The Secret To Being Happy With Lionel Ketchian

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Live Your Possible | Lionel Ketchian | Being Happy


Most of the time, people are scrambling to find and chase happiness, wherever or whatever it may be in their lives. But for Lionel Ketchian, it is not a matter of doing or finding – rather, it is a matter of being happy. He joins Darrin Tulley to discuss how to find happiness within ourselves instead of focusing on everything happening on the outside. Lionel also talks about the power of total surrender, the importance of loving yourself first, and the concept of wonderment in unlocking true happiness and living your best life.

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The Secret To Being Happy With Lionel Ketchian

Our guest is a happiness expert and guru. Lionel Ketchian is a mentor to many, including me, on how to bring out more joy in the world. He has been ahead of the curve with the positivity movement and has assisted millions of people in reconnecting with the happiness that lives inside of all of us. In addition to Founding the first Happiness Club in Fairfield, Connecticut, for which there are now over 1,000 around the world, for you to join and share happiness. He’s also an activator of how to spark love and happiness for all of us. If you know anyone who could also benefit from the spark, share this episode and join us on the journey with wondrous joy. Enjoy the show.


Live Your Possible | Lionel Ketchian | Being Happy


Lionel, it’s great to see you. Welcome to the show. How are you doing?

It’s great to be with you again, Darrin. You look great, and I’m happy to be here.

You look happy. I’m looking forward to spending some time with you. I’d like to go back to when you made a decision that happiness was important to you. What happened, and how’d you get there?

It was Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1990. I was getting off the Merit Parkway. I thought about the fact that I felt happy for no reason. I wasn’t drinking. It wasn’t because it was Christmas Eve. It was this feeling that I recognized. I thought, “This is what I’m looking for. I don’t want to let go of this. This is it.” The reason I found it was that for a whole year, I was trying to understand what the most important thing in my life was.

I would list ten things. They could move around the list, get off the list, get on the list, and move up on the list. It took me a year. I shocked and surprised myself that happiness was it. That was the list. Everything else was secondary. Your family, spirituality, and money are all important, but happiness is the most important. Happiness is a currency like money. We don’t realize that. Tal Ben-Shahar talks about happiness as a currency, which I knew was right at that time. I knew this was valuable. I saw the value in it, and I never let go of it.

To add another quick thought, I got off the highway. I was on Black Rock Turnpike, and I needed to get gas because I was going to church later that evening. The attendant was nice, friendly, and kind. He’s washing the windows in the car. He’s like, “Can I do anything else for you? Can I check your oil?” I thought, “No, thank you. I’m good.” I’m thinking, “This guy is a great guy. What a positive guy this is.” I’m not even going to bother tipping someone because it’s part of the service, but it was exceptional. I thought, “I’m going to give him more than $1.” I’m thinking of a higher amount. I end up driving away after we’re done. I thought, “No, I’m going back.”

I went back, parked the car, went in, gave him a $20 tip, and told him what I thought of him, how wonderful he was, and how he was making a positive difference in the world. I appreciated him because it was important. It wasn’t what he was doing. It was who he was and what energy he was spreading. He thanked me. It wasn’t for the money. It was the appreciation. I came back, acknowledged, and valued him as a human being and what he’s doing in the world.

As I left that little gas station and walked out that door, I thought, “I’ve experienced happiness. I now have shared happiness with someone else in the world.” When I thought back all those years ago, it’s hard to believe because it seems like a minute ago. If it wasn’t for sharing happiness, I may not be happy now or found the value in it. The crazy, wonderful thing about happiness is it’s good to be happy, but it’s also unbelievable to share happiness with another. That was the secret.

I appreciate you sharing that and giving that gift back to him because, hopefully, he shared that with somebody else. It was like a ripple effect. If we’re sharing it, it keeps coming back or keeps moving forward. It looks like you’ve been collecting a lot of happy stuff. I see your background in your head. That’s quite amazing.

The most important thing I’ve learned about happiness is it is a decision. Once you make the decision, you can always make the choice. If you’re not aware that you have that choice, it’s much harder to make it. Your awareness level is not going to be there. I could ask you, “Do you believe in the adage? We always have a choice. Do you believe that?”


I believed it, but I gave that a second thought. Here’s the way I would put it. Yes, you always have a choice, but you only have the choice you’re aware of. If you’re not happy or haven’t made the decision to be happy, your mind is not going to choose happiness because you’re not aware of it. Once you’re aware of being happy and you do become happy, you can make the choice to be unhappy for a while if you’d like. You’re doing it consciously, not unconsciously.

Some people will push back, Lionel. How do you help them through that and let them understand that it starts with it ourselves?

Darrin, my answer came to me when I was asked to do a church service. They wanted me to talk about happiness. As I was sitting there collecting my thoughts, I realized, “I have a real answer now to the question of how I could be happy.” Do you know how many people have asked me that question? We’ve had many meetings. You’ve come to the Happiness Club and presented meetings. You’ve been to a hospice with me. You do the real work in this world for this. I’ve always been trying to answer that question with a thought, “Be grateful.” It’s worked with many, but it doesn’t work with everyone.

I’ll tell you an answer that’s going to work with everyone. The answer is a question of whether you do it or not, and you’ll get your answer. The answer is in being. When I became happy, I realized that wanting to be happy is in the future. It’s feeling as though I don’t have it. I realized I had to put on the clothes of being happy.

If I gave you a suit and I said, “This is happiness. “You said, “I now have happiness.” You hang it in the closet. You don’t have happiness. You hung your happiness in the closet. If you put it on, you’re wearing it. It’s part of you. Unless you step into being happy, you’re never going to be happy. I don’t care how much you want to be happy.

Wanting is the culprit. We don’t need anything. We need to realize that the experience of being happy is within us. We can have it anytime we want, but we must put it on and step into it. It’s not a matter of acting as if. It’s a matter of acting from happiness. There is nothing else to say. It’s simplistic but the real answer is, unless you’re being happy, you’re not happy.

The experience of being happy is within us. We can have it anytime we want, but we must step into it. Click To Tweet

Here’s the way I would put it. Somebody comes into my office. It’s nighttime and dark in here. I teach him how to turn a light on. He’s like, “I didn’t know that if you push that switch, that will light. I never knew that.” I’m like, “Now, you know.” Now, they can control the light. If they’re sitting in a dark room and I say to them, “What are you doing in this room?” They go, “I don’t know. I can’t see. It’s nighttime. I can’t see anything.”I’m like, “Didn’t I teach you how to turn the switch on?” They go, “Yeah.” They go and do it.

I’m not asking you to do anything. We’ve confused something as human beings. We confuse three things that are possible for us, doing, having, and being. We don’t know anything about being. I’m doing some talking. I’m having a good time with you, Darrin, because you’re a good friend of mine, and I love what you do in this world and the work and energy you put into the book you’ve written. You’re a worker bee in the happiness circuit, but there’s one more element to having and doing. That’s being. None of it matters until you’re being authentically who you want to experience in your life. That’s who you are. You are perfect within you.

We also confuse the outer world. We get up in the morning and say, “I hope it’s a nice day. I hope something brings me happiness.” Anything that brings you happiness will also have the ability to take it away from you. When you love someone, and they die, that’s it. You get married, you’re happy, and you get a divorce, you’re unhappy.

The answer is it is about experience. Happiness is all about experience, but it’s not about experiencing it out there. It’s about experiencing it from within. That can only happen when you’re happy. When you’re being happy, you’ve now created the experience in yourself, and you’ve now created what I call the realization of happiness. Nothing can take that away once you realize it.

I love the thought that we can control and choose it. When you talk about the light switch, I love to think that the light is inside us. It holds our happiness, joy, and love. We could turn it up and dial it up.

You are reminding me of something. You could turn it up and down the light switch. Let me give you another tool with happiness. We do control it the way you said. We all know it’s cold outside. It’s 36 degrees outside. There are snow and ice out here in Woodbridge. Inside, it’s 70 degrees in my house. There’s temperature control. We can’t control the weather. It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s winter, or it’s summer.

Here’s what we’re talking about with happiness. We’re talking about not controlling the temperature but controlling ourselves. We can do that because happiness is a thermostat that allows us to raise and lower our own internal thermostat. In other words, it doesn’t matter what’s out there. I’m in a home we know enough to come in from the outside. We don’t know enough to come in from the experience we’re having outside and inside to readjust how we are experiencing that.

I’ll give you an example. I had a tough year. I didn’t think it was a tough year, but a lot of people tell me, “Lionel, that was a tough year you had.” My family had a hard year. At the beginning of the year, I was being treated for cancer at Yale. I had treatments every day for two months for radiation treatments. I completed that. I didn’t feel right after April.

I went to the doctor. They couldn’t find anything. They had done some tests in October. They said, “You have to go right to the emergency. You need a quadruple bypass.” I had that done on October 5th at Bridgeport Hospital. I was in a hospital for ten days. They opened up my chest and redid all my plumbing.

This may sound astonishing and unbelievable, but I had decided when I was in the hospital to undergo this surgery that I wasn’t going to have any fear. I took complete control of my thinking. I let everything go and surrendered. I let my mind enjoy the piece. I didn’t even turn the TV on. Visiting hours were over at 8:00. I had the time of my life. I was never more at peace than this time in my life. I did it by realizing it doesn’t matter what’s going on out there, it’s always going to be something. I don’t care if it’s serious or not serious. Every little thing could drive us insane.

I experienced inner peace because I let go of all the stuff. The reason I love the idea of being in a state of happiness is because it’s our thinking mind that’s preventing us from experiencing the thing we think we want to experience. It’s a paradox. Do you want to be happy? You’re not going to be because you want to be. Be it.

I know that sounds so simplistic, but it’s the light switch. If you want a light, switch it on. If you don’t want light, don’t come to me and say, “It’s not working.” Get an electromechanic, rip the walls out, and make it work. It will work if you do it. Unless you do it, you are not going to have that experience. There is nothing else between you and happiness. How do you become happy? You get rid of yourself and you could be happy. You don’t live with your mind telling you, “This is a problem. That’s a problem.” You get rid of that. You don’t need that to tell you anything. You are the boss, not your ego mind because that’s what’s in the way.

At times, we get in our own way with what we say or what we don’t say, how we react to things, or we ignore things. Our subconscious mind runs the day. We don’t even see what’s going on. We’re not present.

I have a happiness decision. It’s short. May I read it?


I wrote this several years ago. I Darrin Tully do solemnly decide to adopt the happiness decision by being happy. Rather than react to my problems, I will use happiness to respond to them forsaking all negative thoughts regardless of circumstances and always I will choose happiness for the rest of my life. There it is. Thank you for putting that up. That’s great.

Live Your Possible | Lionel Ketchian | Being Happy
Being Happy: Rather than react to my problems, I will use happiness to respond to them forsaking all negative thoughts.


I love the happiness decision. It’s a declaration of how I want to be.

It’s a declaration of freedom.

As we dive into this with the light, we have happiness in that light and our imaginations in there, and having these things allows us to live freely. It is the sense of freedom and how we teach people to keep that straight when the world does what it does around us. I heard you mention gratitude. How do we put things in our mind so we could remind ourselves like, “When something happens, let’s bring it back into what’s inside what matters?”

When we’re talking about happiness, we have to qualify it by saying we’re talking about unconditional happiness. I would say to you that there’s no reason to be happy. Once you have a reason to be happy, you’ve also created a reason to be unhappy. The funny thing about life is if you don’t get what you want, you say you’re unhappy. I have news for you. When you get what you want, you’re also unhappy. If it is what you wanted, you’re afraid you’re going to lose it. That makes you unhappy. There’s never an end to that. Unconditional happiness means nothing out there makes me happy. What I’m saying is all the happiness is within me. I don’t give my power away.

Let me bring this one up because I can talk about this stuff forever. We think of things in life as problems. We do have the things that come up in life every day for all of us. I’m sure you’ve had a few now as we all do. We call them problems, but problems make us feel like we’re dealing with negativity. We’re like, “What am I going to do? Why does it happen to me?” We start cranking up the thought machine.

Rather, I’ve given up looking at things as problems. They come along. I may not know how to deal with them and we classify it as a problem but I started looking at things in my life as challenges. I thought that was a lot of fun. You are the guy that loves challenges if I know you. That’s a much more powerful and empowering way to look at problems.

I’ve gone a step beyond that, which many of you may not think is a good idea, but I’m going to tell you what it is. Everything that happens in my life that we think of as problems, including open heart surgery, is a gift. That was a gift because I hadn’t felt good since April. They put me on treadmills and tests. They couldn’t find anything. They found out there was a problem and saved my life. If somebody is going to save your life, I would consider that a gift. We go into everything with fear.

Why do we have fear as human beings? I’ll tell you why. It’s because we want something. If you take away the want, accept what is, and go beyond that, it’s acceptance. What I’ve done is total surrender. Many people may say, “Lionel, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Life comes at you all the time. It’s already happened. Now, you have to deal with it.”

It doesn’t matter how unfair you think it is. You can’t change it. It happened already. When you surrender, depending on your philosophy and ideas, you could say you’re surrendering to God or the universe. Surrender doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It means you’re making the choice to join a bigger team.

Surrender does not mean you are giving up. It means you are making the choice to join a bigger team. Click To Tweet

I have a great team working with me and I give it all my problems. It works out great and I’m free and happy. I’ll be 79 in 2024. I’m going to die at some point. I hate to break the news to you that we all are, but why don’t we look at the rest of our lives, whatever minutes, and years, and whatever we have, and be happy? Being happy is the answer.

Let me tell you one more secret about being happy. You can only do it now and you can only keep doing it now. If you are not doing it now, at this moment, there is no happiness for you. It’s now or never. What I mean by never is, a year from now, if you decide you’re going to be happy at this moment, it’ll still be this moment. You might pick this one right here, right now on your show, and say, “On Darrin’s show, I became happy for the rest of my life no matter what.”

It’s that decision. There are a couple of words that we’ve talked about in the past. You’ve written about it. It’s in your book. It’s the two words, I am.” Saying right now, “Be present. I am happy.” Instead of the questions that we might be asking, “Am I happy? Am I worthy? I’m not worthy. I hope to be happy.” I am statement. When we start to mention these things in our mind, those are the things that help us be, to your point about being happy or thinking about when life’s happening to us. I am this. I’m going to figure out how to deflect that.

A simple statement when you get up or anytime you feel, say, “I am being happy.” You realize you already are. Once you’ve made that statement, you are happy. You could step away from it and choose to be unhappy if you’d like to. There’s one more thing that I should mention because we’re going to say, “I got problems. What do you mean I could be happy?” If you’re happy, you could deal with your problems a lot better.”

Do you think that when you have a problem, being unhappy or off balance is going to help you solve your problems? No, it’s not. You’re in a worse place to deal with your problems. If you’re happy, you’re calm, balanced, cool, and connected. You realize, “I’m going to think about what choices I have to find a solution or another option.”

In unhappiness, you are looking at the problem and you’re miserable you have the problem, and you’ve created a second problem with your unhappiness. You have two problems. In that song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, when you’re unhappy, he says, “You make it double. You double your problems.” Why don’t you get rid of half your problems, stay happy, deal with the problem, and solve it with happiness? It’s almost like, “I fell overboard on the Queen Mary. I landed in the water. I had a life preserver in my hand, but I got rid of it because I figured I didn’t need it.” You need happiness. When things get difficult, you need happiness even more. We don’t understand that we lose our happiness when we need it the most.

The happiness is the light in darkness. It gives us the ability to get through things. It’s intentional.



Intentional is a powerful word. You’ve created it, own it, and empower yourself with it. That’s a great word.

It connects back to that point of being authentic. We’re being intentional ourselves. Is it extra work? It’s who we are if we’re getting away from what people are telling us to be or intentionally being ourselves.

There are lots of issues in the world, but they’re not out there. People don’t realize it. What other people think of us is a big issue for many of us. I’ve given that all up. I say, “You could think whatever you want.” I love you. I care about you but I’m going to say this to everyone reading. I don’t care what you’re thinking. I’ll tell you what I mean by that. I can’t control you or your thinking, nor do I want to. I want you to control your thinking.

I love you. I care about you, but I don’t care what you think because I can’t control that. It’s up to you what you think. You are listening to many people and you should be listening to yourself. Don’t even listen to me. Listen to the words and say, “Can I use these in my life?” You’re free because you’re listening. Make it your own. Tell yourself, “This is me and I’m telling me what to do now. It’s not because Lionel said it.” We’re all here to help one another, but we can only do it for ourselves.

I love how you step into this work to help us all become more comfortable with being happy because sometimes, we’re afraid to be happy or show we’re happy. We’re afraid to lose it or upset somebody else. We’re like, “I’m happy. You’re not happy. That means nobody is going to be happy.” When we went to the hospice together, or wherever you were, you had this bright yellow, smiley face. You have it on your tie when you’re out talking to folks as a Chief Happiness Officer. When you’re out doing all your wonderful presentations, speaking events, and talk shows, you’re everywhere spreading happiness and making it safe for folks to step in. It’s a beautiful thing.

I would love for all of us, especially in the audience to say, “What can I do to help someone smile? What can I do to make it safer for other folks to share their happiness?” It’ll allow me to share more of my happiness or your happiness as you’re reading. I’ve also heard some folks say to me, “I prefer joy versus happiness.” What’s your take on the difference between joy and happiness? Is there a difference? How would you define the difference?

Let’s start with contentment. Let’s say I’m sitting around waiting for the show to begin and I’m content. I see your face and my contentment goes up a level. It’s the same. The way I would explain it is because we’re using words, now I’m happy because I can share my contentment with you. I call that happiness. When you ask me about joy, I am now in that state of joy because I feel something going up my spine. I feel deep love, unconditional love, and deep caring for every human being on earth.

I may not like what they do, but I love them. What does that do? It brings me absolute joy. Joy comes from not wanting anything, not being afraid of anything, and being fearlessly loving. You’re there. It’s unbelievable. We have that ability. You gave it to me and I experienced it because you allowed me to. You asked me that question.

I love how that laying it because I have chills. The connection of that spirituality of joy, I feel it. I have this love and respect for you, Lionel. I love the phrase that you will always say. I’m sure when we end this episode, you’ll say, “Love us.” Tell me more about why you say, “Love us.”

It came to me years ago. I don’t know when it was. I’ve been running The Happiness Club for several years. That started because I was giving talks on happiness at Sacred Heart University. I was giving classes in 1999. The class wanted to keep going. I don’t know what year it was. It was a few years after the year 2000. I said to my Happiness Club, “I love you.” It felt funny to me. I meant it, but it felt funny.

Why did it feel funny? I’ll tell you why. My ego mind was saying to me, “You’re telling these people you love them. Is it because you’re trying to get them to love you?” My mind was jumping around with that statement. I said, “No, that’s not true.” I got rid of that ego of mind, the monkey mind, or the voice in your head mind. I would say more I love you.

I’ve even had some funny reactions to that. I remember once I was in a synagogue giving a service. They asked me to speak. I mentioned to someone I love them. They said, “How could you love me? You don’t even know me.” I said, “I don’t need to know you. I unconditionally love you.” They didn’t even understand that. I knew that was one in billions that I said, “I love you too.” All of a sudden, one day, I came up with I love us. I thought that was perfect. I’ll tell you why I love us is important. Darrin, I love you but here’s the thing. I can’t love you unless I love me. When I say I love us, I’m including me with you. We’re a team. I see you as I love thy neighbor as thyself. I love us.

You cannot love others unless you love yourself first. Click To Tweet

It sounds a little safer. I love where it comes from and I need to be able to enjoy who I am as a person, have compassion for myself, and have love for myself.

Unless you love yourself, that’s another ingredient to being happy. If I may, can I share another thing that is important for people?


You and everyone else may think, “This is going to sound crazy.” I’m glad you’re sitting down as I say this to you. Darrin, I’m going to share with you how to be unhappy. Are you ready for that?

Go for it.

Let me tell you why I’m going to teach you how to be unhappy. Once you learn this secret, you’ll never have to be unhappy in your life ever again or you’ll know why you’re becoming unhappy real quick. It’s a big one. If people learn this, they will be doing themselves a favor. The secret to being unhappy is to be judgmental about something. If I was judgmental about you, like, “I hope Darrin treats me. If he doesn’t, I’m going to be angry.” I’m already unhappy. If I say, “I love Darrin, there’s nothing he can do that can make me unhappy because I’m never going to judge him. I love him. Why would I judge him?”

This thing with forgiveness is a big thing but here’s the deal. I don’t need to forgive anyone for anything because I don’t take offense to anything anymore. I have to go to spending several years being angry and upset and finally, forgiving them so I get myself off the hook. I don’t go there. I don’t need to forgive because I love everyone. I may not like what you do, but if I love you, I don’t care what you do. I have no control over it. You never notice you watch the news. You have no control over what’s going on. You do have complete control over judging someone.

I use the word judgementalness more than judging because I’m not talking about observing and evaluating something. When I observe and evaluate you, that’s different than judging you. I don’t need to judge any. As soon as you’re judgmental about the way somebody is driving on the highway in front of you, that’s how road rage begins because you’re upset and unhappy, but you did it to yourself by adding that thought and throwing one more out.

All the years that I’ve been involved with happiness, a number of people, not you, Darrin, said, “I don’t like that word happiness.” I know you and I love that word. A lot of people say, “I don’t like that word.” I said, “I have another word for happiness. That’s focus.” What you focus on expands. What you focus on is what you will experience. Live your possible is about focusing on things. That’s how you found it in the first place. You focused on something. You say, “Look at that.” You see it all over. We don’t realize we focus on the wrong thing and we say to ourselves, “I don’t know why that made me unhappy.” If you’re watching a horror show on television, you can change the channel.


Live Your Possible | Lionel Ketchian | Being Happy


The funny thing about what you said about the focus is what you shared with me at the Happiness Club. What you said to me is, “Do you know that one-eyed smile? you have to shut one eye so you can focus through the other eye.” Do you remember that?

I forgot that.

I haven’t forgotten that. It’s another definition for this one-eyed smile. It’s focusing on the things that matter, uplifting, not judgmental, and putting positivity in our minds. It’s not meant to be toxic. It’s meant to set her day up with success. I’m sure you know the work by Carol Dweck and her book Mindset. How she talks about judgment as a fixed mindset where we get stuck. We aren’t able to grow and move forward. We’re digging in, self-preserving, and self-protecting. What we think is right versus letting go to let new things come in, differences, new discoveries, and more joy.

My word of the year is wonder. I need to wonder with awe to see the beauty to make me expand my joy and happiness. If I had a fixed mindset and was judging everything, I don’t think I could expand and grow. I need to have that focus on what could be. Wonder is defined in two ways. It’s either you wonder with doubt or skepticism, or you wonder with what’s possible, what could be, and what’s there. How can I connect more joy in the world?

Darrin, you used the word wonder. I’m going to use the word wonderment. You are right about wonder. I base this on the book The Ten Worlds. I’ve read and interviewed a bunch of doctors. They say, “Wonderment is the highest spiritual level.” What that means is that you are living in the present moment.

The reason I’m feeling joy is because I’m connected to this moment, to you and the universe. I’m in wonderment. I’m looking at you as a child with no preconceptions. I’m letting it all in and enjoying every month. I’m not anything to it. I have direct experience with you. When you allow this what is the isness of being to happen to you to experience it, you do it with wonderment. Wonderment leads to joy. You live in happiness and it’s not a crazy bubble. It’s not like you’re not living somewhere else.

We have to understand one thing. When you use the word wonder, you’re painting a picture of a reality. Darrin, I have news for you and others. You and I are living in a certain reality while a lot of the world is living in a completely different reality. You can have the being happy reality if you step into it and do it with wonderment. I love that word. I cannot tell you how powerful and wonderful this interview is. I mean. It brings out the best information for people. This is unbelievable.

The wonder is a level that is transcendent. It allows us to have a different lens. It feels to me, like this interview, we’re slowing down to see what brings us joy. We’re pausing and reflecting. We’re in the present and wondering what can be but we’re living it now. This is beautiful. This is an example of what happiness is.

We’re in such a rush world time. We’re on a different schedule, but we need to slow down to the speed of life. The speed of life is not 85 miles an hour in 55 miles. That’s the highway. The speed of life is wherever you are to enjoy this moment. Not only are you a part of the moment but spiritually speaking, you are the moment. When I say you are the moment, and I’m the moment, together, we’re in this moment. It will never be like this ever again. All the factors that have come to create this moment are an evolutionary unbelievable point that we’ve reached.

The work on happiness has been evolving more rapidly as time has gone on. In 1990, there were hardly any books on happiness. Now, your book and millions of others are out there. That was not the case. There’s an evolutionary trend towards happiness. Evolution is a part of humanity to become happy. I would even say to you that happiness and peace aren’t even in your choice. It’s in your destiny. It’s going to be, when you’re ready to open up to it, you’ll have it. Until you open to it with wonderment, you are not going to experience it because you’re going to judge it, and your brain will go, “Wonderment is also not thinking.” That’s why wonderment is beautiful.

It’s experiential. When you say destiny, I’ve heard you talk about how it’s about happiness and how it travels. It’s not that it’s a destination, to be clear on the word.

They say that happiness is a journey. That’s an old boat and not the destination. You remind me of another thing. We’re all on a journey together. Happiness is the better road to take as a journey if you’re on that road of happiness. The Buddhists said, “There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.” Before I ever heard that, I had written, “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” That’s being happy. There is no way to do it. That’s what it is.

My name is Lionel. There’s Lionel Trains. If there’s a railroad track in front of you and you imagine you’re on a railroad track called happiness, you know you’re on track. You keep going down that track no matter what. Here’s something that is going to happen to you. It happens to all of us. You’re going to fall off the track. Something will happen. You’ll see something. It was like hitting a tree while you were driving. You’ll fall in a ditch, and when you wake up, you say, “I’m unhappy.” You know what to do. You get back on track and stay on track.

When you’re off track, which we all can be, you could say to yourself, “It’s no big deal. I’m human. I’m allowed to get off track but now, I know where the track is.” Staying on track is important because we don’t even know where that track is. It is right in front of us right now and right here. That’s all we need. We don’t need anything else.

Knowing the track there helps, and being aware when we fall off track is when I think about pausing and reflecting to say, “I’m off track. How do I own that? What do I need to do?” Many people tell us that happiness is fleeting, and it’s temporary. It’s not. It’s being, which is ever present if we choose to be. We Know if we’re on track, and riding the ship or getting it back towards the direction we want to go because what happened is happened. Did we learn so we could be happy now or do we want to continue to let that spiral?

I want to give you a quick example. I was driving down Route 8 and there was a lot of construction work going on. They’re repaving and fixing all the potholes because it was a mess. I was driving to work, and I was frustrated. I’m like, “I’m going to be late.” I’m rushing to get to work. All of a sudden, it hit me. I fell off track in your example. I’m saying, “Why am I getting upset with this construction worker?” There are four guys off the back of the truck. Their legs are dangling and they’re going fifteen miles an hour. I’m going fifteen miles an hour and I’m like, “They’re trying to make the road safer. They’re doing amazing work. Who am I to complain about them being in my way? I’m in their way.”

I turned bright red and embarrassed. I went out of my way to wave and say, “Thank you. I appreciate it.” They have no idea what I’m saying, but they got my happy gesture. Guess what happened? They waved back and they were excited. I became excited and happy. I didn’t care that I was going fifteen miles an hour. I was appreciating versus complaining about what was great in front of me.

You’re a happy person and I’m a happy person, but together, the energy raises us up. It’s like better air. When happy people are together, there’s something going on. Being happy is a wonderful thing for us as individuals. When we are happy and we encounter another human being, there’s something happening that’s beyond anything I could describe that is good for the world because you become good for the world when you’re happy and you are much better off for yourself.

When we are happy and encounter another human being, we become good for the world and much better for ourselves. Click To Tweet

Happiness is a win-win in every respect. There is no, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about it or says about it.” They don’t know about it. There have been books written on why happiness or pursuing happiness, which I can agree with because you could pursue it as far as you want. Unless you’re being it, pursuing it is making you run all over the place.

How does happiness fit in in the workplace?

I had written an article about that years ago. It helps in every single respect. To answer that question, management has to understand the value of happiness, otherwise nothing is going to change. As soon as management understands that they’re better off, they know you’d be better off if they created more happiness for you.

They know that, but they don’t know that they would be better off and getting more value. The customers would have a better relationship. They would make more money. People would practically want to stay, and not go home on time because they’re enjoying themselves. They would add even more value to the business. This doesn’t go for business and management, but it goes for all of us. We don’t value happiness. We don’t understand the value of happiness. Let me ask you a question. Why did you take that $100?

It’s because you wanted to give it.

What possessed you to take that?

A hundred dollars is fun to have and you’re going to give it to me. I said, “I’m going to make you feel good by taking the money from you.”

You know the value of it. You can buy a lot of gum with it. You can do things with it. If you pass a quarter on the street, you may pick that up. I would pick it up but do we see the value? Do we stop and pick it up when it’s happiness? That’s the question. Do we recognize, “This is exceptional.”

It is valuable. If you have that article link, I’d love to post that. You were writing these articles at the beginning of the journey around positive psychology and research. I believe you were ahead of the time, and I’ve been impressed with all the different approaches you’ve gone at and bringing more joy and happiness to the world.

There’s a lot of research supporting the numbers and the value you’re talking about. I’ve seen many articles that support that folks are more productive by 20% on average. What people are saying is that it impacts people’s willingness to participate and be more open. There’s more empathy and trust. At the end of the day, the customers are happier. You got happier people. You have customers who are happier. You’re making more money. You’re able to invest back into the longevity of the business. As leaders, they’re happier. I would challenge folks who are happier for the right reasons. Are they happier because the outcomes are better? Are they happier because their people are happier? If we’re happier because the people are going home and creating a happier family and community, as a leader, I’d be thrilled, and ecstatic.

I’m happy and I love sharing these things with you and your group. I already know because it’s true for me now. I’m even happier if that’s possible after this interview with you. I already knew that was going to happen. I didn’t come here to get happier. I came here to share my happiness because I love you and I love the people reading. I would like them to have the best life possible like you do.

That’s the reason I come but I do go away. In other words, the most selfish thing I could ever do in life is to help you and others be happy. It elevates me and it makes me feel I don’t need it. You have to understand. It’s the opposite of money. The more you give money away, the less you have, but you have to have it to give it. With happiness, the more you give it away, the more I end up with. That keeps me busy.

The more you give happiness away, the more you end up with it. Click To Tweet

Last question for you, Lionel. You’re the founder of the Happiness Club and there are thousands around the world. What I would love for you to do is talk about what it is and invite people to attend one of these Happiness Clubs in their area. I’m going to put a link to the Happiness Club. Folks can go find where they are. I’d love for you to make a quick pitch because the reality is there’s a lot of happiness being shared there. It’s infectious and contagious. It could change our communities like it’s already doing. I’d love to have more of our audience attending these events.

The easiest way is When you’re on the website, feel free to subscribe to the Happiness Newsletter. That’s out once a month, but it’s got a lot of information on it. I won’t tell you about all the meetings. We even meet in person. We have had lunches once a month for years. The other great thing is we have Zoom meetings and regular meetings. We have something called Happy You. It’s on every Monday for two hours. It’s a teleconference. They’re all recorded on the first page of the website. Darrin, you’ve been on that. That’s an excellent way to learn more about happiness and pick up the tools and ideas that are going to keep you on that track.

It’s about learning how to make the best choices for yourself. If you’re not aware of the choices, you can’t make them. It’s up to you to use what you want. Unless you find, learn them, and say, “I want to use that.” It’s like finding money. You get excited when you find something. It’s like a gift. Because something is free and everything we do is all free, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Don’t confuse the two things. Thank you, Darrin, for what you are doing, because that’s the other thing. If you want a business take on what we’re talking about here, the old idea of competition is one way of looking at life. The greatest idea is cooperation. That’s what you and I are doing. There is no competition. We’re in this together.

There’s an abundance of possibilities and happiness. It’s around for everybody. It’s enough for everybody to have and more. Happiness is a gift that keeps on giving all the time. My purpose for 2023 was to love. I felt squishy with it. I still practicing it out, but I appreciate how you make it safe. I want to say, “I love you and I love us.” I’m honored to be your friend and partner in this happiness business and to help people light up. I’m glad you’re healthy and you’re doing well. Thank you for joining the show. I appreciate you.

Thank you, Darrin. Not only do I love you, but in your case, I also love what you do and what you give to others. You share this knowledge with others. That’s one of the most important things anyone could do. Thank you from my heart. The work you’re doing is valuable. If enough people don’t tell you that it’s still the most valuable thing anybody could be doing in this world, you’re doing it. I congratulate you and thank you for that.

Thank you for your mentorship, support, and all the love. We’ll talk soon. Thank you.

I love you.

Happiness is contagious, like Lionel. When he speaks, I want to hear another story and learn more ideas from him to remove the barriers that get in the way of any of us being happy. My favorite part of the show was him lighting up with wonder and sharing his reason for signing off on any text, email, or conversation with the phrase, “Love us.”

Sharing more love and being happy is what Lionel expresses to us as his way of being. Look for the signs and words that prevent us from living this way and take the steps to intentionally put us on the path to being our happy, authentic selves and live your possible. In the spirit of Lionel Ketchian, I love us. Make it a great day.


Important Links


About Lionel Ketchian

Live Your Possible | Lionel Ketchian | Being HappyLionel Ketchian is the author of the book, Food for Thought, published in 1988 and taught classes on Happiness, at Sacred Heart University from 1999-2004. He was co-host of: “Successful Living,” a live, call-in Radio Talk Show and wrote the ‘Be Happy Zone’ Column published in the Fairfield Citizen-News.

Lionel is the founder of the Happiness Club, which holds free monthly meetings and offers free happiness newsletters and is co-host of “The Happiness Show,” broadcast on TV by Cablevision of Connecticut. He also founded ‘Happy U’ in 2018, a weekly continuing educational teleconference on emotional competence and Happiness.

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