Brands, personas, happiness and truth

These days we all seem to have a brand, a persona, an i-self. In this strange environment, it can be tricky to stay true to you. But I think being true to you is key to true joy. I’d like to offer my experience of navigating this new terrain. My thoughts are not perfect or final but I’m sharing it in the hopes that we don’t feel so strange or alone on this journey.

For the most part, I really do like my middle name Happy. But sometimes I don’t. It’s been with me since birth and I’m sure it’s influenced the course of my thinking and my life. It’s certainly given me reason to consider my feelings, my values and what’s true for me.

Here’s what’s weird about the name Happy. A person’s name is usually fixed but feelings are not. Feelings, in a healthy environment, are in a constant ebb and flow of change, transformation and movement.

Sometimes, maybe because of my name, I feel pressured to feel happy. In those moments, I seem to be believing that I should feel happy and look happy and bring happiness to the people who enter my arena.

But these beliefs can be really draining. And the pressure to feel happy doesn’t bring me happiness.

People throughout the course of my life – as soon as they learn my middle name – have asked me if I’m happy all the time. I’m not. When I’m asked this insane question, I wonder to myself, “Really? Do I look like a robot to you? Are you crazy?”

The question itself is reflective of emotional illiteracy in our culture.

What I do have is a very rich pallet, a very full range of emotions. And for this I am deeply, deeply grateful. This means I can truly BE with my own suffering or pain, or with the suffering and pain in another. And I can BE with my own joy, or the joy in another.

I’ve had to loosen the chains of believing that emotions are fixed or rigid, or that one is “better” than another. They simply ALL want to be felt. Happiness isn’t meant to be a straight jacket. It’s an experience in a flowing river of various emotions. It comes and goes. It’s usually influenced by external events.

Joy, on the other hand, is like the light within a star. It’s steady and constant, and it lives in the core of our being. I think we are made of GORGEOUS, SPARKLING JOY. I see joy expressed in the faces of babies and young children, in their sheer wonder and amazement at the littlest of things. I see this in the noses and tail wags of dogs.

The name Joy-Based Living was suggested by one of my students. I think it’s fitting because in our practices, we are always willing to look at the obstacles to joy – the ones that we ourselves hold up – and then we become willing to remove them. AND THEN what naturally emerges is a wellspring of high vibrations, including JOY. We call this practice “Feed the Cow” and you can learn more about it in the 12 Practices E-Book.

I think it’s our job to NOT shut down this naturally occurring energy, to NOT close it off, to NOT suffocate it.

How do we accomplish this in a world that generally doesn’t give a shit if we shut it down?

I can speak for myself. I honor my spirituality. My core. My essence.

I surround myself with friends who notice, care and give a hoot about such an important matter.

I do my best to clear the field between my core essence, my fluctuating feelings, and my expression. It’s a daily, ongoing practice. It requires as much self-honesty as I can possibly muster. It requires constant awareness, embodiment, acceptance and self-love.

And then, it requires being a deliberate and conscious choice-maker. What DO I want to feel? What DO I want to experience?

Well, right now, I want to feel a sense of connection with you, dear reader. I hope this post has given you some food for thought and light for your journey.

I hope your day is going well. I hope you experience some wonder or awe or magic today. You are so worthwhile. I am so glad you are here.

Thank you for growing with me and being with me on this amazing journey.

Much love,

Debbie Happy Cohen aka Happy D!

I want you to LOVE negotiating for JOY! | Author | Coach at Joy-Based Living


One of our members, a working artist, shared her experience of Joy-Based Living and working with me:

I have gained a more solid understanding of myself and what I really want. I have been able to work through and get a grip on my emotional flashbacks resulting from CPTS. I now have a tool box that I can use in challenging situations. You founded and fostered a community of supportive people that are moving in the same direction of self inquiry and curiosity of what is possible. Not in a competitive way, as it usually is in groups. Here, everyone cheers each other on for whatever successes small or big. It’s a very unique group. I find it helpful to have this support in understanding myself and able to show up authentically as well as seeing that I am not alone on my path.

You are very supportive, caring, warm yet also focused on results and getting to the point. Very professional. Very intuitive too, you know where to focus on to get me past my blocks to where I need to be going next.

I would definitely encourage someone to work with you, if they are serious about doing the work on themselves on a regular basis. As long as they understand that they have to keep working on concepts and not just do a 5-week class and be done with it.

I think it’s a lifelong process, kind of like meditation, or going to the gym. It’s something you learn once and then you keep using for the rest of your life. What you have to offer is more than just telling someone what to do next. It’s a guiding process in learning how to understand ourselves better and ultimately see ourselves the way you do – living our true nature, which is joy.


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3 thoughts on “Brands, personas, happiness and truth

  1. So, Debbie (& the JBL community), I’ve spent a few days reflecting on this particular post–because it nudged me at a core level, like a shift in the plate tectonics of my inner world–and I feel inspired to share a thought or two about WHY this blog-post had such an effect on me. To keep it short, the ignition switch was the phrase: “…clear the field between my core essence, my fluctuating feelings, and my expression.” I immediately felt inspired to commit to bringing my attention, my awareness, more regularly, more courageously and more honestly to the interface or junction where my ‘true’ self, my wounds-&-trauma-influenced self and my desires-and-vision-holding self meet. And the benefit of just knowing this is possible AND valuable is this: as I become more clear about what I want and need in my life AND who I truly am, I’m more able to lean into and embody THOSE energies to fortify me as I continue along my healing-the-wounds-and-trauma journey. An unexpected corollary to that arose for me while reading this blog-post, and that is an inspiration to deepen my acceptance of what I see as a “fact” of human existence — that “2 steps forward, one step back” is built into our evolutionary scheme, and therefore I’ll benefit (often mightily) from honoring the progress I make, however big or small, AND forgiving myself when I “slip up”… In other words, by engaging in the practice of letting go of my self-judgment and belief that “I can/need to ‘do this healing & spiritual growth thing on my own’ (i.e., resistance to making room for “Divine” help), I’m more likely to be conscious and present when old wounds or patterns arise, which I can CHOOSE to address in whatever manner I’m inspired to at the time. Bottom line? This increased awareness, self-acceptance and freedom (from my ego’s enslaving & critical voice) all are arising for me, spurred forward by insights you’ve shared in this and other recent blog-posts, Debbie. Thank you for your continued caring and sharing with all of us.
    Amen, Reverend Sassy Shorts! 😉

    1. Wow! I’m so blown away by the energy and power in your reply that I forgot to respond! Thank you for letting me know how this writing touched you. I don’t always get to know that and your articulation strengthens my own conviction and purpose. Thank you. And onward!

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