Depression + Anxiety

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!

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.