Announcing the Living Brave Book Club

I’m so excited to share this new addition to Living Brave – Stories that Inspire with you…

The only thing I love more than reading a great book…

Is talking about it with my friends and colleagues! And that’s why I’m so excited to launch this new virtual Book Club with each of you…

As you know each month I have highlighted the latest book on my nightstand.

But now we can engage in the Living Brave private Facebook group about the book, it’s ideas and content, your take-aways and how you’re applying the concepts in your life.

Each week I‘ll post questions for you to ponder and respond to and we can have our own virtual book club discussion.


I can’t wait to hear what your takes are on each new book and how you are living out the material in your own life. I know from my experience with “real-live” book group discussions – I always learn so much from what others have gleaned and their unique perspectives on the same material always expands my understanding and challenges my awareness.

Then tune in whenever the spirit moves you to see what others are saying about the book of the month! Contribute your own insights. Discuss important take-aways.

But to join in you’ll need to head on over to join the group »

See you there!

Cynthia Benge

It’s Not Happy People that are Thankful… Cultivating Happiness for Real People

It’s my favorite time of year as we anticipate the holidays and start off with the best one- Thanksgiving.

It’s a time to gather with loved ones, enjoy the bounty of the earth and open our hearts to all the gifts we have been given!

Developing an attitude and practice of gratitude has been such an important part of my own healing journey and also a crucial component of my work with individuals and couples.  Being able to focus on the good in our world and in each other changes everything.

Studies show we are happier, healthier (less heart disease, stress related disorders) and heartier (we actually live longer) and are more resilient when we focus on the plusses not the negatives in life.

But here’s the real kicker:

So if we experience so many benefits from a positive outlook then…

Why is it so hard to develop one??

We are actually hardwired to see the negative. Its’ a survival mechanism.

In the dark ages we had to be looking for any and all dangers that could be life threatening. Form a survival perspective, the positive registers in a more neutral way than the negative.

But here’s the good news:

We can train our brain to see the positive.

Sue Lundquist of The Gratitude Cafe invited my on a panel on gratitude. Listen in to the whole discussion here by clicking on the play arrow below. And to hear more be sure head over and subscribe to her show.

What we know from brain science is that whatever we focus on and draw our attention to effects our mood, our behavior and even what happens to us.

Gratitude is a practice that can be cultivated.

Modern science has shown what many have proven over the years–it is good to give thanks. It is a healing balm. In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman describes a study he conducted where he taught severely depressed patients to write down one thing each day they were grateful for. Within 15 days, 94% of them reported feeling better.

One of my favorite quotes from my guru and mentor Dr. Brené Brown is this…

“Comparison is the thief of joy”
-Dr. Brené Brown

I love that!

I think the opposite of gratitude is envy. When I start down that path of thinking everyone else’s life looks better than mine (or I don’t have all I dreamed or hoped for) I remind myself of all the good in my world and focus there.

As you can see, I didn’t start off happy here. Envy is a seed of unhappiness.

Instead, I chose to be thankful so I can get to happiness.

Cultivating Your Gratitude

Whether its’ a daily practice you start or end your day with, or if it’s an “in the moment” kind of attitude adjustment, make your gratitude list broad and varied. Try to come up with as many things as you can to be thankful for.

As you are making your list, take a moment to really savor each item. Really focus on the gifts that particular item brings into your life. So if it’s family you are grateful for, take time to remember an especially fun or loving experience you had with each member. Get in touch with the feelings and take the time to relive the moment.

Offering gratitude to others is another way to “live into this powerful practice.

Gratitude comes in many shapes and sizes:

  • It can be as small as a smile given to the store clerk
  • It can be a generous tip given to the newspaper boy
  • It can be as big as a grant given to help world hunger or bring clean water to a small village
  • It can come in a note to a teacher or a warm meal for a friend

Gratitude wells up as a thankful surge when we remember our blessings and we delight in our families and our friendships and work that is meaningful.

My hope for you this holiday is that your list is long and deep and wide- and that your cup runs over in gratitude for what you are given so you can share that love with the world.

Talking Sex: Building a Lifelong, Passionate Marriage

According to Sue Johnson in her latest book, Love Sense, the number one complaint that couples report when seeking therapeutic help from a couples therapist is problems in their sexual relationship.

So what does it take to build a lifelong passionate marriage??

It takes a quality of emotional safety and intimacy to create a lifelong passionate love affair.

“Problems in the bedroom don’t stem from sex at all, but rather from the lack of emotional intimacy…

It is emotion- the quality of our connection to another person that defines the type of sex we have, the satisfaction we drive from it and the impact it has on our romantic relationships”

– Sue Johnson

There are a number of current cultural myths perpetuated by the media…

  • We have to be beautiful or strong and sexy to have great sex – We all pale by comparison to the Brad Pitt’s and Jolie’s of the world… but that doesn’t create great sex.
  • Good sex doesn’t take practice or conversation… it’s supposed to just happen – Think of the image of the ice skaters in the Olympics – the synchronisity, the exquisite way they match each other’s moves. That took A LOT of practice, and failed attempts, and conversation.
  • Satisfying sexual encounters always lead to an amazing orgasmic experience – We need to broaden our definition of a sexual experience to include just skin on skin holding and exploration and pleasure.

Bonus tip: Instead of asking your partner, “Do you want to have sex?” ask them, “Would you like to be close and feel pleasured?” Now that’s a great invitation!

Many behavioral sex therapists will focus on behaviors… but here’s the kicker:

The sexual experience is an emotional connector, NOT just a sensation driven opportunity for orgasm. Therefore it takes 3 things…

Ready to hear what they are? Then listen in below as Joseph Losi and I are interviewed on Sue Lundquist’s show, The Gratitude Cafe:

Need some help making it happen in your marriage? Check out our Hold Me Tight Seattle couples workshops where we dive deep into putting these principles into practice in your relationship in a deeply experiential weekend.

Click here to learn more »

Realizing a Dream – Creating a Safe Place to Challenge Ourselves and Live Brave

What does it feel like when a Dream Comes True?

Last Sunday as I lay in Shivasana  in the barn at Willow Pond Lodge on Whidbey Island looking out at the blue sky and cherry blossomed treetops, I was overcome with a wash of gratitude so deep it made my toes tingle. It was the third and final day of my first Living Brave Island Retreat.

Leading a group of women through the work of Brené Brown and her Daring Greatly™ and Rising Strong™ curriculum was the culmination of 5 years of hard work, multiple trainings, lots of practice, detailed planning and a boatload of hopeful dreaming. And my vision of leading a weekend retreat was unfolding in the most lovely, perfectly- imperfect and  inspiring way that I felt awed and thrilled and deeply centered and overwhelmingly grateful at the same time.

This Brave group of women came to the Island to learn about what it means to live an authentic and whole-hearted life, one where they could go after their dreams and goals and still stay true to their values and integrity. A life where they could turn their disappointments and failures into fodder for growth and a recipe for new beginnings.

They shared their stories with one another in such vulnerable and compassionately tender ways. It humbled me and broke my heart open.



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Meet Cynthia Benge

A therapist for over 20 years, I guide people from their own “stuck” places to a life full of adventure, meaning and satisfying relationships.

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