With Miriam Kirmayer
Welcome to Living Well — our bi-weekly spotlight on different women that we admire and find fascinating. Our goal is to share an intimate peek into these women’s lives by asking them the questions that allow them to open up about their imperfect truth, whatever that may be.
Friendship is supremely essential but our common understanding and expectations of friendship is really sparse. This is why I'm so happy to know Miriam Kirmayer and her work as a friendship therapist, researcher, and writer. Her work on the topic is so important and needed and has the additional upside of making her a really nice person to know. I hope you enjoy reading how Miriam approaches living intentionally in her life as much as I did. Enjoy!
If you've done the Values Deck exercise, what are your top five values? Tell us how one of them manifests in your life. What is a decision you’ve made using it to guide you?
Connection, humor, knowledge, passion, and curiosity, the latter of which I’m working to channel now that we’ve entered the “why?” phase of toddlerdom around here. Coming back to it has helped me to not squash the many (many) questions that come up, and instead to encourage meaningful moments of both connection and learning.
What does a life well-lived look like?
To me, a life well-lived is one filled with meaningful relationships —the kind that are sustained through a mutual desire to stay connected, as opposed to a felt sense of obligation. It is a life that is spent outdoors, and that allows me to cultivate presence through nature. It is seeking and appreciating adventure and newness, while finding comfort in life’s slower moments and phases. It is one that allows me to be aware of and grateful for the passing of time, without being caught up in it.
My version of success is…
Living a value-congruent life and striving to make an impact in the world by helping others, without this being a defining feature of self-worth.
In what way are you seeking to grow right now?
I have a tendency of often thinking about the next goal or milestone. I am working to remind myself that the journey, so to speak, is often more meaningful than the destination. And that memories can’t be rushed.
What is one way that you are different today than you were ten years ago?
I am much more tolerant of uncertainty. This shift has been nurtured both by necessity and conscious, deliberate practice. My natural tendency is to try to predict, plan, and control. But I have gotten better at sitting in the unknown, and reframing it as possibility… when possible.
Setting aside modesty for a moment, what are you excellent at?
I’m proud of and grateful for how I’m able to channel humor to cope with (not run away from) life’s more challenging moments and experiences. My husband recently described me as “intentional” with respect to my work, relationships, and projects, which I found both extremely flattering and resonant.
Whose life perspective and way of moving through the world teaches you something about who + how you want to be?
I try to surround myself with people who encourage me to think more deeply about who I am and who (or how) I want to be. I am thankful for the subtle (and sometimes not-so subtle) reminders my friends give me about what it means to be giving, loyal, compassionate, adventurous, unapologetic, and present. Oh, and patient. That’s a big one.
IS THERE A QUOTE OR MANTRA YOU ALWAYS COME BACK TO?
I am healthy. I am strong. I am safe.
Can you share a book, podcast, or article that changed you in some way?
Every time I pick up Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb, I find something new I connect with as a therapist, writer, and human. It’s the book I wish I had read during my graduate school training and one I know I’ll keep returning to throughout my life.
What are you grateful for today?
My children. The ability to process my feelings and experiences through writing. Modern medicine and access to healthcare.
Miriam Kirmayer is a clinical psychologist in private practice and a friendship expert who has studied the science of friendship and connection for the last decade. For information and guidance about navigating friendships and life transitions, visit her online community. We will soon get to benefit from Miriam’s first book and friendship e-course. She has a great newsletter to benefit from as well to help you have intentional friendships and stay up to date on her latest offering.