I know what you're thinking. What's a Hollywood type like me doing in this secluded place? Shouldn't I be in Aspen, hanging out with Brad and Angelina? Well, that sounds like fun too, but I wanted to try something a little different this year. So I decided to travel halfway across the planet, and I made that choice for one reason and one reason only: I wanted to learn more about being happy.
A few years ago, ABC aired a fascinating one-hour special about this remote country. The host was Michael J. Fox, and he explained how Bhutan is considered the happiest country in the world. Instead of measuring their success by gross national product, the people of this modern-day Shangri-La use something called gross national happiness.
You see, most countries gauge their progress with conventional development paradigms that focus on production and economic growth. Bhutan doesn't. Its gross national happiness model is based on the premise that real development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side. In other words, the country's culture isn't all about getting ahead in life.
That might sound way too holistic for some of you, but I'm here to say these people are genuinely happy. I'm serious. They never stop smiling! At first it freaked me out, but after two weeks, I'm starting to really enjoy myself. I think I even laughed once or twice.
Feeling happy like this has made me realize how much negative energy surrounds the entertainment industry back home. I know agents who make seven figures a year and are miserable, because they spend every free moment they have worrying about keeping their jobs. What kind of life is that?
Actors are in the same boat. You rarely have time to focus on craft, because you're busy stressing about getting an agent and meeting casting directors and a million other things that have nothing to do with acting. Should you sign up for workshops? Is your headshot good enough? Are you making the right choices? The questions never stop. Being an actor must feel like you're on an endless road that has no signs.
The truth is, we're all just trying to find our way in a tough business. If you want to stay sane, learn the lesson I learned right here under the snow-capped mountains of Bhutan. It's all about finding ways to create happiness in your life. So if you're out of shape, sign up for a yoga class or try some of that crappy vegan food. If you feel useless, try volunteering at a local charity. If you're lonely, check out some Internet dating sites. I don't really care what you do. Just find a way to be happy. Life's too short. And all that new energy will feed into your professional life too.
I'm going to take my own advice and try to be a more positive person in the new year. Instead of screaming and making threats, I'm going to laugh and make jokes. Instead of snarling at desperate actors, I'll smile and offer advice. Instead of acting like a money-hungry shark, I'll behave like the people of Bhutan and focus on my spiritual growth too.
Boy, now I can't wait to get home. Happy new year, everyone!
Update: I have bad news. My newfound state of happiness has ended. A Sherpa just handed me a headshot and wants to know if I'm looking for new clients.