Are you feeling joy right now but afraid to admit it with so many challenges facing the world? If so, you aren’t alone!
In this week’s episode, Karen & Katie make a case for the importance of embracing joy (even in the face of suffering), the connections between optimism and gratitude, the ways in which gratitude changes our brains (WHOA), and are visited by future President Kamala Harris. Whoop! Whoop!
Enjoy Friends, and thanks for listening! We will be back Dec. 7, 2020 with a new episode.
Resources for today’s episode: Call Your Girlfriend; Shine Theory; How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain; WTF with Marc Maron (interviewing Michael J. Fox); The Optimist’s Manifesto:
Shawn Achor’s Masterclass on Calm “Discovering Happiness”
Follow Of Course I’m Not Ok: The Podcast on Twitter & Instagram, and email us with questions/comments/concerns at email@example.com. This episode is sponsored by Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. With Anchor, you can catch our episodes wherever you get your podcasts.
Katie. Hi, I’m Blanche. I’m 87 years old and making $1 million per week on TikTok.
Karen: Hi, I’m that aging pop star who just discovered Twitter.
Katie: You are listening to Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast. Here every week, we talk about all kinds of things, such as creativity, how to cope in quarantine, and mental health.
Karen: Sometimes we interview other aging pop stars and octogenarians on TikTok to get their take.
Katie: Thank you for joining us on this journey.
Katie: Hello, Karen, and welcome to Thanksgiving week. It’s great to see you.
Karen: Katie, it’s great to see you. Welcome to Indigenous Peoples week.
Katie: Yes. Welcome to Indigenous Peoples Week.
Karen: Oh, okay. Someone tweeted, “Bringing a deadly disease to people with little to no immunity is a very authentic Thanksgiving reenactment.”
Katie: Mm. Boom.
Katie: Yeah. So as we walk into this Thanksgiving week, Indigenous Persons? Wait, what is it again? Indigenous?
Karen: Indigenous Peoples Week. We can call it Thanksgiving. I just, I felt like I needed to call out how problematic this whole thing is. Yeah.
Katie: I think that’s totally fair. I mean, the fact that no one calls it Columbus Day anymore and they call it what it should be called, which is Indigenous People’s day. Calling it Indigenous People’s Week is totally appropriate. And I do love the idea of celebrating native Americans and celebrating people who were hurt so much by basically the invasion of and the colonization from Europe.
Katie: And also I love the idea of gratitude. And so it’s like, how do those two things mix? You know, like it’s like, do they mix? I don’t know, because right now, oof.
Karen: Yeah. I think it actually is a perfect intersection collision for the theme we decided on today. Like, how do we find gratitude? How do we create space in our lives to be grateful, knowing that a bunch of really wrong?
Katie: Today’s presenting sponsor of Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast are the thousands and thousands of turkeys running free this Thanksgiving, because there are just as not as many people gathering so there is just not as much need for turkeys.
Karen: We’re all sitting down eating turkey breasts, turkey thighs, or turkey random parts. No one’s making a whole turkey this year. We’re all splitting up the same turkey. So there are just turkeys running free.
Katie: Turkeys, running free. We’re happy for you, and we really appreciate you dedicating the money to sponsor this podcast.
Katie: Yes. This week, I feel like I struggled. I’ve been in some personal struggles and I’ve also been kind of struggling with the aftermath of the election. Oregon right now is shut down, as a lot of places, Chicago included. There’s just so many places that are shutting down right now. And then, it’s interesting too, because I had this moment where I was talking to someone, and I was telling them that I have this podcast that’s called Of Course I’m Not Okay. And I have this newsletter that I write every month called Rainbows and Shit Piles and that’s about pain and joy and vulnerability and all the things.
And the thing is, this person was like, ‘Hey, so if you were happy, what would that do to your brand?’ And I was just like, ‘Okay, I have nothing to say to that.’ I was totally terrified because I was like, wait, but I need to embrace some sort of, I don’t know, struggle or something like that. But then it kind of made me really think. It’s like – and this is kind of a complicated topic – it’s like, where does the joy fit in when there’s so much pain in the world? I think there’s something to be said around finding space, making space for joy, allowing things to be good, finding gratitude in these times, even when they’re hard for a lot of people, including ourselves at some point.
Karen: Yeah. And the idea that feeling guilty or feeling shitty or not wanting to embrace joy doesn’t make life any better for anyone else. It’s not like us wallowing in, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t be grateful for what I have.’ It’s not like that emotion is somehow helping other people who don’t have access to the resources we do.
Karen: So be grateful, and help somebody else.
Karen: Cause then it’s just like, ‘I’m going to feel as bad as I imagine that person feels but not do anything to help that person.’
Katie: Yes, totally. I think this is so evident in social media right now where, I know you and I have talked about this concept around, sometimes people will post these really joyful things. And they’ll actually add disclaimers. You’ve seen that on people’s posts and it just kind of makes it sad. It’s like, ‘Oh no, you can just be happy.’ You can just embrace joy. And when you do embrace your own joy, it allows other people to embrace theirs as well.
Karen: Absolutely. And to be happy for you, you know. I think you and I talked about, I have a friend who’s pregnant right now and who is couching their joy on Instagram with, ‘I know everything’s shit right now.’ All of these, ‘Yes, I don’t want to have just unbridled, unconditional joy about this thing. I have to couch it some way.’ Yeah. It is very true of social media. And I think the only place I- no, I see it on Twitter too. There’s a lot of movement. I feel like my Twitter feed at least is a ton of journalists and there’s a lot of movement in the industry. People are going to different jobs, and yeah. Even on that, people are couching, like ‘I know everything’s shit, but some personal news.’ You know, like, okay, well, just say it.
Katie: Yeah, just say it, you know? I mean, I think there’s a happy medium around, you can be as real as you want to be, and if your reality is happiness, and if it’s joy, embrace it. Like, that’s wonderful. We need more joy in the world always, and especially now. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience where you’re joyful and then someone kind of knocks you down a peg and like, yeah.
Yeah. It’s just, I had this experience about a year ago where I had a really joyful vacation basically. And it was one of those things where it was just, I was so, so happy, and I came back and I was telling someone about it and they were like, ‘Hey, so there’s no way that that was entirely happy. What really happened?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, no. Well, okay.’ And I actually found myself, in that moment, saying like, ‘Okay, well, I’m gonna try to think of the negative. Okay. Let me, hold on a second.’ And it wasn’t even, it was not conscious. This happened within a millisecond, Karen. And so I just, I thought, ‘Okay, well I’m just gonna, okay. Yes, you’re right. There are a few things that were not perfect.’
But really what that did was it lowered the vibration of the conversation. And what I really want is just to raise the vibration of the world, which is interesting when this person that I was talking to a couple of weeks ago asked me what it would do to my brand. And I stopped because the way I see our podcast, you know the name Of Course I’m Not Okay, to me it’s very funny. I think it’s very funny, but also we’re honest. You know, we’re talking about mental health, we’re talking about being in shitstorms, and we’re also talking about being really joyful. But it’s hard to describe. It’s like, I don’t live there. I don’t live in the place where I’m not okay all the time and I don’t want to live there, if that makes sense.
Karen: It absolutely makes sense. And no one wants to live there. And it is funny. And the whole, I think 2020 is this odd upside down world because usually, you’re not encouraged to talk about what’s wrong. So now 2020, it’s not okay to talk about what’s right in your life. It’s not okay to talk about positive things. It’s not okay to be joyful or grateful. Yeah. Nah. 2020.
Karen: Today’s episode is brought to you by the future, and the President Kamala Harris reelection campaign.
Katie: We are so excited that Kamala Harris has decided to sponsor this podcast for her reelection. She has had quite the run. It’s been amazing and all of us are so excited for her second term. Just for background from the future, Joe Biden decided not to run a second term. And so she started her term, her first term in 2025 with the 2024 election. And now she’s running again in 2029.
Karen: Oof, I know that’s a scary number to think about. Thank you President Harris for sponsoring this podcast and thank you for keeping the country together.
Katie: We love you.
Karen: And I feel like I also struggle with people who, I mean, people are always going to try to shit in your salad, right? They’re always going to try to just, ‘Oh, you’re feeling happy right now. I’m not feeling happy. I’ma pull you down to where I am, just cause I can.’ And I also struggle with, how do you put up boundaries and not take that from that person? How do you just raise that invisible shield of, ‘You are trying to direct some shit at me I don’t want. No, thank you.’ I don’t know how you do it. I struggle all the time with it.
Katie: Well, I mean, yeah, that is a huge struggle. And I think that, to get a little bit even deeper with this, what I’ve realized in therapy and talking to different friends, that there’s an element of belonging. I would love to actually even talk about belonging on this podcast in maybe a standalone podcast at some point, but there’s this human need to belong. In every circle. It’s like, okay, belong with your family. Belong with your friends. Whatever it is, whatever your circle is to belong. And I feel like there’s, depending on the ethos of what you grew up in and the ethos of what your circle is, there might be a set point or a default of how happy you can be. And this is something I’ve learned in therapy so I can’t take credit for this learning at all but it makes a lot of sense to me, and so sometimes it’s like, ‘Okay, well the people in my group or whatever the places that I belong the most, maybe I’m standing a little bit taller today. I feel a little bit more joy today, but sometimes that can be really scary.’ Like, literally very, very scary for people to embody that joy, embody that happiness, because they’re afraid of standing alone.
They’re afraid of not belonging. And that’s real, because talking about knocking people down a peg? When people try to knock others down a peg, at least in my experience, I think they’re feeling a lack of belonging. Like, ‘Oh shit, this person that I’m so used to being in the shit with is actually doing well. Oh God, what does that mean? So I’m going to try to knock them down a little bit to feel better.’ And it goes the opposite way as well. If you’re the one feeling amazing, and then you are afraid to tell someone, that could be a signal that you’re maybe not feeling- it’s just a sense of belonging. It’s a physiological need though, I think, in all humans.
Karen: Yeah. You’re blowing my mind right now. And it also makes me feel like, at some point, maybe we should have somebody in from sobriety programs, recovery programs, or that whole idea that, ‘You now are doing better. You have stepped away from these toxic behaviors. You are trying to be a better person. And you’re surrounded by all these people who are just like, no, no. You’re going to drink because we’re all drinking and it’s going to trash your life and all of these things.’ I’m not in recovery and I know a tiny bit about it, but I feel like exactly what you’re describing is why, when you make huge changes in your life, huge shifts in your life, you have to change the people you’re around.
Katie: Totally, totally. And it’s okay. It’s scary, and it’s okay. I think so many people, I can say myself included sometimes, it depends on who I’m around, where it’s like, which side of the line am I going to express? Am I going to be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m amazing right now! This is incredible. I’m so happy.’ Or am I going to couch that a little bit and be like, ‘I’m really happy, but Oh God, you can’t believe that this happened.’ I think it’s almost an instantaneous response where you’re like, ‘okay, well I know how much joy the person that I’m talking to can handle,’ or ‘I don’t want to ostracize them because they’re going through a bad time.’ So there’s codependency that comes in that. So, yes, I agree that this is very much tied into addiction. And I think it’s just an interesting thing to explore because, I guess I just want to encourage myself and I also want to encourage others to, as my therapist put it, stand as a tall poppy. She basically was like, the whole idea of just stand tall. If you’re happy, if you’re joyful, great. Just be that. It’s okay.
Karen: Yeah. I love it. Thank you, Katie’s therapist. That’s wonderful.
Katie: Yes. Thank you my therapist, who I always love. I mean, it’s just interesting and then also when you surround yourself with different people who do always stand in that, then it allows you to stand taller. And it’s like, Ann Friedman and her co-host of their podcast Aminatou Sow, who I’ll link this into the description of his podcast. They have this amazing podcast called Call Your Girlfriend, which is, I mean, it’s super famous and I’ll link that. But they have this thing called Shine Theory, which they talk about all the time, which is ‘when you shine, I shine.’ And so the idea of being like, ‘okay, just shine as brightly as you want for the duration that you want and the people around you will be better for it also.’ And so I think that’s just something that I am willing to talk about right now, because I feel like this is something that I’m personally struggling with, but also, it’s not that the people around me are negative. It’s just that I think my own default set point could be elevated a little bit, even now while we’re all, you know, a lot of us are struggling.
Karen: Yeah. I appreciate that. Also, the idea that even if you’re not having the most joyful time, even if you are struggling with something, the magic of being grateful for something. I was on a trip – I don’t want to give too much away – I was on a trip. I was having a really hard time. And I remember sitting in the car and thinking, I am just grateful that the people I am visiting are in my life. And it totally pulled me out of this funk I was in about what was going on. I feel like there is something, if you’re able to take a moment even in the shittiest time, and I think we talked about this with Lisa. I think we’ve talked about this a lot. If you are able, even in the shittiest time to just identify one thing. Like, I am so grateful that I’ve had enough therapy to deal with the situation as shitty as it is.
Karen: Yeah. That even counts.
Katie: Yes. And I agree with you in terms of the point about changing the energy. I’ll be super vulnerable here and say that Tyler and I, when we’re super stressed about work or whatever, often we will, which we learned in therapy, but we will ask the other person, ‘What are you grateful for?’ Like in mid conversation. This is not a natural, like ‘We’re super Zen right now. Let’s talk about gratitude.’ It’s like, ‘No, we’re in the shit. Let’s talk about gratitude.’ And what’s really interesting is, we’ll just list things. And sometimes those things are very basic, like sunshine, not even kidding Karen. We’ll list, like, our house. Each person will go individually. It’s not like we’re saying together what we’re grateful for, but it actually changes the energy of the conversation.
And it’s honestly something that we do often before we go to bed, because we’re often like wound up, like we just finished watching the news, which is not advisable before you go to bed. But sometimes we’ll say those things and then boom, we’ll fall asleep much easier because it’s like, ‘Oh, you know what? There’s just so much to be grateful for. Even in the fact that we’re alive. The alternative sucks. Let’s just be grateful for that, like our health, whatever it is, you know?
Karen: Yeah. Yeah. And I think there is absolutely brain science behind what you’re saying. That this is not us just being woo-woo, but there is actual science behind the power of gratitude and that people perform better. I have a friend who works with surgeons and integrating gratitude into their lives has made them more careful. And there is a ton of science around why it’s so important to be grateful.
Katie: Yes, totally. I mean, I never really knew anything about gratitude practices until I heard Oprah talking about a gratitude journal that she’s kept for seriously, I don’t even know if she’s talked about it on different podcasts, but for the past 20 something years. She writes every single morning and part of me, when I heard that originally I was like, ‘Well, yeah, no shit. Oprah is, you know, of course she’s grateful, you know. She has a lot to be grateful for.’ But then it’s like, well, no, she’s just like anyone else. Yes, she has billions of dollars, but anybody could write a gratitude list or just say something out loud in terms of that. But it’s so interesting what you say about the surgeons and how, you know, people are just happier and perform better and it changes your brain.
Karen: Yeah. It absolutely changes your brain. Well, and Oprah wasn’t always Oprah. Oprah at one point, you know, had shitty hair on Channel 7 in Chicago, you know.
Karen: That’s the reason she became Oprah.
Katie: Yeah, totally. It’s so true. And it’s interesting this morning, I was out for a run and I was listening to WTF, which is a podcast by the comedian Marc Maron. And I had not listened to that podcast. I don’t even know years. He had Michael J. Fox on. And it was interesting because Michael J. Fox recently came out with a new book and it was really cool because I’d never heard Michael J. Fox speak outside of, you know, Back to the Future. But he’s such an optimistic person. And he has this horrible degenerative disease in Parkinson’s and has for 30 years, but he was talking about how his father-in-law, they used to talk about how the only way to be optimistic is to be grateful. It’s an exclusive relationship, to be optimistic about the world to be optimistic about your life. One does not exist without the other. And I thought that was so profound because I was like, ‘Oh damn, like, that’s so true.’ And it reminds me of another thing that I’ll link in the description of the podcast, which is this great book called The Optimist Manifesto. It’s by this woman named Elizabeth Shaw, who’s a personal friend of mine, and it’s so interesting because so many of the things she talks about are really gratitudes, but it’s about optimism, but I don’t think you can be optimistic without being grateful for things. It doesn’t work, I don’t think.
Karen: I love that connection.
Karen: Today’s episode of Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast is brought to you by Rebellious Magazine. No, no, I know you’ve never heard of it. It’s okay. It’s fine. Listen, it’s at rebelliousmagazine.com. It’s a feminist magazine. It was founded by a mouthy Black lesbian. And if you give a shit about mouthy Black lesbians, you should read it and you should send us money. Rebelliousmagazine.com.
Katie: Don’t miss it. Check it today.
Karen: I know this author, another shout out to the Calm app because he did a masterclass for Calm that I loved, and I’m going to find the name of his book. They really should sponsor us. We love them.
Katie: I love the Calm app so much. We’re not even blowing smoke. This is real. We are truly in love. So please sponsor us.
Karen: And so you should sponsor us. Okay.
Katie: Give us money.
Karen: His name is Shawn Achor. No. Shawn Achor, A C H O R, Shawn S H A W N. And his Calm masterclass is called Discovering Happiness. And his title is World Renowned Happiness Expert, which makes me want to kick him. But, the masterclass is really good. Why I thought of him is that his theory and his research. I mean, he’s like a Harvard trained researcher. He’s, you know, happiness expert, but really he’s been to Harvard. And his link is that we think that happiness is some destination that we’ll get to. ‘I’ll be happy when I do whatever.’ And his research shows, ‘You will do whatever if you are happy now.’
Karen: That happiness leads to the thing. That you have to be happy and grateful now. Like, what would it look like if you were happy and grateful now, and tried to get to the next place and that each step you took made you happy rather than happiness being this thing that you’re constantly chasing and that you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever get to. Yeah. Just the concept.
Katie: Yeah. It’s like the destination of happiness, which is just elusive if you don’t practice gratitude in the moment.
Karen: And that you keep thinking, there’s always the next thing. We’re constantly told that you’re never going to get there.
Karen: That like, ‘Oh, that’s great. You got this big, beautiful house, or you got a promotion or you got whatever. when are you going to get this? When are you going to do that? What are you going to?’ You know, it’s never enough. We never let ourselves just be happy and grateful for where we are.
Katie: Yes. His name again? I’ll link this also in the description.
Karen: His name is Shawn Achor and he has the Calm masterclass, and then he also has a book, the name of which I do not know.
Katie: That’s okay.
Katie: That’s Shawn Achor. That’s really great.
Karen: Enjoy, ohmygosh.
Katie: And I love this example so much Karen, because I feel like it also just brings everything back to happiness, but also to gratitude. It’s like happiness, for people to think that, and I think it’s human nature to think it’s a destination. Like, when I lose 10 pounds, when I, blah, blah, blah, then I’ll be happy. But I actually think practicing gratitude forces you to be in the present moment so that you actually experience happiness when you’re thinking about gratitude. And so it just all goes together in the same beautiful soup.
Karen: Who doesn’t love soup?
Katie: Who doesn’t love soup? Happiness soup, right? Gratitude soup? Trademarked. They’ll be sponsoring us soon.
Karen: I know!
Karen: Today’s episode of Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast is brought to you by whatever that was dripping down Rudy Giuliani’s face last week. What? What? What were you? What are you? You’ve brought so many people, so much joy. We appreciate you for sponsoring this podcast.
Katie: We really appreciate it, unnamed product that created rivers of brown goo down Rudy Giuliani’s sweaty face during one of the most bat shit crazy press conferences of all time.
Karen: Thank you, and one of my friends noted that perhaps that product was dripping because it only works on humans.
Katie: Ooh, that’s not even a hypothesis. We solved it. Thank you, product that only works on humans, for showing us that Rudy Giuliani is actually an alien. Thank you for sponsoring this podcast.
Katie: Oh my gosh. I mean, I think that this week, I mean, yes, it’s always something that I think about in terms of gratitude and it always brings me back to the present moment. But this week to think about gratitude, I’m so grateful to have this space with you that we just made up three months ago and here we are on episode 17. There’s just so much gratitude I have for this.
Karen: Absolutely. There’s no question.
Karen: Ah. Well and, you know, for those of you who don’t have to see your families this week, I have a friend who had something on Facebook who was joking like, if not for all of the posts comforting ourselves that we can’t see our families for the holidays, there would be post saying, comforting ourselves for having to see our families for the holidays. You know what I’m saying? So, for those of you who have an out from having to have dinner with those people, I hope that you’re grateful for that.
Katie: Gratitude for solitude. You know? It’s good, too. Depending on your situation, it’s great. Yeah. Yeah. And also Zoom. If you really are sad that you can’t see your family, Zoom is great. Highly recommend Zoom sponsoring this podcast because I’ve given them about $150 this year for a business account. That’s random, but I actually love every second of it and it’s really paid off. So in my connections with others, love you Zoom.
Karen: Yes. Yes. Thank you, Zoom. You definitely should start sponsoring podcasts because it’s so many of us who are using you right now-
Karen: To make these happen.
Katie: Or maybe just float a few thousand stock options. I know that your stock’s doing really, really well right now. Thanks so much.
Karen: Cool. Stock options. Slide those across the table.
Katie: Yes, exactly. And I feel uplifted by this conversation. Just talking about gratitude with you.
Karen: I agree. Yes.
Katie: Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Oh, for everyone listening, we are going to be taking the week of Thanksgiving off. And so we will be back in two weeks. We will see you then.
Karen: See you, thanks.
Katie: Thank you!