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“Guardians Of The Galaxy” Director James Gunn Reflects On The Keys To Post-Success Happiness

In a candid Facebook post, director James Gunn talks about what has and hasn’t changed since Guardians of the Galaxy, and how to be happier.

“Guardians Of The Galaxy” Director James Gunn Reflects On The Keys To Post-Success Happiness
[Photo: Jay Maidment, Courtesy of Marvel]

When Co.Create spoke with director James Gunn around this time last year, he was about to drop magnum on us all, and he knew it. He didn’t know to what end, though.

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His first movie for Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy, had been testing well. Early reviews had it pegged as a quirky underdog success story. Even the most generous estimates didn’t predict it would end up the crowd-pleasing tour de force it became: the #1 movie of the year in the U.S., earning over 3/4 of a billion dollars worldwide. Where does one go after such a creative, professional, financial, and critical hit? Well, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, obviously, slated for 2017. Figuring out what to do, personally, after such an unimpeachable homerun, though, is a challenge Gunn is working through now.

The director shared his thoughts on the matter with his Facebook followers, and it’s like the message of Infinite Jest, distilled to a few key points. The advice is worth heeding for anyone who doesn’t feel 100% fulfilled by any kind of achievement, whether they’ve just won an office Super Bowl pool or conquered the galaxy.


James GunnPhoto: Matt Sayles

5 STUPID THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPIER

Today is my birthday. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on what makes me happy. In part this is because I’m getting older, and it’s time I quit messing around and focus on what’s really worth doing in life. And in part it’s because I’ve had a big boost in my career over the past year or so and I’ve come to realize this has had almost no affect on my personal level of happiness. Yes, I’ve had some great highs, but the overall rise in stimulus in my life can cause a lot of anxiety I didn’t have before.

So if money doesn’t make me happy and sex doesn’t make me happy and fame doesn’t make me happy, what makes me happy? And the problem with my conclusions are that the keys to my happiness–or at least the keys to my happier–are really BORING. They’re dumb things I’m almost embarrassed to say out loud. But, at least for me, they work, so, what the hell, I thought I’d share them with you. Here’s what I try and do every day:

  1. Meditate for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Exercise for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Work on something productive for at least 3 hours.
  4. Get at least 10 minutes of sunlight.
  5. Have one real, honest conversation with a friend for at least 15 minutes.

Many of these things I do for much longer (I usually meditate for 22 minutes, work out for 30, and God knows how many hours I work), but these seem to be the minimums for me. I also find it good to take occasional days off from work, but the rest I can do every day.

These things don’t cure sadness, but they help me to deal with it in a more calm manner. Also, I want to note, like so many of us, I have suffered from bouts of depression. For me, it has usually been situational depression, and these activities help–but they are also better for preventing me from becoming depressed, than getting me out of depression once I’m in it. For that, I personally need hardcore therapy. For others, whose depression may be more biologically based, they may need medical treatment.

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Anyway, I’m a little embarrassed even posting this, but maybe there’s someone out there who it will help, even a little, even just to think about how we have a say in our own joy. I know I’ve often thought of happiness as something that happens. But I’ve come to believe, like physical fitness or financial success, it’s something that requires work and dedication.

Have a great day, everyone.

– james

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