Drop the positivity, skip the inspirational quotes and shake off the encouragement. Bachelor executive producer Elan Gale insists they’re all adding to your downfall.
“There’s just so much nonsense about how if you put stuff into the world you get it back,” he tells Us Weekly. “I know people who have been putting stuff into the world for 10 years and they are not getting anything back.”
Now, in his book You’re Not That Great (But Neither is Anyone Else), he makes a 180 and departs from typical self-help guides, suggesting improving life through negativity.
“We’ve been told we’re supposed to be happy all the time, so when we’re not, we get confused,” Gale, 34, explains. “We get scared, sad and feel like it’s unfair. But that’s part of being human. You’re not supposed to feel good all the time. That’s not how life works.”
He mentors Us with more.
Us Weekly: This book is a paradoxical concept. You’re not great but admitting to that will help you achieve greatness. What inspired that?
Elan Gale: Awhile ago, I started an Instagram account called Unspirational because I really felt like I needed an outlet where I could stop hearing nonsense. If you’re putting out what you want and you’re not getting it, why the f–k do you think continuing to do that is going to change things? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Us: Were you writing with entitled millennials in mind?
EG: Absolutely. If you have the time and money to spend thinking about self-care, you’re pretty privileged. You’re not just working your ass off to feed your family. I’m 34 and my whole life everyone is just like, ”Be happy! Life is meant to enjoy!” And that’s a really unfair way to feel about yourself. You feel sad because that’s part of life. It’s not because there’s anything wrong necessarily. Whether you believe in creation or accidents that led us to be here, we were designed to feel different emotions and not just pick the ones we want.
Us: What was your research and writing process like? Did you consult therapists or mental health experts?
EG: I consulted people I knew or people who I saw living cool lives. I realized a lot of the people who post inspirational quotes on Instagram don’t do anything else. They go to the beach, they do yoga and post inspirational quotes. And that’s cool. But I noticed none of the people I knew doing cool s–t — none of the directors, the people who are living the lives I want, the people who are creating shows, doing musical theater, writing for Jon Stewart or even astronauts — were doing that. I started talking to them about what emotions got them going. What I found was, yes, everyone feels joy and relief, but there wasn’t a single person I talked to who wasn’t like, “I had a lot of doubt” or ”I had rage.” I talked to a guy whose entire career was based on revenge. All he wanted was for people to feel bad for saying he couldn’t do it.
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So that was the research process, just talking to people who I knew were doing really cool things and then observing people who were not doing cool things. The writing process was really intense. I’ve been talking about this and writing about it in blogs for about five years. I had these 10 hour bursts of writing.
Us: Was it cathartic to get it all out there in one space?
EG: It was two things: cathartic because it just felt good to finally say all the words I wanted and put them in an order that made sense. But it was simultaneously unbelievably terrifying. Thinking thoughts is easy, but writing them down means you have to answer when somebody calls you out on it or asks you a question. Knowing this is permanent, I made sure I knew how I felt about things, If I have kids, they’re going to read it one day and be like, “Dad, why are you such a dick?”
Us: How do you recommend someone harness their fear, guilt or anxiety and use it as motivation?
EG: Figure out how to spend your time, what your passion is. When you feel angry or have fear, there’s a physical energy to it. Your arms shake, you get a little tight. When you feel that, rather than try to fix it, use the physical energy to achieve your goal. Those feelings will come and go, so rather than try to stop them, use it. I wanted to lose weight. I didn’t go jogging when I felt good. I went when I felt like s–t. And then I felt good.
Us: Who is the one person you want to sit down read this book?
EG: The President of the United States of America. I believe the best way to improve as a human is to know you may be wrong and to question yourself. I haven’t seen the president question himself too often. I genuinely would like him to be better because he’s the president. It’s not out of spite. It’s out of love. It would be in everyone’s best interest if the president did better, no matter who he was.
Us: What’s the one message you want readers to get out of this?
EG: Everything happens for no reason. There is no reason to anything. You decide what you want your life to mean and do your best to make it mean that. There is no plan for you. You’ve just got to make your own. You’re super f–king powerful.
Us: This book is about empowerment. But some critics say The Bachelor does the opposite. It pits women together and has them tear each other down as they chase after a man. Do you agree that the concept is dated?
EG: I still find it strange and totally novel. Honestly, I think that because of the way millennials and people our age date, it’s becoming more normal that anyone amazing you date has a wide variety of suitors. Male or female. As you go about trying to figure out who the right person is for you, you’re wading through a sea of options. It’s just a great visual manifestation of a problem that’s becoming more real as people have more options dating.
Us: How does current Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s journey fare in comparison to others? Is he ready for love?
EG: The cool thing about the show is that even though the show is always based on the same idea, every Bachelor and Bachelorette is different. I’ve always been a fan and a friend of Arie. He’s just a really great guy. He’s a little older and has his life together. He really felt personally ready to settle down and stop living whatever life people live when they’re 30. The idea of The Bachelor is to find someone, fall in love, get married and have kids. When someone is ready to do that, it can work really well.
Us: Favorite Bachelor memory?
EG: Sean [Lowe] and Catherine’s wedding! Watching their love story from the first moment until they got married and then later having kids — that’s what this is all really about.
You’re Not That Great (But Neither is Anyone Else) is on book shelves now.
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