Trista Sutter & “The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart”

Our senior editor, Mia Weber, strikes a pose with Trista Sutter at the NYF offices.

Most people recognize Trista Sutter (nee Rehn) as the original Bachelorette from the seminal reality dating show “The Bachelorette.” Trista famously found love with firefighter Ryan Sutter and let her romance play out on TV and on the covers of magazines as she and Ryan tied the knot and eventually had two children–Max and Blakesley.

Now, Trista is a busy mom with a bustling life in Colorado. She’s a published author–Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart–and has a line of gratitude-themed home decor and gifts that she’s very proud of–the Grateful Heart collection from Glory Haus. This month, Trista’s book–which all about the power of positive psychology and the amazing impacts that genuine gratitude can have on a person’s life–hits stands in paperback with brand-new cover art.

To celebrate the paperback release, we caught up with loving mom Trista about giving thanks, raising kids,New Year’s resolutions, and what being the “OG” Bachelorette means to her!

Tell us what inspired you to undertake the challenge of writing a book?

Ha, it was a challenge—that’s for sure! I originally started with wanting to write a children’s book—it had been a dream of mine and now that I have kids, I read to them every night. I wanted to look into that so I got connected to a literary agent and she recommended that I write something for the adult atmosphere first. I didn’t want to write something that would be writing it to put my face on the cover. I wanted it to be meaningful and authentic to who I am. After talking to the agent and sharing that I tweet and post my favorite part of the day every day–#FavePartoftheDay, it’s just a way look at the positive every day—she said she loved that and we got to talking about gratitude and who it played an important part of my life, and we went with that. So it’s a book that’s infused with storied from my life just because those are my stories and what I can tell, but it has other stories as well—from people you may know or may not know, may have heard of, may not have heard of—and then lots of medical research about how gratitude can make your life happier. So people don’t have to take my word for it. When I thought: “She’s interested in working with me on something that I could actually inspire people with—let’s go for it!” It was hard work, and thankfully, I have an amazing husband who took over a lot of daddy duty, and lots of great friends and family who could watch the kids when I needed to write. I like a challenge!

The new cover art for Trista Sutter's book.
The new cover art for Trista Sutter’s book.

Did you enjoy the writing process?

I did! There were definitely moments when I would go to bed super-late and not get any sleep because I was under a deadline, or I was wracking my brain trying to figure out one particular story that my editor was like: “We need a story for this, or this kind of story.” And I have a horrible memory, to start—so pulling up a particular story when I didn’t already have it in my brain, was really difficult. So in those moments it was especially difficult. And it was difficult being away from my kids—Ryan would take them on awesome adventures and do really fun, silly stuff, and I would have to miss out because I was working. That was difficult, but, honestly, I loved it because it was a challenge and I was able to actually do it. Holding my book in my hands is kind of like, an out-of-body [experience]. And [I also enjoyed] just being able to leave a legacy for my kids…and connecting with people…just connecting to [the people I wrote about in the book] and hearing their stories and being able to share those stories, was a part that I loved about writing the book.

How would you describe the essence of the book?

The essence of the book is that, if you embrace a grateful heart and actively and consciously practice it on a daily basis, you will live a happier life. And, you don’t have to take my word for it—there’s lots of positive psychology, lots of research, backing that up.

Tell us about the new book cover and paperback edition that’s now being released?

We’re releasing a new cover with the paperback…it’s fun. We’re taking my picture off of it because I really wasn’t comfortable with having my picture on the cover. Honestly, I told my publisher: “I don’t want a cover with just me smiling on it.”

“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are still going strong after all this time—to you personally, what does it mean to you to be the original “Bachelorette”? Especially since you were the series’ first “success” story?

Ha, I’m the OG! That just makes me feel old—ha…just kidding. Though, it actually, honestly does make me feel old, because the show has been around so long! Now, when these people are coming off of the show, they’re still in their mid- early-20s and I’m 42 years old. I’m in a whole other universe. But I love that the show has gone on this long—I’m a huge loyal fan and I always will be. So I’m proud of it. I’m proud to hold up the sign: “OG!” I’m excited that I was there to be part of the beginning—I have great, long-lasting friendships with people like Chris Harrison and a lot of the producers. It’s really kind of a neat family to be a part of.

Do you believe the formula the show offers up really works, or do you think it worked for you specifically because Ryan was the right person for you?

I think, definitely, people can have success from it, for sure—obviously, Sean and Catherine, Ashley and JP, Desiree and Chris—now they’re actually getting a lot of success stories. But I’ve always said that if Ryan wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be with any of the other guys. It wasn’t the right fit [with anyone else]—he was who I was supposed to be with. So, I think for us, it was luck and fate and we were being watched over, and all of those things—then obviously that we put a lot of work into [the relationship] afterwards, and still do. I think both—I think it’s a very individual thing. It depends on who the people are, and if they’re ready for it, and if they’re ready to be committed, and they know what they’re looking for, and if they’re willing to put the work in afterwards.

Tell us about your family—what are your kids like right now? What do you all like to do together?

I love talking about my family! Max is 7 and Blakesley is 5. She’s in Kindergarten and he’s in first grade. He is really into anything having to do with Mine Craft…and Angry Birds and anything digital. But he also loves—well both of them do actually—being outside. We live in the quintessential mountain resort town near Vail, CO, and the kids are always outside. They were skiing when they were 2, and will be this year again. They’re always sledding and mountain biking and hiking and playing outside. Blakesley is a girlie-girl at heart. She loves dancing. One of my most favorite things to do is watching Ryan and Blakesley dance—she loves dancing with her daddy… They’re both really into their friends—we have a lot of great friendships with people nearby who the kids have grown up with. They’re the love of my life…they’re great and hopefully will always love their mommy!

A picture frame from the Grateful Heart collection.
A picture frame from the Grateful Heart collection.

How do your and Ryan’s parenting styles compare and contrast?

Oh gosh! They contrast! I’m very protective—I say “nurturing” but Ryan would say “hovering”—and I try to find a balance between wanting to keep the kids away from danger and wanting to let them experience life on their own. Obviously I’m not going to put them in the middle of the street, but I think there’s a balance between allowing them to experience life and learn about falling down and getting back up. We have a saying in our family—we say: “What’s the most important thing about falling down?” and the kids say: “Getting back up!” I think it’s about teaching them that, but I need to do my job—I always say to them: “What’s my job? To keep you safe!” I want to keep them safe and happy…it’s a lot about respect and teaching them about listening. Ryan…is the opposite end of the spectrum [as a parent]. Obviously he’s very loving and attentive, but he wants them to live and not have us be as hovering and protective. I would say that I’m more of the disciplinarian—but not because he isn’t, but just because I’m around the kids 24/7 or when they’re not at school. I’m the primary caretaker because Ryan has a job outside of the house working at the fire department. He works for 48 hours [at a time] so he’s gone three out of every seven days, and at night as well, so I’m there more often, so I end up having to be the disciplinarian. But when he’s home, he definitely cracks the whip if he needs…you gotta have a daddy like that. He’s a fun daddy and a disciplinarian daddy—he molds them very well.

You’re really open about having difficulty conceiving and had difficult pregnancies. Do you have any advice for other women going through experiences like that?

You’re human and you have to allow yourself time to grieve your dream when it’s not happening like that. Knowing that everything happens for a reason got me through it—and it took two years to get pregnant. And we started the fertility process—we were at the doctor’s office going through the basic tests we needed to do. So I’ve been there and I know it’s difficult—besides finding Ryan and wanting to share my life with someone—I wanted to be a mom. So to think: “Oh my god, it’s not happening, it’s not happening! It’s not supposed to happen like this! We found each other, we got married, now we’re supposed to get pregnant!”—it’s very frustrating. But allow yourself to be human and know that it will happen when it’s supposed and everything happens for a reason.

Jewelry from the Grateful Heart collection.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

I always make them and then I never do it—but honestly, one of my resolutions is to see more concerts this year. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I’m at a concert I love being at them but I rarely go. So I want to make a point to actually do that—this year is all about experiences… I love experiences and concerts are part of that. I love music and, usually, every concert we go to, we have fun.

Anything else fun going on with you right now?

I have a Grateful Heart collection…it is my way of helping be able to put visual reminders [of gratitude] in their homes. It’s picture frames and wall art and journals and tote bags and cute little jars—one thing is called “an appreciation jar” that you can give a loved one or teacher. There’s a “favorite part of the day” jar that people can write down and put their favorite part of the day in. We have jewelry, we have magnets, lots of home décor things. It’s a way for people to have a visual reminder of embracing gratitude in their lives. I’m just a huge gift enthusiast and it’s a thrill for me to create something and actually use my brain, besides getting my kids to school in the morning—trust me, [raising kids] is the most important job in the world and I would never, ever, ever, ever want to give it up, but it is nice to feel like a productive adult in society…so [the gift collection] is a great creative outlet. I wanted to share that too, because it’s very near and dear to my heart and it’s connected to the book. The name of the company is Glory Haus—search under brands for the Grateful Heart collection.

To learn more about Trista, her book, and her gift collection, visit tristasutter.com!