This Sunday, Oprah Winfrey sits down with Pastor Rob Bell and his wife Kristen for a conversation about transforming your relationships. But before that, we were fortunate enough to chat with the amazing couple as they answered your questions from our eHarmony social media channels. I think you will really like their answers, because I found them to be inspiring, insightful, and honest. “Super Soul Sunday – Oprah with Rob and Kristen Bell: How to Transform Your Relationships” airs Sunday, February 15 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
Q: Do you believe that people must love themselves before finding romantic love? I have read this often.
Rob: The truth is, people find romantic love all the time without loving themselves, and what inevitably happens is their unhappiness spreads into the relationship. The most powerful thing you can do for your relationship — present or future — is to pursue your own health. Eating good food, exercise, good sleep, giving to those less fortunate — as basic as these practices are, they are absolutely central to you taking care of yourself, to you loving yourself. You can’t love another person well if you can’t love yourself well.
Kristen: When you are in a relationship with another person, you bring your whole self to the relationship. The negative thoughts you have about yourself will affect the flow of love in the space between you. If love flows between two people, and you can’t love yourself, it’s a barrier to the flow.
Q: What is your best advice for ‘keeping the faith’ during the ups and downs of dating and looking for a partner?
Kristen: The most important thing to remember is to be the kind of person you’re looking for. If you’re looking for someone who is adventurous, then live a life of adventure.
If you’re looking for someone who wants to do something about the suffering and injustice in the world, then give your energies to causes that move you, if you’re looking for someone who is curious and wants to travel and see the world, then do that right now however you can.
Rob: Do the kinds of things and put yourself in the kinds of places and practice the ways of living that increase the chance you’ll meet someone who is committed to the same things.
Q: In your opinion, what is the best way to find a partner?
Rob: Don’t look for one. Seriously.
Kristen: Most of the people we’ve met who are enjoying their life and sharing it with a partner/spouse tell us that they met the person when they weren’t looking. They were
simply living their life, pursuing being a certain kind of alive, vibrant, engaged person. Pursue the things you love, and then look around you and see who’s near.
Q: Do you feel that God brings people into our lives at the right time?
Rob: That’s a mystery as old as the world itself, isn’t it? Who you meet and how and where you meet them — people have been trying to figure out how that all works for a long, long time.
Kristen: I like to think about this way: If you’re in a boat in a storm, you pray for help but you also row as fast as you can. There’s a degree to which we control our lives, and then there’s that elusive quality of life that simply happens.
Rob: Above all else, however you define God, the most life giving thing you can do is to practice gratitude. Be thankful for the life you have, right down to the breath you just took and the one you’re about to take. And when someone does come into your life to share it with, your gratitude will continue on, magnified.
Q: What do you feel is the most important factor of a fulfilling relationship?
Kristen: In our book The Zimzum of Love, we talk about how the foundation of a healthy, life giving relationship is that each person is committed to the other’s well being and thriving. There’s an element of mutual sacrifice to this kind of love, and it’s absolutely necessary for your relationship to thrive.
Rob: A sense of adventure. You have to see your relationship/marriage/partnership as an adventure that the two of you decided to go on together. Too many people find marriage to be heavy, like a burden, like something that you have to endure and get through without breaking apart. You have to think about it totally differently: Life is an adventure, and I choose to go on it with this person.
Q: I am really insecure. But I still want to be in love. How can I best deal with my insecurities? They are always with me it seems.
Kristen: Becoming more confident and secure happens within yourself, and won’t be fixed by finding the “right” person. It starts with being intentional about learning to offer love and compassion to yourself. It’s helpful to recognize the stream of negative things that we tell ourselves and to stop them in their tracks with things that are true about who you are.
Rob: Here’s the deal: the greatest gift you can give yourself and anybody you’re with is to pursue your own emotional health. The truth is, there are reasons why we struggle with insecurity, fear, anger — anything that robs us of the joy of life. Now here’s the good news … there are lots of people who are really, really good at helping you understand yourself, your past, and your struggles. Whether it’s a counselor or therapist or spiritual director or mentor or pastor, the best thing you can do is intentionally get advice and wisdom and insight for your specific struggles.
Q: Do either of you have daily affirmations or favorite mantras?
Kristen: Yes, mine is from something Maya Angelou said “You are enough — you don’t need another person, place, or thing to make you whole. God already did that. Your job is to know it.”
Rob: Mine is “There’s more going on here.” In every situation, conversation, event, I always assume there’s more going on and if I pay attention I’ll see it, and I’ll be moved and inspired by it, and it will open me up as a person to the life that surges through everything.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? Who inspires you?
Kristen: Richard Rohr has been one of my favorites for the past few years. He is one of my spiritual teachers. I’m also inspired by works of fiction like Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch.
Rob: I’ve been reading a lot of Rumi lately, he was a Sufi poet who writes about the mystery of being a human with the most amazing metaphors and pictures.
Q: I’m single this Valentine’s day. How can I not feel depressed … because I am dreading it.
Rob: Your life doesn’t happen to you, you create it. Don’t ever forget this one simple truth. You don’t have to be a victim of a holiday invented by a greeting card company. So with Valentine’s day, the better question is: What feeds your soul? What do you love to do? What fills you with life? Plan that, put it on the calendar, schedule it, on that day. Take control of your life. Be intentional. Don’t dread the day, enjoy it.
Kristen: If you always think that there’s something in the future that will make you happy, you will miss all the happiness that is right in front of you. And there’s a lot of it.
Learn more about Rob and Kristen Bell, and don’t miss them with Oprah on ‘Super Soul Sunday’, February 15 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.