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Have you seen the movie “Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) based on the best selling novel of the same name?

If yes, read on.

If not,  spoiler alert!

A few months ago I saw this motion picture land on Netflix and hit the play button. I couldn’t get past the first five minutes and looked for something else. Why?

It could have been the ho hum screenplay. Having produced eight plays I know a great script when I read one.

Or perhaps I wasn’t thrilled with the acting.

I usually place a lot of stock in what Rotten Tomatoes has to say about a film. Their iconic Tomatometer gave “Hector” a paltry 36% so maybe I was swayed by their opinion. (Justin Chang didn’t like it much either. Ouch.)

Then again, maybe something else distracted me. You know. The shiny new rock syndrome.

Then, this past week a Facebook friend, someone who’s opinion I highly respect, posted how much he loved the movie.  So, I decided to give “Hector and the Search for Happiness” another look see and boy I’m glad I did.

Hector is an accomplished British psychiatrist with a never ending stream of steady clients who has become progressively bored with his vanilla, meh, undistinguished, safe professional and personal life.

He tells girlfriend Clara of his dilemma and embarks on a journey to China, Africa, and the United States in search of the answer to one question.

What makes people happy?

In the next one hour and fifty minutes, you experience Hector’s “Hero’s Journey” as he traverses the globe, getting in and out of trouble, seeking the elusive truth regarding happiness.

Along the way, Hector asks people in all walks of life, making copious notes in his journal, (that’s when he can find a pen) as to what happiness means to them.

In his travels, Hector compiles a listicle of 15 thoughts on happiness.

I’m covering the first chunk in this post and the remainder next week.

Here goes!

1 – Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.

I’m sure you purchased a ticket on this ride before.

You’re constantly comparing yourself to someone else, in the end, making yourself feel miserable. For some reason what you have isn’t good enough. What’s it called? Keeping up with the Joneses.

Keeping up with the Joneses is a do-loop ride of stress, stress, and more stress. I mean, it’s never ending.

Try this.

Each day when you rise, before rushing to check email, take a few quiet moments with your morning coffee or tea and make a list of the things you’re grateful for. Studies show that grateful people are happy people.


2 – A lot of people think, happiness means being richer, or more important.

Does wealth and fame buy happiness? I’m not so sure.

Studies have shown many who hit the lottery become miserable shortly thereafter.

Every day you read about a married couple of affluence and/or prominence getting divorced. What role does fame and fortune play in the pursuit of happiness? From what I can see, not too much.

I grew up in the hood in Westchester and clawed my way out of the inner city to have the life I have today. Does money or a little notoriety make me happy? In some respects it does but not as much as you’d  might expect.

What really makes me happy are the people I’ve helped and the friendships I’ve made along the way.

Other than being in the presence of my children, nothing makes me happier than seeing a client make sustainable change.


3 – Many people only see happiness in their future.

You say you’ll be happy when you get the new car, the new home, the soulmate, the dream job, or enough money to join the local country club.

Studies have shown that we really aren’t as happy as we think we’ll be when we achieve certain things. Sure, we get a sudden burst of elation. But then, after a short period of time we revert back to our old behaviors.

University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson discovered having goals, working towards them, and making progress along the way in expectation of running across the finish line creates positive feelings and suppresses negative feelings such as fear and depression.

Enjoy the journey. You’ll be happier for it.


4 – Happiness could be the freedom to love more than one woman at the same time.

Ahem. Check please. 🙂

First, I have no experience in this area. If you do, feel free to comment below.


5 – Sometimes, happiness is not knowing the whole story.

You have to be a certain behavioral type to agree with this concept. I confess, I fit the mold.

I’m adventurous. Exploring new people, places, and things is what drives me on a daily basis. I don’t get tied up in knots worrying about knowing how the story will end. For me, that wouldn’t be any fun at all.

In fact, not knowing is what makes a great coach. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true.

As a business and career coach, I’m at my best when I immerse myself in the client’s world and become overly curious about their thinking system. What are their most pressing challenges? How do they feel about this topic? What will be their next step? Will they go left, right, or make a u-turn? What will determine their next direction?

Be confident about not knowing, you’ll be surprised how much happier you’ll be.

Secondly, if you are a coach, your clients will love your coaching that much more when you’re confident about not knowing.


6 – Avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.

“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross



7 – Does this person bring you predominantly: a) up or b) down?

There’s a laser like question.

As I ventured out in my early 20’s looking to make a dent in the corporate world, I was fortunate to meet a rainbow of characters.

Everyone from CEO’s of companies to factory workers doing the grunt work on the shop floor and everyone in between.

When I think back, there’s only a handful of people who I could honestly say predominantly brought my spirits up. In fact, there were a few who brought me down. And I mean way down.

The same holds true for the casual acquaintances I’ve made in my personal life. The majority of these people did nothing for my personal enlightenment. Like Hector’s life, they were ordinary. (This serendipitious encounter, to this day, was extraordinary.)

Over the last 10 years I’ve gotten picky who I allow to enter my circle of influence. I’m at my best when I surround myself with individuals who provide me with a consistent flow of serotonin hits. I’m grateful to each and every one of them.

Life’s too short to do anything otherwise. Do you concur?

Next week I’ll cover the rest of the listicle.

Thanks for reading.


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