ones.
[0:05:13] PF: True.
[0:05:15] MB: That’s something else to identify. You may have a love relationship, but it is so unhealthy for you, and to recognize it and get out of it. That is across the board. It’s not just unhealthy romantic relationships. They could be unhealthy friendships. Going back to that idea of being in those clingy relationships, or those toxic relationships, where people are telling you how you should be, or what you should be doing. They’re imposing their limiting beliefs on you and you’re buying into it. That’s not good.
[0:05:59] PF: Yeah. It’s something a lot of people end up doing and we feel stuck in the, because they’re a friend, because they’re a family, because, because, because we cannot change that, or we can’t get ourselves out of that. What are some practices that you found first for identifying whether a relationship is good for you or not? Then secondly, if you identify it, it’s not healthy for you, then how do you start really, because you have to change yourself as well to get out of that relationship.
[0:06:29] MB: Well, it always begins with awareness, followed by choice, followed by action.
[0:06:36] PF: Like, awareness, choice, action.
[0:06:38] MB: Right.
[0:06:39] PF: All right.
[0:06:40] MB: Right. That’s your baseline. Some of these relationships are difficult to let go of. They’re family members. They’re longtime relationships. They’re work relationships. Then these are sticky, difficult relationships to navigate around. The first thing is you’re recognizing when a relationship isn’t good for you in that, how are you feeling? How do you feel when you are around this person? How do you feel when you think about this person? How do you anticipate seeing them, or their departure? Maybe it might be written in something that you left.
Having that understanding of how do you feel towards a particular person? That should be your cue. Once you identify that there is a relationship that doesn’t make you feel good, then you need to consider, how meaningful is that relationship to you? Do you really want them in your life? You have to look at why you want them in your life, because you might be attached to somebody out of habit. You are with somebody who’s toxic, but you don’t let go of them, because it’s familiar and it’s too scary to let go of what is familiar.
You’re afraid of being alone. You find this in abuse of relationships, where the person won’t let go of the abuser, because of what I just said, they’re afraid to be alone. They’re afraid, “Well, I might not find somebody. I’m dependent on them financially.” I mean, all of those things, you really need to get a grip on. Is that worth the price tag that you’re paying for an unhealthy relationship?
Then, there are those relationships that it’s just very easy to cut off and say, “See you later,” and you don’t worry about it. Then, there are those other relationships and they tend to be work related, or family related, where the advice is to minimize time. How can you spend the least amount of time that is going to impact you? Also, identify what are the conversations to stay away from? What are the situations to stay away from? Learning the art of redirecting the conversation.
If somebody is a big complainer, or they’re talking about something politically that you don’t agree with, or something in religion, those tend to be hot topics. Learn to just redirect the conversation. I do this all the time with complainers. I will do a non-sequitur to something completely different that’s positive and their brain just switches. They don’t even realize that I’ve just redirected the conversation. Just change the subject.
[0:10:07] PF: Your book is so great, because it’s very interactive. It has these exercises that you can do. One thing I wanted you to talk about is you have this great exercise for bringing more love into your life, and that’s through journaling. Can you talk about how people can do that and then what it does for us?
[0:10:24] MB: Well, journaling, throughout my book, I offer in each chapter prompts, and there’s now an app that’s available in the Apple App Store, and soon coming to Android, where all of my book activities are on a companion app. You can be working on your well-being wherever you are.
The reason that I have both the photography, the camera phone prompts and the journaling prompts is you were reading about love. You’re reading about different concepts about happiness. In particular, we’re talking about love here. It takes these ideas that are more intellectual, more cerebral ideas. And by having you take photos and then journal about them, it takes these head ideas and makes them heard ideas. You take these photo images of things that you’re prompted in my book to take images of what love means to you. You begin to understand beyond the concepts that you’re reading about. How is this specific to you? How does love really factor into your happiness framework?
When we think, we think in images. Our images create story loops. One of the things that taking photographs and especially taking photographs about love is you are retraining your brain to look for the good, the good things that make you feel good, that feel loving to you, that feel nurturing to you. You have the experience of actually taking the photograph, which I find is very meditative, because you’re just focusing on one image and everything else falls away. Then you have the experience later of when you look at that image, remembering what that experience was, how good it felt to you. Then you may see something in that image that you didn’t realize at the time of taking it. Now, you have another level of meaning.
Then you’re building a storehouse of love images that you can call upon at a later time. You’re creating a positive neural pathway towards the good love, not the bad love. The love that makes you feel good. Then the journaling part of it is journaling helps you process. It takes that blob of ideas that you have. Some of it may be fear-based, or you feel anxious around and you start writing. It starts to clarify and organize your thoughts into a way that is constructive and meaningful to you.
[0:13:39] PF: That’s great. Your exercises are so clear. They’re simple, but profound. They’re easy to do, but they can also take you very deep. I love that. We’ve actually worked with you to create an email series, so that people can sign up and get one basic little assignment and story a day with an affirmation and will tell people how to do that at the end of the podcast. It’s really a wonderful walk through these exercises of creating more love and really connecting with yourself on a deeper level. I love that you close out this particular chapter with the loving kindness meditation. That happens to be my favorite kind of meditation. Tell us what that is and what effect it has on us.
[0:14:24] MB: Loving kindness is a meditation, if you are starting mindfulness, if you are in the Buddhist tradition, loving kindness is a well-known practice there. It is teaching you both self-love and for love outside of yourself, love for others. Ultimately, you are expanding that circle. You’re going from self-love to love around you, to love maybe in your neighborhood, maybe in your city, maybe in your country, maybe in the world. You’re expanding it. You are opening your heart beyond just yourself in a way that’s intentional and conscious.
There are different ways that you can do loving kindness. Some people have a hard time directing that loving kindness towards themselves. It’s almost easier to first start with someone that they know loves them. Then you’re sending out good wishes. It’s, may you be happy, may you be healthy. You’re sending those kinds of messages out. As you are saying that out to the other person, then you turn it back into you. May I be happy? May I be healthy?
Then you go on to something that’s a little bit more difficult. Maybe there’s somebody that is annoying you. I mean, you like them, you want them in your life, but they’re just troubling you. You call that person to mind. May you be happy. May you be healthy. Then you turn it again back to you. Then you progress to also, more difficult people. It’s a way to increase your love for yourself, those around you, and for difficult people.
[0:16:38] PF: For me, that’s been the biggest thing is being able to say that for people who are a challenge.
[0:16:46] MB: Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah. Because ultimately, what you’re realizing in loving kindness, we all want the same things. Now, I might not like you. You may be annoying me, but you’re a human being. You want to be happy. You want to be loved. You want to be healthy, just like me. That’s what loving kindness, that’s what that meditation is all about.
[0:17:11] PF: What happens to us when we start inviting more love into our lives and consciously making practices to do that?
[0:17:22] MB: I feel like, you become softer in a good way. I feel from, and I am saying this from my experience, when I started paying more attention to being loving, is that it physically in my body, I didn’t feel so rigid. I didn’t feel that contraction. As I brought in more and more love, I actually felt the lightness, an expanding of just how I felt inside of my body. No, I didn’t feel that constriction. Then I feel that it also makes you more accepting. You’re not as judgmental. You’re more open.
I think it also leads to being more grateful and it needs to be more loving, which are the subsequent – beyond love of the happiness essentials that I talk about in my book. After love, when you love yourself enough, you love yourself to take care of yourself. You’re taking care of your health and mind, body, and spirit. Then that’s giving way to be more grateful. Then that love also opens you up to being more forgiving. I think a lot of beautiful things come out of love.
[0:18:46] PF: That is true. It’s a very important thing. We treat it too lightly, I think, especially in February, I’ve become so commercialized. Yeah, this is a great time to delve into it. I appreciate you sitting down and talking with me. As I said, we’re going to tell people how to sign up for your email course, so that they can learn about bringing more love into their lives.
[0:19:05] MB: Well, thank you for having me.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:19:11] PF: That was Maria Baltazzi talking about how to build more love into your life. Be sure and visit us at livehappy.com to sign up for building love, a free one-week email series with Maria’s daily practices for increasing love in your life. I will also tell you how to find her book, follow her on social media, or sign up for the weekly Live Happy newsletter. Again, visit us at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab.
Speaking of love, we would love to hear how we’re doing. Please leave us your comments and ratings wherever you download your podcast and let us know what you think. That’s all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.