What Makes You Happy?

Katherine Liu interviewed me for a zine she kickstarted and published this spring.

She asked me:

What makes you happy? 

Here was my in the moment, on the record, lightly edited answer:

I think I’m always surprised when I’m happy. It’s when all the stress and all of the worry and all of the regret fall away, and that’s what I think makes happiness such a wonderful quality of life.

I just got back from three weeks in India for a religious pilgrimage—India is an interesting country, and it’s a complicated country. But even with all the challenging parts of the trip, there were some beautifully serene moments of happiness. It was when all that other stuff fell away. It was slowly walking around one of the temples, being there with 6,000 Tibetan monks who were chanting all day long. There was a surreal moment of ‘There is nothing else but this’, that these people were doing something similar to what I do.

I guess that’s how I’ve come to think a lot about happiness lately. I think I try to move things in a forward direction, but what I really try to do is get rid of the other stuff—the things that stress me out. I think most people think that happiness is joy. That’s a different emotion. Joy is that ultimate high— like, “Oh, my son’s going to be graduating in three months for eighth grade.” That moment that he goes across the stage, that’s a joy moment. But I think happiness has the potential of always being there, if you let it.

And it happens in such unexpected ways—it happens every day. I have three kids, and every day it’s something they say, or some joke that they tell, and you just think—wow, that’s really smart. It clears everything else out of the way, and you’re just in that moment with them.


I am working on project about happiness, positive psychology, and ways to bring them into your life. You can subscribe for updates here.

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