Elma van Vliet Happiness and Books
Elma van Vliet

Happiness – we’re all hoping to find it. So, what’s the secret? Where do we find it? I believe the answer lies in building solid relationships with the people you love. That’s the gut feeling I started following fifteen years ago and everything I make and think up is based on. And now look what happened: science confirms what my heart was telling me all along. Research at Harvard shows that close relationships with family and friends are what keep people happy throughout their lives. How great is that? 

Sometimes something big needs to happen to make you recognize what is truly important to you. Only when my mother got severely ill, I realized how important she was to me. And how much I still wanted to ask her and tell her. But I also realized I hadn’t told her enough what she meant to me. It made me turn my life around. I left the company I was building a successful career and focused on the people around me instead. And what I did felt right. I made Mum, tell me, a book filled with questions that I wanted her to return to me filled with answers. So there would be something permanent. About us. Forever.   

But my own Mum, tell me turned out to be so much more than a book. What she gave back was so much more than just answers. We truly connected and got to know each other on a whole new level. We bonded and learned to love each other just the way we were. We developed a very strong and special connection. And whilst our bond strengthened, I discovered my love for connecting people. I want other people to enjoy the same experience I had and to also capture, share and remember their personal stories.  

Close family ties and good friendships are the secret of living a long and happy live, money and fame are of lesser importance. After 75 years of research, that is the main conclusion of the Harvard study. And I understand like no other how hard it is to start a different kind of conversation with your mother, your sister or your best friend. But I also discovered that asking questions, taking real time and giving your full attention goes a very long way. Truly connecting will make you happy, even the people at Harvard say so. And time is not something you have, it’s something you make. So put that phone away and just get started.  

Happiness is quite simple really. It is the feeling you get when you attentively hug your child, kiss your lover or do that little dance with your friend. The high five you give at work or the warm feeling after having a good conversation with someone important to you. Happiness is right in front of you. No need to move to a Tibetan monastery, unless you really want to. It is all around. Every single day. I love the fact that Harvard confirms what my heart already knew to be true. And I feel so grateful that right now, over four million people worldwide are inspired by my personal story and mission. It makes me determined to continue helping people deepen their bond and capture, share and remember their memories. However big or small.