Wisdom//

What Jennifer Aniston Can Teach Us About Living a Truly Joyful Life

There's power in writing your own version of success.

If you look at my “Saved” folders on Instagram, you’ll see I have a thing for Jennifer Aniston. It’s mostly photos of her from the 90s (outfit inspo, of course) or funny memes from Friends. But I’ve also always admired her candor about her search for happiness. Today, Aniston’s interview with Elle offers thoughtful soundbites about finding happiness, her boundaries with social media, and her choices regarding motherhood.

Aniston talks candidly about expectations that are a notorious source of stress for people, namely women, like the idea of “happily ever after” — something the world has wanted for Aniston ever since she was first referred to as America’s sweetheart. “Why do we want a happy ending? How about just a happy existence? A happy process? We’re all in process constantly,” she says. Happiness, she explains, is not quantifiable. She points out that “everybody’s path is different,” a phrase that is particularly resonant coming from a woman who really has followed her own path, even when it steered her away from societal norms like having children. It’s a valuable lesson for anyone whose path hasn’t been linear, and who may need a boost of confidence before, say, going home for the holidays and having to explain why you’re single or child free.

A voice like Aniston’s — pragmatic and candid — would probably find a fervid audience on social media. But the actress is keen on maintaining a “little circle of sanctity” that’s her own, rather than giving it away for the internet to devour. “If I’m sitting here posting something about my dogs or I’m Boomeranging my coffee mug in the morning, that’s just giving away one more piece of something that is mine,” she explains. But privacy is her right, and she stands by her choice to ebb and flow through the spotlight as she sees fit. “Look, we’re all human at the end of the day. I’m really still working on it… It’s a matter of choosing when I feel like I’m okay with having a bunch of people take a bunch of pictures of me.”

When asked about the possibility of having children, Aniston says she is open to anything. “Who knows what the future holds in terms of a child and a partnership — how that child comes in or doesn’t? And now with science and miracles, we can do things at different times than we used to be able to,” she notes. She credits her happiness to that flexibility and rejection of traditional timelines. “It’s a glass-half-full kind of thing. Always being open. Allowing myself to feel what I feel. What brings me happiness? I have a great job. I have a great family. I have great friends. I have no reason to feel otherwise. If I did, I would need to go get an attitude shift, a perspective shift.” Needless to say, I’m falling in love with Aniston all over again.

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