What Makes A Life Remarkable?

SOLO 10 | Remarkable Life

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The goal of Solo is to help you live the good life—a remarkable life. But what makes life remarkable? In this episode, Peter bring together two friends, Jill Cohen and Julie Nirvelli, to attempt to answer the question. Their thoughts are truly insightful. Peter supplements their ideas with a lesson on the science that underlies what makes a remarkable life – and present good news: there is no one path that you need to walk to achieve your goal. They finish up with audience questions: 1) how can married people can support solos?, and 2) what to do when a co-worker asks you to cover a shift because you are single? If you stick around to the end for the bonus material, Peter ask for feedback from his guests on principles for a remarkable life that he has been thinking about.

Listen to Episode #10 here

What Makes A Life Remarkable?

I have a few quick updates. If you haven’t checked out episode eight, please do so. The title is Dating Friends And Sleeping With Strangers, A Valentine’s Day Episode. It’s a lot of fun. Thank you to everyone who’s reached out, the feedback continues to be positive. If you’re enjoying Solo, I ask that you do any or all of the following. One, rate and review on iTunes. Two, tell your single friends and family members about the podcast. Three, try to break up couples so that we can have more listeners. I’m kidding about number three, just rate and share with others. Thanks.

Good news, I have so much demand that I’m moving to a weekly schedule. In this episode, I bring together two friends, Jill Cohen and Julie Nirvelli to attempt to answer the question, “What is a remarkable life?” Their thoughts are truly insightful. One of my favorite thoughts is, turning and I wish into an I did. I also present a lesson on the science that underlies what makes life remarkable and present more good news. There’s no one path that you need to walk. We finished up with audience questions. How can married people support their solo friends, and what to do when a coworker asked you to cover a shift because you’re the single one? If you stick around to the end for the bonus material, I asked for feedback from my guests on some principles for a remarkable life that I’ve been working on. I hope you enjoy it. Let’s get started.

Our guest is Jill Cohen. Jill grew up in Miami, went to Emory University where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She then moved to Boulder and earned an MA in English at the University of Colorado. After that, Jill taught English abroad, taught writing CU and eventually became an ER nurse. That’s an Emergency Room nurse. She worked in Colorado, Wyoming, California, Florida and Australia. She’s volunteered in Central America and pedaled as a medic on a bicycle tour across Africa multiple times. She’s living a remarkable life and traveling the world 25 countries and counting, supporting herself as a traveling nurse. Welcome, Jill.

Thanks, Peter.

Our guest cohost returns from episode one. Julie Nirvelli was born and raised in San Jose, California. She earned her college degree from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. She’s lived in Colorado for sixteen years. Fifteen of those years she’s been my friend. Julie embraces her solo life and looks for opportunities to say yes and try new things. Above all, have fun. Welcome back, Julie.

Thank you for having me. Jill, looking forward to our conversation.

Me too.

What are we going to do? We are going to attempt to answer a difficult question, a tough question, “What makes a life remarkable?” We’re also going to do some audience Q&A. If you stick around for the bonus material, people love the bonus material typically, so no pressure. We’re going to discuss some of the guiding principles that I have for Solo. I’ve been working on them. I’d like to get some feedback from Jill and Julie. You’re ready to go?


Sounds great.

Jill, we met in Boulder due in part to your love of physical activities.

True story.

Tennis, roller skating, snowboarding, swing dance and fitness instructor.

Peter used to heckle me.

That’s not a surprise.

I never thought of it as heckle.

[bctt tweet=”Remarkable connections make a remarkable life. ” username=””]

From his mat in the back of the room. I’d be teaching a class and encouraging everybody to embrace their core and there’d be this joke that came from the back of the room. Actually, you’re right. It wasn’t heckling. It was friendly. It was banter.

If I remember correctly at first, it didn’t seem welcome.

I think it was surprising.

I’m a better teacher than I am a student. I think at this point in my life.

It was probably hard to rein yourself in.

It was a fun class. It was like a HIIT class. It was a high-intensity training class before high-intensity training was a thing.

It was a little jolting at first, but then I think I got accustomed to you and started to enjoy it. Hopefully, it came across that way that eventually I started riffing back and forth. It became something that I looked forward to in class.

You’re being kind. The fact is that it couldn’t have been that bad because you’re sitting here ten plus years later.

I didn’t run in the other direction when you asked me to be on this podcast.

You are also not only living a remarkable life but you are a solo reader. You have read every episode thus far.

That’s true.

I think of you as having these four elements in your life. One is this physicality. You’re fit, activity is a big part of your life. I’ve never seen you roller skate but that kind of thing, whether it be hiking, snowboarding or whatnot. This part of you as a nurse which we were recovering a little bit. Your sense of humor, a kind of levity, a good conversationalist, fun and funny to talk to. Then rolled into it is you, having spent many years in Boulder, out in the world, using this skill that you have and at least not one location-based to finance and give you opportunities to do that. Can you talk a little bit about that, especially that last one?

I’m curious how long you’ve been doing that and what sparks the idea to get you out of Boulder and on your travels?

It’s funny how you said, Peter, “Out of Boulder and out into the world.” We often refer to Boulder as this bubble that’s not like the real world, which I’ve found to be true in my travels. When you asked me to be on this podcast, one of the things I tried to do was I remembered back to The Humor Code. When you tried to answer the question, “What is humor? What makes something funny?” and you crystallized it in what I think is this wonderful phrase, “Humor is a benign violation.”

Someone has done her homework for this thing.

I’m a total nerd. I like to be prepared. I didn’t get that Phi Beta Kappa from sitting around. What I tried to do was the same thing for what is a remarkable life. I tried to crystallize it in a sentence, but I couldn’t. I came up with about 7 or 8 sentences. To bring it back to the question you just asked. One of the sentences I came up with was, being paid to do things you like makes a remarkable life. You talked about the physicality and the nursing. From a young age right after I graduated from college, of course you don’t have any money when you graduate from college. I had all these things I wanted to do. I grew up in Miami. I had never been camping. I had never been hiking. I had never been rafting and I wanted to.

SOLO 10 | Remarkable Life

Colorado was a good choice.

Colorado was a great choice.

Did you choose it over in New York City?

I did choose it over New York City. I had faxed an apartment lease for New York. The fax didn’t go through because this was back in the early ‘90s. I was going to go to New York because it had a better reputation as a school. The fax didn’t go through and at that moment, I said to my sister who was sending it, “Don’t send it. I don’t want to go to New York. I want to go to Colorado.”

If it had gone through, you might have had a completely different path in life.

I’m so glad that the fax machine malfunctioned at that moment. New York might have been fine. It just would have been a different life. Maybe I would have made it to Colorado eventually, but I’m glad it turned out the way it did. Before I went to grad school, I applied for this job as a counselor on a camping trip with teenagers. I had never been camping before. I asked an Eagle Scout friend of mine from college. I took them out to dinner. I said, “If you take me out to dinner, will you tell me all about camping so I can impress this guy in a job interview?” Get hired to take these kids all through the mountains in the Rockies and lead them on hikes, canoeing and all kinds of stuff. I thought I could do it. I’ve never done it before but I think I can do it.

He wavered. He was like, “I guess so.” I got the job. I was terrified because I thought, “Things just got real.” I have to put up a tent. I’ve never done that before and pretend I know what I’m doing. I had a great time on this trip and I got paid to do something I was interested in doing and that I knew. Otherwise, I don’t know how I would have traveled for six weeks through the Rockies of Canada and through Utah, Washington, Oregon, California. It was an incredible trip. I would never have gotten to do that, one, had I not lied. Two, had I not had this idea of, “It would be great to get paid to do something I like to do.” That was part of the reason why I became a nurse because I thought there were things I wanted to do with nursing, but part of it was, there are sick and injured people everywhere. If I want to go see the world, which I do want to do, I could probably get paid to do it as a nurse. I did wind up going to Australia in 2008 and working there for a year.

I remember you doing that. I can’t believe it’s been that long.

It’s been twelve years. It leads to another little sentence that I wrote. It was something about, instead of saying, “I wish,” replace that with, “I did,” and that makes a remarkable life. I heard about a doctor who I was working with who spent six months in Australia. I think her husband got a job there. She said, “I guess I’ll go over with our family and I’ll work there too.” My first thought was, “I wish I could do that.” “If I wish I could do that, maybe I could. Let me look into it.” I looked into it and it took about eight months to make it happen. I had to have an FBI criminal background check, get a medical exam.

I had to find my high school transcripts and send those to Australia to prove that I could speak English. I thought, “I have a Master’s in English.” It was total bureaucracy. I even sent a microfiche copy of it from the basement of a school in Miami, Florida. Everything was on microfiche from back then. I sent it to them. I was all fuzzy and I thought, “It’s fine. They need the paper.” I got a letter back from them that said, “We can’t use it. It’s too fuzzy. You’re going to need a note from the principal that you graduated.”

I have a colleague and friend, Adam Barsky, who was on my other podcast called I’m Not Joking. Adam is an American living in Melbourne, Australia. He’s a professor of organizational behavior management at University of Melbourne. Adam gets all these great things. He won a teaching award recently and he’s a fine teacher. You’ll get that impression if you read the podcast. What happens is, he will do the bureaucracy. Not that he’s not deserving, but he filled out these forms. He wrote this essay. He does these twelve steps that are designed to keep people.

Who’s the most persistent, it’s more of a filtering process than anything else.

He is willing to do the admin. As a result, he gets money to do this thing. He has sponsored me twice as a research scholar there. He and I are willing to fill out the forms, check all the boxes and dot all the i’s and all the t’s.

Tenacity makes a remarkable life.

You eventually made it to Australia. You turn your “I wish” into and “I did” and then you were hooked.

It was an amazing year and I did actually come back and work in Boulder for quite some time after that. The way nursing works, it’s so easy to take a lot of time off and travel as a nurse. Even though I was in one place for a long time, I was taking at least month-long trips, three-week-long trips, a couple of times a year. Along with week-long, two-week-long ones here and there. Using every bit of paid time off you have makes a remarkable life.

[bctt tweet=”The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. ” username=””]

Assuming you get it. The average American gets about two weeks of vacation. Americans are the 3rd or 4th most hard-working people in the world. The Japanese and the Mexicans are higher when it comes to this, but Americans are 3rd or 4th. While all of Europe is on holiday in August, Americans are sweating through their work and maybe taking two weeks if they’re lucky.

In Australia, their work ethic is a lot less intense than the American work ethic as well. Somehow, they still get everything done.

It’s work to live culture, more than live to work.

It was funny when I had my exit interview in Australia, they were looking at my timesheet and my manager looked at me and said, “You owe us one day.” I was immersing myself in the culture. I said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize.” Their response was, “That’s okay. No worries, Jill. It’s fine. We made it through the year.” I love that attitude that they approved it. I took the time off because they approved it. I wasn’t keeping track of it into the minute, but I loved that it was their response. Don’t even worry about it. We want everybody to be happy because happy employees make happier work environment. You have longevity. I appreciated the way they treated their employees there. It was nice.

I want to give Julie a chance. If you have a question for Jill, you better ask it because I’m about to ask you something.

You said you went back to Boulder for a while. You just got back from a trip. Are you still doing the traveling nurse?

Do you have a home or are you a nomad?

Both. I have a home in Boulder, and it’s rented out. I’m working as a travel nurse and I started doing that some years ago. I quit my job at the hospital in Boulder, and I signed up with an agency. The way the travel nurse gig works, in a nutshell, is hospitals around the country sometimes have temporary needs. They maybe have someone who’s going on maternity leave or having surgery on their leg and they don’t want to hire a whole new full-time person to fill that spot. They need someone for three months. They seek the agencies, the agency looks at their roster and says, “We have a couple of nurses who could fill that role. We’ll submit them.” It has to be that the timing works out for you. You’re available. When you’re needed, you want to go to that hospital. The pay package looks good to you.

It’s like a matching process.

It’s like online dating for work. Swipe right on this one.

Swipe left on that hospital. It’s in the inner city of who knows where. I think maybe a lot of people do want to work in an inner-city, but because I like to be active in hiking and all that stuff. I have chosen to live in these small rural hospitals where there are amazing opportunities to have outdoor adventures. My first travel job was in Lander, Wyoming, which if this tells you anything, the headquarters for NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School.

They’re your people.

I was united with my people. I worked there for three months. The next job I got, I feel like I lucked right into this. Bishop, California, which is in the foothills of the Eastern Sierras, it’s a beautiful place in California. It’s about 30 to 45 minutes away from Mammoth Mountain, where it snowed about 4,000 inches one season. That was a great spot to land. I wound up staying there for six months, I renewed because I liked it so much. I took a hiatus from the travel nursing thing because you talk about being tenacious and filling out all the paperwork. I had interviewed for this medic job on a bike tour with a different company.

It’s a company called Tour d’Afrique and they do these long-distance bike tours all over the world. A friend of mine showed it to me and said, “Have you ever seen this website? Would you be interested in doing this?” I looked at it and I said, “Yeah, I’d totally be interested in doing that. I wish I could do that.” He never did it but I’ve been on two of them. I had to keep staying in touch with the Operations Manager. I kept nudging him with emails. I went in and had an in-person on the job interview where I went and met a tour that was in progress in Africa to show them how interested I was. After being so annoying that I think finally he said, “I have to give this girl a job.”

I wound up on a tour in Madagascar for two months. It was fantastic. It was difficult. It was challenging. It was way far out there but wonderful. It was an amazing experience. I took the hiatus from travel nursing, came back after that and collected myself. I figured out what is my next move. I wound up in Grass Valley, California, with a conventional three-month travel gig. I’ve been working for two or three months already in Truckee, California, which is right outside of Lake Tahoe. I’m working as a seasonal nurse in the emergency room in that hospital. It’s called Tahoe Forest.

Dealing with ski injuries?

SOLO 10 | Remarkable Life

We have a wrist fracture Hall of Fame in ER and it’s full. We’re going to have to put up another page because it’s full. We see a lot of ski injuries. Particularly this season, because it’s not a great snow year this year, but I don’t know it could still happen in March.

Julie, thank you for asking that question. You speaking of physical things, I found this out about you. You’re a long-time mountain biker. You mountain bike 1, 2 or 3 times a week on a regular basis.

That frequency has been more recently, but I started mountain biking probably several years ago.

You’re preparing your first mountain bike race?


What is the difference between going mountain biking and participating in a mountain bike race? Why now?

The type of mountain bike race that sounds appealing to me because I’m not a strong climber is called Enduro and it’s just the time of the downhill portion.

That sounds like cheating.

You can take your time climbing. With Enduro, my understanding is, I haven’t done all my research, but you’re not elbowing people for trail space, you’re timed on your ride. The fastest time wins.

Who is the nuttiest person out there is what they’re measuring, right?

It’s a bit of the thrill-seeking version of mountain bike racing.

Downhill is the gnarly, full-face mask doing crazy stuff. There are different levels. Enduro, I’m sure, has crazy terrain also. In my mind, this is something I would like to work up to. I learned about an organization called Vida in Colorado, and they have a rider to racer program for women. I’m waiting for them to post their information. They’ll recommend training schedules and nutrition. They’ll also recommend which races are good to start and then work your way up to harder races.

This sounds like an “I wish” to “I did” situation.

I agree. I’ve been thinking about it for years. I said, “I am going to do this.”

I’m so impressed because a corollary to turn “I wish” into “I did” is, “I’m scared of it, I should.”

I completely believe in that. I find myself saying that all the time. I’m like, “I’m scared to do this. I need to do this.”

[bctt tweet=”A remarkable life is helping out when you can, and trying not to make things worse for anyone else. ” username=””]

If it’s uncomfortable, like that yoga pose you can’t stand to do is the one you should do.

We’ve been dancing around this question long enough. Think of our poor readers who want to know, what is a remarkable life? I want to preface this and distinguish this from a closely related question, which is, “What is a happy life?” This is informed by my background as a behavioral scientist. Happy has a particular term that is akin to pleasurable, lots of positive emotions. Some people might think that a happy life is a remarkable life but I think that they can be independent of each other. Often, things that make life remarkable are things that are uncomfortable for example. It’s hard to be happy while you’re uncomfortable. We’re seeking the question of not what is a happy life but what is a remarkable life?

That’s an important distinction.

Jill, you’re living one. Tell the world.

A couple more of the phrases in which I tried to crystallize it come to mind. This is a sweet one. Remarkable connections make a remarkable life. That does relate to what you’re talking about as far as discomfort because sometimes your friendships, your relationships are, of course, pleasurable and they make you happy. Sometimes they’re uncomfortable and you have to work at them and get through difficult times whether it’s a disagreement or a separation.

Simply, this is that you’re going to disappoint people and people are going to disappoint you because you’re different.

We all probably have a different idea of what it means to live a remarkable life. That’s something that I agonized a little bit over as I was preparing for this because a couple of things, I’m a middle child, number one. You tend to be a diplomat and try to look at things from every angle and see things fairly. I’ve been selected for jury duty three times in my life. I’m not talking about like I got called to the courthouse.

You sat on the jury.

Six lawyers decided, “She’ll see my side of the story. I could probably convince her.” They thought that, so I’ve sat on the jury.

Three of them are on one side and three on the other side. Adversarial, they both think that they can convince you.

At best thought, “She’s fair. She’ll look at both sides at least.”

That’s a much better framing.

It speaks to, what is a remarkable life? I’m like, “I don’t know, who am I to say?” There are many different things to what’s remarkable. To me, it might not be remarkable to someone else.

It’s in the eye of the beholder.

Which leads me to one of the things I wrote, one of my phrases was, “It’s when a bunch of other people tells you that you’re living a remarkable life.”

I can see what you’re saying. Those people are connecting with what you’re doing and they’re wishing that they could. Some people might say, “I don’t want to go on those kinds of travels.” It’s even in the eye of the person who is giving you the kudos for a remarkable life.

I’m certainly pleased with the life I’m leading. When I think about it, I think, “I’m doing okay here,” but I hadn’t thought of myself so much as I’m living this remarkable life until Peter sent me the link to the podcast and said, “This is your life.”

Your life is remarkable.

SOLO 10 | Remarkable Life

It gets reflected back to you. One thing about being human is our ability to adapt. The beautiful thing is, we’re good at adapting to bad things. A change in circumstance for the worse feels terrible in that transition, but you have this psychological immune system that helps you adapt to your new, worse off situation. That’s great that we can do that. It helps with aging for example.

The other side of it is we’re good at adapting to positive changes in our life. We’re even better at adapting to positive changes. You get a new car, a fancier, faster, more comfortable, more luxurious car. You’re like, “This is great.” Six months later, you adapted to it. This is my new normal. This is called the hedonic treadmill. You’re constantly pursuing greater and greater pleasures and so on. When it comes to your first trip to Australia, it’s just there. It’s constant. You’re like, “I’m in this new place.” You’re experiencing all these wonderful things. It’s stretching you. That feels special. Fifteen countries later, it’s still special but you’ve adapted so much of it. What happens is when there’s someone else who looks in and can remind you, you’re like, “This is good.”

That’s fantastic to have because otherwise, you can forget. You can take it for granted. That can be with about anything that you have in your life. Living in Boulder, I had to remind myself every time I crested Highway 36. You see that view of Boulder, it’s spectacular. Maybe most of our reader haven’t seen it, but you cross this hill and you can see the flat irons and these beautiful mountain formations. You can see Rocky Mountain National Park.

There’s a pull-out, an overlook.

Though I decided to ultimately leave Boulder, I tried to never lose my wonder that I was living in a magnificent place. That’s important to do that can contribute to a remarkable life for sure. To continue to see. Maintaining your wonder is something that would contribute to a remarkable life for sure.

This is great. You did some homework.

We’ve touched on a couple in different wording, but what you said about keeping your wonder made me think of what I wrote. Being grateful, appreciating what you have, where you live, what you’re able to do. Even if you don’t have the means to live a remarkable life, how are you able to work within your means to have a remarkable life? I felt like being grateful was one that was important.

I feel like I’m wearing my behavioral scientist lab coat. Because you say something, I’m like, “There’s a study about this.” In the last 20 to 30 years, there’s been this rise in what’s called positive psychology. Psychology initially was focused on the negative, on deviance, on depression and anxiety, and mental health problems. They’re the difficulties to be human. That makes a lot of sense. There’s what’s called a negativity bias. Negative things have a bigger effect on us than positive things. Martin Seligman helped spearhead the growth of this area of psychology that was focused on not how we alleviate suffering, but how we can actually enhance people’s lives. It’s to help them live better lives, and some of the work has looked at gratitude. People who regularly express gratitude in their life are happier people. Scientifically proven. Of course, people are wondering, “How do I do that?” Some people naturally do it. They take stock and they go, “Today was a good day.” The average person doesn’t do that because of the negativity bias.

In any one day, there are good things and there are bad things. We tend to pay attention to the bad things. We pay attention to the traffic, to getting a parking ticket, the toxic worker and so on, versus the times where the traffic was smooth. You had a wonderful interaction with a patient, friend, or whatnot. People do a gratitude journal. If you prescribe someone a gratitude journal, and it’s simple to do. At the end of the day, you write down three things that went well and why. People who regularly do a gratitude journal have this uptick in positivity in their life, because, one, it focuses them on the good things in their life. It’s a nice reminder, “Today was a pretty good day.” The ‘why’ leads to learning. It’s not just happening, but when you say, “Why was that interaction with a patient so positive?”

I’m so happy to hear this because I feel like, “I’m doing something right,” because I tried to say thank you as much as I can when people do something good or nice. Sometimes I’m like, “Jill shut up. Nobody wants to hear you continue to talk.” Sometimes I’m like, “No, no, I need to tell them why I’m thankful for what they did. Why it was good.” I won’t say to a patient, “Thanks for waiting.” I’ll say something like, “Thank you. I know you’ve been sitting here a long time and it’s hard to wait in the ER without getting upset. Thank you so much.” My flight attendant on my flight from Reno to here, this guy was unbelievable. He was the friendliest, most loving flight attendant I have ever had on a flight.

I said that to him as I was walking off the plane, “Thank you so much. You were the friendliest, most upbeat and positive flight attendant I’ve ever had,” and he wasn’t even annoying about it. He somehow did it without being annoying. He had the biggest smile on his face. I’m so glad that there’s some scientific evidence to back up that I’m doing something right in my life. The balance of positive and negative with gratitude and recognizing things that are difficult. What you said touches on something important because you do have to let yourself have your moments. Things happen in life that aren’t wonderful and they need to be managed or dealt with. Most people probably who are following this podcast are doing pretty okay. They have a roof over their heads and food in their belly, an income.

They’re trying to enhance. We should be marveling at our good fortune. We should be like, “I can’t believe how well this is going.” There’s this guy. He’s like a former Navy SEAL. His name’s Jocko Willink. Jocko is this big burly guy. He’s got this deep voice. He’s a Navy SEAL turned business guru, philosopher, whatever. He’s got a podcast, a book, etc. He has this thing, and I think it works well, especially within the military. Because if you’re in the military, things are going wrong all the time. You’re constantly being disappointed.

There are constant challenges and so on. He’s trained himself to when something bad happens, he says, “Good.” “Mission got canceled.” “Good, it gives us more time to train for the next mission.” If you sprained your ankle, “Good. It’s time to work on your weaknesses in lifting weights.” When you think about gratitude, we don’t tend to be gracious enough. Next, when we do, we focus on the good things but think about how many bad things have happened in your life that ended up in the long run being a blessing.

My dad does a presentation and he quotes Captain Jack Sparrow who said, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” That’s exactly what we’re talking about. If someone cuts you off in traffic, it’s totally up to you how you want to react to that problem. Let it slide and be happy. You have a car, be grateful that you’re not taking the bus or whatever.

Jocko does the good thing better than I do it. I haven’t exactly embraced that yet. My version of this is it’s difficult to know the goodness or badness of something while it’s happening.

You don’t know because you can’t be having two different experiences at the same time. How do you know that whatever “bad thing” happened to you is better or worse than something else that might have happened to you had that situation not transpired?

You might need ten minutes. You might need ten years to know. Think about your fax machine story. You try to send the fax and it doesn’t go through and you throw a fit. That’s seen as a negative thing as this blocking your progress versus it changes the course of your life in some way. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what the experiment is, but you know that life has turned out well. Julie, what else do you have?

When you first asked the question, the first thing that popped into my head, a remarkable life is being nice to people.

[bctt tweet=”Achievement is in the eye of the beholder. ” username=””]

I wrote something like that too.

You and I have so many overlapping, but I feel like if you’re being nice to people, it’s an energy and it’s a happiness. You’re exuding that. It ties into what we were talking about your attitude and how you treat people. How, Jill, you compliment people and you’re going above and beyond being nice, you’re being more than nice. I do think that’s an important part.

You two are way nicer than me. I don’t even have anything like that on my list per se. This may resonate with Jill. If you press me, I would say, “Do no harm.”

I have that.

One of the beautiful things about the world, and it’s the premise for this podcast, is that there’s not just one way to do it. We’ve been dancing around this idea 100%. You can’t do anything you want. I don’t believe you can do anything you want because some things make the world worse and harming people. We can work hard to define the word harm and what does that mean. What you’re suggesting is it’s not the absence. It’s trying to create positivity.

A remarkable life is helping out when you can and trying not to make things worse for anyone else. We didn’t even know each other before we got in this room.

I didn’t want to share these in advance either. The fact that there’s some overlap is probably a good thing. That means we’re probably starting to circle something.


Do you want to do another one, Julie?

I had intentional living, which is the same thing Jill said about instead of “I wish,” “I did.” I also think that the difference between “What is a happy life?” and “What is a remarkable life?” is being more intentional about doing exciting things pressing against your comfort level, so on and so forth. That one overlapped. This one overlapped as well. You said remarkable connections. I said, “Spending time with people who feed your soul.”

I could create a table and put yours next to each other, using different languages but never saying the same exact things.

Great minds, Julie.

Prioritizing passions, which is also that intentional living. For me, mountain biking is a passion and I decided I’m not buying a ski pass next year because I would rather be on my bike. I’m going to get a fat bike for next winter, so I can still play in the snow but on a bike because that is my happy place.

This came up in episode one, where Julie said, I’m very proud of her for this, where she set real boundaries in her dating life, which is, “I’m not mountain biking in order to do something with you.” It’s like, we can go out afterward. We can go the day before, we can go the day after, but I’m not canceling my mountain biking plans to go to lunch with some dude who probably won’t be around but the bike will.

My bike is loyal.

Jill, do you want to jump in? Do you have one more or ten more?

I have something to add to that. As a single person, any relationship I’d get into, I’d want to make sure I could still do my passions. That’s the only way I would want to be in that relationship. Perhaps it is why I’m still single is because I do require lots of freedom and space to do the things I want to do. In any good relationship, you should be able to, this is just Jill, I’m not 100% sure. I’m no expert on it, but the guy would be like, “You’re mountain biking today. That’s awesome. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I don’t attract those ones. I don’t know what the deal is.

I also agree with that. I often say, “This is a coordination issue. It’s not a compromise.” We’re going to coordinate but we’re not going to compromise. When you have this dyad as the unit, where it’s two people come together and their lives become meshed that demands a level of compromise that some people are not comfortable with. It’s often hard to find someone who thinks in a non-traditional way.

It’s interesting. It’s tough to find a relationship with someone who values independence. Those are competing ideologies. It’s like a matching thing too. Once you get in it, you coordinate the logistics. To match with someone who values the independence as much as you do, seeking a relationship is tough.

I’m going to add something that was going to make the two of you uncomfortable, which is, I can also imagine how difficult it would be for a guy who meets you. You’re funny, you’re smart, you’re successful, you’re beautiful. You’re active. You’re the total package. What happens is some guy comes along and he’s like, “My God.” He wants to keep this wonderful creature as close as possible. I don’t want her getting far away. It’s like this thing where you need to have this comfort and confidence as a partner to be able to say, “I’ll see you on Tuesday. Go have fun.” For the average person, it’s hard to meet someone who’s that exciting, fun and good company, and then it’s also threatening to let them go off and fly around.

It’s been interesting particular because one of my passions is swing dancing, it’s partner dancing. Not only are you going off, you’re going off to hug a bunch of other guys all night long. At the end of the night, oftentimes it turns to a blues dance, which is slow and sultry and sexy. It definitely can be a bit uncomfortable for a partner who doesn’t do that. It’s a niche hobby. Not a ton of people do that, plenty of people do. I don’t necessarily want to date someone who dances. If he does, great, but if not, that’s fine but he has to be okay with me doing so.

Julie’s version is the mountain biking and your version is the swing dancing.

Lots of women do it, but a lot more men mountain bike than women and ride with both. There’s that same, “Who did you ride with?” Then you can see the presumptions happening.

It could be threatening, especially early on. You’re excited. As a guy, you get excited. I could see how that can present a challenge. I also understand rightfully why you say, “This is non-negotiable.”

Sheila, I call my bonus mom. She’s my stepmom, but she’s my bonus mom. She’s talked about this idea of compromise. When you compromise neither side wins. You’re giving something up. The term she likes in a relationship is cooperation. Coordination cooperation together to make it work for everybody.

I’m a weirdo in some ways. Sometimes I’m like, “Let’s go to separate movies if you want.”

I feel the same way.

I know that’s a bizarre thing for some people like, “Separate movies?” I’m going to put on my lab coat again for a moment. I’m hoping that this lesson will start to bring some of this stuff together. I mentioned Martin Seligman earlier as the father, grandfather of positive psychology. One of the main areas of research in positive psychology is on what’s called life satisfaction, essentially, trying to measure the goodness of a life. What’s interesting about it is both psychologists and economists have attempted to do this.

Traditionally, the view was there were two paths to a good life. One is pleasure or happiness. On balance, how pleasurable is your life? You can imagine someone who has chronic pain has a less pleasurable life than someone who doesn’t. Someone who can take a nap every day has a great sex life, has access to good tasty food, has a joyous family or friendships, or things that lead to a more pleasurable or happy life. The other one is meaning, people who are living a good life are pursuing meaningful pursuits. Parenthood is an obvious one that lots of people do, which is helping to raise this thing into something that is not embarrassing.

Spoken truly like a single man.

It doesn’t have to be parenthood. It could be curing cancer or fighting oppression. Any number of things that are purposeful in life and make the world in some way a better place. Those things are often not pleasurable, like curing cancer is not pleasurable in the sense. Long hours in the laboratory, sleepless nights puzzling over things. Fighting oppression is not like afternoon delight. It’s hard work. The way this was focused on was this tension between pleasure and meaning. What happened was Martin Seligman wrote about this and was a person who pushes this idea along until rather recently. He wrote this book called Flourish. In it he says, and this is something that a senior scholar rarely does, “I was wrong.”

There’s a saying in academia attributed to Max Planck, which is that scientific progress happens one death at a time. The idea is that the big breakthroughs don’t come from the most senior scholars, those folks are entrenched in their beliefs. It comes from a mid-level person, someone who has enough experience to be dangerous but is not completely tied to the theories of the day. He then says, “There are not just two paths to flourish,” a good life or we might say remarkable life. There are three other paths. He presents this as an acronym called PERMA. The PERMA model. P is Pleasure, the M is Meaning. We’ve covered those two so far. The E stands for Engagement. Engagement has a particular form. It’s creative problem-solving. It’s in many ways, the artist way. Artistic endeavors, creative endeavors and so on, which are challenging. When they meet your ability level, when your ability level and the challenge match up, you have this ability to be engaged in what’s called a flow state. A flow state is this satisfying state, where time evaporates. This doesn’t have to be writing or painting, it could be manipulating data as a scientist. It could be biking. It could be dancing, where you have this satisfying moment where the world goes away and you’re in the zone.

R, Relationships. Relationships are a path to living a good life. One thing that is clear is this doesn’t have to be a partner. This could be a community. It could be being part of a religious community, part of a group part. It could be part of a group of friends, but being involved with relationships, close or disperse, is one of those paths. The last is A, Achievement. That’s doing something difficult to do like building a business, winning gold medals, getting a PhD. Things that are challenging to do but are satisfying. Climbing a mountain is not pleasurable. You’re not changing the world in any way. You might be doing it alone. It’s apart in that sense. One of the cool things about the PERMA model is that it suggests that there is no one path.

That’s why I couldn’t crystallize it.

PERMA is crystallizing it.

[bctt tweet=”A remarkable life is when you’re always trying to improve yourself. ” username=””]

I don’t feel so bad that I couldn’t crystallize it because this renowned scientist couldn’t do it either. He said at least these five things that we have.

There are these things that are interesting about it is so for example, you can’t do them all at once. To try to live a good life by doing each of those five things is impossible. It takes too much time and energy. Some of them are negatively correlated. If you want to live a pleasurable life and a life of achievement, good luck. Michael Phelps wins how many gold medals? Was his life pleasurable while he was doing it? No, he’s spending six hours a day in an ice-cold pool swimming. If you think that’s easy, go jump into a cold pool and do three laps and think about how hard that is. If you said to him, “You can’t train today.” Would he be relieved and happier? No, he would be less happy because he’s not doing the thing that he’s tuned in to do.

The other thing is you can imagine putting weights on these things. Some people are solo artists. They spend a lot of time alone. They’re making something. They’re never becoming famous for it. They may work in their damp, cold studio. They’re focused on that E, engagement, and when you contrast that with a woman who’s a mom who has left her career to raise these children. You ask them to switch spots, they’re both worse off. Not only is it that you can’t do them all, but they’re also not easily interchangeable. They may rise and fall in different parts of your life.

With your artist example, it’s heavily involved in the engagement part of creating a painting. Once it’s complete, then does that move it into the achievement?

It’s not necessarily.

Achievement is in the eye of the beholder because other people can look at you and say, “That’s a big achievement,” but if you feel like it is or isn’t?

They can complement one another. Creative endeavors often benefit from having positive emotions, being well-rested but it doesn’t have to be. There are artists who create not for the final product, but because they must create, the process. You can be Stephen King and have the process and become a millionaire, multi-millionaire and have both together.

I saw this movie on the plane, Ford v Ferrari.

I’m familiar with the premise of it.

It’s about racecar drivers. There was one moment where they were recognizing people, he said something to the effect of, “They can’t not do this. This guy can’t not race cars. They can’t not build cars. They can’t not try and spend hours and hours making this car, the fastest car in the world.” That phrase goes along with what we’re talking about. I feel like there’s such a fine line between being happy and doing something meaningful. I don’t know if the people who are engaged in that endeavor and maybe seeking that achievement, doing that work. It can be lonely, but they can’t not do it. That may be calling.

That is their happy place.

It’s not biologically pleasurable. That’s the thing, the P, the Pleasure has this biological element to it. People get themselves into trouble thinking that they should be pursuing pleasure. Indeed, some of us should, like some people are just wired that way. They’re a bit more hedonistic, but what I always say to folks is if you want to look to see what are the hints at your remarkable, this is what we’ve been talking about is not what is a remarkable life. It’s what is your remarkable life. It would be a mistake for someone to try to live Jill’s remarkable life or Julie’s remark. What is it? What I say is, “Look backward in order to look forward.” What are the things that you’re constantly finding yourself doing even though you go, “Why am I doing this?” It’s always been making something, doing something, creating something or bringing people together. It’s like, “What are we doing tonight after this?”

We’re going to dinner in a comedy show.

I brought six people together, not everybody who knows each other to do this pleasurable activity but also has this relational element to it. This is my day. This is a typical day for me. I got up, worked on my podcast and did some writing. I met up with Julie. We had a nice brunch. We went on a hike. We’re creating a podcast now. I’m bringing people together for more pleasure laughs enjoyment in conversation. I’ve been doing that since I was twenty years old.

You’re such a slacker, Peter.

I wonder and I’m like, “Why am I so stressed out? Why am I doing all this stuff? I don’t need the money.” I go, “It’s just because I’m compelled.”

You can’t not do it.

I can’t do it. I try to take something off my plate. I just put something else back on.

You’ll be intentional about what stays on your plate.

I’ll get ruthless when I need to. I’m not offering the PERMA as an alternative to your ideas. I think what you can do is you can start to fit. It’s like being nice to people suddenly fits into this relational category and into this pleasure category. This idea of having remarkable connections, as you said, it fits into the R. This idea of challenging yourself, whether it be turning a rider into a racer, takes this thing and turns it into a moment of potential achievement. You can see how this stuff starts to coalesce. It’s difficult for someone who’s living their good life that takes some balance of these acronyms and tell you that you should be living the same exact life.

I’m not sure if I’m agreeing or disagreeing with you. I agree with you that yes, we shouldn’t do that. We shouldn’t impose our remarkable life on anyone else. I was reading an article on National Geographic, they did a documentary. We all saw it at the Oscars about the young Syrian female doctor whose hospital got blown up in Aleppo. What did she do? She went into the caves, the underground tunnels and saved thousands of children over the course of the years that she worked there as a doctor. Any doctor in those circumstances would be difficult, but she was a female doctor in Syria. It was even more remarkable and I thought, “What am I doing on this podcast?”

Of course, I would love to have Whoopi Goldberg or Mindy Kaling on this podcast. People who are solo, who are living these amazing lives, but I want people like you two on here because the average person reading is never going to have Whoopi Goldberg’s life. The idea that this is within grasp, within reach, is important.

The average nurse is never going to do with this woman did but is it okay, is it enough that I’m making my little corner of the world not worse for anyone else? Hopefully. I would extend that to lots of people who I meet. I thought of this example of this security guard who I met when I was traveling in Mexico. When I travel, I try to practice my Spanish. I try to have as many conversations as I can because I feel like it makes me a better nurse when I come back. You get to meet a huge variety of people. You get to provide entertainment for the locals who will laugh at your terrible grammar. It’s a win-win situation.

I chatted with this guy every night for a week at this cabana that I was staying at. He was so nice. I asked him during one of these conversations, “What else do you do besides work as a security guard here at night? What do you do on your days off?” He said, “I work here every day.” I said, “What about during the day then?” He said, “When I leave this job in the morning, I go to another hotel and I clean the pools there. Then I go home and I sleep for a little bit, then I come back here and I do this job.” I almost started crying because I thought my next questions to him were, “When do you see your friends? How do you have a girlfriend or have you ever been to a party? What do you do for yourself for fun?” I was so distressed about this. He looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, it’s okay. I’m okay. I left Mexico City as a child. My parents couldn’t pay for us to go to school. I didn’t get an education, but I got myself to a much nicer place here. Do you see these boots I’m wearing? I bought these boots. I bought them myself. These jeans, I bought these jeans. Don’t worry about me. I’m okay.”

One of the other phrases that I wrote was something to the effect of a remarkable life is when you’re always trying to improve yourself. I didn’t want it to sound too self-help-y. What I meant was that have these conversations and be open to eating. For me, improving myself was speaking Spanish so that I could be a better nurse at work and get to know more people and have that inform my perspective. Be a better person by getting to know other people. Learning about what else is out there and how many different things are happening in this world that can only make me a better person. What that particular conversation made me recognize was there are all kinds of remarkable lives happening. Sometimes it’s someone getting out of bed and going to work every day and going home wearing the clothes that they bought. That was his remarkable life.

It’ll be subsequent to this one, but I’ve already taped an episode with Charlie Merrill, who’s a physical therapist. We talked about pain and injury. We spend a little bit of time talking about working out to look good naked. What I say is, “We should not be aspiring to have the body of an Instagram model. What we should be aspiring to do is have the best body that we can have with all our flaws and all our challenges and whatever that that may be.” This is reminiscent and that’s not just for your body. We should be trying to live the best life that we can live within the challenges and circumstances that we have.

It’s good people to recognize but that might look different for everyone.

I want to do a couple of questions before we turn to the bonus material. We have to be a little tasky because we have people arriving for food and drink prior to our comedy show. We have two questions that have been submitted. Julie, do you want to do the first one?

Yes. This is from Steve in Colorado. This is a follow-up question from episode two, which talked about the discrimination against solo people in various ways. He says, “When someone at work says, ‘Since you’re the single one, you should take this extra work on.’ What is a good response to that?”

My first cheeky response is, “Will you please put that in an email?”

I don’t know what more I could say. That’s fantastic.

If you can pull it off, it’s not a bad way to have someone go, “Maybe I shouldn’t be using that logic,” because it’s naturally discriminatory.

Would you sign your name to it?

You might have to help them get there. They might not put that together.

That’s interesting. You put that in an email and someone goes, “Sure, why not?” If they go to this belief system, you do have the extra time because I have this special thing that is off-limits, it may take a moment of educating I suspect.

You could say, “I’m not available or is this an opportunity to educate?” Your suggestion is, “Can you put that in an email?”

[bctt tweet=”When you compromise, neither side wins, you’re giving something up. ” username=””]

I am joking mostly when I say that.

If you don’t have the cajones to say, do we want to educate these people or say, “I’m not available?” What do you think?


Has it happened to you?

Nurses have a strong sense of justice. Even when people want to do that, it gets quickly shot down. I’ve seen situations where that dynamic has gone full circle in a matter of five minutes. That’s where someone suggests it, “Maybe she’ll do it because she’s single. He’ll do it because he doesn’t have kids,” or something like that. Usually, it’s about kids more so than being single. Here’s the thing you should be able to leave work for any reason that, in your conscience, is something that you need to do. Generally speaking, no one’s afraid to say, “I need to leave work because my kid is sick,” no one would fault you for it. A single person doesn’t have that equivalent, or someone without kids doesn’t have that equivalent.

I needed to leave work once because I was traveling somewhere and I needed to get a yellow fever vaccine. That was the only time I could do it was like these two hours where I was at work and I couldn’t get coverage. You are allowed to call off work a certain amount of times, for any reason, and no one’s allowed to ask why you’re doing it. I had to do that, but I was hesitant to tell anybody why I was doing it. I didn’t see it as valid or reason as someone who was saying, “My kid is sick and I have to pick them up from school.” I was like, “I don’t want to get yellow fever when I go to Africa.” This is the only time in that window of time before I have to leave for the trip where the office is open and I can get the vaccine done. I didn’t feel comfortable saying that at all, even though it was quite valid.

I don’t have children. Julie, you have a daughter. I think when a parent says, “I have to go home, my child is sick,” no one goes, “I envy you.” That seems like a valid excuse, not that anybody envy having to get a vaccination. It’s an interesting puzzle where there’s a moment in time. It’s a delicate situation because the person may not realize. There’s the saying about there are two fishes in a bowl. One of them says something about the water, and the other one goes, “What water?” It’s around you that it’s not even something that you even consider. You could be fighting a pretty uphill battle with that.

It could be someone who has progressive views about other things, and then they go, “I see. Sorry about that.” It depends on what he wants. Do you say, “I’m not able to do it either,” or you say, “I’ll do this one and you can do the next one?” It’s quid pro quo. It’s tit for tat. It’s equal, “We’re each going to do this at some point. I’m going to do it this time. You’re going to do it next time.” You’re not going to get off from this or you just say, “We are doing the same job. Just because I don’t have a family, it doesn’t mean that my free time is not valuable to me.” It’s a little bit of personal style is my reaction.

It’s nice if sometimes you have a policy to back it up that is provided by your employer because most employers have an employee handbook that spells out the time off that you’re allowed to take and not allowed to take and whatnot. I think what was discovered was that in our handbook, it does say you get this many days off or hours off, and you don’t have to reason. If you were shy about directly educating, you could say, “I’m going by the manual.”

I’m starting to get angry as I think about this. I can’t believe that we’re having to debate this. I can’t believe they’re like, “How much do you want to stir the pot?” How delicate should you be? The reverse of this would be, Steve says, “You have nothing else to do. You’re stuck with a family. You should do it. I have this rich, vibrant social life. I’ve got this to do. I’ve got this to do. I’ve got a pottery class, I’ve got to do this, all these kinds of things.” You don’t have anything else to do. You should probably do it. That’s the flip side of this, in a sense.

I think Julie and I talked about this before. I enjoyed the guest you had, I can’t remember her name, but on the science of single living.

She is Bella Depaulo.

Yes. Where she said, “What if we reversed all the statements?” I said the same thing to Julie at the beginning. I could say to this person, “Because I’m single, I am more interconnected socially. I have a lot more connections with other people who I’m important to and they’re important to me. I can’t do it because I am even more connected than someone who has a family.”

I have this thing about being unapologetically unattached. This is where I’m starting to get a little bit hot under the collar. These are repeated transactions as you’re working with this person. Some diplomacy is probably useful because it’s a teachable moment. You’re setting expectations for the future and so on. I want to say that I think it’s funny that we’re dancing around this. This one is actually from a married person. This is from Terry, who is a follower of Solo.

The perimeter has been breached.

Terry says, “I am married and I love the podcast. As someone who is partnered, how can I support my solo friends?”

Terry, I love you.

That’s sweet. Thank you, Terry.

Invite us to go with you. Don’t assume we don’t want to go just because there are going to be couples there.

Bella talked about this. The single friends get Tuesday night, but the married friends get Saturday night.

Sometimes I love going to my friend’s kids’ soccer games because it’s like going to another planet. I get dropped into this world that is so different than anything I normally exist in. It is fascinating. I like it. Terry, don’t invite us to stuff because you assume we wouldn’t want to go. We want to be engaged and we want to be involved. We want to check out interesting stuff. We can always leave if it’s not great.

That’s a good one. I want to hear yours, Jill.

Along those lines, there’s that negative connotation of, “You probably don’t want to be the third wheel,” or something like that. That goes back to those bias of, “Because I’m solo.”

I’m a great third wheel. I’m a great 5th or 7th wheel.

I’ve had lots of practice. I can do nineteenth wheel like nobody’s business. Back to this bias. It’s said like, “Poor you, you’re going to be reminded that your solo because you’re the third wheel with a couple.” It’s like, “I don’t necessarily want to be in your shoes. I’m happy to be carefree and experience a new activity or whatever it might be.”

Don’t assume. I don’t get this much anymore. People have given up on me. I tried to be aware of the kind of questions that you ask a solo person. The story I like to tell, and if you are the person who told me the story, will you please tell me who you are, so I can attribute to it too. This woman, she goes home for the holidays and she’s talking to one of her aunts. It’s like, “How is it going?” “It’s great. I got a promotion at work and then I have this trip planned to South America. I joined this new gym. I’ve been volunteering.” This woman describes what we would, by all accounts, say is a remarkable life. Her aunt says, “That’s nice, but is there a special man in your life?” The woman’s like, “Are you listening to me?” Recognize that person may not have the same values that you do. It’s assuming that this, which might be an important priority for some people and their PERMA, might not be for that.

I’m the master of thinking of the great thing to say after, but she could say something like, “There are hundreds of special men in my life. What time is it? I’ve got to go.”

I enjoyed this Q&A. If you’re a follower, please contact me via social media or somehow the email and send them my way and we’ll do our best to get them on the air. I’m going to thank you too and bring this to an official close. If people want to stick around afterward for the bonus material, we’re going to talk about Pete’s principles for living solo and living remarkably. Julie, thank you for coming back and cohosting again.

Thank you. I love doing this. It’s fun.

Jill, many thanks for saying yes to this for your first ever podcast, and believing that you are indeed worthy of appearing.

Thank you so much. It goes along with that doing things that make you uncomfortable as part of your remarkable life.

That’s great.

We are back with our bonus material. Julie and Jill are still here. They did not decide to leave after that. We were talking about PERMA earlier. For me, one of those paths to flourishing, to living a good life is that E. It’s the Engagement. This has happened in the last ten years of my life, especially as a writer, where I’ve embraced writing and as I’ve gotten better at it, I have more opportunities where I can be transported. I’ve taken my writing seriously because it’s had this profound positive effect on my life. I have an entire chapter in my forthcoming book dedicated to writing. What I started to realize is I should start writing my ideas down around this podcast.

I’ve been speaking to them a lot and I should start to write them down. One of the things that I thought would be like, it’d be nice to have themes or principles to help guide my thinking and reader’s thinking in terms of making decisions to move closer to that remarkable life. I just jotted a few of them down, and I want to run them by you. I want to get your reactions to it. What you’re going to find is some of them might be already related to some of the stuff we’ve talked about. The first one and this comes up in episode one is to make or build a team. Because you don’t have that one person who is your everything, I don’t see that as a negative thing for a solo person. You pick the people.

You diversify.

Building a team that one of those teammates might be your barber or a therapist. I’m going to be doing an episode on how to pick a therapist. I have a guy, a young man from St. Louis emailed me and said, “Because of your podcast, I’m going to get a therapist.” I was overwhelmed by that.

[bctt tweet=”Make sure in any relationship you get into, you’re still able to do your passions. ” username=””]

Talk about crying.

You think about mental health issues in this country, especially with men. To have a man go, “I think my life would be better if I got a therapist,” but then they go, “How do I get one?” I go, “That’s a good question. I’m going to find that out.” I like this idea of building a team, friends, professionals, family and so on, to help guide you, whether it be decision making, information or finance.

I have my version of Money Amy. Boulder does this thing called Dancing with the Boulder Stars. It follows the same format as the real show and it raises money for the YWCA. They asked me to be a professional dancer in it and I got paired with a financial planner. He was my Boulder star and I was the professional. We did a routine. Afterwards, because I was out there living my remarkable life and doing the things I was inspired to do, I wound up with a financial planner out of the deal. Living a remarkable life has unforeseen positive consequences. He offered to be my financial adviser after that.

The next one is to live on your edge, to seek to stretch yourself.

One of my phrases was something to the effect of, on the fine line between courage and stupidity is where you live a remarkable life.

You’re beyond your edge. You are anxious. You’re in danger. You’re in trouble. Life is not good.

You’ve done something stupid.

You’re too far away from your edge, you’re bored. We want to seek to live on your edge and one way to get to your edge is, are you scared of something? Lean into it.

Be courageous, but don’t be stupid.

The next one is to have a growth mindset. This belief that you’re never a finished product. A lot of people have this false belief that, “When I X, everything will be okay. When I graduate, everything will be good. When I retire, that’s when life will be good.” This idea that you’re never going to be finished. You’re never going to be complete and you’re just going to be trying to grow along the way.

As a nurse, the scariest nurses to work with are the ones who think they’ve learned everything and mastered everything because they did this one class or they have worked these many years. I agree with that professionally and then of course, in life, in general. Those people that scare me, who think they’re done.

Carol Dweck is a psychologist who’s done work a different differentiation between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset person says, “I’m shy,” and they believe they’re shy. A growth mindset person says, “I’m shy but if I wanted to be, I can learn to be less shy.” What happens is that you embrace situations in a different way when you’re in a growth versus fixed mindset. You pursued change and so on. For example, a fixed mindset person thinks an intelligence test is a competition. “Let’s see who’s smart and who’s not smart.” A growth mindset person sees an intelligence test as a baseline, “Let’s see how smart I am right now with the goal that I can become smarter.”

The next one is create more than you consume. The average person consumes much more than they ever create. The ratio is like 1 to 30 creating to consuming. For every one hour, they’re making something. There are 30 hours of their consuming something. What I want to do is try to push people to at least shrink that and ideally flip it. I realized that this might be a little bit more focused on the E people in the PERMA. Consuming forces you to grow. It can teach you to achieve a flow state but now you also have something. Consumption is often there and then it’s gone. When you create something now, you now have a painting for the wall or you have a memoir. Even you have a journal that you can go back and look at, it’s there.

I feel Pete creates a lot.

I feel like I might be a little bit biased with this one.

Possibly, and then I look at my own life. I don’t create in the same ways that Pete does.

I have the answer to this. Julie has started a Facebook group called Carpe Diem for solos in Denver.


That is an act of creation.

SOLO 10 | Remarkable Life


I wouldn’t even recognize that as that.

You recreated this group, you curate the group. You make plans for the group. You’re not just showing up to things. You’re like, “Who wants to go skiing on this day? Who wants to go to this?”

Sometimes we need someone else to tell us were living remarkable lives.

You’re not writing, painting, sculpting, making music or something like that but you still make stuff. You’ve built and sold two businesses.

There’s a little bit of creating in those.

Entrepreneurship fits into the E as much as it does the A. It’s not that you’re making this thing to sell and become rich, but it’s the act of the day in and day out problem solving this there.

I also think about myself as a consumer. I think mainly of that in terms of media when you say consumer. I don’t watch the news because that’s a whole other story. It’s just fear-based, and I’m an empath. It’s hard for me to see a lot of that. I don’t want to know all the bad things going on in the world. I don’t watch the news. I rarely watch TV, not because I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I know I will get sucked into it. I don’t consume a ton of media. I spend some time on Facebook and things like that. I don’t know what my ratio would be. It would be interesting to think about it.

I don’t think it’s a matter of you have to score yourself, but the idea is when given a choice. On a Saturday afternoon or Friday night or a new project, is it going to be something that you’re going to let someone else create and you’re going to consume it? Are you going to make something yourself?

As part of the remarkable life trying to improve yourself, these days, especially a lot of it is resisting the easy path to the temptation to consume

Consuming is easy. Creating is difficult.

I don’t know exactly what my ratios are either, but I’m trying to shift them in the direction you’re talking about, Peter. For instance, I love writing also and I’ve decided to write more. If I have some thoughts about something, how would I organize my thoughts about it? In the past couple of years, I’ve written at least 3 or 4 pieces for no reason except to write them and I have them. It was time spent creating rather than consuming even if no one else is going to read these things.

The process versus the outcome. The last one. This came up in episode three. Why are superheroes single? I fussed with this idea in the episode, and it stuck with me and it’s be the director of the movie of your life. There’s a saying about, are you the hero in the movie of your life? I like this idea of being the director of the movie of your life. That is you happen to life, life doesn’t happen to you. When you think about what a director does, a director has total control over a movie. They put the hero in the situations. Oftentimes, what happens is the hero is going along in life and then something comes and knocks him or her out of their rut, so to speak. That’s an outside thing that does that. When you’re the director, you get to choose the outside thing. I think about Jill, for example, in the episode, you talked about making this decision hearing about this person going to Australia, and you say, “Why not me?” That’s a director’s choice, rather than the traditional heroic choice. It’s a fun one.

I love that concept too. When I heard it in that episode, it resonated with me and I realized, I have been getting better about being intentional not only about how I spend my time, but who I spend my time with. That’s like what you said is you’re writing these chapters. If somebody is bringing drama and not value and then they can be written out of your book.

Why is Game of Thrones so exciting to watch? It’s because they kill off characters, even beloved characters. You’re like, “What’s going to happen this week?” That’s a director taking control.

The point being you write into your life who you want to spend time with, who brings joy, who feeds your soul and things like that. It’s not only about the activities and being intentional and being creative, instead of consuming and things like that. That idea goes across every aspect of your life.

The only thing I would add to that would be just with some flexibility, also. For example, when I graduated from my Master’s in English, I wanted to teach English in Spain. I didn’t get a job in Spain, but I got a job in Turkey teaching English. I said, “I’m going to Turkey then.” That goes along with it, but not quite because I’m still doing the thing.

I think the metaphor still works because directors have budgets. There’s still a producer who can provide the budgets. The director also has to direct the cast that he or she is given. There are still constraints and limitations and things that happen.

The best directors are given a situation they’re willing to work with it and change the plan slightly if need be.

To make the best of this, I like this idea of you happen to life. As much as you can, you never know what’s going to happen. I’m going to keep working on these principles and trying to put them down on paper and develop them. We’ll see what happens with them. Bonus material is coming to a close. This is one of our fastest yet, so I’m kind of pleased. With that, I want to thank Jill again. Thank you, Jill.

Thanks, Peter for having me.

Thank you for stretching yourself.

It’s over now. I’m kidding. I’m happy that we did this. Thanks for having me.

Julie, as always, you know how much I value your friendship beyond this podcast.

Thank you.

Cheers to both of you.


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About Jill Cohen

SOLO 10 | Remarkable Life

Jill Cohen grew up in Miami, went to Emory University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She then moved to Boulder and earned an MA in English at the University of Colorado. Afterwards, Jill taught English abroad, taught writing at CU, and eventually became an ER nurse. She’s worked in Colorado, Wyoming, California, Florida, and Australia. She’s volunteered in Central America and pedaled as a medic on bicycle tours across Africa. She is currently living a remarkable life and travelling the world (25 countries and counting), supporting herself as a traveling nurse.




About Julie Nirvelli

SOLO 10 | Remarkable Life

Julie Nirvelli was born and raised in San Jose, CA and earned her college degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has lived in Colorado for 16 years. Julie embraces her solo life and looks for opportunities to say yes, try new things and above all, have fun. She is participating in her first mountain bike race this spring.







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