Author and award-winning broadcast journalist shares keys for happiness at Viewpoints event in Rancho Santa Fe


By Diane Y. Welch

Students dressed in Reality Changers t-shirts welcomed guests to the Viewpoints speaking event at the Fellowship Hall of the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe on Sunday evening, Feb. 23. A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception preceded the evening’s presentation and the hall soon filled to capacity.

The big draw for the Reality Changers — students who will be the first generation in their respective families to go to college — and for the 175 people in the audience was guest speaker Hugh Hewitt, invited to appear by Connie Pittard and Paige Vanosky, both Viewpoint committee members.

Hewitt is an attorney, law professor, author and an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, best known as the host of his nationally-syndicated radio show which is heard in more than 120 cities across the United States.

Relaxed, in an informal setting on stage, Pastor Jack Baca led the conversation with Hewitt who created an uplifting atmosphere. With wisdom and humor, Hewitt recollected people, places and events from his life in the media and gave sage advice to the audience about how to achieve happiness.

During his lengthy career Hewitt has interviewed more than 20,000 people, many of them globally acclaimed, such as the Pope, the Dalai Llama, Buzz Aldrin, A-list actors, famous politicians, and more.

His reflections on these interviews led him to publish, “The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers and the Secret to Genuine Success”– a book that describes seven simple habits that anyone can adopt: encouragement, energy, enthusiasm, empathy/patience, good humor, graciousness, and gratitude. The book’s message formed the platform for much of Hewitt’s speech.

Seven key relationships further help forge happiness, said Hewitt. A spouse, parents, teachers, family members, friends, co-workers, and church members comprise the list. “If you practice these seven habits in these seven contexts — unless you are stricken with illness or disaster — you will almost certainly be happy!” Hewitt said.

Highlighting his chapter on teachers Hewitt recollected his interview with Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. When Hewitt asked Dreyfuss if he had any regrets about his career Dreyfuss answered that he really wished he’d been a high school teacher in Indiana. Hewitt praised Dreyfuss’s value placed on teachers and told the audience, “Teachers get levels of satisfaction out of what they do that are off the charts for happiness levels.”

Hewitt also talked about developing a family GPA – ranking your relationships within an extended family – and how improving this grade will also improve happiness. Being humble and displaying gratitude will make you a happier person, too. Hewitt recalled his conversations with Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett and Andy Williams who, despite their riches, never forgot their roots and were grateful to those who opened doors for them in their respective careers.

“People will give you breaks,” commented Hewitt, especially directed to the students in the audience. “Be open to what comes along and you will find yourself doing extraordinary things.”

Hewitt shared that he was hired, as a 22 year old in 1978 to help Nixon with the Presidential Library in Yorba Linda. An audience member asked, “What did you really think of Richard Nixon?” Quick to respond he said, “The best boss I ever had!” Hewitt said that Nixon was a genius, who was brilliant in foreign affairs, and a key figure in 20th century history, despite his notoriety.

Hewitt’s strong opinions on politics brought laughter from the audience, “Snowden should be executed... after a fair trial”; Ronald Reagan was “misunderestimated and Biden has perfected it” and “Bill Maher is rotten and corrosive,” he joked.

In closing, Hewitt advised everyone to commit to lifelong learning, to choose good friends and to read a lot.

And in following his own advice “to give” he spent time after the program in a private meeting with the Reality Changers students and the organization’s founder, Christopher Yanov.

The event was co-sponsored by the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. Christy Wilson, executive director, gave notice that the next speaker will be Dr. Maurizio Seracini (date to be announced in an upcoming issue of this newspaper).

Viewpoints brings well-known, engaging speakers to the community to “Inform, Inspire and Impact” audiences.

Visit for information on future Viewpoints event.