How to Be Happy

by Chloe Jeffreys · 29 comments

in Women in Midlife

not_giving_a_fuckI’ve stopped and started this post dozens of times. Like most of what I “write” today, I imagine the words coming together so beautifully in my head while I’m driving to work, but it all breaks down into nonsensical babbling the minute I find myself sitting in front of my computer. Here’s hoping today it’s different.

It’s been mostly radio silence here on my blog because I mostly haven’t got much that I want to publicly say anymore. How many times can I say, “Damn, that was a stupid decision” and “Whew! I’m glad that shit is over” before I’ve bored even myself to tears? 

How to Make Money Blogging 

In the blogging world, when you don’t write for awhile people forget you. There’s simply too many bloggers vying for our limited time and ever-dwindling attention spans. On WordPress.com alone, every single day tens of thousands of new blogs are launched. Tens of thousands! So if you aren’t constantly out there hustling for your 15 milliseconds of attention you might as well not exist. 

In 2008 I started this blog for one reason and one reason only, I wanted to say “fuck” on the Internet. In fact, I was desperate to say fuck. I’d come to the end of my Suzie Homemaker, good little Christian homeschool mom rope, and it was either kill myself, kill somebody else, or say fuck on the Internet. I chose fuck.

A lot of people didn’t like the “new” me. I was tossed out of one forum where I’d been a long time member, and then I stormed out of another one. And in the process I got myself a little reputation for being hot-headed.

But, just as many people didn’t like where I was going, others did. People who resonated with my new Fuck this Bullshit/Kiss my Ass message called me things like courageous and brave and vulnerable. And the next thing I knew, courageous, brave, vulnerable me set out to make a million dollars blogging!

The only problem is that I haven’t a clue about how to run a business (No worries! There’s plenty of folks out there on the blogging conference circuit who’ll promise you that you don’t need to know a thing about business to be a successful blogger.)

Before too long it was obvious to me that I’d chosen the wrong people to trust. Unfortunately, and this part I take full responsibility for, I didn’t handle it well at all. Instead of dealing with my mistakes head-on, I hid. I crawled into a hole and allowed my anxiety and shame to eat me alive.

And here’s the part where I always quit this post and go do something else that feels a helluva lot better emotionally. But today, just maybe, I’m going to push past this to get to what I’ve learned from all of this.

How to Be Happy

I have learned something from my stint as a professional blogger and not only do I want to share it with my readers, but I want to write it down for myself for when I forget what I’ve learned. So here are the THREE lessons I’ve learned from professional blogging about being happy.

Lesson One: Stop Giving a Fuck About What Other People Think of You

If_you_want_lifelong_friends

Mark Manson wrote a great article a few months back called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. This piece of writing changed my life. While everyone was telling me to Let it Go, Mark was able to clarify what my real problem was: I give way too many fucks. 

Many people think what’s wrong with me is that I don’t give enough fucks, but there could be nothing further from the truth. In fact, my penchant for fuck-giving is what my enemies used against me so well. They knew that despite my devil-may-care public persona, all they had to do was plant a few nasty rumors among the gullible about how I’m such a diva and a power-tripping attention whore, and next thing you know I would give-a-fuck myself to death.

Oh, but how I wailed and gnashed my teeth in the privacy of my own give-a-fuck hell, “How could people think this of me!?!? Don’t they know what a nice person I am?!?”

See? Way too many fucks.

What Mark taught me is that I need to learn to be much more prudent about my ever-dwindling ration of fucks to give. 

Should I give a fuck about the misinformed opinions of a bunch of strangers who were easily manipulated by false rumors and nasty innuendo manufactured about me all geared to make them feel better about themselves? Hell fucking No! Why would I give a fuck about people I don’t even know?

Should I give a fuck about what some emotionally stunted and terminally jealous women think about me? Hell fucking NO! Why did I give a fuck in the first place about the opinion of people I don’t even like?

Should I give a fuck about some silly, misguided, middle-aged sychophants who think they are going to make a million dollars blogging if only they can kiss enough of the right ass? Hell fucking NO! Above all, I should most definitely not give a fuck about that.

Freeing myself up from a whole bunch of misplaced fuck-giving created space for far more important things, like giving a fuck about what’s really important to me: my husband, my children and grandchildren, and my financial future.

See, what Mark taught me is that the secret to a joyful life worth living isn’t not giving any fucks, but choosing more wisely where I give my fucks. 

Lesson Two: Put Yourself First

This one is tough, especially for Christian women, because people will talk bad about you and call you a bad Christian if you dare put yourself first. That’s why I had to put the not giving a fuck lesson first because you can’t put yourself first until you’ve stopped giving a fuck about what other people think of you. 

“But, Chloe, isn’t putting yourself first selfish?”

Yep. It is. So?

You don’t think Jesus was selfish? I’m sure his disciples before His crucifixion would say he was. They wanted him to run away from the Romans before he got them all killed. They wanted him to stop stirring up so much shit with the Pharisees and getting them tossed out of the synagogue. But, as far as I understand the scriptures, Jesus had his mission, and everybody else could go suck it. 

You have a mission, too. Your job is to go pursue it, whatever that is, and let everybody else go suck it.

Granted, it is likely you have people you love who you want along for your ride. I get that. But your mother was right. The people who really love you will support you, and the people who don’t, won’t. In fact, a good test of a person’s devotion to you is demonstrating your real self to them and watching what they do next. It’s a tough test because you have to be ready for rejection, but it’s the only way to know who loves you and who’s just using you for their own selfish mission. 

Lesson Three: Embrace Failure

Anyone who tells you that achieving your dreams is easy is trying to sell you something. There’s a bazillion dollar cottage industry built upon the notion that all you need to do is “set your intention” and all your dreams will magically come true. But, if you think about it, an intention is nothing more than a wish, and if wishes were fishes…well, you get the point. 

You are going to have to work very hard if you want to create the life you want to live. And, after working your ass off, you are most likely going to face the agonizing heartache of failure at least once, but probably a lot more.

Because of your own misplaced fucks, you are going to trust people who turn out to be untrustworthy. While waiting for people to come along who truly do care about you, you’ll likely be lonely a lot of the time. Over and over again, you are going to pick yourself up, dust your sorry ass off, and do more on any given day than you ever imagined possible if you want to see anything worthwhile happen in your life. 

Creating A Life Worth Living is Serious Business

Chloe_in_Barcelon

My husband and I have a dream. This dream has been forming itself in our minds for three and a half years now, and we’ve had to work very hard to get where we are, and we’re still a long way off.

First, we had to go get some serious marital counseling to deal with some old, and new, wounds. People look at marriage counseling as a failure when it really is one of the best things a couple can do for themselves. 

Next, we had to make some seriously difficult financial decisions which included walking away from our seriously upside-down mortgage. This is the single best financial decision we’ve ever made, but it was humiliating and humbling until we learned to stop giving a fuck about what other people think and started thinking for ourselves.

Then we both had to set about finding ways to make seriously good money. My husband is doing his part, and I’m doing mine.

A year and a half ago I took up travel nursing where I now make in a single day what I used to make in a week. Yes, I work very hard and many long hours, but my eye is firmly on the prize.

And I have the failure of my professional blogging career to thank for all of this. Not a day goes by when I’m not eternally grateful for the heart-breaking failure of Generation Fabulous and the two pathetic people who made it all possible.

My husband and I have had to think outside the box, decide to live unconventionally (thank goodness we don’t give a fuck about what other people think anymore), and put our dreams first in every decision we make (Sorry kids, but you’ll thank us someday when you don’t have to take care of us when we’re in our dotage.)

Where to Next?

My_Dream_Home

In ten short days we close on a gorgeous piece of property with this view where we plan to build our dream home next year. Both my husband and I are working very long hours these days to make our dreams come true. It’s thrilling, it’s exhausting, but our lives are far better now than we ever imagined back in the beginning of 2012 when our journey began in earnest.

What role does blogging have in this future? I don’t know. Maybe some. Maybe none. Other than the fact that I promised AARP I’d write three posts in exchange for flying me to Miami in a couple of weeks to attend the Life@50+ National Event, it doesn’t matter to me anymore.

Life@50+

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Dressel May 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Yes I do beleve in putting myself first from now on! For the last 24 years I put my wife first buying her flowers and taking her out and helping her through her knee replacement and basically putting her first in every way.
How has she responded?
By telling me that she is not happy and is leaving me. I am trying every which way to find out how I can keep my home.
I will never get married again!!!

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 8:00 pm

It’s a little soon for declarations like that! Who knows what the future will bring into your life, Don.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How Dare Kate Be Prettier Than Us!My Profile

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Don Dressel May 7, 2015 at 1:36 am

Yes I guess that’s the hurt talking!
Thank you Chloe

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Christine London May 6, 2015 at 9:03 am

I see you standing beneath one of the ‘break the mold, Gaudi not giving a fuck about art their way’ arches at the Gaudi Guell Park in Barcelona, so yeah, girl—you are livin’ the dream. Thanks for reminding us to make this one life journey special and attuned to our heart.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Thank you, Christine! Your recent work on Facebook about contentment and happiness have certainly hit a nerve within me as well. Living the dream means living our own dream and being content with that. If that’s living the dream then I most definitely am. Thank you!

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Iris Sandkuhler May 5, 2015 at 11:56 pm

Fuck yeah!

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

LOL!

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Caina May 3, 2015 at 1:40 am

Whatever you write, I love….thank you for reminding us to not, “give a fuck”. I used to be about the big house in the swim/tennis/golf community and now live out in the country in an old farmhouse….My children are embarrassed about the downsize, but guess what? I don’t give a fuck…there’s more to life than the things we can’t take to Heaven anyways! Keep on being you Chloe–maybe some women can learn a thing or two from you (and maybe if they stop giving a fuck about what people think of THEM, they’ll stop giving a fuck about what everyone else is doing in their own lives (and the world will be a better place for ALL of us)! Blessings to you all

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Thank you, Caina. I appreciate your comment so much.

As my husband and I look through house plans and begin the process of planning for our “dream home” one of the things we’re working to keep in mind is that part of the dream is that it is affordable and that we can retire comfortably someday in it. Sure, it would be awesome to have a great, big showy home, but do we need that? No, we don’t. We want a house we can keep clean and maintain well into our 80s. We want a home we can afford. We want one big enough, but not so big that we regret building it.

And if people don’t think it is grand enough, well, then I guess fuck ’em. They don’t have to live there, now do they?

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Valerie May 2, 2015 at 7:20 am

I’m glad you’re happy now Chloe. I truly think in the face of loss, illness, disaster, failure, job demotions and more loss I have had to make a conscious decision to choose happiness and contentment. And you are so right that a big part of it is not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks. That’s how I’ve survived 30 years of swimming among TV News sharks and not getting eaten alive. 🙂

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Valeria, I cannot imagine the shark tank that must be TV news. That’s competition! But you’ve made it through that and so much more, and kept your genuine niceness. I think that’s a feat to be applauded. Thanks for reading me after all this time. It really means a lot to me.

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D. A. Wolf May 2, 2015 at 5:28 am

Ha! I love this post!

The thing about your three lessons… Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 are not easy for women, period. We are raised to give a fuck (about almost everyone’s opinion of us) AND wifedom / motherhood teach us to put ourselves low on the priority list.

Fortunately… We do better with time, and generally, better with failure as well.

I’m so happy for your newfound direction!

xo
D. A. Wolf recently posted..How to Find Yourself After 50My Profile

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Chloe Jeffreys May 2, 2015 at 5:44 am

D.A., There’s no doubt in my mind that these are far more difficult lessons for women to learn than for men. I can’t even imagine being able to have conceived of them, much less write them out loud for the world to see, back in 2008 when all I wanted to do was say fuck on the Internet.

Back then I also could never have imagined that failure would become my best friend. I’ve learned far more from this failure than any success I’ve ever had. It’s also helped me weed out a whole lot of people who weren’t worth a single, solitary fuck I ever gave. You my dear are not one of them. You are entirely worth every single fuck I have.

I love you, my friend.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How to Be HappyMy Profile

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Brenda May 2, 2015 at 4:13 am

I don’t have anything profound to say… except that I’ve missed your presence in my feed. I hope you continue blogging, even if only randomly. The view from your future property is amazing. Savor it, Chloe of the Mountain.
Brenda recently posted..Stepping Out and Moving ForwardMy Profile

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Chloe Jeffreys May 2, 2015 at 5:46 am

Hi Brenda! I go back and forth on any given day. I can’t imagine not blogging anymore, but I also can’t imagine that I have a whole helluva lot more to say. We’ll see. But in the meantime, thank you so much for reading and commenting. It does mean so much to me.
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Cathi May 2, 2015 at 12:55 am

I was just thinking about you this morning and wondering if my feed to your blog had broken. I was delighted to get the notification that you had written something new!

I’m glad you are still in the game!

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Chloe Jeffreys May 2, 2015 at 5:48 am

I’m not dead yet! I feel like dancing!

Okay, enough Monty Python. Thanks for looking for me, Cathi. It seems that I can’t really write about something until I no longer give a fuck about it. I’ve found that getting over shit is very time-consuming.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How to Be HappyMy Profile

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Jessica Gottlieb May 1, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Turning 35 had me giving no fucks and life got really good. I imagine that when I turn 50 and join AARP (that’s what you do at 50, right?) I’ll have less than one fuck less to give.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 2, 2015 at 5:51 am

I began the process of de-fuckifying my life back in my mid-40s, and the process continues. I still give way too many fucks, but I am learning the hard way to dole them out more carefully.

If Manson is right and we only have so many fucks to give in a lifetiem then I fear I’ve squandered some good ones on some entirely unfuckworthy causes. I vow to be far more careful in the future. I hope you’ll help hold me to that vow and remind me when you see me giving an entirely unnecessary fuck to knock that shit off.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How to Be HappyMy Profile

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rodalena May 1, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Your future looks marvelous, and worth all of the work and time you and your husband are investing. I’m thrilled for you.

As for blogging, for me, it’s never been a commercial endeavor. I write for me, and to communicate with the people I have developed friendships with as I wander willy-nilly across the interwebs. My journey has had its rough spots, too, but as they will, my detractors are finding others pots to stir, so there’s a nice bit of peace.

Peace to you, too, Chloe.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 2, 2015 at 5:54 am

Peace is a beautiful thing, Rodalena. I find myself seeking it a lot these days. I still care too much about too many things but I’m getting wiser. And happier. And I am overjoyed to see you are happier too.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How to Be HappyMy Profile

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Erica Jagger May 1, 2015 at 7:55 pm

I’ve always thought of you as a significant blogger because you have a voice and you’re genuine. I hope you keep writing, Chloe.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 2, 2015 at 5:57 am

Thank you, Erica. I find it hard to imagine that I can stop, but when I sit down time and time again to write something and find I can’t then I wonder if my time is over. Maybe I truly have run out of things to say.

But writing this has taught me one thing, the less emotionally invested I am the easier it is for me to express myself emotionally. Learning to take that step back from my feelings is helping. But it’s such a arduous process that I give up and go do other things that feel much better and seem more fruitful.

Writing is just hard work. And the pay sucks. But you and my other readers and the bloggers like yourself who I’ve come to know and love don’t suck. It’s a conundrum I haven’t resolved.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How to Be HappyMy Profile

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Jack May 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm

It takes courage to do more than talk about happiness. Sounds to me like you have taken yours in your hands and are doing something about it. I think that is awesome.

I am pushing hard to set myself up for the life I want to live to and not the one that I am supposed to. Somewhere in between these things is a place where you can sleep at night knowing even if it didn’t go exactly as you hoped you did your best.

Keep us posted about your journey, there are stories worth sharing.
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Chloe Jeffreys May 2, 2015 at 6:00 am

Jack, you are always a bright spot on my feed. You remind me over and over again that these stories do matter. My story and your story and the stories of so many matter. They create the kaleidoscope of blogdom that isn’t polluted by advertising and fame-mongering. I appreciate the work you are doing to preserve the artform. And, as always, I appreciate your unwavering encouragement of me. Thank you.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How to Be HappyMy Profile

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Don Dressel May 1, 2015 at 6:48 pm

I have posted quite a few times on your site about the issues with my wife and now we are splitting up.
All my hopes and dreams for us are going up in smoke.
At first I thought I would be depressed over this and believe me I have been!
I do now realize that my happiness lies within me not her and in the 24 years we have been together she has treated me with contempt and disrespect and I do realize once we sell our house and split up completely that after about 3-4 months I will be glad she is gone!

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Chloe Jeffreys May 1, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Don, this is a step in the right direction for you. I know she has broken your heart, but you will get over it. And someday your life might look the way you want it to, but I won’t lie and tell you it’ll be easy. It won’t be easy. Take care of you!
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..How to Be HappyMy Profile

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