Perhaps you were one who pictured yourself getting back into some of your old fits, and joined Dr. Ian K. Smith– plus millions of others across the country who had the same visions of love in the 50 Million Pound Challenge. Maybe you were inspired to get moving as you watched celebrities take on their biggest role yet, shedding the pounds with the help of Dr. Ian, in front of millions of viewers on VH1’s ‘Celebrity Fit Club.’ There’s a lot of help out there for losing weight. In fact, Dr. Ian is the author of four popular diet books, including The Fat Smash Diet. But, how does one get to the land of lasting happiness? And, can it be as simple as following a step-by-step diet and fitness plan in these tough times? Dr. Ian thinks so. And, he explains how to get to happy in his new book Happy: Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of Life.

Clutch: You’ve dealt with topics mainly regarding health, why a book on happiness now?

Dr. Ian: With the tough economic times and people having tougher relationship issues, I wanted to see if I could put together what the research shows and provide ways we could dramatically improve our happiness, even though things around us are difficult.

Clutch: In addition to the 50 Million Pound Challenge, you worked with VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club which featured stars such as Bobby Brown, Shar Jackson and Kevin Federline. Did these projects influence your new book in any way?

Dr. Ian: Working with the 50 Million Pound Challenge and Celebrity Fit Club, people have actually taught me a lot about happiness. And, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that people tend to attach their happiness to the wrong things. They attach their happiness to external validators, like the kind of car they drive, if they get a promotion or whether or not someone accepts or rejects them from a physical stand point. A lot of people make this mistake. Unfortunately, when they do, they’re happiness is no longer in their control. So, I wanted to explain to people that where you place your happiness is very critical to whether or not you’ll be able to achieve your happiness and hold on to it. The book teaches you about happiness being a part of things you do and things you control. It’s about your engagement and doing good deeds, not material things.

Clutch: So would you say reaching our goals and crossing off items on our life list, which may include material gain, aren’t the keys to happiness?

Dr. Ian: You should be a goal-oriented person, but it’s not reaching your goal per se that always gives you the greatest happiness. It’s the pursuit of that goal; it’s the process of being engaged in something that is meaningful and purposeful that gives you a sense of happiness. You will be happy once you reach a goal, but it’s not crossing the finish line that matters all the time. It’s the effort and the way you go towards that finish line that makes a big difference. Like the saying goes: it’s not whether you wine or lose, it’s how you play the game. When you’re young, you don’t really believe that because you want to win, but you can’t always win. That doesn’t mean you should be sad about it. It means you should try to understand why you didn’t reach your goal and applaud yourself by putting forth the best effort possible.

Clutch: It’s graduation season, and it’s been said Generation Y is mostly an optimistic one; one that will change the workforce. However, my concern is that graduating into the current economy may cause these feelings of optimism to fade. What advice can you offer new graduates to help keep their spirits high?

Dr. Ian: In the chapter, “Learning Optimism,” one of the central points that I make is that you can be optimisitic and realistic at the same time. And, just because you’re realistic doesn’t mean that you still can’t be optimistic. So, even though the outlook does not look great, or the expectations that one has held for something may not be met as fast as one would have liked, it doesn’t mean it should tarnish your optimism. Optimism is all about perspective and attitude. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the two are subsets of each other.  I just think people need to understand that just because there’s a tough road ahead, it doesn’t mean you attack it with your head down. Attack with your head up and your body in a posture so that you can fight through it.

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