Thrive Global Interview: Let’s Get Intimate: Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships


Thank you to Sasza Lohrey for including me in her Thrive Global Series:  Let’s Get Intimate: Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships


When I was a first year medical student at UCSF, I realized I was in the wrong place. I decided to take a year leave and think about my choices. It was very challenging and many people told me I was being stupid. I remember when the dean of the medical school told me, I hope someday you can say, “This was not the right place for me and I was willing to try something else.”

As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has been to 101 countries and six continents. Her website, We Said Go Travel, was read in 212 countries in 2018. Find her talking travel on KTLA TV and her YouTube videos with nearly 900,000 views. Lisa has written for AARP, American Airways, Jewish Journal, Smithsonian and Wharton Magazine. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and challenges. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip.

Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s Get Intimate! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I have loved books my entire life and always wanted to be part of them. I wrote a story as a child where I was able to go inside the books and participate with the characters. With my career now, I travel the world in search of adventures and write about the people I meet.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

I recently wrote a story for Ms. Magazine about Lisa Genova’s book, Every Note Played, and Carrie Shaw’s company, Embodied Labs. The article is called: “The Virtual Search for IRL Empathy.” Books and virtual reality can help us understand each other more. I feel honored to be able to share these stories and hope that more people will have compassionate caregivers.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

When I was a first year medical student at UCSF, I realized I was in the wrong place. I decided to take a year leave and think about my choices. It was very challenging and many people told me I was being stupid. I remember when the dean of the medical school told me, I hope someday you can say, “This was not the right place for me and I was willing to try something else.”

For me, the path less traveled has been full of travel! After leaving medical school, I received my Masters in Education and taught students of all ages science. Teaching led me to traveling full time and I worked for seven years at Club Med, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Renaissance Cruises. I lived for several years in Asia and at one point I had library cards in four states! People count success in different ways. I am happiest when I am able to travel to a new location and I have a new book to read on kindle. In 2018, I went to my 100th country and on my first African safari.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

When I was 40 years old, my doctor talked to me about my weight gain. I said, “I did not gain weight, my clothes still fit.” She showed me in my chart and I had gained weight. While I was upset at the time, I was glad she brought it up. I was able to lose weight slowly over time by changing my habits and I did feel happier about myself. I was more interested in doing new activities and started going to dance class. My first step was to stop gaining weight and to start walking at least 10 minutes a day. I was teaching at the time so I made an appointment with myself every day at recess to walk on the track. After a while, I did walking meetings with other teachers and then started to walk after school. For my next job, I walked to and from work which was two miles each way. Building exercise into my day was something that really made a difference in how I felt physically and mentally.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

When I was in high school, I remember reading this quote by Emerson about success.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have always tried to remember my personal goals. If you love yourself, you can focus on what is important to you and not focus on the goals of the group or the crowd.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

I know that I personally stayed in a mediocre relationship. I thought I could change my partner. I thought if I loved him enough, I could make it better. I believed that I had committed to him and I had to take the good with the bad although the bad had often outweighed the good.

In the end, I realized that both of us were on his team trying to make his life work and neither of us were on my team trying to make my goals happen. I had to choose myself and I did leave my relationship.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

There have been many times I have changed paths from leaving medical school to leaving my marriage and even to losing weight. All of these choices caused me to ask myself very tough questions.

I had to ask myself what is best for me? Not what is best for my family or my friends or my partner — but only what do I think might make me happier in the future. I have had to sit still and think about what do I want. I have been fortunate to have worked with several very good therapists who helped me on my journey. Many friends and family members supported my changes, choices and also asked me tough questions.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

For me, I have had to practice stillness and being alone. I love listening to Deepak and Oprah’s 21 day Meditation series. Often when I am in the airport, I walk up and down the terminal listening to them talk. I had a therapist who told me to practice mindfulness. She had one meditation to listen to. I listened to it over and over and over. I did not feel better but I kept listening. I read books and more books and wrote in journals. I keep practicing and my life is better.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

I feel proud of my work to be who I am. It has taken many years to realize that my path is very different from what I thought it would be but this is the right path for me. All of the struggles and track changes have led me here. I really love my life. Although I would not wish for the obstacles that challenged me, I am glad to have overcome them. I am honored to write stories for AARP, American Airways, Smithsonian and so many other publications! I am on TV with KTLA in Los Angeles and filmed a segment for Critics Choice Awards and the Oscars!

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

Travel has helped me to learn more about myself and society. Seeing how other people live had opened my eyes on many issues. I recommend reading books about history and culture as well as biographies. I recommend taking a class and making a commitment to learn as much as possible about our world and your community.

What are the strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

One of the things that I do all the time is make lists. I write down what I think I should do and then I don’t worry about it as much. I know it is on a list and that helps me. I take all my lists and in the evening, I decide what is the most important thing to do first the next day. I make sure to schedule time to exercise and to see friends and to read. I do the two most important things on my list before 11am.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

One of my favorite places on the planet is the library. It amazes me that they will lend you books, videos, music all for free. I highly recommend that people use the library for kindle books. I order my books online and they are delivered to me through Amazon and I can read them anywhere.

Los Angeles emedia link:

I love to read Seth Godin’s books. I heard him speak in New York City this year at AdWeek. I never thought I would meet him in real life but it happened! I loved Michelle Obama’s book as well. I like to read people telling the truth about their lives.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

I hope that people will be kinder to each other. When I worked in the classroom, I only had one rule: “Respect.” Each student needed to be respectful of themselves, their property, school property, other students and to the teacher. There can be so many rules to follow but if we all just slow down, say please and thank you and really listen to the answer when we ask each other, “How are you?” The world would be much better.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? 
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I have this quote in my email signature: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

I believe we create our lives through our wishes and beliefs. I hope that each day you are taking small steps towards making your dreams come true.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

Thank you! I would love to connect with your readers.

They can find me at:




Facebook WSGT:



My website: We Said Go Travel:

My YouTube channel:

My articles and TV segments:

About the Author:

Sasza Lohrey is the Founder & CEO of BBXX, a digital platform for intimacy and wellbeing. She is also the host of the BBXX podcast, “Let’s Get Intimate!” which hosts provocative and entertaining conversations with experts in order to challenge the way our culture conditions us to talk about sex, intimacy, and healthy relationships. BBXX was created in order to help people better understand themselves, so that they then can form deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others. Sasza is a former D1 athlete with a background in psychology and digital media. She is a member of the Women of Sex Tech collective, the co-mentorship community Dreamers and Doers, and a regular columnist for several online publications. Originally from the Bay Area, Sasza founded BBXX during a Stanford entrepreneurship program in Santiago, Chile. Learn more on our website and listen to more interviews with experts on our top-rated podcast!

Lisa Niver on Thrive Global Let's Get Intimate

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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