Melanie-Notkin

Interview: Melanie Notkin.

One reason that this blog has brought me so much happiness is that blogging has widened my circle of friends so much. I met Melanie Notkin because we're both interested in using social media to engage with readers, and I'm very excited for her this week -- her first book just hit the shelves, Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids. In it, she shines a light on relationships that bring a tremendous amount of love and happiness -- the bond among "aunties" and their nieces, nephews, god-children, etc.

I knew Melanie has done a lot of thinking about happiness, so I was eager to hear what she had to say.

Gretchen: What's a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
Melanie: I call my nephew and nieces to hear the sound of their voices. Nothing puts a smile on my face faster than that.

What's something you know now about happiness that you didn't know when you were 18 years old?
When I was a teenager, I thought happiness was an automatic result of popularity. Today I know it’s the reverse; popularity is often a result of happiness.

Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you've found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to "Enjoy the fun of failure.")
“Keep going.” A close friend reminds me of this when I share a success… reminding me that there’s more where that came from if I just keep going with a positive attitude.

Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness, or detracts a lot from their happiness?
I know what used to detract from my happiness. I focused on who I wasn’t by my mid-thirties (a wife, a mother) instead of focusing on who I am (a devoted aunt, a business owner). Once I began referring to myself in the positive (I’m not childless, I’m “childfull” because I choose to fill my life with children to love) that I quickly realized that happiness is self-defined. You just need the right words to rewrite happiness for yourself if life didn’t go as planned. That's why I launched SavvyAuntie.com in 2008 and wrote Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids. So many women have discovered their incredible value as aunts and godmothers and the invaluable role they play in a child's life. That makes them - and me - very happy.

Do you work on being happier? If so, how?
Every day. I practice letting things go…. Not giving up on success, but rather understanding, knowing and believing that cause and effect are not always immediately directly related or visible. If I do something that I believe will make me happy, and yet it fails, I believe the success will come from an unexpected source in the future. Letting go of my perceived beliefs of what I think should make me happy, versus believing that all efforts result in eventual greater happiness, is my greatest “work.” Happiness is undeniable because I don't stop believing in it.

* I was very interesting in this post by Austin Kleon, How to steal like an artist (and 9 other things nobody told me). I don't agree with every item, but many of them rang true, and it's a very thought-provoking piece.

*

Curious about the book, The Happiness Project? (Can't resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.

Most Recent Posts from The Happiness Project

Are You Haunted by Reading People’s Final Journal Entries

For me, these entries serve as reminders to be grateful for my ordinary life.