Read Furiously Happy Online

Authors: Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy


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Table of Contents

About the Author

Copyright Page


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This book is dedicated to my daughter, the giggling witness to the strange and wonderful world her family has created out of insanity (both real and hyperbolic).

God help us when she's old enough to write her own memoir.



It was the best of books, it was the worst of hairbrushes. Read it. Don't tease your hair with it.


Jesus gave me this book when he was done with it, saying, “You have got to read this shit, Kevin. It's fucking fantastic.” Jesus is terrible with names.


There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well, but only one whose face I want to peel off and wear around my parlor. Lock thy door, Mrs. Lawson.


I can say without exaggeration: This is the finest coaster I have ever owned.


It's life that matters, nothing but life—the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all. That, and this book. This book is nice too.


Who let you in here?


I seem to have lost my coat.


You don't even know these people in your blurbs. Most of them are dead and Stephen King is probably going to press charges. We're really going to need to increase your visits.



This is where I was going to put a simple Mary Oliver quote but instead I decided to replace it with the idea I had for the cover of this book because I'm pretty sure it'll never get accepted and I don't want it to go to waste. The great thing about this cover is that when you're holding the book up to read it, it will look like the bottom of your face has been replaced with an ecstatic raccoon smile. That way you look friendly and also terrifying to anyone passing by, which is nice because then people won't bother you while you're reading. In fact, you can rip out the previous page and glue photocopies of it on the covers of all of your other books because it's like a subtle “Do Not Disturb” sign. People may think you're a slow reader after a few years of this, but it's worth it for the uninterrupted peace, and the added joy of being half a raccoon. If you disagree then this is probably the wrong book for you.


You've been warned.


A Series of Unfortunate Disclaimers

No, no. I insist you stop right now.

Still here?
Now you're not allowed to blame me for anything in this book because I told you to stop reading and you just kept going. You're like Bluebeard's wife when she found all those heads in the closet. (Spoiler alert.) But personally I think that's a good thing. Ignoring the severed human heads in the closet doesn't make for a good relationship. It makes for an unsanitary closet and possible accessory charges. You have to confront those decapitated heads because you can't grow without acknowledging that we are all made up from the weirdness that we try to hide from the rest of the world.
has human heads in their closet. Sometimes the heads are secrets, or unsaid confessions, or quiet fears. This book is one of those severed heads. You are holding my severed head in your hands. This is a bad analogy but in my defense, I did tell you to stop. I don't want to blame the victim, but at this point we're in this together.

*   *   *

Everything in this book is mostly true but some details have been changed to protect the guilty. I know it's usually about “protecting the innocent” but why would they need protection?
They're innocent.
And they're also not nearly as fun to write about as the guilty, who always have more fascinating stories and who make you feel better about yourself by comparison.

*   *   *

This is a funny book about living with mental illness. It sounds like a terrible combination, but personally, I'm mentally ill and some of the most hysterical people I know are as well. So if you don't like the book then maybe you're just not crazy enough to enjoy it. Either way, you win.


Note from the Author

Dear reader,

Right now you're holding this book in your hands and wondering if it's worth reading. It's probably not, but there's a $25 bill hidden in the binding so you should just buy it quickly before the clerk notices.

You are welcome.

Furiously Happy
is the name of this book. It's also a little something that saved my life.

My grandmother used to say, “Into everyone's life a little rain must fall—rain, assholes, and assorted bullshit.” I'm paraphrasing. But she was right. We all get our share of tragedy or insanity or drama, but what we do with that horror is what makes all the difference.

I learned this firsthand a few years ago when I fell into a severe bout of depression so terrific that I couldn't see a way out of it. The depression wasn't anything new. I've struggled with many forms of mental illness since I was a kid, but clinical depression is a semiregular visitor and anxiety disorder is my long-term abusive boyfriend. Sometimes the depression is mild enough that I mistake it for the flu or mono, but this instance was one of the extreme cases. One where I didn't necessarily want my life to end, I just wanted it to stop being such a bastard. I reminded myself that depression lies, because it does. I told myself that things would get better. I did all of the normal things that sometimes help but I still felt hopeless and suddenly I found myself really angry. Angry that life can throw such curveballs at you. Angry at the seeming unfairness of how tragedy is handed out. Angry because I had no other emotions left to give.

So I took to my blog and wrote a post that would change the way that I would look at life from then on:

October 2010:

All things considered, the last six months have been a goddamn Victorian tragedy. Today my husband, Victor, handed me a letter informing me that another friend had unexpectedly died. You might think that this would push me over the edge into an irreversible downward spiral of Xanax and Regina Spektor songs, but no. It's not. I'm fucking
with sadness, and I don't know what's up the ass of the universe lately but
I've HAD IT.

Can you hear that? That's me
, y'all. I'm smiling so loud you can fucking
hear it.
I'm going to destroy the goddamn universe with my irrational joy and I will spew forth pictures of clumsy kittens and baby puppies adopted by raccoons and MOTHERFUCKING NEWBORN LLAMAS DIPPED IN GLITTER AND THE BLOOD OF SEXY VAMPIRES AND IT'S GOING TO BE AWESOME. In fact, I'm starting a whole movement right now.
And it's going to be awesome because first of all,
we're all going to be VEHEMENTLY happy,
and secondly because it will freak the shit out of everyone that hates you because those assholes don't want to see you even vaguely amused, much less furiously happy, and it will make their world turn a little sideways and will probably scare the shit out of them. Which will make you even more happy.
Then the world tips in our favor. Us: 1. Assholes: 8,000,000. That score doesn't look as satisfying as it should because they have a bit of a head start. Except you know what?
Fuck that.
We're starting from scratch.

Us: 1. Assholes: 0.

*   *   *

Within a few hours #FURIOUSLYHAPPY was trending worldwide on Twitter as people loudly fought to take back their lives from the monster of depression. And that was just the beginning.

Over the next few years I pushed myself to say yes to anything ridiculous. I jumped into fountains that were not meant to be jumped into. I took impromptu road trips to hunt down UFOs. I chased tornados. I wore a wolf (who had died of kidney failure) to the local
premiere while shouting “TEAM JACOB” at angry vampire fans. I rented sloths by the hour. My new mantra was “Decorum is highly overrated and probably causes cancer.” In short, I went a little insane, in slow but certain spurts. And it was the best possible thing that could have happened to me.

This didn't mean that I wasn't still depressed or anxious or mentally ill. I still spent my share of weeks in bed when I simply couldn't get up. I still hid under my office desk whenever the anxiety got too heavy to battle standing up. The difference was that I had a storeroom in the back of my mind filled with moments of tightrope walking, snorkeling in long-forgotten caves, and running barefoot through cemeteries with a red ball gown trailing behind me. And I could remind myself that as soon as I had the strength to get up out of bed I would again turn my hand to being furiously happy. Not just to
my life, but to
my life.

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