Institute for Optimal Living

A collective of leading-edge transformational practitioners and growth facilitators sharing a vision of the highest expression of well-being, who work to empower individuals, couples, families, and organizations in the SF Bay Area.

The Institute for Optimal Living is a collective of leading-edge transformational practitioners. We've banded together through a desire to bring transformational ideas to the masses, and through valuing the power of community. We aim to be a force for positive change in the Bay Area through our events, workshops, and courses. We believe in the creative power of human life. Every human being is capable of achieving healing and transformation and living to their highest potential. We are all capable of vibrantly soul-nourishing relationships with each other, within our families, organizations, and with our planet. We powerfully and joyfully represent this new paradigm, especially as it is still an emergent edge within the discipline of mental health, still growing out of the medical model. We are:
Ania Fizyta: Founder, Institute for Optimal Living / Transformational Counselor and Love Coach / EFT & NLP Practitioner

Stuart Sovatsky: Licensed Relationship Therapist / Mentor Tantra Guide / Ceremonial Chantmaster / Author of Eros Consciousness & Kundalini, Your Perfect Lips, Words From the Soul

Tina Benson: SoulWhisperer/Jungian-Oriented Psychotherapist, Life & Conscious Relationship Coach/Founder SoulSpeaks Project

Eric Nielson: EFT Practitioner / Professional Wizard

Operating as usual


Ania Ananda Wood - Love & Purpose

Spring Back from a Setback!

🦋✨How To Spring Back From A Setback✨🦋

You are not failing, you are getting feedback from the universe and an invitation to recalibrate. When you set a big beautiful goal, you are inviting your identity to expand. Sometimes we hit setbacks. Here are some tips on how to avoid getting stuck in the idea of failing. Let this all be information that helps you integrate new capacities and grow into the person you are reaching toward. 05/03/2017

You're not going to believe what I'm about to tell you - The Oatmeal

Beautiful. This is a comic about the backfire effect. 03/27/2017

Why we should all have a basic income

"The real effects on motivation

But what about people then choosing not to work? Isn’t that a huge burden too? Well that’s where things get really interesting. For one, conditional welfare assistance creates a disincentive to work through removal of benefits in response to paid work. If accepting any amount of paid work will leave someone on welfare barely better off, or even worse off, what’s the point? With basic income, all income from paid work (after taxes) is earned as additional income so that everyone is always better off in terms of total income through any amount of employment – whether full time, part time or gig. Thus basic income does not introduce a disincentive to work. It removes the existing disincentive to work that conditional welfare creates.

Fascinatingly, improved incentives are where basic income really shines. Studies of motivation reveal that rewarding activities with money is a good motivator for mechanistic work but a poor motivator for creative work. Combine that with the fact that creative work is to be what’s left after most mechanistic work is handed off to machines, and we’re looking at a future where increasingly the work that’s left for humans is not best motivated extrinsically with money, but intrinsically out of the pursuit of more important goals. It’s the difference between doing meaningless work for money, and using money to do meaningful work.

Basic income thus enables the future of work, and even recognizes all the unpaid intrinsically motivated work currently going on that could be amplified, for example in the form of the $700 billion in unpaid work performed by informal caregivers in the US every year, and all the work in the free/open source software movement (FOSSM) that’s absolutely integral to the internet." It's like we live in a game of Monopoly but we're no longer collecting money for passing Go. A universal basic income would correct this, writes Scott Santens. 03/22/2017

Why We Shouldn’t Teach Girls to Code

"Women shouldn’t be fighting for a place at work; they should be inventing, designing, prototyping, and coding a new ideal of work—something which isn’t based on an out-dated belief about gender roles in society." In our modern age, we like to think that women can be and do anything. We tell our daughters it’s great to excel at math and science, to… 03/06/2017

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?

The paradoxical implication is that the same psychological characteristics that enable male managers to rise to the top of the corporate or political ladder are actually responsible for their downfall. In other words, what it takes to get the job is not just different from, but also the reverse of, what it takes to do the job well. As a result, too many incompetent people are promoted to management jobs, and promoted over more competent people. The real gender issue isn’t a lack of qualified women, but a surplus of unqualified men. 02/02/2017

The Future of Governance is not Governments – The World of Deep Wealth

"The Constitution was written for an Agrarian Republic. The level of complexity that officials were expected to confront absolutely did not include things like Nuclear Power and Weaponry, Electronic Surveillance, Climate Change, Net Neutrality, Air Traffic Control, etc. If you’ve gotten a glimpse of CSPAN, you probably have exposure to how poor a grasp politicians have on even basic workings of some of these issues."
Brilliant analysis of our unique moment in history! I highly recommend following Arthur Brock for practically-minded futurism. Living systems on every scale have governance — methods of self-regulation to manage the coherence and continuity of the system. Also, for…


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Hello, we know many of you are worried and scared about the future. We ask you to stay strong and together we shall overcome. The graphic below was made by a supporter. Join our movement at - Arches, Shenandoah, Cuyahoga Valley, Yosemite, Everglades, Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Our Revolution

May this healing ripple outwards to the ancestors of all who live together on this land. 🙏🏼💗

An incredible moment of healing at Standing Rock: Hundreds of veterans ask Native elders for forgiveness.

"We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain... We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness." -Wes Clark, Jr.


VICE Video

Kids just won the right to sue the US government over climate change: 10/29/2016

Beyond the Holacracy Hype

Curious about Holacracy and self-governing organizations? This article is a nice exploration of this new paradigm of management, its benefits, and the current challenges around its implementation. The overwrought claims—and actual promise—of the next generation of self-managed teams 10/19/2016

Arguing is easy; persuasion is hard: what Donald Trump teaches us about debate. An illustrated look at flawed arguments and how to avoid them. 10/18/2016

The US War on Terror Has Cost $5 Trillion and Increased Terrorism by 6,500%

When one strategy keeps creating the opposite of its intended result, it's time to change strategies. #nobrainer #wecandobetter The US has gone broke creating terrorism. 10/08/2016

This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week – The Mission The traditional 9–5 workday is poorly structured for high productivity. Perhaps when most work was physical labor, but not in the knowledge… 10/05/2016

How to raise kinder, less entitled kids (according to science) They aren’t beasts; there’s an explanation for why they act that way. Here’s how to fix it.


Uplift Connect

An important skill for all humans to master.

How to Be There for the People who Need you Most.

Read the article by Heather Plett here: 10/02/2016

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.

Yes. Time to heal the disconnection that comes from media addiction. What have we done to face-to-face conversation? 09/29/2016

Smarty pants


World Surf League

Let yourself vicariously surf the most perfect wave...

We don't know if it can get any better than this... Benji Brand last week in Africa. 09/23/2016

This school replaced detention with meditation. The results are stunning.

This is so beautiful!! Some schools are replacing detention with meditation, and science is backing them up. 09/22/2016

Indigenous Australians know we're the oldest living culture – it's in our Dreamtime | Larissa Behrendt Perhaps the DNA research confirming Indigenous Australians as the oldest living culture will make the rest of the world take note of rich culture and traditions contained in our oral history



We should treat our teachers like Finland does.

Like ATTN: on Facebook.



A powerful message that needs to be embraced for shifting this planet in a healing direction. 💙

The poetry in this intense video speaks to being stronger for women and choosing our words and actions wisely. (via YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee)


Alan Watts - Why Your Life Is Not A Journey

Take a moment and remember how wondrous it really is to be alive.

A film I made last night based on my favourite quotes from Alan Watts about how the way of looking at your life as a journey can be the most destructive way. Please…


Jill Stein Appeared on Fox News, Made Their Heads Explode

Great commentary at the end. Don't miss the last few minutes. Let's wake up from this illusion that we absolutely have to pay trillions of dollars for senseless wars.

Green Party presidential candidate appeared on Fox News, and the liberal policies she discussed nearly made their heads explode. We break down the exchange i... 08/02/2016

How to Listen When You Disagree: A Lesson from the Republican National Convention

How do you listen when you disagree with what's being said?

Hear the Biography, not the Ideology. A beautiful lesson. Life is not a Facebook feed 07/26/2016

Understanding Trump

Smart article by a prominent linguist on how Trump manipulates the populace. "I’ll stop here, though I could go on. Here are ten uses of people’s unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Famer Morality govern America into the indefinite future.

These ten forms of messing with people’s everyday brain mechanisms for his own purposes have gotten Trump the Republican nomination. But millions more people have seen and heard Trump and company on tv and heard them on the radio. The media pundits have not described those ten mechanisms, or other brain mechanisms, that surreptitiously work on the unconscious minds of the public, even though the result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed by a growing number of people.

Even if he loses the election, Trump will have changed the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences. It is vitally important people know the mechanisms used to transmit Big Lies and to stick them into people’s brains without their awareness. It is a form of mind control.

People in the media have a duty to report it when the see it. But the media comes with constraints.

Certain things have not been allowed in public political discourse in the media. Reporters and commentators are supposed to stick to what is conscious and with literal meaning. But most real political discourse makes use of unconscious thought, which shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors. It is crucial, for the history of the country and the world, as well as the planet, that all of this be made public." There is a lot being written spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cogn... 06/18/2016

5 Things the Establishment Slipped By You While Focusing Solely on Orlando Shooting These five important things happened while the nation mourned the massacre in Orlando. 06/18/2016

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

Thriving relationships are the key to lifelong happiness. Let's lean into our connections with friends and loved ones rather than chasing fame or money. What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it's fame and money, you're not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you're mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and…


A beautiful message of Love and Unity from my friend Lissa Rankin.

From the bathroom at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where a terrorist opened fire, 30 year old Eddie Justice texted his mother. "Mommy I love you. In the club they shooting. Trapp in the bathroom. Call police. Im gonna die."

His mother texted back, "Calling them now. U still there? Answer your phone. Call me. Call me."

Eddie replied, "Call them mommy. Now. Im still in the bathroom
Hes coming. Im going to die."

Eddie was among the 50 people who didn't make it.

This touches my heart. Notice that Eddie's texts began with "Mommy I love you." In the end, in those final moments when we know we're about to exit this plane, all we care about is love. When those 50 people were facing the end, I guarantee you they weren't thinking about how much they hated the terrorist. They were thinking about all the people they'd never see again in this human realm and how much they'll miss being here with their beloveds.

Can't we remember the love now, before we're in those last moments? Can't we just stop hurting each other, stop positioning for what we think is "right," stop defending our hearts and closing off our capacity for compassion? Can't we just open our hearts, not just to those we lost in Orlando, but to all of those who have lost their way as a result of this misguided culture? We cannot simply point fingers at the perpetrators and go on a rampage, trying to contain the "bad guys." Perhaps the "bad guys" are victims too. What had to happen to these humans to make them do the kinds of things that humans do to one another? If the spiritual traditions of all religions are true and we are all connected in Oneness, then we are all responsible for tragedies like this. Yet we have a choice.

I know it sounds naive, like magical thinking, but I believe in real life magic and I can see a future where we care for the billions of people on this planet, each one as unique cells in one human body. It all starts with compassion, with opening our hearts to the suffering of others. Hatred, revenge, and judgment don't help. They only feed the story of separation. We must begin this revolution of love with loving ourselves and one another the way God loves us- unconditionally and with total acceptance. We cannot separate ourselves from the perpetrators and make them "other." We are all in this together.


Omega Institute

These experiences are so powerful. I love hearing people's stories of transcending identity, especially when they can ground that in a more awake living of life.

Dr. Dan Siegel left us speechless after he shared this story. 05/27/2016

This New Neighborhood Will Grow Its Own Food, Power Itself, And Handle Its Own Waste

So so awesome!! So much to love about this!! And it's HAPPENING people 😃 ReGen Village, outside of Amsterdam, doesn't need a grid or food systems. It's a model for a future, fully closed-loop settlement.



Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! tells us about Trump-land and how the media is ruining this election.


Bernie Sanders

Great video!! 😍
And I love the extra high vibe boost of Beethoven's 1st Symphony playing in the background ✨

Let me tell you something about our country that the billionaire class doesn’t want you to know...




220 Montgomery, Suite 1028
San Francisco, CA
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Leading the Way from Adversity 2 Advocacy | Visit us online & get involved at