MeiMei Fox wrote the Huffington Post article “40 Ways to Find Joy” that went viral and instigated the #40DaysOfJoy practice I completed this past summer by blogging for 40 consecutive days chronicling my journey. I asked MeiMei to join Phil and me to talk about the genesis of her popular article, what prompted her to create this joy practice, and how fearing less and loving more helped her reinvent her life after a devastating divorce and achieve a lucrative career as a writer after deviating from a conventional path.
Share Some Shut Up Love –> Realize we have control over our thoughts. Less control than we like. More power than we know. @MeiMeiFox #shutupshow (click to tweet)
- MeiMei Fox is the published author, co-author, ghostwriter, and freelance editor of numerous non-fiction health, wellness, spirituality, and psychology books, articles, and blogs
- She co-authored New York Times bestsellers Bend, Not Break with Ping Fu, and Fortytude with Sarah Brokaw
- She has edited books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Columbia professor Robert Thurman, and was Expedition Writer for Alexandra Cousteau’s 2009 Expedition: Blue Planet
- MeiMei has an MA in psychology, is a life coach, a yogaholic and registered yoga teacher (RYT)
- MeiMei blogs for Huffington Post where her article “40 Ways to Find Joy” went viral and later inspired Berni to blog for 40 consecutive days chronicling her own #40DaysOfJoy journey
Defining Shut Up Moment:
ON DIVORCE: I have to admit things have been pretty easy for me my whole life. Then at 30 things started to fall apart. I never thought I’d be divorced. It was a huge deal for me feeling like an utter failure. I was always taught to put on a good face and look happy and successful no matter what is going on inside. I felt very ashamed and quite devastated. At the same time, my family of origin was going through a crisis. My parents were splitting up and my dad was convicted of a crime that had him under house arrest for 3 months. So everything fell to pieces and I was left standing there and going “What do I have left?” It was years and years of work on myself to create a new identify for myself that isn’t based on outward appearances.
I did meditation, yoga, read poetry, went to psychotherapy, retreats, everything healthy and nurturing to find myself. What I discovered at the end of that journey: outward appearances don’t matter at all. Failure is the best thing that happened to me and I emerged on the other side of that a far more compassionate person with great empathy for everybody’s struggles and a great deal of humility realizing I wasn’t as much as a badass as I thought I was.
ON MEDITATION: I spent years resisting meditation. My mind was always going a million miles per hour. I’d get all antsy. I did meditation boot camp for a 10-day Vipassana retreat. All I’d do is sit 14 hours a day for every day for 10 days. The most challenging experience of my life. I thought I would vomit the first day. I was so nervous. I really hated it. I was miserable for four days. But on the fourth day, I had a moment of peace. My mind slowed down. An hour went by like that and I started sobbing. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. On day eight, I was having these ecstatic religious experiences connecting with all beings and feeling an immense sense of how we’re connected.
Meditation is a really terrifying way of understanding our brains and realizing we have more control over our thoughts. We have less control than we’d like, but more power than we know.
Shut Up Tips:
The problem I have with happiness is that I feel it implies some permanent state. Like once you reach happy, you’re not sad anymore. You’re not frustrated and not depressed anymore. One of the ways I’ve come to find more happiness and more joy is by realizing everything isn’t permanent. Everything is temporary. Your feelings, your experiences, they’re gonna come and go. You’re gonna have good moments and bad moments. – MeiMei
Going through suffering and hardship in my life, without a doubt, got me where I am today. Joy, for me, is far more attainable as a goal. I think we can all set out to have a moment of joy everyday, no matter what is going on for us. – MeiMei
No matter what is going on, what matters is love. Fear less, love more. – MeiMei
I look every day for a little piece of joy. I just might not share, every day, all the crap that’s in my heart. – Phil
The power comes in not what happens but how we respond. – MeiMei
Meditation makes your brain stronger. It gives you power over your brain to say “I don’t need this, it’s not serving me.” By changing your mind, you can change your life. – MeiMei
The crappy stuff often can be the fuel that propels us forward. – Phil
We resist being still, embracing ourselves, and looking inward. Even I laugh at myself that my advice is to look inward, center yourself and find self-love before you can go out into the world and people love you back. – Berni
If we can attach ourselves to a greater purpose or mission, then the fear of failure isn’t so great so long as you accomplish what you wanted to while you were here. – Berni
I failed. What does that mean? Well, no one actually cares that I failed as much as I do. – MeiMei
If we don’t fill our own bucket, we have nothing to give others. – Phil
My greatest asset right now is my network. I don’t think I can do anything without my network. – MeiMei
Two things to break through the resistance of working on yourself:
1. We think taking care of ourselves is selfish. What I had to realize–I was falling to pieces and falling apart–if I didn’t’ put myself together I couldn’t help anyone else. It had to start with me. I was in a crisis. There was no choice other than put yourself together or fall apart.
2. It’s hard. It’s scary. You have to confront this shadow side. There is no light without dark. Most of us do this by distracting ourselves constantly. Then we have to make even more of an intentional and conscious choice to get way from the distractions. Then there’s the obvious destructive path we can go down of addiction to bury our wounds under these things that are comforting. But it’s all temporary. The second they all go away, you’re back with you.
Watch the movie Gravity – most spiritual movie in a long time forcing you to confront the idea that we’re all alone on this journey but when we face our death, it will be us looking at ourselves in the end. If we face that every day, it’s terrifying. But it can be the motivator to dive in and do the hard work.
The Guest House poem by Jelaluddin Rumi
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
MeiMei’s articles on Huffington Post
More MeiMei reads
MeiMei on Twitter
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MeiMei on LinkedIn
MeiMei’s web site is MeiMeiFox.com
*Stay tuned for our #shutupshow #40daysofjoy contest to come soon! Visit the blog for updates or, better yet, subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.