We all nurture dreams.
Some we fulfill — Happy Days! Others imprison us. A new book, The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward by Tracey Cleantis gives us the framework to recognize when a dream has morphed into its own special nightmare.
Conversational and engaging, Tracey grounds us in the challenge of finding our ‘next happy’ by drawing from her own unsuccessful pregnancy pursuit. (Longtime Silent Sorority blog readers will recall her honest and heartfelt story and contributions to the blogging community through LaBelette Rouge.) But you don’t have to be in the throes of infertility limbo to appreciate all the wisdom contained in this book.
What sets The Next Happy apart is the universality of the ideas. Tracey makes clear that the often well-intended advice “never give up” can have dangerous consequences — to health, to identity, to relationships and to future happiness. She reassuringly teases apart the intricacies that stand in the way of knowing when dreams are doing more harm than good.
Chapter 5 will have particular application for those in the infertility community. Titled “The Ugly Step Siblings of Emotions: Envy, Fear, Shame and Other Stinking Thinking that Happens While You are Minding Your Own Business and Trying to Move On and Let Go” … wow that’s a mouthful … this chapter discusses how to approach the feelings that come with the loss of a dream.
She refers to a UCLA study published in Science Magazine that examined people’s brains (through MRI) as they talked about how they felt. As participants talked the researcher discovered that the simple activity of naming the feeling and talking about it could activate one part of the brain while simultaneously suppressing the part of the brain that makes us feel distressed.
Simply naming and voicing how we feel, we can change how we feel for the better. ‘Hello, anger, I am really feeling you.’
In practical language and with many accessible examples and stories, Tracey lets us see we are not alone in our Sisyphean struggles. The book is organized in a way that allows readers to move at their own pace with assignments to apply the concepts.
What I found particularly helpful were the explanations of the psychology behind dreams. She provides us the analytical tools needed to put arms length distance between ourselves and our dreams. In doing so, she also gives readers permission to let go.
Finally, one of my favorite aspects of the book: movie assignments. Who doesn’t love great film recommendations that help illuminate abstract concepts and ideas?
If you or someone you know is trapped in a dream cul-de-sac and needs a road map to break free, The Next Happy with its accessible writing and application of ideas will provide much needed clarity and help in moving forward.
Book Giveaway – UPDATE
Now it’s time for one of you to win an author signed copy of this helpful new book.To enter, please leave your first name, blog URL (if you have one) and tell us one emotion that is holding you back from releasing your dream. The book giveaway contest will wrap up on Friday March 6 at noon PST. I will put all the names and emotions in a jar and pull out the winner. Check back after March 6 to see if your first name/emotion are in blog post update.
Perhaps by naming an emotion you will start on the path to your next happy.