Live Happy. Q&A with Publisher Deborah Heisz

The question of happiness seems to come up in greater frequency in conversations nowadays. At a recent media event, I was taken by surprise when someone fairly well known in the industry confessed to me that they hated their job. As an outsider, it seemed like a great job to me. Happiness and life fulfillment were themes in the recently cancelled Showtime series Happyish which humorously explored the highs and lows of 40 somethings.

So what should we make of all of these discussions about happiness? And why would someone like publisher Deborah Heisz buck the trend to proclaim that happiness is not only attainable, but also available in print format under the title Live Happy?

I sat down with her to find out more:

CW: Why focus on happiness when more people are drawn to tragedy? 

DH: While tragedy, scandal and other people's misery gets the headlines, it doesn't really serve people to spend their time focused on the negative, and many people turn away from it in favor of focusing on what can make us better. Certainly we want to help people lead meaningful lives of authentic happiness by providing them access to the tools and information to work through hard times, and developing resilience is certainly a key component to becoming happier. But even people who consider themselves happy already still want to live richer, more meaningful lives. Live Happy is a place for them to continue that self-development.

CW: Magazines are struggling now. Why launch a magazine?

DH: This is a question we hear often – and it is valid. In our case, we did not have to build an audience. In 2008, there were 50 books published about happiness. For the last quarter we have data about, more than 1,000 books were published on the topic. That’s an explosion of nearly 250%. Not to mention the more than $10 billion Americans spend annually seeking happiness. We really believe there is an audience seeking to be happier and there are 30 years of cumulative academic and psychological research demonstrating that they can. No one had yet dedicated a magazine to making this information relevant and approachable for the average consumer, so we felt there was a niche that we could fill.

CW: How do you make your magazine successful in this digital environment?

DH: We do not look at digital versus print.  We include all platforms. It’s about the content and less about the delivery. So we have a print edition, an enhanced digital edition, a website, a newsletter, webinars and a soon to launch podcast.  At the top end of the income scale, our readers actually prefer the feel of a printed magazine.  But our younger reader base likes the digital nature of our digital edition and its interactivity. It actually all works well together. You can hook readers interested in taking a quiz on relationships on Facebook or watching a short video on, and then you enhance with links to additional related content or point them to the print or digital information for deeper dives into the same topics. There’s something for you no matter if you’re standing in line with only your phone to read at the grocery store or if you’re reading for leisure in your favorite recliner.

CW: How has happiness at work contributed to your success?

DH: Happiness is incredibly important overall in your life, but especially at work. It helps that I have the best job in the world, of course. I spend my days surrounded by people who are passionate about making the world and themselves better. While not every day is bubbles and rainbows (starting a business is a lot of work!), I have a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. That said, as with any start-up, my day is filled with things that just didn't go right, stories that aren't what we thought they would be and the typical problems like misunderstandings and communication errors that accompany people working together.

Developing and cultivating my own happiness empowers me to focus on solving issues and moving forward toward goals rather than dwelling on what didn't go perfectly. With approximately one-third of our waking hours spent at work and another third presumably spent thinking about it, it’s no surprise that the workplace environment significantly affects overall well-being.

I am incredibly happy about what we have achieved at Live Happy since the launch back in October 2013. It has been a great experience helping shape it from the ground up and to hear every day how what we do is helping other people thrive and live more fulfilling lives.  And I take that sense of accomplishment home to my family where I can engage with them and they can see that work is a positive in my life.   With three children under age 10, it is important to me they know Mom loves what she does (just not more than them!)

CW: If you are not happy at work, how do you find happiness at work?

DH: First, realize that you don’t have to love every single aspect of your job all the time. Manage your expectations in that your work is not your entire life. Your family, friends, community—and hobbies and passions outside of work—all help build a fulfilling life. Practice gratitude, even if it’s just realizing that going to work every day allows you to provide a warm, safe home for your family and a fridge full of healthy food. Now and then it even finances that family vacation you’ve all been looking forward to all year or that exclusive school that your son or daughter has dreamed of attending. 

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