If, like me, you’re desperate enough to know what being “pretty happy” feels like, you’ll try any celebrity scam.
But be warned that beyond the photos of actress Kate Hudson feeding chickens in frilly underwear and lounging half-naked on a boho-chic cushion, her new self-help book, Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body, involves a lot of work.
You will repeatedly turn to your “drawing board,” a diary of sorts where you jot down what you’ve eaten on any given day; how much you’ve exercised; what your energy levels are like; what you say to yourself when you look in the mirror.
You will study the configuration of your bowel movements and “freewrite” about their frequency. You will take multiple quizzes to determine your body type, stress levels, and how mindful you are.
By Day Two of a week spent trying out Hudson’s “pretty happy” lifestyle, I was crafting lengthy, detailed responses to questions like “Are your needs being met?” “How did you feel when you woke up today?” and “If your mother was Goldie Hawn, would you be pretty happy?”
To be fair to Hudson, she is not alone in pursuing this path.
In the decade since Gwyneth Paltrow launched GOOP—a platform where she’s espoused the transcendental benefits of the “Clean” program, conscious uncoupling, and vaginal steaming—the phenomenon of the celebrity turned lifestyle guru has become a well-worn cliché.
We’ve seen Alicia Silverstone rebrand herself as The Kind Mama and extol the virtues of premasticating her child’s food; Jessica Alba’s vision of The Honest Life, a frankly terrifying book about how everything in your home is flammable or poisonous; and Blake Lively selling $25 wooden spoons alongside “amp it up” playlists on Preserve, her now-shuttered website devoted to anything that fit the elusive “artisanal” descriptor.
Hudson’s Pretty Happy, by contrast (or really not), is a guide to achieving happiness through diet, exercise, mindfulness, and Ayurvedic medicine, “an ancient Indian approach to the integration of holistic mind and body health,” as Hudson’s ghostwriter puts it.
“I hope this isn’t disappointing,” Pretty Happy begins, “but this book is not meant to be some kind of weird tell-all. Rather, it’s a tell-true, focused on how I figured out how to connect to myself, understand what my body needs, and put that information together so I no longer have to worry about or overthink how I eat or how I work out and for how long.”
If you thought Kate Hudson was naturally slender and relatively carefree, you were right. But in her tell-true, the 36-year-old actress explains she’s struggled with body image issues as much as the next girl.
She just knows how to manage them now—and she’s sharing her secrets so that you, too, can be pretty happy.
One of the keys to self-love and contentment is being in tune with your body, which, Hudson admits, “may sound hokey” but is really just science, as true as the laws of gravity.
So to start, you will determine your mind-body “type,” or Ayurvedic “dosha,” based on a series of seemingly arbitrary and occasionally foolish multiple-choice questions. (“When you run, what animal do you most closely resemble?”)
The three main mind-body doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha (though everyone possesses some elements of all three), and Hudson’s first quiz says I am “generally Kapha in body and temperament.”
Kaphas, Hudson explains, are “known for their larger body size, big bones, and tendency to gain weight.” They also tend to be “grounded and steady,” but when out of balance they “will eat too much... and slide toward depression.”
She is not far off: In college, I looked like someone who excelled in pie-eating contests.
I am less zaftig now, perhaps due in part to increased amphetamine consumption and fewer nights spent binge-drinking cheap vodka and devouring Domino’s Deep Dish pizzas.
At no time in my life has anyone described me as “grounded and steady.” Quite the opposite: My high school European history teacher nicknamed me “rampant id.” I’m neurotic, emotional, and anxious, but probably “pretty happy” compared to most basket cases.
Pretty Happy is currently vying for first place at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, where it’s sandwiched between two books by self-help legend Marie Kondo.
And Hudson is certainly living her fresh-faced reality. If you’ve recently scanned the Daily Mail’s “sidebar of shame,” a repository of stars looking “worse for wear” after a night of clubbing and going “makeup free” to lunch, you’ve likely noticed that Kate Hudson looks, well, pretty happy these days.
Here she is, “braless” and glowing at the American Cinematheque Awards this fall; loving life in Aspen with mom Goldie Hawn and another famous mother-daughter pair, Melanie Griffith and Dakota Johnson, over the winter holidays.
Maybe it’s her rumored fling with 23-year-old Nick Jonas (he recently gushed about their “beautiful connection”), or her new animated role in Kung Fu Panda 3.
But the Almost Famous star and single mother of two says it’s all about body positivity and peace of mind.
“With a lot of hard work and dedication in the last three years, I have finally found harmony,” she writes.
Kate Hudson’s prescription for a healthy, happy lifestyle does not require throwing away your tampons, à la Alicia Silverstone, who claimed they contained “fertility-knocking phthalates.”
Nor does it endorse a Mugwort V-Steam at the nearest Korean spa, which Gwyneth said “balances female hormone levels” and, one assumes, smooths out all the folds and creases.
But Hudson does evangelize about various pseudoscientific practices, like cleansing, which is what our kidneys are for. (Hudson insists cleansing isn’t “a way to diet” but “to get rid of toxins and the buildup of waste products that our organs—the liver, the kidneys, and the colon—can’t get rid of on their own.”)
Still, Hudson’s lifestyle regime forced me to confront my biggest fears, or at least write them down—“cockroaches,” “vomiting,” and “being perennially unhappy” among them.
Hudson told me to “stare them in the face” and asked me to “rate them.” Then: “Do you think that if you lose weight, you’ll still be unhappy?”
By the end of the week, I found that being “pretty happy” too often wound its way back to weight and body image issues in Hudson’s Pretty Happy.
That said, I’ve never been more intimately familiar with the intricacies of my digestive system. Put another way, I was extremely in tune with my body—and that, according to Hudson, is the first step to a healthier, happier life.