Rosemary Schmidt’s goal was to help people be happier, including herself. In her journey, she discovered several ways to bring happiness into one’s life. She documents her personal experience and draws from research in psychology, sociology, and neurology in the new book, The Happy Clam.
Disclosure: This sponsored post highlights an inspiring book that mixes self-help and memoir, all to bring more happiness into people’s lives.
Interview with author Rosemary Schmidt
Rosemary is here for an interview here to talk about the book, the principles of happiness, and much more. Please join us!
What inspired you to write The Happy Clam?
This book began as a collection of notes, articles, and studies about little things that can be done to improve one’s mood. I was a new supervisor and looking for ways to be happier, but it morphed over time to become so much more.
I wrote this book as much for myself as for anyone else who might benefit from it. It’s my life’s best work, and I just want to share it with the world.
You’re sharing happiness, and that’s wonderful! What is something unexpected that happened during the book-writing process?
How non-linear the process really is. It began with these notes but then takes a ninety-degree turn about halfway through to a more narrative story-telling style.
Each thread tells a story and leads to the next, like individual brushstrokes in a painting. When I stand back and look at it as a whole, there’s a larger picture that emerges, with patterns and themes that I’m not sure I recognized as I was writing it but now see in the finished work.
What a great description of the process. I’m curious, how is The Happy Clam different than other happiness books?
It doesn’t beat you over the head, telling you what you should do. It offers options and stories and tries to meet the reader where they are, wherever they are.
It’s very human. Stories and poems have a way of saying far more than simple prose ever can.
Why did you decide to combine research and personal stories in the book?
I’m not sure it was a decision; it just sort of happened! But it was a very natural pivot after talking about the importance of relationships in sculpting a healthy and happy life to talk about some of the most important people in my life.
Other people can be our source of greatest joy and deepest sorrow. All the tips, advice, and research sounded hollow without real-world context. Plus, it was cathartic, speaking to the loss of my sister, my mom’s decline, and our relationships.
I’m sorry for your loss. Thinking about your book, I wonder, does happiness look the same for everybody?
Yes and no. We all share very common human needs: having our dignity validated in the world, feeling a sense of belonging, and feeling that we matter. We are social creatures.
The exact manifestations of those needs fulfilled will look a bit differently for each individual, as we’re all unique but all the same in many ways. That’s another one of the central themes in the book.
It’s also helpful to understand that happiness ebbs and flows, and everyone follows a pretty well-established pattern, with happiness (or “well-being” as the researchers call it) highest in our youth and old age, and reaching a low point around age 50. And so, yes, the happiness curve is smile-shaped. Fifty might be the low point for many reasons: increased responsibilities in life, tending to age parents while still raising children, and working.
Approaching age fifty, maybe there’s also a sense of one’s own impending mortality, realizing that one’s life is likely more than half over. After age fifty, maybe one is just thankful for each day they’re still around, and anything after fifty is bonus time.
So interesting! Can you share one of the principles of happiness that you talk about in The Happy Clam?
It really is all about perspective, not only the way you look at things, but what you decide to focus on. It’s easy to focus on the negative, and it is astoundingly difficult to let go of things, and all too easy to hang on to past hurts.
There’s a great quote by Oscar Wilde: “We’re all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” It’s possible to re-direct yourself.
Don’t underestimate the power of small changes. There’s the concept of happiness as a choice that it’s possible to take an active, deliberate hand in influencing one’s own frame of mind by understanding some of the biology and neurology of how our bodies, and specifically our brains, work.
We think of ourselves as rational beings, but we are as impressionable as jellyfish, susceptible to the tiny influences in the environment surrounding us. There’s much to be said for getting oneself unstuck from a negative thought pattern before the rut becomes too deep.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
Things can get better. Believing that change is possible makes it more possible for change to happen.
If things are looking bad, find another way to look at things, or re-direct yourself to shift your focus. Hopefully, what readers walk away with is that we’re here to experience the full range of emotions and what it means to be human.
Happiness is just one of the offerings on the menu. There’s a fun movie that explores this same concept: “Hector and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
There’s a smorgasbord of emotions, that’s for sure. Who is The Happy Clam meant for?
Anyone and everyone, but perhaps it resonates most with women of a certain age, say over 35.
A few last words from Rosemary Schmidt
I’ve started doing some STEM outreach, putting on a one-week program at the local Boys & Girls Club, introducing kids to writing and geology by giving them geodes and journals. The program was funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
A couple of quotes come to mind. I first heard them at a talk by Dr. Nancy Etcoff at HUBweek 2015: “Be the person you had (or wish you had) in your life. Give away what you want in the world.”
Again, I feel like this is my life’s best work, a culmination of many years of research and life experience, and I’m so happy to get it out there and share it with the world.
Thank you for sharing such amazing insights, Rosemary
I love what Rosemary says about happiness being a choice. We are jellyfish – and we have so many demands on us each day. Let’s choose to focus on the positives!
Rosemary Schmidt lives in the Boston area, where she works as a professional Geologist. The Happy Clam is her second book.
Get your copy of The Happy Clam now
This inspiring book is available online at Amazon, BN.com, Bookshop.org, and BetterWorldBooks.com. It is also on the shelves at Belmont Books in Belmont, MA, for those who live locally.
Check for it at independent bookshops too. We could all use a bit more happy!
Connect online with author Rosemary Schmidt
She has a wonderful blog. Rosebud’s Blog began in 2014, and it is a place where Rosemary posts regularly about current events, culture, art, science, music, and travel.