Relationships can be tricky because they mix together two people with different backgrounds and habits, and sometimes things get a bit tangled up. It’s like blending two different paint colors without making a mess! Every relationship hits rough patches, but we can turn those bumps in the road into springboards for growing closer. 

In this episode of the HAPPINESS SQUAD Podcast, Ashish Kothari, Founder of Happiness Squad, discusses how to cultivate positive emotions to deepen our relationships.

Things you will learn from this episode:

• How to generate positive emotions

• Practice being a ‘gratitude detective’

• Managing negative emotions and interactions

• The most destructive behaviors in relationships. 


• Rewire Program: 

• The Happiness Squad on Apple Podcast:

• Happiness Squad Podcast: 

• Happiness Squad website:

• Happiness Squad on Instagram: 

• The Magic Relationship Ratio by Dr. John Gottman: 


• Hardwired for Happiness: 9 Proven Practices to Overcome Stress and Live Your Best Life.

• The Prophet by Khalil Gibran:


Ashish Kothari: Hi, dear Paul, welcome to the happiness squad podcast. We are so excited to have you with us, my friend.

Paul Cure: Oh, it's a pleasure to be here. I'm very happy to be here at Sheesh. I'm always grateful for for spending time with you.

Ashish Kothari: I want to share what a special journey This is going to be and you've been on in the world of food, right? Food is always a big source of nourishment. It can be a huge source of joy. It can also be a big source of suffering and you're one who's really delved into this space, um, so deeply, um, so share with me a little bit, Paul, around how your journey started into this world of food. And really, what sparked your passion to kind of explore and get into the space so deeply?

Paul Cure: Yeah, you know, it's such a funny, it's such a funny question when you think about our relationship to food. It's, you know, as human beings, it's necessary that we eat or we're not going to last too long. And so, you know, it's something growing up the youngest of four in a Midwestern Catholic family. Uh, you know, ketchup sandwiches were indulgent.

You know, so my relationship to food, you know, really, um, really started to, to blossom, uh, with friends and friends, families. And so, uh, I had a really, uh, great, great childhood. And, uh, I had as good friends, the DeLuca's and, uh, the Ronquillo's and we played music together, RJ and Lawrence and I, and I would go over to their house for band practice.

And at the DeLuca house, um, they had, you know, 3 generations in the living in that house. And so 1 day they made homemade spaghetti carbonara and I'd never smelled, tasted or experienced anything like that. And so, uh. The story goes, you know, my mom called on Sunday. I went over on Friday afternoon and my mom called the DeLuca household on Sunday evening and said, have you guys seen Paul?

And I didn't, I didn't want to leave, you know, the smells, the aromas, the tastes, and the same thing was true for the Ronquillo. They were Filipino. And, and so, you know, being introduced to those smells and those tastes was really that first, you know, experience of what it could be. And growing up in Detroit.

With Eastern market and with such a huge middle Eastern population. You know, kibbeh meat and suddenly, you know, all of these new flavors, especially as I was growing up, were huge, you know, in getting me a palate. And I think people's relationship to food really depends on expanding that palate and finding out what you like.

You know, um, and so fast forward, you know, 15 years after, you know, that first experience of spaghetti carbonara, and I started an organic farm in Boulder, Colorado, and I'm in Turin, Italy, you know, eating mushroom risotto at Terra Madre, you know, with slow food. So, uh, let the journey, uh, you know, stay curious and let that journey and that curiosity lead you into really great spaces.


Ashish Kothari: that's such a, that's funny. How old were you when your mother called the missing for two days? ?

Paul Cure: Yeah. We were, we were kids, you know, we were probably, I would say nine to 10, you know, and we had this great little punk band called, uh. Uh, the plague, right? So, you know, band practice and music and that also goes into something that I really, truly believe in regards to food, which is, uh, the setting, right?

How food is introduced to you, and what is your experience about actually sitting down at a table? And I feel like, especially with that intergenerational experience that I had with the Deluca family, you know, having their grandmother, they're talking about, you know, how she actually made it the smell of the bacon, you know, uh, all of these.

Uh, you know, inputs were were instrumental of getting an understanding of what is it that I love about it, you know, and so that, you know, and especially when I started the farm, it was about hosting those types of events and getting people on the land. And then, you know, my, my current experience of writing about food, uh, in restaurants, you know, is, is now.

Guided by this A. J. Liebling quote, which is the only prerequisite about writing about food is a good appetite. And I have a huge appetite for all of these different types of experiences. And so, uh, being a food writer now has really, you know, enabled me to, to live out my dream and my passion and writing this, this current book comfort food, which, once again, is that.

You know, that exploration of, of what is it that we love about, uh, food and, and our relationship to food.

Ashish Kothari: Look, there's so many things, you know, you mentioned, which I think worth noting and bringing back. I think we can get into so many of them. I think one is, you know, you brought, you, you brought back and I grew up in India.

You know, in India, one, you do have multi generations living. It's just a part of life. We didn't grow up that way, but even if you don't have multi generations, You do have this really close knit community, right, whether you're living in, in large complexes, like my parents live in a complex with about thousand other houses, households, right?

Their apartments. Everybody knows everybody's business, right? Like, and then there is, and it's amazing because, you know, like my mom, like I am there and the phone starts ringing from seven and it doesn't stop till eight or nine. And they're always people bringing, if they cook something, they're going to bring a little bit over, or mom is sending things to people and there's like, you know, it's just this tight.

And I think you mentioned this notion of this relationships, right. With these two families and also in the family, multi generations, which I think is so critical to flourishing. And I think it's something we have lost.

Paul Cure: Yeah, it's, yeah, it needs to be highlighted for sure. You know, it's something to what you just said.

Yeah, you got to keep the door open. And, you know, if it's not direct family, you know, then it was a next door neighbor and food is the way that we share affection, you know, especially, you know, with neighbors. And, you know, if you think about, uh, housewarming parties, if you think about ways that we grieve ways that we celebrate, it's always based around the concept of food.

You know, and whether it's a favorite dish, you know, or whether it's something that we wanted to celebrate food. Is that, um, that communion, you know, of how we actually share an experience.

Ashish Kothari: Yeah, and we share that experience together now with the city club, right? Which, uh, you know, really, I mean, it's a beautiful community at the heart of it is food and unbelievable food there together yesterday.

And I was just what an amazing, delicious meal. I want to come there more often. But you know, the other thing you mentioned, Paul, which is so, you know, I'm not sure many people will know. They might have heard it, but I'm not sure people fully will know what is slow food. Can you talk a bit about that?

Paul Cure: Yeah, my experience and my, you know, uh, the history of slow food, uh, is a, Is a comical one.

You know, I love more of the comedic aspect of these histories. And so, uh, I went to school in Paris and, um, if people remember, uh, in, uh, the 90s and in the late 90s, there was a French farmer by the name of, uh, Jose Bove, who notoriously took a tractor into a McDonald's, not literally, uh, as a guest, but as a protest.

So, uh, you know, they, uh, that was, that definitely made an impact in France. Um, You know, and my experience was I, as a student, went and heard him at the cafe select in Paris and, um, and slow food was really born out of that, uh, that belief that food should be local, food should be understood, food should be cultural, um, and food should be enjoyed with others rather than, um, you know, The predominating trend of, of fast food and how people were, um, not even knowing what they were eating, where the beef came from, where the vegetables came from, you know, where the potato for the French fries came from.

And so, you know, that, in my experience of it was really, uh, framing of how we can make a difference, you know, and so we have an interesting relationship in America with sensuality and food, right? It's kind of like, especially in the Midwest, right? So, you know, we go like. You know, if it's not cheese, we're suspicious, right?

So, uh, that was a way, especially when Alice Waters and Chez Panisse started, um, you know, what, what Alice was really bringing was a sense of, you know, it could be called terroir, or it could also be called just a sense of place. And so, um, The food that was grown, you know, was particular to that land, just as you were talking about for India, right?

There are certain crops. There are certain, uh, flavors that are, you know, a curry, right? That's only particular to that particular town. So, uh, that that same sensibility was something that, uh, slow food wanted to do regionally all over the world. And so, um, you know, doing it in Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, and, and, you know, raising a farm and raising animals, uh.

You know, it was like, here you go. This is what a Boulder, Colorado carrot tastes like, you know, and sometimes you would plant a seed and you felt like you were putting a rock on top of it because the soil is so rocky here. So that same type of of persistence and that same type of of belief and really.

Slow food, you know, uh, is, is a way for people to have a philosophy to, to bind each other together, which I think is needed, you know, like I said, food is communion and food is, uh, a way for us to, to lower our shoulders and enjoy each other's company, um, and, you know, find happiness, you know,

Ashish Kothari: you know, and it's, isn't it interesting, um, to me?

I love it. I, I, I love, I think it's, you know, if I think about there's fast food restaurants. And, uh, but then if we think about our own relationship right now and how we consume food, you would say, you know, people talk about fast food restaurants and I'm like, the problem is not fast food restaurants. We are like faster food consumers.

Like what I mean by that is about all the people who are working. And I mean, you know, you look at lunchtime and people will break something up and they're working and they're just scarfing the food down. No idea what the food is oftentimes because they've worked all the way till for the first four hours of that break, what they're putting on the plate is as much about somehow kind of giving themselves a reward or kind of overcoming that stress.

So it's not necessarily the best. And then we're not actually in, we have one eating alone. So your notion of communion and community is missing. Second, we're not even with the food, uh, we're literally just scarfing it and the notion, because if you're just going to scarf something down, you need very little, we overeat, consume way too much.

If you're just doing it for preservation of the body, you wouldn't eat as much as you do. And so we've come so far, you know, in terms of how we live from really this notion of what you're describing. Where food can be such a big source of joy and nourishment and, and kind of really, uh, you know, um, truly a holistic, uh, holistic, uh, nurturing practice.

Paul Cure: Yeah, it's ritual, you know, we, we're, we're lacking in ritual and so, you know, our priorities are production and it's something that is understandable for, for a good economy, for a good lifestyle, we need to be productive and yet, you know, companies, Whether they're large or whether they're small, I really do believe, and I'm an optimist at heart, that those companies that put the priority on well being, and food is well being, um, then those employees thrive, and the companies thrive, you know, and so.

You know, with the rise of Ozempic and, um, Wigowi and, you know, denying one's appetite is a metaphor for many things and something that I think we as a culture in America, uh, and this is something that I'm exploring in the book, you know, comfort. And ease through food is really emulated in Scandinavian cultures.

And if you look at the happiest cultures, Scandinavian cultures are right on the top. And so this concept of comfort being, uh, Hoyga and, you know, such a plethora of sheep skins that you wonder, you know, where the sheep are getting their fur Scandinavia. But, uh, but that understanding of. When you create a space and when you hold a space for ceremony and for ritual for food, it doesn't you know, the time period can be just a half hour.

But if you say, you know what, we're putting away our phones, we're sitting down together at a table, and we're going to share something together so that we can actually, um, You know, have a connection that's deeper. I wholeheartedly believe that those companies and those people will be happier. Um, and that's something that, you know, that I think most companies are, are paying attention to, rather than, you know, denying health insurance for, um, for subscription or prescriptions.

So, yeah, it's there, whether we want it or not,

Ashish Kothari: whether we want to do things that as part of this rewire program, we've created, which is all about building habits. One of the habits, right, that I'm like a big, big proponent for people to build, because we've built the opposite habit, is the habit of savoring, right?

Really training ourselves in that moment to enjoy whatever it is that we are consuming, you know, whether it is a cup of coffee and we are brewing it. Truly letting the aromas, the flavors, the taste rightly be with it. If we are eating, you know, noticing what we are putting on a plate, noticing the colors, the textures, the smells, you know, really tuning into that taste of what we are putting in.

And if we truly do that, you know, one, we are practicing mindfulness, which always is, you know, we have to take every opportunity to train our brain because we've trained it the opposite way with smartphones. Every opportunity is an opportunity to look at the phone, but second, I think we feel so much more satiated, you know, when we are really enjoying what we are, even if you take 10 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever it is, but if we are with, and I say do five minutes, you know, five minutes, just be enjoy your meal.

And just notice, I think we will eat less. We will enjoy the food more. And, uh, and you know, in the end, we'll feel more nourished as a result of it. Versus just sluggish. Yeah, yep.

A bar or just put some pasta and put some, you know, Some something from a jar and just eat it Put a lot of salt in it so I can actually enjoy whatever because salt has become a predominant flavor that we that we go for Right, uh, and and we move on. No, i'm absolutely so talk a little bit about the csa You You know, what are some ways in which individuals can really start to engage more with the local food systems, start to integrate a little bit of, you know, the, I love, I love what you said, you know, rituals are powerful, and even in our busy lives, if it's a weekly ritual, like, what are some things that people can do to start to kind of shift and truly turn food from oftentimes a source of suffering or at best, just kind of a necessity, maybe.

Yeah. To something that can really be a big source of joy.

Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.

Mm hmm.

Mm hmm.



Completely different. Yeah.



Oh, wow.


Yeah. You know, I'm, it's the story that you're sharing, uh, Paul. Mm hmm. And, um, And so I, I think I'll just, I'm reflecting on it. And again, like such. So many, so many thoughts are coming to me and so many inspirations, really. I think the first one for me is, I think what you're rightly saying. I think if you look at our, you know, we talk about, uh, teenagers, our younger population, and we talk about, you know, we talk about, I mean, everybody in the media.

And how smartphones and social media are a big source of why this population is struggling, right? The mental health of our teenagers and young adults is much worse than it's ever been, you know, we have an inverted happiness for her for the first time where, um, you know, it's, it used to be that, you know, people like you and I in our 40s and 50s were the most unhappy and older people were happy and the younger people were happy, not anymore.

Um, you know, younger populations are sparing much work. In fact, you know, we had somebody yesterday, actually, I was interviewing who was researching, uh, Canadians, uh, and they were looking at adult population, younger adult population in Canada, and almost 40 percent of them are actually struggling with something or the other.

And they expect almost half the 40 to have some kind of a mental health issue. Uh, and a lot of it's around work, and a lot of it's around smart, you know, social media. But I think what you are bringing up for me, you know, one inspiration it brings up is, I think we also, for this generation, Um, I think just because we've gotten busy, uh, and we've gotten fast, and we're living fast lives, I don't think we, we haven't helped, I think there's a very broken relationship of younger kids.

Less and less people cook. They're not multi generational homes, like you mentioned, where you can really bask in the flavors, right? I think we're, we're kind of both because of our own speed and like, kids don't cook that much anymore. Um, and hence we eat out and when we eat out, we're often eating out at kind of fast food, et cetera, et cetera, right?

So, I think what you're highlighting is, I mean, such a beautiful way for parents, uh, and To connect, one, connect with kids, second, cook something, create something that can be a source of joy, and then sit around the table and eat it. You know, I don't, you know, I'm just reflecting a bit on, you know, I don't know when, when was the last time I cooked with my wife and my son.

Um, and, uh, and, you know, she's an amazing cook and, you know, I'm working and so she always ends up, you know, making something amazing, we eat it. We used to have these Sunday roasts, she's English, so every Sunday there used to be a roast. But I think I'm taking away, uh, a bit Paul, of, uh, from this conversation, one of the things that we're, I'm gonna start doing is every, at least Sunday, you know, let's all cook together.

You know, let's pick something. Let's make three dishes. We can all co coop collaborate. Let's see if we can find things that are local, you know, in addition to that. And let's just sit around and actually have. Um, a wonderful meal. So thank you for, for providing that inspiration for me. Uh, I think I want to, I'm going to start with that.

Maybe every summer's, this summer at least, I think it's good.

But that's okay.



To do that.

Yeah. I love it. Start small and, and most important, just slow down, right? Just slow down. I think it's the act of what you do together. You know, this notion of slow down, start small, and togetherness, I think that can create, um, such a beautiful experience. Um, ask questions, be curious, right?

Yeah, and, and I think, Paul, the other, the other one that actually, you know, comes up for me, and I'm going to tie this to the first part of what we were discussing, which is this notion. I think you were very lucky growing up where, on one hand, you were experiencing amazing Italian food. You, of course, had your home food, and you had Filipino food, right?

So flavors and different flavors, and I'll tell you, this is a personal story. It's, you know, we explore different, different food from different cuisines, different regions. Really, you might be surprised and start it early. You know, Ashwin, uh, it was, we used to joke till about 11 or 12, right? I'm Indian.

Lizzie's English. The national dish for England is chicken tikka masala. Ashwin didn't eat anything. If, uh, no Indian, no Asian food, like he lived it as bland, and we eat Indian food five days a week at home, right? Lizzie cooks an amazing meal, we eat, we eat a lot of that. We used to have to make two dishes.

And then all of a sudden, somewhere around 11 and 12, he discovers Indian food. Right? And, and just because he tried, it was actually out of necessity, funnily enough. You know, where he discovered Indian food itself is a funny story. The last place you would expect in good Indian food is Switzerland in Lucerne.

Like that is, that is not a place. And, but we hadn't eaten and we were looking and everything was closed. And we were like, so Lizzie and I, you know, just decided to get some Indian food and he was hungry. So he said, I'm going to try it. And he had this chicken Makhani, which was spicy. And Oh my God, he fell in love with the food.

So variety, you know, this notion of, you don't know what you don't know. You have a story in your head. About what it's going to be like, or taste like, or what do you like? But part of the curiosity is about the variety that we can expose ourselves to versus stick to our standard, whatever we eat, you know?

Yes. No, I love it.

It is the journey. So my friend, talk to me a little bit. Talk to me a little bit about your book that you're writing. Um, comfort food, exploring our relationships and craving for love and belonging at the table. First of all, I love the title. Uh, uh, talk to me a little bit about what you're covering. And, uh, I know you're like, you know, yeah.

Two, three chapters into it. Uh, we'll have to have you back to delve more into it, but give us a little bit of snippet of what you're putting into it.


Yeah. Now it's so beautiful. I can't wait. I can't wait to read it. We're going to hopefully have Callie on our podcast too, to talk a little bit about the Eaton Method, her book. Um. Um, you know, it's, uh, you know, for me, I think, Paul, it's, this has been such an amazing conversation and personally, for me, it's a reminder and hopefully our listeners are taking this away too, you know, I always say, somebody asked me the other day, um, really, uh, they said, you know, hey, uh, what's a good, what's a good time to meditate?

We were talking about meditation because we're just thumping on mindfulness. And, you know, I was going to answer like the classic, well, you know, it's this and this. And I said, you know what? We are breathing every moment that we're alive from the time that we are born to the time that we die. There's one constant, you know, in addition to several others, but that's breath.

We are breathing. We don't control how our heart beats, but we always control our heart. You know, how we breathe shallow, deep. Um, and so every moment is a great moment to be mindful and to cultivate that presence of really being with, you know, with this. With this podcast, what I'm walking away with is we eat at least three times, unfortunately, five, six times a day, you know, if you're snacking.

Um, you know, every one of these moments and, you know, one of the things I always hear is, Oh my God, life is so busy. I don't know where the days are going. The weeks are going, the months are going. And, and if we just take three, three times in a day when we are eating, eating more intentionally. You know, really engaging with our food.

Changing our relationship with food is not just something we scarf down to numb ourselves, but something that we really relish in. You know, it's an invitation to even be curious about where did it come from? Who are, you know, where is all of this, that this deep sense of connection we've gotten so away from the farms, the sources of food, we've gotten so away from the spaces that, you know, our ancestors and others, olders enjoyed on the table.

I think if we bring that, I think we can bring that magic back into our lives that today are feeling dull and busy and faster than ever. Um, thank you for,


exactly. With that, my friend, it would be remiss if we had a conversation about food, but I didn't ask you one. What is your favorite food? Or meal and what, and, and, and if you have a recipe for it, that you'd be willing to share, uh, with our listeners.

Amazing. Well, thank you, my friend. What an amazing conversation. God bless you for all the beautiful work that you're doing in the world. It's, I'm grateful to have you as a friend and, uh, and all the best.

Take care. Cheers, Paul.

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