A Little Happier: Everyday Life in Utopia (Inspired by the Movie “Lost Horizon.”)

For many years, every Sunday, we had a family Movie Night. One evening, I chose the movie Lost Horizon, though I worried Eleanor might be a little bored or confused by the 1937 movie’s story of a man who’s spirited away to Shangri-La, a mysterious, idyllic village hidden deep in the Himalayas.

To my surprise, she loved it—so much, in fact, that after I showed her my copy of the novel Lost Horizon, she was inspired to write a sequel.

She labored away in a notebook, then came to read me what she’d written. I enjoyed her account of the romantic engagement and wedding of Robert and Sondra, but she really caught my attention after she’d finished.

“Oh,” she said, “I forgot to tell you the title of my book.”


She paused for effect, then said, “Everyday Life in Utopia.”

What a phrase, what an idea! Everyday life in Utopia. “Eleanor,” I told her truthfully, “I absolutely love that title. That is genius.”

I couldn’t get those words out of my head. I wanted to buy a t-shirt with that slogan printed on it. I wanted to tattoo it across my ankle. I wanted to paint it on the wall in my office.

It struck me, in fact, that all of my work on habits and happiness was meant to help us construct, as much as possible, just that: everyday life in Utopia. Everyday life with deep, loving relationships and productive, satisfying work; everyday life with feelings of energy, health, and productivity; everyday life with fun, enthusiasm, and engagement, with as little regret, guilt, or anger as possible.

My specialty as a writer is writing the endings of my books, and Eleanor’s title inspired the end to my book Happier at Home. One of my favorite endings that I’ve ever written.




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