Joy in January: Tara Flynn on why it's a "bloody brilliant world"
When we were asking around about who comes to mind as a happy person, for our series 'Joy in January', Tara Flynn's name kept coming up. People associate her smiley self with fun – so we spoke with Tara about happiness, Irishness and how to be joyful.
Asked to describe herself, Tara Flynn offers up "actor, writer and storyteller. Or to sum up, mass of nerves and energy doing her best."
Tara is currently working on a series of writing projects while also producing her podcast Taranoia, which she describes as a podcast "about battling my own special brand of fears and insecurities to get shit done."
It might sound a little serious, but previous episodes included Tara improv rapping along with performer Kate McGrew, and an unforgettable live episode where Tara read a bit of "Irish porn" to much audience hilarity. By virtue of the host alone, every episode contains a lot of laughs.
"I want funny people to be allowed to be serious if they want, or people who have serious jobs to get to show their funny sides. If someone's more well known, I ask them what they'd like to talk about that they never normally get to. If someone's not so well known, I let them say whatever they need an audience to hear. It can get surreal, but it's usually great fun."
Tara says she specifically avoids guests who are doing talkshow rounds, or who have something to sell.
"I'm tired of hearing people having to sum up an experience, or book, or project in a clinical, three-minute way. If they've suffered trauma, I want them to be able to talk about that if they want to, or skim past it if that's what they need."
Humour is an important aspect to her podcasts, even those about heavy subjects. Tara says this is deliberate: "Humour is humanising. It lets the listener hear that the person with the story is just that – a person – and not an issue."
The stories her podcast guests share reflects how Irish people marry resilience with creativity, Tara says.
"We're very good at getting on with things. Part of that is healthy, part of it is just masking and the crap always finds a way to bleed through the cracks. I wish that people – especially lads – could know that it's okay to feel rotten sometimes, that we all do, and that that will likely pass, though we might need a bit of help to find our way through it.
"Irish culture is great fun and I feel it's emerged as an antidote to some very dark stuff in our history. Coupled with a little more honesty about what's eating at us, I think that creative streak could be very powerful. Let's take that creativity to the streets, or at least come up with some excellent questions for our TDs ahead of the general election."
As to her own way towards joy, Tara stresses that happiness is different things to different people.
"Happiness is an even keel. I'm not sure there exists a problem-free utopia in this world of ours, so remaining balanced sounds like a great goal.
"But it's a bloody brilliant world. Eat some cake, scritch a pet, take a breath. I'm at my happiest when I know my loved ones are safe. Sofa time with dog, cat and husband? Bliss."
Tara admits that remaining positive can be a struggle, but she says she always tries to keep her "sunny side out" for work. Tara uses Instagram as a tool to keep perspective. "Days when I post a picture of my cat, or a smiley selfie, it's often a nudge to myself that things are okay, or at least could be worse."
Part of being happy is being able to acknowledge when you're not, she believes.
"It's important to honour sorrow or doubt or pain. Give it the space it needs. If you bury it, it only comes out one dark night and bites you in the ass. But I also feel like everyone's going through their own shite and, publicly, I only share what I feel will help someone else not feel alone."
When asked what are her happiness tips Tara says punching cushions works for her: "I have cushions on the sofa that are punched to within an inch of their lives!"
"I try to focus on the things that are going right, progress I have made (even if I feel it's not 'enough'). I start with my health and work along how lucky I am."
"One foot in front of the other, be sad if you need to, then one foot in front of the other again. And we're back to the cake-eating and pet-scritching. Start from there. I try to, anyway."
Find out more about Tara and her work here.