Girl, Wash Your Face Lie 1: Your Happiness Isn’t on You

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know more about Girl, Wash Your Face Lie 1? Do you want to know how to make your own happiness?

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis outlines the 20 lies we tell ourselves and how to overcome them. Lie 1 is believing that something else will make you happy. However, you can’t blame your unhappiness on where you live, how you look, or any other perceived flaws in your life. If you are unhappy, it’s on you.

Keep reading to learn more about lie 1 and how you can make your own happiness.

Lie 1: Outside Factors Are Making Me Unhappy

From the outside, other people’s lives can look perfect — home, children, jobs, relationships, looks. This can make you feel like a failure — you’re just not measuring up. Lie 1: You can’t be happy if you feel like a failure. 

The reality is, we’re all falling short. Even people who look like they have it all together have their own struggles. Rachel Hollis is a lifestyle blogger married to a successful executive (this book was published prior to their divorce). His job means she gets to attend the Oscars in glamorous gowns. Her job means she’s often surrounded by images of home-life perfection. She makes a living telling other women how to make their lives better, advising them on workouts, skin care, cooking and parenting.

Though her life might appear perfect, she wants women to know the truth: she’s falling short every day. She’s not a perfect wife, mother, friend, boss or Christian. She struggles in life and fails repeatedly. Though life isn’t perfect, she doesn’t let setbacks deter her and steal her happiness. Her goal is to be a better version of herself every day; she knows she can try again tomorrow if she falls short.

If You’re Unhappy, It’s on You

Society puts enormous pressure on women to look, act, speak and parent perfectly. Sometimes it’s too much pressure and women stop trying entirely. But giving up on a joyful life is a waste. Life is meant to be lived, not just survived. 

If you are unhappy, it’s on you. You are responsible for your life and your happiness.

You can’t blame your unhappiness on where you live, how you look, or any other perceived flaws in your life. Unhappiness is a sense of discontent, frustration and anger that makes us want to “hide from our lives” instead of embracing our life. (Caveat: Unhappiness is not to be confused with depression or true sadness, which must be felt, processed and treated.)

Life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be happy. Hollis’s life is imperfect, yet she has learned to overcome lie 1 and be happy. She explains how she claimed a happy life despite her struggles. Her childhood, growing up in a chaotic home with anger and violence, was traumatic. Worst of all, her brother committed suicide when she was 14. She came to the realization that if she wanted a better life than the one she was born into, she’d have to create it herself. 

But she learned that changing your circumstances doesn’t change who you are inside.

She thought getting out of her home situation would allow her to be happy, so she graduated high school early and moved from a small town to Los Angeles. But changing your geography doesn’t change who you are inside. Your surroundings don’t create your happiness; it has to come from within you.

Lie 1 lesson: Choose to be happy, grateful and fulfilled every single day. When you choose to enjoy your life, it doesn’t matter where you are, you’ll still be happy. It doesn’t matter what negativity you face. It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s who you are.

Tips on Choosing Happiness

When you’re learning to overcome lie 1 and make your own happiness, try these strategies:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. This includes not comparing yourself with what you thought you’d be.You only have to be better than the person you were yesterday.
  • Surround yourself with positive people and a positive environment. You become who you surround yourself with. In a slump? Look around at who and what you see every day.
  • Find what makes you happy, and do it. Intentionally choose that which brings you joy and feeds your spirit.
Girl, Wash Your Face Lie 1: Your Happiness Isn’t on You

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rachel Hollis's "Girl, Wash Your Face" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Girl, Wash Your Face summary:

  • Why you should accept that life can be messy
  • How seeing that you're in control of your life can help you live more joyfully
  • The 20 lies you might be telling yourself

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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