Do I Have Enough Problems?


As more and more people (beyond my parents and a few friends) are reading my book, The Joy Plan, one of my worries is that I don’t have enough problems. I mean, people will look at me and think that all of my problems are gone. And so what could I possibly know about how hard it is to find joy?

If you read Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior, which I read in a crying, sweaty heap in two days while I ignored everyone else because I couldn’t put it down, you’ll read about her bulimia, alcoholism, drug abuse, and promiscuity.

But I hate to throw up, alcohol gives me a headache, drugs scare me, and I was too self-conscious about my psoriasis to sleep around when I was younger.

However, regardless of how easy breezy things may look for me from the outside, what I lack in actual problems I make up for with a highly sensitive amygdala that is convinced my problems are copious and perilous.

I’ve faced hard times in my life for sure—I grew up poor, experienced terrible bullying and lots of instability as a child, went through a painful divorce before I met Dan, and I have an autoimmune disease and a collagen disorder—but my first editor helped me weed out most mentions of my past struggles from The Joy Plan.

Because really, we all have pain. Most of us had difficult childhoods. Everyone is hurting in their own way.

I have a friend who was deeply hurt when he wasn’t given a raise at his job, and he was already making over $300K per year. But his peers were making $500K, and his pain was real, even if you and I can’t relate.

You see, the details aren’t the point; how we deal with those details is the point. Pain looks different on the outside for everyone, but it feels the same on the inside. Sometimes my outside looks like the Garden of Eden, while my inside feels like Armageddon.

Thankfully, I finally found the tools to help me out along the way.

I finally know how to be in the world as a sensitive person, how to calm my hair-trigger amygdala, and how to make my inside more closely match my outside. Not all of the time. Not perfectly. But enough. Enough to keep going. Enough to find joy.