Happiness interview: Jennifer E. Smith.
My friend and fellow passionate biobliophile is the terrific writer, Jenny Smith. I got to know Jenny through one of my children’s literature reading groups, and she has written several excellent young-adult novels herself, including one that just hit the shelves: This Is What Happy Looks Like.
What a title! Catnip to me. I love Jenny’s titles. Her last book was The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, one of my favorite titles ever.
This Is What Happy Looks Like is the story of a teen star and a small-town girl who strike up an email correspondence, without knowing each other’s identities, and what happens next. A delightful novel.
Jenny’s publisher has offered five signed give-away copies of This Is What Happy Looks Like. Interested? Live in the U.S. or Canada? Enter your info here by Friday, April 5, 2013, by 5:00 EST. Five names chosen at random.
Because Jenny’s novels explore very deeply the subject of happiness — among other ideas — I wanted to hear what she had to say on the subject.
What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
There’s nothing like taking a walk to clear my head and boost my spirits. I’m lucky enough to live right across the street from a beautiful park, and I’ve logged a whole lot of hours there in all sorts of weather. There’s just something about the fresh air and trees and grass that’s good for the soul, and I think you appreciate it even more when you live in a city. No matter what, I always feel better after making some time to go for a wander…
What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
A lot of the time, it involves staying in rather than going out.
Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
I think spending too much time on Facebook can often have a negative impact. It doesn’t matter how happy you are; being faced with hundreds of photos showcasing the very best of other people’s lives can sometimes be enough to make you doubt your own in a way that I don’t think is very productive. I always try to remind myself to keep my eyes on my own paper!
If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost? Or, like a “comfort food,” do you have a comfort activity? (mine is reading children’s books).
I have a lot of them, actually. Music is always a great pick-me-up, and I have a playlist called “Happy Mix” that’s filled with songs that are guaranteed to put me in a better mood. Then there are a few of my favorite poems that I trot from time to time, and a lot of silly jokes too. I also like to juggle, and let me tell you this: it’s impossible to feel heavy-hearted when juggling. Another surefire trick for me is Harry Potter: I love to grab one of the books and open to a random page, just to fall into that world for a little while. But the best cure of all is definitely my dog. He’s a goofy little beagle with an unfailing ability to brighten my day.
Is there some aspect of your home that makes you particularly happy?
My books. If I could live in a house made entirely of bookshelves, I would do it. My dream is to have one of those floor-to-ceiling libraries one day, with the ladders that move around the room. But for now, I’m about as surrounded by books as is possible in my apartment, and it makes me ridiculously happy.