By Erin Pittman
If you’ve found yourself spending more time with books in 2020, local author Katherine Gotthardt has published one to add to your reading pile — and one that provides more than just a simple escape from daily life. For those feeling stagnant at home or work and lacking motivation and inspiration in their career,
she offers tips, exercises and creative pieces to help readers find the happiness they’re searching for.
Get Happy, Dammit — Staying Inspired and Motivated in an Often-Unhappy World packs a punch with easy-to-read chapters that include insights, exercises and poetry, all designed to build inspiration and motivation, two elements necessary for happiness, according to Gotthardt. The book offers philosophy, psychology and practical applications that Gotthardt says stem from ideas she used in the classroom and daily living. Many of the exercises lean heavily on writing.
“From teaching and from doing a lot of work in my own life, I know how important inspiration and motivation are and how they can lead to greater happiness. I wanted to share what I’ve learned and help as many people as possible,” she said.
The Contents “At Work”
Gotthardt explains she wrote Get Happy Dammit because in the past, she had encountered too many unhappy people in a few different workplaces. She found herself scratching her head and wondering how such successful professionals could be so miserable. What was wrong? Was it the environment? Life circumstances? Attitude? What were these people not getting from work that they needed?
“These were high-performing folks who, in spite of their successes, just seemed like they were trudging through the days without any purpose. They were down. They hated their jobs. They hated the routine. They said outright that they were not inspired or motivated. It was disconcerting. But it made me think about times when I was down, what I had to do to get out of it, and it encouraged me to get writing about ways to improve quality of life,” she said.
Gotthardt has been asked why a book was her answer.
“First, I have a passion for writing. Second, if I can help others by using my passion, everyone wins. Third, by telling the world my truth, I was able to celebrate myself, my life and the people who have helped me along the way,” she said.
Once the book came out, Gotthardt did something she rarely does after publishing. She went back and reread the chapters.
“Mostly, I did this to prep for a discussion group, but in reexamining what I’d written, I realized that not only had I addressed some barriers to staying inspired, two ingredients for happiness in life, but also, I had uncovered what really made me happy at work, beyond a good salary and benefits,” she said.
The book features a chapter titled “Rediscovering Your Core” all about core values, looking at personal beliefs and who we are or want to be based on those beliefs. Wrapped into these beliefs are things we think we need — core needs.
“I recognized that for many people, myself included, work can become an exercise in negativity if we are unable to have one or more core needs met. Beyond receiving a living wage, many of us need the ability to follow our passions, align with the organization’s mission and celebrate authenticity,” she said.
Within the book, readers will find deeper exploration of each of those three areas and explanations of why they are important and how they are intertwined. For example, Gotthardt says if we can follow our passions, we work harder, which helps the overall mission. If we can practice authenticity, we can better articulate our passions and use our talents to help make a meaningful impact through the organization.
“Not everything we do at work will be motivating or inspiring, and it can take a lot of energy to get where we want to be mentally, emotionally and professionally,” Gotthardt said. “But that does not mean we should settle for being chronically unhappy. The key is to keep thinking about what motivates and inspires us and how we can get our core needs met.”
Gotthardt encourages everyone to keep sorting through the complexities and exploring new ways of looking at things. “Then when someone asks, ‘Why do you do what you do at work?’ you can smile and say, ‘I’d be happy to tell you,’” she said.
Who Is Katherine Gotthardt?
Gotthardt considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read. Originally from Massachusetts, she completed her Master’s in Education with a writing concentration at Cambridge College.
She moved to Colorado Springs for 18 months, then to Northern Virginia. She is the current president and a founding member of Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. She has been a Prince William County Poet Laureate nominee and was the winner of InsideNoVa’s 2019 and 2020
Best of Prince William award in the author category. In 2020, she won the Loudoun County Library Foundation’s first place award for free verse in their annual Rhyme On poetry contest. Then she took home another award in 2020 — the Prince William Arts Council and Poet Laureate Circle trophy for Outstanding
Poetry Project of the Year. This award is given to a Poet Laureate nominee for completing extensive community work in the literary arts, which Gotthardt did by spearheading Write by the Rails’ Poetry Around Town area poetry installation.
Besides being published in dozens of journals and anthologies,cGotthardt has authored books for adults and children, includingcPoems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World,cApproaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Underca Lilac, Late April and the Amazon best seller, A Crane Named
Gotthardt is a full-time marketing writer for an IT company. In her freelance life, when she is not practicing her creative writing, she writes for Prince William Living.
Erin Pittman is Editor in Chief of Prince William Living. She’s been a writer for more than 10 years, but a lover of words her entire life. In these colder months, you’ll find her snuggled up with her yellow Lab, Wilson, desperately trying to finish reading the latest best-seller while hiding from the demands of her three (wonderful) children. Reach her at [email protected].