Sometimes even a pioneer of the concept of self-care needs to take her own advice. That’s what Longmont author Jennifer Louden had to do after publishing her latest book, Why Bother?: Discover the Desire for What’s Next in the spring of 2020.
The book is full of practical, compassionate advice for “anyone who’s feeling blah, lost, wanting clarity, wanting their next adventure, not believing there is another adventure.” Louden shares stories from her life and hard-won wisdom in such a personal and loving way that she feels like the best friend you didn’t know you had.
Why Bother? is Louden’s sixth book and her best book yet. She was ready for it to become an instant bestseller, like her first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book, published in 1992. 2020 had a way of ruining everyone’s expectations. Her book offers a roadmap for moving forward when we feel stuck and unsure of our next move.
Despite the timeliness of Louden’s message, the launch didn’t go as she hoped. The dissonance
between her expectations and how the release went was enough to send her into her own “why bother period.”
So she started taking her own advice. “It took me just going back to the book and the ideas in the book over and over again. Once again, I have to keep leaving behind my dreams and expectations,” she said.
“We have reoccurring patterns. We have reoccurring mistakes we make,” Louden said. We should be careful not to make them some sign that we’re broken or that there’s something wrong with us. We can pull ourselves out of a funk more quickly when we recognize these patterns and see them with a sense of humor and self-compassion.
The question Why bother? - is two-sided. Usually, we ask it rhetorically when we’ve already decided that there’s no point in bothering. But Louden’s advice is to explore the other side of the question and try to actually answer it. Although she cautions that when we’re really depressed or trying to put food on the table it’s probably not a useful question because we have to focus on survival. Once our basic needs are met, we can discover desire again by following Louden’s 6-step process for turning to the bright side of “why bother?”, each explained in it’s own chapter:
1. Leave behind – Let go of replaying past mistakes and limiting beliefs.
2. Ease in – Learn to trust yourself again and practice self-compassionate grit.
3. Settle – Settle down and get quiet and curious instead of busily working on solutions.
4. Desire – Desire gives us energy and courage to enjoy life again.
5. Become by Doing – Follow your curiosity, try new things, and do what feels good.
6. Be Seen – Share what you care about with the people in your life.
Cultivating desire is the key to moving forward, coming alive and discovering what matters most to you. Louden suggests creating your own desire retreat. All you have to do is set aside a specific period of time to do only what you want to do.
“I really think it’s important that we all know how normal it is to feel different degrees of ‘why bother.’ And if there’s one message that I really want people to know it's that instead of freaking out about it, instead of believing that there’s something permanent or wrong, or that we’ve made some mistake that we really can’t recover from, that we really turn it into a time of getting really curious about what we do want to bother about next.”
As Louden worked through her disappointment with the book release, she did a lot of journaling and making up journal prompts that she uses with her online community. Not only did it help her work through her disappointment relatively quickly, it also led to writing a new book, a guided journal companion to the recent book called Get Your Bother On: A Guided Journal to Discover What’s Next. The book and journal each stand on their own.
Louden has accomplished much in her career. She’s a nationally recognized motivational speaker, has written 7
books with close to a million copies in print in 9 languages, she’s been featured on Oprah and has been
quoted in 2 of Brene Brown’s books as well. All of these accolades aside, the thing she’s most proud of in her career is that she has always been able to begin again.
“I keep evolving, I keep learning, I keep finding my next thing to bother about,” she said.