ScarJo on Simple Joys

Ask her what makes her happy, and she'll give you a list.
July 1, 2012

It’s fun to listen to because wistfulness creeps into her voice as she pulls from a pleasure catalog in her brain. By the time she finishes, however, an interesting formula for happiness emerges that anyone can apply to their lives.

“I love food,” she begins. “I love just going to a restaurant that I know will serve me a delicious meal. That makes me happy. I like to go hear live music in the city…. Making a batch of kettle corn and sitting on the couch in front of an old movie makes me happy…. Going to the gym doesn’t always make me happy [she laughs] but it always makes me feel better. Not happy going in, but happy coming out…. Taking a walk in New York City on a beautiful day makes me happy…. Letting the day sort of happen to me makes me happy.”

She immediately segues, however, into the false gods of happiness, the things she’s done, thinking that they will change not just her mood, but her situation: “I’ve gone on trips that I thought would make me happy, and they turned out to be disasters. It usually happens at a time when you’re feeling really lost and you try to do something about it. Like you get a haircut [again she laughs]. Even if you like it, after a few days… same old hair, same old mood.

“For me, the trap is I try to escape somewhere thinking that everything will be fine once I’m there. Then you’re sitting there on vacation completely miserable. With a new haircut. Everyone has their own version of that.”

If you analyze the difference between the things that truly make her happy and the stuff that hasn’t worked, voilà, you see the formula: Smiles come from the simple joys in life (food, live music, a walk in the city), versus failed attempts to escape yourself. The trick is to pause, hit refresh and move on.


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