Gratitude. Be thankful for everything. What you take for granted someone else is praying for. Appreciate everything. Every day may not be good, but you can find something good in each day if you look. For example, no one is happy to get a flat tire, but if you do, be appreciative you have a car. Be glad that’s all it is- just a flat tire. Be grateful it can be fixed.
It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jill Liberman
Jill Liberman is a sought-after motivational speaker, best selling author and Founder of the lifestyle brand Choose Happy- devoted to spreading positivity. She is a media veteran, former radio talk show host and successful entrepreneur. Jill lives her life with passion and purpose and believes when you are happy you can do anything.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Roslyn, Long Island. My parents exposed me to almost every type of lesson possible- ballet, piano, violin, tennis, swimming, even puppetry class. My dad wanted me to be an ice skater. None of those worked out well. From a young age I wasn’t the type of person who liked structure or being told what to do. I loved (and still do) being creative and letting my imagination go wild. I also loved being able to make others happy. I had an entrepreneurial spirit. I would run carnivals in my backyard, had a birthday party planning business, and initiated clubs and peer programs in my school to help others feel included. (Ok it also helped me get out of some classes)
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
When I was in college I founded and ran 3 very successful companies while attending George Washington University. I transferred there and was looking for a way to meet people. The idea came to me to start a cake delivery service. I obtained a list of parents and contacted them offering my birthday cake delivery service. Everyone has a birthday ( big potential customer base) and what parent would say no to sending a birthday cake to their child who is away at college? I personally delivered the cakes and got to meet so many people! It was fun and very profitable. I was written up as one of the top entrepreneurs in the area and I was only 18. I never thought in terms of a career or committing to being in just one industry for my working life. I often ask myself “what do I want to do now?” and then set out to make it happen. After college I wanted to host a tv show. I had no experience. None. But I did have confidence and a great idea. I called the programming director at a local cable company and scheduled a meeting. I told myself I was not leaving until he gave me a show. He did! I said I would both produce it and host it to save him money. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I thought how hard could producing be? You just say “action”” Turns out, there is a little more to it. The show was a hit, became syndicated and I hosted several additional programs for the station. After being on tv, I wanted to try radio. Similar story: No experience but lots of passion. So, in terms of what inspired me, I am inspired by the challenge to take an idea and turn it into reality. That’s how I live my life.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and support you. When I was younger, Mo Schneider , my 7th grade English teacher had a big impact on me. I was a quiet child and he knew how to encourage me to participate in class. He was also the drama teacher and responsible for my getting into acting, which I absolutely loved. He was a warm, high energy, positive person and I can still hear him calling me “Jilly”. In fact, we stayed in touch for many years and he and his wife were guests at my wedding.
Today, my husband is my biggest cheerleader. He encourages me and helps me believe I can do anything. He is interested in whatever project I am working on and always encourages me. He attends my book signings and speaking events, and still laughs at my jokes as if it is the first time he heard them.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
When I was working on my book Success Factor X, I collaborated with well known celebrities, athletes and business people inviting them to participate by sharing tips and advice on success. I wanted an eclectic, high profile, well rounded group of participants. Some were people I knew and others I cold called. My husband was so excited to help by finding and sharing the e mail of a famous singer. I reached out and she quickly responded agreeing to participate. How exciting! (and almost too easy) It all seemed a little off to me. When she sent her photo for the book, I realized why. This woman was not the international Grammy award artist whom I thought I was contacting. She was a woman by the same name who happens to sing as a side gig! I asked my husband where he found her e mail, and he said “on line.” I apologized to the woman and had to take back my invitation and explain I thought she was the “other” singer with that name. She didn’t take it well. Lessons learned:1) If something seems too easy, it probably is.2)Most famous people don’t post their e mails on line 3) Ask your husband if he verified the information before you reach out and invite someone to participate in your book.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m excited to speak to audiences worldwide on the power of happiness. It is such an important topic, and something we all need, now more than ever.
I recently was introduced to SafeHandles- a company that manufactures self -cleaning handles. They are chemical free and keep touch points clean 24/7 for 6 months- brilliant! I’m all about quick and easy (something that cleans itself- yes, please) and I am a huge advocate for wellness. I was so impressed with this company that I accepted an executive position working with them to promote cleanliness. We are all so aware of the importance of cleanliness and hygiene, this is a product everyone should have.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Passion.-it is so important in everything you do. I have turned down opportunities because I was not passionate about the product or cause. I need it to be “all in” and believe in what I’m working on. You can’t fake passion. When I was a tv producer, I worked with Alan Thicke. Alan’s manager called and told me Alan would like to co-host a show with me. We created a compelling concept and I ran with it. I cold called a tv station and long story short “Thicke and Jill “was born. We filmed in Vegas. I flew out one night ahead of Alan and had dinner with the producers. They asked if I wanted to know what about me sold them on the show. I was thinking of all the nice things they could have said. They didn’t. They said my voice. My voice? How odd. I went to my hotel room after dinner, called my husband and told him the story. “That’s great” he said. Great? Wasn’t he listening to what I said? They were sold on the show because of my voice? Fast forward to years later. I was giving a motivational speech and talking about passion. I told the crowd passion isn’t something you can fake. You see it in someone’s eyes. You hear it in their voice. Wait..you hear it in their voice. My voice. That’s what the producers meant. It wasn’t my NY accent or my inflection that they meant it was the passion in my voice that got us Thicke and Jill. If only they had said that. Passion is everything. It has made the difference in everything I do.
- Goal Oriented. You can’t get where you are going if you don’t know where you want to go. I attach a goal to everything. You need to know what you want before you can get it. When making a decision, I ask myself if this is getting me closer to achieving the goal. I once had a woman call my office and tell me she read Choose Happy and loved it. She asked me to be her life coach. She explained she had an abusive boss at work and needed to find a new job. When I asked her what type of job she was looking for she said it didn’t matter she just needed a job. It does matter. Don’t settle. Why not go for what you really want? We chatted for quite a while and she did some soul searching. She was able to identify what she was looking for, what type of position she would enjoy and an environment where she could thrive. Her goal was to get hired at a specific company. That week she was offered a position for her dream job. Know what you want- and then go get it.
- Willingness to do whatever it takes. Many years ago, someone close to me hit a financial milestone. He became a millionaire. He has since far exceeded that level. To celebrate, he invited some friends to his beautiful new lake house for the weekend. We were out on his boat, watching as his chef was preparing lunch on the lawn. One of the guests asked the host how he could have this lifestyle too. I leaned in to hear what the host had to say. After all, it was a pretty spectacular weekend. He said “John, you have to really want it.” Are you kidding me? That’s his answer? You have to really want it? I was a little annoyed. Here we were, close friends and he wasn’t willing to reveal the secret sauce. When I got home, I thought maybe that is it. Maybe that’s all there is to it. I thought about what I wanted. I wanted to produce a certain amount of television programs that month. but I didn’t. I wanted to be able to fit into my white pants. I didn’t. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. I really really want those pants to fit. No. Still no luck. I eventually moved on from the belief that wanting something was enough to get it. Several years later I literally woke up with an idea for a book. I had never written anything but a grocery list but was passionate about this. The idea was to write a tribute to America. I would contact famous people (who at that time I knew none) and ask them to send me their thoughts on what they love about living in America. I compiled a list of people I wanted to participate and began cold calling. Within 6 weeks I had 76 very high- profile Americans participating including Michael Dell, Mark Cuban, Tony Robbins, Miss USA and the President of the United States. Yes, I cold called the White House and got the President to participate! I then cold called a publisher, got a book offer and they FedExed me a contract that day. I was on a media tour and a reporter asked me how I was able to make this happen? So many big names in one book, first time author, etc. I said “ I really wanted it.” Oh. Now I understood. It’s not enough to want things. We all want things. The difference is really wanting it. Wanting it so much that if a door is closed you don’t walk away saying its not your door, you’ll ’knock it down because you want what is behind that door so much. That’s how I am with projects. Whatever it takes. I wanted American Pride to be published I was laser focused and fully committed.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
Happiness has always been a part of who I am. In grade school when my friends were doodling hearts on their notebooks, I was drawing smiley faces and writing smile and be happy. Helping others find joy is what I do. It makes me happy. I wrote the book on happiness, literally. Choose Happy is a go-to-guide on living a happier life every day. Its sequel, Choose Happy 2 is packed with tips and tricks to happiness. I Founded Choose Happy, a global lifestyle brand with the mission to spread happiness. I speak all over the world on the power of happiness. I also have an inspirational clothing brand called Choose Happy. I have been featured as the happiness expert on numerous tv shows, podcasts and publications.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?
Often the more privilege we have, the less joy we have. I know a lot of people with fancy toys, beautiful families, good health and still are not happy. I also know people who are faced with significant challenges, live paycheck to paycheck and are happy. One reason could be with so much privilege and opportunity, that is where the focus is, on work and financial success. There is pressure to achieve a certain lifestyle.
What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
One myth is happiness is a destination. It is not, it is a journey. People believe they will be happy when _________. For example, they will be happy when they lose weight, change jobs, have more money in the bank, etc. They may be happy when those things happen, but no event can make you a happy person. Happiness is a mindset.
Another misconception is believing you don’t deserve happiness. Everyone deserves to be happy. This is your life. You deserve to be happy. Give yourself permission to live a life of joy. It is not selfish. It is self love.
With so much going on in the world people feel guilty being happy. It is almost as if we are expected to be miserable. Being happy doesn’t mean all is right in the world, it means we can see the good.
Another myth is confusing the one who is “the life of the party” with being a happy person. Generally, they are not. The people we see who are always “on” are those who are masking sadness. Happy people have an inner peace. While they like positive attention (and who doesn’t?) they do not need to be the center of attention to be happy. They are happy within themselves.
In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
One common mistake I see is people living their lives to please others instead of pleasing themselves. They try to live their life based on other’s expectations of them. I was talking a young woman who was studying to be a teacher. She had been taking classes for a few years and it was time for her final exam. She didn’t take it. When I asked what happened, she said she hates kids! I asked why she spent so many years studying for something she knew wasn’t right for her. Her mother was a teacher and wanted her to be one too. Fortunately for her and for the students she realized that in time. She would have been miserable. What is worse, she would have had a resentment building up towards her mother for preventing her from doing what she really wanted. She is now a hairdresser and very happy.
Another mistake is comparing yourself to others. Often what you see, especially on social media, is not reality.
People think fame and fortune bring happiness. They do not. Success does not bring happiness, happiness brings success. We all know of famous people who had success and fortune and were so unhappy they turned to drugs, alcohol or other addictions to try to find happiness.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)
1)Gratitude. Be thankful for everything. What you take for granted someone else is praying for. Appreciate everything. Every day may not be good, but you can find something good in each day if you look. For example, no one is happy to get a flat tire, but if you do, be appreciative you have a car. Be glad that’s all it is- just a flat tire. Be grateful it can be fixed.
Happiness is a mindset. I was participating at a show and shared a table with a man who appeared angry and very unhappy. I asked him if everything was ok and he said “no”.
I was already invested in the conversation, and was going to be spending the next 6 hours or so sitting next to him, so I asked what was wrong. He complained that they positioned us at the last table. I laughed. That annoyed him more. Then I said that’s funny. I was so happy because I thought they put us at the FIRST table! He looked around and thought about it and felt much better. Attitude is everything. It’s all in how you choose to see things.
Another quick story on gratitude: A gentleman called me very excited to share his personal story. He has MS and has trouble walking. He went to watch his son’s high school basketball game, couldn’t find a parking spot and had to park far from the gym. It started pouring rain. He couldn’t walk well, was in pain and getting drenched. He started cursing himself and his life. Then he thought of my book Choose Happy and applied what he read. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he started feeling grateful he has a son, that is son is healthy and that he can go see him play ball. He felt so much better. Was he still wet? Of course. Did it cure his MS? No. But it made his evening so much more enjoyable and added joy by his focusing on what is right rather than wrong.
2) Surround Yourself with Positive People and Things
Misery loves company, and so does positivity. Happiness is contagious. Particularly in turbulent times, surround yourself with things and people that bring you joy. When I say “things” I mean words that lift you up, photos that have happy memories, music. My favorite piece of art in my home is an original hand- made drawing of a turkey that says “I Am Thankful For My Mommy.” My son, who is now an adult, made it in kindergarten. It is framed and hangs proudly in a high traffic area in my home. It still makes me happy every time I see it.
A co worker of mine left the television industry and went into a completely different field. He was in his twenties at the time and started with an entry level position. One day, with no notice, the owner announced he was closing the company. My friend was devastated. He called it the worst day of his life. He had no savings, no plan B for another job and bills to pay. He took a few days to feel sorry for himself and thought it through. He liked this field, was good at it, and had a client list. He decided to stay in the industry and go out on his own. He and his company are now a household name. He built his company into a global empire- I’m so proud of him. He could have felt sorry for himself and given up. He didn’t. He created an opportunity. Now what he once called the worst day of his life he now calls, next to his wedding day, the best day of his life! Create your own opportunities.
4. Have something to look forward to every day. Most people save things for a special occasion. It could be a fancy soap or lotion, imported chocolate, or even an outfit. Go ahead, use the soap, eat the chocolate, wear the shoes. Today is a special occasion, every day is. Whether it is coffee with a friend, yoga, playing with your dog, “you time”, binge watching a series you love, whatever makes you happy- carve out time every day for something you look forward to. If it doesn’t make you feel fabulous, you shouldn’t do it, buy it, wear it or keep it.
5)Be true to yourself. There is only one you. Embrace who you are and what makes you unique. Several years ago I was offered what I thought was my dream job at the time, the opportunity to sell on national television. I turned it down. Yes, I turned down the job I thought I really wanted, auditioned for, and was offered. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time , but I knew it wasn’t right for me. On the surface it was perfect: glamourous, exciting, and challenging but I I just knew it wasn’t right. Trust your gut, it knows. A year later I was on a business trip and drove passed the network. I pointed to the studio (which was not hard to miss) and told the driver I was offered a job there as a show host selling products on tv. He asked why I didn’t take it. Without any hesitation, I said I wasn’t comfortable selling things I didn’t believe in.
People trust me. I couldn’t recommend they buy something if I didn’t believe in it. Wow. Just like that I realized what prevented me from accepting the position. The passion wasn’t there. I declined because I was true to myself.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
The best thing you can do to support someone is to let them know you care and are there for them. Show up for them. They need to know they are not alone. Listen. Let them be heard, allow them to tell you how they feel. Do things together like enjoy meals together or take a walk together. Making people feel wanted, loved and important goes a long way. It gives them hope and a sense of worth and importance.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement, it would be to encourage happiness. Happiness is something everyone wants. It impacts just about everything in our lives- our sleep, our productivity, the choices we make, where we work, and our health. In a world where we can be anything, let’s be happy.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I am fortunate to have met some fascinating people- actors, influencers, athletes, journalists and entrepreneurs many whom are now friends.
The person I would love to connect with is someone in need of motivation and help finding their purpose. I am grateful to be able to help people shift their thinking into a positive mindset and help make a difference in their lives.
In terms of a private breakfast or lunch, I will always opt for my husband, son and daughter in law. I cherish family time.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I love connecting with readers! Follow me on Instagram: @choosehappy365.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!