Optimize Relationships

Locked 101 Classes

Love 101

How to Optimize the Love in Your Life

Want to optimize your relationship? My wife, Alexandra, joins us for this special class. Join us as we explore 10 of our favorite Big Ideas–starting with a definition of love then looking at the difference between falling in vs. standing in love and then some nuts and bolts Ideas on how to rock it.


Happy Together

Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts

Suzie and James Pawelski are two of the world's leading positive psychologists. James cofounded the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania with Martin Seligman while Suzie is a graduate of the program and a leading freelance writer and consultant. Together they've written an incredible book on "Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts." I’ve been waiting for a very long time for the book that would make me say: “READ THIS BOOK if you want to figure out how to integrate Ancient Wisdom + Modern Science + Practical Tools to Optimize your relationship.” And, well, THIS book is it. I HIGHLY recommend it. In fact, it's not only my #1 Love book recommendation, it's also cracked the Top 10 all-time greatest list. Big Ideas we explore include The Relationship Gym (hit it!), Aristotelian Lovers (the REAL Soul Mates), SNAP (James geniuses x2), Know Thy... (self and thy partner!), and Love Is an Action Verb (let's commit to flourishing together TODAY!).

Locked PhilosophersNotes


What Life is All About

The Doctor of Love is in da house! In this Note, we'll explore some of Buscaglia's Big Ideas on how to live with a lotta Love— starting with the fact that if we want to master the subject, we've gotta *study* it! We'll also look at how important it is to fully express ourselves and that a truly loving relationship is one in which both partners are committed to their own growth and supporting their love's growth. (P.S. My Goddess was the first chica I'd met who'd read this book and I think I fell in love on our 1st date when she told me she loved it, too!)

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

Want to make your relationship work? Then you’d be wise to turn toward the world’s leading researcher on the science of what makes love work: John Gottman. This book has sold over 1 million copies and it’s easy to see why. Big Ideas we explore: How Gottman can predict divorce with 91% accuracy (in < 15 minutes), a quick look at the 7 principles, the power of cherishing your partner, turning toward (and not being a tech rat), how to solve the solvable problems and starting “I love you” with the “I.”

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Nonviolent Communication

A Language of Life

Nonviolent Communication has sold over 1,000,000 copies. Why? It works. There are four key components to NVC: Observations + Feelings + Needs + Requests. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at each of them along with some other Big Ideas to communicate more compassionately.

Locked PhilosophersNotes


The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Kristin Neff established self-compassion as a field of study almost a decade ago—bringing the Buddhist practice of self-compassion into her labs so the benefits could be empirically validated. In this Note, we explore the three core elements of self-compassion (self-kindness + common humanity + mindfulness) and why it's so important for us to cultivate!

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Love 2.0

Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection

Ready to upgrade your vision of love? Then you’re in for a treat with this fantastic book by Barbara Fredrickson. Barbara is one of the world’s leading positive psychologists. The book is incredibly well-written, deeply inspiring and incredibly practical as well. In fact, I just told Alexandra that this book might be the one that most positively impacts my life. Big Ideas we explore include: Love 1.0 vs. Love 2.0, taking a trip to Vagus, identifying our prevailing desire, #1 tip: create 3 loving moments today, exiting our cocoon of self-absorption via loving-kindness meditation, and Love 2.0 x 2: compassionate + celebratory love.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Art of Loving

Erich Fromm, a leading 20th century psychologist, tells us that love is an art--and that if we want to master love then we need to study it like we would any other art we want to master. In this Note, we’ll explore some Big Ideas on how to rock both the theory and the practice of love. Big Ideas include moving from “falling in” love to “STANDING in” love plus the need to get rid of the illusions of a perfect relationship. If you’re looking for more love in your life, you’ll dig it.

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Emotional Intelligence

The Groundbreaking Book That Redefines What it Means to be Smart

One of the classics of Positive Psychology, Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence established the fact that IQ doesn't account for why some of us succeed and function well and others don't. In this Note, we'll explore some (really) Big Ideas on how to scientifically get our emotional intelligence on—from the power of delaying gratification to how worrying can act as self-fulfilling prophecies.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

No Sweat

How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness

Dr. Michelle Segar is the world’s leading authority on what motivates people to choose and maintain healthy behaviors. As you’d imagine, Dr. Segar has some *really* powerful ideas on, as the sub-title suggests, “How the simple science of motivation can bring you a lifetime of fitness.” Big Ideas we explore include the importance of meaning, moving exercise from a chore to a gift and embracing a learning mindset.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Way to Love

The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello

This is a tiny little pocket book featuring thirty-one inspiring, challenging meditations on how to love by Anthony de Mello, a mystical Jesuit priest who also wrote the great book Awareness that we cover. The book is a powerful, challenging look at how to break free from our conditioning, reprogram our minds and truly love. Big Ideas we explore include what it means to love, enjoying the symphony of life (by no longer clinging or renouncing), the art of looking (How are you THAT?), how to create freedom to make a fool of yourself, plus effort, effortlessness and fun.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Love, Medicine and Miracles

Dr. Bernie Siegel has been a groundbreaking pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine and teaches us the power of love, self-acceptance and believing in ourselves in this classic. In the Note, we'll explore the power of placebo, embracing our perfectly imperfect selves, figuring out who we want to be when we grow up and other such goodness to help us become our highest, healthiest selves.

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The Dark Side of the Light Chasers

Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance and Dreams

How's your shadow? (You know, that part of yourself you just don't like too much that you try to repress/ignore/etc.) Debbie Ford's great book is a classic at helping us shine some light on our dark spots and live more fully integrated, authentic, compassionate and creative lives and in this Note, we'll have fun looking at how to find the gold in the dark.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

A Complaint Free World

How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted

Will Bowen committed to going 21-days without complaining, criticizing or gossiping and challenged his congregation to do the same. 7 million purple bracelets later, Bowen created a little revolution and in this Note, we’ll check out some Big Ideas on how to quit getting your complaint on. And why you should care. Big Ideas range from shutting down the complaint factory to the fact that we’re all self-made—but only the successful will admit it.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Braving the Wilderness

The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Brené Brown is one of the world’s most beloved teachers. We’ve covered two of her other #1 NY Times bestselling books: Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. This book is all about helping us navigate our quests for true belonging—that sense of connection to yourself and to others that’s authentic, vulnerable, and courageous. First step: We need to know that it requires a trip into the hero’s forest of the unknown. Which demands “braving the wilderness.” Big Ideas we explore include deepening our understanding of that quest to true belonging, embracing paradox, the 4 practices of true belonging, how to deal with life’s challenges, and writing yourself a permission slip to be YOU.

Locked +1s

#134 Falling in Love vs. STANDING in Love

One’s a Lot Easier than the Other
It’s pretty easy to FALL in love. It’s considerably harder to STAND in love. And, simply seeing that distinction is a pretty big deal.
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#1016 Stoic Love Advice

Musonius Says: Compete in Giving Care
As we discussed not too long ago, I recently had an epic party with some Stoics. And, by party, I mean, I hung out with some of the
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#1085 Relationship Bid Math

How's Yours?
In our last +1, we talked about being Efficient vs. Effective. Efficiency? It’s GREAT for managing our time and completing tasks. Not so
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#1086 Bid Math Part 2

Addition by Subtraction
In our last +1, we hung out with Jon Gottman and learned that successful marriages feature partners responding to one another’s bids. (Did
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#1141 To Say “I Love You”

One Must Know First How to Say the “I”
In our last +1, we hung out with Emerson and practiced our Squeezy-eze. As you may recall: Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze. = I. LOVE. YOU!!! (You
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#104 The iPhone Effect

How to Immediately (+ Easily) Boost the Quality of Your Interactions Today
Have you ever heard of “The iPhone Effect”? Get this: Imagine bringing people into a lab. Split them into two groups. One group sits

#26 Celebratory Love

Gratitude’s Generous Cousin
In the last couple +1s we talked about the power of Gratitude and Grateful Flow. (You try them out yet? 😃) Today, let’s talk about
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#135 Repairing Relationships

A Key Practice for Optimizing the Love in Our Lives
In our last +1 we chatted about the difference between FALLING in love and STANDING in love. It’s easy to fall in love. It’s
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#158 Deep Love Time Blocks

When’s Your Next Time Block?
We’ve talked a ton about Deep Work and going Deep in general. But let’s get more specific and make sure we’re prioritizing not just
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#365 Fingers and Lectures

Remember: Attend Your Own Lectures
Please extend your pointer finger and shake it as if you’re lecturing someone — saying something like, “You shouldn’t do this, this
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#615 There Are No Perfect Relationships

And We Won’t Be the First Couple to Have One
A couple +1s ago, we talked about Optimizer Jessica’s kind words and then had fun talking about Mr. Anonymous Troll Guy as well. 🤓
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#721 Encourage

To Inspire with Hope, Courage and Confidence
Not too long ago, we talked about the shiny new Optimize Virtue Meditation we’re working on as part of our Optimize Coach program. I’ve
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#722 Encourage - Part 2

Making the Case for Elevating Its Status
In our last +1, I made the case for why the virtue of encouragement should be elevated to its proper status in the pantheon of how to best
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#880 Jesus on Motes and Beams

Ignore One, Focus on the Other
In our last +1, we talked about lint on the projector’s lens and the fact that, as per Byron Katie, “every perceived problem appearing
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#881 Prescribing Medicine for Your Neighbor

← Is Crazy. YOU Need It!
In our last +1, Jesus joined the party and helped us take the BEAM out of our own eye rather than point out the sawdust in everyone else’s
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#907 “How Am I THAT?”

Well, How Are You?
Continuing our exploration of using interpersonal challenges as fuel for our flames and brightness, let’s talk a little more about how to
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#32 Active Love

How to Get Out of a Mental Maze When Someone’s Annoying You
Here’s another really powerful tool from The Tools guys, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. Use this tool whenever you find yourself in one of
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#34 The Science of Self-Compassion

Three Keys: Self-Kindness + Common Humanity + Mindfulness
As we go ALL IN on Optimizing our lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s when the science of Self-Compassion comes in. The science
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#183 How to Get Super Shiny

Hint: Don’t Get Irritated by Every Rub
In our last +1, we had fun applying Rumi’s wisdom that God turns us from one feeling to another so we have two wings to fly and not one.

#256 Practice What You Preach

A Sermon on the Good Samaritan
The other day Alexandra and I were on a walk with Eleanor when we saw a dog that appeared to be lost. It had a collar and was acting sweet
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#366 How to Child-Proof Cover Your Trigger Buttons

Annoyed? Ask: How Am I That?
In our last +1, we talked about shadows and attending your own lectures. Let’s continue the theme and talk about a great idea from The
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#401 Love 2.0 (vs. Love 1.0)

Ready to Upgrade Today?
Barbara Fredrickson is one of the world’s leading positive psychologists. She wrote a book called Love 2.0 in which she challenges us to
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#418 Vulnerability Hangovers

Ever Had One?
Brené Brown tells us that what we all really want from other people is for them to be authentic. And that means we need them to be
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#435 Other Image 101

What Do You See in the Faces of Those You Meet?
In Self-Image 101, we talked about how to create the most heroically awesome version of yourself by integrating the “Optimus” you and
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#439 Rat Poison

Eat Any Lately?
Pema Chödrön tells us that being mad at someone and holding a grudge is kinda like eating rat poison and thinking the rat will die. Last
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#488 The Golden (+ Platinum!) Rule

How’re You Treating Others? AND… Yourself?
We’ve all heard of the Golden Rule. But, today I have three quick questions: 1. Do you know just how ubiquitous that Golden Rule is across
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#573 Love 0.0 + 1.0 + 2.0 + 3.0

Optimizing our Love Operating Systems
In our last few +1s, we talked about MMA Champ Champs, Olympic pankration fighters and Teddy Roosevelt’s Optimizer in the Arena. Today
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#574 Love Kryptonite

Strikes 8 Billion Times Per Day (in the US Alone)
In our last +1, we talked about Love. Specifically, we talked about Love 0.0. Love 1.0. Love 2.0. And, Love 3.0. Today, we’re going to
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#727 Looking for Love (2.0)

Finding Those Micro Moments of Positivity Resonance (TODAY!)
As we’ve discussed, I absolutely love Love 2.0 by Barbara Fredrickson. As a super-introverted guy, it’s easy for me to get lost in my
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#739 Grateful (Love) Flow

Yoda’s Laws of Action: Part 4
In our last few +1s we talked about a few Tools Phil Stutz encouraged me to consider employing as I prepared to launch our inaugural
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#757 Watering the Things That Matter

What Needs Some TLC Today?
As we’ve discussed, I’m not the best gardener. Nor am I the handiest of men. (And let’s not forget that I’m pretty bad in the
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#759 Whineysaurus Part X

Got a Name for That Whiney Guy/Gal Within?
Not too long ago, we talked about The Mystery of the Hairy Fingers. That +1 featured the prickly little guys that got lodged in Emerson’s
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#823 Love 1.5

Right There Between Love 1.0 and Love 2.0
The other day my wonderful Physical Therapist/Peak Performance (Optimize!) Coach, Dr. Julie Beck was doing her thing getting my wrist back
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#983 Love Power

The Heartbeat of All Power
In our last +1, we took a moment to celebrate the power of friends as we had fun with our new favorite phrase: “Friend Power.” I’m in
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#1119 Soul Mates 2.0

How to Find One and How to Be One
The other day we took a quick look at my Gratitude journaling. I shared my “Thank you, God for blessing me with…” reflections for
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#1120 Love in Action

Leo Buscaglia and the Johnson Love Story
In our last +1, we upgraded our conception of Soul Mates to Soul Mate 2.0. (At least I did! 🤓) Before we jump into the wisdom for
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#1121 Let’s Not Underestimate the Power of…

A Smile, a Kind Word, a Listening Ear…
In our last +1, we had some fun with the “How’d you two meet?!” Johnson Family Love Story. Alexandra: “I’m going to marry
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#1124 May I Speak With Your Supervisor?

I Want to Tell Them How Awesome You Are!
In our last +1, we spent some time with Seneca and the Buddha and Walter Russell—reminding ourselves of the importance of doing the
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#1150 Cover It All in Leather

Or… Just Wrap Leather Around Your Feet
In our last +1, we tapped into some wisdom from Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness as we wrote ourselves a permission slip and then
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#1186 Astonishing Connection

And How to Create It
In our last +1, we talked about how to tap into our Flow Superpowers. We referenced Steven Kotler’s gem from The Rise of Superman and then