Preston Smiles in his own words:
“My mission is to empower, inspire and ignite a multi-generational movement of radical growth through conscious, creative content, acts of love and living boldly. I believe we’re here to leave the planet better than we found it, and I’m committed to motivating others to join me on that mission, and live their best life NOW.”
In this podcast Steve talks to Preston Smiles about his relationship with his wife (Alexi), play, love, and communication as well as Preston’s new book, Now or Never. It’s one of our best ones!
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Listen to the Preston Smiles podcast here:
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What is your relationship to play? What do you see in the world around you when it comes to play?
For me, play is at (if not the top of my list), it’s second. I am constantly moving into it because I understand that it is the key to my personal freedom. In it is a window into creativity and it supports everything that I do. I find that there is a part of all of us that has never been hurt, harmed, or endangered. There is a part of all of us that is still innocent, still pure, it still moves from that tapped in joy that children do. It’s the reason why that when a child enters the room everybody’s focus goes over to the child. Or when a little puppy comes in, everybody finds their eyes on the puppy. The child and puppy are tapped in. They are living their truth. Our mirror neurons fire off (I am going scientific here) and see that part of ourselves in them. Therefore we are fixated on them. For me, I am cutting out the middle man and letting go this adult who has to be serious all the time and really just… remembering. Just remembering.
Why do you think Plato said you can discover more in an hour of play than in a year of conversation? Why is that possible?
Because there is a flow. There is a creative flow that happens in play. Play is not thought out. When we are in play, we are in the flow… we are in the current. I like to remind people all the time… nothing in the universe is static. We know this in science and the mystics have been saying this for thousands of years that NOTHING in the universe is standing still. Everything is flowing… always. We can either go with the current, or against the current. When we tap into play (and Plato was alluding to this), we essentially jump in the current and go with it. Our higher selves, are always… always calling us forward. A lot of us can’t hear it because there is so much white noise. There is so much noise because we are not remembering and making it a practice to play.
How do we make it that practice?
Schedule it. We schedule everything else. For me, it’s in my schedule. I ALWAYS DO IT. Today it’s 10am. I’ve already ran to the gym, I’ve already skateboarded down the hallway, I’d jumped around… kissed my wife… and tickled her. There is a lot that has already happened and it’s not even noon yet. Make it a priority! You make it a priority to go to the outer gym, now make it a priority to go to the inner gym. Curiosity and wonderment is where that starts. The problem in relationship comes when we think we know our partners… and therefore the wonderment… the curiosity goes away. For me, being curious about Alexi (my wife)… what am I going to discover about her today? What question can I ask that will spark something in me so that we can be in this interesting dance?
So, you would literally schedule play with Alexi at the same time. So 9.30am you have it in your diary to tickle each other?
[Laughing] Haha. We could, yes. For me though, I just schedule my play.
So, it doesn’t matter if Alexi is working you would still go and tickle her?
Yes. But I don’t schedule tickling per se. I just schedule play and the ‘isness’ will create that.
I want to touch on a few different things in our time here. So, moving on from play. I would love to talk about communication. You are an awesome communicator. In terms of people close to us in our life… what are the different ways we can communicate?
So I am constantly reminding myself (and this is not a fact, it’s a theory from a study by Albert Mehrabain) was that seven percent of information communicated was non verbal. The other ninety-three percent was non verbal, it was energy body, it was physiology. Whether those are facts or not, I think there is some truth to them.
So I constantly remind myself in my relationship (because our relationship is perfect in its imperfections. Do we argue? Yes. Does stuff come up for both of us? Does my ego mind come in and want to be prideful? Absolutely. Does my masculine/macho want to fix everything when she just wants to talk and say words? Yes) but the thing that I have going is that I am in a practice that I am remembering that it does matter what I say but it is less about what I say but more about who I am being when I say it.
In our new book, Now or Never. We talk about the context determines the content. So, who you are being when you are arguing matters more than what you are arguing about. It’s usually less about the ‘thing’ and more about the space you are holding in that. Part B of that is making sure I take blame off the table before I enter into a conversation with my wife. Does that happen every time? No. But I find in my relationship and in the relationships that we coach, that people feel blamed immediately. It’s just in the approach. There is a difference in a criticism and a complaint. A lot of people are criticising their partners instead of complaining about a behaviour.
For example, “How could you? You do all this the time! What kind of person shows up like this?”
That’s a criticism towards someone’s character.
Now, the opposite of that would be a complaint about a certain behaviour.
“Hey babe, next time… (I know you weren’t completely aware of this)… could you next time maybe not touch her in that particular way? Something came up for me, I know it’s not you but could you hold the space where that doesn’t come up like that again?”
Those are two different ways to come at a situation. One is about a behaviour and one is about the being of somebody.
So I find that when Alexi is approaching me about a behaviour it is much easier it is much easier for me to digest that than when it is a criticism towards my character, and vice versa.
That’s great. I believe communication is an art form that we can all improve every day. What about when you are triggered… do you go through a practical process? Do you take space from Alexi? Do you go through a breathing process? What do you do?
Also in our book, (Now or Never) we have a whole section dedicated to centering which comes from Aikido (a Japanese martial art) where one takes a conscious breath and holds four seconds, breathing all the way into the bottom of the belly.
Our reptilian brain is still operating from fight, flight, freeze, and appease.
So when one feels attacked there is less oxygen in the brain. With less oxygen, there is less options for how to respond instead of reacting.
So for me, I do my best to do a centering breath and then go about responding. If that isn’t working then we have an agreement that I get to leave.
There is a thing called ‘flooding’ that happens… mainly with men because men in western cultures are not taught to communication, not taught to say what’s happening and express their feelings.
So what tends to happen in a very general male/female triggering moment… the female is usually able to recall things from six weeks ago and say things a million things at a million miles per hour. While the man doesn’t have as much capacity and when he experiences flooding which is this chemical cocktail in the brain this is usually when he explodes.
So for me, when something is going too far – I have to leave. I have to step out of the space. When you change your neurology, your physiology… you change everything. Sometimes we are in attack mode and we don’t know that our bodies are focused on this – so when we come out of that, we have more options.
It’s all about self awareness, right? We have to know ourselves at these crisis points and navigate ourselves with the tools you are offering right now. What are philosophies on self awareness?
In our book we talk about conditioned tendencies that tend to pop up in stressful situations. So, yes… bringing an awareness to these conditioned tendencies because you cannot intervene in a world that you truly cannot see. So, I’m a world, you are a world… this is a world. The context determines the content. The outer world is a reflection of the inner world. As above, so below. As with IN, so with OUT. Without the awareness of our conditioned tendencies, they run you, you don’t run them.
What is love in this context? Does it give you more commitment to get through these triggers? Because many people give up.
I’ll say this. My awareness muscle keeps growing. The commitment I have is not just to Alexi, it’s to myself. The commitment I have is not just to myself and to Alexi, it’s to our unborn children, it’s to seven generations from now. Nobody in my family lineage has ever been faithful (as far as I know). So, for me there is a lot is also on my shoulders that I am willingly putting on there.
My commitment is bigger than just to us. It is a commitment to the world. I want to say to my kids, “daddy did everything he could to lift his vibration so your kids, and their kids, and their kids have a world of peace and harmony. Where love is a lifestyle and not just this thing we talk about on Valentines day.”
I am re-committing all the time. Everybody has a different definition of love. In my opinion is that we can’t be separate from love. We can’t be outside of it. Even in the screw ups… even in the dumb stuff that I do… even in the mistakes that I do… love can still be found there.
So, I understand that I am as much in a relationship with myself than I am in a relationship with myself and she is supporting that relationship with myself. She is reflecting back to me all the spaces in my own consciousness that I haven’t cleaned up and cleared up. So, that’s my job – to clean up my own consciousness. I forget who said it, but someone said, “If we cleared up our own doorsteps. The whole world would be clean,” so, I am taking care of mine in such a way that my neighbour could look over and go, “whoa, that’s really awesome. Let me see what I can do for me.”
I totally think you are doing that on a big scale. I don’t know if those were your wedding vows, something like, “I will show up and clear up my consciousness so that I can show up bigger and brighter every day” but certainly they are what an awesome commitment to someone you want to create a family with. My final question is about something you said in your Love Louder book. You say, “You don’t want to be in a dependent relationship with someone where someone has to be the dealer and the addict” – could you explain a little bit more about that sentence.
All of our parents did the best that they could with the tools that they had available. Society is doing the best that they can, with the tools that they have available; with the consciousness that they have available. With that said, we have created a paradigm where this “you complete me” thing, this, “dependency on another to make me happy” is in the space.
So, for me, when I wrote that it was about remembering that the idea is to have your relationship be the icing the cake, the cherry on top. Not the whole damn cake. The work is about fillings ones cup and giving from the overflow.
The work is about being your own independent being, whilst understanding that we are all interdependent. That we are a social beings, and that we need each other – but not to complete each other. For me, that is the dance. That was the reminder.
Can I operate in such a way that I don’t need you Steve, Alexi, Jon, Craig… whoever to do or be something different in order to have some level of approval or validation or anything of that nature?
Can I be self-generated in such a way that the wind blows that way? Awesome. The wind blows that way? Awesome. The storm comes. Awesome. I’ll face that too and I’ll still be love.
Amen. Indeed. That is the work.
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