• August 15, 2020

How The Pandemic Taught Me About Happiness

How The Pandemic Taught Me About Happiness


Confined indoors over the past few months, I realized, like so many others, that I had all this extra time.

Besides binging on Netflix, cooking new dishes and drinking copious amount of wine I had the time to catch up with old friends…some of whom I hadn’t spoken to for a few months, some a few years and many college friends whom I hadn’t spoken to for thirty plus years.

Kind of scandalous, wouldn’t you agree?

So, I went on a binge of another kind: getting back in touch with old friends, all of whom had been an integral part of my life in some way, and now, since we are all roughly halfway through our lives, I was curious to know where they’d landed.

One phone call in particular with a friend who I had been particularly close to but lost touch with got me thinking. She’d married her college sweetheart; he was now a professor; they’d traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast, adopted a child along the way and were now settled in North Carolina where she managed a tony law firm. Her mother, now quite aged, lived with them and it had been a difficult time during the pandemic looking after her.

“She’s really milking this, you know” my friend said. “One more thing and I swear, I will commit matricide.”

“You sound happy,” I said to her.

“I am,” she replied. “I have my house with a white picket fence, my husband and my son…and of course, my mother,” she sighed.

And then,

“Are you happy?” she asked me.

Her question was so, so simple, but I didn’t know what to say.

When I didn’t, she answered for me: “Kim…you’d never have been happy with my kind of life. It would have been too boring, too mundane for you.”

Really? But I’ve always craved stability…or was she right?

After I hung up, her question and answer stayed with and I got to thinking: am I? Truly happy?

As I examined my life, as I look back, everything I’ve done has been an idea or a dream I’ve chased, a challenge I’ve set for myself. And I’ve done it with great gusto, no matter how great or how small. And that, unto itself, has given me a sense of satisfaction and…yes, happiness.

After college, despite my parents’ objections, I went into the world of rock ‘n roll as the assistant to a group called The Cure. That somehow led to a foray into the world of food and wine when I worked for Tim and Nina Zagat when they launched their restaurant guide. After that it was journalism and I became Dan Rather’s right hand and earned a front seat to the historical events of the end of the 20th century.

As if that was not enough, I became an entrepreneur and turned the idea of a luxury cyber closet into a business called Garde Robe that still exists and is a “must-have” for all those longing for more closet space. I was a professional flamenco dancer and toured Europe with some of the best companies from Seville; I went on to become a writer and indulged my passion for wine with studies in Burgundy and Bordeaux and am now in the WSET diploma program, and a wine director with award winning wine lists.

And there you have it:

Realizing your dreams is a huge achievement and actually not as hard as you think.

Let me share the following pointers that have helped me over the past half century to do just that.

Here are ten rules:

  • Stay focused. You are the architect of your life.
  • Work hard. Nothing happens overnight. There’s no instant gratification here.
  • Remain flexible . Don’t struggle so much. Go with the flow. Silly things, sometimes serious things can happen to make you switch gears . And that is fine.
  • Try and stay positive even when it looks as though it’s all going to hell.
  • Don’t force things , sometimes it’s not meant to be.
  • Don’t chase rainbows. If it’s not working, keep moving. Keep challenging yourself.
  • Follow your heart. It will not lead you astray.
  • Don’t forget to be humble. No one is beneath you.
  • Be grateful.
  • No regrets. Don’t beat yourself up over the choices you make. They were yours and you can’t blame anyone for making them. And no matter how bad the choice, learn from it.

Nothing I have ever done has paid me a ton of money. But the psychic income from a sense of achievement has been huge.  And that translates to happiness.

Follow your dream and your heart. Life is too short not to.