Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Letting Go of Perfection to Find Peace, According to an Expert

About This Episode

Mental health influencer Poppy Jamie is letting go of the idea of perfection. The British entrepreneur and lifestyle personality made the radical choice to unsubscribe from habits that were making her miserable and in her new book, Happy Not Perfect: Upgrade Your Mind, Challenge Your Thoughts, and Free Yourself from Anxiety, Poppy shares why anyone can benefit from letting go of ideas that no longer benefit us.

In this episode, Poppy talks with us about our societal struggle with our egos, our lack of work/life balance, and why resting is the ultimate key to being at peace with ourselves. Her expertise in the field of making difficult, but necessary life changes for good will resonate with anyone who finds themselves struggling with their mental health. 


Guest: Poppy Jamie, Author of Happy Not Perfect: Upgrade Your Mind, Challenge Your Thoughts, and Free Yourself from Anxiety

Order Happy Not Perfect from your local bookstore, follow Poppy on Twitter and Instagram, and check out the Happy Not Perfect app in the Apple Store and Google Play

Listen

Sponsors

With Libro.fm, get 2 audiobooks for the price of 1 with the code GOOD

Listen to the podcast Breaking Glass at breakingglasspodcast.com/good.

Transcript


Branden Harvey

Most of us have a version of ourselves in our lives that we idolize in our heads. It's the person that we want to become and we would do anything to get there. But our guest today, entrepreneur and mindfulness coach Poppy Jamie, is here to talk about why always chasing a "flawless us," is actually making us much more miserable. And it's only when we feel good about ourselves that we're actually able to do the most good in our communities.

This is Sounds Good, I'm Branden Harvey. Today's guest has an impressive resume. Poppy Jamie was the youngest television host in ITN history. ITN is like a major TV network in the U.K. and she's done a bunch of high-profile host work for MTV and Snapchat. She's also the co-founder of the accessories brand Pop & Suki. But after suffering from chronic anxiety while balancing her high profile career, Poppy decided to redirect her attention, and redirect her career to focus on mental health work. For years, she's been advocating for ways for us to take better care of ourselves.


She created Happy Not Perfect to explore why so many of us were so unwell, despite doing everything that we are, "supposed to do." I got to talk with Poppy about how the pandemic has kind of given us this opportunity to reevaluate what we really want in life. A bit of a reset.


We got to talk about why we need to stop valuing our identity and self-worth based off of our external successes and why life's messiness can be really just lessons in disguise. We also explored why it's important to be intentional with our choices, or, in other words, how to get off of autopilot and how flexible thinking is key to more compassion and empathy, not only towards ourselves but the world around us. Poppy is such a delight. You'll hear it in her voice immediately.


So let's just jump straight into my conversation.


Branden Harvey

OK, first of all, Poppy, I loved your book, and I think you were... I think you were too generous with it. Like, I got about one fourth of the way through the book and I was already thinking, 'Alright well, this is enough wisdom for one book.' And then I get to read the other three-fourths of them. Like I just got three more books worth of valuable and helpful information. And so I love this. I'm so excited to have a conversation about all of your brilliant wisdom.


And so thank you for being here. Thank you for joining the show.

Poppy Jamie

That is such a wonderful compliment. Honestly, you've made my day. Thank you so much for saying that. I do think I had an approach to the book where it was like I didn't want to leave a stone unturned. I wanted to make sure that everything that has possibly helped me on this journey was there, so nobody had to buy another book. So it probably is a bit almost too packed. But yeah, I'd rather that way than people get through it and they go, well, what did I just... Was there anything there? So maybe that's better to be on that side. But thank you. Really lovely compliment.


Branden Harvey

I think you chose the exact perfect approach. Also, it's really beautiful. I just love, like, how aesthetically pleasing it is inside and out. Whoever designed it deserves a lot of compliments.


Poppy Jamie

Well, that was the wonderful team at Penguin, so thank you. I will pass that on to them.


Branden Harvey

Your book is called Happy Not Perfect. And I'm curious, do you think that most people really know what makes them happy?


Poppy Jamie

No, and that's okay, because I think it changes all the time. And I think sometimes one thing is making us happy, and then actually it's actually not making us happy. And it takes us a long time to realize that it's not making us happy anymore.


And this is, I do think, the beauty of where we're kind of getting to I think, in a larger sense, and culture has is taking us here as well — much quicker than it ever was — is focusing on self inquiry and also really taking the time for us to be self aware. And I think also the pandemic, you know, it was very challenging. But maybe if we're looking for kind of some silver linings at times, I think it slowed us down just that little bit for us to really take some time to work out what is making us happy, what isn't making us happy.


And now we're at this really interesting time, I think, even in history, where we're being asked, well, what does 'new normal' look like? And I think we're now being asked, what does new normal look like, and we're asking this question again to ourselves, 'Well, actually... What do I want my reality to be like post pandemic?' And I think hopefully we're all asking ourselves that question, 'Well actually, what does make me happy? Is it being busy the whole time?'


Is it, you know, going to the office every single day? If I've now got a taste of what potentially more flexible working hours looks like, and I think that is the beauty of happiness — is us being okay with it being totally changing the entire time.


Branden Harvey

Like the goal is just to get off of autopilot. And we spend so much of our time on autopilot and sometimes the autopilot is defined by our past selves saying this is what I'm going to love forever, or sometimes it's cultural. And so when we can flip that off, which is hard and scary and requires more work to fly the plane, then we can actually go where we want to go.


Poppy Jamie

I think that is such an important point you just mentioned, which is actually asking ourselves what version of happy is this? Is this what I've been told to think is happiness? Is this my version of happiness or is this what you know, if I please this person that makes me happy? And actually suddenly, without even realizing it, we are... we're living our life kind of codependent with other people. And, and it's really easy. It's really easy to do that and not realizing whether it's lighting your soul up or actually it's in service of someone else. Which is, again, not a terrible thing, that everything in moderation and having this self-inquiry to say, 'Yeah, that's okay for the moment,' or actually, 'No, I've kind of slightly lost myself.'

And so I think it's a really important point that you just kind of touched upon there.


Branden Harvey

In this conversation, I imagine we're going to use the word happy a lot. And listeners of this podcast may have literally never heard me talk about happiness all that much, because in the Good Good Good style guide, we intentionally don't use the word happy because the the news that we focus on at Good Good Good is we focus on, for lack of a better way of saying it, like the messy good news.


And we never want to just be like, oh, this thing is happy, therefore, it is the only thing that's good. Because there's a lot of good that comes from heartbreak and sadness. And I think that you also, you know obviously you've got to simplify ideas for the cover of a book, or in anything, but I feel like you have a pretty nuanced view of what happiness is. And so I was wondering if maybe you could, like, define what happiness means to you and you know what are the synonyms for happiness or at least the type of happiness that you're thinking about.


Poppy Jamie

Gosh, I just love what you've just said, that the kind of the messy good. And to me, that was really what defines Happy Not Perfect. And the three words that came into my mind about six, seven years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with, 'happy, not perfect.' And without realizing it, I felt the world was going, 'You really need to reevaluate what you think happy is,' because I didn't quite realize that I had associated happy with perfect.


And I thought that I was going to be happy when I had no problems, when I wasn't insecure anymore, when I reached that point. And I didn't realize that a world of no problems doesn't exist.

But for some reason we think we'll all be more loved when I'm a bit more perfect, if I look a little bit better, then maybe I'll be more desirable. Or if I'm more successful, maybe I'll be liked tomorrow. And what we're really saying is, 'I'll feel safer.' And I think at the heart and core of all of us with just craving safety, and with craving safety, really a sense of belonging. Because if we go back to kind of our ancient ancestors, survival and safety meant being a part, being accepted as a part of a community, as a part of a tribe and a sense of belonging in this tribe.


That was what equaled safety. And I think now that we live in a completely evolved world and it's changing a lot and lots of things, that there's lots of uncertainty. We crave safety even more. And I think our behavior is to try to to get that safety totally changes depending on the individual. But for me, I felt perfect was my safety. If I just was better in every aspect of my life, then surely that would mean that I wouldn't have to worry anymore.


And obviously that took me to crazy burnout, crazy exhaustion. I became addicted to work because in my mind I thought if I just worked harder, then I'll be better. And obviously that, how long's a piece of string, that never happened. It was like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and you just keep going, keep going to go. And you're like, I'm just never getting better.

And that's when I really had to go, 'Okay, right. Let's totally challenge how I'm living my life, my core beliefs that are driving me to live life in this way and find out what's actually true for me and work out that internal wounds are not fixed by any sort of kind of external achievement or external gains.' And then that's when I realized that really like the extremely beautiful question, actually. What about if I what about if I started to accept that being happy was so imperfect?


Actually, being happy was totally accepting that my life was going to be constantly messy.


But actually, how could I start to enjoy the mess? How could I start to have trust that in the mess there was some beautiful life lesson? Or in the rough there was a diamond? Or, you know, in as I write in the book, in the challenge, there was a growth gate for me to step through and live an even richer, more beautiful life? And when you actually start to realize that, you know, when I started to anyway, stop trying to remove the problems in my life and actually accept them, it was kind of weird how many problems evaporated, ironically, but it made me happier.


And I guess happiness is such a strange word, but it made me so much more peaceful in myself, in the presence of others, because I was able to accept who I was in that moment and what was happening around me. And that, I think, is where I found the closest thing to happiness or that feeling of happiness.


Branden Harvey

You alluded to, you know, six years ago, waking up with these words and finding that, that maybe a lot of success wasn't giving you happiness or fulfillment.


You had a lot of success at that point. You had, and I don't know the exact timeline on this, but you had a successful career as a television presenter. You had a startup that raised a million dollars from a bunch of fancy wealthy people. You were very publicly doing cool things. And anybody who looked at your LinkedIn or your social media or saw you out at a party, probably thought that you were happy and that you were fulfilled.


Poppy Jamie

Yeah, and that is... I mean, I feel like this goes into so many different conversations from the illusion of life and also the illusion of social media and, you know, don't judge a book by its cover because anything that we try to project in life usually is extremely different from the truth inside. And also it is also it also leads into comparison. You know, everywhere you go in life, you can always find someone you can ultimately compare yourself to.


And as a consequence, your self-esteem stays, like in the rubble. And I didn't even appreciate the hard work that I put in to even, you know, achieve some of the incredible dreams that I was living out — that my six-year-old self would have literally just kind of fainted if she thought that I was ever going to do — you know, I wasn't looking back. All I was doing is comparing myself to people who were farther along the journey and thinking I was completely useless compared to that.


And also, again, the illusion of what we project, of what we we want people to think we are. And that is social media.


We post with an idea of what we want people to understand our identity as being. And look, it's changing the even in the, you know, when people kind of post photographs that kind of look somewhat honest, there is still an intention to make people, the external think a certain way.


And because our truth changes, you know, who I am right now in this moment may not be the person... I definitely won't be the person I am in two hours time. So and that time, like I was living this probably like deeply superficial life. I valued extremely superficial things. And I don't you know, I have so much compassion for myself at this that at that point when I look back to that self because I had absolutely zero self-worth, that I thought that, you know, if I was more successful, richer, more famous, like all of those things, that people would like me more and I'd be more accepted.


And it's so sad because that's so meaningless, it's fleeting. They... it doesn't even exist, really. Like the true value we have is how we... you know, how we receive ourselves, how we accept ourselves — like our understanding of ourselves and our self appreciation. Like that is the greatest value we have. And I had none. It was a topple from a very kind of, I guess, superficial place that I had built for myself.


Branden Harvey

I think that's so relatable. I think that's something that I think so many of us have experience in big and small ways. And I think a lot about that idea to of -- you kind of spoke to this in the beginning of your response: never being fully present in those moments that are worth celebrating and in those moments that should make us happy because we're so focused on that next thing. One of my favorite children's books is this book called Archibald's Next Big Thing.


It is written by Tony Hale and illustrated by Victor Huckabee. And they -- it's just this character who does all of these incredible things and never stops to enjoy it and is always looking to the next thing. And it was it's this little children's book, you know, with like a hundred words in it. And it gutted me when I read it because I was like, that's me. I am this Archibald character, and it's so hard to stay present.


And also, again, it's the autopilot situation of like getting off of that autopilot and being aware of how am I doing emotionally, how am I enjoying this, whether it's good or bad, am I fulfilled, good or bad? And just knowing what that is like, that's so important, but it is so challenging. I'm curious, was there a breaking point for you? Was there a moment where it either all fell apart or like it hit you?


I just had a break or somebody said something that woke you up like, what was that transition?


Poppy Jamie

Well, my physical health gave in and it was really interesting that it did that because my mind would never have stopped if my body hadn't.


And I think about this a lot.

You know, our physical body can't lie. It is like the ultimate truth source. And that's what I say. You know, listen to your gut because you've got doesn't lie. It doesn't have an ego that's kind of trying to trick your body into thinking something else. Our body is just just full of that kind of, you know, all in our inner wisdom. And so when we're run down and we've got a cold, it doesn't lie.


It's like you just run down. You've not slept enough. And even though my mind was like, no, you can do more. You could do more. Work harder. Just another hour. Just that one more email. Yes, yes, yes, yes. You can go to that dinner. You know, there could be potential business opportunity must go. Like, I pushed myself to the limit and I woke up.


One day I could not move. I was so bloated and I've been bloated for months and again, just ignore that I don't have time. Don't have time to even acknowledge, recognize anything that's going wrong with me. Like I got my face was covered with acne. I just, again, like, just put on more makeup. Didn't even think to myself the why --  why is my skin bathing like this? Why is my body behaving like this? Because I thought I knew better and it was just total chronic exhaustion. And I was so terrified that I took myself to hospital because of what's going on. Like, do I have literally like deadly fever or like surely I've got meningitis? Like, tell me something. I've got something severe wrong with me.


And when they came back being like, we've done laser tests, you're just chronically stressed. I was disappointed with the diagnosis. I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's gotta be more. I'm in so much pain. It's gotta be more. And that was really the moment when I had a bit of a, you know, a kind of a cold shower, reality check and reckoning day of where I drove in my life.


And when you're chronically exhausted, sadly, you know, a couple of paracetamol doesn't fix you. The only medicine really is rest. And I had told myself that rest wasn't necessary. Actually, rest was the last thing I wanted to do because rest wasn't going to make me more like it. Rest wasn't going to kind of for, you know, like respond to my kind of low self-esteem. And a critic telling me I need to do more rest was the enemy, but yet it was the medicine.


And so it was a really difficult few months to actually pause and slow down and do the thing that you don't want to do, because actually that was actually going to kind of bring me bring me back and also make me face myself, which I often think, you know, we've got lots of different coping strategies we all use. Mine was kind of work, but obviously lots of other people become addicted to escapism in the form of drugs, alcohol, too much sport, anything. Any activity we use as a way to numb how we feel when it's in excess can be harmful for us.


So it was painful but necessary.


Branden Harvey

I think it's really easy for people who are doing something mission driven, like so many people in our community to think, 'OK, I am sacrificing myself, I am burning myself up. But it's because other people depend on me and you know, they are more important in the matter.'


Yeah, truly. And that's I think, that's an especially challenging place to be to say like this, this is worth it because it really makes a difference. But you can't pour from an empty bucket. You can't help people if you can't help yourself first.


Poppy Jamie

I mean, totally. The martyr is just the same as the victim mentality. It's like, it's the ego again at work. And the ego is so mischievous. It's like a transformer just transforms into lose the different kind of discrete shapes that you don't recognize. So when you know my mind is like, yeah, but Poppy, you're helping so many people like you have to do this. Just just think about the people's mental health. You're helping with the helping with the app.


No, you've got to stay up to to and to talk to the developers. And it's all this crazy illusion. And we're not looking after our own energy. And also when we are in alignment, things are easy.


And that's what I totally wasn't familiar like with at all. I had learned and been conditioned with an understanding that progress was painful. I only knew I was working hard as if it was if there was like some pain attached. Because my father, being an entrepreneur was like, 'You know, you know, if it was easy, everybody would do it,' or 'You know, and work hard, you know, like work hard, isn't working hard, isn't easy.'


Oh, God, I'm so stressed. But, you know, I've been working really hard and I was so conditioned with that belief system. And actually, when things are going really well, you do not burn out. Like when things are going exceptionally, you're on cloud nine and helping someone else. I think, again, if you know, the amazing healers I've met or Reiki healers, I'll ask them all. But when you're giving energy like, you know, healing people all day everyday, like, surely you're tired.


At the end of the day, they're like, oh, no, I'm more energized. And so actually, I think to myself, well, am I actually in my truth, in the way that am I helping in the way that I should be serving people?


Branden Harvey

Oh, yeah.


Poppy Jamie

When we serve people, it should be effortless. Because we should just be giving, you know, we should be totally in our truth and that isn't like exhausting and I think it takes time to get there.


Branden Harvey

I think asking those questions is the step to understanding if you are or not. So I think people who are maybe, you know, early in their journey to helping people are probably still calibrating, but use that as a compass to figure out 'Am I in my truth? Am I am I where I need to be? And does this feel effortless?' I think that's so interesting.


Poppy Jamie

It's so interesting. And also, I did not get that for ages, years.


Branden Harvey

In fact, I'm just getting it now.


Poppy Jamie

Because I had a goal and I set my goal. And this is why I find the world of manifesting like sometimes slightly precarious because we set these goals and we, you know, and I was going to fight for my goal irrespective of the damage I was doing to myself or the blocks I found in the way I was like, you know, and I'm just going to keep going, keep bashing. And we all know what happened.


I got totally burnt out and exhausted. And that's what I truly believe, that we all have a genius in this world. We all have our unique gift. And I think, you know, sometimes it takes a lifetime to like a truly discover what our unique gift is when we do find our unique gift. It is an exhausting I just don't actually, in retrospect, think that I was particularly cut out to be running a tech company. I don't think that it's my genius.


Branden Harvey

We're going to take a quick break, and when we're back, Poppy is sharing how we can all practice some flexible thinking. She's going to walk us through the process. She's going to share how it's shaped her life for the better. You do not want to miss this. We'll be right back. Sounds Good is sponsored by Libra, and Libra is the company that lets you support a local bookstore every time you download an audiobook. Now, you might be the here's of Branden.


I love audiobooks. I love supporting local, but I don't know what bookstore I want to support. I don't have one in my community or I don't I can't even decide. Here's what's awesome. You can choose any bookstore you want so it doesn't have to be one in your community. You can be supporting something that you believe in on a few levels. So if you go to the library and website this week or this month, you'll see that they've got this whole section devoted to exploring disabled owned bookstores to support in the U.S. and in Canada.


And if you were like, oh my goodness, I want to support a disabled owned bookstore, you could just explore this directory, pick one that stands out to you and you can show your support to them. I'm sure that they will really appreciate it. And you'll know that every single time you download an audio book instead of money going to a giant mega corporation, it's going to a local business that's doing beautiful work in their community. And as a special offer for Sounds Good listeners, Libro FM is offering two audio books for the price of one.


With your first month of membership with the code GOOD, all you do is visit the website Libro.FM -- that's Libro FM -- and use the promo code GOOD to get started with two audio books and to help support this show. Sounds Good is sponsored by Breaking Glass, Breaking Glass is the podcast the most intimate conversations about women around the world? And oh my goodness, it is so good. I love there are two co-hosts, Sabrina, Meraj, Naim and Kasey had been Korski and every episode they connect with radical activists or unassuming feminists who are reimagining what it means to be a woman in the world.


And I was just going back through all of their old podcast episodes. I've listened to a bunch of these, but I was looking through their guest list. And what I love is that I recognize so many of these guests, but not all of them. It's all of these incredible heroes that I admire from the work that we do at Good Good Good. And many listeners to this show will recognize and admire. But there's so many people where when I hear their episode, I go, how do I not know about this woman?


How do I not know about this story? And I'm so glad that they're in my life now. This podcast is great. And to be honest, I'm not surprised because it comes from the folks at Evoke Media evoke, if you don't know, is this incredible nonprofit organization that exists in order to elevate the people and stories that are working to make the world a more equitable place you can search for and subscribe to breaking glass wherever you listen to podcast and you can learn more at breakingglasspodcast.com/good.


Sounds Good is sponsored by Anchor. If you haven't heard about Anchor, it is the easiest way to make a podcast. When we were first getting started getting ready to launch Sounds Good in 2015, making a podcast was hard. But now, thanks to Anchor, making a podcast is not only easy, it is fun. Anchor's creation tools allow you to record and edit your podcast right from your phone or your computer, Anchor will distribute your podcast for you so it can be heard on Spotify, Apple podcasts and basically everywhere else.


And you can make money from your podcast with no minimum listenership. Plus, now you can add any song from Spotify directly to your episodes. Even if you're an OG podcast like ours, you can record and produce your show like you always have, but use anchor as your host. You'll save money, have a superior hosting experience and get advanced analytics across everything you need to make a podcast all in one place. Download the free anchor app or go to Anchor FM to get started.


Branden Harvey

OK, so we've talked about the idea of happiness a good amount, but the other half of Happy Not Perfect is the perfection side of things. So at Good Good Good, one thing we talk about a lot with the world of social impact doing good is the idea of focusing on progress over perfection. Because the reality is, if you wait until something until you find a perfect solution, you know, something that is absolutely perfect for the climate crisis, then you're never going to take a step forward.


But if you can focus on, OK, well, this is better than what we had before. And let's take that step and then we can't settle for this. We have to keep on working for that sense of perfection. And in the US, we might talk about our country and say, you know, the focus is on focusing on a more perfect union, not a perfect union. Just every generation we get the process of creating a more perfect union.


And so I was really pleased to see that your book even included the idea of progress over perfection. And I'm curious what your journey of of focusing on progress has looked like.


Poppy Jamie

I think having total self acceptance that we are all flawed and also we're living in a flawed world, I think that's really important because as soon as we put these crazy expectations on ourselves or on others, we're always going to not only let ourselves down, but also other people are going to let us down and then we're going to be in in constantly in a constant state of kind of disappointment or unrealistic expectations.


Then I do think that Instagram has fueled a world of crazy, unrealistic expectations.


And that's not to say I might dream big dreams big like, you know, everything is possible completely, but also. Understanding that perfect doesn't exist at the same time is kind of like dreaming big is, you know, it's holding to two truths can be true. Yeah. And I think that nuance, it's really lovely to see it like become, I guess, more widespread because when we're told you can do anything and then, you know, we naturally in life had a stumbling block, we can automatically then jump to, oh, my God, I'm a failure.


I must not be very good. Or I've got I'm a second class person and other people can dream big and they can do their dreams. But I can't. And what always comes to me, and I'm not sure if you have this board game in the states called Snakes and Ladders.


Branden Harvey

Yeah, I think we call it Chutes and Ladders.


Poppy Jamie

Right. Chutes and Ladders. And we live in a Chutes and Ladders one. And I think this is really important when we think about I'm not sure how old are you, Branden, if you don't mind me asking?


Branden Harvey

Twenty eight.


Poppy Jamie

Right. So I'm thirty one and think this is -- this to me has been so helpful because we have a herd mentality up until the age of 18 because we all kind of do the same things at the same things. And so we kind of compare horizontally and we see everyone up his aisle, same age group like, you know, we all kind of do the Saturdays at the same time. And then suddenly we leave school and we all start playing Chutes and Ladders and somebody gets to shoot and they -- everything skyrockets.


And if we didn't realize that life is really, really long, we can suddenly go, oh, my God, my life isn't there. Oh, God. Like, I'm not doing that. I haven't got a promotional. I haven't got my life together really well when actually we've got no idea that the shoe is waiting for us tomorrow. And actually, you know, we'll all fall down a ladder at times as well. So when we start to see life as Chutes and Ladders rather than this kind of like perfect board that we play, suddenly I found a lot more self acceptance in the fact that, you know, a word that you use a lot, the messy like the messy middle.


You know, like how do we how do we kind of live life when life is like spaghetti? The whole time.


Branden Harvey

You talk about this idea of flexible thinking, it's heavily featured in your book. It's integrated into your app. First of all, tell me what flexible thinking is and then I'd love to just one by one go through each of these four seas.


Poppy Jamie

So flexible thinking was really the concept that came to me that totally made the world, in my mind, make sense. And having researched for the last six years into the field, I started to I tried out every single tool, every single teaching, every single study I to ever think. And what worked for me all fitted in to this method that I came up with called the Flex.

And remembering to be a flexible thinker is so liberating because on the whole, we are still thinkers. And I think to understand what a flexible thinker is, is to acknowledge how stiff we are normally and humans. We're a product of our past and our subconscious takes a little bit of, you know, our memories. And by the way, none of us can remember the past accurately at all, like we'd like. And so when we think, well, my childhood was like this, it was our version of what we understood our childhood to be like.


We kind of took the events and then our subconscious filled in the blanks and we've kind of created a story for ourselves. And what's so interesting, when I read about the FBI, when they're interviewing people, they will always ask people to repeat that story. And if that story is identical twice, they know they're lying because the human way to accurately remember the past twice. And so we're very stiff and our belief systems and often our belief systems are not even us. We have been given belief systems through the early environments we've been in.


And so certainly we're going through the life and we jump to assumptions, jump to conclusions. We react. Our emotional brain is in control and emotions are intelligent because emotions are the fight and flight brain. All it says, all our brain is saying is, am I safe, am I not? Am I safe, am I not? Like, oh my gosh. Danger, danger, danger. Even if you know the stick is -- is the snake is a stick.


We merely assume it's the snake because again, like our ancestors that was pretty helpful just to assume the worst and we would much more likely to survive that way. So when we step out of being in that autopilot, as you mentioned, the beginning and that reactive mode and actually take the time to be flexible, that's what we actually able to tap into our wise, compassionate brain and flexible thinking is knowing that we always have a choice to choose a different perspective.


And every situation we get the choice to meet the challenge face our fear and go, 'Hmm, how do I stretch around this? I don't need to go through it. I don't need to keep bashing against a big stone, hoping it's going to move.' Actually, life could be way easier. What about if I just sidestep to the left and then walk forward suddenly back on the path again? To be a flexible thinker is really based on four steps the forces connection, curiosity, choice and commitment.


Branden Harvey

Yeah. Tell me about connection first.


Poppy Jamie

To connect to yourself is the most powerful thing we can do. And step one, like we can't do any other steps before. We've actually connected with how we feel. And that is the opposite of like numbing ourselves or distracting ourselves. And to connect with yourself, I often offer people the practical tool of the diffusion technique, which is a sentence that says something like, 'Today, my mind feels -- for the sake of this like conversation -- I don't feel stressed, but I did feel stressed today. My my mind feels really stressed.'


And just by labeling, by saying my mind, we're reminding ourselves that I am not my emotion. Today, my mind feels emotions are temporary. And then labeling the emotion, we actually activate the computer side of the brain and we start to relax the emotional side.


Branden Harvey

That is so smart, I love this.


Poppy Jamie

It's so simple. And so what's so interesting? There was a study done and they through brain imaging, they found that when people labeled the emotion they were feeling, the emotional center actually deactivated it. It relaxed.


In the computer side of the brain switched on the executive functions, the common sense part of the brain. And so usually, like often, we were taught to kind of run away from how we feel. But when we connect, that is the first step to really tap into the whys part of our brain and also in connection, I challenge people. What sort of connection do you have with yourself? Do you have a kind of a phone reception that goes in and out and you can't really tell what they're like?


The other line is saying, oh, do you have a really strong connection with yourself? And often when we're feeling low, when we're feeling down in the dumps, I'm feeling anxious, when we're feeling stressed or feeling overwhelmed. Our actual vibration is really low. And Dr. Hawkins, he came up with the scale of consciousness model and he started to actually study the vibrational match of emotions and found that guilt, shame, fear actually had a very low vibration to it.


So when we're in those states, we're really vibrating at a lower rate. But when we're feeling like at peace, joy, accepting, enlightened, excited, we have a higher vibration. So the easiest way to get to a high vibrational state is through the body, is through activating the body. So whether that be through breath, taking a breath, whether that be through a 20 minute walk, a five minute dance, just five star jumps. When we change our body, we're able to change the way we think.


And that's why it always go back to Einstein's quote which is 'We can't solve our problems with the same consciousness that created them.' And when we're stuck at our desk and our shoulders are hunched up and our tensions and our shoulders and we're feeling stressed and we kind of bashing our emails hoping that it's going to go, we just stay so stagnant. But go back to, like, you know, caveman times when we felt stressed all that was was giving us energy to move out of danger.


Our body creates stress in order to give our physical body like energy. So that's why I really encourage people, upgrade the connection with yourself. How to be a flexible thinker when you're in the face of a challenge before you even think how you're going to approach this challenge, change your energy, change the connection with yourself, because you'll be able to, like, find any thoughts.


Branden Harvey

That's brilliant. And that's the one that for me, felt like the biggest thing. And you said it's the first step you have to take before you can get to the other three. Tell me about the next one. Tell me about curiosity.


Poppy Jamie

The curiosity is very much apparent in cognitive behavioral therapy. If anybody's done that CBT and that is getting into the habit of getting curious with what we're thinking and feeling. Because our inner critic can tell us the worst things on Earth and also our inner critic is so devilish because our inner critic knows our worst fears. And it knows all our deepest, darkest secrets. And it just can tell us the worst moments when we just don't want to hear them. And usually they are full of lies, but they'll be -- because it's our worst fear we'll be so terrified that it could be true, we then become imprisoned by them.


So curiosity is really asking ourselves before we jump to a conclusion, before we jump to that assumption, 'That person hasn't text me back. They obviously don't like me. I am useless. Oh, my God. If only if only I was better, they would have done.' Before we start to like take ourselves down these really negative narratives that just disempower us and make us feel unworthy. We go, hmm, is this true? Can I be 100 percent sure this is true? Who would I be without this thought? Well, I'd be happy and I'd be confident and I'd be feeling good and I'd be full of energy and I'd be ready to, like, take an opportunity. But how does this thought make me feel? Insecure, like low energy. So why would I believe a thought that I don't know is 100 percent true? That's going to make me fall back into fear when actually I can stay there in curiosity and say before I believe the thought, I'm going to pause. Let me find out more. Interesting. Let me find out more. And in that moment, we choose not to let any critic run the show. We choose not to let our inner critic take control of our mind and pull us back into our lowest vibrational self. Curiosity keeps our mind open and curiosity prevents us from needing to be right. And this is the thing, our mind likes to be right. And you see this in politics. What people, as soon as they meet someone who doesn't believe them, they get defensive because they can't -- their ego can't handle being wrong. They can't handle someone else having a foreign thought. But when we live with curiosity, it's OK to be with people who believe different things from us because we're not going to make that mean anything about us. And that's what the brain likes to do, take meaningless events and make it mean something about us. So when the person hasn't emailed us back, we like to turn that into, 'Oh, I'm not good enough.' or 'I'm not worthy enough,' or whatever else but curiosity goes, 'Huh? I'm just going to wait. I'm going to find out more information before I make a judgment on that.' And it's so liberating.


Branden Harvey

Tell me about choice now.


Poppy Jamie

Choice really, in short, is we may not have the choice to be happy at times because sometimes in the mess it is okay, and to your point, it's OK to be heartbroken. It's OK. And it's OK just to have those days where you're like 'blegh.' We always have the choice to be kind to ourselves. So choices about choosing to be compassionate. And a really easy way to do that is to ask yourself the question, 'If a friend is experiencing what I am now, what would I advise them?'


And suddenly our emotional brain isn't thinking about us. So that switches off in our prefrontal cortex, the cortex brain switches on the rational side and goes, 'Huh what would I advise a friend? I'm problem solving. What would I advise a friend?' And suddenly we're using a totally different area of the brain to solve our own problems, in a kind of compassionate way in the way that we treat a friend.


Branden Harvey

I've heard that story before or that concept before, but I had never heard about your brain switching how it's processing this. And that makes so much sense why it would actually work, because your brain is out of that emotional side of things.


Poppy Jamie

Yeah. And problem solving. So getting into the problem solving brain is so liberating because that's something when we're making wise decisions rather than emotional decisions.


Branden Harvey

Tell me about number four: commitment.


Poppy Jamie

Commitment is about committing to who we want to be committing to our future. And I ask everyone listening, like, go, what do you want your wildest life to look like? What do you want that person to be like? And then go, OK, my wildest self, what is she doing, what is he doing? And then go, when you suddenly hit your challenge go, 'Well, what would my wildest, happiest, freest self do in this situation?'


And suddenly you react so differently because you're reacting from a place of where you want to be, not what your past is telling you to.


Branden Harvey

And with Good Good Good, I think about this idea all the time with, you know, what is the world that you want to create and then play a role in creating that world. And none of us alone can do that. But we all have the ability to take one step towards it. And for me, I find that that's what actually helps me feel the most hopeful. Because I recognize, 'Oh, I have some ability to change things I am not helpless at this situation is not helpless.'


And thinking about that on a personal level, too, you know. When you take those steps towards being who you yourself want to be, I find that it's cyclical and it helps you become a healthier person, which then allows you to go back and be more connected with yourself, more curious, have more choice and then brings it back to a greater commitment to your goals. And so that last one, for me at least, just feels like such a catalyst that just continues that cycle.


Poppy Jamie

One hundred percent. I don't think it's really important to know the person we want to be. And we may not know the goal. Or, you know, these kind of very finite, all that promotional, that job, we just know the person we want to be is person that's like open and adventurous maybe, or has time for themselves or believes in themselves or kind of like, you know, makes time for connection and love and spending time with family.


Like, you know, when we think about the future we want to be. And I think it's really easy to spend too much time thinking about, like goals that you can get. And then afterwards you're like, oh, well, what next? But thinking about the person you want to be is endless, you know. Like regardless of what I kind of do, I always want to be like curious and open-minded and optimistic. So from that person, what what would she do in this situation? That is a bit challenging.


Branden Harvey

Another question that I had is in your book, you talk about this idea of how inflexible thoughts can often come from being stuck with learned values that don't actually represent our deeper soul level values. And how do we recognize which values are the accidental learned values that are not actually core to who we are or who we want to be? And then how do we get back in touch with those?


Poppy Jamie

So in the book, I put loads of little exercises in there for this exact reason, because when I was writing it, I was like, you know, we are all so individual. Like every single person listening all have had their own amazing story and every single reader will have had their own unique experiences to get to that point. And I actually do think it's I gave you loads of questions to answer in terms of identifying core beliefs, identifying -- in the last chapter, I think flex the future.


I gave you twenty six questions that really help you to identify your values, because it's difficult. It's really difficult to kind of untangle yourself from all the people around you and what granny wanted, and what mum wanted, and what dad wanted, and what the family wanted, and what school wanted, and what that teacher you really liked wanted, and what your friend wanted, or what your partner wanted. It's really difficult to get back to the pureness that is within all of us. And that knowing. And as I said, like life events happen and suddenly, you know, your value systems change.


So I think it's really important as a yearly activity to go back to going, OK, am I on the path to the person I want to be? Because what's so interesting two planes take off and if their destination is just five degrees to the right. If you think about if the plane then travels thirty thousand miles, it ends up in a completely different place together. So being intentional is really important in landing in New York. Not silly or like, I don't know, I'm trying to think of places in America. I don't mean like, you know, San Francisco or L.A., you know.


Branden Harvey

Absolutely. And you're bringing it back to my auto pilot analogy. So I love this exactly as my final question for people who are seeking to get off of their autopilot, for people who are seeking to find happiness, not perfection. And, you know, obviously, the book lays out a lot of ways to do this. But if somebody was to take one action step today after, you know, this podcast episode ends and they've got a moment alone, like what would be your recommendation? What's the step that all of us -- that listeners and myself can take right now?


Poppy Jamie

The power of pause, just when you want to make that really quick decision or when you get triggered rather than going, 'I didn't mean it.' You're trying to kind of like fire that message back. Whenever you feel that kind of like emotional intensity inside rise. Pause, pause, pause. Or if you don't know what, you should take something like, you know, you're being given an opportunity rather than go 'Huh, yes yes yes!' Pause.


And actually what I was always told by my teacher: push it back, push it. Say no, no, I don't want it and see if it comes back to you. And then you really, truly know if it's right for you. So the power of pause, I think, is really important in valuing yourself because it helps you to not overtalk. One of my big lessons that I'm constantly learning is to shut up and not have to feel lots of silences.


So if you're in a situation like maybe you're at work and you don't feel like you need to fill in the blanks, just pause, pause and be that person who can wait for more information to make that best next decision or that best next comment. And the power force is amazing. My teachers always say to me, 'Poppy, just think 'Pause. What a pleasure. Pause What a pleasure.' And sometimes we're always in such a rush to respond and actually, the pause is where our freedom lives.


Branden Harvey

That's Poppy Jamie, entrepreneur, mindfulness coach and the author of Happy Not Perfect. If you've been struggling with your self-worth or your anxiety or you're just looking for a little bit more happiness and a little bit less perfection. I highly recommend ordering Happy Not Perfect from your local bookstore and giving it a read. You can also follow Poppy Jamie herself on Twitter and Instagram @poppyjamiee and check out the Happy Not Perfect app in the App Store and the Google Play store.


Branden Harvey

This podcast was created by Good Good Good. At Good Good Good, we help you feel more hopeful and do more good. You can find more good news and ways to make a difference in our weekly email newsletter, our beautiful print Goodnewspaper or online at our all new website, goodgoodgood.co. This episode was created by Sara Lee, Megan Burns and Me. Branden Harvey was edited in sound design by the team at Sound On Studios. You can find out more about their work at soundonsoundoff.com.


Make sure to hit the follow button wherever you listen to podcasts. You can get a new episode of Sounds Good delivered straight to your phone each Monday while you sleep. And if you want to share this episode, we would really appreciate it. And with that, that is a wrap for this week's episode. Go out and get some proper rest. Your body will thank you. And we'll be back next week with more good news and good action. Sound good?


Episode Details

August 9, 2021

13 Good News Stories to Leave You Feeling Good This Week

Good news stories from around the world — from ending student lunch debt in Seattle, to a neo-Nazi removing his swastika tattoos. There's so much good to celebrate.

A Brief Guide to These Commonly Misunderstood Mental Disorders

It’s important to remember that OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental health disorders are legitimate health conditions that people experience.

About Sounds Good

Apple Podcasts – Spotify – Google PodcastsEverywhere Else

Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Every week, Good Good Good founder Branden Harvey sits down with the people driving positive change against the world's greatest problems. Each episode will leave you with a sense of hope about the good in the world — and a sense of direction on how we can all be a part of that good. Episodes are released every Monday.

Want to stay up-to-date on good news?

One email.
Every Tuesday.
Filled with the week's best good news.

Thank you for celebrating good news with us. We'll see you on Tuesday!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again.