Schedule time with friends. If your book club has been canceled due to Covid, it’s time to resume, even if you have to meet outdoors.
It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Lyle.
Amy Lyle has penned two Amazon Humor & Entertainment #1 best-sellers, The Book of Failures and We’re All A Mess, It’s OK, and is the writer and co-host of the popular UI Media talk show, “In The Burbs.” She recently shared her big idea of “Finding the Funny in the Crummy,” for Beacon Street’s TEDx event. She and her husband, Peter, are raising four children and three giant dogs together in the suburbs, just north of Atlanta.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Marietta, Ohio, which is in the heart of Appalachia and known for a population that is partial to moonshine and prone to acts of violence, but you will not find nicer people anywhere.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
A Hollywood entertainment lawyer that rejected me as a client. He told me I was a nobody, didn’t know anybody and didn’t have any money but I made him laugh so he shared a few words of wisdom. He advised, “You have to get on the map, so write a book and get some press.” I asked him what I should write about, and he said, “Write what you know.” I started working on a humor memoir, The Book of Failures, immediately. The rejection was painful, but his advice was solid. Writing a book and getting press has led to interesting and rewarding projects.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
There are too many to name but a recent person who was a source of encouragement and support was Eric G. Reid. We became friends after I was a guest on his podcast. He has the uncanny ability to knock you out of a funk and make you appreciate what you have in less than 30 seconds. He also is a master storyteller and helped me refine the TEDx talk. He’s equal parts drill sergeant and angel.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Wanting to do something fun and different for the cover of my second book, “We’re All A Mess, It’s OK,” I hired an alpaca for the cover. It’s more challenging and expensive than you think to rent and work with an alpaca. The trainer was lovely, but alpacas are nervous creatures, they kick! Did the alpaca help me sell more books? No. Would I do it again? Yes.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I love writing and co-hosting the UI Media talk show, “In the Burbs,” with Gina Ryals. We’ve interviewed NYTs bestselling authors such as Jenny Lawson, Karen White and Patti Callahan Henry, plus comedians, therapists, magicians, actors and funny moms. We are so inspired and hope our viewers are inspired as well.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Be Bold. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. As a creative, I’m always trying to get press for my projects and most of the time I get a no, but occasionally, I get a yes. Ask.
- Be Real. I was a little hesitate to admit my shortcomings as a wife and stepmother in my memoir but the people that contact me normally reference those stories. Being real draws people to you, perfection is a repellent.
- Be Funny. People underestimate the power of humor. Being quick and funny has afforded me wonderful opportunities in corporate America, as a salesperson and corporate trainer and my creative career kicked off with me making fun of my failures. In the TEDx, I talked about “Connective Humor.” When you share a failure, in a funny way, you’re simultaneously releasing your own shame while making others feel better about their own shortcomings.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
I’ve made a career of finding the joy (and the humor) in the most unlikely places. In April, I did a TEDx talk about “Finding the Funny in the Crummy.” We can train ourselves to see the world through a lens of humor, even on the worst of days.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?
Many studies point to social media and comparing ourselves to others as the root of all evil and I understand how viewing the barrage of posts about other’s career growth, financial success and beauty is not good for our souls, but the bigger issue is feeling detached. As we add to our lives- bigger jobs, another child, etc., we often scale back on time with people that love us.
What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
I’m trying to work through this myself, I suffer from, “If I could only accomplish X, then I would be happy” syndrome. My middle daughter shared an article about talking to yourself like you would your dog. We’re so nice to our animals and celebrate every win, “Good boy, you got the ball!” Yet, we hammer ourselves for goals not met. A producer, who is currently pitching a project of mine, forwards me all of the rejections. At first, it was depressing, but now, I try to see the positive in it- having a major studio say your script is fresh, funny and naughty, but they are not making dramedies right now isn’t a failure- it’s encouraging.
In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
Focusing on achieving one goal or correcting one flaw is the death of happiness. For example, I really, really, really, want this current script to get picked up. I’m at a stage where I dream about it, pray about it and listen to “How to manifest your dreams,” podcasts all night long. My husband pointed out that while I’ve been worrying about the success of the script, I’ve missed the good things my friends and family have been doing. I just started to realize that if I never sell the script, I’ve been gifted the opportunity to do interesting and rewarding projects. When you take stock in your life, include everything- small wins at work are still wins, getting along with your in-laws for the weekend is a win, rescuing a turtle crossing the road is a win. You’re going to miss the journey if you’re too focused on one goal and don’t acknowledge the little joys.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)
- Look for the funny! Find 5 funnies a day. It can be anything, I saw a sign at a OBGYN’s office that read, “Curbside appointments.” You’ll have more joy in your life if you look for it.
- Comedies. Watch a few minutes of the news to make sure you’re not in the path of a natural disaster and then switch to something funny. The world’s problems will still be there after you watch Bridesmaids again.
- Schedule time with friends. If your book club has been canceled due to Covid, it’s time to resume, even if you have to meet outdoors.
- Keep a journal. Go back in 30 days and read it- chances are, you’ll find some humor in what you were upset about.
- Buy bigger pants. Don’t worry that you’ve gained a few pounds, stop squishing your intestines. If going up a size is too stressful, at least get a stretchy pair.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
You, and your friends, will most likely feel a mood boost if you spend some quality time together. If a personal visit is not possible, call or video conference. Together, you could do the find the funny exercise.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
We could all start practicing for the Random Acts of Kindness Day which is February 22, 2022. It makes my day when the Starbucks customer in front of me pays for my chai tea and I’m equally excited about passing the act of kindness on to the next person. Imagine how the world would change if we did one random act of kindness a day.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
AMANDA PEET! I love her work and admire that she started her own production company.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!