The main thing I've learned about what makes for a happy life, right up there with good health and lots of love, is gratitude. —Trista Sutter
Infertility issues. Heartbreak. Stress. Deadlines.
This list of life events doesn't necessarily invoke thoughts of gratitude, but for the first bachelorette to star on the popular ABC show "The Bachelorette," they are the very things that move her to say "Thank you."
Trista Sutter has made it her campaign to find something to be grateful for every day, and now she even has a book, titled "Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart," to illustrate her thoughts about grateful living and the power of daily thankfulness.
"The main thing I've learned about what makes for a happy life, right up there with good health and lots of love, is gratitude," Sutter wrote in the first chapter of her book.
Her book contains advice, backed up with relevant research and stories about people Sutter has either known personally or learned of through others on her journey to a more grateful life. She said she chose to not only draw on her own life experiences, but also include the experiences of others to help people put the problems they are dealing with in perspective.
"Even if you're going through a really difficult time, there are people who have gone through those things and can help you realize it's OK," Sutter said in an interview.
The book contains chapters with titles such as "A Conscious Choice and The Business of Being Happy." At the end of every chapter, she includes what she calls "Happily Ever Actions" that give suggestions for cultivating a more grateful heart.
"It's all about consciously choosing your attitude," Sutter said. "You can design your path with attitude."
She includes tidbits about her marriage with Ryan Sutter, whom she met in 2002 on the first season of "The Bachelorette." Sutter also writes about the heartbreak she experienced being the second runner-up in the first season of "The Bachelor."
The book is actually the first real long-form writing Sutter has done, though she has written a column for Redbook magazine and dabbled a bit in the blogosphere. Sutter said writing was never a passion, but she wrote this book on the recommendation of her literary agent. The project took her about two years to write, because at the same time she had a working husband and her two children in her care.
She says she has received positive response and is proud of her accomplishment.
"People told me it's changing their lives and it has helped them through difficulties," Sutter said. "That, to me, is so incredibly touching."
Even people close to her have the read the book and are reaping the benefits of a grateful attitude, she said. They include her husband, Ryan, a firefighter in Colorado where the two have made their home.
"I think he's really changed his outlook," Sutter said. "He's really trying to embrace a grateful heart and be grateful for the little things."
The two celebrated their 10-year anniversary on Dec. 6, a feat that many other couples who were formed through "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette" can't brag about.
For the past five years, Sutter has also been tweeting and posting her favorite part of the day with the hashtag #favpartsofday as well as writing about her struggles via blogs. She's written about infertility and difficult pregnancies.
"During that time, I got letters from not only friends but also from people I had never met who wished me well and thanked me for sharing my story — something many in the public eye are understandably hesitant to do for fear of judgment or to maintain some semblance of privacy," Sutter wrote in her book.
Sutter also works to teach her two children, Blakesley and Max, the power of gratitude. She said that in her opinion, this is best done by being a good role model. The family has a routine before the children go to sleep. Before bedtime, the children will say their prayers and state what Sutter calls their "magic words." The words are individual to each child and include things such as "I am brave" and "I am important."
They then tell Sutter their favorite parts of the day and talk about the positive things that happened.
"I feel like that's a good way to help your kids realize what they should be grateful for," said Sutter, who also tries to include her children in charitable work whenever possible.
Sutter said she hasn't been paying attention to how book sales are going, but she plans to spend the next 10 years being a doting soccer mom and trying to keep her house as happy as possible. She designs a line of picture frames, wall hangings and other various items called The Grateful Heart Collection for Glory Haus. Sutter plans to write children's books in the future.
The book contains no graphic images or inappropriate language. To learn more about Trista Sutter or her story, visit tristasutter.com.