Meet the author of happylifeu.com, Susan McMillin and discover her insights into the world of happiness. In this one of a kind interview, Susan shares her definition of happiness and how you can discover your own definition of happiness. She also shares the importance of gratitude with us and a little about herself along the way. Happy reading.
Q) Hi Susan, Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. I would like to start this interview by asking what the motivation was for starting your website happylifeu.com? What is it the drives you to spread the word of happiness?
A) When I am not writing about happiness, I make my living as a project manager specializing in computer security projects. I started Happy Life University as a self-training project in web design. The training material said to pick a subject I was really passionate about and could write about daily, and what better than how to be happy?
I do believe in happiness as a way to a better world. Happy people don't just feel good, they reach out and do good work that they enjoy and that helps others. Happy people are creative and peaceful. I have seen how I am at my best when I am happiest and I want to help as many people as possible be happier too.
The more I write and hear from readers, the more motivated I am to continue to spread the message that we can all learn to be happier. The first time I got email on the site from a young man in Afghanistan looking for ways to be happier, I knew I would be doing the site for a long time.
Q) I read your page about the definition of happiness where you give 7 definitions from 7 different sources, but what I would like to know is what is your definition of happiness and do you have any advice for our readers to discover there own definition of happiness?
A) Happiness is a feeling, a way of thinking, a value system, a way of life, and a force of nature. It is hard to describe just one way, because all the different definitions are true.
My favorite definition is the definition of happiness as luck. For me, it describes the benefits and the feeling the best. When I am happy, I am confident enough to take risks- like the risk of learning something new, or loving someone and risking my heart. Life's a gamble and happiness doesn't protect you from the bad stuff, but it sure makes recovery easier.
Happiness is a little different for everyone. When it comes to finding your own definition of happiness, I love the analogy of the butterfly drying her wings. A butterfly's wings are covered in nerves. She senses the sun and the breeze and makes thousands of constant tiny adjustments until she can feel that her wings are in the optimal position. We all make thousands of tiny adjustments in our daily thoughts and actions and we tune in to what feels happiest to us. Focus on that- being as happy as you can where you are.
Q) I was very pleased to see a section on your website dedicated to an attitude of gratitude as I believe that being grateful is one of the most powerful tools to living a more positive, happy and productive life. Can you share with my readers some techniques you use to incorporate gratitude into your life?
A) Certainly. Science has shown that gratitude is indeed a powerful emotion when it comes to building a happy life. Just 5 minutes a day of writing in a gratitude journal for a week can have a positive benefit a month later.
Personally, I am a big fan of the Glad Game from the book Pollyanna. When I start to feel disappointed or notice my thoughts getting negative, I consciously choose to find something in the situation to be glad about. I am often amazed how many really good things I find.
Many pessimists think calling someone a Pollyanna is a negative thing, but it you look at the original book, Pollyanna used the glad game to cope with the loss of her parents and being sent to live with a stern and distant aunt. She used it to successfully cheer up an entire town and get them working together as a community, and after a serious injury, she used to help herself recover. The glad game helped her pop up no matter what life dealt her.
When I am going through a particularly down period, I spend 5 minutes every morning making my good things list, or a gratitude journal, in addition to the glad game throughout the day.
I also like to use holidays as special occasions for counting our blessings, particularly our blessings related to the spirit of that holiday.
Q) I was moved by your "thank a veteran page", as I once served in the United States Military and I have to say to those reading this right now, saying thank you to a person in uniform is one of the greatest gifts you can give them and as a civilian no longer in the military it is a gift to see another, thank a veteran. Can I ask you what inspired you to include this on your website? Why was this subject so important to you?
A) I originally wrote this page in honor of Veteran's Day.
I too have family and friends who are veterans and I am deeply grateful for work they do and the sacrifice they make on our behalf. I am proud of the work our veterans do to keep the peace and improve lives around the world. I believe that actions speak louder than words and I was searching for good actions I could take to demonstrate my gratitude.
I wanted to share these actions because sometimes the thing that keeps us from saying thank you is that we don't know how. The gift of a life of service is so monumental, ordinary words don't seem to be enough and many people are shy about going up to strangers in uniform and saying thanks.
We now know that one of the aspects of a lastingly happy life is attention to the universal virtues like dedication to a cause, courage, wise action, gratitude, and helping others. Human beings have been using holidays for this purpose since the beginning of recorded time. I think we are all happier when we allow this ancient wisdom into our lives and keep the holidays holy by taking action to further the virtue and value behind the holiday.
Q) One question I always like to ask is, is there one book that started you on your journey? Is there one book that stands out ? One book that made you sit up and take notice? I ask this because I have found in most cases, the people in this industry were first moved to action by a great author and I like to share those writings with my guests.
A) The first book on how to be happy was a little book called BS (Beat Stress) and Live Longer by Dr. Jim Keelan. I read that book in my late teens at a very low point in my life. I was on my own, with very little money after leaving my job and the love of my life who was fooling around with someone else. I learned that I could control my own attitude and bounce back from the pain of what felt like failure and turned out to be the starting point of a great adventure. I heard Dr. Keelan speak a couple of years ago, right after I started the Happy Life University site. He had just finished a book called, How to Keep Your Sanity in an Upside Down World, and he was as engaging and motivating as the first time I read his work.
The other book that has been very influential to me is Authentic Happiness, by Martin Seligman. I love this book because it summarize the research in the field of positive psychology, tells you the history of the field from the point of view of one of the founding fathers, tells you how to build happy life skills, and is inspiring and motivating all rolled into one book.
Q) Your entire website, happylifeu.com is focused on finding your happiness. Can you share with my readers one tip you use to create happiness in your own life?
A) Practicing happy life skills is like going up a spiral staircase. The more we practice, the happier we get no matter what our circumstances, the more motivated we are to practice more.
I practice happiness everyday.
Happiness is also contagious. Happy people are the best they can be and reach out to others to make this the best world it can be. Your increased happiness ripples out to the whole world making it easier for others to choose happiness too.
Q) Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us. I know my readers will be very eager to read what you have to share. Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers? Any last words of wisdom or final tip.
A) Thank you Bonnidette for inviting me to do this interview. One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is:
Happiness is like bathing, You have to repeat it daily.
Your site, www.positivethinking-toolbox.com, provides lots of great inspiration and practical tips. Plus, your section to vote for other positive web sites helps bring all of us, those committed to growing a happier world, together. I know I'll be coming back often.
I'm so honored that you featured www.happylifeu.com on your site. We will be introducing free e-courses in happy life skills starting in June. I wish you all a happy life.
Thank you Susan, for taking the time to do this interview with me and for sharing yourself with my readers. You are a true inspiration to living a happy life.
To my readers, thank you for taking the time to get to know a little about Susan McMillin and her website
happylifeu.com. She knows a lot about the subject of happiness and I hope you have enjoyed her interview.