Do “hacks” work when it comes to love?

by Shira Myrow LMFT, psychotherapist  and mindfulness educator


There are plenty of hacks that help us in life.  Trying to hack love isn’t one of them. Mindfulness is a far more powerful mindset when it comes to forging authentic connection. 

All of us feel besieged sometimes with the complexity of life and the demands for our time and attention. Looking for hacks that can save us time can create more space for the  things that matter.  Part of the appeal of hacks is that they can help us navigate life more efficiently and strategically. But one thing it’s important not to have a hack mentality around — is paying attention to our most precious relationships, especially our primary ones.  Research has shown that having strong, meaningful relationships are central to the satisfaction we feel in life.  

Why wouldn’t we use the same mentality to improve our relationships? Because there aren’t really short cuts to creating intimacy or for creating meaning.  Think about all the great dating and romance  advice online from love experts or the thousands of inspirational quotes circulating on Instagram—from  poets and philosophers to life coaches—meant to inspire you for the day.  As compelling and valuable as the advice is, why doesn’t it stick?

Part of it has to do with the sheer saturation of information we’re exposed to on a daily basis. But the other piece is how we integrate what we’re reading.  What is the quality of our attention we’re bringing towards the imperative to improve our intimate relationships? If we’re unconsciously spending more of our attention complaining, avoiding or even distracting ourselves,  those intentions to improve won’t have any staying power.

This is where mindfulness can make a profound difference.  Mindfulness practice enables us to witness our thoughts, emotions and sensations—from a non-judgmental position—without getting overly-emotionally attached to our experience.  Creating a practice of compassionate awareness gives us the capacity to hold thoughts and feelings in a different way, in a gentler way.  Why does that matter? 
Often times when we are triggered by our loved one, we mistake an emotional experience that we’re having in the moment as an objective truth.

Mindfulness can give us the breathing space to push the “pause” button on our emotional reactivity, that’s fueled by our amygdala (the reptilian brain) that wants to go in to a fight, flight or freeze response.  If we can take a moment and consider what’s happening from a compassionate position, we can learn to become more responsive to our partners as opposed to lash out in emotional reactivity.

Let’s say your partner texts you to say they have to stay late at work and the dinner you had to shop at three stores to make is sitting on the table and getting cold— you might feel a flood of negative thoughts and emotions around why you’re not a priority in the relationship.  With mindful awareness, you can gently allow for whatever is arising in your experience—-take a few moments to breathe, and then figure out how you can consciously respond. Here is how the process of inquiry might unfold:

-How can you compassionately take care of yourself and self soothe in the moment?

-How can you accept what is happening without a negative attribution of meaning to your partner?

-Can you acknowledge and communicate your disappointment?

-Can you honor and share  your intention to create a ritual of connection and meaning even if it didn’t go the way you planned? 

No “hack”  here can successfully supplant this intricate process of sorting through your emotions. The truth is, successful relationships not only require good intentions and commitment, but they involve a process.  Like anything else that is worthwhile, the process boils down to a daily practice— sustaining intimacy with rituals of connection, staying open and curious about your partner’s inner world, repairing and building trust after ruptures, but most importantly it is the quality of attention you bring to the practice of attuning with your partner. It is your presence, not the volume of time you put in.

There’s an old zen truism that says:  “Before enlightenment,  chopping wood and carrying water.  After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water, only it feels different.”

It is the presence and attention you bring to even the smallest, daily things—like bringing your partner a cup of coffee in the morning that have the capacity to imbue it with meaning or not. That’s how rituals either stay alive or become empty gestures over time. Bringing mindful awareness to your relationship can foster and even illuminate the attention, authentic presence and attunement that makes love feel like a dynamic and truly meaningful  practice.

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Buzzfeed - 9 Life Changing Quotes from L.A.'s Most Forward Thinking Doctors & Healers

Our very own Evenflow expert Ashley Graber is featured as #8 on this Buzzfeed article!

Los Angeles, the birthplace of cutting edge health and wellness trends. Perhaps it's the the sunshine (because it certainly isn't the air quality) that inspires these wellness experts to thrive.

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1. "Life is like a grinding stone. It can either grind you down or polish you, but it is your choice." - A Mentor

I have learned in time that nothing that is meaningful in life comes easily; suffering and challenges are necessary to push us past or current areas of weakness to help us grow. When we embrace the challenge and suffering that we perceive, through that can we grow into a new and stronger person that is more capable of helping others. - Dr. Pejman Katiraei, pediatrician, integrative medicine specialist

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2. "I’ll tell you one of the great activities is skateboarding." - Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld said, ’I’ll tell you one of the great activities is skateboarding. To learn to do a skateboard trick, how many times do you gotta get something wrong til you get it right? …And you hurt yourself, and you learn to do that trick, now you got a life lesson. Skateboarding has taught me a measured approach in both life and business. It’s how you respond, it’s how you react, it’s how you pick yourself and try again. - Dr. Jon Marashi, celebrity cosmetic dentist

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3. "I am who I am and that is that." - Guru Singh

"I am who I am and that is that. I am who you are looking back. You are who I am can you imagine that. There is one source and that is a fact." Nuff said. - Kjord Davis yoga, meditation, healer and teacher and founder of Indigo Lab LA

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4. "I am who I am and that is that. I am who you are looking back. You are who I am can you imagine that. There is one source and that is a fact." Nuff said. - Kjord Davis yoga, meditation, healer and teacher and founder of Indigo Lab LA

I love learning from many sources. So I created a curriculum for myself spanning diverse topics from chiropractic techniques, various angels of anatomy from traditional to sacred to occult to geometric to biomechanical. I’ve found inspiration in martial arts… stick and knife fighting. It helps to know how the body breaks down if I have to help facilitate the reconnecting of it. - Dr. Jeremy Brook Chiropractor, yogi, and founder of The Life Center Chiropractic

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5. "Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional." - Unknown

There is no such thing as a life without pain. Sure, some lives seem to have more pain than others, but no one gets out of this life pain free. Suffering, however, is when you refuse to accept pain. Then you’ve got two problems — your pain, and the suffering caused by your lack of willingness to accept the pain. I’d much rather accept the pain and just have that one problem to deal with 🙂 - Dr. Natalie Feinblatt, licensed clinical psychologist

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6. "Decide what you want. Write it down. And you become an antenna for whatever it is that you want." - My Dad

This mantra has lead me to great health, happiness, success, and love. The thing not mentioned in this mantra is that you also have to put in the work to make these things happen…not just hope for it to happen. - Dr. Kristyn Silver-Brook, Regional Director of BIRTHFIT West Los Angeles and a second-generation chiropractor

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7. "Much of spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it." - Jack Kornfield

When I read that quote it just blasted my heart wide open, while also making it crystal clear what my purpose and dharma is down here on this planet in this particular incarnation. I had been trying to transcend, escape and bypass my humanity — anything accept embracing it. This quote helped me lovingly see what I needed, and am still working towards, to be free to be me and help others on the spiritual path. - Jessie Shane, founder of Omana Total Health and The Society and Center for Healing Technology

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8. "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Victor Frankel

This quote encompasses my life’s work. When I see the excitement in the eyes of a CEO, a parent or a 6 year old because, for the first time in their life, they didn’t react but responded to a stressful situation, I know I am changing a life and the lives of the people around that person. - Ashley Graber, Psychotherapist, Meditation and Mindfulness Expert

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9. "You need to learn from our experiences." - My Parents

We are different, but as human beings we are ultimately still all the same. We all experience love, heartbreak, loss, happiness and persevere the same way. We can learn from one another and each other’s experiences and apply them to our own lives, as those experiences are all gifts we can give one another to help elevate one another. - Peter Nguyen, entrepreneur, alchemist and founder of clean luxury skincare line Recherche Beauté

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TED Women 2018 Leadership Intensive


Evenflow’s curriculum director’s Shira Myrow and Ashley Graber offered an in-depth look at the profound physiological and psychological effects of chronic stress. While most of us know we’re addicted to our i-phones and social media, we don’t realize how being plugged in all the time can undermine our focus and effectiveness. Understanding how our brain's stress response works and implementing mindfulness tools can help us become more self aware and grounded when we need to make clear choices --despite feeling stressed. 

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