A Little Happier: Nebraska’s Tourist Slogan Offers a Valuable—and Hilarious—Lesson in Happiness.

My parents grew up and met in the town of North Platte, Nebraska, and over the years, I spent a lot of time in Nebraska visiting my grandparents, so I feel a real affection for that Midwestern state.

When I was home in Kansas City a while back, my parents told me about the new Nebraska state slogan—and I didn’t believe them, I thought they were pulling my leg.

But they weren’t! In 2019, Nebraska launched a tourist campaign using the slogan, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”

I laugh every time I think of it.

Nebraska didn’t have much to lose from trying an unconventional strategy, because travelers often rate Nebraska dead last, or almost last, among states they say they’re interested to visit.

This slogan is a great example of the fact that it’s often most effective to admit the truth, even when that truth might not be terribly flattering or impressive. Have a sense of humor, be willing to poke fun at yourself, and admit the facts.

I remember that when I was writing my book The Happiness Project (Amazon, Bookshop), a happiness expert was explaining to me, at great length, how important it was that romantic partners regularly set aside a few hours just for each other–that they have a weekly date night. He kept telling that that kind of exercise just had to be part of my happiness project, that it was an essential way to work on my relationship.

As he talked, I was growing increasingly uneasy by this advice. Then I told him what I was thinking: “That might be true for some people, but it’s not true for me. That wouldn’t be helpful for my relationship. That’s not the guy I married. ” And I felt a tremendous relief when I said it.

Jamie doesn’t want a date night, and while I might enjoy something like that, I don’t miss it. It’s good advice for some people, but not for everyone. If I were to press Jamie to schedule a weekly plan, it could quickly become a source of resentment and conflict between us, or, at the very least, require a lot of annoying logistical conversations. It wouldn’t add to our happiness.

Deep connection is important, of course, but there are many ways to create deep connection. There are many, many reasons that I love Jamie, and we spend a lot of time together; but he has no desire to schedule a weekly couple’s outing. That’s not the guy I married!

So often, in my study of happiness, good habits, and human nature, I find myself saying, “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for other people might not work for you, and vice versa.”

My sister Elizabeth says I can be a happiness bully, because if I think there’s a way for you to be happier, I can be quite insistent. But over the years, I’ve come to understand that with just about every suggestion I make, I have to admit: “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”

Nebraska’s slogan is memorable, it’s convincing, it’s funny—because it’s true. I’ve loved Nebraska deeply for as long as I can remember, but honestly? It’s not for everyone.

You can learn more about my book The Happiness Project here.




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