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The Pursuit of Happiness

Celebrating March, “the happiest month of the year”

Sunday, March 20, marks the first day of spring, and just because we don’t see a pronounced difference in seasons here in Southwest Florida, it still gives us something to celebrate.


As a matter of fact, as we explore what we’re calling “March Gladness,” there’s plenty to celebrate with special happy days that seem to be abundant this month.


We also feature a number of locals who were nominated by others as the happiest people they know.


Lowri Dowthwaite, a lecturer in psychological interventions from the University of Central Lancashire, UK, explains why being happy all of the time is not necessarily realistic, but overall contentment is.


Money and happiness expert Ken Honda, tells us how we can all live with more ease if we view our relationship with money from a different vantage point.


And, as the SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Summit draws near, we share another conversation with Dr. Nancy Snyderman, physician, author and former major network medical correspondent. Snyderman talks about the “Third Third” of life and the pursuit of happiness at this stage of life.


As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Sheer Bliss
It’s Not About Being Happy All the Time
‘Happy Money’


Reinventing and Flourishing
March Gladness

Sheer Bliss

Readers weigh in on the happiest people they know

by Kathy Grey 

Your happiness and the happiness of people around you have a powerful influence on your health, says Dr. Robert Waldinger, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier,” Waldinger says.

We asked èBella readers to nominate the happiest people they know. Here are some of the responses (in alphabetical order):


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March Gladness

Celebrating the happiest month of the year

by Kathy Grey


Don’t think of it so much as March madness; consider it to be March gladness. 

Happiness Day is March 20, but the entire month of March is chock full of positive vibes you might want to make note of and celebrate this year or next.

March 1 – World Compliment Day

March 3 – I Want You to be Happy Day

March 10 – International Day of Awesomeness

March 16 – Everything You Do is Right Day

March 17 – Absolutely Incredible Kid Day

March 19 – Let’s Laugh Day

March 20 – International Day of Happiness

March 22 – As Young as You Feel Day

March 26 – Live Long and Prosper Day

But wait: There’s more! Other special days in March that might add a little bounce to your boogie include:

March 6 – National Oreo Cookie Day

March 10 – Popcorn Lover’s Day

March 12 – Plant a Flower Day

March 14 – Learn about Butterflies Day and National Potato Chip Day

March 17 – Saint Patrick’s Day

March 22 – National Goof Off Day

March 23 – National Puppy Day

March 24 – National Chocolate-Covered Raisin Day

March 25 – Waffle Day

March 30 – National Take a Walk in the Park Day

March 31 – National Crayon Day


“As the flowers have bloomed, the birds are singing, the sun is there in the sky —celebrate it. You are breathing, and you are alive, and you have consciousness —

celebrate it!”

~ Osho, from the book, “Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within


‘Happy Money’

Warming to life’s monetary ebb and flow

by Ken Honda

A recent study reveals that money is the No. 1 cause of stress for Americans.

Some people work multiple jobs to provide for the family, which can result in an unhappy family life. Others live paycheck to paycheck, worrying if they’ll make do until the next direct deposit. These people are looking at money from a scarcity mindset instead of a state of abundance.

We manifest what we believe, but most of us aren’t aware of our negative and subconscious views of money. We’ve believed and operated for years with these blueprints of our minds, passed down from generation to generation, reinforcing a mindset of scarcity.

Take a moment to recall the ebb and flow of money in your life. Perhaps you remember a time when you had money in the bank and you felt safe and secure. Or perhaps there were times that, though you did have money, you spent more than you made and, consequently, felt like you were out of control or filled with dread and fear. Or maybe there were times when you had no money at all, and you felt lost or desperate.

Money comes and goes. There must be a flow — a balance. That is a natural law. As gravity controls the ebb and flow of the tides, our economy controls the ebb and flow of money. And just like we can’t control the whims of nature, we cannot intentionally control the flow of money.

Money can’t flow constantly toward us, but when it flows in, enjoy the feeling, and express gratitude. When you invest (or spend), release money with gratitude and appreciation, knowing that the release can bring just as much joy. Recognize that the natural law will take over, and money will eventually flow back.


“Happy Money” begins with gratitude. Instead of believing there is never enough, you begin thinking, “I have all that I need, and I am so grateful for it all.”


When money comes in, you say, “Thank you” or, as we say in Japan, “Arigato.”

When money leaves you, you can say it again, grateful for how the money served you or what it is bringing to you now.

“Happy money” is the pathway to a happy life, but it’s not a practice that comes naturally.

Still, trusting that money will arrive when you need it is freeing. It’s a feeling that you don’t need to be a millionaire to appreciate.

Regardless of your current financial situation, you can say “thank you” — two powerful words that will help you to start to transform your relationship with money. The more you do this, the less stress you’ll have, and the more happiness will flow through you and your money.


Author Ken Honda is an author in Japan, with book sales surpassing 7 million copies since 2001. His latest book is “Happy Money: The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money.” Ken’s financial expertise comes from owning and managing several businesses, including a venture capital corporation.

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Susan Hayes (nominated by Marilyn Gattuso)

Despite a shattered knee and leg injury sustained while golfing, followed by months of recovery in a long-term care facility during COVID, Susie continues to inspire others to always hope for a better tomorrow, put one foot in front of the other and seize the day with a smile.


Sue Huff (nominated by Betty Bailey)

Sue Huff is a happy, upbeat person. Her PR business keeps her busy, Sue always makes time to give to others — personally, and in our community.

She has adopted a family in Immokalee and provides food and gifts during the holidays. They are so appreciative and loving toward her.

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Noreen Thomas (nominated by Charlotte Nal)

Noreen Thomas volunteers with us twice a week at New Horizons. She walks in our office like a bright ray of sunshine, sharing love and happiness. She is the perfect example of what makes the world go around!

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Nannette Staropoli (nominated by Fallon Bellestri)

What makes Nannette the happiest is when she is giving back to her community. She is involved in many charities and just did a bicycle drive, a new program for the Immokalee Foundation. Despite supply chain issues, they were able to source 150 bikes, worth thousands of dollars.

She’s my mother, my best friend and is the best Gigi to my children, Lily, Livia and Logan. She Facetimes her grandbabies all the time and visits for at least a week, at least once a month. She is constantly spreading joy and love.

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Shar Rosser (nominated by Jeanne Seewald)

The happiest person I know is Shar Rosser, the receptionist at our law firm. She is such a positive person and enjoys sharing her happiness with others.

Each year, she creates a personalized birthday poem for every person in our office. She has a smile for everyone and the desire to make others feel comfortable and special.

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Trish Leonard (nominated by Gary Price)

The happiest person I know is my wife, Trish, who is particularly happy when she is helping someone or some organization do good.

She worked with the Bonita Springs Chamber as membership chair for about 10 years, which led to inroads to other chambers. She was instrumental in saving the (Everglades) Wonder Gardens, now owned by the City of Bonita Springs, from being sold to developers. She’s been a Lee County resident since seventh grade. Everywhere we go, it’s amazing how many people know her, and she knows everyone.

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Lacey King (nominated by Barbara Johnson Crooks)

Lacey King is the happiest person I know. Her smile, joy and laughter always light up the room. Her smile is even brighter now that she is with the love of her life, Alan Goodridge. (Watch King tell the story.)

She has an amazing background, lived all over the world and worked with world leaders, including Henry Kissinger. Following her career as a U.S. State Department diplomat, she moved to Naples, became a ghostwriter of autobiographies and memoirs and a high-level volunteer for numerous nonprofits.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love her.

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Jay Baker (nominated by Patty Baker)

Have you ever been in Jay Baker’s presence? If you have, you know why I think he’s the happiest person I’ve ever known.

At Wharton, his classmates called him “Laughing Boy.”

Even when he’s dealing with sadness or unpleasantness, he finds a way to make it feel better. He has definitely impacted my life with joy.

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Yady Galano (nominated by Olga Perez)

Yady Galano is the happiest person I know. She is New Horizons’ Super Kids Club director for our Estero site, with 50 low-resource students from different elementary schools. She is always positive and goes above and beyond. When she encounters challenges, Yady maintains a positive attitude. She always welcomes students, staff and volunteers with a warm smile, making everyone feel valued.

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Photo Credit: Samantha Bloom

Emily James (nominated by Clay Cone)

Emily James of Emily James Art on Fifth Avenue South is a native Florida artist who was born an artist. After so many years and so many paintings, she is still spellbound by images that unfold before her eyes. 

Emily describes her talent as “a gift I was given” and loves hearing from her collectors that her artwork brings them happiness.


It’s Not About Being Happy All the Time

Psychological flexibility is the key to greater contentment

by Lowri Dowthwaite, lecturer in Psychological Interventions, University of Central Lancashire


Over the past two decades, the positive psychology movement has brightened up psychological research with its science of happiness, human potential and flourishing. It argues that psychologists should not only investigate mental illness but also what makes life worth living.

The founding father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, describes happiness as experiencing frequent positive emotions, such as joy, excitement and contentment, combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose. It implies a positive mindset in the present and an optimistic outlook for the future. Importantly, happiness experts have argued that happiness is not a stable, unchangeable trait but something flexible that we can work on and ultimately strive toward.

I have been running happiness workshops for the last four years, based on the evidence from the above field of psychology. The workshops are fun and I have earned a reputation as “Mrs. Happy,” but the last thing I would want anyone to believe is that I am happy all the time. Striving for a happy life is one thing, but striving to be happy all the time is unrealistic.

Recent research indicates that psychological flexibility is the key to greater happiness and well-being. For example, being open to emotional experiences and the ability to tolerate periods of discomfort can allow us to move toward a richer, more meaningful existence.

Studies have demonstrated that the way we respond to the circumstances of our lives has more influence on our happiness than the events themselves. Experiencing stress, sadness and anxiety in the short term doesn’t mean we can’t be happy in the long term.

Two paths to happiness

Philosophically speaking, there are two paths to feeling happy, the hedonistic and the eudaimonic. Hedonists take the view that in order to live a happy life, we must maximize pleasure and avoid pain. This view is about satisfying human appetites and desires, but it is often short-lived.

In contrast, the eudaimonic approach takes the long view. It argues that we should live authentically and for the greater good. We should pursue meaning and potential through kindness, justice, honesty and courage.

If we see happiness in the hedonistic sense, then we have to continue to seek out new pleasures and experiences in order to “top up” our happiness. We will also try to minimize unpleasant and painful feelings in order to keep our mood high.

If we take the eudaimonic approach, however, we strive for meaning, using our strengths to contribute to something greater than ourselves. This may involve unpleasant experiences and emotions at times, but often leads to deeper levels of joy and contentment. So, leading a happy life is not about avoiding hard times; it is about being able to respond to adversity in a way that allows you to grow from the experience.

Growing from adversity

Research shows that experiencing adversity can actually be good for us, depending on how we respond to it. Tolerating distress can make us more resilient and lead us to take action in our lives, such as changing jobs or overcoming hardship.

In studies of people facing trauma, many describe their experience as a catalyst for profound change and transformation, leading to a phenomenon known as “post-traumatic growth.” Often when people have faced difficulty, illness or loss, they describe their lives as happier and more meaningful as a result.

Unlike feeling happy, which is a transient state, leading a happier life is about individual growth through finding meaning. It is about accepting our humanity with all its ups and downs, enjoying the positive emotions and harnessing painful feelings in order to reach our full potential.


Lowri Dowthwaite is a lecturer in psychological interventions at the University of Central Lancashire. Her area of interest is in positive psychology and the science of happiness.


This article was first published in The Conversation under Creative Commons license.



Reinventing and Flourishing

Ahead of the April 2 SpelLIFE Summit, keynote speaker Dr. Nancy Snyderman advocates wellness by harnessing your “Third Third”

by Kathy Grey

“I did the weirdest thing,” says Dr. Nancy Snyderman. “As COVID was ravaging New York, I moved with my mom and my rescue dog to Montana,” she says.

It wasn’t weird at all. There, in Big Timber, Montana, she reinvented her life, something she’ll address as keynote speaker at the April 2 SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Summit in Naples.

Fleeing from NYC to Montana “probably made the last two (COVID) years not as painful,” she says.

The doctor’s journey to Southwest Florida next month will be “dipping my toe in the water,” she says of returning to a semblance of normalcy. But as Montana was to Lewis and Clark in the dawn of the 1800s, post-COVID normalcy is something Snyderman calls “uncharted territory.”

Snyderman maintains she will follow all the precautionary measures recommended by her medical-expert peers. Still, she’s focusing on the work humans — particularly women — have before us as we emerge into a new normal.

“Women will bring grace back to this country. We’ve not seen anything like this before in our lives. One thing we’re going to have to do is harness kindness,” she says. “Got a big crisis? All it takes is four women sitting around the table to make it better.”

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Credit: Dr. Nancy Snyderman/courtesy illustration

Because of the last two years’ personal trauma and because women inherently give so much of themselves, she says, “It’s time to really put ourselves on the front burner. It’s hard, because that’s not how we’re hard-wired. But you have to pronounce to others around you: ‘It’s my time. I have to claim something for me.’ I look at my friends who’ve had bad things happen — especially women who have given so much in their lives — and they keep reinventing themselves.”

“That,” she says, “is spiritually flourishing,” a topic she will cover at the SpelLIFE summit.

Snyderman herself has reinvented herself with the move to Montana, operating a working ranch, and now, partnering in Thistle Creek Mercantile with her 35-year-old daughter, Kate, who chose to move from Princeton, New Jersey to Big Timber, Montana because she fell in love with the area. The brick-and-mortar shop sells home goods and products made only in Montana.

These types of life-altering choices are far beyond the bucket list, Snyderman declares. “It’s at the core of what joy is, what is worth getting up for. You’ve given to your career, your family … What do you crave now?” Snyderman asks. “Julia Child didn’t have her first cookbook published until she was almost 50,” — and that was after nine years of research, writing, recipe testing and editing. “It’s hard work, but no one’s going to do it for you.”

Reinventing ourselves — what she calls the “Third Third” — will be the cornerstone of her SpelLIFE presentation. (See our “Ounce of Prevention” article by visiting

Finding the “Third Third,” the meaning of the latter portion of our lives, is what Dr. Snyderman calls “one of those COVID silver linings.”

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SpelLIFE Breakout Speakers


Dr. Lindsey Berkson has been a practicing nutritionist and an integrative nutritional/gastrointestinal endocrine specialist for more than 40 and 30 years, respectively. Berkson teaches courses on hormones to doctors and pharmacists, sharing her research as a scholar at Tulane Medical School’s hormone think tank.  


Dr. Eduardo Maristany will discuss genomics, the ever-changing field of medicine and how advanced technology and genetics allows for customization of nutrition and supplementation plans. Maristany, a board-certified internal medicine physician, also trained by the Institute of Functional Medicine. He utilizes IntellxxDNA programming to map his patient’s genes and find causes behind problems and potential solutions. 


Michael J. Annichine is CEO of Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation, dedicated to women’s health and reproductive biology. He will discuss how new fields of science are shaping the future of women’s health, presenting research on postmenopausal health and cancer, pelvic floor dysfunction and the role of the immune system in causing and fighting breast cancer. 


Dr. Linell King of Naples Vitality will share the five reasons he has identified about why many women struggle with energy levels, chronic pain, inflammation and weight. They are: fad diets and improper nutrition; toxic environment and not detoxing properly; poor fitness routine; hormone imbalances; and lack of proper mentorship. 

Yolanda Beckers, director of Innerlight Center for Meditation, will focus on meditation for preventative health. “All stress will lead to illness,” Beckers says. “If we can prevent being stressed, we have greater immunity and focus.”  

Guests will leave with practical tips for reducing stress, including breathing techniques and focus exercises. 


Snyderman and these SpelLIFE breakout speakers also have podcasts available. Go to to learn more.

If You Go 

What: SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Live and Virtual Summit  

When: 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, April 2, 2022 

Where: Telford Center, 350 7th St. N., Naples 

Tickets: Range in price from $49-$135 with various options from VIP to virtual only, ticket sales end April 2.  Resources: SpelLIFE Summit partners also present an opportunity to learn about community resources and connect with other like-minded people live at the event and virtually via the SpelLIFE website.  


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