Be a Triangle

How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life into Shape

About the Book

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Be a Bawse comes an “insightful and charmingly funny” (Rupi Kaur) primer on learning to come home to your truest and happiest self.

“I love Lilly’s honest and helpful advice about achieving happiness.”—Mindy Kaling, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Why Not Me?

“It’s time to flip right side up. It’s time for this book title to make sense. It’s time to be a triangle.”

Everyone—even world-famous actress, author, and creator Lilly Singh—knows that sometimes life just sucks. In this book, Singh provides a safe space where readers can learn how to create a sense of peace within themselves. Without sugarcoating what it’s like to face adversity—including acknowledging her own intensely personal struggles with identity, success, and self-doubt—Singh teaches readers to “unsubscribe” from cookie-cutter ideals.

With her signature blend of vulnerability, insight, and humor, Singh instructs readers to “be a triangle,” creating a solid foundation for your life, one that can be built upon, but never fundamentally changed or destroyed. As she puts it, we must always find a way to come home to ourselves: “we must create a place, a system of beliefs, a simple set of priorities to come back to should life lead us astray, which it definitely will.”

Like a wise, empathetic friend who always keeps you honest, Singh pushes you to adjust your mindset and change your internal dialogue. The result is a deeply humane, entertaining, and uplifting guide to befriending yourself and becoming a true “miracle for the world.”
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Praise for Be a Triangle

“The pleasure of reading this book is learning that the Lilly you think you know—the joyous, hilarious entertainer—had a sometimes bumpy road getting there. I love her honest and helpful advice about achieving happiness.”—Mindy Kaling, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Why Not Me?

“Insightful and charmingly funny . . . I related to so many aspects of this book. It’s a lesson in accepting yourself as you are, while believing you have the unlimited potential to become whatever you want to be.”—Rupi Kaur, #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey

“In Be a Triangle, Lilly Singh gets vulnerable, revealing the obstacles and insecurities she had to overcome to find happiness and contentment, while also empowering readers to do the same. This book will change your life.”—Jay Shetty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day

“When Pinky Chachi has cornered you at the family party to pressure you into meeting her ‘cousin’s friend’s daughter’s brother’s nephew who is very handsome and started medical school two years back and drives a Mercedes, so you should connect with him and figure out what you want to do with your life before it’s too late,’ Lilly swoops in to save the day. ‘You know what, Pinky Chachi?!,’ she says. ‘It’s never too late for anything!’ Lilly is the wise older sister, and her book is a great guide on how to ignore the Pinky Chachis in our worlds without negativity or anger, and instead focus on building the lives we want and finding the happiness that’s possible.”—Kal Penn, author of You Can’t Be Serious
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Be a Triangle

Chapter 1

Let’s start with some Real Talk

This book has terrified me. I consider myself a hard worker, someone who puts my head down and focuses on the task in front of me. But while writing this book, I pushed deadlines, ignored calendar invites, and got really creative when it came to procrastinating. I reorganized my entire kitchen. I took out my label maker and labeled a package of Oreos with a label that said . . . ​“OREOS.” You know, to avoid any possible cookie confusion. I convinced myself that that was more productive than writing this book.

Why was this book so hard to write? It’s been a challenge because over the past year or two I haven’t felt like the successful, happy, energetic Lilly that everyone claims me to be. In 2020, the world quite literally collapsed, my physical and mental health deteriorated, and I have a new friend who just won’t leave, named Anxiety Singh.

I wanted to write an inspirational book. After all, I’m all about hustling, and I’ve already written a successful self-help book called How to Be a Bawse (this will be the only plug for my other book, I promise! . . . ​you should get it). I wear power suits, baby! I’m a smiley person who always seems highly caffeinated. I knew people were going to expect this book to be a literary energy drink. So, I sat down and tried writing pages filled with what I thought I was supposed to say: mantras, tips, tricks, love yourself, quote, quote, quote, *insert the word “energy” ten times here.* And every time I sat down to write, I got lost. Day after day I would sit at my computer and try to convince myself I had the answers for you and for me, but I simply didn’t. I wasn’t even the best version of myself and yet I was trying to get into Club Thrive like I belonged there. My life felt uninspiring and mundane.

And then a realization hit me like my mother’s slipper. Maybe this low point was actually the perfect place from which to write THIS book. You see, THIS book isn’t a book filled with ideas and thoughts I’m hoping will work. THIS book is filled with ideas and thoughts that are tried and tested by me and have worked. The only way to write this book was by going on the journey. And girl, was it quite the journey.

After all, it’s pretty whack for me to try to give you ideas about how to get your life into shape when I haven’t figured out how to do so myself. That would be a facade of wisdom that I generally like to reserve for Instagram, where it belongs. Catch me on the ’gram doing a staged yoga pose incorrectly any day! Plus, who wants to hear from a person who has it all figured out? Not me. I hate when I’m venting about something and someone replies with “Oh really? I don’t have those issues at all.” WTF, Raj? I’m not here confessing my negative feelings so that you can tell me you have positive ones all the time. I’d rather spill those feelings to Priya, who is also a hot mess, so we can try to work on ourselves together.

And that’s what this book is—a chance to work through negativity together. I’m your Priya.

Wait, no. I’m Lilly. MY NAME IS LILLY. *prints out label* *labels self Lilly Singh*

I’m doing it again . . .

Recently my life has felt kind of sucky. Within these pages, I’m hoping to figure out why. More important, I’m hoping to make a lasting change, for myself and for anyone else who needs it. And so, through meditations, reflections, tough love, sunny moments, deep conversations, and 200% honesty, I have gone on the journey and written this book. Tried and tested. There is nothing in these pages that has not deeply impacted my life for the better.

I sincerely hope it speaks to your soul.

I really need to Be a Triangle

As I sit here and think about how to make life less sucky, I find myself returning to elementary school.

Minus not being able to date a Backstreet Boy, things were simpler then. When I was faced with a problem, a teacher taught me how to solve it. I did homework that further developed my skills. I would be tested on those skills to ensure I thoroughly understood what I had learned. And if I continued to struggle, I would be given extra help. My teachers really wanted me to understand the Pythagorean theorem and damn it, they made it happen. We made it happen. I know triangles better than I know my best friend’s phone number (which I don’t know at all), and I’m patiently waiting to apply that valuable knowledge in my real life. Any minute now!

Even outside of academics, all my life I’ve applied my problem-solving skills to whatever task was in front of me. While shooting late-night television, my crew and I faced unexpected problems every single day. An email titled “Guest can no longer make it tonight” would cause multiple departments to go into problem-solving beast mode. The talent team would put out calls for a last-minute booking. The writers would start brainstorming extra jokes to make our existing segments longer. And I would go out and improv with the crowd to buy us time. Over and over again we solved the problem because we were trained to do so. We had the skills, knew what needed to be done, and wasted no time.

Why am I telling you this nonsense? Because throughout my life—whether academically or professionally—I’ve faced challenges that I’ve met head-on. In school or at work, I not only understood the obstacles that stood in my way, but knew what the goal was once I overcame them: good grades, a degree, a paycheck, or a promotion. Although not always easy, it was always very clear and clean.

Despite all the problem-solving skills I learned, there was one major thing that I wasn’t taught in school or the workplace: how to live a fulfilling life. This is not as clear and clean. In fact, I wasn’t even taught that life could and should be fulfilling! I was never taught the importance of self-love, positive self-talk, happiness, or personal growth.

Growth was always measured by a grade or salary, never by an increase in compassion or patience. Not once was I encouraged to have critical conversations about the person I was or the kind of life I desired. I dissected the pain and trauma of countless Shakespearean plays in class, but I never once analyzed my own loss and heartache. At home, things weren’t much different. My family was more concerned with teaching me how to clean my room than with helping me boost my self-esteem. And did an aunty ever compliment my self-awareness like she did my outfit? No way. Why would she? My immigrant family was never afforded those luxuries either. They left behind a familiar life in India and had to learn an entire new way of life in order to survive in Canada. Between working two jobs, raising kids, learning a new language and culture, and remembering to drive on the right side of the road, there was little time to focus on what was happening in their mind and heart. As a result, no one in my family ever sat me down and gave me the “mental health talk” because they’d never heard it themselves.

The lack of value placed on mental health, and all things associated with it, during my childhood has finally caught up to me. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that living a fulfilling and happy life is way more important than all of the things you learn in school, at the office, or anywhere else. We’ve been conditioned to believe that our skills, status, and salaries should be valued more than our happiness. Or even worse, we’ve convinced ourselves that these are the main things that should bring us happiness in the first place. But I don’t believe that’s true.

A lot of times when I talk about living a fulfilling life and prioritizing happiness, I meet resistance, especially from an older generation. Some people, my relatives included, would consider the decision to prioritize happiness a selfish one. I know this because whenever I write about my decision to do so in an Instagram caption, my mom comments, “must be nice fool *clown emoji*.” I’m kidding. My mom doesn’t know how to use the clown emoji, but the rest is true.

About the Author

Lilly Singh
LILLY SINGH is an author, actress, and creator. She has found worldwide fame through her comedic and inspirational content, amassing nearly forty million followers across her social media channels, alongside projects with NBC, Netflix, and other major Hollywood studios via her production company, Unicorn Island Productions. Singh has started her own book club, Lilly's Library, to celebrate South Asian stories, and is also a judge on the upcoming 2022 series of Canada's Got Talent.
Between 2019 and 2021, Lilly hosted the NBC late-night talk show A Little Late with Lilly Singh. She has appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, People, Elle Canada, Seventeen, Vogue India, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, among others. As a role model for women and girls around the globe, Singh created her #GirlLove initiative to break the cycle of girl-on-girl hate and fight for gender equality. More by Lilly Singh
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