Lisa Oz: 'US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most.'

Excerpt: "US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most."

ByABC News via via logo
April 12, 2009, 5:43 PM

April 6, 2010 — -- Lisa Oz is the co-author of the best-selling "YOU: The Owner's Manual" series of books.

An entrepreneur and radio talk show host, Oz also is a Reiki master, actress and mother of four.

She is married to surgeon and television host Dr. Mehmet Oz.

In the book "US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most," the Oz discusses the connection between healthy minds and healthy relationships.

Check out an excerpt of the book below, then head to the "GMA" Library for other great reads.

Introduction: Who Am I?

This is not actually a book about "relationships." You won't find any tips on dating or rules for attracting the opposite sex here. This is instead a book about being in relationship. What's the difference?

Well, the former is a thing and the latter is a state, and a state is part of what defines us at any given moment rather than something outside ourselves that we have or don't have. We all exist in relationship; we can't not. It's like magnetic force.

Every object, by its very nature, exerts a pull on every other object. And whether we are aware of it or not, we are in relationship with all other things in this universe (and possibly otheruniverses as well, but that's another book).

So, why is this relevant and who am I to expound on the significance of our place in the cosmos?

Well, in answer to the first part of the question, understanding the nature of our interactions is important because the quality of our existence is determined by the quality of our relationships. What we believe, who we are, and who we can become are all manifest through our dealings with others. It is here that thoughts and emotions become actualized and our true self revealed. Our behavior is the only real measure of our character, and 90 percent of the time our behavior involves someone else.

And who am I? Trick question, right? Most of you probably know me as the wife of the "great and powerful (Dr.) Oz." But the wife of a wizard is not necessarily a witch -- or a doctor. I am not one of those educated professionals who are qualified to tell you how you should be living your life. Rather, like you, I am a seeker.

Sticking with the Oz paradigm for a moment, I am like the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion all wrapped into one, striving for compassion and wisdom while I struggle to remain brave. You get to be Dorothy, joining me for a skip down a winding road.

I will warn you up front: there will be flying monkeys, but I will try to keep the soporific flowers to a minimum. At the end of this book we will have gotten to where we are going, which will be where we have always been. The difference is that we will know ourselves a little better. We will have caught a glimpse of who we are by becoming more aware of how we are in each of our relationships. And I hope we will be friends.

The title US in one sense refers to you, the reader, and me, the writer. We too exist in relationship. My intention is that you will see aspects of your own life reflected in my personal stories. My ramblings and musings are supposed to entertain but also lead to a place of connection. I have a hunch we are not that dissimilar, you and I.

So, now that we are going to be friends, I need to make a confession. This is an amazingly difficult book for me to write. See, there's this little secret among "self-help" writers that I feel compelled to reveal.

Most of us are giving advice about the things we need to learn in our own lives. The wounded healer is one of those infuriating and delightful ironies of the universe. And while I never thought of myself as a "self-help" writer, you know where you found this book -- right next to Be Your Own Shrink and Why You Think Your Mother Doesn't Love You -- so you know what that makes it, and me.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me state for the record that I am not the perfect wife, mother, child, or friend. Bearing that in mind, it is precisely because of the mistakes I've made and the lessons I'm learning that I feel I can share my insights. My wish is that they may prove helpful for you in your own journey.

This book is an attempt to offer the things I've come across that work for me (or at least that I'm working on). Please keep in mind that life is a process. I wouldn't for a minute pretend that I have it all figured out. I struggle in my relationships every day. So if you see me in the supermarket yelling at one of my kids, please give me anudge and remind me to reread chapter 7. The important thing for me is to be aware and keep moving. The progress may be painfully slow at times. As Franciscan Father Richard Rohr says, "It's alwaysthree steps forward, two steps back." In reality, it's sometimes four steps back.

The ideas discussed in the following chapters are a compilation of what I have learned about being in relationship over the years as a daughter, wife, mother, actress, producer, and writer. In each area, I noticed that the lessons were frequently the same and that they would reveal themselves as long as I was willing to do threethings -- show up, do the work, and be honest with myself and others. It's a seemingly simple list -- but not always easy to put into practice.

I have avoided, procrastinated, and fabricated enough for ten people, but I have also, on occasion, made a concerted attempt to commit myself to genuine presence. (Admittedly, even now this has not become a continuous state. Sadly, I am often looking at my BlackBerry instead of into my husband's eyes during a conversation.) But while I would hardly claim enlightenment, or even conversion, I believe I have grown.

The concepts presented here are what I learned when I was really doing what I was doing. Much of what I've ascertained is the direct result of the choices I made, but I'm not suggesting that you run out and make those same choices for yourself. You can discover similar lessons and more exactly where you are right now. The fundamental ideas are everywhere, in every part of life -- sometimes glaring at us like big neon signs, other times hidden beneath a surface of seeming insignificance.

The truth of the matter is that we are learning about and living in relationship whether we're driving a cab or serving on the Supreme Court. The purpose of this book is to provide a mirror for your experiences through mine and to share insights that can be applied to your own personal journey of relationship.

One thing about life is that it often takes a long time to really get even the simplest truths. We can be sent the same message over and over and fail to see it. The problem is that we play out identical patterns with different people -- repeat our mistakes because we live by rote -- and then wonder what went wrong. To break thiscycle, we often need input from a teacher, mentor, or friend who can shed light on our situation and show us what we need to do, where we can go deeper, and how we can change.

For me, those teachers took many forms. Some, like Father Richard Rohr and Reverend George Dole, came as real people; others were revealed through great books such as the Zohar and the Bhagavad Gita. After my parents, the most influential by far was and is Emanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth-century scientist and theologian who saw the Bible as a divinely inspired metaphor, illustrating our spiritual journey. He described the path of regeneration, or rebirth, as consisting of a life of charity -- which is essentially loving relationships. His writings on the nature of God, humanity, and marriage not only shaped my views on life but fundamentally shaped who I am.

For this reason you will find his doctrine, widely and wildly interpreted, as the foundation for just about every chapter of this book.

Just to be really clear: none of the truly big ideas here originated with me. I merely applied the wisdom of my teachers to my own experience. In doing so, I came to the conclusion that all the important things in life are actually about existing in relationship.

Of course there are other things, like brushing your teeth and flyfishing, but my feeling is that ultimately these come back to relationship too. So what, exactly, is the big secret about living in relationship?

Simply what the great spiritual traditions have been teaching for millennia. Boiled down, it's essentially love God, love yourself, love everybody else. Why am I saying it again? Because I don't think we can ever hear it enough. I think we need to hear it, read it, feel it, teach it, taste it, speak it, smell it, breathe it, until one day . . . wefinally start to live it.

This book is my attempt to share the encounters and epiphanies that brought me back to that truth. I've also included exercises at the end of each chapter. Reading about something is easy. Putting it into practice is another thing altogether -- especially when the first time we try it is in the heat of a highly charged emotional situation.

These tools are designed to help condition our reactions, so that we can respond in a more conscious way when we are engaged with others. I will admit right here that I am not a good tool person. I usually try them once, or atleast think about trying them -- okay, sometimes I just avoid them altogether because tools/exercises are usually work. These are not.

They are supposed to be effortless and fun while creating a shift in perception. I want you to see what each chapter's key concept feels like when it's put into action. But please don't feel compelled to do them. Just use whatever you like.

The book explores the three areas in which we live in relationship. The first is our relationship with ourself. The chapters that focus on this topic are intended to help uncover who we are at our core and demonstrate ways we can integrate our inner being with the outer projection. Understanding our true identity is essential for any relationship, since without actually knowing our authentic self, we can never be genuinely intimate with another person.

In these chapters, we'll also examine different ways of optimizing well-being so that we can bring our best self to all our relationships.

In the second section we look at relationships in a more traditional sense. We'll cover everything from our most intimate connections with lovers to the way we treat the homeless, paying special attention to patterns of interacting that maximize our mutual potential for personal growth.

Topics covered include conscious parenting, sex as spiritual union, and compassionate living through environmental, global, and societal action. The exercises in this section seek to encourage generosity, compassion, and empathy.

At the end of the book we'll examine the idea of a relationship with God. (If you are uncomfortable with the concept of a personified deity, please feel free to use a term like "the universe." The divine has many names. Choose one that works for you.)

In these chapters we're going to look at themes such as the interconnectedness of all beings as well as the function and form of prayer. The tools offered here include methods for cultivating gratitude, spiritualjournaling, and a guided meditation.

These are our primary relationships. In my opinion they are interrelated and inseparable. We cannot love another person if we have no self-love, and the only way we can demonstrate our devotion to God is through our service for other people. US defines where we are in the broad scheme of existence and who we are atour core. So that's what this book is about: you, me, and God -- US.

Excerpted from "US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most," by Lisa Oz. Copyright © 2010 by Lisa Oz. Excerpted with permission by Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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