Getting to Yes, And

Jennifer Louden: Why Bother?


Jennifer Louden

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Kelly connects with best-selling author and self-care movement pioneer Jennifer Louden about her new book, "Why Bother? Discover the Desire for What's Next."

A line from the book that struck me as being fiercely relevant is “Suffering and loss build our connection to each other. They hone what matters.” And we're dealing with a lot of suffering, a lot of loss right now.

“I saw a trending on Twitter, some hashtag about bad things people do to each other. I'm like, I'm not clicking on that hashtag. I don't want to see that. I'm seeing all the good people are doing for each other. I'm seeing how tender our hearts are; how when I go out and the only way I've left the house for three plus weeks is to go for runs on big wide trails near our house. And people in general are so good about getting over and sharing the space and we are feeling that connection. It doesn't mean that it's also not bringing out how some of us are so much more privileged than others and how this is really bringing out the ways our society is not working. But we are seeing people in general when we're in these situations, we do right. We do our best.”

What are shadow comforts?

“They're the things that we do - like eat an entire bag of M&M’s - instead of the thing that would make us really feel better. There's substitutes. So there are things that we do because we're feeling like we're not worthy of actual time off or it’s too much work to actually make that dinner for myself. So I'll just sit here and eat the cheese and crackers. These things are pseudo, they don't fill us up. They make us feel worse. they're the things that we do to comfort ourselves, to take care of ourselves, but then we short circuit it and end up not giving ourselves what we really need.”

You talk in the book about the importance of desire. What does desire mean to you?

“Desire means to me the impulses that want to bring life alive in us. Nothing exists without desire. Second City wouldn't exist without desire. This house that I'm sitting in wouldn't exist without desire. In general, what we make in life is because we want something, we want to learn something or express something or connect with someone and to learn to trust that even if we can't get it, and to learn to be in relationship with the essential sort of longing, you never quite fulfill a desire. Do you? Or if you do, it's very fleeting. It is such a tender-hearted, immense way to be alive and be grateful and cheery and filled with wonder. But we are afraid of it. We're afraid of being disappointed. We're afraid of getting it wrong. We've been told not to desire. Women have been shamed and shamed and shamed for millennia about their desire. It’s really tricky. But without it, especially when we're in a transition or a loss, it’s the way that we can find our way through.”

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