Episode 382 Bona Normandeau Crafting Your Own Happiness Transcript

This transcript is from episode 382 with guest Bona Normandeau.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

Hey everybody, welcome back to Drive On, I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and today my guest Is Bhana Normandou. Uh, she is the host of the Happier You podcast and also a happiness coach. And her mission is to empower individuals to find their own happiness, uh, help them navigate their unique journeys with the greater resilience and more joy.

And after a military career, she realized she was lost, lacking focus and living a life of. Fitting in and people pleasing. After being asked what her dream was, she realized she had no idea how to answer that question. She [00:01:00] decided to embark on a journey to discover. What living her best life could look like instead of just taking the journey herself She decided to start her podcast and share her experiences with others in case anyone else out there Needed to know they weren’t alone and she found out she most definitely wasn’t alone.

And I think Maybe many people can relate to this story in this message here and she’s been inspiring action and other people to Get out there and find happiness in their lives ever since. So with that, welcome to the show. I’m really glad to have you here.

Bona Normandeau: Thanks, Scott. I’m really excited to be here.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Um, so in the intro, I briefly talked about how you started your journey of figuring out how to live your best life. Tell us about that. Um, and, and how you realized you weren’t really sure what living your dream actually looked like.

Bona Normandeau: Yeah. So, uh, a few years ago, I went to a [00:02:00] conference just totally for a girls weekend, you know, one of my besties lived in a different city. So we picked a conference and met there. So we’re at this conference, you know, a few thousand people in the room and the speaker says, all right, so you’re going to turn to the person next to you and share what’s the dream in your heart.

And the whole place just erupted. Everybody is excitedly sharing. I turned to the. To the friend on my left and she shares hers and I turn to the friend on my right and she shares hers and then they both look at me and I’m just like, I just start crying. There’s just, I’m, I’m like, a dream in my what? A who?

Like I just, I didn’t, I couldn’t even fathom the question. So I cried. Um, it was, yeah, it was a pretty humbling moment. Like I didn’t, one of these things was not like the others. I didn’t fit in. So I took a few hours and later that day I realized that I couldn’t have a dream in my heart because I didn’t really.

I didn’t really know or like myself. I didn’t know who I was. And I realized I joined the military at 17 and I was really good at it [00:03:00] because every couple of years they just, they gave me a new goal and said, this is how you succeed in that role. And so you need me to do this and act like this and say this and learn this.

And I did it. And then, then they give me another goal and another goal. And, and here I was in my forties and I, I never really had to figure out what. What a dream in my heart was. I never really needed one because I, I just always kept going to the next level, pleasing people. So it was, um, yeah, it was the start of a humbling journey, but I call it the happier, my happiness journey, because I really discovered, I learned to like myself and dare I say, love myself and just really embrace being, you know, the unique, imperfect person that I am.

Scott DeLuzio: That that’s an interesting, um. The last thing that you just said there, that, you know, unique, imperfect, and just embracing that, um, knowing that, yeah, I got my [00:04:00] flaws. I, I have, uh, you know, some quirks maybe, or, you know, whatever, but That’s okay. So does everybody else. And they’re, they’re unique. They’re, everyone’s a little bit different.

Um, you might be able to find, you know, quote unquote, your people, um, who maybe share some similar qualities that, that you do. And, um, maybe you get along, uh, better with that type of person. Um, but, but we all have these. Unique, uh, imperfections, if you will. Right. And, and part of, I guess, part of that journey is just being okay with who you are.


Bona Normandeau: I actually think it’s the key, uh, to the whole thing, Scott. Honestly, I think the sooner we stop judging ourselves and accept ourselves for who we are, I just find, I see beauty in other people that previously would have made me uncomfortable because they were so different from me. And now I, I see unique people and I just honor the, I honor their courage.

To show up in the [00:05:00] world as themselves and, you know, challenge the norms. So, yeah, it’s, it’s freedom, in a way, just to be okay with who you are.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, it is sort of freedom. Um, uh, not, not sort of, it is, um, because when. You’re okay with who you are. Um, other people’s opinions of who you are doesn’t really matter so much anymore. Does it?

Bona Normandeau: No, it’s, uh, you take back that control, right? Like, if you can lovingly support yourself, then, you know, they’re entitled to their opinions, but I don’t have to worry about it anymore, so.

Scott DeLuzio: And, and so you said you joined the military at 17. Um, that’s, uh, you know, that, that’s like the, the right out of high school. I’m, I’m, I’m in, you know, uh, at that point, um, what, what. Drove you to, uh, to that as, as opposed to maybe other, um, uh, career choices or college or other, other things like that. And

Bona Normandeau: I am [00:06:00] from a town of, uh, less than 600 people, and I craved adventure, um, and I, you know, it’s so funny because at the time I wanted to be, I was either going to be a pilot or a carpenter, and I ended up being neither, but, you know, at 17, you don’t really know. So, um, but they, so I went to the Canadian equivalent of USNA.

So I, I went and, you know, they were gonna pay me to get a degree and give me a career and adventure all whipped into one. And like I said, I was from a town of 600 people. I just, I needed to see the world and have an adventure more than anything. So.

Scott DeLuzio: I’m sure you did, you did get to see, uh, you know, different parts of the world that, that maybe you wouldn’t have been able to see, uh, otherwise as, you know, maybe, uh, as a carpenter, uh, for

Bona Normandeau: Right. I wouldn’t have made it as a carpenter, Scott, let’s be honest here, right? But you’re right. Yes, I did. I saw a [00:07:00] lot. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, yeah, for sure. And, and so. You know, looking back at that, um, at that journey that you went through, um, you got to experience some things, um, I’m sure there was ups and downs. There was, you know, good, good days and bad days. There was, you know, everyone has that, uh, type of experience, um, you know, some, some worse than others, some better than others.

Uh, but how did that help shape? Where you are now and what you’re, you’re doing now, uh, or, or did it, uh, you know, maybe, maybe it, maybe it didn’t at all, but, um, I got to imagine there was some, uh, pieces of what you, you picked up in, in the military that, um, you carried forward in your, your, uh, civilian life afterwards.

Bona Normandeau: Oh yeah. I think, um, I mean, I, I always say I grew up in the military, like my formative years, you know, I left home and then [00:08:00] I was parented by the military essentially because, um, yeah, like, you know, we didn’t have cell phones in those days. So when I left home, I left home and, you know, you, recruit camp, you don’t call home for the first six weeks.

Like, you know, as a parent now, I look back and I think, how did my parents do that? That’s crazy. Um, Yeah, I think, um, well, I think you learn resilience in the military because you’re constantly thrown into different situations. But also, you know, one of the beautiful things I learned from the military is after we do an exercise or training, we always look back and say, okay, what went well and what didn’t work.

And for me that I use that in all my teaching for happiness as well is, okay, so. If that didn’t go as well as you thought, or you didn’t get as much joy or happiness out of a certain situation, What could you do differently next time? So instead of judging [00:09:00] it, it’s just that, it’s that, you know, sort of formulated after action report.

What can I, what can I learn from this experience and how can I do better next time? So I think that’s one of the biggest ones for me, but also I would say is the connection. Just, I made some of the best friends ever, uh, you know, through those formative years and, and still, but you know, it, it was such a, when you go through that with people, that’s just powerful.

Like that connection. So powerful, so.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, for sure. For sure. And, um, one of the things I. I think I liked the most about the structure of the military, uh, were the, um, the way that we were able to kind of look back and reflect and look at what went right, what went wrong, um, and improve, like, it was almost like a culture of like, Always wanting to get better at whatever it was that we were doing, whether it was a training exercise or whether it was a combat mission or, [00:10:00] or whatever, we’d always look back and say, okay, give me a few things that went right.

Give me a few things that went wrong. What, what could we not necessarily went wrong, but what could we improve on, um, and, uh, you know, what can we sustain? The things that went right, those are the things you want to sustain and keep doing those things because they went right. Um, but that, that’s something that, you know, kind of has fallen off, I think, in my own life, thinking about it.

Like, I don’t really do after action reports. Like after, after going through, um, you know, some experience, it could be, you know, taking the kids to an amusement park or, you know, whatever, you know. What should we do more of next time? What, what should we maybe cut out? Because that didn’t quite go as well as we thought it would.

You know, I don’t really do that too much. And, uh, you know, then you end up doing, you know, what basically the definition of insanity is, you know, doing the same thing over and over [00:11:00] again, expecting a different result. And it’s like, well, that’s, it didn’t work the first time. So what is it going to work now?

Um, you know, so that’s a good point. I like that. That’s kind of the approach that you’re, you’re taking, right?

Bona Normandeau: absolutely. I, I just think that we don’t, like you say, we don’t apply it to our personal lives. And you know, you mentioned a family holiday. I think that’s brilliant. I think that’s one of the best times to do it because when we get our kids involved in that dialogue, then they’re learning that, you know, it, even if it wasn’t the best, we can take it and learn from it and move on.

Like it’s, it’s not something to dwell on. It’s like, okay, well, next time we’ll do better and we’re going to have even more fun. So go us. You know, like, yeah. Absolutely.

Scott DeLuzio: exactly. Um, so one of the things that, uh, just through my, you know, kind of, uh, research that I do before, uh, these episodes, I, I always, uh, I always laugh at myself as I’m doing the research is I’m, I’m [00:12:00] basically looking into the guest and finding out more information about them. And, um, you know, I joke with my wife that I’m doing like a little light.

Internet stalking on, on all of these people. Um, it’s, um, it’s not that I’m not a stalker. I’m not going to show up at people’s doors or anything like that. So don’t worry about that. If you’re ever considering being a guest on this show. Um, one of the things that you, you talk about is you teach. That people need to find the things that make their soul sing, uh, that, um, that they need to find the thing that kind of like lights that fire inside of them and, and gets them excited and, and energetic and passionate and, and whatnot.

Um, but the question that I had when I was kind of looking through, um, all of this and thinking about. The structure of this episode, um, what if someone’s in a situation like you were in, um, you know, you know, a few years back when, uh, you were asked that question of what, what is the dream? What, what is, what is that thing that, that will spark [00:13:00] that fire inside of you?

And, and you just don’t know what that is. Where, where do people start to try to figure that out?

Bona Normandeau: Yeah. Well, first thing I would say is you’re not alone. I think it’s, I think so many of us pretend that we know what we’re doing and, you know, we, uh, yeah, we, we walk the walk and talk the talk, but we just don’t feel it. We don’t feel it on the inside. I, I always encourage people to just, you know, just, Um, this scares some people, but get to know yourself.

So start asking yourself, what, what do I enjoy doing and what really lights me up or brings me hope? It’s those little things in life that we often get so busy living life that we forget to acknowledge and notice things that That brings us joy. For example, I always teach people, you know, figure out what recharges you or makes your soul sing and that, and start adding those into your life.

Consciously put them in your life. So for example, Scott, when I run people through this, I’m like, let’s brainstorm. And [00:14:00] so I give everybody time. We all write down as many as we can come up with. And then we start sharing. And one person loves to build Lego. And another person, just, they just feel pure peace when they’re just sitting there petting their dog.

Another person could be baking, gardening, um, you know, something creative, painting. For me, believe it or not, it’s a good sweaty workout. Like when I finish a workout, I feel like I can do anything afterwards, right? Like I, I’m just like, okay, I have this crazy day ahead of me, but man, I just nailed that workout.

I feel amazing. And when you start to notice things that bring you joy, you, you like, they don’t have to be big, right? Like it’s not, I’m not talking about like standing on a beach in Hawaii and being like, It’s, it’s the little things in life that we start to realize how that really feels good. And then to start Like invite more of it into your life.

And when I say invite, I mean, schedule, like tell yourself I’m doing this for myself. But when you do it, you’re also acknowledging [00:15:00] it, right? Like just realizing that I’ve chosen to give this to myself because it matters. I matter. And what I find is, is as we do that, we start to notice, Oh, this doesn’t bring me joy.

Right? And so you just start to get to know yourself better because you’re starting to do things more for yourself. And you, it’s just, it. It’s builds momentum. You start to, that’s a good feeling. And you’re like, huh, how can I do more of this and less of that kind of thing? So that’s where I think people should start is really just inviting more joy in and acknowledging it when you do it.

Scott DeLuzio: And I think when, to your point, when, when you’re talking about how, um, you know, it could be small things. Um, and I think small things are probably better than the big thing, like standing on a beach in Hawaii or whatever. Right. That’s not sustainable, but like in that moment. Yeah, you, you, it might be great, you know, for, you know, however [00:16:00] many days that you’re there, um, and, and that’s, that’s fine.

Uh, but then you’re going to come back home at some point and then where’s your, where’s your next beach that you’re going to be standing on? Right. Um, and that you can’t bring that beach home. I mean, maybe you can scoop a handful of sand or something like that with you, but it’s not quite the same. Uh, right.


Bona Normandeau: quite.

Scott DeLuzio: yeah. Right. But, um. You know, so the, so the small things that are sustainable are, are better than, uh, those, those big, massive things. Right. So, um, but another thing that I noticed as you were mentioning all of the activities that, that people were doing, they all have some. Even a very minor, uh, physical component to it, you know, even, even painting your, you’re, you’re doing like the fine motor skills, kind of like the control of the brush and, and all of that.

Um, you know, the gardening, there’s a physical aspect to that, that going to the gym and exercising, um, you [00:17:00] know, getting, getting a real good sweat on, uh, is, is gonna, um, uh, gonna definitely have that physical aspect. Um, but I feel like. That type of thing, the physical thing, um, almost serves as a, um, a way to keep yourself focused on what’s going on in the here and now, in that present moment, um, as opposed to letting your mind wander off into anxiety land or, you know, depression land.

Like you got it, you kind of have to be focused, right?

Bona Normandeau: That’s such a great, uh, observation. And yes, in fact, you know, when I teach this and I talk about it, it’s like you’re in the moment, like you are there acknowledging. So it’s, it’s like the stress and everything else drops away and you just get to enjoy that activity. One of mine actually, so the sweaty workout, yes, but also just a great.

Connection with a friend. So I guess it’s, you know, it’s less physical, but it is [00:18:00] engaging. Like you say, like I, you’re there with that person, hearing them, connecting with them, as opposed to, um, like you say, yeah. Worrying, being drawn back into the anxiety, all that kind of stuff. Yeah. Yeah. Present in the moment.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, and, okay. So, so I can, I can wrap my head around. The, those activities, those things that bring you, uh, some sort of joy or happiness, whatever the word is that you want to wrap around that. Um, what about outside of those activities? Obviously you, you can’t exercise all day long. You have, you have a job, you have other things that you need to do, right.

Um, you know, uh, is. Is it like a little dose of that, like, you know, maybe first thing in the morning or what, maybe after work at night or, you know, whenever it is that you fit that into your day, you schedule it in, um, is that dose, you know, enough to carry you through, uh, till the next time that you, [00:19:00] you, you do it or, or are there ways that you, um, you need to still focus on the, the, the being present as you’re going through other activities in your life, maybe, maybe, you know, working or, you know, taking your kids to, to School or, you know, soccer practice or wherever you might be, be going.

But, um, is there, there are things like that, that, that you can work on during those types of activities as well?

Bona Normandeau: Well, I mean, okay, so happiness is a journey, right? So it’s not like it is not a destination. So we don’t like achieve happiness and then life’s good all the time. It doesn’t work like that, right? So it is absolutely a roller coaster. And I think Knowing how to help yourself. So again, getting to know yourself and realizing, you know, one of the other things that we get from our military background is, um, planning and preparation.

So like knowing that I’ve got a stressful week coming, I look ahead and I say, okay, how can I help [00:20:00] myself through this? And I can, you know, so I talk about, you know, making your soul sing. I also call them recharge activities and they can be, uh, bigger things like going for a hike or a workout. But it could also just be, you know, I’ve got five minutes on my lunch hour.

I work from home. I’m going to crank up my favorite eighties hairband and I’m just going to dance and sing to my heart content, right? Like, because again, it’s just, it just feels good. It’s something that I know lifts my spirits. I know I’m doing it for myself and then I can just take a deep breath and head into kind of the next, the stressful afternoon kind of thing.

So I think that we’re constantly on the roller coaster of life, but the more that we. are prepared for it and we know how to help ourselves. I think that’s the biggest thing with happiness is I know how to touch it, Scott. Like I, like I, I still get down. And in fact, when I was at the beginning of this journey, I got really upset with myself for making a mistake.

And my husband said, can [00:21:00] you, can you, can you bring her back? Can you bring back my happy wife? Like, can you, can you do some of those activities that help you get back there? Because you got to let this go, you know, kind of thing. So, and it still happens. I just find I’m able to get back. I’m able to take care of myself, use my coping mechanisms faster to again, you know, just be like, Oh yeah, this is me.

I’m imperfect, but I love my life, you know? And so I think that’s part of it is just the feeling empowered to say, I’ve got this. I can help myself. Or if I can’t help myself in this moment, I know how to ask for help. And I think that really is that confidence to go, I can do this. I can do hard things.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Now, what about when you have someone kind of, kind of like yourself who just doesn’t have a dream, doesn’t have. Like a goal or a sense of purpose maybe, uh, is a better way, [00:22:00] way to put it. Um, and they’re kind of just feeling lost. Like they don’t know, they don’t know where to even start to find happiness.

Like none, none of these things really seem all that interesting to them. Um, maybe they’re kind of depressed and down and, um, just, there’s no spark in them, uh, at that point. We’re. What are some of the things that we can do to kind of help find that in them?

Bona Normandeau: Yeah. So, um, you know, as you’re saying that I’m seeing me sitting in that conference with a big gaping hole, just, you know, feeling like I’m the only one who feels like this. And one of the things I love to tell people is we learn in doing like activity. And so just do something and then ask yourself. Did this work?

And if it didn’t work, it’s not a failure. It’s, it’s, it’s information, right? It’s, it’s data. And so then we, you know, we kind of get up the next day and we try [00:23:00] something else that is, you know, did that work? Did that help me feel better? Did I, did I get more joy in that day? Or did I, um, you know, did what I tried work for me?

And, and I really think Scott, it comes back to just. Investing in yourself and saying, I’m going to try things and they’re not all going to work, but, but I’m going to try them and it’s all information and it’s really getting towards getting to know yourself, what works for you and what doesn’t, because I think one of the things that we get sucked into in today’s society is constantly feeling like we’re always being told what, what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to act.

And most importantly, How are we supposed to feel? You know, we can, we can get happy when we buy this car, when we lose 20 pounds, when we meet the perfect mate, when we get a bigger house, right? And then we get there, or not, but often we get there and we’re like, okay, where’s my happy? It’s not free flowing.

And in realizing when I learn what brings me [00:24:00] joy and I take care of myself and figure out how to, how to ask for what I need, like to reach out to those connections that really lift my spirits or getting out for a walk, those things, the more information you have on what What makes you tick? What brings you joy?

Just those little steps, you know, we don’t have to do it all at once, but try something new because, you know, if we just reach, stay with the status quo, we’re not going to figure out what lights us up. We’re not going to find that spark. Like we have to go out and no one’s going to give it to us. We have to go out and find it, figure out, you know, at least one.

And then after you get one, you get momentum and you’re like, okay, okay, I can do this. I’m going to try. Now I’m going to try this kind of thing. Right. So it builds confidence.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And that goes back to the kind of that definition of insanity is you keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. It just doesn’t work. Right. Um, and so, yeah, try something different. [00:25:00] And I think it was Thomas Edison who said, I, I haven’t failed. I just found 10, 000 ways that.

Don’t work. Um, and I, maybe I, I might’ve misquoted that to some extent, but the, the general gist is there, um, where, you know, none of these things are failures. You, you, you try something and like you said in the beginning, like if, if that doesn’t work for you and it’s not. Bringing any happiness or joy to your life.

Okay, well, good. Now, you know, that’s just a thing you don’t do anymore. Or maybe limit the amount that you do it, you know, like you don’t need to go and seek that activity out because it serves no purpose for you. Um, so, so you, you do those things and you try them out, um, until you find that thing and.

Yeah, you, you might go through, you know, a dozen or more different, uh, activities that, that you [00:26:00] try or, or, uh, you know, situations, events, places that you might go to, whatever it is, um, that, that you’re, you’re doing, um, you might, you might try a bunch, but. All you’re doing is just getting that data and learning, this works, this doesn’t, this works, that doesn’t, and, and, and that’s it.

And, and that’s, it’s really, um, you know, I don’t want to say it’s simple because sometimes it’s, it’s hard for people who just don’t know where to start. It’s like, it’s overwhelming, um, you know, sometimes, but, um. But you kind of just have to throw a dart at a dartboard and pick one and just go for it.


Bona Normandeau: Yeah, well I think, and like you said, it’s simple but not necessarily easy, right? Like, I mean, because I know learning new things is good for me, but I still do not love that feeling of of feeling stupid or, you know, like being the worst person on the court or whatever, right? Like I, [00:27:00] I don’t love that, but I’ve learned that once I push through that and I, and, and get over myself essentially, right?

Like get over those insecurities, learn to laugh at myself. I can either have a great time, or I might just meet some really cool people as I’m bumbling my way through something that isn’t meant for me. Right. So.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and that’s a good attitude to have about it too, is, um, just knowing that not every activity or situation is going to be right for you. Um, and being able to laugh at yourself when, uh, you know, if you’re. Learning to play basketball or something and you totally miss the shot. Like, okay, well, you can laugh at that.

It’s okay. You’re like, you’re not a professional basketball player and you know that. So give yourself that, that grace. Right. Um,

Bona Normandeau: going to be the first person who does it, and you’re definitely not going to be the last. Right?

Scott DeLuzio: That’s true. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Somebody else is going to come, come around and pick up probably [00:28:00] that same ball

Bona Normandeau: same thing. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: too. And, and, you know, look ridiculous as they’re doing it. And, um, there’s, so I, I pick basketball, honestly, because I suck at basketball. Like I’m, I am probably the worst player at basketball.

And when I was in college, um, we. My roommates and I were playing basketball and I was fumbling around, just not being good at it. And these guys who were on the football team in our college, uh, they, they wanted to play too. There was only one court open and they said, Hey, can we, you know, play together?

And we’re like, Oh yeah, sure. That’s fine. And so it was us versus them. And these guys were built like refrigerators. Like they were huge. Right. And, um, There’s this one time I was, I was like kind of running down the court, uh, I thought I was open and, uh, my, my roommate went to go pass the ball to me and all of a sudden I just stopped as I’m, I’m running, I’m looking, you know, kind of over my shoulder as I’m running, I’m not looking where I’m going [00:29:00] and I just stopped because I ran into one of these guys and to him it was like, maybe like, A fly hitting you is just kind of like, eh, whatever.

But to me, I was on the floor like, how the heck did this happen? ? And I kind of had to just laugh because I, like, I knew I sucked at basketball and I knew I didn’t know what I was doing really. And, um, this guy just kind of like, he reached his hand out to help me up and, and he was laughing too ’cause he, he saw the humor in it.

And so, you know, we, we got to laugh at it. But, um, I just know that basketball is not my thing. So

Bona Normandeau: Right. Exactly.

Scott DeLuzio: um, so. Uh, so you talked a little bit about resilience before, like one of those things that you, you get from, uh, the military and, and, and in the military background, um, in your, your opinion, your words, maybe, uh, what do happiness and resilience have in common? Like, how do they kind of fit together?

Bona Normandeau: So [00:30:00] resilience is your ability to, to come back from a struggle, right? And when I was started studying this and was on my happiness journey, sharing the tools that bring you more happiness and joy, uh, I realized that it’s the same things you do to come back from a struggle. You know, you just, you have to, you have to be your own best, uh, cheerleader.

You have to figure out what works for you and you have to prioritize, uh, feeling better, coming back and, and supporting yourself. So that I, it always astounds me every time I realize I got invited once to speak at a conference about resilience. And I, I was like, I’m, I’m the happiness lady. Like, Are you sure?

And uh, I was so relieved because I presented first and I said, listen, you know, I think these five happiness tools are important for finding happiness, but they’re also all the ways I come back from struggle. [00:31:00] And, uh, and, It went over well, but then I stayed at the conference and I listened, and you know, the next three speakers said the exact same thing as me, and they’d been through major, major struggles, and they’re like, here’s how I came back.

It was so, I thought, wow, isn’t that amazing? Because, I mean, let’s be honest, finding happiness is about taking ourselves out of a bad place and saying, how can I, how can I feel better? And again, it comes back to that. It’s a journey, right? Like, like life is, is a rollercoaster and on the dips, how do we get ourselves back at the other side and living the best, the best we can?

And it’s, it’s the same tools. It’s figuring out what I need and then, and then getting that for myself.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And it’s a good point. And you said this earlier too, and I wanted to touch on it, but, but knowing that happiness is a journey, that there are ups and downs in life and in your, your happiness, uh, you know, the scale of your happiness. So you’re going to have some peaks where you’re really happy.

You’re going to have some [00:32:00] lows where you’re really sad and that’s okay. So, you know, there’s a, uh, you know, a death in the family or you lose your job or something like, yeah, you’re going to be sad about that. And like, you shouldn’t be happy in those situations, right? Like that, that wouldn’t be probably normal or natural, but it’s how you deal with that and how you bounce back from those, uh, situations.

Um, you know, yes, feel the sadness for what it is in the, that moment and, um, experience it because I think without the lows, the sadness. In life, you maybe can’t appreciate the highs and the happiness sometimes, um, where, uh, you, you, you don’t have, uh, that perspective, right? And so there are going to be sad times.

And so, yeah, experience those, but, but what do you do to get yourself back up? So, so you’re not staying down in the lows, in the sadness and, and maybe making that part [00:33:00] of your identity is like, I’m just the, you know, sad, grieving, you know, whatever. That, that shouldn’t be who you are. You should be able to bounce back from that.


Bona Normandeau: Yeah, I think, and that’s it. I think we, you know, sometimes when I talk about happiness, people think, I’m happy all the time and I’m not, right? Like that, that’s not how it works, but it’s the ability to, to be happy and find joy in day to day stuff and just appreciate what I have and yeah, that’s it, I think it’s, it’s the, I feel empowered knowing that whatever comes up, I’ve got tools to.

to just appreciate where I’m at, be grateful for what I’ve been given, and find joy in every day. Mm hmm.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. And, and that’s, I think, um, you know, maybe an important message for, for folks who are struggling with happiness and maybe thinking like. How [00:34:00] do I find this all the time? It’s like, you’re not going to, there’s going to be situations where you’re just not going to be happy and that’s fine. It’s actually probably normal and healthy to not be happy all the time.

Um, and like you said, you know, even, even you are not happy all of the time. And, and that’s okay. You, you can be okay with that. Um, now. Do you think that we have a, uh, like a predetermined happiness limit? Like, like how happy can somebody actually get or, or is there, is there a sky of a limit, um, you know, as far as happiness goes,

Bona Normandeau: Ah, yes and no. So I think that we all have a comfort level of how You know, how happy we can get, but I think that we can push through that, that happiness lid. So, um, for example, if you’re raised in a family where only doom and gloom is talked about and, you know, the [00:35:00] world owes me, or, you know, we just, yeah, we just don’t.

We’re not taught that we can be happier, that we’re allowed to laugh at ourselves and find joy. It’s pretty, you know, that person would have a different happiness level than someone who’s taught to see the opportunities in life. But I do believe that, so I don’t think it’s a, like, a hard lid that we can’t break through, but I do think that we all sort of have a certain level, and as we get to know ourselves and increase that lid, well, we Find more joy.

We can increase that lid and experience it more often. Um, and easier because it’s, I think it’s like a muscle. I think the more we learn to find it for ourselves, the easier it becomes.

Scott DeLuzio: that does make sense. Um, because you, you get. A range of people, um, you know, from the bodybuilder who is absolutely massive, ripped, you know, muscles and [00:36:00] everything like that to the person who’s never, you know, gotten off the couch other than, you know, to eat and use the bathroom, basically, like you get those two extremes of people and, um, you know, that, that far extreme of, of the, the couch potato that they’re not going to be able to, uh, do.

Anywhere near the amount of, you know, weightlifting that the bodybuilder is going to be able to do, um, right now. But if they get themselves into the gym and they start exercising and they, they, they’re lifting weights, you know, at some point, eventually they may get to that point where they’re at that bodybuilder level.

Um, they gotta do some work in order to get there. And I think that’s, that’s maybe kind of the point you’re, you’re trying to drive at. Right?

Bona Normandeau: Yeah. And, and the thing is, is they, but they have to do the work that like they have to do the work on themselves. You know, watching the other person do it is, is not going to. You know, it’s not going to get them stronger. They actually have to do the [00:37:00] work. So I love that comparison, by the way, I’ve never made that.

Like I always talk about, you know, like increase your happiness muscle, but that’s, that’s brilliant. I love that. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, and, and it. It kind of makes sense because even the bodybuilder, like the person who is in that peak physical condition, who can Lift a truck over their head or something, you know, something crazy. Um, if they stopped exercising and stopped lifting weights, eventually their muscles start to kind of wear down and they’re not as strong as they once were, um, you know, over time, they’re going to start to get weaker and weaker and weaker and, um, that they lose some of that.

And so, so I think on the other extreme is if. You are generally a happy person. You know how to bounce back from those bad situations and be happy, but you find yourself dwelling in sadness and things like that. You’re going to start to lose that muscle, [00:38:00] um, and, and get, get yourself pulled back down into that, that other extreme, um, which obviously is not where you want to be.

Um, but yeah, I guess think of it like bodybuilding, like you’re going to do the work. You’re going to see the results. If you don’t do the work, you’re. Going to see, you’re also going to see the results. It’s just not going to be the results you want. Right. Yeah, exactly. Um, so along your happiness journey, um, have you found any unexpected bonuses?

Like, like things that you didn’t expect were going to happen to you, but here we are and it happened and now, now there’s, there’s this nice, happy little bonus that, that came along with it.

Bona Normandeau: Yeah. There’s two actually, Scott. Um, the first one is, uh, so when I was starting my podcast originally, it, it really was, um, it was almost therapy for me because I was just sharing with people what I’d [00:39:00] learned, you know, and they say, if you can teach it, you really, You really learn it. And so I was doing that.

And what happened was, uh, I did some research and somebody said, well, add a Facebook group to it. So you’re not just some crazy lady talking to herself in the closet kind of thing. And so I started a Facebook group. And so that because, you know, like when you’re in your podcast booth, you know, it, there’s not a huge crowd around you.

Right. Um, and, and so what happened is, is I started this Facebook group and I started, it created a community and I found other people who were looking for similar things to me. And so I wasn’t alone. And that was, that’s so powerful knowing that there’s other people out there who. who feel like, you know, who, who understand when I talk about that big gaping hole and they’re able to discuss these things with me and share and celebrate when we figure stuff out or just when we realize that, yeah, I can do [00:40:00] this.

So that’s the first one. Community. I, I found people outside of my normal circle who are, you know, were going through similar things to me and, uh, wanted to go on their own journey. So that was neat. The other one. Is it changed the conversations that I was having with the people who were inside, you know, in my inner circle already.

So I started my podcast during, uh, COVID, right? Like I, I, I’d planned to launch the middle of March, 2020, and then the world shut down. And I, I thought, well, I can’t do this. Thank goodness for friends. You know, I just had a friend’s like, no, now is exactly when you need to do this. Um, but what it did is, I mean, so through 2020, the, the discussion at our family dinner table was about what I was learning and what I was trying.

And so my husband and our son and I, that, that was our discussion. And then, you know, when we visited with people, they’re like, You know, ’cause we did a lot of Zoom, uh, you know, game nights or catchups with friends and they’re like, they’d be [00:41:00] like, so the podcast and, and it just, instead of saying, oh Covid it is so long, and Oh whoa is me, it just changed the conversations that we were having and it became proactive as opposed to, this sucks.

Life is awful, you know, how long do you think we’re gonna be here? I mean, we still had that, but it was much shorter because then we switched to, you know, I listened to this podcast and we’re trying this, we’re trying something new, you know, um, and it was just, it was just empowering that, that is not something I would have foreseen at all.

I didn’t, you know, I didn’t know when I started this journey what was going to happen other than, uh, other than maybe I’d find one or two people, but the, the change in the conversations in the community were just huge gifts that I did not count on.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And the community I think is, is a big part of it because, uh, you, and it doesn’t have to be a, you know, a happiness community, like you had found that because that just happens to be your focus and that’s, that’s what your, [00:42:00] uh, that’s where your interests are. And so that’s the direction you took, but, um, you mentioned a whole slew of activities earlier, uh, you know, gardening and painting and, uh, you know, whatever the other things are that, that people do that they find happiness in, um, they’re.

If you are into gardening, guess what? There’s somebody else out there who also likes to garden and, you know, you can, I don’t know, you can get together and, you know, either garden together or, or just talk about gardening together, you know, meet up for coffee or, or something like that. And, um, you know, hopefully you both like coffee, but yeah, but.

You know, find those types of people, find that community. And you can now, in addition to doing that activity, you can talk about that activity and, or, or share experiences with those people in that community. Um, you know, if you like to go bike riding, you can go bike riding together instead of alone and, you know, things like that.

Right. [00:43:00] So, so that’s, um, that is a nice, like happy little bonus that you get from focusing on these types of. Activities and the things that bring you happiness and joy is you, you get to now find other people with similar interests and similar, um, likes and, and, uh, you know, things that bring them happiness.

And, um, you know, maybe they can help improve the way you do the thing that brings you happiness, right. And, and you can feed off of each other, right.

Bona Normandeau: Well, and I think that’s it because I think when, uh, when we connect with people, um, that’s powerful, you know, and, and I think finding positive connections is a happiness tool that I talk about all the time as well. And so, say for example, you realize that gardening is a recharge activity for you. Like you really enjoy it.

And then you, you meet someone else who does it. Well, it’s almost like an accountability buddy because then they’re going to be like, Hey, like, [00:44:00] do you want to do this together? So now you’re getting. Somebody who’s pulling you maybe outside of a, outside of, or out of your funk to go do something that really fills you up that maybe you wouldn’t have done on your own.

Like, it’s just nice having a partner or even just talking about it, right? Like it just, it can pull you out of your funk when you find that connection with other people who with shared interest, for sure.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, and so you’ve also talked about, uh, a happiness, uh, support team, uh, that I’ve kind of looked into your, uh, you know, kind of background and everything. You talk about that. Is this kind of along the lines of what you’re talking about? Is this something different?

Bona Normandeau: No, that’s exactly it. I think, um, I think it’s really important to, to realize, you know, it’s, We’re in this shared human experience. And so when we find people that we can talk to about what we’re going through, deepens the experience. So I had a couple of years ago, I started, as I was learning all this stuff, somebody’s like, can you package it up?

And so [00:45:00] I created a happiness challenge. And what happened is, is this group during COVID, this group of One of them said, I’m doing this. Who wants to do it with me? And like eight or 10 of them did it together and they just created a friend group, uh, like a group on Facebook Messenger. And they just started, you know, so one of the things I challenge people is gratitude.

And the more you find to be grateful, for the more beauty you’ll see in your life. And so I challenged people for 30 days to find three new things to be grateful for. And what that does is it takes you outside your comfort zone of just like, I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful for my house. I’m grateful for my family.

Like, not that you’re not grateful for those, but then to start realize all these other minute things in your life. And so what this group. Uh, taught me is, you know, they, they kept reporting in and they would see somebody else’s gratitude post for the day, like just in their small group and they’d be like, Oh yeah, what’s [00:46:00] mine?

I haven’t shared it yet. And just by sharing with each other, they got to enjoy the other person’s gratitude, but then they also got reminded, you know, to do their three gratitudes for the day. So it’s, when you find that group, um, And you’re inspired. I think that’s what we forget is sometimes, sometimes not every day these things are easy.

So being inspired or nudged by someone else just helps us stay on track and stay focused on what we can control instead of, you know, instead of seeing only the bad or the struggles in life, we get to see the good as well.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, and seeing other people’s, uh, the, uh, the things that other people are grateful for, um, is, is kind of a nice, uh, refresher to, to, to. Be like, wow, you know, that that’s, that’s good for them. I’m happy for them. I’m, I’m glad that they are, uh, able to experience whatever that, that thing is that they were grateful for.[00:47:00]

And, um, that just in and of itself is gotta lift your, your spirits a little bit, even if, even if you’re having a bad day, it’s like, Oh, you know what? You know, good for them. I’m happy that they got to experience this, you know, and it’s helpful if it’s a, you know, a friend or a relative or just someone who you, you care about because you want them to be happy.

You want them to experience good things too. Uh, I’m not saying that it necessarily has to be, uh, that, but, um, but, but I know like if, if my wife came to me, it’s like, I’m so happy that, you know, or I’m so grateful that, you know, fill in the blank, whatever it is, um. Well, I’m going to be happy for her, you know, like I just, I’m not going to be like, Oh, well, you know, good for you.

You, you had a good day and I’m having a bad day and you know, I’m not going to drag her down into the mud because I’m having a bad day. I’m going to be happy, you know, um, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to be like, Oh, well, you know, this is good. So, um, so yeah, that’s, uh, having that support team and, um, Have, I think accountability too is a [00:48:00] big piece of it.

Bona Normandeau: Yeah, sticking with something that we know is good for us isn’t, isn’t always easy. So it’s just like having a friend to meet at the gym, right? Like it’s just reminding you to do the things that, that are good for you. The other thing I was going to say is, um, the, you know, being happy for someone else, but also when we hear what other people are grateful for, It also reminds us not to take the little things for granted because when, when someone says, you know, like, um, uh, I had a stress free morning or my teenager gave me a hug this morning, you know, it just, it reminds you to appreciate the little things and focus on the little things because often when we get stuck in the busyness of life, we don’t slow down and appreciate All of our blessings.

We just think it’s always going to be like this and we all know it’s not, but there’s something in our brain that just pretends that, you know, this is the way it is and it’s always going to be like that. And it’s not like take time and, and, [00:49:00] you know, smell the roses, but like enjoy the little things.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And, you know, one of the things I was actually talking to a family friend, uh, just yesterday and, uh, his wife is going through some medical issues and not, not a great situation that, that she’s in. Um, and. Despite the fact that that’s, that’s a bad situation. You don’t want to, obviously you don’t want illnesses and things like that to come into play in your life.

But when you, you look at that situation, it kind of makes you grateful for the health that you do have. And, um, you know, so even in a bad situation, you can still pick something out of that and say, well, I’m, I’m grateful that. You know, fill in the blank of whatever that situation is, what, you know, the, the opposite of whatever that person is going through, I guess, uh, maybe is, you know, I’m grateful that I have my health and that my family is healthy and, um, you know, uh, obviously praying for the best in, in that, [00:50:00] that situation, but, um, you know, it makes you appreciate the, the, the health that you do have.

Um, and, and that’s, um, You know, it may, it may seem like it’s a small thing, um, but, but it is, it’s, it’s something that you can be grateful for.

Bona Normandeau: So true.

Scott DeLuzio: um, well, so it, it’s been really a pleasure speaking with you today and, and learning about what you do and how you’re helping people and everything. Um, I know there’s going to be some people who are going to be interested in your podcast.

I briefly mentioned it in the beginning, in the intro. Um, but could you remind the listeners about your podcast, what they can expect from it when they tune in?

Bona Normandeau: Yeah. So the podcast is called The Happier You and it comes out biweekly and it’s just, um, it’s a little, I hope it’s a little bit of sunshine to inspire you to, you know, find more joy in your life. And usually I give a challenge at the end of every podcast to say like, this is what [00:51:00] was talked about today.

Is there a way you can add more of this in your life or try this? So it’s a mix of solo casts where it’s just me sharing something that I’m learning and thinking about. But also interviewing people who help people, you know, they have ideas, they have theories, they, um, they’re in a service industry that just to remind us that we can choose, we can ask for help, uh, we can choose joy.

So yeah, it’s a mix of both, but generally it’s just trying to inspire you to figure out how to live your best life by trying new things.

Scott DeLuzio: And, uh, you know, we were talking earlier about, uh, trying those new things and, and figuring out what, what is that thing that, what’s that first step or what’s that next step? If I tried that first thing and it didn’t work for me, what’s that next step? Um, I’ve, for everybody out there, who’s, who’s like overwhelmed by all the steps that they could be taking, they don’t know what to do.

I’m just going to give you right now, go check out the podcast. Uh, go listen to [00:52:00] that because you’re based on what you’re saying here. We’re you’re given, uh, basically little challenges, many challenges. And it’s just saying, Hey, go try this. Um, and you know, it’s, it’s fine if it doesn’t work, it’s fine. If it, if it does wonderful, keep doing that, you know, but, but at least now you’re, you’re.

You’re hearing these things and, and you’re getting some inspiration of, um, you know, things to try. And even if it’s not the thing that you specifically talk about, maybe it sparks an idea in somebody’s head, uh, for something else that maybe is similar, but not exactly what you’re talking about. Um, great.

Go, go try that thing and see if that works right. And, um, you know, there’s no, there’s no judgment there or anything. It’s, it’s just do the thing that, that you think, um, is going to work and just keep trying and don’t, don’t give up. So before we wrap up this episode, um, speaking of trying new things and, uh, you know, Happiness and everything.

I think humor is probably one of the best, uh, best medicines [00:53:00] when, when it comes to, uh, you know, sadness and, and things like that. I like, I like to, um, end each episode with a little bit of humor, uh, to, to hopefully, um, you know, put a smile on, on somebody’s face out there. Um, you know, that may be the only smile they have today.

And, um, you know, even if the joke falls flat that I tell, um, you can at least laugh at me and that’s fine. And I don’t care. I can laugh at me and that’s fine. And so, so can you. Um, so I’m going to, I’m going to give you a quick joke here and hopefully it makes, makes folks laugh. Hopefully I, the delivery is, is good.

So, um, so there’s a man and a woman, they’ve been married for more than 60 years. Uh, they shared everything. They talked about everything. They kept no secrets from each other, except that the old woman, she had a shoe box on top of her closet and she told her husband. Never open it or never ask her about it, uh, about what’s inside of the shoe box.

And for all these years, he [00:54:00] never really thought about the box. He just put it out of his mind. Uh, but one day the old woman got very sick and the doctor said she wasn’t going to recover. Um, and while the husband was trying to sort out all the, all of their affairs, he, uh, asked. The wife about the shoe box and brought it down to her bedside.

And she agreed that it was time that she should, uh, share what was inside of the box. And when he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling 95, 000. And he asked her about, you know, what’s going on with all of this money and the dolls. And she said, when we were about to get married, my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage is to never argue.

She told me that if I ever got angry. With you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll. And the man was, the husband was so moved. He had to fight back the tears because there’s only two little dolls in this box. And that meant to him that she had only been angry with him two times in all of those [00:55:00] years.

And he burst with happiness and he said, well, that explains the doll. But what about all of this money? Where did it come from? And she goes, Oh, that’s the money I made from selling all the dolls.

Bona Normandeau: That’s awesome, Scott. I love that.

Scott DeLuzio: So

Bona Normandeau: So

Scott DeLuzio: anyways, hopefully that made some other, other folks laugh. Um, I thought, I thought it was pretty. Pretty clever. Um, anyways, um, thank you for taking the time to join us on the show. Um, I really do appreciate it. And I appreciate, uh, what you are doing now to help other people find, uh, that, that spark, find their happiness, um, and, and get back on the right track.

Uh, really do. I think it’s great work that you’re doing. So thank you.

Bona Normandeau: Thanks, Scott. And thanks for having me on. It’s been really fun, uh, you know, geeking out over happiness talk.

Scott DeLuzio: You bet.

Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly [00:56:00] back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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