Happily Never After

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Perhaps I am a slow learner. It took me nearly 40 years to figure out how to manage the connection between my thoughts and my experience of reality. When I discovered how to train myself away from being anxious and negative and instead to be positive, optimistic, and joyful, I was flabbergasted!

I wrote it all down, and turned it into a book that I could put on my nightstand and pick up whenever I forgot how I did it.

But the truth is, this book is not for everyone. Some people will read it and say one thing: “Um, duh.”

Actually, maybe that’s two things.

Because some people have already figured this all out. They are already confident, optimistic, calm, cool, and collected. They’ve already found unwavering joy. They don’t need a joy plan. And if that describes you, then will you please write a book so I can read it?

As Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you’re longing to read and you haven’t found it yet, then you must write it.” That’s why I wrote The Joy Plan—because I needed to read it.

I mean, I’ve read a lot of self-help books and blogs that told me WHAT to do. They told me to “relax,” “think positive,” “stay calm,” “meditate,” “don’t worry, be happy”—and it all sounded good in theory. But I still didn’t know HOW. HOW do I actually do that???

My parents tell me that my favorite thing to say as a kid was, “Don’t tell me what to do.” Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to know WHY —why does that work, why should I do that, why is this happening?

So in The Joy Plan, I address the WHY and the HOW.

You see, I really love science. I mean, I’m not like, a physicist. But I love understanding the science behind both the mundane and the miraculous occurrences in life. And so for me, The Joy Plan was a science experiment.

For example, I go into the specifics of how I switch from a negative thought to a positive one, explaining the science behind this process. Because even though this may seem simple enough, I know I for one need step-by-step instructions and a thorough explanation.

So yes, I read my own book. And it really helps. The Joy Plan sits on my nightstand and is a daily practice for me. I still have anxiety—there are days when I hide under all the covers and pillows I can find. I still worry, I still complain sometimes, but I know how to catch myself now, and how to turn my thoughts, words, and actions in the other direction.

Like the subtitle says, I did find ridiculous happiness. And then I lost it. And found it again. And lost it. And found it. Repeat, rinse, repeat, forever. I’m not expecting happily ever after.

But you guys, I’m not going back. My 30-day joy plan worked. I have a career that I love. I got a publishing deal. I teach mindfulness to kids at an amazing school. I have a beautiful family. I have the ability to work and live in multiple countries. I’ve come a long way since I first decided to dedicate 30 days to joy as a last resort before I slipped completely into the abyss of depression and anxiety.

However, my life isn’t perfect and I now know that it never will be. Holding out for perfection is what got me into trouble in the first place, so I’m not going back to that sort of thinking again either. Because I now know that my experience of life isn’t about the problems or triumphs I’m experiencing on the outside, it’s about the interpretation of it all that I’m experiencing on the inside.