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.

Positivity and How I Almost Flipped out in a Library

Positivity and How I Almost Flipped out in a Library - Josie Feather Blog

I’ve talked regularly about how this year one of my biggest goals is to be more positive. I’ve been trying to learn to look for the good, be more grateful, and let go of the negative a little easier. The thing is though, I want to be honest. I want to be truthful with you and not pretend that I woke up one day and decided to be more positive and *poof* I now walk around with a smile on my face all day constantly thinking to myself how amazing my life is and humming to a wild bluebird on my shoulder that I befriended. That’s not real life, that’s a Disney movie.

So let’s be real. Like really really really real. I mentioned last week that I’ve been in a bit of a funk. It’s been something I’ve had a real hard time shaking. Sometimes I even start to feel it lift, only to be smacked over the head again with a frying pan full of funk. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

So there I was, enjoying an afternoon with my husband who was finally home for a few days after being awayf for what had felt like many eons, and we decided to go into the city and get me a library card. Me, being the perfectionist over-planner that I am, had made sure to call ahead and check what I needed to bring. We found parking, walked through the cold, and waited for the library to open. Of course, once we got inside and found the main desk, the incredibly apathetic gentleman decided that I needed more proof I worked in the city. Once we provided more proof, him and his manager decided I needed more proof, which I was unable to magically produce while standing there. It was clearly one of those situations where someone with the teeniest bit of power decides they don’t want to be helpful, and will exercise that wee bit of power over you to avoid the smallest bit of work.

It was incredibly frustrating. My blood pressure hit new heights and I fought back a few tears as we walked away. Most people may think it’s being over dramatic to get upset about being denied a library card, and I would whole-heartedly agree. Sitting in my home looking back on it now I can easily see that it’s not something worth getting upset over. I can agree how I should have shrugged it off, and taken it as a nice afternoon with my husband even if we didn’t get what we drove into the city for. But at the time I couldn’t. I couldn’t see the good, even in such a comically silly situation.

That’s the thing, it’s not always easy, even at times when it seems like it should. It’s actually incredibly hard some days. It’s hard to see the good when you feel like your brain has been fighting back gremlins for weeks. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

So here I am. Happy to admit that I have failed, and it’s certainly not the first time that I have since I started this goal, and heavens knows it won’t be the last. When you struggle with depression and anxiety especially, positivity feels like a mountain. Specifically a mountain that’s incredibly prone to avalanches, earth quakes, and massive land slides. But you won’t get anywhere if you don’t dig yourself out of the snow and keep trying. So I will keep digging, and if you’re out there feeling like you’re digging yourself out for the millionth time this week, just know that you are not alone.

Seeing the Good

Josie Feather

I have a lot of goals for 2019. 

I tend to do that. Stack my goal list like I stack my bookcase - unwilling to accept that I might have too much on it, and maybe I should stop adding to it (spoiler alert, I won’t - especially when it comes to the book case). 

But I’m trying to cut down how many goals I add to each area of my life. So this year I’m focusing on one big personal growth goal: being a more positive person. 

As those that have known me closely for a long time can tell you, sarcasm is my main language, with English coming in a distant second. I can be snarky and more than a little pessimistic. On a more serious note, I’ve also struggled with chronic and sometimes debilitating depression for most of my life, which has often made it hard for me to see the good. 

Last year I made some big life changes that have really helped me to gain control over my depression and anxiety. It certainly hasn’t made it completely disappear, but It’s been truly amazing to finally feel more clear headed on a daily basis. However, having that clarity has helped me realize how naturally negative I can be. I can quickly get sucked into letting the little things eat away at me and zap all the enjoyment out of daily living. I’ve had my sights set on this little goal of mine for the last few months and I’ve already noticed a big difference by just being more conscious of it. I definitely still getting sucked into that vortex of negativity at times (you don’t even want to talk to me when I’m hangry, let me tell ya) but I’ve already noticed I’ve been happier and more content on a daily basis, and better at warding off those little annoyances.

Part of this goal of mine is that I’m also working specifically to be positive towards myself this year. I’ve lived my life with a constantly string of negative thoughts about myself running through my brain at all times. I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough. Truthfully, this voice has felt beyond my control. A little bird sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. I just can’t get rid of it, or maybe I’m even a little afraid to ask it to scram since it’s been with me so long.

Part of my plan to try to change how my brain instinctively thinks with these things is by repeating a little positive mantra in my head whenever I feel those nasty thoughts make their way in. I know, way cheesy, and feels more than a little hippie-ish. But what do I have to loose? Feeling a little silly to myself? Nothing changes unless you make it change, and even if some of the things I try don’t help so much, then at least I can cross those off the list and move on to the next method to try.

More than anything in 2018 I learned that I don’t want to be the person content with always being the same. Change it good, and if I’m not striving to be a better person, then I’ll always feel stuck in the same place, being annoyed by the same things, having the same arguments, and never being able to fully enjoy all those silly but beautiful things in life.