Do you know your happiness history?
Have you ever had an opportunity to verbally explore what’s contributed to your happiness - what’s not?
These ten questions are an opportunity to do that.
Just as you did with the Happiness Quiz, it’s important to express how you really feel. It doesn’t do anyone any good to give a press release that tiptoes around the truth.
You might want to print this out and take it and a trusted friend or family member to lunch.
Agree to interview each other so each person has the luxury of going deep into their answers. This gives the interviewee an opportunity to immerse themselves in an uninterrupted stream-of-consciousness where they’re free to give thorough answers.
Some people are reluctant to talk for a “long time” if they’re not not sure the other person wants to hear the whole story. This is a chance to delve into this important topic with a supportive listener. (It can be their turn next time.)
Call that friend or family member right now to to schedule your Happiness Interview. This is a gift you’re giving each other.
Please note: your interviewer doesn’t have to be in the same city. You can do this virtually.
I know two sisters from the East and West Coast who interviewed each other by phone. They said it was one of the most meaningful conversations they’ve had in years. “No one knows me better than my sister. We realized that some of the things our parents did with the best of intentions really backfired. They never complained about what was wrong in their life. That was noble but my sister and I have taken that to an extreme by pretending things are okay even when they’re not. We’re going to change that from now on. ”
Okay, ready to begin? Ready, set, respond.
1. On a scale of 1 – 10, how happy are you overall right now? Why? Who and what is contributing to your happiness? Who and what is causing you to be unhappy? Explain.
2. What was your family like growing up? What was modeled for you? Were your parents happy together as a couple, as individuals? What did that teach you about marriage - about being a parent? Were you a happy kid? Why or why not? How about your siblings? Did you get along? How did your upbringing affect your perceptions of happiness? How does it continue to impact you now?
3. Fill in this sentence, “If it weren’t too late, I’d _________ (what? Travel more? Start my own business? Search for my soul mate? Write a book? Go back to college? Why do you believe it’s too late? Is that true?
4. Who is someone you know who is happy? What is it about them that makes you say that? Why do you think they are happy? Be specific.
5. “If I could, I would let go of ___________? Why are you keeping this in your life? What’s preventing you from releasing, quitting, getting rid of, cleaning or clearing that up?
6. Finish this sentence, “Money is ____” How would you describe your financial situation now? Do you have enough money now? How about when you retire? How much do you need/want? Do you ever worry about money? What role does money play in your ability to be happy?
7. Let’s talk about your body. Are you fit, vital, physically active, sick, in pain? On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with your health now? Do you have guilt, shame or anxiety around your body? How so? How are you beliefs and behaviors around your health impacting your quality of life?
8. Do you like your job? On a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled are you by your work? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? Are you in the right career, company, industry? What would you rather be doing? What role does work play in your happiness? Explain your answer.
9. Think about the people in your personal and professional life ad their impact on your happiness.
a. Professional life: Do you like, enjoy and respect who you work with, for and around? If so, how so? Who is someone in particular who supports you, mentors you, encourages you, stretches you? If you aren’t happy with the people you work with, for or around, who in particular is undermining your happiness.? What are they doing to bring you down?
b. Personal life: Do your significant others (family members, spouse, friends, neighbors) support your happiness? If so, how so? What is one person in particular who makes you happy? What is one specific way they do that? If the people around you aren’t supporting your happiness, what’s a specific example of how they’re blocking you, criticizing you, doubting you or otherwise causing you to be unhappy?
10. Have you ever had a calling, a dream or passion project? Something you felt you were born to do?If so, what was it? Did you pursue it? If so, how did that turn out for you? If not, why not?
What to Do AFTER Your Happiness Interview
“The life you’ve led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen
Many people tell me this Happiness Interview was an unexpectedly profound experience.
A Milennnial named Jack told me, “I never really thought about all the different moving parts of happiness. These questions helped me see that relationships, work, money, health, my upbringing, my dreams … all play a role in whether or not I’m happy. The question is, what do I do now?”
I smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked that. That’s what the Ten Life Hacks in the book are for. They provide a step-by-step process that can help you create the quality of life you want, need and deserve.”
He asked, “What are the Ten Life Hacks?”
LIFE HACK 1: EVALUATE Your Happiness History
LIFE HACK 2: GENERATE a Today, Not Someday Dream
LIFE HACK 3: ABDICATE Uutdated Beliefs and Behaviors
LIFE HACK 4: INITIATE Daily Actions that Move Your Life Forward
LIFE HACK 5: CELEBRATE What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now
LIFE HACK 6: AFFILIATE with People Who Have Your Back and Front
LIFE HACK 7: INTEGRATE Your Passion and Profession
LIFE HACK 8: NEGOTIATE for What You Want, Need and Deserve
LIFE HACK 9: INNOVATE a Fresh Start
LIFE HACK 10: RELOCATE to Greener Pastures
Each of the Life Hacks has its own section in the book with stories, exercises and action steps that can help you design your days so they’re more meaningful and purposeful. And as Annie Dillard said, “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.”
Once you’ve talked through the Happiness Interview, you might wonder like Jack did, “Now what?”
The prescriptive steps in the remaining chapters can help you figure out what you can do on a daily basis to make the rest of your life the best of your life.
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Sam Horn, CEO of The INTRIGUE AGENCY, is the author of POP! , Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? which have been featured in New York Timess, on NPR, and presented to National Geographic, NASA, Intel, Cisco, ASAE. this is excerpted from SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week which was endorsed by Sheri Salata (former Exec. Producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show) who calls Sam “one of the most bright lights and most accessible wisdom-sharers in our culture today.”