OUTSIDE’s March issue, on newsstands now, features the Happiness Project, simple lifestyle changes that max out happiness, fitness and overall health. The issue’s cover girl is Stephanie Gilmore, a world champion surfer known for her sunny disposition, who’s back on top with a sixth world title after a life-changing event left her sidelined. Sporting the same smile that earned her the nickname “Happy Gilmore,” Stephanie sits down with OUTSIDE’s Executive Editor Michael Roberts to reveal how an easy-going attitude wins every time, even when life throws you a curveball.
The Secret to her Success: “A lot of my success comes down to finding balance in my life. If there’s no surf, I’m not going, ‘Oh, I should do a hundred sit-ups.’ I’m going to just enjoy exactly where I am.”
On her outlook on life: “You can pull a lot of things from surfing into your everyday life, and one of them is there’s always going to be another wave. If you fall off and get smashed, you can get back out there and have another chance.”
On recovering from a nearly career ending brutal attack by a stranger in 2010: “You can get so wound up in things that have already happened. But you can’t ever rewind and alter the results, so there’s no point in thinking, Why me? What have I done wrong?”
On the strengths of female surfers: “Women have a better perspective on things. Like if a huge wave comes in, a guy will put his head down and go for it, whereas a girl will stop and think, If I paddle for this wave and I don’t make it, I’ll probably faceplant on the reef. Maybe it’s common sense.”
On the Australian mindset: “Australians aren’t obsessed with material things the way Americans are. We enjoy what we have. This is a beautiful country, and everyone lives around the coast. We go to the beach.”
On labels: “I’ve never been at ease with calling myself an athlete. To me, an athlete is someone who wakes up at four in the morning and trains for three hours, has a smoothie, then goes back to training. I’ve never had that frame of mind.”
On why she prefers to train without a coach: “I like to keep things simple…I’ve seen a lot of surfers who are naturally talented paddle out into a heat after they’d spent two hours on the beach with their coach. You can just see that their brain is overloaded. Instead of feeling what they’re doing and listening to their instincts, they’re thinking about it—and they make mistakes.”
On her favorite part of surfing: “I’m extremely competitive, but it’s really the performance of surfing that I get excited about—nailing an incredible ride in front of thousands of people. I’ll take that over a great ride alone any day.”
On how to be happier every day: “Just smile. That’s something a lot of people need to do more often.”
The March issue of OUTSIDE is available on newsstands NOW and at outsideonline.com.