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: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward 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.
15 thoughts on “Trapped in a Dream Cul-de-Sac? ‘The Next Happy’ Provides Path Forward”
I am so looking forward to reading Tracey’s book and I would LOVE to win a copy! ;) I’m Lori (Loribeth) at The Road Less Travelled (http://theroadlesstravelledlb.blogspot.ca/) and when I was chasing the dream of parenthood, I was probably driven a lot by fear. Fear of what people would think, fear of living outside the social norm as the couple without children, fear of a childless future. I still find fear to be a big issue in my life… it’s hard for me to step outside my comfort zone.
Mali from http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.com here, keen to get the book, but understand if you don’t want to post to New Zealand!
That one emotion is easy. It is Fear! I have a couple of projects (one not unlike Tracy’s book) on the go, but releasing them out into the public, under my real name, with my soul laid bare, is very scary!
Hello, I am french and I struggled during 10 years to try to have a baby. The emotion who reappears sometimes is “visceral”, I don’t know how to explain this feeling but I write about it in french there : https://artemiseauratoutessaye.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/coup-de-massue/.. Now I try to accept this unaccepatable situation and to realise other dreams : create in France next to Paris a place full of respect and peacefull to help other people to find another way to create than maternity. Thanks for your blog and I will be so happy if I can have this book, it seems so inspiring. In France, it doesn’t exist in our language this kind of reflexion, this situation is so taboo…
Great review Pamela, and I too am really looking forward to reading Tracey’s book,
My one emotion is courage, well the lack of it to be exact. Because holding on to the dream is safe and comfortable and it takes courage and energy to let it go and step into the unknown to search for another dream.
I’m Kinsey from BentNotBroken (http://bentnotbrokenblog.blogspot.com) and it was difficult to identify just one emotion. The emotion that I’m struggling most with right now is jealousy. I know that it gets better with time, but right now that’s where I’m at.
Sadness. My heart breaks every time I am reminded of the loss infertility has brought to my life.
I am Klara from http://thenext15000days.blogspot.com/
I would love to have a signed copy of the book!
I know the concept “never give up” just too well. I stuck to it way too long. I prefer not to think about the damage I did to my body with all infertility drugs during 10 failed IVFs.
My emotion? Lack of courage.
Yes, it takes whole lot of courage to accept different kind of life.
And I really hope that when I am very old that I will be able to say: “This is not the life that I planned, but no other life would I love to have more”.
hi, I was just writing a letter to a friend this morning, and in the process identified that it is hope and determination getting in the way of letting go of a ten year dream. But weirdly I know that hope and determination are also what I will likely need to create/envision a different life for myself. So confusing…. Anyways, would love to read the book :-)
Thank you for this wonderful review Pamela. I’m looking forward to reading Tracey’s book.
Cristy from searchingforoursilverlining.blogspot.com
The one emotion I’m dealing with is anger. Anger over what happened and anger that things still go unrecognized (supposedly). Everyone who survives infertility deserves to have their story heard and acknowledged. Similar to any other disease.
YES! The dream itself can be the problem – and the encouragement never to let it go and move on.
The emotion I can identify is anger, but my therapist says that’s a mask for something else :)