We asked some of the happiest folks we know to tell us their secret.

John Matta | Creator of Matta Napkin

Making my wife laugh. The only reason I drew on a napkin was to cheer my gorgeous wife Rose (Abdoo) who was going through chemo. You spend a lot of time waiting for medications and appointments. Anyway, I was eating at a Subway and watching a mother demand that the poor young guy behind the counter give her free meat samples. She wanted to let her little boy taste them before ordering. If the child didn’t like the meat, he’d spit it out on the counter. If he liked the meat, he’d also spit it out on the counter, accompanied by an approving grunt. It was the most wonderful thing I’d ever witnessed. I felt I had to document the event, so I drew it on a napkin and then showed it to my wife… who laughed. When you’re going through the challenge of cancer any time, you can get some silliness… you grab it. So the next day I drew on another napkin and brought it down with her lunch, and she laughed again. I began exhausting her with all the cartoons on napkins. Read more>>

Amy Suddleson | Professional Organizer + Designer

With a Visual Communication Design degree from The University of California, at Davis, extensive experience in the organizing and event planning space, I love all things visual. For many years, I organized and designed large-scale, high profile events for Universal Studios, including movie premieres and million-dollar corporate events and then went on to served as Director of Alumni Events for the prestigious Brentwood School, here in Los Angeles. As a Los Angeles Professional Organizer, Lifestyle Design Expert, and Stylist with more than 20 years of experience helping clients throughout California brings me such joy and happiness. Amy provides a supportive, calm, and positive approach to professional organizing, giving clients the tools they need to transform the chaos of clutter into creatively reimagined spaces. Read more>>

Dallas White | Actor & Producer

That cup of coffee in the morning. I really look forward to that. There are probably much more grander answers that one can get happiness from, but I tend to live for experiences. That morning cup of coffee is what inspires me each and every day. It makes me appreciate waking up every morning and feeling present. It reminds me to be grateful for where I am in life and that I’m safe. Sounds cliché, but I’m not going to spill out an answer that I needed to think about. It was the first thing that came to mind. Read more>>

Angela Bowie | Personal Chef & Private Caterer

Cooking and being in the kitchen makes me happy. It’s where I’m able to speak through my creativity in a plate or dish. You can literally taste a piece of me with every bite. Cooking it where I have some of the best memories of my Grandmother, whom I called “Nana”. Nana would talk to me and share with me things that only you learned if you were cooking along side with her. Read more>>

Nick Cozine | Artist, Pka MNYS

I often think about being a kid and comparing that era of my life to what it is now. When I was 17, I just wanted to make music with my friends and had no cares about anything else. But then you really get into the industry and there’s this odd competitiveness with peers and this cloud of self-doubt appears. You start to feel like you can’t shake it. I think about the things I’ve been able to “accomplish” in my life and it all feels the same – this very short-lived feeling of content. I used to think “I’d know I made it if I just had a session with so and so” or “if I make this much money by 25”, etc. It took me years to unlock that none of that truly mattered. So what makes me happy? Watching TV on the couch with my fiance, FaceTiming my parents, letting my brother crash on my couch, holding an extra light for a friend’s photoshoot. I can go on, but when I really boil it down – it’s time spent with people I love. Read more>>

Kimberly Cannon | Hair Colorist

I am the most happy when at the end of the day, I feel I brought my best effort to whatever I did. I feel happy after a day with my son when we have connected and spent quality time exploring and learning together uninterrupted. I feel happy after a day of work where my clients all felt great about themselves and the way they looked, because I listened to them. I feel happy spending the day taking care of myself, where I have worked out, read a book, and shared a nice meal with my husband. Read more>>

Julie Tran | Lifestyle & Food Blogger

I ask myself all the time, what makes me happy.  It’s a compelling question we should all ask ourselves from time to time, as what makes us happy might change. It’s important to think about happiness in terms of your personal and professional life because you spend so much of your time “working”. At the end of the day, I value time with my family and friends, as well as doing something meaningful in life. Happiness, to me, comes down to what values I find important. No matter what endeavors I take on or what ambitions I have, I’m realizing more and more the value of time and how I should spend it.  Whatever success I might have or am working towards, money and success is nothing if I’m not healthy to enjoy it and if I don’t have the time to share that success with my family and friends. This bigger question is something I struggle with all the time. I’m always trying to balance my life and re-calibrate to manage my time so that I can help others, pursue my own ambitions, but also make time for those that I love. Read more>>

Margot Leitman | Best Selling Author of “Long Story Short, the Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need” and “What’s Your Story? A Workbook For The Storyteller in All of Us,” Storyteller, Teacher, Speaker

It makes me so happy to see the freedom a person gets after sharing their story and letting go of it just swirling around in their head endlessly. It’s truly amazing when a person realizes that they told a true story from their life experience, and life went on, or perhaps even got better. It also makes me so happy when a person no longer thinks of themselves as “boring” but instead realizes that their story is valid and matters…and is also interesting and funny. Also, lately, during the pandemic it makes me extremely happy to finish a jigsaw puzzle, challenge myself to bake something complicated, and to see my dog savour every second of having us all home ALL the time. Read more>>

Sona Gevorkyan | Architect & Interior Designer

We started appreciating what we already have and realized we’ve been taking a lot of things for granted. But here are top 5 things that make me happy now: 1. Lists – this is true actually, I used to dread spreadsheets, mainly because I didn’t know how to use excel, but this year I have gotten proficient in google spreadsheets and it made my life so much more organized, hence easier. Highly recommend to those who like organization. 2. Family, friends and knowing that they are well and healthy. I am sure this is something everyone can relate to. 3. Peace. This year while we had too much going on in the world, something that was not reported on the news was the war in Armenia, where I am originally from. This war lasted for 44 days and it was one of the most emotionally draining experiences my community and I have ever gone through. So, I definitely have newfound appreciation for peace, something I have been taking for granted. 4. Sunshine. I know drought is a problem in California, and rain is good for LA, but sunshine is the second reason why I moved to LA (I have a list for this too). Read more>>

Stephanie Lemus | Visual Artist

I’m happiest when I’m being creative. I tend to hold on to stress and will become super anxious but when I’m able to focus my energy on creating, I just feel better. Finding out what helps calm you down is so important to your mental health and should be prioritized. Read more>>

Kimberly Hocking | Artist and Art Spiritual Director

I find that it is the little things in life that make me happy. I have a chronic illness and for a number of years I would spend weeks at a time in bed. Before I got sick I used to run marathons to raise money for causes I believed in. This last year I was able to start running again. Just to be outside feeling the air and sun on my skin brings so much happiness. I remember when I couldn’t even get out of bed and I rejoice that I can run to the top of Signal Hill and see snow covered peaks and the ocean. When I run I look for treasures along the way. I collect feathers, seeds, bottle caps, leaves, and anything else that seems interesting. It makes me happy to find and collect treasures that can later be used in my art. We have a peacock in our neighborhood and seeing the brilliance of his plumage brings me so much joy. I feel content when I am at work in my art studio creating works of art with my collections and items from my garden like leaves and vines. Read more>>

Cydette Vikander | Fine Art Painter

HAPPINESS The question of happiness, is one I feel I can answer with sincerity. I have been so blessed with family and friends. Not only did I have a happy childhood, filled with adventure, I had my own children, that to this day, fill me with pride and joy. I learned from the beginning to recognize every moment and seize the time; it’s precious. Look at everything around you, breathe the pureness of life and elevate the spirit. I say this knowing that there are dark days too. We must embrace these as part of our course in being human. Tests in finding balance, for everyday is a new day to renew choices. Life is full of choices, why not choose happiness. It is all in our perspective. How we understand the meaning of being alive. For me, passion is the way to happiness. It consumes all else and in some way becomes the truth of who we are. Having goals is something we can work toward, accomplish and mark down on our list. It is the act of pursuit that we humans like to chase. Passion is something you’re born with and have to become aware of. Read more>>

Stephanie Vosper | Artist and Yoga Practitioner

Writing about what makes me happy makes me happy! I’m lucky, I seem to have been born a naturally happy person. I laughed my way through school and beyond. Happily for me I inherited my mother’s sunny nature and not bi-polar that afflicted some in my family. That’s not to say that I haven’t experienced my share of struggle as have all of us. I did for a very short time (3 months or so) become clinically depressed, leading me to resort to medication, which thankfully worked very effectively. That was more than 20 years ago and I’ve never suffered from depression or had to take medication since (I’m delighted to say), although I have experienced some heartbreak in that time. So what makes me so happy? I put it down to a number of wonderful things! Let’s list them! 1 YOGA It seems to have worked wonders on my general state of well-being (physical, emotional and spiritual) over the past 12 years that I have been practicing. Initially, not having any understanding of the mental benefit, I did it because it made me feel good physically. Read more>>

Michelle Ohm | Artist & Professor

There are so many things that make me happy and that I am grateful for everyday. Other than of course living and breathing, I really love making things with my hands. This can be in the form of art-making of course, but also cooking, gardening, or just giving my dogs belly rubs. My studio makes me happy. I have my collection of objects, my color charts, all of my art supplies- which is in itself a whole other kind of joy, and my closet. Even soft sweatpants bring me joy these days- I may never return to real pants. Why? I think anytime something can make me present in the moment, whether it is using some sense (taste, hearing, scent, etc.), it makes me slow down and just observe and think. When I am quiet, focused and in the moment, some of my best ideas come to me. Read more>>

Lauren Ha | Owner of a Clothing Brand

It’s the little things that make me happy. It’s my cup of coffee on an early morning, the walk down the street to my car, the time spent running errands- I enjoy it all. I have come to a point in my life where I feel grateful for every waking moment. I truly believe that each person is responsible for their own happiness and that it can be achieved every day when you look at the smallest things with gratitude. Through several self reflections and insightful conversations with friends, I realized that humbled confidence and satisfaction stem from genuine happiness. I have made it my mission to encourage those around me to be happier. Using High Avail as a medium to connect with my community has allowed me to extend my network and influence farther than I could have ever imagined. Helping artists of varying mediums showcase their creativity has encouraged self-expression and raw originality. Read more>>

Ellen Schoeters | Actress/Voice Over & Meditator & Energy Healer

This is such a wonderful question to contemplate. Thank you for asking this profound question. There are many things that make me happy, from hearing the birds sing to feeling the sun and seeing beautiful landscapes, but over the last year I discovered what a joy it is when observing the happiness and wellbeing of the people around me. It’s been so challenging for many people lately. And knowing that those we have a close connection with, our partner, our family, neighbors and friends and even those we don’t know that well, are healthy and without suffering is such a relief. We definitely get the chance now to think more about what true happiness really means. We used to take everything for granted, even our own human life and simple things like breathing we took for granted. We often believe happiness is found in being busy, running around the entire day trying to fulfill our desires until we are forced to stand still. Until we get the chance to look inside or until we are forced to look inside. And in that space, stillness and the clarity of our own mind, our own heart we can find such a beautiful source of happiness and peace. Read more>>

Cindy Phung | Storyboard Artist, Storyboard Revisionist, Character Designer, Animator, & Illustrator

A lot of things make me happy! When I get an idea for a story and begin making art for it and when I am spending time with my friends and family are when I am the happiest. I love creating stories and finding them in my imagination, inspirations, and every-day life. It’s the most exciting when I get that spark from something I observed or found interesting. For days, it’s a lot of fun going down a rabbit hole trying to figure out a story until I am able to make something solid. I also love creating characters for my stories because they are the gears to moving the narrative. It’s a blast being able to just sit down and explore what a character’s personality may be like. Kind of like meeting a new friend and learning everything about them! I get most of my inspirations in my storytelling and art through my own experiences. The memories where I have laughed until I cried, made new and exciting adventures, and learned more about myself have mostly transpired when I was with the people I care about. Read more>>

Jules Kramer | Jewelry Maker and Shopgirl

Creating, making, and designing and connecting with people makes me blissfully happy. Although Covid-19 has challenged this of late, I have been able to shape shift my business model and that has helped me survive (as a business and mentally as a person!) during these difficult times. Why? Work life balance is imperative to my happiness and success. I am in the business of making Art and having a place to create, display and provide gifts for all the wanderers that enter my studio. I am an Artist more than I am a business person which helps define my goals and find great joy in the process vs the squeeze and financial outcome. I am privileged because I have a family that emotionally supports my art and knows it brings me great joy to create and be part of the Santa Barbara community of small business owners. I work hard to make enough to “keep the lights on” and then reinvest in myself to keep creating, but still have time to be a prominent role in our family. Read more>>

De’aja Plummer | Let Me Speak Podcast Owner

What makes me happy, is working! Not many can say that about work, but I enjoy work. I own a podcast and I absolutely love to work on it each and every chance I get. It’s almost like a feeling of euphoria when I am recording. The feeling of working on something that belongs to me, something that I have started and created by myself gives me a great feeling of accomplishment. Its a humbling and amazing feeling. Nothing makes me happier than being in my studio and putting those headphones on and recording episodes for my podcast. When it’s something you love, it doesn’t even feel like work. It also brings me happiness knowing that I am giving many people of color a chance to get their voices heard and that is something that I will continue to do. Read more>>

Heidi Glassman | Catering and Special Events Manager & Public Relations Manager

Working with a company that let’s you grow with them. I started with Titan Brands Hospitality Group in January of 2018. I was the Catering and Group Sales Manager and over the years they have helped me grow into the Public Relations Manager. My boss, Scott Frost, opened our first Hussongs Mexican Cantina in a Hospital with a cell phone taped to his neck. He had just been in a near fatal motorcycle accident in May of 2009. His perseverance and unbreakable spirit led him to be the leader that we all look up to. Working for him makes me happy. All of our victories and being by his side while building this company puts a smile on my face every day. My workouts at 5 am every day make me happy. Knowing that you have accomplished a goal by 6 am is a huge deal. It makes the rest of the day more organized and controlled. . Being a mom. My children are grown and out of the house, but I always make sure to tell them they can always come home. Read more>>