Building a Happy Life & Finding your F*ckyeah, with Alexis Rockley
When Alexis Rockley was 28, she had everything she could ever want. She had the job of her dreams, the perfect apartment, a great romantic relationship. Her work gave her the chance to be creative, and she was constantly being praised and promoted. There was nothing more she could have possibly asked for and yet–she was unhappy.
She called it a “quarter life crisis.” She was unfulfilled, largely because she was relying on her work for happiness. She couldn’t live independently of her job…and didn’t know who she was without it. This crisis caused her to question the way we postulate happiness to young folks nowadays. We give them the tools we think they need to be happy, like finding their purpose, working hard, meeting goals and marking achievements. However, Alexis realized this model just doesn’t work.
So she set out to see what true happiness is made of, becoming a researcher of positive psychology. Her research uncovered a nuanced positive feeling, one she couldn’t quite define, so she settled on calling it “fuckyeah.” Her book is called Find Your F*ckyeah: Stop Censoring Who You Are and Discover What You Really Want. The book and our interview details with how we can become happier on a daily basis and find our true selves.
Listen to the full-length cut here.
Everything You Know About Self-Care is Wrong
One concept Alexis kept bumping into when doing her research was the problematic nature of what we call “self-care.” Self-care is the idea of encouraging ourselves to spend a day taking a bubble bath, ordering dessert, and doing pilates after a long week of work. While the idea of taking time for oneself is not inherently troublesome, Alexis believes the culture of self-care is jacked-up. She says it exists as the other side of the “hustle culture” coin, the toxic way we encourage ourselves to become overworked.
To Alexis, self-care culture feels like another way capitalist society keeps us on a hamster wheel. Approaching self-care as a part of a bullshit checklist makes us feel as though it’s our own fault we’re not booking enough yoga sessions and beach days to counterbalance an overworked and restless life. Approaching self-maintenance with a short term view will only lead to more burnout. Alexis tells me, we have to look at self-care in the long term by making lifestyle changes that will lead to lasting happiness.
Building a Happy Life #1: The Right People
So how can you build a happy life in the long term? One of the first steps Alexis outlines is finding the right group of people to surround yourself with. I know from my own experience that the right group might not be the one you’re born into. In this episode, I discuss how many folks in the LGBTQ+ community find themselves kicked out of their homes or, in my case, their church. Commonly, queer people have to find their own family among one another. Whoever you choose to be in your community, they should be supportive of you as you grow and change.
Building a Happy Life #2: F*ck Flawless
Another step to building a happy life is to ditch perfectionism. Alexis gives us an example of this method from her design career. When designing a floor plan for a client, she drafted, redrafted…and redrafted some more, unable to settle on the perfect design.
Suddenly, she found herself staring down the deadline. The new furniture was supposed to go out tomorrow––and she hadn’t placed a single piece anywhere on her plans. This story teaches us that if we’re too obsessed with doing everything flawlessly, we might not get anything done. Doubt gives us a million reasons to never start or finish our projects. As a result, we get stalled in the status quo.
Building a Happy Life #3: Become Fearless
Alexis and I discuss how we’re not born with a fear of failure–it develops over time. When we’re kids, we’re less afraid to fail or mess up. We don’t place limits on ourselves or measure the repercussions. We want to try everything and don’t care if we’re not good at it or not.
It’s our cultures that make us ashamed of showing weakness or making mistakes. Growing up in a critical society leads us to develop an inner cynic that wants us to try anything to protect ourselves from failures. If we want to be truly happy, we have to learn to be ok with being bad at stuff…until we do it long enough to not suck.
Building a Happy Life #4: Observing your Mistakes
Being content with mistakes is one reason Alexis loves science as a discipline. Instead of shunning failure, scientists embrace it, incorporating it into their work. They live by the philosophy that truth is a moving target, and see mistakes as data points. Scientists don’t claim they know all the answers, they admit uncertainty and use it to fuel their research.
To find the happiness you seek, Alexis encourages you to apply this way of thinking to life. When you f*ck up, look at it objectively. Where did I go wrong? What caused me to slip up? How can I prevent it from happening again? Instead of shaming ourselves, we can find harmony by evaluating our errors and growing from them.
Building a Happy Life #5: Rising Above Rejection
Similarly, Alexis encourages us to take this approach to rejection. While rejection from a job or a romantic partner can feel like the end of the world, Alexis wants us to look at the big picture. Ask why we’ve been rejected and take it as a chance to improve ourselves or take stock of our abilities. Rejection is the chance to renew our direction with improved clarity, so we can revitalize our efforts.
Building a Happy Life #6: Mastering the Flow
Alexis also touches on the idea of “flow.” The word flow can have many meanings, but in this context, it pertains to a mental state. Alexis describes flow as the sensation of purpose, without fixating on a specific benchmark as the “purpose.” It means staying focused on what we’re doing in the moment, without getting too caught up in the outcome. It occurs when we’re doing something mundane, like cleaning the kitchen, or something more serious, like completing our novel. It’s a problem solving state that isn’t self-critical, but productive.
Wake Up and Say F*ckyeah!
If these steps sound cool to you and you want to learn more, listen to the extended cut of this episode by subscribing at sexdrugsandjesus.supercast.com, or pick up a copy of Alexis’s book wherever books are sold.
You can also find her Instagram (she answers DMS!) at @alexisrockley.