Friday, December 19, 2014

How Does Trista Sutter Stay So Darn Positive? It's All About Her Grateful Heart

When I first met Trista Sutter, she and her husband Ryan were appearing on a television special to introduce their son Max to the world.  I was quite pregnant with my first daughter at the time and she gave me some invaluably calming (solicited!) advice for new parenthood.  I was so grateful for the connection, as I was one of many new faces she'd see that day.

Somehow our friendship grew, and years later when I considered starting this blog, one of my first phone calls was to her.  Trista's encouragement is part of what brought me here to you.  So again, I was grateful for her.

Then a couple of years ago Trista called seeking my input, wanting a story she could share in her book Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart It became clear to me in an instant.

Gratefulness Breeds Gratefulness

But in a world where negativity, brutality and hate abound, how are we to remain positive?  And for those of us who struggle getting there, is feeling grateful one day a week enough?  For Trista, the answer is quite simple.  No.  (Although, I'm sure her positive side would say it's a start...)  Her book, coming out in paperback on December 30th, teaches how the daily practice of having a grateful heart is life-changing not only for the beholder but for those in her wake.

I wasn't so sure I was buying it.  So when I had the chance to chat with her more about the book, I jumped.  Here's what she had to say.

Q: Opening our lives up to the public leaves us very vulnerable to criticism.  This is risk you’ve taken many times and endured some harsh comments as a result.  Still, I see you kill haters with kindness.  Tell me about a time you just couldn't do it.

It happens constantly.  I have to consciously focus on not letting them bring me down.  When I was named the Bachelorette, my name was dragged through the mud.  One reporter said that I was setting back the women’s movement.  I was called a slut and a whore.  That was hard because I was coming from such a genuine place of wanting to find love, but I just had to sit there and take it.  It really hurt me a lot. To this day, I feel my blood boil thinking about it.  Those haters, the reporters, I hope watching the show actually changed their opinion.

Q: Being the Bachelorette can be seen one of two ways.  Either you're a slut, or you're applauded for taking the reigns.  Do you consider yourself a feminist?

I love encouraging women to be strong, independent, individualistic women.  I love encouraging women to be who they are, stand up for themselves, and feel proud to be a woman.  So if that makes me a feminist, then fine.  But I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into that word, because there is a negative connotation that comes along with it.

Q: In the book you offer take home advice for finding gratefulness, called “Happily Ever Actions”.  And, you give options for each one, like a choose your own adventure.  Is there something you’ve learned since the book was published that you’d like to add?

I can’t tell you how many readers have shared their tips with me since going to print.  A meeting I was at earlier today was setting a mission statement for the school that my kids go to.  The woman leading the meeting asked if anyone had a mission statement for their family.   I had never thought of that, but I think it's a great idea.  It tells people who you are, what your values are and who you want to be.  Now I want to do that with Ryan and the kids, have it framed, and keep it in a prominent place in our home.  You write a fire escape plan, why wouldn’t you write a mission statement?  And, of course, having a grateful heart would be part of ours.

Q: Tell me about Glory Haus.

I had some Glory Haus picture frames that a friend had given me as a gift.  I've always been really passionate about the gift industry.  I’d love to open a gift boutique some day.  And I thought how cool it would be for people to have visual reminders in their home to embrace gratefulness.  We were able to make it happen, and called it the Grateful Heart Collection.  It includes pictures frames, magnets, wall art, pillowcases, jewelry that is handmade by women in Haiti who are trying to support themselves, and "favorite part of the day" jars.

Q: It’s easy for people to be grateful at the holidays, but many need a gentle push throughout the rest of the year.  What’s the must-have item you recommend for the person wanting to embrace gratefulness everyday?

That’s easy.  The magnets.  My favorite says simply “inspire gratitude”.  They are small, and if you stick them on the refrigerator, the entire family will see them throughout the day.

Q: The Bachelor franchise is such a tight knit family that once you are part of it, it's almost impossible to leave (even if you try).  In the book, I love how you acknowledge the show getting you to where you are, but then move on to way more important things in your life.  How do you keep the balance of being "Trista from The Bachelorette", but way more than that,  "Trista the wife, mother, author, designer"?

Priorities.  That’s number one.  But it’s also who I surround myself with and where we live, making a conscious decision to come here and be in a small community.  I can’t walk around saying "I was on The Bachelorette".  It’s obnoxious.  Being isolated makes us more real.  My priority for me right now is my family.  That’s my hope for my future.  To focus on my family, to keep them happy and create good people, to encourage my kids to embrace nature and gratitude. 

Well, Trista, I think you found your mission statement.  You just need to put it in print.