*Are you happy at the moment?
I’m very happy at this point in life. I’ve gotten away from the big city (Atlanta) to be back near my family in Charleston, South Carolina. My old connections are still here too and are helping me to grow and network more with like-minded people. Most important to me is the fact that I’ve finally settled in a bit.
Moving really stresses you out and bouncing from place to place can kill your routines. You may not equate “routine” with happiness but it’s hard to be happy when you can’t count on those recurring things that bring joy into your life. I used to be so inconsistent with how I felt a couple years back but I’m happier than I’ve ever been now and I’ve been consistently content for almost a full year now. My habits and scheduling really have made this past year the most amazing one to date.
*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
I’d tell myself to be more mindful… to enjoy the process and understand that for all the dark days there would be triumphant days that would make it all worth it. I’d let myself know that gratitude for the small things was the key to finding treasure in every single day.
I’d tell myself not to care as much about what others thought… to be defiant and do what I felt was right for me, not what was of expected. Last, I’d tell myself to accept the reality of a near death experience I’d face later in life but I wouldn’t mention the storm or jack-knifed trailer, just that I needed to come to terms with it quicker and come out stronger. Yes, I know that’d probably scare the crap out of 16 year old me but I wouldn’t trade that terrible moment for the man it let me become. That would be the last way I made sure to appreciate the everyday things, even if they look like struggles at the time.
*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
Communication and shared interests triumph “love” anyday. When I started viewing love as an emotional process I began to understand why a lot of relationships fail. I mean, we all have that one friend who’s treated terribly by their partner and they always say the say thing… “But I love him/her.” Well, I’m sorry but that isn’t enough. If someone is difficult to be with and you don’t have much in common, it’s not going to last..
You must embrace some rational thought when you approach your love life. This means looking at it from the outside looking in, as your friends or family would. Only then can you divorce yourself from those feelings of love that cloud your judgement. Those kinds of feelings can make anyone seem “perfect.”
*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
I’m looking to expand on my bestselling book with an app that would help couples that relocated to a new city. I get a lot of emails from women who want to follow through with certain practices that make them feel happier but struggle with the social aspects when they have yet to meet friends in a new location. I’m pumped about this because I know that having a social circle that you can depend upon is a major player when it comes to sustainable happiness. I’m shooting for May so wish me luck!
*What’s your secret to happiness?
Prioritizing positivity. I plan for pleasurable moments in my schedule so that I always make time for them. It’s so easy to get lost in the hustle of the day that you put off your favorite things. With my planning I make sure I never miss out on the things that make me feel fulfilled. My secret in happiness is to see my loved ones are being happy because of what I cook for them.
*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
Twice a week I get together with a group of friends for some simple fun. From going to an exciting concert hours away to playing trivia at the bar just down the road, having some time to enjoy with others is important. It helps you focus on life week by week instead of from one big vacation to the next. This is something I never budge on.
*What’s your biggest regret?
Not starting to take my happiness seriously sooner. In graduate school I realized there was a scientific way to go about finding sustainable happiness but the two just didn’t seem to go together. Science seemed so rigid and finite but happiness seemed so new age and flowy. But when I was able to put the academic literature into practice for myself and my clients it was my “A ha” moment. I was mad I had been missing out on it honestly.
*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
The kids I care for are learning that happiness really is a choice. When William (four) is grumpy in the morning for instance, I can ask why and he’ll list off a few bad things about the day so far. But when he does his gratitude journal his list will includes things like: breakfast was good, Callie (our cat) was nice, it’s sunny out, mom is being silly… Then I can just ask him if his day is really so bad and he usually says “no, I guess not.” Always heartwarming to hear him say that.
*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
I want to take more breaks from work to stretch. I’ve been reading about how sitting for so long can be bad for your health but I sit a lot as a writer.
*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
I’m most proud of helping a lot of other people find true, sustainable happiness. When someone reaches out to me to tell me their story and how a blog post or book I’ve written has helped them be a happier person I can’t help but feel amazing..
*When were you happiest?
My family reunion this past June. Seeing cousins and family I grew up with and meeting new additions was wonderful. We all met at a campground and it really was the definition of quality time together.
*What ten words best describe you?
Sarcastic, romantic, confident, spontaneous, happy, rational, talkative, assertive, kind, and generous.
James Emry is an expert on life satisfaction and author of the bestselling book “Positive-ly Uncertain: Learn How This Research Proven Guide Can Set Your Happiness On Autopilot.”
This past year, he founded The Best Practice Life a research-based newsletter and website dedicated to giving thoughtful people like you the proven tools to secure better relationships, make successful decisions, and gain freedom from unneeded worry. Get a pre-sale version of his latest book before publishing starts for FREE right here.