The Important Mental Health Lesson Poppy Jamie Learned From Writing Her New Book
The new author discusses her journey.
You may think that having an app and a podcast would be enough for mental health activist and entrepreneur Poppy Jamie, especially since they both reach people around the world with their expert-backed guides, advice, and rituals. However, you’d be wrong. Because, as of June 8, Jamie’s forthcoming book, Happy Not Perfect, is joining her growing multi-channel “tool kit” as yet another way to bring science-led help to anyone dealing with mental health challenges.
It’s an endeavor that seems almost to exhausting to think about, let alone take on, especially if you’re at all familiar with Jamie’s career. Because the multi-hyphenate not only founded her lineup of platforms — she’s also a TV Host, breath work instructor, Reiki healer, wellness journalist, co-founder of accessories brand Pop & Suki, and Erno Laszlo’s Global Wellness Advisor, to boot. Yet in a way, it was actually the fatigue of her experience with perfectionism and drive to be the best in everything that gave her the idea for the premise of her app, podcast, and now soon-to-launch book in the first place.
“The words ‘happy not perfect’ came to me in the middle of the night, and it was almost like medicine for what I was going through,” Jamie tells TZR over Zoom. “I was a huge perfectionist. And I think often we refer to ourselves as perfectionists in a good way, when actually it just means we have a highly critical inner voice that's telling us we're not enough unless we're without error.” Thus, the idea of “happy not perfect” — or embracing ourselves as we are, flaws and all — was born as the complete antidote.
That idea coupled with the fact that Jamie spent much of her life learning about the mind — her mother is a psychotherapist and her father lived with chronic mental health issues, she explains — and the realization that no one was talking about mental health in 2015, is what led the founder to start the Happy Not Perfect app. The premise, says Jamie, was to “digitalize psychotherapeutic tools and turn looking after the mind into a game.” That also, of course, led to the Not Perfect podcast, in which Jamie speaks to experts around the world to bring listeners knowledge and advice through their research.
Still, it can be hard to see where a Happy Not Perfect book fits into the comprehensive mix — and why Jamie decided to take on the challenge in the first place. As she explains, much of it came down to the power of storytelling. “You can listen to a great story and suddenly have that ‘aha!’ moment when you are able to see yourself in that story and realize that somebody else found their way out of something, and so can you.”
In addition, she wanted to give readers an easy way to find every lesson and tool she’s learned over the years. “The greatest change that I've experienced is through learning, and that's what I hope I can really encourage other people to do: to say, if my mental health is challenging me, what can I learn for it to then change?”
Jamie also had a certain reader in mind when starting the book. “It was just for anyone who's going through uncertainty,” she explains. “Those moments in life when things aren't going your way, and you feel stuck. You read my story to begin with about how I had a really toxic inner critic. The thoughts I would entertain about myself were so horrible, and my external environment started confirming everything I believed inside and that unsurprisingly ended up in chronic anxiety and burnout. But yet life can change, and change does come from within.”
Though it’s obvious that Jamie had a clear purpose for her first book, she does explain that she still managed to be surprised at some of her learnings while writing it — proof that there’s always room to explore and grow when it comes to mental health.
“I kept being reminded of these great lessons that we need to always move forward with curiosity and compassion,” she says. “When we have self-compassion, we realize that we treat ourselves like our worst enemy. And when we ask ourselves questions like, ‘What would I advise a friend who's experiencing the things I am?’ we're able to actually tap into wisdom we hold inside. I think we live in a culture where everyone else has the answers, and what I really want to encourage people is that you have far more wisdom about your life than anyone else does. It's just a matter of unlocking it.”
Given the insightful lessons and knowledge such as this that Jamie has acquired over the years, you’d probably expect her to ascribe to some pretty complicated and in-depth self-care practices to keep herself and her mind healthy while juggling such a busy schedule. But in that regard, the author has one simple solution: sleep. “It doesn't matter what green juice you can drink or what fantastic new workout you can do,” she says. “Fundamentally, sleep is the greatest medicine for how we feel and how we think.”
While Jamie herself uses a sleep wind-down on the Happy Not Perfect app before massaging a mask into her skin to ensure she’s able to get enough Z’s, she says that any ritual that you look forward to can be helpful in calming your mind. “If it can be around helping you get a good night's sleep, it's going to not only improve your energy the next day, but also improve your ability to manage those mean thoughts, and let you live a happier, more fulfilled life.”
Jamie’s debut book, Happy Not Perfect, launches on June 8, and you can pre-order your copy now through the link ahead.
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