Hoda Kotb On Getting Happy

There are few public figures we love as wholeheartedly as “Today Show” Co-Host Hoda Kotb. Her energy, intelligence, and good humor are always welcome as we start the day. We jumped at the chance to talk to her about her inspiring new book “Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us The Way.” It explores the lives of people who have taken an unexpected fork in the road, yet ended up exactly where they are meant to be. 

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire

Q: This book is about the fascinating paths of a few individuals. How did you figure out that these people were the subjects you wanted to focus on for the book?

We cast a wide net. We wanted people who fit in certain categories: someone who wasn’t in the right place where they wanted to be professionally, someone who wasn’t in the right place where they wanted to be physically. Sometimes it’s spiritually, other times it’s personally. In all of our lives we wonder at some point, “Am I in the right spot, here?” You’re not always sure. Sometimes you wind up somewhere just by circumstance. You know, you grew up in a city so you go to the college nearby, you meet the guy who happened to be across the street. Everything just happens in a way because it’s around you, and maybe you’re not quite sure you are in your sweet spot.

This is about people who took a risk and found their sweet spot. They weren’t forced to make hard choices, through illness or natural disaster or something like that. They just chose. That’s what inspired me about the people in our book.

For instance, everything in Michelle’s background suggested she was not going to have a great life. Her own guidance counselors told her that basically she’s a loser and won’t amount to anything. This kid pushes through and winds up at Harvard. How does that happen and what is she made of that’s different? How did she find her spot and pursue a seemingly impossible dream? When you read these stories you might say to yourself, “Wait, if they can do it then I can do this too.” Whatever your “this” is, you feel like you can achieve it.

How did each of these people relate to you personally, and where are you in relationship to where you thought you would be?

Each story has its own little connect. I really related to Craig and Kathy, the couple who felt like they had it all. Look, they’re skiing the slopes in Aspen, money is not an object, and they can do whatever they want for the rest of their lives and not worry. Most people say, “If I could just have that, my life would be perfect.” I think they didn’t know what they didn’t know; they didn’t have what they didn’t have. That they adopted all those children late in life was heartening. Sometimes you think, “That’s not in the cards for me,” for whatever reason. For me it was through illness, divorce and just life. When you meet them you realize, well, it can be in the cards for me too.

Sometimes when you strive for a carefree life, you discover your life is not be as rich as it could be. You found your place and didn’t think you had room, and now you can’t imagine your life without children or whatever it is that enriched it. I think for Michelle, look, if you’ve been rejected a number of times you sort of feel her pain. Not to the degree that she felt it obviously, because she had the odds stacked against her, but when I was looking for a job, 27 news directors told me no to my face. Like, “Hi, you’re not good. Move on.”

Hearing these stories, you understand what they must feel like and you also know how sweet it is at the end. If I had gotten the first job I applied for, then maybe I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I don’t think I would’ve had the appreciation of it all, but because I was beaten back a bunch of times, I’ve become more grateful. You feel lucky and blessed to be somewhere, as opposed to, “Of course I deserve this; I studied hard.” So did everybody, big deal.

On your hard days, the days you feel far from your path, what do you do to get yourself back in a good place?

Usually if I get off track, it’s because I’m forgetting how blessed and lucky I feel. First thing in the morning, I try to scribble in a journal real quick, literally for 10 minutes or less. I write three things I’m grateful for and one great thing that happened in the last 24 hours. The one great thing can be small, or it can be big, and I think that helps me right the ship. For example, I had a meaningful conversation with a stranger on the street. Or I’m running in the park and I’m about to stop, when an old guy throws his fists up and yells, “Keep going, keep going.” You go, “Oh my God, yes, I’m going to keep going.”

If I go to bed in a bad mood, instead of going, “Oh God” when I wake up and remember the argument at work or some unpleasant thing or the demotion or whatever, literally if you write down those three things your brain starts to change. That way, you start thinking about the positive. You start looking for the good things in the course of your day. That usually works for me. That and wine … and good music. Good music works too.

What were your three things this morning?

My three things today … My sister called me and she was in the best mood. Whenever she’s in a good mood, I get in a good one too. She called to talk about how Mom felt great and she felt great; I remember that changed my day. And I spoke to my best friend Karen, and we had this long spontaneous discussion just about life. What was the next… Oh! I don’t know if I should tell you this…

Please do then…

Well… I was looking for an apartment with my boyfriend yesterday, and it was really fun! I wasn’t sure if it was going to feel fun or feel like uh-oh, but it felt fun. So that was on the list.

What was the one great thing that happened?

I can’t even remember now. I know it was something small. It’s always the little things that make you feel really good, like “Okay! Yes!” You know?

Hoda’s new book, “Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us The Way“, is out January 5th. See more of her on the “Today Show.” 

You May Also Like

45 Responses

  1. Randye Goldenberg

    The book sounds inspiring. Wish my daughter could have it today. She needs it. If I lived closer to het, I’d buy it and bring it to her.

  2. Jerri G

    Yes, let’s each write down our three grateful things and one great thing every day! So positive! Join me!

  3. Ann

    Love Hoda, such an inspiration, at least to me, and probably others. I will get her book on my kindle if it comes
    On my device. A smile a day, goes a long way!

  4. I have always questioned how you were allowed to drink on the air. Have viewers ever indicated they thought this was offensive. I for one, do not! I think it loosens you up! Have either one of you become “tipsy” on the air. I record your show each day…it definitely lightens up my day.

  5. Sharilyn Truba

    I like your show but when you have a guest on, it seems as if the interview when on your show is always crowded for time and you don’t have enough time with him/her. Is there anyway the producers can lengthen the time in such cases, and leave other things out that might not be “as high regard to the watcher” I love your Thursday make overs. It gives women a lift that they can be better if they take some time with themselves. I wonder about the wine thing…. are we encouraging the stay at home people to drink during the daytime hours, when maybe we should reserve our glass of wine for something special as a night out on the town?

  6. I’m more than happy to find this great site. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!!

    I definitely really liked every part of it and
    I have you bookmarked to see new things in your site.

  7. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You
    have done a outstanding job!

  8. I do trust all the ideas you’ve introduced in your post.

    They are very convincing and can certainly work.
    Nonetheless, the posts are very short for newbies.
    May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  9. My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right.
    This put up actually made my day. You cann’t consider simply how
    much time I had spent for this information!

  10. Hi there, so thanks for your article, it really usefull and helpfull for me. I have found this information at everywhere i can but the result is nothing. But when i read your article, is the only one brought me these information clearly and most exactly. I just want to encourage you: Keep doing this and write more articles like this in future. Thank you so much.

  11. Hi! I accidently suffered this forum and read your post. Its actually an interesting topic. These information you mentioned is not very popular on the internet and not many people know. So keep improve this topic in future and write more about it. I will always here to support you. Thank you again.

  12. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you will be a great
    author. I will always bookmark your blog and may come
    back from now on. I want to encourage continue your great work, have a nice weekend!

  13. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout
    out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your articles.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that
    go over the same subjects? Thanks a ton!

  14. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
    Does one offer guest writers to write content for you personally?
    I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write regarding here.
    Again, awesome web log!

  15. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate
    to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking
    and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share
    this blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  16. Is there anyway the producers can lengthen the time in such cases, and leave other things out that might not be “as high regard to the watcher” I love your Thursday make overs. It gives women a lift that they can be better if they take some time with themselves. I wonder about the wine thing…

  17. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your content
    seem to be running off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do
    with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon.

  18. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that
    you should write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject
    but typically people do not discuss these topics. To the next!
    All the best!!

  19. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the future.
    Many thanks

  20. This design is steller! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to
    start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic
    job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  21. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  22. Everything is very open with a really clear description of
    the issues. It was definitely informative. Your website is
    extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  23. I like the valuable information you supply in your
    articles. I will bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly.
    I’m moderately sure I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  24. My brother suggested I might like this website.
    He was totally right. This post actually made my day.
    You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info!