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How Are You, Really? Living Your Truth One Answer at a Time by Jenna Kutcher Book

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How Are You, Really? Living Your Truth One Answer at a Time by Jenna Kutcher Read Book Online And Download

Overview: Forget hustle harder. Forget a mandatory 5 a.m. wake-up. Forget outlining your life plan in six-month, one-year, and five-year spans. We're living in a cultural shift as we reframe our perspectives around the purpose of work, what work/life balance really means, and how we want to spend our time on this planet. In her first book, Jenna Kutcher—entrepreneur, photographer, influencer, teacher, mom, and host of the wildly popular Goal Digger podcast—shares her philosophy on how to live a life that exists outside the tired cliché of "having it all." How Are You, Really? is about taking a moment to soak up the richness of our experiences and creating a life that makes room for more actual living.

When Jenna Kutcher was 23, she left her corporate job, bought a camera on Craigslist for $300, and started her own business as a wedding photographer. From that single investment in herself, she built a successful company, a thriving podcast, and a beautiful brand. But her driving force has never been about working harder/smarter/faster/better. What Jenna Kutcher embraces is the simple notion that we, women especially, crave lives of fulfillment.

How Are You, Really? Living Your Truth One Answer at a Time by Jenna Kutcher BookHow Are You, Really? Living Your Truth One Answer at a Time by Jenna Kutcher Book
How Are You, Really? Living Your Truth One Answer at a Time by Jenna Kutcher Book

How Are You, Really? Living Your Truth One Answer at a Time by Jenna Kutcher Book Read Online Chapter One

The Softer Question:

How to Feel Your Feelings

If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.


When’s the last time you took stock of your life? Like, full-on, full-sweep, forensic accounting–style inventory? A staring-contest-with-the-mirror kind of activity? I’m guessing if I asked you how often you take time out of your day to consider your feelings, your own preferences, your unique needs, and your deepest desires, you’d round way up, wouldn’t you? Kind of like I do at the dentist when my hygienist asks me how often I’m flossing. “Every night-ish?” I muffle. (As if they can’t tell.)

Hear me say this as gently as I possibly can. As of right now, this very moment, we’re done fudging the numbers. Today’s the day to wake ourselves up to two hard truths: (1) we’re def not flossing enough, and (2) we’re asleep for too much of our own lives.

As an online educator and advocate for female entrepreneurs, I hear from women all over the world who move through long bouts of the week where everything feels like it’s running on autopilot. Surprisingly, we’re fine. Good! Busy! The sun’s shining. The toddler didn’t come into our bed last night. The boss loved the pitch. The vacation is booked. The garden is planted. The jeans zip and button.

But in moments of quiet, we feel discontent, exhausted, frazzled, or even trapped. Something’s missing and we just can’t put our finger on it. We don’t know what it is. We’re equal parts overwhelmed and bored. Ambitious and feeling guilty about it. Overstimulated and lonely. We’re exhausted from dragging the mental load of it all to and from the car pool, the grocery store, the office, the gym, and back into bed at night.

We know something’s off, but we can’t put our finger on it. So we experiment with ways to make life “better.” We try morning pages, mushroom tea, and yoga. We join the Y. We buy (mostly) organic. We plan date nights. We quit our job, try a Dry January, sign up for a spin class. We take a parenting course. We hire a house cleaner.

We decide to declutter, minimize, and make do with less. We get a new meal plan and a new finance plan and a new floor plan. We create routines that stack up on top of each other like Jenga blocks, never pausing once to question whether or not we’re actually enjoying anything about the days we’re living.

Because if we did pause to ask ourselves the question How are you, really? we’d know that sometimes the answer would be this: we are not okay.

The way we are living is not sustainable for a human soul. Constantly covering up who we are just means we inevitably get buried. We are not okay anymore with just looking like we’re okay. We’re not okay with pretending to feel okay. We are not okay with holding on for one more day like Wilson Phillips told us to. We might not know exactly what to do next, we might not have all the right thoughts to piece together, but we can at least make out the words “not okay.”

I remember when I first started hearing that buzz. When I first realized I was not okay, too. I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want to pay attention. But from the very first moments of recognizing my own unsustainable life, I couldn’t unhear it.

Long before I launched a chart-topping podcast and carved myself a CEO position educating women around the world on business and marketing strategies, usually from the comfort of my own home, I was a ten-year-old middle child in Minnesota thinking about what most ten-year-old minds were focused on in the late nineties: windbreakers, homework that was actually on paper, and new Rollerblades. I was also a fifth grader with a knack for eavesdropping on late-night family convos. My parents called me “radar ears” for the way I could make out whispers and mumbles from across the room.

The grown-up world fascinated me to no end, and I couldn’t help but beg myself to stay awake just one more minute as I faux-napped on the family room sofa and tried my darndest to decode adult concepts like 401(k)s and varicose veins. From my perspective then and even now, I notice that most adults tend to speak like kids aren’t listening and don’t care what’s being said. I tend to think that’s simply incorrect.

It was one of these overheard “adult” conversations that changed the trajectory of my life—and the life of someone I loved. I tagged along with my mom to visit my cousin Mike, who lived alone as a quadriplegic. His choice to live independently required massive amounts of strength and ingenuity, and we were all in awe of how he was able to creatively adapt to an environment that presented so many challenges. At that visit, I learned that late nights were especially hard for him because if he was thirsty, he had to wait for a drink of water until morning when his aide arrived. After hearing him share that discomfort, I felt a tiny ping. A micro-call to action. A gut feeling.

That’s not okay! was my first thought.

Maybe I can help? was my second.

The very next day, while thinking about Mike, I dreamed up a prototype for what would become my state-of-the-art invention: the Handy Helper Sipper Upper. (Yep, you can 100 percent laugh.) I readjusted the butterfly clips in my hair, scribbled the idea on paper, and got to work. My parents didn’t laugh away my idea, and instead they fully supported my desire to help find a solution. My mom helped me find an IV stand, and I created a bladder for drinking water using an IV bag. My dad welded a connection to the stand that could reach a hospital bed. I asked my dental office if they could spare a few of those suction things they use to suck the spit out of your mouth. Within weeks, I rigged it all up and voilà, my cousin now had access to drinking water in the middle of the night.

Want to hear from more goal diggers whose dreams began by responding to a need in their own lives? Check out 


It was my first foray into this notion that making an impact can be as simple as recognizing and responding to an immediate need—yours or someone else’s. That a simple idea could potentially change a life (again, yours or someone else’s). The truth is the Handy Helper Sipper Upper earned me a showcase spot at Minnesota’s statewide Inventors Fair. And it gave my relative a more restful, comfortable night.

But here’s what I want you to take from this story: What might have happened if I hadn’t listened to that tiny ping in my mind? That quiet hunch? That feeling that pointed to a problem in my own small world—one I became aware of and one I wasn’t afraid to try to overcome? What if I’d explained it away, or distracted myself long enough to forget about it, or assumed someone else could solve it? What if I’d ignored it entirely?

It’s so easy to do; to talk ourselves out of what we feel, to disqualify ourselves as a part of the solution or to deny the issues that we see. How many times do we move throughout our day and ignore the first inkling of that’s not okay? How many times do we swallow down that feeling instead of following it up with an idea that could potentially help take the not okay and make it okay?

This response to talking ourselves out of our feelings is ingrained in most of us, from the very first moment we fall down on the playground and a loving caretaker wipes away our tears and tells us not to cry. While, yes, we can be grateful for every adult who carried us through childhood with what they perceived as good intentions embedded into our brains, we can also question whether or not we want to carry those same intentions with us in our own adulthood. Let’s face it. Most of us grew up from that playground and internalized some version of the same beat: Don’t overstep! Don’t ruffle feathers! Don’t make waves! Don’t! Be! Emotional! So, we swallow the hunch. We ignore our feelings. We put on a happy face. We smile, we nod, we carry on.

Here’s a feather worth ruffling: your perspective. Your noticings and your questions and your doubts. Your thoughts. Your longings. Your physiological responses to the good, the bad, the amazing, and the absolutely intolerable. Your feelings. And while feelings aren’t always facts, they 100 percent matter. They’re pulsating through your veins for a reason, and that reason is not just to keep you alive. It’s to keep you coming alive—again and again and again.

I’ll lean on the succinct words of clinical psychologist Dr. Lara Fielding: “The fact is our emotions serve an essential function in connecting us to what is truly important. Emotions signal a need . . . each one is informing us of what it is we value and hold dear.”1

And that’s precisely why so many of us are walking this planet as strangers to our own selves, not knowing who we are or what to do about it. We’ve numbed the feelings along the way and stopped asking ourselves the important questions: What do we value? What do we hold dear? What do we absolutely never want to do again? How are we, really? Hell, even if we know, we’re too busy smiling and nodding at the guy who just stole our damn parking spot.

And sometimes, we move through life not knowing who we are because we don’t even know how we actually feel. The world slings slogans around telling us how we should feel or encouraging us to ignore our feelings, not respect them. Mind over matter! No pain, no gain! Push it, push it real good! (Okay, that last one was Salt-N-Pepa, but you get me, right?)

We’re told to gloss over the hard parts. To laugh it off, to lighten up. Smile more! (Honestly, a marketing slogan that tells me to smile usually makes me want to do the opposite.) And we never pause to question the thing we’ve been told, like: Why does happiness have to be my default? Why do I have to shut up every emotion that might make others uncomfortable? Why can’t I scream from the rooftop: THAT’S NOT OKAY?!

Spoiler alert: because then . . . I might have to actually do something about it.

Our acknowledgment that there’s a problem opens us up to the fact we might need to step up as part of the fix. We often avoid even pausing to notice a problem because we’re afraid to sign ourselves up as that person with a solution, even when those solutions could change our own lives. Being part of a solution requires a lot from us—the added pressure and responsibility, the time investment, the risk of how people react. Let’s face it; it’s a lot easier to come up with the reasons why we can’t do something than it is to muster up the time/energy/brain power to try.

Problems and solutions aside, step into your feelings for a quick beat. How are you, really? Do you need to cry a big, messy cry? Do it. Do you need to come to terms with the fact that life doesn’t feel the way you thought it would? Do it. Do you need to admit that you’re not okay? Do it. Just as I encourage my toddler to feel her feelings, get quiet enough with yourself long enough to know whether or not you want to be quiet in the first place. Recognize that happiness should not and will not always be your final destination. Each feeling is teaching us something, telling us about who we are right now.

We can’t move forward if we don’t pause long enough to see where we are. We can’t process what’s hidden from us. We can’t learn to cope until we know what we’re really coping with.

The truth is, it is time. It’s time for us to get really honest with ourselves. It’s time for us to change our tune and put on a little Aretha. R-E-S-P-E-C-T those emotions, no matter how small. It’s time we pay attention. Notice. Feel the damn feeling. Sit with it. Listen to it. Receive it like a tiny text message, a little ping of info. Alert! Breaking news! Listen up! I mean, we all know what happens when we ignore our texts, amen?

When our normal way of living in this world is to abandon how we feel, we have to slowly course correct. We have to unlearn in order to relearn. Paying attention to how you’re really feeling isn’t an overnight transformation. It’s taken me years (and will take many more!) of practice to get honest enough with myself, my body, my limitations, my ambitions, and my human nature to not only feel my feelings, but to hear them. I know that sounds like a trite concept, so let me unpack what I mean.

Emotions are a compass that will point you straight to your path. Starting with that first foray at the Inventors Fair, nearly every venture I’ve ever attempted, every problem I’ve tried to solve, and every success I’ve ever reached has stemmed from this question: How does this feel? Read that carefully. The sentence wasn’t “How does this make me feel?” These questions may sound so similar, but that one small edit can dramatically transform how we answer them. When you take out the “make,” you’re asking a question with zero blame but full curiosity. It removes the chance for us to blame ourselves for our feelings. It’s the stripped-down version.

I haven’t always gotten this right. It’s our natural human inclination to rush right into the reasons we might be feeling a certain way. We might try to place the blame, slap on a solution, and call it a day. But this is one of those questions that’s worth slowing down for. How does this feel? How does my life feel? The space to answer those questions feels bigger, doesn’t it?

And when you get brave enough to ask yourself, you owe it to yourself to be patient enough to listen. Your first response might be like the first layer of an onion; you’ll have to peel away the layers to get to the most raw version of it. But it’s worth all the peeling it takes to be as wholehearted and honest as possible when asking this question, because of how truly potent the answer will be. (Yes, potent, like an onion.)

Asking myself How does this feel? has been the catalyst for every chance I’ve taken, every leap I’ve attempted, and every dream I’ve chased. How does this feel has sparked the beginning (and sometimes, the ending) of every story that has mattered to me, both the ones in my heart and the ones in this book. Moments like buying the $300 camera that pointed me toward the path of becoming a wedding photographer. Or sending me on a journey of launching marketing courses for women entrepreneurs. Or leading a team of ten brilliant women. Or hitting record on the first ever episode of what would become the number-one marketing podcast in the country, The Goal Digger podcast (originally produced from my car, no less).

Asking myself this question has gotten me out of bad friendships. It’s helped me pivot when the feelings I felt indicated I needed a change and it forced me to set real boundaries in my life. It taught me that I was capable of rest, and it showed me how to redefine success over and over again. This question reminded me that grief is not linear, that seasons change. Most of all, it taught me that my own voice was the only one who needed to answer that question, every time.

When I say How does this feel? oftentimes my brain can’t always knit words together that feel true, at least not right away. So, I give my brain a break and take a minute to check in with the rest of my body. What sensations are present? Are my shoulders tense? Am I holding my breath? Does my head feel hot, light? Is my gut swirly? Is my vision swimmy? That’s what I mean by the stripped-down version of this question. How do I actually, physiologically, feel?

Our bodies know. Every single time. So keep asking. And the kicker is? We often lean on our brain and write off our bodies as a part of the equation of self-awareness. But the truth is, we get to (and sometimes need to) feel the feelings before we can decide what to do with them. We call the shots. We can label our sweaty pits nervousness or excitement. We can categorize those goose bumps as fear or intuition or curiosity. We can feel our toes tingle and call the sensation good or bad or—my personal favorite—both/and/neither. It’s our choice, our answer—as long as we’re willing to be brave enough to ask it.

When was the last time you asked yourself how you truly feel, how you really are, and waited long enough for an honest response? I know it may be uncomfortable. I know we generally want to avoid getting still with ourselves, I know sometimes we’re afraid to face the answers, and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re avoiding this all together. I know it’s easier to numb the feelings with another glass of merlot, another scroll through Instagram, another Ted Lasso episode. (Okay, that last one might be definitely worth it, though.)

But here’s a thought. Maybe the most high-octane parts of our day—the ones we try to shove and swallow and smooth over—aren’t just the minor inconveniences, annoyances, or distractions we’ve been taught to bypass, to shoo away like a fly. That racing heart, the sweaty pits, the fight-or-flight reactions we experience day after day—small and large? They aren’t meant to be ignored. Maybe our THAT’S NOT OKAY! moments are trying to point us toward something new, something better, something truer, and maybe we are the ones defiantly standing in our own way without even realizing it.

When we go through life numbing our feelings, ignoring our longings, avoiding opportunities, and silencing our inner voice, we’re avoiding what it can feel like to truly come alive, to be awake to the entire experience. Just as life is meant to be lived, feelings are meant to be felt.

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