I've Got 6 Solid Reasons To Put Being 'Healthy' Over Being 'Happy'
This is something that I've been wanting to write about for a while now. There are a few reasons why too. One is that I grew up hearing that happiness is an emotion — and a fleeting one at that; that's why the focus should actually be more on being in a state of joy. Secondly, I can't tell you how many times I have looked a husband or wife in the eye as they told me they were leaving their marriage — not because of infidelity or abuse; it was simply because "I'm not happy anymore" (more on that in a bit). And three, I also can't tell you how many times a day will go by without me hearing or reading some variation of "do whatever makes you happy". LAWD.
Am I anti-happiness? That would be borderline ridiculous. What I will say, though, is because this is a topic that isn't addressed nearly enough (at least, in my opinion), I do think that happiness has become an idol for a lot of people — one that is causing a lot of folks to lose sight of what should be more important: being healthy. Holistically so.
So, let's knock it out. I've got six reasons why this obsession with being happy all of the time should be redirected into getting and staying healthy. Even if that means not always being happy in order to get there. And while that might sound like a concession at first, trust me, this kind of life approach is a great flex. Here's why.
1. A Ton of Toxic Ish Can Make You “Happy”
Shellie Reneè Warren? If there is one thing that she — who is I — is all about is a good orgasm. And y'all, when I was out here throwing my legs back, something that made me extremely happy was sex. Not just sex with any man but a fine, chocolate and super tall Black one who had a real freaky side. And y'all, while we were in the newness of the situationship or while we were having sex, I was extremely happy. Oh, but when the positive sign on a pregnancy test, when I had to go to the doctor to treat chlamydia, when I found out that some of them were lying to me for weeks or months on end — do I need to go on? — none of that made me very happy at all. And the unhappiness? It typically lasted longer than the happiness did.
That said, a definition of happiness is pleasure. You know, when my father was drunk or high, he used to say that made him happy. He's gone now. Intentional overdosing from substance abuse did it.
Point is, do you know how much toxic BS out here can make you temporarily happy and yet not be good for you at all? So many spouses that I've worked with have cheated on their partner with someone who, according to them, "makes them happy". Yet what they are really saying is the person brought them pleasure. Noted. Still, at what cost? Making decisions solely based on what tickles your fancy at any given time isn't a sign of maturity — it's actually quite the opposite. While pleasure is cool, it shouldn't be a main motivator in why you do — or don't do — what you do. Mostly because, like an orgasm or a high, it's very momentary.
This brings me to my next point.
2. Happiness Is Temporary and Circumstantial
If you're currently in a serious relationship and are contemplating marriage (check out "Please Be Clear On These 7 Things Before Getting Engaged"), I'm gonna just put it right on out there and say that if your main reason for doing so is because your man "makes you happy", you should definitely pump the brakes.
For one thing, it's too much pressure on anyone to expect them to make you happy. You need to figure out how to do that for yourself because humans (including the love of your life) are fallible which means they are going to disappoint you from time to time which means that there will be times when you are totally unhappy with them. Next, happiness is fickle AF. It's totally based on circumstances and since circumstances are constantly subject to change, that means relying on them to make you happy all of the time is futile.
Again, this is a very valid reason for why so many marriages don't last. Folks don't take all of what I just said into account, so the moment that they aren't delighted in someone, ecstatic over the relationship or in a state of bliss about their commitment, they take that as their cue to bounce and find someone else who will get them back to their "happy place". Problem is, eventually the next person will disappoint them too. Now what?
Is it wonderful when you can feel happy about your life? Sure. Know what's better? When you can understand that like all things in this world, happiness has peak moments and also times when it's not nearly as present. That way, you won't find yourself making poor choices, all because you're chasing the happiness feeling rather than doing what's actually best, long-term, for you. And speaking of that…next point.
3. “Happy” Can Be Rooted in Selfishness and Irresponsibility
Most of y'all know that I am a marriage life coach which is why marriage examples are what I provide a lot. For this particular point — whew. There is a former client of mine who cheated on her husband (among a lot of other things), her husband wanted to make things work anyway, she filed for divorce and then a few months later, she came to me about wanting to reconcile with him. We did over a year of counseling, they got married again and then, after a few years, she filed again (this chick). Her reason? She wasn't "happy" anymore. And as if that wasn't draining enough, a few weeks after the divorce, she came to her ex-husband talking about wanting to get married for the third time. Hmph. I'm pretty sure you can just about guess what her ex had to say about that.
Twice, this woman blew up her family (they've got kids). Yet because she's so addicted to "feeling happy", she didn't care. In fact, she's so self-consumed, immature and irresponsible that she allows her emotions to sway her like a kite on a windy day — whatever she thinks will make her happy at any given time, that's what she wants to do, regardless of how her choices will affect other people.
Self-aware and emotionally mature people know that sometimes, you've gotta do things that don't make you happy. How do I know? I mean, does going to work every day always make you happy? Does paying bills always make you happy? Does doing things for others when you'd rather focus on yourself always make you happy? No. That doesn't change the fact that they are still the right and responsible things to do. That doesn't change the fact that you know that you need to overlook your current feelings about what needs to be done, so that you can feel more content in the long run.
Oftentimes, happiness is so euphoric that it doesn't care about using foresight. That's why it's far more beneficial, in the long run, to allow healthy rather than happy to be your guide.
And this brings us to my next point.
4. “Healthy” Can Help You to Make Wiser Decisions
A part of the reason why I'm so passionate about this topic is because, I know that the moment when I started saying to myself, "Forget what makes me happy. What will make and then keep me healthy?", the quality of my life, overall, drastically began to improve. That's because, rather than looking for the people, places, things and ideas that solely brought me pleasure, I sought out what would help me to achieve being what healthy, by definition, does.
To be healthy is to be sound. To be healthy is to be mentally strong. To be healthy is to be energetic, stable and powerful. To be healthy is to have a full life.
Now just think about it. If all you're looking for is what can bring you pleasure (one definition of that is "frivolous entertainment", by the way), can you see how that could result in you ultimately making all sorts of impulsive and/or reckless decisions? On the other hand, when you're out to do what makes your mind, body and spirit healthy, can you see how that can totally shift your energy and focus? By doing what makes you healthy, that can bring you so much more than temporary happiness; it can cultivate lasting joy. Next point.
5. “Healthy” Typically Lasts Longer
Interestingly enough, one definition of happiness is contentment. To me, I think this is the spiritual approach to the word because you've got to be in a pretty good space, spiritually, to even understand what it means to be content and how to embrace it as a total life goal. To be content is to be "satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else" — and geeze, how many people do you know who live like this?
For the record, being content isn't about being stagnant (check out "6 Questions To Ask Yourself To See If You're Stagnant (Or Not)"). Being content isn't about settling either. However, it does mean that you are not out here, refusing to take accountability for the choices and commitments that you've made — whether personally or professionally — just because you "feel" like it.
Contentment is about being "adult enough" to understand that always looking for immediate gratification or the next thing to tickle your fancy isn't the wisest way to move. Contentment reminds us all to think ahead and factor in as many outcomes as possible when it comes to the decisions that we make; it reminds us that it's not solely about what will make us feel good now but what will be the smartest thing to do that will last for the duration.
And when you approach things from this angle, you've got a far greater chance of your marriage, your relationships, your money, your health…I could go on and on, being in a solid and stable state for years to come. One more point.
6. There’s Growth in Being Happy About Getting Healthy
While in an interview not too long ago, someone asked me what I thought a sign of true internal evolution is. My reply was, "When you can learn to want what you need, you have truly evolved." Something about children is they couldn't care less about wanting their needs. In fact, it's almost like they see their needs as their nemesis. Teenagers are quite similar because they think they are so "grown" that they know what is best for them and oftentimes, whatever that is, it still falls into the "want" category.
However, when you've really become an adult — and by that, I mean more mature not just older — you really do start to take note of what is the right thing for your overall health and well-being. And, whatever THAT is, it is what you start getting "happy" about…because you know that it will be as good for you as it has the potential to be good to you (check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?").
I already know. This was a "big girl panties" kind of piece. Yet I can guarantee that if you start shifting your focus from happy to healthy, you really will make smarter choices which can help you to become full of lasting joy in the long run. Maybe not immediately but definitely eventually — and that's a good thing. For you. Literally.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This was first evident more than a decade ago when she quit her job as the corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company during a Periscope livestream. “I’m not sure if there’s an alignment of [our] future trajectory. I’m going to work for myself. I'm promoting myself to work for myself,” she said at the time before flashing a smile at the viewing audience. As she resigned on camera, a constant stream of encouraging messages floated upwards on the screen.
By 2021, she’d fashioned her work as a corporate consultant and her personal life with her husband and three adopted daughters into a reality show, She’s The Boss, for USA Network. This year, she released the New York Times bestselling memoir Nothing Is Missing, written as she was in the process of getting a divorce and dealing with her eldest daughter’s struggles with substance use.
Convinced that there’s no way the 39-year-old has achieved all of this without intentional strategic planning, I asked her about it when we spoke less than a week before Christmas. I’d seen videos on social media of her working on 2024 planning for other brands, and I wanted to know what that looked like following her own year of success.
She listed a number of goals, including ensuring that the projects she takes on in the new year align with her identity “as a Black woman, as an African woman, as a mother, as someone who has lived a [rebuilding] season and is now trying to live boldly and entirely as themselves.” But, I was shocked by how much of her business planning also prioritized rest.
Despite the bestselling book, a self-titled podcast, and working with numerous corporations, Walters said she’s been taking Fridays off. This year, she doesn’t want to work on Mondays, either.
“A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement,” she said, noting that she’ll check in with herself around March to see how successful this plan has been. The goal, Walters said, is to only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays by sometime in 2025. “It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to have happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change.”
"A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement... It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change."
Walters said the decision to progressively work less was partially in response to her previously held notions about her career, especially as an entrepreneur. “When I first started, I thought burnout was a part of it,” she said. “What I didn’t realize is that even if you’re able to bounce out of burnout or get back to it, there’s a cumulative impact on your body. If you think of your body as a tree and every time you go through burnout, you are taking a hack out of your trunk, yes, that trunk will heal over, and the tree will continue to grow, but it doesn't mean that you don’t have a weakened stem.”
But, the desire for increased rest was also in response to the major shifts that occurred three years ago when she was experiencing major changes in her family and realized her metaphorical tree was “bending all the way over.”
“One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity,” she added. “That is some language that I think is just now starting to really get unpacked.” In recent years, there’s been an increased awareness of achieving balance in life, with Tricia Hersey’s “The Nap Ministry” gaining attention based on the idea that rest, especially for Black women, is a form of resistance. Even online phrases such as “soft life” and “quiet quitting” have hinted at a cultural shift in prioritizing leisure over professional ambition.
"One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity."
If companies are lining up to consult with Walters about their brands and products, then women have been looking to her for guidance on starting over since she invited them to livestream her resignation 12 years ago. As viewers continue to demand more from content creators in the form of intimate, personal details, Walters has navigated her personal brand with a sense of transparency without oversharing the vulnerable details about her life, especially when it comes to her family.
The entrepreneur said she’d been approached to write a book for several years and was initially convinced she was finally ready to write one about business. “I started to do that, and then I went through my divorce. When that happened, I said, why would I write a book telling people to get the life that I have when I’m not sure about the life that I have,” she said.
Instead, she decided to write Nothing Is Missing and provide a closer look at her life, starting with being born to immigrant Ghanaian parents (“You need to know my childhood to know why I’m passionate about entrepreneurship.”) through the adoption of her three daughters and eventual divorce. Despite her desire to share, however, she said she felt protective of the privacy of her family, including her ex-husband.
When discussing this with me, Walters said she was reminded of a lesson she learned from actress Kerry Washington, who released her own memoir, Thicker Than Water, just a week before Walters’ book release. Washington’s memoir grapples with family secrets, too, specifically the fact that she was conceived using a sperm donor and didn’t learn about it until she was already a successful TV star. While Washington reflects on how the decision and subsequent deception impacted her, she’s also careful to hold space for her parents’ experiences, too. “A lot of things she said was that she had to recognize where she was the supporting character and where she was the main character,” Walter said.
This is something Walter worked to do in Nothing Is Missing when discussing her daughter’s struggles with addiction. “I was very intentional about making sure that I did not reveal more than what was required,” she said. “If I say something about someone’s addiction, I don’t need to go into the list of the substances they used, how they used them, what I found. [I don’t need to] walk into a room and paint a picture of what it looked like for people to understand.”
Walters said some of the most vulnerable moments in the book barely made a ripple once it was released. She was extremely nervous to write about getting an abortion, she said. But no one has asked her about this in the months since the book was released. Instead, people have been more interested in quirkier revelations, such as the fact that she once appeared on Wheel of Fortune.
“I have bared my soul about this thing I went through in my youth that has changed me for people, and people are like, ‘So how heavy was the wheel when you spun it?’” she said, chuckling. “It just goes to show that people never worry about the thing that you worry about.”
With the success of Nothing Is Missing, Walters said she still isn’t planning to release a business book at the moment. But, as she navigates parenting a teenager and two adult children while also navigating a relationship with her new fiancé, Walters said she believes she has at least one or two more books to write about her personal journey. “There is sort of an arc of where my life has gone that I know I’ve got something more to say about this that I think is important, relevant and necessary,” she said.
In just three years, Walters’ life has undergone a major transformation. There’s no telling what the next three years will have in store for her, but it seems likely she’ll retain an inspired audience wherever life takes her.
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In the ever-evolving world of music, Black women are owning the scene and rewriting the rules. From soulful beats to empowering lyrics, these artists are not just making hits; they're also dropping gems on their self-care practices and career game-changing moments. In this exclusive feature, we delve into the worlds of four remarkable talents—Victoria Monét, Coco Jones, Flo Milli, and Maiya the Don—who have not only risen to prominence but are also setting new standards in their respective genres.
The music industry has witnessed a renaissance with the emergence of these gifted artists, each contributing a unique sound and perspective. Victoria Monét, celebrated for her soulful R&B creations, has captivated audiences with her enchanting vocals and lyrical prowess. Meanwhile, Coco Jones has seamlessly transitioned from Disney star to a formidable force in the music scene, demonstrating her versatility and commanding presence. Flo Milli brings a fresh sound to rap with a distinct sound and flow, while Maiya the Don stands out with her catchy lyrics and unapologetic confidence.
These talented women have not only achieved success in their respective genres but have also become advocates for self-care and champions of important career lessons. As we explore their journeys, we uncover the secrets behind their self-care routines and the invaluable lessons they've learned along the way.
My admiration for Victoria Monét's artistry began in 2019 when her single "Ass Like That" captured my heart. Fast forward to 2021, "Coastin" marked a pivotal moment, earning her a spot on the 2022 BET Awards pre-show. Attending the FLO concert in April 2023, in Atlanta, I witnessed Victoria Monét's heartwarming support for emerging talents as she presented flowers to the UK-based girl group.
June 2023 saw the release of "On My Mama," solidifying Victoria Monét's industry presence, and is still climbing the charts peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In a recent interview, she shared the personal journey behind the song, written during her struggle with postpartum depression in 2021. Notably, her daughter Hazel Monét, at just two years old, is the youngest Grammy nominee in history for her vocals on "Hollywood" from Victoria's album Jaguar II.
With seven Grammy nominations at this year’s awards, Victoria stands as the second-highest nominee, trailing only behind SZA. As the anticipation builds for the 2024 Grammy Awards, it's evident that Victoria’s exceptional contributions to music will take center stage, adding another layer to my journey as a fan.
When asked about the biggest lesson in her career, Victoria shared insights into her longevity in the business.
“I feel like the recurring theme is just being consistent. Keeping at it because, in this industry, nothing is overnight. It's the consistency and motivation to keep going. Striving to be the best and see yourself where you want to be,” she exclusively told xoNecole.
From her infectious smile gracing Disney Channel screens to her recent captivating portrayal of Hilary Banks in the reimagined Bel-Air series on Peacock, Coco Jones has undergone a remarkable journey since her early days in the spotlight. Witnessing her evolution, especially for those who grew up watching her on the small screen, has been exhilarating. Now armed with a Grammy nomination and a soul-stirring EP titled What I Didn't Tell You, released on November 4, 2022, Coco Jones has transcended being just a familiar face to become a formidable force in the entertainment industry.
The narrative of Coco's transition from Disney Channel darling to a versatile artist making waves in Hollywood embodies her resilience and talent. Fans and critics eagerly await the next chapter in her career as she seamlessly navigates between roles and mediums. Let's not overlook the impact of her hit single "ICU," a game-changer that secured her a well-deserved spot on the Billboard charts, peaking at an impressive #62. This not only marked a significant milestone in Coco's career but also highlighted her undeniable talent and versatility as an artist.
When we asked her about the biggest lesson in her career, Coco had this to say about her multi-talented career journey.
“The biggest lesson that I've learned is that sometimes things aren't gonna make sense, but you still have to go through the confusion to get to the end result,” she said. “And then hopefully things add up, and even if they don't, you learn something about yourself, so just keep going through it.”
The first bar that made me fall in love with rising star Flo Milli was “Dicks up when I step in the party.” Her distinct flow on beats speaks volumes about her artistry, bringing a unique dimension to each composition, whether it's navigating bass-heavy tracks or exploring more melodic tones.
A pivotal moment in Flo Milli's career was the collaboration with Baby Tate on the anthem "I Am," resonating with women everywhere. Its empowering message and infectious nature led to viral popularity on TikTok, turning it into a cultural phenomenon. During her first tour, You Still Here, Ho? Flo Milli's live performance transcended traditional hip-hop boundaries, offering a journey through beats and bars.
The added perk of a meet-and-greet package provided a personal connection, allowing fans to meet the artist behind the music. The culmination of my admiration for Flo Milli reached new heights during our interview at the 2023 BET Hip Hop Awards, solidifying her enduring impact on the modern female hip-hop scene.
We asked her about how she prioritizes her self-care in the midst of her “Thanks For Coming Here, Ho” tour and preparing for her highly anticipated upcoming album, Fine Ho, Stay.
“I make sure I get massages every two weeks. I always make sure I keep facial appointments. Of course, you gotta keep up with yourself, but also prioritizing time to have fun,” she explained. “I was working crazy straight for years, and I was like, ‘Damn, before you know it, I’m not gonna be young anymore.’ It’s very important to prioritize being happy in life and making sure you're doing what makes you happy.”
Maiya the Don
In the heart of Brooklyn, where vibrant energy meets artistic innovation, Maiya the Don has emerged as a musical force. Her rising star status gained momentum with the TikTok sensation "Tefly," captivating global audiences and showcasing the unique blend of style and sound that reflects her proud Brooklyn identity.
"Tefly" not only introduced us to Maiya the Don's undeniable talent but marked the beginning of a remarkable musical journey, leaving an indelible mark with her distinct voice and genre-defying approach. Building on the success of this viral hit, subsequent singles like "Dusties" and "Keep it Cute" showcased Maiya's versatility, solidifying her breakout star status and reflecting the rich cultural tapestry of Brooklyn.
We asked her about how she prioritizes her self-care in the midst of going on tour with Flo Milli and dropping her first EP, Hot Commodity.
“One thing about me, I'm going to get my lashes done, hair done, nails done. I love to be pretty. That's very important to me,” she said. “I always tell my team they don’t get paid if I'm not there. So you have to let me take care of myself and then we'll tend to the other things because if not, then you don't get a check.”
As we navigate the diverse and dynamic landscape of Black women in music, the stories of Victoria Monét, Coco Jones, Flo Milli, and Maiya the Don serve as powerful testaments to their resilience, creativity, and undeniable impact. From enchanting melodies to fearless rap verses, each artist brings a unique flavor to the industry, contributing to the ever-evolving narrative of Black excellence in music.
In celebrating their journeys, we not only recognize their individual accomplishments but also honor the collective strength of Black women shaping the future of music. Through triumphs, challenges, and moments of unapologetic self-expression, these artists inspire a new generation, reminding us that the power of their voices extends far beyond the notes and beats—they echo the vibrant stories of empowerment, authenticity, and the unwavering determination to break barriers and redefine the standard. As we bid farewell to this musical journey, let their voices reverberate, creating a harmonious resonance that amplifies the essence of Black women in the rhythm of the industry.
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Feature image by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy