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September 1, 2013

Robert Guinsler Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. 65 Bleeker Street New York, NY 10012 212.780.6050 www.sll.com

Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

oh ... hi. what’s going to happen here? gratuitous blurbs ............................................................... 3 introduction ....................................................................... 4 overview ............................................................................ 8 alternative titles ............................................................... 11 the experiments ................................................................... 12 who i am ............................................................................. 17 marketing & launch plan ....................................................... 18 bestseller campaign speaking / book tour tv show syndicated column strategic alliances the series ........................................................................... 27 table of contents ................................................................. 28 chapter summaries ................................................................ 29 sample chapters ................................................................... 45 prologue the background school of happiness ch. 1 - question ch. 5 - love sample outside writing .......................................................... 71 press kit .......................................... pls see separate attachment

Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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gratuitous blurbs “Allison is clearly a woman with a very open heart.” - The Wall Street Journal “Allison, in fact, is a genius1.” - Joel Stein, LA Times “No one knows how to make waves like Julia Allison. She's the perfect female ambassador for the self-as-guinea pig genre, a younger Gretchen Rubin meets a lazier me.  Or perhaps the humor of AJ Jacobs meets the PR wizardry of PT Barnum? Julia is hard to capture in words, which is precisely what makes this book so exciting. It might just inspire millions to break the rules and pursue happiness.” - Tim Ferriss, NYT bestselling author of The 4 Hour Workweek “Julia Allison brought sex, glamour & celebrity to the tech industry and is one of the most talented, entertaining writers I’ve had the privilege of knowing. This book will be huge.” - Randi Zuckerberg, author of Dot Complicated “Julia Allison has balls.” - Diablo Cody, Oscar winning screenwriter “Probably the single greatest quality a person can have is fearlessness. And Julia Allison is, in her willingness to experiment and report back on her successes and failures in the quest for true happiness, absolutely fearless."  - John Romaniello, NYT Bestselling author of Man 2.0 “You will sell a million copies of this book. I want a cut.” - Alec Shankman, Julia’s TV Agent2 “Aristotle for the digital generation.” - Imaginary Super Nice Well-Educated Famous Person “I’ve never met you, how did you get my email address?3” - Lena Dunham

1

Real quote. I know, I can’t believe it either.

He represents Duck Dynasty and Brandi Glanville, so that’s saying something, people. Like, he knows how to find Great American Literature. 2

3

This interaction occurred only in my mind. But it totally could have happened.

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introduction “If the ultimate goal is happiness, then wouldn't it make sense for you to study and learn more about [it]? With just a little bit of knowledge ... how much happier could you be?” - Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos & author of Delivering Happiness 4 Last year I ran a series of experiments I chronicled at ELLE and on BRAVO called “Guinea Pig of Love5.” I wanted to find out what was holding me back from finding and keeping the relationship I so desperately wanted. Traditional methods to solve the problem hadn’t helped, so I turned to unconventional experts: a love coach, a tarot card reader, a mind architect, pleasure camp, and ... witches (Yes. Witches.). It was a bizarre and difficult and surprisingly successful (!!) journey that ended in me releasing a lot of negativity and baggage, and beginning a massive paradigm shift that eventually led to the happy, healthy, deeply-fulfilling relationship I’m in now. No one was more surprised than me. I can say for sure that were it not for the help I received from these unconventional experts, I would have gotten dumped on date two with my now-fiancé6. So, it works. I KNOW it works. But happiness is a slippery eel. Maybe even more slippery than love, and that’s mighty slippery. Like so many before me, when faced with “getting everything I wanted” (within reason, I mean, I don’t have a Tesla or my own talk show with Ellen DeGeneres where I just hang out dancing in comfortable sneakers and goading Taylor Swift to explain her love life), I still felt like something was missing. Well. That’s on a good day. On a bad day ... I feel like something’s broken. So, that probably sounds melodramatic, but I also know I’m not the first person to have a seemingly unjustifiable7 existential crisis. In fact, most of us do - some of us several times in a lifetime. Some of us every day, upon awakening and before Starbucks. (Not you, of course. OTHER people.)

I’ll listen to anyone who made a billion dollars sending people cute shoes and wrote a book that includes a detailed account of his rave experiences. 4

Yes, I came up with the name myself, and yes, I realize it sort of vaguely sounds like I had fallen in love with a furry rodent. 5

6

Okay, fine. He’s still “just” a boyfriend, but it sounds like such a better story if I say fiancé!

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As my mother pointed out, I am not starving or dead and I still have all of my limbs.

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In “When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough,” a classic published when I was five, and all I ever wanted was to suck my thumb, Rabbi Harold Kushner writes:



Ask the average person what he wants out of life, and he will probably reply, “All I want is to be happy.” ... But in spite of all that, I suspect that most people most of the time do not feel happy.





Why should that sense of happiness be so elusive, eluding both those people who get what they want in life and those who don’t? Why should people with so many reasons to be happy feel so acutely that something is missing from their lives? Are we asking too much of life when we say, “All I want is to be happy”? Is happiness, like eternal youth or perpetual motion, a goal that we are not meant to reach, no matter how hard we work for it? Or is it possible for people to be happy, but we are going about it in the wrong way?

Rabbi Kushner sums up the questions that swirl around in our subconscious, coming to the surface of our lives every so often and, usually - unfortunately only deeply contemplated in the midst of a crisis. Is greater happiness possible? Or am I doomed to go through life mildly irritated at the injustice of it all 8? I began asking questions about happiness in 2010, when, after six brutal years in the city, I had a total New York mental breakdown breakthrough9 (more on that later) and fled to an ashram, where I - yep - found inner peace. And a lot of delicious Ayurvedic food. Om! Still, in the years since, happiness and enlightenment have yet to alight upon me for more than a few weeks. Which is better than before. But still ... are a few weeks of calm before the inevitable s--t storm as good as it gets? In other words ... to echo the question asked by every human in the middle of a midlife crisis, ever: is this IT? Alternating between states of Zen-like “it’s all good, even if my life feels totally out of control” calm and complete and abject terror, I occasionally wonder: “if this is how I feel when everything in my life is going WELL, how is it going to be if ... uh, when ... someone gets sick. Or dies?!” I’m screwed, because it does indeed seem that the whole death thing is an inevitability. And then there are the recurrent fears that pop up: the “well, maybe I just was born unhappy” or “maybe I destroyed my happiness in childhood, I can’t get it back now. It’s too late for me.” Or “maybe I was a vicious war criminal in a past life and I’m paying my karmic dues.” Am I missing some sort of contentment chip?

8 Mainly dying. I’m not down with that. I would like to know how I can effectively make sure no one I love EVER dies. 9

Shout out to Brene Brown for this reframe!

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What’s clear is that I want to be happy. Most people do. Maybe all people. Maybe even Kristen Stewart.10 But wanting to be happy and becoming happy are two entirely disparate things. I'm finally ready to acknowledge that unsettling fact and admit that if I want to actually become happy, I might have to first “be the change” and “get outside my comfort zone” and all that cliché crap. (Oh, sorry, that was my New York cynicism coming out. Let me put my nice-Midwestern-girl, raised-in-Chicago baseball cap on. Ah! Yay for change! It’ll all work out! Much better.) So I'm transforming myself into a "guinea pig of happiness," meeting with unconventional experts, doing unconventional - even odd - experiments and delving deep into my psyche to take a look at what toxic patterns I may have unconsciously been replicating in my life, barring me from a calmer, more peaceful, more content life. So ... Why experiment? My little brother is finishing up his phd in physics at MIT. (Yes, he’s the “good” kid. He is also married. Double parental bonus points.) That means he’s been doing experiments that involve lab coats for almost seven years now, which is both intimidating and also vaguely cool. Honestly, if there were a phd in happiness, I would apply to enter that program. Knowing me, I would also probably get rejected, but that’s another book. We could all benefit from turning our lives into phd programs for happiness. In fact, that’s exactly what most of the men & women I admire did. They might not have phrased it as such, mainly because it’s sort of dorky, but that was, in essence, their de facto game plan. They became autodidacts in wisdom, in meaning, in joy, in service, creativity, faith and love. I don’t expect bliss or ecstasy every day (without drugs), but I want to experience living a life that feels balanced, fulfilled, supportive, energetic - and I don’t believe that will “just happen naturally.” I believe that I have to engineer such a life, or at least set into motion a series of experiments that are likely to create a foundation for that outcome. Experiments keep us conscious, aware, present. By doing them we open up the possibility of living with more acceptance, energy, enjoyment and enthusiasm. We clarify our deepest desires, bring our goals & vision into perspective, heal wounds, and chuck old patterns that have kept us stuck. I’ve drunk the Kool-aid: I believe in transformation. My drug of choice is experiments, exercises and awkward deep & meaningful conversations. The only 10

Doubtful. But theoretically possible.

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guinea pig I have? Me. (Although sometimes I’ll rope in my boyfriend, at least until he attempts to dump me.) And now I have you, too. What? You thought you’d get away with buying a book called Experiments in Happiness without actually experimenting? You be wrong, my friend. You be very wrong. We’re in this together! And I have a hunch there are a few aspects of life that, if we figured them out, I think - just maybe - we might be happier. Or maybe happiness has nothing at all to do with the details or whether and how often we check Facebook. But it might! We really have a moral obligation to find out. Since I’ve always been a learning junkie, this book won’t just be about experiments. It will me investigating the answers - through philosophers, authors, seminars, coaching, and, yes, the American Girl company.11 Wherever I need to go for the answers, I’ll find them. By using myself as a case study, I hope to discover knowledge that will shed light on both timeless universal principals of happiness - for EVERYONE and specific insights about how each of us can achieve higher levels of joy and lasting contentment in 2014. You’re on your own for 2015, though. All of this to see whether it is possible to actually move toward the thing we all want most in life: a rent-controlled penthouse in Manhattan with a massage therapist, personal chef and an unlimited gift card to Whole Foods happiness. I don't know what will happen. Which I guess is the point of an introduction, isn’t it? “Here is what will happen. Now don’t bother reading the rest of my book!” But I’ll warn you: Experimenting with Happiness is Serious Stuff. Stuff that Requires Capitalization of Words in the Middle of Sentences. I don't expect it to be easy—or even, at times, quite as awesome as I would like. But SOMEONE has to join Gretchen Rubin on the front lines of Happiness, and I’m willing to wear the Joy Kevlar. (Too far with that analogy?) There's a lot of rubble in my soul, a lot of damage, a lot of baggage, a lot of sweeping melodramatic statements.12 It could be messy. It could involve eating frosting out of a can. But I hope I can learn to believe in joy again, or at least find some peace - and definitely some laugh gas laughter - even after all the heartache. Where’s a guitar? I feel like I’m writing a John Mayer song. So, yeah. Let’s get our experiment on! I hope you'll come along for the journey. Hey! Have you been there lately? They’re imbuing an entire generation of young girls with values like “follow your inner star” and “miniature outfits are really cute & cost $75 each!”

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I blame reading Gone with the Wind four times as a tween.

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overview Is happiness really possible? No? Then why did I buy 37 books about happiness?! Oh, it is? But you’re just not sure how?? Okay, then. Let’s find out! In a blend of memoir, self-help and gonzo journalism, I’ll transform myself into a "guinea pig of happiness,” putting my life to the test and reporting on the results with a mix of “my signature humor” (I’m quoting myself), and a truly uncomfortable number of parentheticals (what?!). The Goal? To find out The Definitive Answer to what prevents us all from a more joyous, consistently contented, super awesome life. (Best guess: reading about really rich people in Vanity Fair) The reader will meet unconventional experts (unless you think an African dude who calls himself “Beverly Hills Shaman” is conventional, in which case, I got nothin’) and watch as I embark on two dozen experiments that range from completely doable to downright crazy in a totally ... well, mostly ... uncensored account of my journey to happiness. I’m just proud I got through that last paragraph without using the word “zany.” Screw cleaning your closets and singing in the morning: Let’s go to Burning Man! What other questionable choices will I be making? I’ll take you ... • drinking ayahuasca with a shaman in Peru • starring in a Bravo reality tv show in Los Angeles13 • walking on hot coals at a Tony Robbins mega-conference • having sex dancing on a flaming art car at Burning Man • trying not to go completely crazy at a Silent Meditation Retreat • shutting down my FB & Twitter for a 6 month Total Social Media Detox (by far the most treacherous experiment in history of mankind) • consulting with a wizard on the East Coast, witches on the West Coast, and a psychic in ... where else? ... Vegas 13

Not recommended. Do not try this at home.

Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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Along the way I’ll share my conversations14 about happiness with revolutionary thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs, authors, scientists and philosophers. Sometimes, if I run out of fresh material, I’ll cut & paste old paragraphs from my college theology papers and intersperse them into the text to see if you’re still reading. Occasionally I’ll steal15 exercises that people smarter than me have come up with, and put them in little boxes throughout the chapters. You will understand they are very wise, and you will intend to do them, because you want to change your life, but you won’t, because you’re lazy. That’s okay, I have 1,700 exercises circled on my “HAPPPY NOW OR ELSE” list that I haven’t yet gotten to, and I figured I needed a good reason to actually do them. Enter: this book. Experiments in Happiness is organized into 12 chapters, the titles of which make up a solid foundation for a joyous, meaningful life: questioning, experimenting, exploring, creating, loving, playing, learning, contemplating, connecting, healing, prospering, and contributing. Each chapter will include multiple experiments, unless I die during one of them, in which case, the chapters following it will not include any experiments at all, but will instead just consist of a hundred “This Page Intentionally Left Blank,” so my heirs (one small white shih-tzu) will still receive the rest of the advance cheque.16 We’re in this together now: I really do care about us being happy, but let’s be serious, I can’t order Ryan Gosling to sext us every night, so in the meantime, let’s talk about other methods to joy, love, faith and creativity. Or whatever you want. All those alliterative Cosmo cover lines, scintillating sex, ridiculous romance, fabulous fashion, bodacious body, brilliant brains (oh, wait. They have never written those last two words, EVER). But what is it you want, anyway? Do I sound like your angry ex? “WHAT DO YOU EVEN WANT, damnit!?” Well, we can discuss more what you want, but in the meantime, here’s what I want: magic. Not that lame “oh, what a magical night” kind of crap. No. I want the full out, I turn into a unicorn and everyone is super jealous type. Okay, or maybe not a unicorn. I’ll settle for “getting proposed to one day,” which, as any of my

They will go roughly like this: “How are you so happy??? Hello? Helloooo? Are you meditating AGAIN!? WTF, Buddha?”

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With permission, which I guess means I’m not stealing, but I think calling it stealing makes me sound edgy.

15

I am not British but I feel very sophisticated when I spell check with a “q.” It’s the least I can do to make up for not being born Kate Middleton, which deeply irritates me nearly every day.

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friends will tell you, will take a great deal of magic, and perhaps some outright bribery by my parents (“Please. Please just marry her!”) Other topics of discussion throughout this epic treatise (some are comparing it to the Aeneid. Okay, fine. No one is doing that.): - whether it is morally acceptable to deny committing the crime of “water damage” at Apple, despite knowing full well you washed your iPod on hot. Twice. - whether my eventual slide from uptight preppie into new age hippie means I can now get away with using the two fingered peace sign as a go-to pose in candids. - whether one will be smited by God if one occasionally feels an overwhelming desire to text one’s least favorite old boyfriends to inform them that they are still, in fact, strongly disliked. And sure, occasionally I’ll get all serious and talk about serious stuff, like love, death, the meaning of life and how I once several times cried over a car commercial depicting a man driving 400 miles every weekend to see his fiancée. This is the explorer’s guide to happiness that will transcend “self-help” to create a global movement of experimentation and spiritual inquiry in a new generation. Throw out conventional wisdom! What ACTUALLY works?! At the end of all this, I expect you to be able to answer one question, a question that has changed so many people’s lives: “What is a truly joyful, deep, meaningful life, and at what online store can we purchase it? Thanks!” *****

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alternative titles POSSIBLE TITLES: Happy, Happier, Happiest The Happiness Experiments Heading Toward Happy Student of Happiness The Happiness Challenge On Happiness PhD in Happiness POSSIBLE SUBTITLES: Experiments in Happiness: how to trial & error your way to getting everything you REALLY want Happy, Happier, Happiest: how to build your own foundation for happiness Student of Happiness: one woman’s quest to become the happiest person alive Heading Toward Happy: an epic quest to break free of fairytale and discover the reality of love, happiness and the meaning of life

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the experiments ... A few years ago I started a google doc called The Ultimate List. These are the things I wanted to accomplish, ideally before 35, or before I died, whichever came first. They were things like: - Attend Burning Man - Get a tattoo (Avoid butterflies, stars, initials of men who will soon be your ex) - Film a reality show - Be a Big Sister. A cool one, though. - Spend a week at a silent retreat. Being silent. Make it out alive. - Write an article for the New York Times - Ride in a hot air balloon while singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” - Get sexted by Aaron Sorkin (What!? Like you haven’t fantasized about it? Oh. You haven’t? Well. You should.) - Have a past life regression. Hopefully I was a King. - Interview Deepak Chopra. Ask him what color is the “most evolved.” - Get un-banned from the TIME 100 Most Influential People dinner - Give a TED Talk. (Requires world-changing idea. Think of one.) - Speak about love and sexuality at my alma mater, Georgetown. Bonus points if Jesuit Priests stage boycott. - Hang out with Spanx Founder Sara Blakely. Ask if I can see her spanx. - Give keynote at SXSW. (Possibly do yoga headstand in middle of speech?) - Teach Ellen Degeneres a new dance move. (Come up with dance move first.) - Conduct a birthday parade. - Own a hammock. Also, use it. - Dress as a sparkle rainbow for the SF Gay Pride parade. - Attend a sex party (so many questions here: is it like Gossip Girl? Is it like Eyes Wide Shut? Is it like the Hustler Club?) - Learn self-defense. Try it out on someone menacing. - Compose hand written letters to everyone who has inspired me. One person, every day, for a month. Send them in the actual mail, by placing them into those blue things called mailboxes. - Visit a nudist colony. Leave iPhone camera at home. For everyone’s sake. - Learn how to back handspring without breaking ankle and/or neck and/or nose - Get health insurance. No, seriously. Get it. - Run a 5k without walking and/or dying - Guest anchor the news. Do something ridiculous. Crowdsource exactly what. - Get my dog on the cover of a dog magazine. Tell people she’s too famous to give them her pawtograph. - Get married 20 times, to same person. With no divorces. (Can you even do that?) Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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So we learn a few things about happiness: 1) Parades, particularly ones in which people can dress in something involving sequins, make some people happy, for reasons that are unknown. 2) Happiness can and should involve Aaron Sorkin, ironically. 3) Everyone should start an Ultimate List. On their iPhone. Right now. Seriously ... experiments are an awesome way to start LIVING. In case it isn’t already abundantly clear: I’m an unabashed experience junkie, a life-tracking junkie, a self-help & personal development junkie. You say something’s going to make my life better? Here’s my email address! Here’s my credit card! Here’s my virginity! (umm ... oh, wait.) I’m also a big dictionary fan, so I looked up this definition for you. (You’re welcome.) HEURISTIC, adj. - enabling a persona to discover or learn something for themselves (proceeding to a solution by trial and error or by rules that are only loosely defined.) My life strategy, if you could even call it that (and I definitely wouldn’t, except I needed a noun after “life”), is heuristic - ridiculously so - in the sense that basically, I just don’t follow rules, and I trial and error and error and error my way to discoveries, learnings, and finally, eventually, a little bit of wisdom. I love trying EVERYTHING, and I love the stories that result. My motto in my twenties was “There’s no such thing as a bad date.17 Just good dates - and good stories!” (hey, I was writing a dating column). I feel that way about life experiences, too, although perhaps not quite as glibly as before. That’s the mindset with which I’ll be approaching the experiments in this book like a great adventure. I expect some of them to fail. In fact, it wouldn’t be fun if they didn’t (although frankly, I’m glad the whole “walking on hot coals” thing worked out.) Some of the experiments I have already conducted (like partaking in ayahuasca with a shaman in Peru, attending Burning Man, going through the crucible of television generally, and a reality show specifically), others I have yet to conduct, like learning stand up comedy (wouldn’t that make ANYONE happy? ... wait. No. No, this is a terrible idea. WHO PUT THAT ON THE LIST?!)

Caveat: this mantra expires after ten years, or in your thirties, whichever comes first. After a decade of dating, I feel strongly most people have enough “good stories.”

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EXPERIMENT NOTES 1. Some experiments will merit a paragraph, others several pages, and still others, mentions across the chapters, running throughout the book. 2. Experiments will be divided into MINOR, MEDIUM & F--KING CRAZY 3. I have listed - on purpose - FAR more experiments than I will actually include (or even conduct) for the book. The reasoning here is twofold: a. I would like to work closely with an editor to determine which of these experiments will serve to strengthen the book most. b. Like anything, I realize that some experiments I expect to be deep, powerful, interesting or funny won’t turn out to be that way, while others I might not expect to be that way, will. Doing more than I need ensures I have a healthy base from which to draw for the book.

completed experiments Ashram (3 times!) “Digital Detox” - shut down FB/Twitter/social media for 6 months (seriously.) Filming a Bravo reality tv show (perhaps the most crazy thing on ANY list) Burning Man (also 3 times!) Drinking ayahuasca in Peru with a shaman Walking on hot coals at a Tony Robbins mega-conference Attending Pleasure Camp in Manhattan Giving up my apartment and being “homeless by choice” for 14 months Buddhist Chanting/Sat Sung Witches & Tarot Card Reader in LA, Wizard in NYC, Psychic in Vegas Tattoo (a meaningful one! no. it is not a rose. or stars. or a butterfly.) Improv at Second City in Chicago Therapy (the “essence process”) Ancient baths & other healing processes (colonics, energy work, etc)

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future experiments MINOR: Create everyday rituals Tracking pleasure in normal activities (warm baths, dinner, massages, sex) Compose hand written letters to everyone who has inspired me Nursing home volunteer / adopt an awesome senior Attend Hospice grief training 30 Day green juice cleanse MEDIUM: Re-imagine holiday celebrations (birthdays, Thanksgiving, Xmas, etc) Feung Shui my house Run one mile every day for a month (this is HARD for an anti-athlete!!) Attend a Great Books class at my alma mater during “Meaning of Life” day Learn how to dance again (I was a cheerleader for Georgetown basketball) Try out a total immersion sensory deprivation flotation tank Learn self-defense Bathe in the naked hot springs of Esalen Create a motivational poster that goes viral! (like the Holstee manifesto) Write a song with my musician former roommate (outside my comfort zone!) Heal from the grief of my grandmother’s death CRAZY: Happiness RV (just purchased) cross-country journey interviewing people on joy Silent retreat Past lives regression Live in Malaysia for a month, working at Mind Valley headquarters Dance with Ellen DeGeneres Learning stand-up comedy* (I think this is actually more like “F--KING crazy”) Visiting the sacred temples of Damanhur in Italy Visit a nudist colony / Attempt a private nude boudoir shoot Speak about sex at alma mater (Georgetown) Create exhibit about online hate & bullying at MOMA Do a TED talk on happiness Learn how to reiki heal Start a dance party in the middle of times square Run the Disney Princess half marathon (tiaras will be worn, unlikely I will finish) Get married, have multiple weddings - to see which type makes me happiest! (er, have to get proposed to first ...)

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interviews AUTHORS:

Eckhart Tolle

Tony Robbins

Deepak Chopra

Marianne Williamson

Doreen Virtue

Gretchen Rubin

Harold Kushner, rabbi

Christopher Ryan, PhD, NYT bestselling author of “Sex at Dawn” ACADEMICS:

Daniel Gilbert, Harvard Professor & author of Stumbling on Happiness

Martin Seligman, professor at U of Penn, pioneer of positive psych

Martha Beck, PhD, Oprah’s life coach

Brene Brown, PhD, author of 3 bestselling books & one famous TED talk

Gay Hendricks, Stanford PhD, author of many bestselling psychology books

Alan Lightman, PhD, Professor at MIT, author of “Einstein’s Dreams” ENTREPRENEURS:

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter & Square

Mark Zuckerberg (do flip flops lead to happiness? we’ll find out.)

David Karp, founder of Tumblr ENTERTAINERS/ARTISTS:

Diablo Cody, Oscar winning screenwriter

Jimmy Fallon, famously happy talk show host

Ellen DeGeneres, other famously happy talk show host

Tina Fey

Kelly Ripa

Honey Boo Boo (maybe the happiest human being ever)

Duck Dynasty family (happiest duck hunting family ever) And many, many others ...

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who i am Julia is a philosopher/seeker/adventurer/journalist, a cross between a big sister (to some) and a little sister (to others), a spiritual guide and a best friend (if your best friend continually demands that you “try this crazy thing, just once, for her, please please please, and smile for the camera! SERIOUSLY SMILE, goddamnit!”) Yeah, I said it. I’m a philosopher. (And now I’m no longer writing in the third person, because, let’s be honest, it’s a little weird.) Of course, my definition of philosopher also includes Taylor Swift, so just keep that context clear. Listen, Aristotle isn’t the only one who can ask what defines the “good life.” Most importantly, I’m a student of happiness myself right now. I believe we teach what we ourselves need to learn, and I very much need to learn how to be happy.

please see press kit for more detail! *With my 10-year-old shih-tzu, @Lillydog. Yes. She has her own Twitter account, but she’s on a social media detox too, preferring instead to concentrate her energies on a rigorous schedule of excessive napping in real life.

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next level marketing campaign Newsweek called me a “Marketing Machine.” What would happen if I leveraged my worldwide following, decade plus tv & print experience, innovative mastery of social media, 100+ major newspaper, magazine, blog & tv contacts, access to the most influential media, entertainment & tech leaders on the planet (including celebs), marketing partners with lists that include millions of potential customers, and unfailing ability to create massive explosions online? A movement ... and a New York Times Bestselling book. “Julia is now a recognized expert in using new media to create and perpetuate a personal brand online.” - BigThink.com “[Allison] has made the process of self-promotion into its own freaky art form. Traditionally, it takes an army of publicists, a well-connected family, or a bigbudget ad campaign to make this kind of splash. But Allison has done it on her own and on the cheap, armed only with a healthy helping of Web savvy.” - WIRED cover story “[Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Simon Clift] pointed to Julia Allison’s rise from obscurity via her blog and other social tools, which he said shows ‘what’s possible with no resources [and] no agency’ … She’s a lesson for a $50 billion-plus behemoth like Unilever, Mr. Clift said. ‘It is possible to become famous on a dollar and a dream. Imagine what’s possible to do with our brands and our resources.’” - AdAge “Other brands need to study how Julia pulled off one of the best PR success stories in digital media … Julia is one of the best PR minds of a new era of digital media. Imagine if she put this energy into your crappy product.” - Point-Oh.com “One of the first people to harness web 2.0 and leverage her own personality to make something of a name, and a paycheck, for herself.” - TheStreet.com

HEADLINING THE HAPPINESS MOVEMENT

• I’m not just writing a book - I’m launching a happiness startup. The book is the primary product - the heart of the company - but it does NOT stand alone. As such this will include everything from a website with a blog to an app, from merchandise to motivational posters, from a book tour (in a Happiness RV!) to video trailers to a YouTube happiness series, from a tv project to a documentary or even a potential feature film - and more! See diagram below.

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Publicity is my biggest strength, and I take it seriously. Below are 20 reasons this book will be a runaway bestseller:

1. BESTSELLER CAMPAIGN • Although I have done 100% of my own PR up until the BRAVO show without any help (3 magazine covers & hundreds of tv appearances & print articles with no reps whatsoever), I believe more is more when it comes to marketing books, so I will be supplementing my significant rolodex with 2 PR agencies and 2-3 marketing firms. I will not be taking any chances with this book hitting the NYT bestseller list. a. PR Reps: I will be hiring no less than TWO PR reps, including one I worked with for my Bravo show and one who has twenty years experience in the business. b. Marketing Agencies: I plan to work with the following marketing teams i. Brasscheck, run by Ryan Holiday, head of marketing for American Apparel, who has masterminded many bestsellers, including books by Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene and Tucker Max. They specialize in creating “spreadable messages” (aka memes). ii. Mekanism, the well-known creative agency which runs award-winning experimental campaigns for everyone from Nordstrom to Art.com Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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2. PUBLICITY • Please see my press kit for my EXTENSIVE experience in traditional publicity. Anything I’ve already done, any appearance I’ve already made, is fairly easy to secure again with a new project. This will include both a MAJOR satellite media tour as well as an actual multi-city tour in which I make speaking, media & publicity appearances in over 15 US cities. a. TV i. There is no major network - from NBC to CNN to MTV - I haven’t appeared on, usually dozens of times. I have strong contacts at all of the morning shows, and all of the talk shows, including The Today Show, GMA, The Early Show, Fox & Friends, Wendy Williams, Bethenny, Chelsea Lately, Bravo’s Watch What Happens, etc. etc. Potential for regular Today Show happiness contributor in addition to the rounds. b. Print i. I have contacts at most major newspapers, including the NYT, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, as well as magazines like Cosmo, ELLE, Glamour, Vogue, WIRED, Fast Company, INC., Psychology Today, Women’s Health, The Atlantic, etc, who will cover the book in an exciting manner - not small blurbs, but big stories, even potential covers. c. Online Media/Blogs i. I know personally many of the top bloggers in the United States, and can plan coverage on most of their websites. I also know the founders of Reddit & Stumble Upon, and plan to utilize their aggregates to nab eyeballs. d. Podcasts i. There is no media outlet I will turn down, and podcasts are a powerful new way to reach potential readers. e. Radio i. I’ve done everything from Sirius to NPR, and I would be shooting for a Fresh Air segment here (something I have done before).

3. BLOG

a. Rebranding & relaunching my popular blog, xoJulia.com with Happiness theme in late 2013/early 2014 so a big audience chomping at the bit for a happiness book can start to develop, a la The Happiness Project (but younger, more modern, edgier). i. At its height, JuliaAllison.com brought in 800,000 visitors a month. ii. When I left NY to film the BRAVO show, I stopped blogging - still, my audience is clamoring for me to blog again and I’ve been biding my time for the right moment to rebrand with energy & enthusiasm. b. Blog will be filled with excerpts, competitions, polls, quotes, behind the scenes and reader generated content, creating a worldwide following of people who are excited to evangelize and take action. c. URLs for Experiments in Happiness already registered.

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4. PRE ORDER FRONT-LOADING a. Pre-orders are the surest way to achieve and maintain bestseller status, and I take them very seriously! I’ve learned from the best - my friends Tim Ferriss, John Romaniello, Ramit Sethi & Gary Vaynerchuk, among other NYT bestselling friends - and will follow their intricate pre-order front-loading strategies with their direct help. b. With the use of my aggregated email lists with millions of potential customers, major blogs and social media, I will launch a powerful incentives campaign to target enough pre-orders to assure bestseller status, offering substantial amounts of my time and various other prizes to readers in exchange for bulk orders of the book.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA

a. Twitter - over 200,000 followers on @juliaallison & 5,000 on @julia b. Facebook - over 72,000 fans c. YouTube channel - total views approx. 1,600,000

6. EMAIL LIST

a. Emails lists are a crucial component of the pre-order frontloading marketing campaign. Between my list (which has been compiled over the course of several years, including during my BRAVO show), and the lists of my good friends, I have over 500,000 eager customers, ready to purchase a book about happiness. b. Including marketing partners - with whom I have great relationships - that number goes into the multi-millions.

7. SYNDICATED PRINT COLUMN

a. I plan to write a corresponding syndicated column to generate interest in the book, timed to get readers ready to purchase prior to publication. b. I’ve already had several long-running columns - the most recent of which was an internationally syndicated column in 2011 with the Tribune Media Services, and a column in 2012 for ELLE. c. Creator’s Syndicate has had a long standing offer out to me to write a syndicated column for their newspapers, and ELLE would be interested in Experiments in Happiness, as they published Guinea Pig of Love.

8. EXCERPTS / GUEST POSTING / ONE-OFF ARTICLES

a. Experiments in Happiness can be readily adapted into short articles & guest posts targeted to a wide variety of audiences. b. I will prepare dozens of articles timed to launch near publication date for as many of the following as possible: ELLE, The Atlantic, Glamour, Self, NYT, NY Post, Cosmo, Men’s Health, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, xoJane, The Gloss, etc or any of the dozens of magazines & newspapers I have already published in. Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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9. SEARCH ENGINES & SEO a. My columns have been syndicated on Yahoo’s front page, resulting in millions of clicks and views for my content. I would have conversations with all of the major portals to both create Experiments in Happiness content for them and lead readers to preorder or purchase the book. b. I know some of the best SEO mavens in the world. They will be hired and utilized to dominate the Happiness keyword SEO.

10.SPEAKING

a. Please see the speaking section in my press kit - I have a significant background in public speaking and have spoken at MIT, Wharton, Harvard, SXSW and many large conferences around the world. With the publication of Experiments in Happiness, I would embark on a countrywide speaking tour with a variety of speeches tailored to the content of the book,(different audiences include: entrepreneurs and business owners, students, women, etc.) I am in talks with several major speaking bureaus and will be represented by one by the fall. b. Specifically I seek to keynote SXSW, hit many of the major business conferences, do the tech circuit (BlogWorld, BlogHer), conduct a college speaking tour, and of course - the biggie - give a TED talk. Ideally the big TED, but if not, a major TEDx.

11.BOOK TOUR

a. Some say the Book Tour is old-fashioned. Not me! I plan to conduct a MASSIVE 15 city book tour, by driving my Happiness RV (Yes, I own one, and yes, it will be mentioned in the book) across the country, doing publicity, tv spots, throwing book parties, readings, signings, speaking engagements and book related events. b. The Happiness Book Tour will also include filming for my YouTube happiness series and/or my documentary and/or my tv show (more on that in the tv section). c. I am a 2013 Intel advisor (they have half a dozen each year) and this is exactly the sort of thing they sponsor, so likely it will be sponsored by them. But even if it’s not I will pay for it out of my own pocket.

12. BOOK PARTIES

a. I will throw huge book parties in NY, SF, LA & Chicago (a few other cities, depending on book tour events). These parties will target influencers and celebs, sell books, get press and possibly be filmed for the tv show.

13. APP

a. My tech team, in a possible joint project with my friend Brit Morin of Brit.co, the Martha Stewart of the Facebook Generation, will create an iPhone/Android app that includes all of the exercises from the book - the daily gratitude journal reminders, the meditation asanas, the Ultimate List creation tool.

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14. BOOK VIDEO TRAILER • I will create two official book trailers - one by Epipheo & one by the talented videographer Charles Phillips: a. Epipheo - (see http://bit.ly/173bHpX for what they do) i. Tim Ferriss’ Epipheo for the 4 Hour Body - http://tiny.cc/1eb91w ii. Tim Ferriss’ Epipheo for the 4 Hour Chef - http://tiny.cc/3fb91w b. Charles Phillips, filmmaker - Tim Ferriss 4 Hour Chef launch party video http://vimeo.com/33420209

15. EXPERIMENTS IN HAPPINESS! MOVEMENT WEBSITE

a. My tech team will create a website that encourages submissions for the website as well as the documentary/tv show/YouTube series, like a Post Secret or a Buried Life (“What do you want to do before you die?”) b. We will create a meme: Be your own guinea pig! Encouraging readers to create and curate their own Ultimate List, take photos or videos, and send them in like a scavenger hunt. These will then be organized and displayed to inspire others, and of course stir up interest in the book!

16. MERCHANDISE a. Bumper stickers, chocolate bars, iPhone covers, motivational posters and throw pillows with witty sayings (hello, they’re IN right now!) - all of that good stuff, made easily by one-stop-shop companies like Zazzle and Society6.com.

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17.YOUTUBE SERIES a. I plan to execute a professionally produced YouTube happiness series, with influential guests ranging from celebs to tech luminaries to YouTube stars to famous authors, speaking about what makes them happy and answering the same questions I do in the book. b. I executive produced & starred in 120+ episodes of a Next New Networks production of TML Weekly that aired on NBC New York in 2009-2010, so I’m a veteran of this.

18.TV SHOW

a. I’m currently in talks with a variety of networks from BRAVO to Lifetime to the new Esquire (formerly G4) channel to produce and host an Experiments in Happiness television show. My executive producer from my BRAVO show has agreed to produce it, and Randi Zuckerberg is interested in executive producing it as well. The format for the show is still up for debate, but it would likely involve filming me doing some of the experiments for the book. b. This is similar to what I did with the BRAVO show - we filmed 75% of the experiments I did for ELLE’s Guinea Pig of Love, such that the readers could both watch the experiment, then read to gain additional perspective. They were not duplicative, as the experiences visually only enhanced the written material. c. Additionally, the show might cover the Happiness RV cross-country road trip / book tour.

19. INTERVIEWING ICONIC FIGURES / CELEBRITY FOREWORD a. I plan to interview a wide variety of prominent iconic figures, from authors to entrepreneurs, to include a quote or two from them in the book and thereby co-opt their enthusiasm and support for the project. Figures will include Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins, Jack Dorsey, etc. As the book is about happiness, I expect a 90% positive response rate from the figures involved. b. I plan to secure a celebrity foreword. Celebrities up for consideration include Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Tim Ferriss, Gretchen Rubin, AJ Jacobs, Diablo Cody, Ashton Kutcher, and Randi Zuckerberg.

20.CELEBRITY BOOK PLACEMENT

a. In addition to the celebrities we’ll have on the YouTube series and tv show, we will secure dozens of paparazzi photographs with various celebs, from Ashton Kutcher to MC Hammer to Ashley Tisdale to Brandi Glanvile to (possibly) Richard Branson holding Experiments in Happiness (aka The Skinny Bitch effect). Please see list of agent’s other clients for sure bets, in ADDITION to other prominent celebrities with whom I have connections.

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strategic alliances My network has always been vital to my career success. The following friends & close contacts will provide blurbs, quotes, and recommendations to their massive followings: NYT Bestselling Authors - Tim Ferriss - AJ Jacobs - Gretchen Rubin - Neil Strauss - Meghan McCain - Ramit Sethi - Kate White - John Romaniello - Cindy Chupack - Gaby Bernstein - Gary Vaynerchuk - Christopher Ryan Notable Supportive Influencers - Senator Mark Kirk - Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebooker, exec producer of BRAVO’s Silicon Valley - Diablo Cody, Oscar winner - Michael Wilbon, ESPN host - E Jean Carroll, ELLE columnist - Shira Lazar, Emmy nominated host of What’s Trending - Nick Bilton, NYT columnist - Taryn Southern, actress & YouTube star (25 m views on her YouTube channel) - David Karp, founder of Tumblr - Sean Parker, former President of Facebook - Garrett Camp, founder of StumbleUpon - Alexi Ohanian, founder of Reddit - Kevin Rose, founder of Digg - Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter & Square - Dave Morin, founder of Path, early employee at Facebook - Brit Morin, founder of Brit.co, Today Show contributor - Dave Zinczenko, former EIC of Men’s Health - Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia - Katrina Szish, tv commentator - Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo, with a list of over 700,000 subscribers - Eben Pagan, founder of DoubleYourDating, with a list of over a million - Robert Scoble, prominent tech blogger - Kristin Thorne, Emmy winning ABC news reporter - Michael Ellsberg, Forbes columnist Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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- Amber Rae, Fast Company columnist - Karen McCullah Lutz, screenwriter for Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Ugly Truth, House Bunny, Ella Enchanted - Jesse Draper, host of ValleyGirl - Jeremy Bronson, writer at The Mindy Project - Eric Kuhn, social media agent at UTA - Jake Kline, entertainment editor of the Sun Sentinel In addition to writers from: - NYT - WSJ - San Francisco Chronicle - Chicago Tribune - WIRED - Glamour - Fast Company - INC - Newsweek - Playboy - TechCrunch - Jezebel - Nerve Celebrities who would possibly do endorsements, blurbs or photos with book: Ashley Tisdale ABC’s Bachelor/Bachelorette(s) Ashton Kutcher 18 Chelsea Lately “star-intern” Ryan Basford TV agent’s other clients: BRAVO’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Brandi Granville A&E’s Duck Dynasty ABC’s Dancing with the Stars personalities BRAVO stars National Geographic’s Wicked Tuna History Channel’s Swamp People19 EXTRA on-air talent

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Maybe. MAYBE.

I cannot imagine what an endorsement from a Swamp Person would entail but I WANT IT DAMNIT.

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the series “Experiments in Happiness” can be the first book in a series, modeling the lead of NYT bestselling authors AJ Jacobs (“Drop Dead Healthy,” “The Year of Living Biblically,” “The Know-It-All” and “My Life as an Experiment.”), Tim Ferriss (“The 4 Hour Workweek,” “The 4 Hour Body,” “The 4 Hour Chef”) and Gretchen Rubin (“The Happiness Project,” “Happier at Home”). Like these authors, I will continue onto subjects that are fascinating to me with the same voice, curiosity, and experimental style. Possible titles & subjects range from “Experiments in Love,” “Experiments in Marriage,” “Experiments in Homes,” “Experiments in Technology,” etc. ***** Top Photo: What writers pretend writing is like. Yay!

Bottom Photo: What writers actually FEEL writing is like.

Not shown: Perspective of any sort. geez, there’s no need to be dramatic about it. It’s just a book. Everybody calm down.

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table of contents Chapter 1: Question (Be a Journalist) Chapter 2: Experiment (Be a Scientist) Chapter 3: Explore (Be a Discoverer/Adventurer) Chapter 4: Create (Be an Artist) Chapter 5: Love (Be a Lover/Partner) Chapter 6: Play (Be a Child) Chapter 7: Learn (Be a Student/Scholar) Chapter 8: Contemplate (Be a Philosopher/Minister/Hippie) Chapter 9: Connect (Be a Friend, Daughter/Son) Chapter 10: Heal (Be a Doctor/Chef/Personal Trainer/Yogi) Chapter 11: Prosper (Be a Rainmaker) Chapter 12: Contribute (Be a Philanthropist/Giver)

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chapter summaries CHAPTER ORGANIZATION - Each chapter will encompass the following: 1) experiments, encompassing stories & insights 2)occasional references to scientific studies 3)excerpts of interviews with modern day philosophers & authors 4)wisdom from ancient philosophers, authors, experts 5)tools/exercises/practices (either in boxes, or at the end of the chapter) DEFINING HAPPINESS: A Brief Discussion of the Terms What does happiness really mean? Is it pleasure? Passion? Purpose? We’ll discuss how defining happiness also creates your experiences around the concept ... in a way that is much less boring than this description. ;-) THE GOALS: Have an adventure, create or re-create or re-energize your sense of purpose, embark on a modern day vision quest, learn the tools to unleash latent abilities, stand up for yourself, live up to your creative potential, take risks, dig deep into spirituality, process personal pain, break old patterns, transform old paradigms. Become a seeker. Finally ... There are no real rules. These are just experiments. I am a hunter gatherer of ideas, of strategies, of wisdom from unusual sources, of lives lived differently. This is all a great adventure. Let’s explore together. Q: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? A: Happy.

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***CHAPTER 1: QUESTION (Be a Journalist) LEADING A LIFE OF INQUIRY: I believe SO strongly in this that I've let it shape my life. I first became a journalist when I was at Georgetown and I COULD NOT STAND to have yet another conversation at a keg party about how "wasted" everyone had been the night before. I knew that we were all desperate to go deeper than that, desperate to connect with one another, but we didn't know how. So I did the only thing I could think of: I got a little notebook and a pen, and started asking people questions - whatever I was interested in (which at the time was mostly dating related. Hey, it was college, what can I say?!) - and published it all in the school newspaper, once a week, for almost two years. It changed my entire academic experience, deepened it, enriched it. And I've been a reporter journalist, columnist, inveterate interrogator - ever since. I've questioned everything from politics to dating to relationships to psychology to pop culture to technology to social media to spirituality to sex. In the process, worlds have been opened to me I could never have imagined. EXPERIMENTS will include: - Filming a Bravo reality show (specifically undergoing the intense, somewhat insane questioning process that occurs both pre-production and in the infamous interview chairs during production. Let’s put it this way: reality show producers make the Spanish inquisition look tame. That said, delving deep into your darkest corners DOES actually free you from some of your demons. Who knew reality shows could lead to enlightenment?) - Parental questioning with love expert Kavita Patel (she leads you through a series of exercises designed to ask your parents crucial questions about their own childhoods that will allow you to understand them better, and thus understand your own childhood - which shapes your current belief systems better. I’ve already tried it on my dad and it WORKS!! Sort of eerie, really.) - Asking funny or deep questions on happiness to everyone I meet (“Man on the Street” style - perhaps in the Happiness RV or filmed for the tv show/ YouTube) EXERCISES will include: - Questions for you to ask yourself (a long list of intense questions you can ask yourself to find out what’s really going on with your life path / happiness levels) - Changing up your conversations with others (this exercise teaches you how to have deeper conversations and connections with people you interact with in social situations, your family, friends, or even at the office.) - See sample chapter 1 for other exercises in greater detail

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***CHAPTER 2: EXPERIMENT (Be a Scientist) LEADING A LIFE OF EXPERIMENTATION: I am either the most cowardly brave person or bravest coward I know. I love the IDEA of great adventures (yes! I’ll jump out of that plane! Sure! I’ll backpack through the jungles of Ecuador!) and the reality scares the s--t out of me. But what I know is this: experimenting is THE best - and sometimes only - way to learn definitively what makes you happy. If you don’t try something, you’ll never know. This chapter is where I set up the theme for the rest of the book: try EVERYTHING. Try little things. Try crazy things. Try things you know will make you uncomfortable. Because real happiness, according to most of the literature, has quite a bit to do with putting yourself far outside of your comfort zone. As New York Magazine’s Kathryn Schulz writes in a January 2013 cover story “The Self in Self-Help”:

“Maybe we humans change the way species do: through random variation. If that's the case then the strategy we've arrived at out of necessity might be the best one anyone could design. Try something. Better yet - try everything - throw all the options at the occluding wall of the self and see what sticks. Meditation, marathon training, fasting, free writing, hiking the Pacific Coast trail, speed-dating, volunteering, moving to Auckland, redecorating the living room: as long as you steer clear of self harm and felony you might as well do anything you can to your inner and outer ecosystems that might induce a beneficial mutation.” EXPERIMENTS will include: - Drinking ayahuasca in Peru with a shaman (This is the most exciting and crazy experiment I embarked on for the book. The ancient hallucinogenic tea ayahuasca has become increasingly famous in recent years as a shortcut to enlightenment for wealthy hippie-entrepreneurs. No longer do you have to spend a decade meditating - one night with ayahuasca can change your whole life. You never know what you’ll get - an a-kicking, or a gentle lovefest. You DO know that it will be powerful, and you’ll come back from it realizing that you’ve gone about life - and happiness - the wrong way the whole time.) - Complete digital/social media 6 month detox (I’ve been addicted to social media since before its inception - I programmed my own website - including blog - in HTML when I was 19, years before Facebook, a decade before Twitter. In the intervening years I’ve been tied to it with a digital leash, yanking me back into its vortex every few minutes. This June, I decided to go cold turkey. I deactivated both my Facebook and Twitter accounts, deleting the apps from my iPhone. What I discovered in the silence was remarkable ... and taught me A LOT about happiness, both real and imagined.) - Walking on hot coals at Tony Robbins (This was an incredible experiment in overcoming fear. Only a handful of times in my life have I been so terrified.) EXERCISES will include: - Creating an Ultimate List for yourself (Similar to a bucket list, this is a document with everything you’ve ever wanted to try - and maybe a few things you sort of DON’T want to try, but know you should. Like run a mile every day for a month or go on a juice cleanse for a week, etc.) - Creating experiments out of daily life - (Re-evaluating & tracking happiness in everyday activities.)

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***CHAPTER 3: EXPLORE (Be a Discoverer/Adventurer) LEADING A LIFE OF EXPLORATION: You don't just have the freedom to explore - you have the responsibility as a human being to do so. I’m closer to Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde than Indiana Jones. But some of my best life experiences have been when I explore - canoeing the boundary waters in Canada, traversing the jungles of Ecuador, living without a permanent home for 14 months two years ago. “Experience is the new luxury,” says Will Dean, founder of Tough Mudder, which is that insane obstacle course/endurance race challenge that is ridiculously popular right now. “Memories and experiences actually appreciate over time.” Plus, as one unconventional thinker put it, “Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” I’m going to look for happiness in ... places besides Disneyland. ;-) EXPERIMENTS will include: - Living without a permanent home for 14 Months (I’ll explain how exploring the country while being technically homeless, just using friends couches, AirBnB, etc, changed by life - this might go along with the Happiness RV explorations as well.) - Living in Malaysia for a month, working at Mind Valley headquarters (Mind Valley is a huge organization devoted to self-actualization and happiness. They were originally based in SF but moved to Malaysia a year or two ago. They have an epic team, and it would be fascinating to explore their culture and knowledge on the happiness movement from a foreign country.) - Visiting the sacred temples of Damanhur in Italy (These temples are renowned for their healing properties, as well as their courses on enlightenment. I would spend at least a week learning there.) - Climb Kilimanjaro (One way to build the “self-confidence” my grade school PE teachers said I lacked: climb a mountain. Literally. I’m guessing the experience will go like this: I climbed a mountain, it was horrific and miserable, now, in comparison, I’m really joyful I never have to do that again! But I guess we’ll see ...) INTERVIEWS will include: Both great adventurers and also people who lead totally “normal” lives (not rich, not famous) who managed to do some crazy exploring - something like a year with their family sailing around the world, or the couple who had twenty weddings across Europe one summer, etc. I want the readers to understand that you don’t have to be wealthy or even self-employed to have some epic adventures.

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***CHAPTER 4: CREATE (Be an Artist) LEADING A LIFE OF CREATIVITY: One of the biggest mistakes a human being can make - a mistake that will almost certainly lead to unhappiness - is not thinking of themselves as creative. Believing that you are an artist, even if your "day job" is something else, allows you the opportunity to live a more fearless, joyous, deeply fulfilled life. Bonus: artists don't tend to view mistakes as failures. They view them as ART. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all thought ourselves artists, no matter what we did? The kind of creative solutions we could come up with? The forgiveness we would have for ourselves? (And no, it's not mandatory to be a "tortured" artist. That's a small fraction of the artist community.) Learning how to get into the “flow” state - a state which experts widely agree is one of the happiest experiences a person can have - is crucial to leading a happy, authentic life. Personally, I’ve engaged in an epic battle with seeing myself as an artist, being creative and with getting into the flow state easily. This chapter will address that, and see if we can’t find ways to make it easier for all of us to live a more creative, flourishing existence. EXPERIMENTS will include: - Creating everyday rituals (These habits will help foster creativity in the little places, those boring or irritating chores known as “the grind” that wear you down and steal your joy - let’s see if they can be morphed into an uplifting practice instead.) - Learning stand-up comedy (Kill me now. Just kill me so I don’t have to do this. I’ve already done improv at Second City, and I was far, far from a “natural.” That said, I laughed harder during that experience than under any other substance-free circumstances ... ever. So there’s something there, for sure. Besides, my theory is that if you REALLY don’t want to do something, that’s the surest sign you should do it. Or maybe the surest sign you should run. I guess I’ll find out!) - Write a song with my musician roommate, make a YouTube music video (If this experiment sounds a lot like I’m 9-years-old, well, that’s sort of the point. You never know where your creativity lies until you try.) INTERVIEWS: Android Jones, visual artist, and other deeply creative people a la Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s classic “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.” As he writes there: “The most important message we can learn from creative people: how to find purpose and enjoyment in the chaos of existence.” EXERCISES will include: - Creativity Booster Strategies that don’t suck, inspired by Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack (which was recommended to me by Tim Ferriss) - Adult Arts & Crafts time (inspired by my friend Brit Morin, who is the Martha Stewart of the Facebook generation, and loves to inspire fully grown adults to get in touch with their latent creative sides by making things - yes, MAKING STUFF! Not just Amazon Prime’ing it. Old school!) - Six Word Story Time (Ernest Hemmingway’s famous 6 word story always gets me. “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Used.” Write your own! They’re really not that hard ...) Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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***CHAPTER 5: LOVE (Be a Lover/Partner) LEADING A LIFE OF LOVE: To me, this is the most cliché topic in the world - and also the most fundamental, in the definitional sense that it is the FOUNDATION for all else. “Love is the answer to the problem of human existence,” Eric Fromm writes in the classic The Art of Loving. I’ve spent a decade of my life writing about love in newspapers and magazines, talking about it on television - yet, I’m floored by how much I STILL don’t understand about it. Love, of course, is not limited to the romantic feelings between two partners, or even the parent-child relationship. Loving yourself is the essence of love, and it’s most misunderstood and overlooked - because, well, it’s sort of seen as cheesy. I have a high tolerance for sentiment, but I have a mischievous streak, I can be sarcastic, sometimes even cynical. So I’ve always been allergic to the saccharine "love yourself" chants; they never resonated with me. How do I just “love myself”? It's like saying “Just be happy.” Great. I tried that. Now what?? After quite a few experiments in this realm (this chapter, in fact, is probably the one I’ve experimented with most), I now look at the concept of loving oneself through a different lens. I look at it through finding humor in our missteps, looking at ourselves the way we would look at a little child, not with malice and anger, but with gentleness and a wry smile. We cannot take this life thing so damn seriously (and I'm as guilty of that as the next person). It took me going to Peru to figure out that I had been living my life as “The Fun Police” (stopping fun wherever I found it.) But life doesn't get any better or deeper or more meaningful if you beat yourself up constantly for your own shortcomings. Trust me, I've tried. So this chapter will teach people how to love themselves with laughter and humor and patience - which then extends into ALL of their relationships. After all, “to change the love we receive, we will have to change our capacity to give love.” - Eric Fromm EXPERIMENTS will include: - Annie the Love Coach (See Sample Chapter excerpt.) - Tarot Card Reader (See “Outside Writing” for this experiment write up, which appeared in ELLE.) - Wizard/Witches/Psychic (See “Outside Writing” on witches, from ELLE.) - Getting married in 20 different places (Requires marriage proposal from boyfriend! Hopefully coming soon! The idea behind this experiment is to find out whether getting married without expectations - say, in Vegas - makes you happier than getting married with quite a few expectations - say, in a formal church wedding. We’ll try them all! P.S. This was actually - shockingly - not my idea, but my boyfriend’s. We’ll see if he follows through on it. Ha!) EXERCISES will include: - Annie The Love Coach’s “True Love Test” - How to write an “Outrageous Love Letter” (from Marc Gafni) - How to take your relationship from 1.0 to 2.0 - How to date for happiness

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***CHAPTER 6: PLAY (Be a Child) LEADING A LIFE OF PLAY: There is a huge gap now - two decades or more, for some of us - in between being a child and having a child. Oftentimes this means we forget to PLAY. Not the kind of play that twenty-somethings are notorious for: drinking and clubbing. I mean, genuine, childlike wonder-filled PLAYING. Oldfashioned playing, if you will. Playing with a beginner’s mind. Recently I was at a conference in a fancy downtown Chicago hotel which featured an ad for their bar with this tagline: Life Begins at 5 O’Clock. It was quite possibly the most depressing five words I’d ever read. Life begins at 5? Geez. Why not just give up now?? According to the ad, you’ll spend most of your life ... not living. There has to be a better way, and my hunch is that better way has a lot to do with shucking stress and embracing pure-hearted play. That said, I’m NOT the poster child for this mentality ... yet. After years of being indoctrinated into the Protestant work ethic, I proudly wore a workaholic badge, which is especially ridiculous given my chosen profession. As one of my producers said to me once when she received an “emergency” call about a YouTube video late on a Saturday: “There is NO SUCH THING as a YouTube emergency!!” In other words, seriously, it’s not that serious. It sounds ridiculous to have to re-learn how to play, but I think that’s what I have to do. And I’m guessing more than a few stressed out overachievers are in the same work hard-work hard boat. I want to shift that paradigm and see if it makes a big dent on my happiness levels. Ironically, I have a hunch that it will ALSO increase my productivity (studies suggest as much). We’ll see. EXPERIMENTS will include: - Burning Man (The epic Burning Man, which I have attended three times, formed the foundation for my “I need to change my life RADICALLY” conversion in 2011. It, and its myriad lessons about play and creativity, will be the keystone of this chapter.) - Improv (Nothing is more playful - or joy inducing - than IMPROV! In fact, I bet taking regular improv classes would so increase my happiness - POSSIBLY more than any other experiment. Wildly over-optimistic? Not according to Stanford Professor Patricia Madson, who wrote “Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up.” I’ll test her theory.) - Learning how to dance again (I used to dance regularly, and was even a Georgetown cheerleader as a sophomore in college, but as I’ve gotten older, I stopped dancing; it just seemed “besides the point.” I’ve begun to consider that dancing might be the thing you do everything else to support, so I want to take it up again, but I’m nervous. Will I feel like a fool, awkward and clumsy? That doesn’t seem like a happy situation. Only one way to find out!)

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- Getting friends, family & strangers to play along with me (One way to increase your level of play: start being silly with others and see if they’re silly back! Instead of talking politics at a party, start a ridiculous game. I’ve spent so much time in my twenties trying to look smart & educated & well-read, perhaps I could spend a little time just being ... fun. Who knows, people might appreciate the option of letting their guards down and embracing their inner 8-year-old!) - Learning to compartmentalize work & play better / balance EXERCISES will include: - Revisit Your Childhood (What did you love? Do it again, un-self consciously, at least once a week. If you loved jumping on a trampoline, find one to jump on again. If you were into bead bracelets, stock up on some and make a few. If you were a popsicle devotee, eat one. Stop thinking that you’re too old to laugh at silly things.) - Improv at Home - Fun Is a Perspective - Back to Kindergarten - Laughter Yoga INTERVIEWS will include: - Stanford Design Professor David Kelley - IDEO CEO of Innovation & Design Tim Brown (http://www.ted.com/talks/ tim_brown_on_creativity_and_play.html), who says during his TED talk, “Tales of Creativity & Play”: “Playfulness helps us get to creative solutions, helps our jobs better and helps us feel better as we’re doing them.” - Visual artist/philosopher Stefan Sagmeister (his popular TED Talk is “Happiness by Design,” http://www.ted.com/talks/ stefan_sagmeister_shares_happy_design.html) and the photo above is from his exhibit The Happy Show.

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***CHAPTER 7: LEARN (Be a Student/Scholar) LIVING A LIFE OF LEARNING: We might read Aristotle or St. Augustine in school, but the classes tend to be disconnected from our daily lives - and without that crucial context, we often fail to integrate their lessons fully. In the current U.S. educational system, what we learn academically tends to exist in a walled garden, separate from our emotions, our relationships, and ultimately our heart and soul. We’re not encouraged (much, at least) to think about what makes us happy, how to have a meaningful, fulfilled life, successful interpersonal relationships or beyond that, how to understand our more frightening emotions (fear, anger, sadness, loneliness). That said, learning - obviously - doesn’t have to stop when we leave our formal education behind. I read a dozen books simultaneously at any given time and I am constantly going back and forth between them, looking for the overlapping themes, drawing conclusions, much like college - the classes back to back to back. Because that’s how life is, a series of venn diagrams that we, oddly, try to push apart when we really should be pushing them together. What does sex have to do with creativity have to do with writer’s block have to do with financial success? Maybe nothing. More likely everything. As Oprah’s life coach and bestselling author Martha Beck says, “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” The more you learn about disparate disciplines the more you realize that wisdom is wisdom - that it spans across topics, that a physicist is just as likely to give you the perfect bon mot to fill that aching hole in your head as is a psychiatrist. That a personal trainer is just as likely to tell you exactly the lesson you need to hear as a monk. And the lessons will pour in on every subject, but they won’t really be about that subject so much as about life, and how to lead it and how to live it fully. You’ll hear myriad different opinions - some of them will resonate with you now. Others will resonate later. Sometimes you’ll relate to their experiences, sometimes you won’t. But if you look for the wisdom, for the truth, in what they are saying, that will often be just what you need. That will be enough. EXPERIMENTS will include: - Seminars & courses (Tony Robbins’ famous Unleash the Power Within, the School of Life in London, Eben Pagan’s Accelerate, etc) - Great Books class (Attend a Great Books class at my alma mater, compare my experience now to my experience then - does it make sense to read the classics at an age we cannot understand them? Does one have to read them many times throughout life?) - Watch all TED & TEDx talks on happiness - then do one of my own (TED talks on happiness are easily the most popular videos out there. What does the popularity of TED talks in general and TED talks on happiness specifically teach Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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us about how much we love learning - even when we don’t “need to know it for the final”?) - Learn self-defense (Learning, contrary to my default, doesn’t always come from books. Learning a new skill is equally important. Here I’ll try self-defense, a physical skill that I’m hoping will help me conquer - or at least abate - some persistent physical safety fears that eat away at my happiness.) INTERVIEWS will include: as many of the great spiritual teachers as I can get to sit down with me (which I anticipate will be a fairly large number). Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Doreen Virtue, Byron Katie, Elizabeth Gilbert, Marianne Williamson, Andrew Weil, Jack Canfield, Rhonda Byrne, Louise Hay, Caroline Myss, Mastin Kipp, and Rabbi Harold Kushner. This chapter will also include a list of recommended reading and viewing of books, blogs, articles and documentaries on happiness.

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***CHAPTER 8: CONTEMPLATE (Be a Philosopher) “When you have discovered what you can offer to others, when you feel that you are on your unique path, when you have an ongoing, honest, reliable connection to your inner wisdom, then you have found your unique spot in the world with all its craziness, sorrow, and joy. This discovery gives tremendous ease. You finally have a way of relating to work, lovers, friends, and spiritual practices with open-heartedness and intelligence.” - Susan Piver, Hard Questions for an Authentic Life LIVING A LIFE OF CONTEMPLATION: We live in a world that idolizes the busy now-now-now 24 hour news cycle, flowing from Twitter & CNN directly to our brains. But a little Walden Pond time every now and again is paramount for happiness - and an authentic life, filled with depth, faith, and genuine insight. The meaning of life isn’t checking off your To-Do list faster than anyone else. Contemplation allows us time to let ideas marinate, and gives us a shot at congruence between our inner world and our outer world. EXPERIMENTS will include: - Silent Retreat - 6 Month Social Media Detox - Ashram (3x) - (Sample entry from my ashram diary: “If it’s possible to pinpoint the moment your life swings out of balance, sometimes it’s possible to pinpoint the moment it swings back. In my case that would be my fourth day at the ashram, after 6 am meditation and chants, a 2 hour yoga class and brunch filled with veggies & tofu. Back in my room reading on my Kindle Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies.” And she asks the reader - or herself or perhaps God - why lessons can’t be learned when we’re in the mood to learn them. And of course it’s a rhetorical question because if anyone were to actually answer it honestly they’d say that they’re never in the mood to learn a lesson except maybe if that lesson is “cupcakes taste good even if you eat 5 of them in a row.”) - Learn How to Grieve (Mitigate the overwhelming fear and crisis of faith I've been experiencing since the death of my Grandmother, who helped raise me, 15 months ago. I used to be fearless. Or somewhat fearless. Perhaps I was just naive (yep). I didn't think anyone would die, least of all anyone I loved and definitely not me. When my beloved Grandmother passed suddenly it shook my world. Fear entered into my life, and while it gave me a depth I didn't have before -- a consciousness that every moment is sacred and valuable and cannot be traded -it has imprisoned me with irrational fears. What if my dog dies? What if my boyfriend dies? What if what if what if what if ... the fears take over. And the fears are distracting and exhausting and need to be put in their place, which perhaps sounds controlling (and yes, I do have control issues), but they are limiting me. I know this. Life is uncertain. Life is painful. Love and loss are two

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sides of the same coin. All of this I know. But fear, I need to learn how to manage it. EXERCISES will include: - Creating your own Manifesto of Values (Companies have sets of values - why shouldn’t you? Take some time to sit down and think through what you actually believe in and stand for, and write those values down. If you need inspiration, check out the Holstee Manifesto, online and below, in blue.) - Write a Letter to Your Younger Self (This is a twist on the “It Gets Better” trend. Pick an age at which you were really struggling, and send a letter back in time to that younger self, who so needed some encouragement. It will make you realize both how far you’ve come, and how steady and capable you are now.) - Write a Letter to Yourself Now from your Older Self (Pick a year - maybe age 40, maybe age 90 - to write an imaginary letter from Future You to Present You. You can dispense advice, you can offer wisdom, you can console or comfort or nudge forward. The key here is auto-writing - or writing without thinking much, a continual stream of consciousness. You’ll find you come up with something very magical.) - “I Want to be Remembered as ...” (Finish that sentence with a line, a paragraph or an essay. Not to be morbid, but it’s better to contemplate this now than on your deathbed, wishing you had thought about it more carefully.) - Social Media Detox (Go on your own social media detox or Media Diet - start to notice what kind of media you consume and how it makes you feel. Does it scare you? Make you feel unworthy? Exhausted? Overwhelmed? Maybe it’s time to switch things up, pull a Thoreau and head to your metaphorical Walden Pond, which means no Facebook, Twitter or Page 6. Just try it for a week and see how you feel. You’ll live, I promise.)

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***CHAPTER 9: CONNECT (Be a Friend, Daughter/Son) LIVING A LIFE OF CONNECTION: According to experts, social bonding and connection is a keystone to happiness. How can you go beyond small talk and engage deeply with your loved ones? How can you leave feeling genuinely connected instead of skating on the surface? EXPERIMENTS will include: - Compose hand-written letters to everyone who has inspired me - Happiness RV (Traveling around the country connecting with people) - Spending the summer at home with my parents, engaging them in deep discussions about life, love and happiness - Working with expert to increase clarity about perceptions & creating rapport with people. (It’s a question many people struggle with: how are they perceived? When are they being authentic? I tend to be good at creating rapport one-on-one. That is slightly harder for me when I am in big groups, however. Recently I began working with a woman who has changed much for me in terms of how I interface with the world. I have certain armor I put on to face the world, and it has worked (sort of) for me, in the sense that I have achieved tons of publicity (a great deal of it of the Paris Hilton variety, however). I’m tired of that, so I’m looking to achieve a different kind of interaction. Softer, but confident. Before my confidence went hand-in-hand with becoming a warrior, but this seems not to be working that well. I just lost a big tv hosting deal - I went into the audition and thought I nailed it, but as it turns out, they told my agents I came across as "unlikeable." Brutal. BRUTAL. I was really shaken. I want to know how to control, to the extent that any of us can, the way I am coming across, like a musician controls her instrument. I don't expect by any stretch that everyone will like me - but I do want to be able to walk into an interview or an audition or a speaking engagement and elicit a certain kind of rapport with the audience. I think everyone does!  Perhaps the key is "not giving a f--k," but I would contend that there are many shades on the color wheel and "not giving a f--k" sometimes means you cannot connect with people, cannot reach them. It's a paradox that I've yet to unravel.) EXERCISES will include: - 30 Day Gratitude Letter Binge (Composing letters or emails once a day for a month to someone in your life who has made a difference to you.) - The Forgiveness Challenge (Make a list of all of the “broken” relationships in your life - anything that is messy or incomplete in any way, even small. One by one, write them letters mending that wound or asking for their forgiveness. Even if they never respond, karmically you’ll feel relief from the weight of that psychic burden.)

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***CHAPTER 10: HEAL (Be a Doctor/Chef/Personal Trainer/Yogi) LIVING A LIFE OF HEALING: “We as a society think that we should be able to fix everything by just taking a pill.” - Susan Bennett, MD, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Healing our bodies is a CRUCIAL foundation for happiness - in fact, I would contend that if we don’t have healthy bodies, consistent joy is almost impossible. EXPERIMENTS include: - Pleasure Camp (watch a video http://tiny.cc/9bb91w) in which I discuss my experience there:

“I was bulimic for four years in college. I was in such serious trouble with my body. I hated it. I thought about my weight all the time. I thought about what I was eating all the time, and hated the way that I looked in the mirror. I thought I'd read everything on the subject. I thought there was nothing left to learn, and that I'd be stuck like that for the rest of my life.

When I heard about Pleasure Camp I thought; what is this about? Pleasure? What does that have to do with losing weight? Nothing! In my experience pleasure had nothing to do with losing weight. I knew how to lose weight, it was just eat nothing. It had nothing to do with pleasure.It has changed everything for me. The amount of time I have now to do other things because I am not thinking about my weight or my butt specifically or the way I look in certain kinds of jeans, it makes me -- I can't think too much about this because it makes me so sad for the 15 years I spent hating myself. It’s like, what could I have done in that time? What could I have done with that energy?

I am happier because of it. I feel so much healthier because of it and it has given me a foundation from which to live life in a more joyful way. I mean that is really what we are looking for right? Happiness. And part of happiness is taking care of this vessel that we were given when we arrived here. I think we get these messages about working out, "Just work out as hard as you possibly can," and it is all about pain, you know, "No pain, no gain!" That message has never resonated with me. I would do workouts and then I would quit them. I would do diets and then I would quit them. I could just never stay on track. I hated myself for it. I thought; I have no discipline. I have no willpower, I am lazy. But it wasn't that. It was that it wasn't the right methodology for me. Criticizing myself and beating myself up mentally and physically was just not the way that my body wanted to be treated and it wasn't going to lose weight that way.”)

- Physical Makeover, including Yoga & Running (for the first time in my life) - Changing the way I eat, permanently, via my natural foods chef boyfriend (TheHealingCook.com) - Boudoir Photoshoot (arguably the bravest thing a non-model can do, except for having kids and going to war and ... okay, there are a lot of other very brave things. But posing naked? That’s definitely up there.) EXERCISES will include: - Rethinking your New Years Resolutions - 30 Day Record Everything Challenge (So yes, it’s the quintessential 30 Day challenge - but this one is to simply NOTICE and record what you see. You don’t have to DO anything differently. Just write down what you’re eating, what kind of physical activity you’re getting, and how you feel.)

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***CHAPTER 11: PROSPER (Be a Rainmaker) LIVING A LIFE OF PROSPERITY: Studies claim that any income above a certain amount won’t make you happier, but making more than others around you relatively do WILL. I’d love to test that theory by interviewing a wide swath of millionaires and billionaires on what makes them happy, and how their wealth is tied to their joy. Does more abundance allow them to give more to the world, thus making them happier? Does it remove some obstacles to joy? Or does it simply create new ones? How should we think about wealth and happiness? I’ll look at the idea of entrepreneurs linking social good to profits as well - and I’ll look at the concept of reversing the trend of 90s consumerism with the new trend of AirBnB, and owning nothing post-recession frugality. Does that freedom make us happier? EXPERIMENTS include: - See an “abundance coach” (Yes, they have those!) - Tony Robbins’ Wealth Mastery (Tagline to this course: “what if you could go beyond financial independence and attain total financial freedom?”) - Eliminating limiting beliefs around abundance (I have some scarcity issues around money - thanks to a decade of freelancing without a net in the notoriously rocky world of journalism & entertainment. I have made progress on my fears, but some still hold me back. I tend to feel impoverished and anxious about finances, interspersed with flow and generosity every now and again which gives me hope. I would say it's about 50/50 Fear/Flow, but it’s been as bad as 70/30. I would love to restructure my belief system around the entire issue.) EXERCISES will include: - Spending $$ Energetically - (Write in your journal a list of 16 sums, starting with $20, then $100, $500, $1000, $2500, $5000, $10000, $25k, $50k, $75k, $100k, $200k, $500k, $750k, 1m, 5m. You must spend the ENTIRE amount of the first sum before you go onto the next. Record how, exactly, with detail, you will spend each sum, becoming emotionally involved and excited, as if you actually had that amount of cash to spend. Note your feelings as you go up - does it start to seem like a dream and divorced from “reality”? That’s likely your abundance “limit.”) - Vision Board - (Vision boards are an old-school classic abundance exercise. Although they’ve existed for eons, they came to prominence when The Secret urged its followers to cut out photos from magazines and create a collage of what they would like to manifest into reality. I’ve had this on my list of things to do for YEARS and never actually got around to it. It seems so ... unlikely? But by all accounts, it WORKS. So let’s try it. - Restructuring financial paradigm (Mind game: instead of feeling stressed and overwhelmed when bills come, try to make a conscious effort to consider each bill paid as circulating energy for the good of the economy and the region in which you live, instead of LOSING your own cash to “someone else.”) Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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***CHAPTER 12: CONTRIBUTE (Be a Philanthropist/Giver) LEADING A LIFE OF CONTRIBUTION: “The greatest untapped source of motivation is a sense of service to others." - Wharton Professor Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take,” in the NYT. Contribution, according to just about every philosopher, is a cornerstone of true happiness. In fact, out of all of the foundational elements in this book, contribution is likely the most important in achieving the coveted “Purpose Driven Happiness.” Creating a life filled with contribution is so essential, claim studies, that were you to do nothing else but contribute, you’d probably be smiling right now. I want to switch my mentality permanently from “what don’t I have?” to “what do I have to share?” EXPERIMENTS will include: - Nursing home Adopt-a-Grandparent (I miss my grandparents dearly, especially my grandmother and I would very much like to have an older influence in my life.) - Hospice work (My mom worked in hospice for a decade, and my grandmother just spent three months there before her passing, so it holds a special place in my heart.) - Big Sister (An old school organization, but still relevant today - and I’ve always wanted a little sister. Although at this point in my life, I think it would be more like having a daughter!) - WOWing people (This is a Zappos concept - a little like paying it forward or a random act of kindness, but with a bit more pizazz and flair, which of course I love.) INTERVIEWS will include: - Leila Janah, the 29-year-old CEO & founder of Samasource, a nonprofit that offers employment in digital work to people in impoverished communities - Toure Roberts, minister at One Church LA - Erica Greve, founder of Unlikely Heroes, a non-profit which rescues girls from sex slavery - The spiritual leader interviews will be used here as well.

“The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” - William James

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sample chapter - prologue “I never expected that I wouldn’t find lasting happiness. In the last year, I thought, ‘Oh, shit. I might have totally fucked this up.’” - me, as quoted in the NY Observer, 2012 Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 5:43 pm in the air from Chicago to LA [Note: this is an actual unedited diary entry] [*ALL ORIGINAL ANGST INTACT*] My lower back aches, and I’m tired and weepy.  Not entirely unusual for a flight, but mildly remarkable because it’s not over a boy this time (although it now occurs to me that it was never REALLY about a boy, but instead about me feeling unworthy and unloved.  The boy was just the symptom, not the real problem). But today a boy isn’t even the symptom.  Today I’m weepy because I’m exhausted.  Mentally, emotionally, spiritually exhausted.  Today, on the train to the airport, I spotted a woman with a suitcase that had a tag: “Going around in circles.”  It cut right to the heart of my issue, or what feels like my issue.  I’m going around in circles.  I’m f--king tired. I want to sit down for a while.  I NEED to sit down for a while.  I need to just be ... It’s been such a long year, such a very, very, very long year.  Fuck, it’s been a long five years.  I’m just ... done.  And I know this is an odd and perhaps inconvenient time to be burnt out, right about to head into the tv show.  How to wrap my head around that?  How to get settled and calm and rested before the show?  My body tightens just thinking about it.  I feel that pressure on my upper chest, like I’m being crushed.   I want to go home, but I have no idea where home is.  I don’t know where I’m meant to be.  I’m so lost.  And I’m so lonely.  How can I have so many friends and such an active life and still be so goddamn lonely?  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?  The concept is so counterintuitive to me that I’m left puzzling over its paradox. I’m so confused because I thought I was running toward happiness, creating my own unique, crazy life.  But now I wonder whether I’m just running.   Tucker Max said to me the other night - f--king Tucker Max! Of all people - he said, “I think you’re lonely.”  And I had to turn my head because my eyes were welling with tears.  Was I lonely?  How could I have not noticed this?  And yet, I think I DID notice.  I think he just put words to the crushing feeling I felt, to the Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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tears, to the clinging to boyfriends who were CLEARLY not right for me.  To my endless search for a place to call my own.  I was really searching for a place that would alleviate my loneliness. These realizations were shocking to me.  I thought I knew my own psyche, I thought I was well acquainted with my issues.  And here I find that I was stuck on the surface, tending to the exterior of my problems.  I hadn’t even begun to excavate.  It’s like painting your living room and finding out, in the midst of it, you have termites.  It’s not a good feeling. The truth is, I’m not quite sure how to make myself happy.  I know that I’m happy when I’m engaged in a purposeful endeavor.  When I’m helping other people using my unique gifts.  What I haven’t yet figured out is how to marry that with, oh, you know, actually making an income. I often feel that I’m just on the cusp of figuring out my life path ... it’s that feeling you get when you’re trying to think of a word and you can ALMOST hear it.  Almost! Almost! But you can’t quite.  “It’s on the tip of my tongue!  I know it! I know it!  arghhhh!”  And you slump over, exhausted by the mental effort to recall a simple group of letters. That’s what I feel like when I think of my life.  I feel SO CLOSE.  But it doesn’t matter, because I can’t quite see what I’m supposed to do.  I can’t quite get the path to register on my soul’s GPS.  So instead I go around in circles, waiting, hoping, waiting, hoping ... lost. I feel lost.  And every now and again, I’ll step onto the right path and IT WILL FEEL SO GOOD.  And then I’ll get lost again.  But each successive time, ever more frustrated, ever more discouraged.  When will I find my path?  When will I stop with this nonsense?  AM I THERE YET? So I’ve asked for help.  And, somewhat astonishingly, people have come into my life to help. My guides are amazing at sending in resources for me.  I feel like they have given me all of the ingredients to make a delicious spiritual meal, but I’m standing there in the kitchen, paralyzed, or distracted by something outside the window, or I’m sweeping the floor.  Basically anything but actually making the meal.  I feel so unfocused, so I’m just floating around, not really using my gifts for their best purpose.  That’s a terrible feeling, not to be using your gifts.  You feel impotent. Useless. The oddest emotion came over me when the flight took off about an hour ago ... I looked out the window and thought, “oh my god.  This entire time I’ve thought I was so strong, but really, I just built up walls and defenses and mechanisms for keeping people who could hurt me at bay, when in actuality, I’m one of the most fragile, most sensitive, easily hurt people I know.  I bruise like a ripe apple.  I just want to please and to make people happy.  I just want them to love me, to fill this void inside of me.”

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That realization made me want to cry.  What do I do with that knowledge?  I’ve never known anything else, so I don’t know what I’m SUPPOSED to feel like.  It’s like a colorblind person wondering what colors look like.  I have no idea what life without these insecurities feels like.  Or maybe I have glimpses of it ... I’m not sure. All I know is that I’ve done a fantastic job of creating a life that covers up all the lonely, that covers up the lack of self-esteem, that covers up the feelings of unworthiness, but they SEEP through.  They come out.  They’re always there.   It’s like trying to cover up my acne with makeup.  I can buy the most expensive Chanel foundation, and you can still see something is wrong.  Something’s not right under the skin, something’s not right in my body. That’s the way it is for my soul. How did it take me until 30 to realize this? ******

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the background “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” - Eckhart Tolle I’m tired of hearing about the loser geek who ended up becoming a billionaire or the “total nerd” who ended up an actress slash model slash professional tweeter. What about the popular kid in junior high? Yeah, the one who bullied everyone? What happened to HIM? Actually, I can’t tell you, because, like most awesome stories of redemption,20 this one begins with me feeling very, very sorry for myself. For about twenty years. With rare exceptions (shout out to the outliers!) most of us experienced childhood with a few rough patches.21 Mine was no different. Of course, how one sees one’s youth depends - obviously - depends in large part on how you’re looking at it (I mean, isn’t that the case with anything?) I’ll just put it this way: my completely subjective childhood view is that I was a total Loser from Loserville, population one: me. Objectively, I was bullied mercilessly - harassed for my big nose22, my braces, my glasses, my obsession with getting good grades, my social anxiety. I was deeply uncomfortable in my skin, sometimes even entertaining suicidal thoughts (mostly they had to do with how sorry everyone was going to be at my elaborate and grief-stricken funeral). I snuck into the library each day at recess to avoid the other monsters children, burying my head in books, my only solace. I became a 12-year-old feminist crusading for justice, deeply concerned about China’s One Child Policy and the plight of the beleaguered Afghan woman. In high school, my self-consciousness continued - I was convinced I would never have a boyfriend, that I would never - literally never - be kissed. But not in a cute

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Okay, so the redemption hasn’t exactly happened ... yet. But it will. IT WILL, damnit!

The rough patches are what we write about in our diary, though. Like the time in 7th grade that Sam Barsheshet said I needed to put “Miracle Gro” on my chest. Humiliated, I spent the next decade investing in Victoria’s Secret push-up bras convincing enough that the NY Post once published an item about how I had gotten a boob job. (I haven’t.) HA! I sure showed Sam!! Not. Bitter. At. All.

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My “birth nose” had a bump on it that my high school friends affectionately referred to as “the power bump.” Sometimes before difficult math tests, they would rub it for good luck. A few were concerned when I got it chopped off at age 19 that I would lose my lucky bump, so they gave me a tupperware container in which to keep the bump after it was “cut off.” I appreciated the thought, but I did not keep the bump. You can’t even do that! And even if you could ... ew. Seriously gross.

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Drew Barrymore way. I felt like an outcast, an unpopular misfit. I spent the majority of the next decade trying to prove - to others, to myself - that I wasn’t. Two nosejobs23, thousands of dollars to the orthodontist and a contact lens prescription so strong it actually made a Warby Parker sales associate gasp later, I’ve appeared as a commentator on nearly every tv network - from NBC to CNN to MTV - literally hundreds of times. I’ve had my own show on BRAVO, been on the cover of magazines like WIRED & Time Out New York, founded my own startup, spoken at MIT, Wharton and Harvard, and at conferences around the world, published over 400 articles in magazines & newspapers, from ELLE to Newsweek to Cosmopolitan. I’ve dated wealthy men, walked red carpets, made (and spent) six figures, stayed on yachts and flown on private jets. I’ve lived in New York, DC, Chicago, LA and San Francisco. I guess I’ve “proved myself.” Except that - and this shouldn’t be a shock to anyone over the age of 30 - none of it was what I thought it would be. Of course it wasn’t. When is it ever? My twenties, in fact, were incredibly painful. A bit bipolar, really. The highest ego highs mixed with lows that, looking back, make me shudder. I never did the alcohol or drugs thing; I had other demons, among them a raging eating disorder (bulimia), and a deep sense of unworthiness that I desperately attempted to cover up with the makeup, fashion, and men who either treated me like s--t or allowed me to walk all over them. For the better part of the last decade, I also had a not-so-secret social media addiction, something that was more rare than it is today (unfortunately). I would obsessively post photos to my Tumblr, Facebook and later Twitter to artfully create a vision of the life I WANTED, but that, unsurprisingly, was never the whole truth. Those images were always from a certain angle - literally (my right side was my “good side”), and metaphorically. They were just the highlight reel an out of context highlight reel, at that. Occasionally, in a fit of honesty, I would reveal reality, vulnerabilities and insecurities. I was young, naive and incredibly insecure; I didn’t know how to do that and protect myself properly. Commenters, still new to the bloodsport of

Yes, two, as the first one sort of sucked. Which is why you shouldn’t select a surgeon by FLIPPING THROUGH THE YELLOW PAGES. But I digress.

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online hatred, smelled fresh meat and attacked me gleefully with the venom and vitriol normally reserved for a genocidal dictator.24 I was flattened by their words, floored, gutted. The country wasn’t as well versed in bullying, and I had no allies, no therapists, parents who couldn’t understand25 and a community of competitive media hawks delighting in the sport of it, uninterested in seeing my humanity or my pain. I would fall to the floor after reading the cutting remarks, sobbing hysterically, no one to turn to. At home, in my 422 square foot Hell’s Kitchen studio, I would strip off my tv makeup and wonder ... is this it? When will I make it? When does it get easier? How will I ever find financial security? Will I ever NOT hate my body? Will I ever have a lasting relationship that doesn’t implode? Why do people hate me so much? Does anyone love me? What is WRONG with me? With no one to confide in, I would cry myself to sleep, then wake up the next day, aching with emptiness. I was alone. Completely alone. Cue Bridget Jones’ rendition of “All By Myself.” Alllll byyyy mysellllllfffff. How I got from there to an ashram, then to a reality tv show, then to a shaman in Peru, is, as you might imagine, a long, odd, rather winding story. On my better days, I like to pretend I’m trekking through a classic Joseph Campbell hero(ine)’s journey - you know, Hero of a Thousand Faces, separation, initiation, return and all that 26. 24

I have, in fact, You know how people say “Don’t worry! No one is judging you as much as you judge yourself.” Oh boy, were they wrong about this. I’ve been judged for things I didn’t even know could BE wrong with a person. A partial list: My “sausage” fingers. My giant “stumpy, tree trunk” legs. My “cankles.” My enormous calves. My teeth. My “rough, old” face. My “flabby” upper arms. My “raft” ass. Actually, I don’t think there is a single body part they haven’t critiqued except maybe my elbows, but I’m sure they’ll get to those eventually. Beyond my body, they’ve said I’m lazy, I’m a liar, I’m unethical, I’ll never land a man because I can’t cook or keep house (yeah, I’m not s--ting you, they really said that, apparently it’s still the 1950s), I’m a loser, I’m broke, I’m a mooch, I’m a “moron” and a “horrible” writer. They have called me both frigid and a slut (ah, the old can’t-win-dichotomy trope!) and postulated that I “must be terrible at sex in general.” They have said that I set women back and I’m not a feminist. They call me a hypocrite and a talentless hack. They tell me to shut up, be quiet, get off the internet and get into therapy. Sometimes, for fun, they compare me to a dude, a drag queen, a transvestite, or - their favorite - a donkey. One just wrote me the other day, “You are a disgrace. You need to reevaluate your life choices. Congrats, I hope you work out your issues soon.” At least we’re on the same page there; I hope I work out my issues, too! In my parents’ defense, they had grown up in a world where the printed word meant it had been fact checked carefully. Online ad hominem attacks weren’t exactly part of their wheelhouse.

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Joseph Campbell citation, dork card officially issued.

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I’ve spent the last ten years being initiated. But now I’m ready to return, ready to tell the tale of my quest for love and happiness, complete with slaying modern dragons 27 (bullying, bulimia and bad relationships ... among others!). Of course, these “dragons”/neuroses are so common now that people almost view them as banal - like, “oh, bullying, bulimia and bad relationships? Please. Come back to me when you have a heroin problem, lady.” Um ... or ... why don’t we just solve this stuff at the root, BEFORE it becomes that?? Maybe you dislike your body, or you’re frequently sick or constantly tired. You might have no romantic relationship, or one so unsatisfying, it makes you wish you had none (been there!). You might have a relationship that should be good (on paper) or that everyone thinks is good except a little voice deep inside of you, which occasionally whispers, “I’m not sure I even LIKE him.” You might be confused about your career direction or uninspired with your work, or just over the whole thing entirely (what’s the point?). Maybe you don’t feel like you’re financially steady or you’re not making enough money (that’s pretty much all of us), and you live battling a world of lack, a world of “not enough.” Maybe you’re deeply stressed, an insomniac, plagued by frantic thinking, your only relief a glass of wine or Xanax. Or maybe you just want a deeper, richer life. Maybe you want something beyond the To Do list. Maybe you want to stop feeling “busy and overwhelmed” all the time. You want balance, confidence, energy, a deep feeling of worthiness and success. Maybe your parents are getting older or have passed away, and you realize there isn’t that much time left in this life. Maybe you just want that time to matter. Not to get too After School Special on you (wait ... do they even have those anymore?!), but I actually have a vision for a different world. Cue up Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” baby. My hope is that NOBODY should have to handle that much pain without support. Nobody should suffer through bullying and hatred - either from others, or (even worse) within themselves. Nobody should feel purposeless, like they’ll never find their creative genius, like they’ll always be struggling with money, with their weight, with their relationship, with their parents, with their faith, with their direction in life. And nobody should feel alone, like they have no resources because they’re just not sure what’s wrong.

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I really wanted to write “@dragons #SlayingThem” but I stopped myself. Mostly.

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Experiments in Happiness is your guidebook - an explorer’s guide, if you will for creating a solid foundation for authentic joy. Whether your life needs a massive transformation (like me), or you’re fine with just a few tweaks, I hope that my words and experiences will help provide both solace, and hopefully, inspiration. In fact, my hope is that you’ll do your own experiments along the way, too. I believe systematic experimentation is the most effective way of breaking patterns and overhauling a life, restructuring the foundation so that you can finally learn what REALLY matters to you - not what your parents, or your teachers, or your boss, or your spouse tells you should matter. From there a new, more meaningful - and HAPPIER - life will unfold. I don’t have the answers, but that’s the point - this being a journey and all, right? Even if I had the answers for me, they wouldn’t necessarily be the answers for you. In fact, I’m not even sure if I believe in “answers” at all. I think if you can find something that works, that brings you deep connection or a sense of freedom or a feeling of being greater than the little speck of sand that you are in the existence of the cosmos - for a while - that’s a gift. In fact, that just might be happiness. #DropsMic *****

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school of happiness I’ve read a ridiculous number of books on happiness, from ancient philosophers like Aristotle and St Augustine to Thomas Aquinas to more modern thinkers like Vickor Frankel and Eric Fromm. I’ve interviewed happiness “experts,” watched documentaries, gone to motivational conferences like Tony Robbins, and kept up with the latest scientific studies thanks to a surfeit of pop psych books and Atlantic cover stories. Unless you’d like to go through the same process (which I totally recommend, it’s very entertaining)28 here are 7 Generally Agreed Upon Happiness Concepts, gratuitously simplified for those of us with super short attention spans. Hey! Come back!! Angry Birds can wait! #1 We are remarkably inept at predicting what will make us happy accurately. In other words, with astounding frequency, we predict things will make us happy that don’t - and things that won’t make us happy, that do. Which explains pretty much my entire romantic history. #2 According to a variety of seemingly reputable sources, our happiness is 50 percent genetically predisposed, 10 percent external circumstances and 40 percent our own thoughts. I’m sure you can figure out why this would be bad news if “your own thoughts” center a lot around contemplating why everyone on your Facebook news feed has bought a house and is having a baby ... but you. And while you’re at it, why haven’t you been featured as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People yet? Or made out with Prince Harry29 ? Not a winning recipe for contentment. #3 A Harvard Business school study found that “spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves.” Which is convenient if you think about what HBS does: produce executives that run companies that will eventually get us to purchase their stuff. Spend money! On others! The study obviously didn’t include people who have spent $60 for a massage for themselves, because I would argue that might actually be the most joyful experience money can buy. Massages for everyone! #4 According to some philosophers, there are 3 Kinds of Happiness: 1) The kind you want (pleasure - aka, to be Gisele)

I came across a REAL study that concluded happiness “can be elicited by seeing a significant other.” Um ... no kidding. And in a Psychology Today story, “we are happiest when basking in the acceptance and praise of others.” Let me put that in my file cabinet under “Duh.”

28

Seriously, how hard could that be, really? As long as you’re blonde and he’s drunk, I get the sense he’s not super picky.

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2) The kind you want in theory (passion - aka, to love what you do and get into creative flow often) 3) The kind you pretend you want to other people so they think you’re a good person (purpose - aka, service to the planet and humankind). Kidding! The truth is, I actually believe that MOST people do want passion and purpose, but don’t feel like they have a clear road to it, whereas pleasure is as easy as heading over to Coldstone Creamery or getting on a flight to Vegas. The ultimate old school way of defining and describing the ideal type of happiness is the ancient greek word “Eudaimonia,” which Aristotle spent his life advocating as the highest aspiration for human beings. It roughly translates to happiness, but more accurately to “living the good life,” through a mixture of adherence to high ethical standards and outside considerations like beauty, health & wealth. #5 Other theories of happiness include Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” a pyramid or ladder with rungs that include physiological, safety, love/ belonging/esteem and finally, the apex, self-actualization (which I roughly interpret as Enlightenment or fully stepping into human potential). Maslow also advocated a life with “peak experiences,” best described as “profound moments of love, understanding, happiness or rapture, during which a person feels more alive, self-sufficient, and yet a part of the world.” Pretty much how your Coachella buddies explain their first LSD trip. #6 Pioneering founder of positive psychology movement, Professor Martin Seligman claims that humans are happiest when they adhere to an acronym (c’mon, who doesn’t like an acronym?): PERMA, or Pleasure, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishments. #7 We’re all hamsters on the hedonic treadmill. This treadmill represents “the supposed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” In other words, we have a certain inherent happiness level, and no matter what happens whether you win the lottery or get thrown in jail - after about a year you return to your original happiness set point. Interestingly (well, *I* think it’s interesting), as it turns out, upon further research, the original theory, coined by researches in 1971, might have a crack. They found that one’s happiness is more like a range, and less like a point. And more importantly, it seems that SOME people do experience significant changes to their set points over time. Well, I want my happiness set point raised.

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In Which I Regale You with a Laundry List of My Failures so You Feel Better About Your Life “My entire life has been one ridiculous mistake after another.” - GIRLS “Ditto.” - Julia Allison I spent most of my childhood in suburban Chicago sitting in the corner at recess reading. In sixth grade, in order to avoid that awkward moment in which, holding my plastic lunch tray, I couldn’t find anyone to sit with in the lunch room, I would go hide in the library. But library passes were only given out once a week per student, so I came up with my first “life hack” experiment. I figured out that if a student were to walk, chin up, eyes ahead, purposefully striding into the library, the teachers rarely - if ever - questioned her. Thus, my career in pushing boundaries30 began. Asthmatic and an academic geek, my 7th grade report card reads all A’s (a feat I wish I had continued - but didn’t - in college), and one B - in “kinetic wellness” (aka gym). Below it is typed the following line: “needs to develop selfconfidence.” Zing! It stands to reason that I naturally gravitated toward extracurricular activities which A) did not require any sort of sweating and/or athletic prowess and B) did not involve “cuts” of any sort. Thus, I joined the Latin team and the Debate team, where I lost nearly every debate, including one rather infamous round in which I was getting trounced so badly, I decided to read an excruciatingly awkward poem I had written, instead of making a closing argument. If I couldn’t win, I figured, why not entertain the judges a bit? My debate partner refused to speak to me for weeks. Debate was followed by the synchronized swim team, which wasn’t so much of a team as a group of girls attempting not to drown simultaneously. Even my parents chortle derisively when I recall our shows nostalgically. They were - how shall I put it? - reminiscent of an SNL skit, if SNL characters had access to a questionably clean aquatic environment. Obviously, being a loser, there was no starring in the school plays for me. Instead I joined stage crew, given the critical job of painting sets and later - when I really came into my power - as “the props mistress.” Nary a prop went astray with me in charge! Pushing boundaries = aka skirting the rules, aka bullshitting, aka “problems with authority.” Sigh.

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I also managed to participate - for several years - in AV club. “Participating” entailed me operating the video equipment for the band at band performances. If you have ever wondered whether any activity could, in fact, be dorkier than high school band (shout out to my band geeks!), I’m pretty sure being in charge of VIDEOING high school band ranks below it on the Mortify Scale. The final nail in my high school lack of coolness coffin was an embarrassing propensity toward getting kicked out/off/around. I was kicked off the high school radio for the one-two punch of papering the building with unauthorized flyers for my feminist, only-songs-by-women radio show31 and actually playing a song that involved “inappropriate expletives.”32 Later I was unceremoniously relieved of my duties in the Global Exchange Club, after planning a successful school dance called “An Evening in Paris” which involved an actual red carpet and corny keychains involving the Eiffel tower, which are now populating landfills throughout the midwest. And although I managed to become President of the Animal Protection Club, no one - people or animals - backed me for future terms. Of course, high school wasn’t my only place to fail. I was kicked off of my college paper for threatening to have my dog pee on the editor’s pages (an empty threat as my dog was not yet potty trained, and wouldn’t pee anywhere I instructed). I actually thought that was a pretty good reason to get fired, quite possibly my favorite, almost fun, in a “terrible at the time, but entertaining to retell” sort of way. As a senior in college, I applied to Teach for America - you know, the non-profit that sends qualified university graduates to exceptionally impoverished schools across the country for two years, a sort of homeland Peace Corps. My unbearably incompetent attempt at teaching math during the interview ended with me cracking a bad joke about long division being outdated anyway, due to the cutting edge advance of ... calculators. I was, as you might imagine, not hired. I moved to Manhattan, like so many do, just out of school and incredibly naive, with no money, no friends and no career - just the highly original idea of “becoming a writer.” I was promptly rejected from a job as cashier at Bath & Body Works. Then I was fired as a receptionist at Fortress Investment Bank (for not “taking ownership of the position”). Shortly thereafter, I convinced an

31 “The She Thing Show” - and yes, I came up with the name myself and no, I’m not making this up. I read Betty Friedan at age 13 and was an active and outspoken teen feminist, something that did nothing for my popularity with 14-year-old boys in mid-90s suburban Chicago, as you might imagine. 32

Damn you, Salt n Pepa!

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editor 33 at the Manhattan newspaper AM New York to begin running my weekly dating columns, for which I was paid the sum of ... $50. But it was a start, and that’s all I needed. One of my critics once wrote, “Cockroaches can learn a thing from Julia Allison.” And I will treasure that comment until the day I die. I just don’t accept defeat, even if it takes years, and trust me, it usually does. So I’ve learned to treasure my mistakes as the stories that are (usually) the most fun to tell. I’m proud to say that I’m the only person I know of to have been banned from Northwestern Debate Camp, the Time 100 Most Influential People Dinner, and FOX News34 (which I actually consider to be a badge of honor). I kinda wish I had been banned from a state (I’m thinking South Dakota), but I’m pretty sure you have to do something involving prison, which I’m not entirely interested in adding to my resume. I could go on for several more pages about my failures, firings, and fuck-ups (which have continued to the present day), but then this book would have to be retitled “I Give Up, God,” or maybe just “Don’t Occasionally Just Stop Believing.” And frankly, that’s not really the message I want to give you. Let’s just put it this way: if “the spiritual journey is continually falling on one’s face,” as Buddist monk Ram Dass says, then I have a headstart. In fact, I believe that every experience, relationship and obstacle comes into our lives to teach us lessons we need to grow into the people we’re meant to become. Even if those experiences are really, really unpleasant at the time. The physicist Niels Bohr once defined an expert as “a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” I consider myself an expert in many fields. Right. So what does my past35 have to do with you - and with happiness? I literally - LITERALLY - sent him 14 emails over the course of 6 months until he finally gave me me a column out of sheer exhaustion from deleting them.

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I wrote a blog post about a certain self-tanner loving anchor throwing up in front of me between takes, which I assume didn’t go over well with the execs. Sadly, that was years ago, so I think I’ve been un-banned since. But it’s a lot more fun to pretend I’m on their Official FoxNews Enemy List.

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I mean, really, who gets rejected TWICE from the Georgetown tour guides?!! Or maybe the better question is: why does anyone want to be a tour guide badly enough to apply after being rejected? These are some of life’s great mysteries. 35

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Well, I think of my myriad mistakes as my first official Experiments. They made me an expert, as Niels Bohr defines it, in a variety of very odd fields. But they did not - definitively did not - make me an expert in happiness. And while I’m not sure I believe there is such a thing as a true “happiness expert” - I am convinced that happiness is a skill, and I can at least become passable at it. Moreover, I have a hypothesis: the only way to truly become happy - unless you lucked into a brilliantly sunny disposition - is to study it methodically, to question, to experiment, to dig a little ... starting with your past. We are our histories, of course, and we are more than our histories. That’s the irony of life. How do we transcend our past, without pretending it didn’t happen and slipping into denial (been there), cloaking it with a facade (done that), or just getting so damn good at coping mechanisms that we don’t realize we’re still living with the shrapnel of our wounds? That even though they’ve been bandaged over, they haven’t entirely healed, or they’ve healed with the bullet still lodged in our flesh. Perhaps this last version is the most insidious. I’ve thought a lot about my wounds. I’ve talked a lot about them. Frankly, I’m tired of myself, and I’m tired of the pain of my past. I wish it would go away. There are so many stories we tell about our lives. We love to put ourselves in boxes, or to stay in the boxes someone else (our parents, our teachers, our guidance counselors or our bosses) put us in, boxes we may have been in for years - even decades. At one point in our life, consciously or unconsciously, we choose a trajectory, a set of opinions about what we can and cannot do, about who we are or why we are, about our strengths and our limitations, and more than anything else, our happiness set point - and for most of us, we stick with it, even when it no longer serves us. I’m telling you that’s bullshit. My bet is that we can change those stories. How? The actions described in each of the book’s 12 chapters, the titles of which make up a solid foundation upon which your happiness can grow and thrive: questioning, experimenting, exploring, creating, loving, playing, learning, contemplating, connecting, healing, prospering, and contributing. Let’s start with questioning ... *****

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more detail - chapter 1: question “What is the meaning of life? The great revelation never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.” - Virginia Wolf All lives - if told truthfully, with wounds and triumphs and secrets laid bare - are worthy of a novel. All lives are journeys, filled with thousands of roads not taken, hundreds of regrets, dark nights of the soul, fears, traumas, ecstasy, bliss. How can a life be reduced to a few paragraphs? How does one measure a life? If it seems as if I’m about to break into a rousing and off-key rendition of RENT’s “Seasons of Love” (you know you’re humming it right now), your psychic abilities are well-developed. The motivation for all of this is to learn how to live our lives better. Better as in: with more depth, more joy, more meaning, more fun, more faith, more empathy, more balance - and more love. My high school’s motto was “to commit minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion, and lives to the service of humanity.” At the time it meant very little to me. At the age of 16, I did have some deeper questions about life, but no context in which to put them. Almost twenty years later, I think this motto couldn’t be any more apt not for the high school, but for life. I particularly like the way they explain the “inquiry” portion, below:

“Traditionally, inquiry refers to an examination of facts. At New Trier,

inquiry is a process used to deeply understand an idea, concept, or

problem. It suggests that a student will take a critical stance when

reading a text or listening to an opinion or observing a piece of art. We

expect students to ask good questions of themselves, others, and of the

world. They should apply lessons from the past, the context of the

present, and the possibilities of tomorrow in fashioning answers or

solutions or responses. It is about learning from your own or others

failures as much as the successes .” It’s always odd to go back to the teachings of your youth and realize how utterly lost on your teenage self they were. Here they presented us with the keys to how to live life, but I was more concerned with what I would wear to homecoming. Sigh. The philosopher Kierkegaard believes that each individual - not society or religion or your mom or your boss - is solely responsible for giving meaning to his or her own life and determining how to best live passionately and sincerely, with Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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deep purpose and vision. I think he’s probably right (I’m sure he’s thrilled). So if you were waiting for someone to sit you down and force you into a deep existential discussion and discovery of meaning in your life, you might be waiting for Godot. The first step to happiness, it seems to me, is going beyond the surface level: questioning whether what you think makes you happy - actually does. And the only way to know that is noticing, experimenting and challenging everything. Asking the right QUESTIONS will get you much further than any one “rule.” In fact, there are no rules. Just suggestions. And curiosity is the most important trait here. Get curious about whether life could look different (it could). And whether that difference might actually be more fulfilling (it might). I’m talking about the essence of how we conduct our lives and our relationships, how we structure them, from the inside out. The decisions we make about how we react to circumstances, how we view the world, and how we spend our time and our energy shape who we become. Shouldn’t we think about them? Ask yourself, along with me: Who am I - apart from who I was told to be? What is my life’s purpose? What would I do if I had a year to live? Three months? A week? Can people change? Can I change? What kind of life do I want to lead? And what does it mean, really, to be happy? Some of these questions may seem basic - and they are. You may have heard them before, and perhaps you even think you have answers. Don’t slap me, but ... probably not. I certainly don’t! Our culture doesn’t really encourage such meditations or provide for us much in the way of instruction on how to live a meaningful, content life - outside of the occasional philosophy or theology class in college. We spend days debating Kim Kardashian’s waistline, or why he didn’t call you back, or how much your boss sucks ... but we don’t take time to talk about values, about meaning, about what’s beyond the bonus (do people even get those anymore??), beyond the obsessive iPhone app goal-setting, beyond the 60k wedding in Cabo, beyond the kids getting into that preschool that preps them for Harvard. So let’s ask some questions! If the below questions seem like they were pulled out of some arcane philosophy class, well, that’s sort of the point. Yes, they’re well-worn. But have YOU answered them?

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Questions: What matters most to you - and why?36 What is your life’s purpose? What does happiness mean to you? What do the happiest people in your life have in common? Are you the person the younger you thought you’d be? Are you the person you would want your children to grow up to be? What would you do if you had a year to live? Three months? A week? What do you want to do before you die? What would you do if you had a year “off”? What’s missing from your life - and why do you keep it out? What is your impact - on other people, on your community, on the world? What is the “good life”? What does love mean to you? What does it mean for you to be “seen”? Who in your life “sees” you? What is your secret to happiness? What is your mantra, if you have one? What are your values? What do you believe in? What ideas carry you through the rough spots? What is draining you and distracting you? If you could talk to every person on earth for 10-20 minutes, what would you tell them? What would your “last lecture” be? How do you create sacred space in a life that feels dominated by banalities & errands & to do lists? Happiness is ... (fill in the blank) What is success? What are you working toward?

Shout out to Stanford business school, which uses this question on their application to weed out idiots like me (yep, I got rejected. of course.)

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Why?*

*Asking why repeatedly is a trick you should use on yourself to get beyond

the surface answer to the deeper layers. It’s really easy - every time you

come up with an answer to a question, ask yourself “Why”? Then do it

again. And again. I guarantee you’ll get a different perspective on what

your REAL needs are after this process. Ah-ha moments are like crack to me, so asking these questions with a journal or a friend is my idea of a good Saturday night. The best part is - unlike high school it’s not the answers that matter, but the conversations that ensue. Deep conversations, meaningful conversations, conversations that allow us to bridge that agonizing gap between our hearts, conversations that allow our souls to spoon, even if only for minutes. Ah-ha! We say to ourselves, while in the midst of one of these tingling exchanges, as pleasurable as a massage. A soul friend! I see you. You see me. And for that moment, we relax. We feel understood. And all is right with the world. At the end of all this, I expect you to be able to answer one question better than my father. Me: What is the happiest word? Dad: Flush. Me: That is not the happiest word. Where do you come up with this stuff? Dad: Hot Soup. Me: That is TWO words! You are terrible at this game. *****

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**PULL OUT BOX FOR CH. 1 - QUESTION** [BOX 1: HOW TO GET BEYOND SMALLTALK BY QUESTIONING] When you’re next at a party or a dinner, go deeper than the weather with an acquaintance (trust me, they’ll thank you): • Ask them any of the questions above. • Especially try to pull out their thoughts on what makes up “the good life.” • Ask what happiness looks like to them or what they couldn’t be happy without. • Ask them to explain to you the one thing they thought would lead to happiness but didn’t. Do they have a life lesson? • Ask what their very first job as a teenager was - and what it taught them. Even the most wealthy, famous or powerful has a great story about their first job. • Ask them to give you a bit of their wisdom - and tell the story of how they acquired it. I guarantee you’ll have the most interesting conversation in the room. And after you have one of these conversations, you will NOT want to go back to talking about traffic. [BOX 2: HOW TO FIND YOUR LIFE PURPOSE BY QUESTIONING] “We have entered a new age of fulfillment, in which the dream is to trade up from money to meaning.” - philosopher Roman Krznaric The in thing to say now is that we want a “career rather than a job.” But I actually think we need to go further than that. A career isn’t enough. We need a CALLING. We want to wake up every day to a world filled with “meaning, flow, freedom” with a clear purpose to our lives. Okay, how do we find our life purpose? This is a shockingly easy exercise37 .

1. Take out a blank sheet of paper (remember those?) and a pen.

2. Write at the top “What is my true purpose in life?”

3. Write any answer that comes into your head. ANY. Phrases work!

4. Repeat step 3 until you write down an answer that makes you cry. Seriously! It might take you 5 answers in ten minutes or 100 answers in an hour. Don’t judge yourself. Just keep going.

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credit to the writer Steve Pavlina for introducing me to this exercise!

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*Here is what mine looked like (below) when I wrote it out - in pink pen, on a sheet of white typewriter paper - over three years ago ... since then I’ve had the sheet posted on my bulletin board so that whenever I get too far from my core, I can remember what I’m really here to do in this life. By the way, I think that the “intermediary” answers can be just as relevant and powerful to your life path and purpose as the eventual end answer. It’s almost like they tell a story ... and the final phrase or sentence that makes you cry is the essence of the story. It ties together everything else; it’s the root of everything. What is my true purpose in life? -

to give people hope to talk to people to help them experience their dreams to show them they are not alone to open up their minds, hearts and souls to communicate with others to live fully so that others feel they can live fully as well to inspire by example to make mistakes so that other people can learn to set an example of kindness and non-judgment to be a teacher in the real world to guide this generation through their struggles to entertain people to be true to myself to love fully, completely, unconditionally to be a wife and a mother to undertake a great spiritual journey - and to take others along with me to feel deeply to be compassionate to show others how to be compassionate through my own compassion to spread a message of love, forgiveness and joy to continue to take risks, to embark upon “impossible” journeys to open myself up and stay open, despite what life may throw at me

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more detail - chapter 5: love (on love and loss & letting it unfold) “Where’s my husband?! Where is he?!!” I joked to camera while filming the first season of my BRAVO reality show, “Miss Advised,” late in 2011. I was 30 years old, with a decade of Carrie Bradshaw-esque dating columns under my belt, and no ring on my finger. Actually, screw the ring — I was having trouble just keeping a steady boyfriend. The producers found it ironic: relationship columnist unable to actually maintain relationship. Har, har, har. Hilarious! I cried myself to sleep every night … and then I found Annie. I met her at a conference, during which we were asked to say something about ourselves to the hundred plus crowd. I stood up and announced, “Soooo … I’m actually looking for a husband — if you know someone up for the job, point him my way! Um … Not already a husband to someone else, preferably?” (Keep in mind that this was a marketing conference, not some sort of relationship summit. No one else confused it with IRL eHarmony.) The room erupted in laughter; my mannerisms suggested I was joking. I wasn’t. But as it turns out, I also wasn’t being completely truthful, either. Not just to the conference attendees, but as Annie pointed out later, to myself. You see, Annie is a love coach. Yes. A love coach. When I’ve described her as such to friends of mine, the response tends to run toward incredulity, as if that’s the most arcane job title they’ve heard in their (terribly worldly) existence, as if she makes poets look prosaic. Their somewhat judgey subtext: employing a love coach seems as much of an unnecessary luxury as employing a doggy masseuse. But we have doctors to tend to our bodies, dentists for our teeth, stylists for our hair, dermatologists for our skin, ministers for our souls … and no one nurturing, guiding, unblocking that most sacred vessel in our lives, our hearts? What’s crazy is that everyone doesn’t have a love coach! Annie specializes in “love, sex and conflict resolution,” the former two I don’t have nearly enough of, and the latter I have altogether too much (not the resolution - just the conflict, alas). She tells me that she helps her clients “resolve toxic patterns, develop romantic esteem, assuage shame/blame and cultivate deep, resilient relationships that last a lifetime.”

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Basically, Annie laundry listed my romantic problems. My love life: toxic. My romantic esteem: in the shitter. My dating past: riddled with shame and blame and regret.Desperate for solutions, I’ve medicated with a particularly modern concoction of self-help books and slightly obsessive girlfriend-enabled overanalysis for years. Despite all that, I can’t seem to figure out the one thing I most long to have: a lifelong love. I want to fold her up and put her in my suitcase and take her home with me until I work out all my ish. But back to the conference, and Annie’s skeptical face. “If you really wanted to get married, you would.  There must be a way being single is serving your needs, although you might not consciously know it. Is what you really want a husband? Or a fulfilling relationship between two individuals?” She was right. I didn’t really want a “husband,” per se … I wanted a partner, a teammate. I wanted a last call of the day. I wanted someone to hold me at night, to hug me and kiss me. I wanted someone — besides my mother — to worry about me. I wanted someone to wonder where I was, and if I didn’t come home, I wanted someone to notice. I wanted someone to want my love. But after 15 years of repeatedly falling in love, only to watch it fall apart, my heart slowly rendered numb by the scar tissue, I had become a cynic. “Cynics,” Annie points out, when I ask her forlornly if I’ll ever recover from the insidious disease of disappointment, “are simply failed idealists. All cynics started out as romantics, but their dreams got bashed against the sidewalk. So they give up, they say ‘Fuck it, it’s never going to work. I’ll never find true love.’ But inside every cynic is this tiny burning ember of a romantic ideal. They’re just too terrified to reopen that dream.” I was terrified. God, how I was terrified. Love had become dangerous to me, full of inevitable pain. I’ve seen men I love cheat. I’ve seen men I love leave. I’ve seen men I love tell me I’m their everything, I’m the one, I’m all they ever wanted … and then I’ve seen those same men change their minds. I’ve seen men who told me they wanted to marry me … marry someone else. My relationships — far from the safe harbor I so yearned for — were not safe. And that belief was not only devastating — but, Annie said, it was undermining me receiving the one thing I so desperately wanted: lifelong, lasting, unconditional love. I began my work with Annie that evening, and as the months stretched out, so did our conversations. With a degree in human biology and philosophy, she integrates psychology, evolutionary science, neurochemistry, sexuality and social dynamics into her coaching … and I watched as she unraveled some of the knots that have been tying me up for years. Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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“I don’t know how this is ever going to change,” I tell her, almost in despair one evening. “My heart is surrounded by armor. I don’t want to let anyone in …” “Julia, my open-hearted priestess-of-love in the making,” she said to me (yes, she talks like that). “That’s fear. Can we invite the fear in and welcome it? There’s a part of you that is terrified of opening up your heart again, then losing it, and having to feel the pain. There’s another part of you that’s a young, idealistic wonder-filled kid that is open to adventure. And both of them are interested in your development.  Both parts are fighting for you to stay happy and survive — they’re not enemies. That fear is a part of you that’s taking care of you. Not your enemy. The fear has a commitment to making sure you don’t have pain. We honor the fear.” “You talk about your heart having scar tissue,” on she went. “The heart is a muscle. How do bodybuilders build muscle? They make little tiny rips, which grow back with scar tissue, making the muscles bigger and stronger. Whether you realize it or not, thanks to that pain, you have a profoundly enlarged heart. Think of it that way.” And I do. I sit with that for a minute, and I take it in. A profoundly enlarged heart. I like that. I breathe, and I feel my heart relax, just a little bit. It’s a start, I think. And it was. But seven horrific months of going on first dates, plus love coaching (with cameras rolling) later, I’d given up. Our season was a wrap, and it ended with me sobbing hysterically as yet another completely uninterested adolescent-esque 30something asshole dumped me, about an hour after he asked me to run to the corner store to pick up some beer for him. Classy! I’m over it, I think. Not just him, but all of it. Men. Dating. Love in general. I’m over it in the most cliched bitter cat-lady way possible. I’m done. I’m not doing this anymore. My heart can’t take it. I look into freezing my eggs, and it’s not for a punchline. Maybe love wasn’t meant for me. Maybe I’m not anyone’s One. Annie senses my heart needs tending, and she calls me. Letting go, she tells me, isn’t the worst thing in the world. Releasing my white-knuckled death grip of control over my life will allow me to actually experience whatever I was meant to experience, she argues. In other words, I don’t get to decide everything, including when I fall in love. Exhausted — by the invasiveness and intrusion of cameras, by 15 years of dating, by my repeated inability to love myself — I let go, metaphorically — and literally, I crumple to the floor, aching, alone. I grieve. Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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And then, in that moment of surrender, a paradox emerges: I sense a crack, an opening in my heart. Just a tiny one, but it’s there. It feels a lot like relief, even joy, or some strange emotion that isn’t entirely negative. My logical brain cannot fathom how that could be possible. In my darkest moment, contemplating the rest of life sans a partner to love me, how could I feel relief? “See?” says Annie. “You’re beginning to let it unfold,” she quotes the tattoo on my left wrist, three tiny letters “LIU” I emblazoned on my skin in honor of my Grandmother, who wisely repeated it as a favored aphorism to her list-obsessed granddaughter. To bastardize a “Sex & the City” quote, perhaps you have to let go of the life you thought you would lead in order to lead the one you were meant to lead. It somehow made sense. I’d been holding so tight to my fantasies of this perfect man, who would finally fill the gaping void in my self-esteem, and that man wasn’t coming. He just wasn’t. And so I began to imagine a future in which — yes, it’s shocking, I know (sarcasm intended) — I made myself happy. I took care of myself. I nurtured myself. Most importantly, I loved myself. All rah-rah self-help-isms, to be sure — and all of which I simply wasn’t doing. Two weeks later, my beloved Grandmother passed away, at 4 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. I got the call from my father, and fell to the ground, hysterical. My Grandmother taught me everything about love. My Grandmother WAS love. During our last conversation, my Grandmother had asked me her favorite question, “Have you found your true love yet?” When I answered that I wasn’t sure I ever would, she looked at me and said softly, “You will. And you’ll be a good wife and mother, even if you don’t think so now.” It was May 9th, the day she died, and I stumbled out to the beach near my house, watched the sun rise, and sobbed. I hadn’t ever experienced loss like that, loss of a primary love. I had never felt that kind of pain. I had meetings that day, which I canceled, of course. But I also had a first date that evening, with a young man I had never met before. All logic told me I should cancel the date … but I had an inexplicable feeling that I shouldn’t. My Grandmother was a very spiritual person, with a deep and abiding faith. She believed there was more to this world than meets the eye.

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So I didn’t cancel the date. And as he met me that evening, for a sunset walk on the same beach I had gone to grieve my Grandmother 12 hours earlier, a sense of calm I couldn’t explain washed over me. “Oh,” I thought. “Something’s different.” Several hours later, he kissed me for the first time, and wrapped a blanket around our bodies as we cuddled near the shore. I felt waves of unconditional love wash over me, and I felt my Grandmother’s presence, like an angel. The man I met the night of my Grandmother’s death is now the love of my life. We’ve been together 9 months, and it feels completely different than any relationship I’ve ever had. He is the kindest, most honest, most humble and giving human being I’ve ever met. It’s like every movie cliche: He makes me want to be a better woman. I like to believe Grandmother sent him to me, as her final gift. I know that I cherish him all the more for it. My Grandmother and Annie have something in common: They were both my love coaches. In fact, we all have love coaches in our lives, people who allow us to see our heart’s potential, who never give up on us experiencing the exquisitely wrenching dance of intimacy, who teach us that love and pain and fear and joy cannot be separated, they can only be embraced together. People who teach us that love and loss are two sides of the same coin. And so this story has become the greatest lesson in my life: Love giveth and love taketh away; out of the pain of love lost was the ecstasy of love gained. This is the meaning of life, in all its devastating glory. Let it unfold. *****

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**PULL OUT BOX FOR CH. 5 - LOVE** THE TRUE LOVE TEST (for WOMEN) - by Love Coach Annie Lalla 1. How often does he go out of his way for you - physically, emotionally, intellectually? 2. Does he genuinely want to know your true feelings, thoughts, desires & fears and be impacted by them? ie: if you get interrupted while speaking, does he bring you back to your point? 3. Is it his priority that you feel safe, loved and understood? 4. Are your personal needs, wants and desires important to him? Equal to his? 5. Is he committed to you expanding your sexual power and enjoying your sex? 6. Does he encourage your ambition, your dreams and push you further towards your personal, professional & emotional development? 7. Does he comfortably talk about his future with you in it? Can you see that future? 8. When he mentions you to others, can you hear pride and reverence in his voice? 9. Is he willing to do whatever it takes to make this relationship work? 10.Would he be proud and excited to have a daughter that was just like you? THE TRUE LOVE TEST (for MEN) 1. Does she value & share her inner thoughts, feelings, needs and desires with you? In particular, is she able to bare her vulnerable, open heart when she’s in pain? 2. Does she honor your dreams & purpose as admirable and deeply important? Does she see greatness in you & consciously create sacred space for you to do your best work? 3. Does she have the strength & the wherewithal to hold you in your confusion, pain or fear and create a safe place for you to expand and feel loved & supported? 4. Will she risk your “disapproval” in service of your personal development & the relationship’s growth? ie: help elucidate blind spots, call you on playing small 5. Is she receptive to hearing your deepest sexual truths, fantasies & expressions, without judging, demeaning or marginalizing them? 6. Does she yearn to liberate you from shame wherever it may lurk or hold you back? 7. Is she willing to develop, grow & create herself as the most extraordinary version of herself, with your support? Does she believe & honor the greatness you see in her? 8. Does her behavior call you to a higher standard of manhood, integrity and beauty? 9. Is she willing to do whatever it takes to make this relationship work? 10. Would she be proud and excited to have a son who was just like you? Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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sample outside writing Guinea Pig of Love Experiment #1: Tarot Card Reader Published in ELLE “Clairvoyant … intuitive … accurate” reads the ellipsis laden epithet on tarot card reader Jackie Turner’s no-frills website. I’ve come here to meet her at the LA bakery in which she works (more on that later) on a mild November day at the behest of my editor, Keith. “It’ll be good for you …” he trails off, glancing down, but I know what he means: “You need serious help, lady.” And I do. The hamster wheel in my head has been running overtime, jangling, clanging, fears and brooding and obsessive rumination disguised as “To Do” lists and “constructive self-criticism.”  There’s nothing constructive about it, of course, but that’s not what the hamster wheel tells me. Jackie – being an intuitive (the slightly less loaded term for “psychic”) – acknowledges my aforementioned hamster wheel within minutes of me skittishly sitting down at the little table in Susina’s Bakery & Cafe, on Beverly and La Brea. “You’ve got a lot of static,” she frowns at me, like a stern principal in the school of life. “A lot going on in your mind.” I immediately feel guilty, as if I’d sneezed on her with a particularly malevolent strain of bird flu.  How did she know? Were hamster wheels contagious?  Years amongst equally neurotic girl friends led me to think they were.  I tried to clamp down on mine, the screechy metal reverberating in my head with cap-locked complaints like, “WHAT THE F–K IS WRONG WITH YOU?? YOU’RE SCREWING EVERYTHING UP! STOP ALL THIS HEAD NOISE! JACKIE’S ONTO YOU, HAMSTER WHEEL! OMMMM!”  (BTW, an “OM” screamed does not a relaxed mind achieve.) Of course, finding myself seated in the middle of a bakery – sans the coconut macaroon I eyed when I walked in – secretly hoping that a stranger with a deck of cards will somehow solve years of romantic travails doesn’t do much to negate neurosis.  That said, her website was clear: “The cards reveal the answers and Jackie’s positive technique confirms your directional path.” Awesome! I’m in the mode for a positive technique and I wouldn’t mind my directional path being confirmed, because up until now it could be best described as “not toward marriage with a suitable partner.” My last relationship ended in May, and I’ve spent the past five months working myself into a frenzy over my lack of purported success in the realm of relationships.  “Why am I such a failure?” my hamster wheel spins and spins.  Keith, who radiates an unflappable charm borne of “having one’s shit together,” sees the tarot card reader as a therapist of sorts, able to inject my life with an instant measure of calm like a vitamin B shot to the ass (those totally work, by the way). The “future telling as therapy” works like this: if I knew, for example, I would meet some ridiculously amazing guy in exactly four months, then wouldn’t I be able to chill out until then?  And wouldn’t that chilled out version of me be eminently more attractive to said ridiculously amazing guy?  So it’s a little like a positive feedback loop that ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I almost don’t even care if she’s right.  I just want to believe her so I can relax already! But how does it work, exactly?  Originating in the 15th century Europe as a parlor game, tarot cards were adopted by mystics in the late 18th century, who felt they could gain insight into one’s life with the help of spiritual guidance.  Jackie explains that she can’t see the indefinite future, Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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per se; instead she sees 3-12 months out, and “messages come through” the cards.  To infuse the deck with my intentions and energy, she asks me to hold them, then shuffle them, then cut them into three stacks and select ten cards with my left hand (left being connected to your right brain, which is more open and creative). As I’m shuffling the cards, we begin a discussion about free will versus destiny.  I’m curious as to what Jackie thinks: which determines our fate? “Both,” Jackie says solemnly.  I’m not in the mood to be in charge of my life right now, but as Jackie lays down the cards my left hand has selected, the gist is clear: I better get in the mood real fast. “Interesting,” Jackie makes a face as she looks at my cards, one of those faces you don’t really want anyone to make when they’re about to tell you your future, even if it is only 3 to 12 months of it. I explain a bit about my history – how I’ve dated a lot, but am genuinely tired of being alone, how I’d really like to find my life partner, and how if I could find him in the next two or three days, that would be ideal.  Did she by chance have his number?  Did he want to meet us here at the bakery tonight? Did he like coconut macaroons? Jackie gives me a look, and I shut up.  She points to the cards that indicate what I’m going through now, and I see “The Devil” staring at me.  Awesome.  She explains that “The Devil” card indicates that I have had some difficulties overcoming obstacles – but that the real obstacle was my own mind (hamster wheel!) “You’re too hard on yourself, you obsess, you try to control,” clucked Jackie, undoing years of Protestant work ethic my parents and summer school math teachers drummed into me. “It feels like there’s a lot of chaos. When you’re not in the drama mode, you have such a good intuition. If you could let that behavior go, the intuition would shine through.  With the goal you’re after – being in a relationship – the real obstacle for you is to overcome that inner turmoil.” What!?! My hamster wheel was PISSED. What drama!?!? Oh. Okay.  Yeah. Pretty much every relationship and dating situation I’ve been in, ever.  Dramaville, population 1: me. I’ll deny it, but the cards don’t buy it.  The realization slowly sinks in: I do have a propensity toward drama. And it now occurs to me (duh), that it’s within my control to stop it. So what happens then, Jackie? I ask, hoping that the future section of cards will show I’ve kicked my inner drama queen to the curb.  “There are new beginnings,” Jackie says. “Around the corner is so much better.”  I breathe a sigh of relief.  Not so fast, Jackie warns me. “The message for the future is that in order for you to get what you want, you have to overcome this inner chaos.  Let’s say everything stays the same, there would be more upheaval.” In other words, the white knight card?  Nowhere to be found. And yet, Jackie looks interested in one card in particular.  A “King of Cups” card, to be exact.  I don’t know what the cups mean, but I get the whole King symbolism.  A King! My MAN!  “I see someone loving you in 5-9 months,” Jackie nods.  Score!! I can wait that long! I need to get in shape, anyway. In that vein, I ask Jackie about the date I’m having next week, with a fellow named Justin.  We cut a new deck of cards just for him, and she says what I already thought. “He’s not the one, but could be good for you. Better than you think.”  I doubt it. “Focus on what’s good about him,” chides Jackie, while Keith adds, “the opposite of sick is sick.”

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“You’ll only get your King of Cups if you change your focus, calm the mind,” Jackie says. “The more still you can be, the better.” Okay, fine.  “How do you recommend I do that? I’m not usually a negative person!” I grumble. “Are you sure?” Jackie gives me a look. That takes me aback.  Geez.  Maybe I am negative!  This has got to change.  I’m not going to let my King of Cups go without a fight!! Jackie rattles off a list of homework for me to complete: 1. Gratitude Journal – I must write at least 7 items a day that I’m thankful for.  Like Thanksgiving with your family, except in a notebook, without any turkey. 2. List of What You’ve Accomplished - Jackie tells me to be shameless with this, as no one will see it. I wonder if I can include things like “wearing clean underwear” or “showering daily.” Small victories. 3. Vision Board – Keith is a huge proponent of the vision board, and he sells me on it when he describes making one – and then promptly getting exactly what he asked for (in his case, a French hunk, with whom he’s been in a relationship ever since. I’m liking his style.) “Own your magic,” Jackie concludes finally, pointing to a card that she said indicated renewal and rebirth.  I think about what that means.  Own my magic.  Okay. I’ve only rented it on occasion before, but I’m 30.  Perhaps it’s time to buy.  Can I get a mortgage, though? 90 minutes of tarot card reading later, Keith and I get up to leave.  My mind feels calm, the hamster wheel, if not dismantled, at least closed for the evening.  If therapy’s goal is to lead you out of fear, to give you the impetus and guidance to improve your life in a constructive manner and to provide you with solid actionable steps, then Jackie is as good as any therapist. I make a beeline for the coconut macaroon and think about my King of Cups.  Should I grab one for him too, just in case? *****

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Guinea Pig of Love Experiment #4: Mind Architect Published in ELLE “PROMMMM!” I’m in a twelve-year-old powder blue strapless floor-length tulle prom dress, screaming out of the sunroof a stretch limo with an enthusiastic but somewhat perplexed man in a gray tuxedo with matching blue cummerbund.  It is not your conventional first date, but I’m not your conventional girl. Why prom? Oh, hell, who knows? Why do some people love bowling, and others enjoy ant farms?  Why do some people appreciate opera and others get off on NASCAR?  Whatever makes you happy!  And prom makes ME happy.  I love it.  I love everything about it.  I love the gowns and the boys in tuxedos and the dancing and the cheesy posed photographs and the limos and the adolescent camaraderie and the Milestone Eventness of it all. To me, prom is a moving art installation, rife with opportunities for creative expression.  So a prom redux is the perfect setting for my attempt at something new: I’m letting my date see the full force of my personality – immediately.  It’s an exercise in authenticity, in just being me, in all my eccentric (you say “crazy,” I say “quirky”) glory.  With Annie the Love Coach, I tried restraining myself from these habitual dating eccentricities. Now I’m testing the opposite end of that spectrum, presenting a full-on “I don’t give a s–t, you either love it or you run” tiara’d Julia – and I’m having a damn good time.  As for my date, Andrew? I think he might be enjoying the unfettered me, as well. It all started with Peter Crone – the “mind architect,” as he calls himself, or “happiness expert,” as he is sometimes called by others. His job is to “help people become the best versions of themselves,” as he says.  (Note to my dad: a real job is anything that you do for which other people pay you.) A calling is anything you do which changes people’s lives for the better.  For Peter, being a mind architect is both a job – and a calling.  “I rewire the way you relate to yourself and highlight what’s holding you back,” he explains. Peter is, in a word, mesmerizing. I greet him at my door, frustrated over an article, angry with myself, pissed that it’s not easier, furious that I can’t get into the flow.  My “writer’s anxiety” (which sometimes morphs into the better known “writer’s block”) isn’t exactly a new phenomenon with me, but it’s gotten exponentially more severe in the last few years.  It manifests as an almost debilitating concern over how others will perceive my words, leading frequently to procrastination and temporary paralysis over articles that (in theory) I *want* to do. I’ve published over 400 print articles and columns, not counting my thousands of blog posts, but many of them have been unnecessarily torturous experiences.  I find that the more I care about the piece, the harder it is to write.  The pieces that weren’t difficult were those I expected no one to read.  Let’s put it this way: I don’t have writer’s anxiety in my diary.

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It would be bad enough if it only affected my professional life, but I’ve found that the same pattern happens on dates.  The more I care about a date, the harder it is for me to chill out and be myself. Peter takes me through what he calls a “disillusionment.” He explains to me that the issues which paralyze me as I embark upon a column – or a first date -  are all in my head.  They are a creation of my mind, which means that my mind can also UNcreate them. “If somebody’s trying to move forward, what stops them?” Peter asks. “Fear,” I answer quickly, uncomfortably familiar with the phenomenon. “Fear of what?” he asks. “Fear of not being good enough,” I respond. “Well,” he says, pausing. “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.” What? I stare at him in disbelief. Does he need me to write him a list? Where do I begin? More importantly, how long do I have? Love (and good writing), he explains, only happens when you let go. When you let go of the fear of judgment, the terror that, should you expose yourself for who you really are, should you allow the other person to see your mess, you won’t be good enough.  What if they ridicule you? What if they reject you? What if they leave you, bereft, with only your unrequited love and a broken heart? What if, indeed.  What if: the cautionary wet blanket of phrases. At the beginning of a relationship, fleeting thoughts like that are normal.  We all dabble in insecurity – and dating is a land rife with achingly personal rejection.  But for me that terror had metastasized into something far more virulent – unmitigated perfectionism that sabotaged both my dating and my professional lives. Let me be clear: perfectionism – the oft-cited “good flaw” – is anything but.  It can and will destroy your love life, your career, your health, your happiness. You believe that if you are not perfect, you won’t be loved, appreciated, lauded, promoted. Its roots lie in dangerous, distressingly low self esteem, so if you don’t get it at the roots, it will never leave you.  It took me years – and a session with Peter Crone – to understand that. Are you ready to start being “the real Julia,” he asks me at the end of our session? “I’m not 100% sure I know who the real Julia is …” I answer.  But I know a good way to start. PROMMM!!!! ***** Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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Love/Hate Fashion Week: Why I Keep Going Back Published in The Gloss

Fashion Week, oh fashion week, how I adore slash abhor you.  It’s not your fault, per se.  You are what you are: a teeming mess of ego and art, of waiting and judging and pushing and shoving while being deprived of food and water for ten hours all to watch 12-14 minutes of (sometimes) pure sartorial genius and (sometimes) absolute nonsensical crap that even 2% body fat can’t make look good. Anyone who’s ever attended in the working capacity – whether as a reporter or a PR rep or a dresser or a security guard – understands the undertones that accompany uttering that phrase: “New York Fashion Week,” the relentless anxiety, the need-for-a-new-xanax-prescription-ness of it all.  If you ever wondered, “Am I an important, autonomous human being capable of making my own decisions, wearing comfortable clothing and not being treated like cattle?” wonder no longer: you are not. You will be bossed and herded and glared and glowered at, you will dodge and weave and bob and dart around shuffling, gaping, faux fur clad fourists (that’s fourists with an “f”: the harmless and occasionally irritating fashionista-tourist), and at the end of it all, you’ll collapse on your couch clutching a giant jar of JIF in one hand and a spoon in the other and vowing never, ever to take off your Uggs & Lulu Lemon again. This February marks my tenth season “at the tents,” as they say (although “the tents” have gone from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center, and Fashion Week isn’t limited to that venue).  I’ve attended well over 250 shows (maybe more), and each season I interview 10-20 designers.  I try never to ask them “what was your inspiration?” (barf!), but sometimes I panic and That Question just tumbles out. Although that’s better than the time I asked Custo Dalmau, designer of Custo Barcelona, whether he was “on drugs” when he designed his fall collection. It was supposed to be a joke, I guess … but it didn’t really, um, translate.  Oops? Toward the beginning of my fashion week tenure, I focused on celebrities – sorry, “celebrities” (air quotes necessary) – in the front row, but I soon found that required nerves of steel and lead feet, as you’re literally being crushed by a wall of aggressive photographers, approximately none of whom care about your sound quality or picture quality or the quality of anything, at all, whatsoever.  To sum: in terms of the ideal interview scenario (quiet, focused, well lit, plenty of time, no one yelling at you), Fashion Week is pretty much the antithesis. So why do I keep coming back? Um … it pays the rent.  As much as I need postfashion week therapy for my bruised ego and a podiatrist for my bruised toes,

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there are worse ways to make a living.  And much like a bi-polar on-and-off boyfriend, you try to remember the good times – the standing ovations at Naeem Khan, the lilting melody of Regina Spektor singing at Oscar de la Renta, the crazy middle-of-the-runway waterfalls at Isaac Mizrahi, the one time Kanye made an entire theatre of people wait 45 minutes for him and his Louis Vuitton carrying entourage to grace us with their strategically blinged presence.  Ah, memories. There are those moments, and you hold them in your heart while you wait in the 20 degree cold wearing a cape, clutching a mike, waiting for the PR people to find you on the list for a backstage interview even though you confirmed FOURTEEN TIMES via email.  You hold them in your heart and in your iPhone, and when you tell people – strangers! interns! your mom’s friends! ladies from the Midwest! classmates who made the questionable decision to work in finance! -  that you cover “fashion week,” and they chirp, “OMG! How much fun is that!?” you restrain yourself from slapping them and allow a little of their guileless delight to creep into your jaded soul, just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels. And it feels pretty good. *****

*Me interviewing Betsey Johnson at NY Fashion Week

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13 Simple Rules for Dealing with My Dad published in AM New York My father is not big or tall. He does not own shotguns. And he has never threatened to murder any of my boyfriends with his bare hands. He doesn’t need bare hands – he’s a lawyer. He cross-examines them to death. Most past beaus haven’t survived his withering interrogatives. There was Greg, who often reeked of cannabis: “You do realize that pot is illegal in this country, correct?” There was Jeff, who didn’t believe in going to class: “Would you say failing out of college indicates you don’t take your studies very seriously?” There was James, who was superbly talented at drinking copious amounts of vodka: “How many alcoholic beverages, on average, do you consume in a given week?” There was Dan, who nearly had a heart attack every time my father would interrupt one of our interminable high school make out sessions by pounding on my bedroom door and bellowing, “Are you studying physics? Just remember the first law: Bodies in Motion Stay in Motion!” I’m still mortified. Even my most serious boyfriend after college had a rough start. After interrogating said boyfriend about his “intentions,” my dad pounced: “I understand you’re ‘divorced’ – would you happen to have a copy of the documentation? And exactly how old are you again?” I’ve always told my boyfriends to “just be themselves” when they meet my dad. I’ve always been a moron. My new plan is this: No more being yourselves, unless “yourselves” is perfect. Instead, all boyfriends who interact with my paternal unit will have to adhere to the following – let’s just call them Thirteen Simple Rules So My Dad Won’t Refuse to Pay for the Wedding. (Or have you arrested.) 1) My father will ask you many questions. You will look him in the eye when you answer, and you will ENUNCIATE. Under no circumstances will you check your Blackberry during the conversation. 2) You will not attempt to touch, kiss or partially disrobe me within three miles of my father. You will not slap any body part of mine unless it is my hand and I have initiated a high-five. Most importantly, you are not interested in cohabitation or sex until marriage, and even then, only to procreate. You love me only for my mind. My body? What body?? 3) Whether or not you believe in God, you will not begin a debate on the merits of atheism or staunchly declare, “You know, Marx settled this question a long Julia Allison - Experiments in Happiness Book Proposal - 2013

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time ago.” You will go to church with my father and you will sing along with the hymns. If you’re Jewish, you will pretend that you considered your bar mitzvah a spiritual experience and not the most efficient way for a 13-year-old to separate his relatives from their cash. 4) Speaking of cash, upon seeing my father’s house/car/boat/lawn mower, you will not say “that is money.” You will refrain from ruminating aloud about your Kanye West-induced fear of golddiggers. And you will never, ever use the word “pimp,” or debate how hard it is to be one. Instead, you will set your car radio to NPR and hum Beethoven’s Fifth. 5) When my father asks you about your college education, you will not look confused and say “Huh?” 6) You will eschew all frivolous and/or hedonistic activities, preferring yard work, vigorous exercise and paying bills promptly and in full. 7) You will brag about working 167-hour weeks to save for the expensive college educations of your unborn children. You will find a way to work the terms “personal responsibility,” “family values” and “401k” into as many conversations as possible. You will name-check your health insurance provider ("Whoops, just broke my leg. Good thing I have a low deductible with Blue Cross!"). 8) You will profess a great interest in attending law school, even if you are currently a he-model who (until five minutes ago) thought that the LSAT stood for “Last Saturday.” 9) You will not admit to any “youthful indiscretions.” You never had a youth, or if you did, it was spent reading ponderous books about Thomas Jefferson, working part-time jobs that taught you “the value of a dollar,” and discouraging girls from going wild. 10)You will bring my father a nice bottle of wine, but profess not to drink, “except for the occasional glass of red at dinner.” You have never heard of keg stands and you do not know what “boot and rally” means. 11)You will google David McCullough and reference him repeatedly. “According to David McCullough,” you’ll say, and then you’ll make something up. If you’re challenged, you’ll reply sagely, “Well, look at chapter 18 of ‘1776.’” No one will bother. 12)Under no circumstances will you admit to any of the following: pedicures, strip clubs, credit card debt, binge drinking, threesomes, comprehensive knowledge of unemployment benefits, comprehensive knowledge of drug trafficking laws, road rage, not voting, voting for a Democrat, and exceptional familiarity with internet porn. 13) You will not repeatedly mumble, “This is just like ‘Meet the Fockers.’” If all else fails, think “What Would Chris Brown Do?” … then make the opposite decision. *****

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End of the Decade Project: Obama Girl Published in Newsweek “You seem to float onto the floor Democratic Convention 2004 I never wanted anybody more … cause I got a crush on Obama!” June of 2007: the Democratic presidential nominee hadn’t yet been decided, even by the most precocious of pundits.  It was a slow news day (month, really) when a not-quite-professional YouTube music video featuring a sexy young girl singing about her love for a certain politician broke out.  Before the end of the week, over five million people had seen “Obama Girl” gyrate in a bikini next to a superimposed shot of “relatively unknown” democratic contender Barack Obama, bare-chested in the waves. No campaign video then – or since – has made it so clear: Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, he wasn’t. “So I put down my Kerry sign / So black and sexy, you’re so fine.” Presidential candidate as sex symbol?  This was a new era, indeed. This was no Swift boat, no cranky senior citizens complaining about health care.  Instead we had model/actress Amber Lee Ettinger, then 25, with long flowing black hair and curves that could make gay Republicans straight – plus an undeniably catchy tune, some arguably amusing lyrics (“You’re into border security/Let’s break this border between you and me/You can love but you can fight/You can Barack me tonight”), and, oh yeah, a bright red pair of booty … uh …  “shorts” – with OBAMA in white letters on the butt. Such iconic sexual-political imagery is the stuff of pop culture legend. “It’s safe to say the original video was more memorable than any of Barack Obama’s own TV ads,” says former ad-exec Ben Relles, who co-created Obama Girl with vocalist Leah Kaufmann, shooting it in a single weekend. That it looked slightly homemade – no slick videography, with a budget of just $2k, only fanned the flames of grassroots views & media love.  More important, the message perfectly articulated – in a cheeky (figuratively & literally) manner – the cult-like almost adolescent adulation Obama fanaticism that had been building in pop culture.   “It was a metaphor for how young people were head over heels for him for the wrong reasons,” says co-creator Ben Relles. Well … maybe not the “wrong” reasons, per se, but certainly reasons not frequently ascribed to politicians, like, for example, uh … “hotness.”

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But it wasn’t just sex appeal that made Obama Girl (now viewed almost 50 million times worldwide) the defining viral video of the 2008 election.  For the first time it became possible for an individual to create and disseminate a video to an enormous audience.  “A video created in a weekend for a few hundred dollars could impact a national election,” explains Relles, “That represents a real shift in the way people can participate in politics.” And so Obama Girl stands – clad in a tight white tee with Obama’s face – at the intersection of sex, politics and the internet, harkening a new era where elections are young and sexy and fun and underwear doesn’t just sport boring lettering like “Juicy Couture” but instead politicians’ monikers. “Obama Girl’s in textbooks, in museums, referenced on SNL and in Michael Moore’s book,” marvels Relles.  Oh, and one more thing … “Obama’s seen it.  He emailed me.” *****

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