If you’ve ever needed relationship advice (who of us doesn’t?), then you probably know Esther Perel, psychotherapist, New York Times bestselling author and host of two podcasts, Where to start ? and How is work? If that wasn’t enough to impress you, she is fluent in nine different languages while running her own therapy practice in New York and consulting for Fortune 500 companies. You might also recognize Perel from her viral TED talks, which have accumulated more than 40 million views.
She still managed to get enough time to launch a game, Where Should We Begin – A Story Game, which helps players explore connection and reconnection with friends, family, and lovers. We are delighted that Perel took time out of his very busy schedule to complete our questionnaire.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I don’t believe there is a single piece of advice that is “best”. Throughout life, we receive a lot of good advice on what to do and what not TO DO. Sometimes that advice comes in the form of “helpful advice” — things you can apply day-to-day — and other times it’s just a truth that changes your perspective in a meaningful way. Two of my favorites include:
- Useful advice: Don’t just rush people into your busy schedule. Do it with intention. Our lives become so full that it’s easy to hang out with friends and loved ones like you would for a business meeting, but everyone, no matter how they show up in your life, wants feel that his time with you is meaningful.
- The truth: There is no love without fear of loss. So, if you want to live intense relationships, you must know that these feelings must coexist with the fear of losing this love.
What’s the most embarrassing song you’ll publicly admit to liking?
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With the right kind of humor, I find very few songs embarrassing. They become funny or ironic. Even my walking songs that I used to sing as a kid have some kind of meaning.
Which fictional person would you like to be real?
The characters I read about in my children’s books growing up, like The Little Prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, had these extraordinary adventures that I’ve always envied. It would be amazing if these characters were real; my younger self would love to be their friend.
Which real person would you like to be fictional?
There are so many. I love real characters that become fictionalized because there are often so many different “takes” on the same person. You get to see the person through different lenses.
For example, I’d love to see how different directors and writers would portray Camille Claudel, the famed sculptress and muse of French sculptor Auguste Rodin (she has her own room in the Rodin Museum in Paris). Some said she was a “crazy woman”, others said she was a woman who could not compete with Rodin himself. I am fascinated by the different ways it could be represented today.
The film Midnight Tower is a fascinating example of what can happen when we turn a real person into fiction. Dexter Gordon plays protagonist Dale Turner, who is a composite of real life jazz musicians Bud Powell and Lester Young. I highly recommend the movie.
What always makes you laugh?
When a situation is about to go completely off the rails, my husband infuses it with humor and lightheartedness; he has excellent comedic timing.
If you were given a billboard in Times Square, what would you put on it?
The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life.