You Can't Steal Happiness

You Can't Steal Happiness - Josie Feather Blog

A month or two ago I came across this article written by one of my favorite podcasters, Mallory O'Meara. She’s mostly talking about social media and how easy it is to get swept up in comparison and turn into an evil nasty little online troll without meaning to, but she made so many good points that relate to all of life that have been rolling around in my head gathering friends ever since.

We’ve all heard the phrases “you can’t buy happiness” and “comparison is the their of joy” so much that any meaning they’ve had is hard to pull out of them at this point. Yeah, I get it, comparing myself to other people won’t actually make me happy, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing it time and time again in my head. Then Mallory struck my over the head with the point that “you can’t steal happiness”. You can be mean in your head, online, or in real life to someone who has something you want, but no matter what you do, even if you bring them down, you can’t actually take any happiness they have.

Most people don’t know this about me, but I actually have body dysmorphia. It’s more complicated than this, but basically, I tend to be more than a little obsessive about my perceived flaws. I lock in and it’s hard to let go. I’m quite sure that I’m the most unattractive person alive and anyone telling my otherwise is just trying to be nice and make me feel better. It’s easy to get caught up in if I’m not careful, and even more easy to catch myself constantly comparing my own looks to other girls. I know it’s certainly not something exclusive to having body dysmorphia, but especially when I’m having an extra rough day, my brain jumps on that comparison train faster then I can catch it. It’s terrible, and absolutely something I don’t want to do, but often my mind runs straight for it, trying to find some way to tear them down to comfort myself.

Here’s the thing though, tearing other people down (even if I’m only doing it in my head) does not allow me to steal their looks, success, or happiness. I don’t get to have those things no matter how mean or nasty I am. In fact, I only end up feeling worse by letting my brain run wild with comparing, and by letting myself judge others I’m just keeping the door wide open for me to judge myself too.

You can’t buy, steal, or borrow happiness. You can’t beat it into submission. You can’t shame it into coming to you or judge it until it backs down and gives up. These last few months I’ve really come to accept that there’s only one way to get it, you have to create it. It’s something that no one can do for you, you have to get out there and get your hands dirty. It’s such a simple, and really incredibly obvious idea, but I’ve found that when my mind jumps on that comparison train and I tell it “hey, you won’t actually get that persons looks or happiness going that way” my brain is a little more willing to jump off.

5 Mindful Practices for Pulling Yourself Out of a Rut

5 Mindful Practices for Pulling Yourself Out of a Rut at Josie Feather Blog

Ruts are something I am painfully familiar with. Whether it’s a creative rut, fitness rut, mood rut, you name it I’ve probably struggled to find balance with it time and time again. This past year I’ve been really digging in and trying to find things that work for me to help pull me out of a rut, and I thought it would be fun to talk about those with ya’ll.

Let’s just start with a quick reminder here that I am not an expert at pretty much anything. Heck, even my job was something I jumped into and have just learned from experience. That’s who I am - jack of all trades, master of none. So when I give out any advice like this, know that it’s coming from my experience and may or may not be the right answer for you. We’re all incredibly individual and, while I share these in the hopes that they can help you as much as they’ve helped me, you need to find your own path.

Listen to how you talk to yourself

Being more conscious of how I talk to myself has been a big effort for me this year. After reading Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” I’ve made an effort to correct myself when I think “I’m a bad person” (which I so often do) and instead changing that to “I did something bad, but I’m not a bad person” and just that little switch has helped my mindset significantly. Living for years I’ve told myself that I’m a terrible person, and guess what, it only made me feel way worse, and drug me right down into the pit (“the pit of despair!” ten points to anyone who gets that reference) .

Take a good look at how you’re talking to yourself and make a conscious effort to stop and correct yourself when you feel you’re going down a negative self talk track. Telling yourself your terrible ten times a day won’t fix your problems or make you feel any better, I promise.

Pay attention to what you’re ingesting

No, I’m not just talking about what you eat (although it’s definitely good to be mindful of that as well, especially when you’re not feeling yourself!), I’m talking about what movies and tv you watch, music you listen to, books you read, everything you’re putting in your brain. I’ve found being mindful of what I’m taking in during times I’m feeling in a funk can make such an impact on how long I feel stuck. Set aside that sad story or movie and find something motivational or inspirational to remind you that things will turn around. It sounds cheesy, but just like “you are what you eat” you tend to adapt thought patterns and habits of what you’re mentally digesting too.

Don’t be afraid to seek help

This is still something I’m learning to do, but I think is incredibly important. Recognizing when you need to reach out to someone you’re close with, or even if it’s time to grab the phone and make an appointment with a therapist or other professional, is key. Keep yourself open to identifying when you need help and try not to wait until you’re deep in the mud to reach out.

Be grateful

I used to hear about greatfulness practices and ROLL MY EYES. No joke. It seemed cheesy and felt super uncomfortable, like one of those awkward times when a friends parents made you go around the dinner table and talk about what you’re thankful for (can’t we just skip to the food part?). But guess what, it really really really is important and can make such a difference. Taking time to think about focus in on the good things instead of wallowing permanently on the bad can really help pull you out of a bad spot.

If you don’t have a gratefulness practice then it’s going to feel super weird the first few times. In fact, you might have literally no idea what to write down, but push through! Even if they may seem silly starting with simple things like “having a place to live” or even something as basic as “having access to fresh water”. Those are all great things to take a second to appreciate. Whether it’s committing to make a list in your head first thing when you wake up, or taking the time to sit down and right them out during the day, taking inventory of the good can really help you feel more balanced when things feel like they aren’t going your way.

That’s it! They are so simple, but have made a big difference for me this past last year and would recommend them to anyone who’s been struggling with ruts or just funky moods you may pass through. Let me know if you guys have anything you do that have helped you in those times!

Oh, Linda.

Josie Davis

Hiking through the rainforest can be a magical thing. The lush greenery all around, the far off sounds of birds you’ve only ever seen in a zoo chatting with one another, the light rain on your face, and the deep smell of mossy rocks. What’s not so magical is getting stuck in a downpour under a lean-to with a woman named Linda who insists on calling everyone she’s ever met and loudly talking to them about how her arthritis is putting a bit of a damper on her dating life.

I don’t mind rain. For a few minutes me and Frank stood together under the lean-to watching the rain fall with only the steady beat of drops falling around us. I love the sound of rain. Probably because I’m a fairly privileged white girl who’s only really bad experiences with rain were when a it put a bit of a damper on our family’s day at Epcot and I had to buy children’s large sweatpants because my jeans got soaked through (Seriously though, why does it always rain on Epcot day?). I mostly find rain storms charming and even calming, and was perfectly happy to stand with my husbands arms wrapped around me, watching the rain until it slowed. And then, Linda came.

I was standing on the edge of the lean-to looking down the hill when a middle aged woman came towards me waving frantically and yelling “I found you!”. I instantly attempted to hide behind Frank, which doesn’t work so well since I am a nearly 6 foot tall tree of a gal. The woman quickly realized that me and my husband were not the date that she had lost on the mountain, but decided it was best to hang out with us under the shelter anyway. I did what I always do in awkward social situations, and promptly pretended I’m deaf and mute and have no way of communicating with other humans, so I might as well just face the opposite direction and watch the rain some more and hope you don’t insist on talking to me.

Linda was not hindered by us not buddying up to her though. Even though we were thousands of feet up the side of a mountain she somehow had the teeny tiniest bit of reception on her cell phone which made it possible for her to voice to text, leave rambling voicemails, and call everyone she’s ever met. We heard all about her date that presumably had abandoned her and left her for dead in a Puerto Rican rainforest. We head about how she was aggressively trying to get a coworker to spend more time with her, despite this woman spurring her advances (her words, by the way), and we heard her lament about how tough dating is when you have arthritis in your hands…

It was awkward to say the least. After five minutes that felt more like an hour we decided to venture into the pouring rain and hike as swiftly as we could down the mountain in fear that Linda might catch up to us and we would be forced to listen to make more phone calls and dictate text messages. I couldn’t help but think how incredible it is that you would hike through the rainforest and still be unable to put your phone down and enjoy what’s around you. But if I’m totally honest with myself, I do that too. Sure, I don’t make phone calls unless absolutely necessary (why can’t doctors just text you anyway), and I certainly am not going to voice to text in public when my hands are perfectly free (I mean, common guys, why even bother texting at that point), but I’m sure way more often than I realize I’m standing somewhere amazing and beautiful and am too busy scrolling through instagram to even notice.

I am not someone who thinks technology is evil, quite the opposite in fact. I have no desire to get rid of my iPhone or live in some remote cabin without internet. I think all of that stuff is awesome actually. I believe instagram has truly pushed me creatively. I love that I can check out an ebook or audiobook from my library and read it right on my phone. Heck, without the internet and AIM I wouldn’t have had half my boyfriends. The question is, am I able to disconnect when real life calls? Am I able to put down my phone and enjoy the sound of rain in the actually rainforest when it’s right there in front of me? I really hope so, but maybe Linda was there to remind me to pay attention and not miss out on what’s happening. So, thanks Linda, I really will try to be more present this year, and also will try my best to avoid arthritis by whatever means necessary.