Goldie Hawn has plenty of what presumably would make a person happy: gorgeous looks, money, a gorgeous beau, successful (and gorgeous) children, and an Oscar to boot.
But Hawn is quick to remind us that there are a lot of rich, gorgeous people who are not terribly happy.
"It's always a misconception because life is complex and people's worlds are challenging, personally and professionally," Hawn says. "So to think that because someone has fame, fortune and money that makes them happy, through studies and so forth, we know that's not true.
"So the more we talk about these things, the more it is important to interface with people and say, research shows that people who have enough money to get by — the ones who can pay their bills, their kids go to public school, they can ... put food on the table and pretty much meet their needs — they are about 1 percent less happy than the wealthiest people in the world.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
"So family, and connections and belongings and home and religion — belief, I'll call it — all of these things add up to a much happier person than notoriety."
Hawn will be at the Lexington Opera House on Friday evening for a sold-out talk about happiness.
That would seem like a logical topic for a woman who started her career on a show called Laugh-In. She went on to star in numerous hit movies, including her Oscar-winning turn in Cactus Flower (1969), Butterflies Are Free (1972), Shampoo (1975), Foul Play (1978), Private Benjamin (1980) and a title that should go over well in the Bluegrass, Wildcats (1986).
This trip, which also has Hawn visiting Horse Cave on Saturday and Louisville on Sunday, is only her second time in Kentucky. She says she has been invited to the Kentucky Derby, "but it didn't work into my schedule. I'd like to go sometime."
Whether it would make her happy would probably be a complicated question to answer compared to her reply when she was asked as an 11-year-old girl what she wanted to be.
She said, "I want to be happy," which at the time was "a feeling of joy, of well-being, of being connected," Hawn, 65, says.
Since then, Hawn says, she has learned that "50 percent of our happiness or our sense of the world and how we see it is hard-wired. But the other 50 percent can be nurtured, developed and modulated. So in understanding neuroscience and moving into it, which I've done over the last 15 years, I find the brain a very interesting organism, and it holds a lot of treasures that we are beginning to understand now."
Hawn doesn't talk about happiness and neuroscience regularly but says she enjoys opportunities like this weekend's event, presented by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, to get out and share some of what she has learned.
That learning doesn't come from a place of unhappy stardom. But she can look back on some of the highs of her career and better understand what it was that made her happy, such as when she won her Oscar for best supporting actress.
"The best part of winning my Academy Award was talking to my mom and dad," Hawn says, "and being with them, sharing it with them and knowing that it made them proud. That's what made me happy."