Hi, this is Morty Lefkoe with another edition of the weekly podcast, Conversations with Top Personal Development Bloggers. Every week, we have a conversation with a blogger who has a slightly different take on personal development. There’s so much valuable material being offered by personal development bloggers. This is the best place to find out which ones might provide you with just what you’re looking for. What’s unique about each blogger, why they started writing their blog, how their personal experiences inform their writing, why you ought to be reading their blog, and lots more.
Today, I have the pleasure to talk to Britt Reints. How do you pronounce your last name?
Britt Reints: Reints, like a pint of ice cream.
Morty Lefkoe: Reints. R-E-I-N-T-S. Your blog is called InPursuitofHappiness.com.
Britt Reints: .net, but yes.
Morty Lefkoe: Good to talk to you, and thank you for being the guest on our show today.
Britt Reints: Thank you for having me!
Morty Lefkoe: Where are you from? Where am I talking to you from?
Britt Reints: I am talking to you from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m officially from here, as of about two years.
Morty Lefkoe: Britt, what is your full name? Brittany? Or is your name actually Britt?
Britt Reints: Just Britt.
Morty Lefkoe: Okay, my daughter is Brittany, but she uses Britt as her nickname.
Britt Reints: I always say I liked Brittany, but my mom was lazy. Actually, she was a ginormous Rod Stewart fan, and he was dating a woman named Britt Ecklund when I was born.
Morty Lefkoe: I remember her. She was a movie star.
Britt Reints: Well, she was a professional girlfriend.
Morty Lefkoe: Oh, okay.
Britt Reints: But yes, my mom would say, “Oh, she was [so vacuous 00:01:40].” I grew up and turned to Google to find out more about my namesake. I was like, “Mom!” Yeah, she named me after a groupie.
Morty Lefkoe: Okay. Well, could be worse.
Britt Reints: Yeah.
Morty Lefkoe: Let’s start at the beginning. What was the impetus to start writing your blog?
Britt Reints: Actually, I was just telling a friend of mine this story today. I started writing the blog around the time that I was going through a separation with my husband, and we were going through … I had a personal blog before that, and I just did it because it was fun, and I like to write. But, about the time I was going through my separation with my husband. We actually got back together and we were going through marriage counseling, and I was going through my own therapy. Like I said, I had a personal blog for a long time, so it was just the most natural thing in the world for me to start writing about those experiences and what I was learning.
A big part of it was, I remember when we were in marriage counseling, we both had this shock and awe that this information was out there and we didn’t have it. I tell people … I describe it as, I felt like we had been trying to build a house for 10 years, and then all of a sudden, somebody walked up and gave us a hammer and nails and was like, “Here, try this!” We were like, “Oh my gosh, you’re right, this is so much easier!” I was just astounded by what a huge impact some of these tools, some of the stuff that we were learning, was having, and I wanted to talk about that and share that with everybody.
Morty Lefkoe: Great. How long have you been writing In Pursuit of Happiness, then?
Britt Reints: It will be … it actually started January 2011, so it will be 4 years in January.
Morty Lefkoe: Great, thank you. Do you have any particular background in personal development other than the marriage counseling?
Britt Reints: Not particularly, no, other than being one of those people who read all of my mom’s self-help books when I was in middle school and high school that I saw laying around. I was introduced to Marianne Williamson when I was a freshman in high school, so I always had an interest in that on a personal level. Other than that, it was really the counseling and therapy that was my first major introduction, I guess I would say.
Morty Lefkoe: What personal experiences have you had that have been useful? Your divorce and the marriage counseling. What other specific personal experiences have you had that you’ve been able to draw upon in writing your blog with advice for others?
Britt Reints: Well, I’m the type of person that, I’m a writer by nature. I think writers and creative-minded people, we tend to draw connections. We always look for connections and connecting the dots. Because that’s the way my brain works, every experience is the potential to have some kind of personal growth out of it. I remember writing a post after I had been combing my daughter’s hair, and it was tangly, and I was trying to explain to her that you can’t skip over it. You have to go through it a little bit at a time. That reminded me of, sometimes, the way you deal with big hurt. I grew up in a household with some issues, some domestic violence and addiction, and stuff like that.
I’ve had stuff happen to me, like anybody else. But, mostly … I gave a TED Talk, and when people would hear that I was giving a TED Talk, “Well, why you?” Mostly, I was a woman that was unhappy, and I decided I didn’t want to be unhappy anymore. I got very proactive about what it would take to make myself happier, and I did that, and I’m still doing that every day. I can say unequivocally that I am definitely happier. I can say now, with no hesitation, if somebody would say to me, “Are you happy? Are you living the life you’re supposed to be living?” I would absolutely say yes. That experience of getting from there to here and everything I do every day to stay here, those are my credentials.
Morty Lefkoe: That’s great! It’s not so much credentials, it’s just where do you get your ideas, the information, the messages you have. And, that you’re able to say you’re happy is a hell of a credential, in that most people are not able to say that. If you’ve reached that, that’s a major milestone.
Britt Reints: I have to say, I guess, partly because I had to work for it. I actually have depression. I take antidepressants for it. Living with depression makes you very aware of how you feel and how your brain works. The things that you have to do to survive and thrive with depression make you, I think, hyper-aware of all of those things. I have to. It’s something that I have to work at. It’s not easy for me.
Morty Lefkoe: Got it. Thank you. Have you done any analytics on your typical audience? Male, female, this country, other country, some ages? Any idea who your audience is?
Britt Reints: Yeah. It’s primarily women. I think it’s … I’m trying to remember the ages. I think it’s 25 to 45, is that an age?
Morty Lefkoe: Yep.
Britt Reints: Yeah. Primarily that. Primarily the United States, definitely, and after that, English-speaking countries. U.K., Australia. It’s the internet, so I definitely have an audience. Germany and Denmark and other flags pop up all the time. But, definitely primarily the U.S., and definitely primarily women, which makes sense. I’m a woman between the ages of 25 and 45 living in the U.S., and I think definitely, the majority of my audience are people who see themselves in me in some way.
Morty Lefkoe: Good. How would you describe the essence of your message?
Britt Reints: The essence of my message is, first of all, that your happiness matters. I wholeheartedly believe that happiness is something crucial to pursue. I think that your happiness is actually the universe giving you road signs. I like to call them hot and cold hints towards what your higher purpose is. You higher purpose isn’t just about you, it’s about also how you give back and how you serve. I think that happiness matters, and not just in the short term because you feel good. I think that pursuing happiness is the greatest thing that you can give back to your community. I think that’s how you figure that out. That’s, I think, the number one thing. It’s okay for you to be happy. Yes, by all means, please pursue happiness for your sake and for mine.
But, the other thing is, I’m really, really big on trusting yourself. I like to say I’m an expert on my own happiness, and my goal is to teach you how to be an expert on your happiness. I don’t believe that there’s one universal way to happiness that works for everybody all the time. I think that, ultimately, you know somewhere inside you what makes you happy, and the trick is to hear that voice and trust it.
Morty Lefkoe: Very good. It’s obviously a message that resonates. In less than 4 years, you’ve grown to have a very popular blog with a very nice sized audience, so your message is obviously resonating with a lot of people.
Britt Reints: Thanks.
Morty Lefkoe: How often do you post? How often do you write your blogs?
Britt Reints: I generally probably write about twice a week. I do one post on various topics, of either growth, relationships, lifestyle, gratitude, and then I also do one … I call them happiness interviews. It’s taking a look at … because happiness is not universal, it’s so unique, happiness is so unique, it’s important to me that people see all kinds of different versions of what happiness can look like. I don’t ever want to get … I want to remind people that I am not the only answer. I want to be careful of that. I write one post a week, and then I also post an interview once a week that share’s other people’s. They can be an expert in their field. It’s generally just regular, every day people, that I know or have been inspired by, that have a little bit of wisdom on happiness to share.
Morty Lefkoe: Somebody that you think is happy and has some ideas that they could share with others on what it takes to be happy.
Britt Reints: Yes. Exactly.
Morty Lefkoe: Wonderful! Basically, you’re giving your ideas each week and somebody else’s ideas, but both of them are on happiness and how to achieve happiness.
Britt Reints: Exactly!
Morty Lefkoe: Wonderful. Do you accept comments on your blog, generally?
Britt Reints: Usually, yep.
Morty Lefkoe: Do you have a chance to respond to them?
Britt Reints: I try.
Morty Lefkoe: I did, for a long time, and then at some point they started becoming too many, so I now try to answer anyone that asked a question that wants an answer, or posts something that requires, that should have a comment. But, those that are just commenting, “Here’s what I think,” or answering somebody else’s comment, it gets to the point where you could spend your entire life doing nothing but responding to comments.
Britt Reints: Yeah, I’ve kind of gone back and forth with that over the 9 years I’ve been blogging. Responding to everything, not responding, having comments open, not having comments open. The thing about my blog, I’ve noticed, is, it used to be all of the conversation was happening on the blog, but anymore, most of the conversation is happening on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m really accessible there. I also get a lot of email, and I always respond to email. I know that some people have different boundaries around their time than I do, and aren’t maybe as accessible in those areas. But, I actually find those interactions rejuvenating. I’m an extravert, so it’s not draining for me to respond to tweets and Facebook and stuff like that. Usually, I like that.
Morty Lefkoe: Okay, great. To the extent you’re familiar with other personal development bloggers, is there any way you could describe what might be unique about your blog? Obviously, your voice is different than my voice or anybody else’s, but is there anything specifically about what your focus is that you would say is unique compared to other people? If they’re interested in “X,” you’re the person to go to?
Britt Reints: Two things. One, my focus is very, very much on real-world application. I try really hard to avoid what I call “too much Airy Fairy,” which is difficult, because The Power of Now is my favorite book. I love the Airy Fairy to a certain extent, but I try really, really hard to make it acceptable, and to always bring it back to, “What does that look like in your day-to-day life?” So, if you are somebody who is very, very busy, and is looking for, “What’s something that I can do, even if I’m not a big self-help person?”
I wrote a book, and this was not my goal, but I noticed a lot of the reviews and feedback was, “This is a self-help book for people who don’t need self-help books.” So, I would say that. I would say that my blog is definitely personal development for people who don’t do personal development.
The other thing is, I tend to talk a lot and relate a lot to people who are living with depression, especially women.
Morty Lefkoe: Got it, very good. You mentioned Marianne Williamson, and The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle. Who would you say has influenced your thinking? Any particular role models?
Britt Reints: Definitely Eckhart Tolle. The Power of Now was very influential for me. That was huge. Actually, Stephen Covey, too. My family and I went on a year-long road trip, and at one point, I read out loud The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I made my family listen to that, because I thought it was that important. That was hugely, hugely influential to me. Marianne Williamson, actually, was a big one way back when. She was one of the … she helped lay the foundation for me respecting your own power and your own voice and your own intuition. That happened to me at a very young age. Even if I’ve gotten off course from it myself, there’s always been some root of that.
Morty Lefkoe: Wonderful, thank you. Do you have a long-term goal for your blog? Something you’d like it to accomplish?
Britt Reints: No.
Morty Lefkoe: Okay.
Britt Reints: No, I try not to get too caught up in it, because I think that my imagination is much smaller than what that or the universe or anything else could have planned. My goal is to just keep showing up, and offering what it feels like I’m supposed to offer. My goal is to help as many people as possible, but I haven’t put any numbers or anything on that.
Morty Lefkoe: Okay. You pretty much just answered my next question, but what is your mission in life? Do you have a vision for your life, but how does writing a blog contribute to it? You sort of just answered, but maybe not.
Britt Reints: I actually have a mission statement. That’s funny that you should say that. My mission is to know and love myself and to encourage others to know and love themselves better. That’s what it comes down to, for me.
Morty Lefkoe: And, your blog is a way of doing both of those.
Britt Reints: Absolutely. That’s the really cool thing about a blog, and, I think, especially the way I do it, it’s less how-to. I don’t do a lot of “This is exactly how to do this.” I try to share it from the perspective of, “We’re in this together. We’re both in the trenches.” I’m always still learning stuff navigate to this website. The week my book came out, my husband and I were fighting like crazy, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this is terrible.” There’s this book coming out, and I’m this expert, and I can’t stand to look at my husband right now. I try to keep that in mind.
Morty Lefkoe: What is the single most important thing you’ve told people that’s made a difference in their lives, do you think?
Britt Reints: The single most important thing I’ve told people is don’t should on yourself, and that has had far-reaching consequences. That’s probably the thing I get the most comments on, the most emails about. It’s a big talk of my TED Talk, and it’s that “should,” S-H-O-U-L-D, don’t should on yourself. That passes everything. What that is about is, when you say the word “should,” it’s usually a big red flag that we’re listening to external forces instead of our inner voice. I think that’s huge.
Morty Lefkoe: Very good, thank you. That does it, that specifically. I think we covered all of the bases. As sort of a final follow-up, is there anything else you’d like our audience to know about you or your blog that we haven’t covered? If somebody’s saying … you’d like people to know, “This is what I do, here’s what my blog offers, or here’s something about me,” that would give them a sense of who you are or what you have to offer? Or maybe not?
Britt Reints: Sure. I think the biggest thing with my life … I think that there are some people you read because they are really impressive and you admire them, and you aspire to be like them. For whatever reason, the message that I usually hear from people is, “If she can do it, so can I.” I’m not really sure what that says about me, but I always [inaudible 00:19:53] that my blog, I think of it as more inspirational than aspirational. I think that, like I said, it’s more of the “If she can do it, so can I.” It’s very down-to-earth and relatable. If that’s kind of what you’re looking for, and sometimes you get overwhelmed or discouraged by the stuff that seems so far beyond where you’re at right now, then I think I’m a good place to start.
Morty Lefkoe: Great! Well, thank you so, so much for stopping by and having a little chat with us today, and letting more of the personal development world find out more about you.
Britt Reints: Thank you! I’m excited to see if I meet new people from this. Like I said, I’m an extravert, so meeting new people and getting emails, I love that. I’m excited to see whose path I cross as a result of this.
Morty Lefkoe: Well, if you find yourself in San Francisco, I’d love to have you cross my path again. I’d love to sit down for coffee or lunch.
Britt Reints: I’m always looking for an excuse to come to San Francisco, so I’ll keep that in mind.
Morty Lefkoe: It’s a great place to visit for many different reasons. I’m told it’s the second most visited tourist city in the country, after New York City.
Britt Reints: After New York, yeah. It’s amazing. I love New York. I always say, if I had all the money in the world, I would live in New York or San Francisco, but I’m a writer, so I live in Pittsburgh.
Morty Lefkoe: Well, thank you again, Britt. If people are interested in finding your blog, it’s InPursuitofHappiness.com, right?
Britt Reints: No, it’s actually InPursuitofHappiness.net.
Morty Lefkoe: .net. Okay, excuse me. I’m glad you clarified that.
Britt Reints: That’s okay. It’s something I should have thought of when I was buying a URL 4 years ago.
Morty Lefkoe: InPursuitofHappiness.net is the right place to find you, and if they stop by Pittsburgh, that’s where you’re located.
Britt Reints: That is where I’m located.
Morty Lefkoe: Thank you so much for your time today. I look forward to talking to you again in the future, and I’m sure that my audience and a lot of other people who are interested in personal development can use a little bit of inspiration. If they’re interested in a little bit of inspiration, I think they ought to stop by your blog and get some.
Britt Reints: Thank you.
Morty Lefkoe: Have a great day.
Britt Reints: You too. Bye-bye.