Here’s the Q &A, where Stephanie shares her thoughts on all things happiness and what’s next after retirement:
When did you realize that you needed to actually plan a happy life, most people seem to wait for it to happen to them?
After years of being a world-class people pleaser, I realized that by only putting importance on what others wanted, I was depriving myself of the happiness that I was so desperately seeking. In fact, I was so preoccupied with the opinions of others that I didn’t even know what made me happy. So, I started to figure it out and actively plan what I needed to do to create my version of a happy life.
Can you share your thoughts on why most people focus on the “when I have xyz.. then I will be happy” mindset? Is it more of a journey rather than a destination?
One of the biggest mistakes people make when pursuing happiness is believing the myth of “I will be happy when…” Happiness exists within you, where you are right now. It is found in gratitude, purpose, community, relationships, faith, optimism, acceptance and love. The noble pursuit of happiness, or a happy life begins AFTER you understand and embrace this. It becomes a journey that we are on for the rest of our lives. We continually walk down the path that sings to our soul and fulfills our purpose. If we embark on this journey without finding happiness within ourselves first, we may find success or relationships, but there will always be something missing like filling a bottomless glass. It will never fill you up. Trust me!
Do you think happiness goes through “seasons” or changes throughout life? If so, how has your perspective evolved since launching The Happy Planner?
Absolutely, Happiness looks and feels different to us as our lives change, and as we grow. I am a passionate advocate for “regular happiness check-ins”, both when you’re struggling and when you’re thriving. It’s a great way to ensure that you are following the path to a happy life. I don’t think my perspective has changed, bu the things that make me happy have changed in the five years since we released The Happy Planner. Change is a certainty of life. We must adapt and evolve to be fully present today.
Is there a “secret sauce” or balance to finding happiness?
I wish there were! My theory is basically this; the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And by that, I mean, sometimes a particular area of our life needs more time and attention than others, and that’s okay! Show yourself some grace and realize that you can’t do everything at one hundred percent, all the time. Imagine if you were caring for ten children at one time. On any given day, one of them will undoubtedly, need more attention than others. You instinctively tend to that child’s needs first and the continue to care for the other nine. Your time and attention are not evenly divided into tenths every day. Neither is it that way for the demands of your time today. So don’t be so hard on yourself when you can’t be the gold star standard at everything. You’re doing just fine!
Can you explain how the “Four P’s (purpose, planning, positivity and persistence) found in the book relate to happiness and are they all necessary?
The “Four P’s” is a formula I came up with based on the result of examining the times in my life when I was the happiest, and when I found the most success. There was a pattern in each of those circumstances. I had a clearly defined PURPOSE that I was working toward, a specific PLAN to carry out my purpose, a POSITIVE and optimistic attitude, and a PERSISTENCE that motivated me to get up each time I stumbled. It was a lightbulb moment! Of course, you can experience happiness and success without all four. However, in my experience, when PURPOSE, PLANNING, POSITIVITY and PERSISTENCE work together, the journey is more fulfilling and the joy, more meaningful.
What does the next chapter look like for you personally (now retired) and will there be more books coming?
Maybe! I thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing Plan A Happy Life. While I don’t have any immediate plans to do so, I would really love to write another book one day. Retirement, while a BIG change in my life, has been good for me. It’s relatively new, but I am enjoying this time to slow down and reevaluate what I want from this new chapter of my life.