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You may be familiar with Sazan and Stevie Hendrix from the popular podcast they co-host, The Good Life with Stevie and Sazan, or perhaps you are one of their millions of followers on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, their website, etc. Over the last decade, the couple has forged successful careers as digital content creators, influencers, and brand ambassadors.
When I first met Stevie and Sazan back in February, I was pleased to discover just how sincere and thoughtful they are. Those qualities are reflected in their new book A Real Good Life: Discover the Simple Moments that Bring Joy, Connection, and Love. As the title promises, the book looks at what it takes to live a meaningful and happy life.
A Real Good Life is organized to follow the course of their family’s day from morning to night. It is not so much a “how to” book as a “this is what we are finding works for us” book. Part of what makes A Real Good Life such an interesting read is Sazan and Stevie’s insistence that we can only discover the good by looking our own experiences, the highs of life but also all the bumps we encounter along the road, along with our successes and failures. It makes for a refreshingly honest look at how we all might bring a little more goodness into our lives.
I met with Stevie and Sazan Hendrix over Zoom to discuss their new book and the lessons they have learned about family, faith, and the importance that tradition plays in a good life.
Here is part of our discussion.The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On what makes a good life
Aleteia: I’d like to start by asking you about what “good” means to you. In the book, you say we have this idea of goodness, a concept of what’s good in our lives, but that goodness isn’t really something you can make for yourself so much as something you have to discover. You have to recognize goodness.
Stevie: I think Sazan and I, like so many people, are constantly searching for the good in our lives, but sometimes I think we’re misled. You know, we’re led down the wrong path, looking for good in the wrong places when actually good is all around us and in front of us and within us.
I believe that good is inherent. God created us with the resources that we need now. Some of us may have less resources than others, but God has given each of us different kinds of resources and all kinds of good that he’s placed around us. For some it’s easier to see than for others, but God has given us good that can be cultivated.
Created in His image
Aleteia:Sazan, in the book, you write that our sense of worth is often tied to the value that we think we provide to others. However, at one point you realized that’s not where your worth really came from. So, where should our sense of worth come from?
Sazan: All of us, as long as we’re here on Earth, are going to struggle with always wanting to be the best that we can be. As a young girl, I always had this kind of perfectionist mentality. I always felt that in order to receive love or in order to receive success, I had to be performative. It was almost like there had to be an action, I had to do something. That really affected the way that I saw myself. When you look in the mirror constantly chasing perfection that can lead you down a dark path. And you can easily get lost in the lie that I think swirls around in this world today about what beauty is and what worth is.
Ultimately, my faith journey led me to the question of, well, I was created, right? I was created by a Creator. I reached a place where I was questioning a lot of things about my identity and who I was and what I wanted to be and all those things. I really felt confronted to go and ask God: Why don’t you show me who am I? Are you out there?
I had a lot of questions swirling around in my head and the world wasn’t giving me the answers that I needed anymore in my life. It just wasn’t cutting it.
There’s just so much power I’ve seen in speaking truth over yourself. When you know who your Creator is, the one that created you for a purpose, you start to see things differently in yourself and others. For me, and specifically for my girls, I really try every morning to cultivate an environment in our home that celebrates the things that God says about us.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, He says — to understand that we are made in His image. I mean, God makes no mistakes. We are each unique, not only in the way that we look on the outside, but internally even in our gifts that God gives us on the inside. I think the more that we tether ourselves to the Creator, the more we truthfully understand that definition of worth and what it means.
That’s kind of how we unpack it in in the book through a series of stories and chapters. And we dive deeper into that, for sure.
On cultivating traditions
Aleteia:You each write movingly about your families and their traditions and how they added beauty to your lives. (Sazan about her grandfather Balka, who was a Kurdish painter, and Stevie, about his great grandparents, Bill and Anya.)
Stevie: It’s so important to know where you come from, to look for the good in that tradition and to honor that. I think we’re living in a time where people are pulled toward breaking away from tradition. I believe it’s important to connect to your bloodline, to your past and your traditions because it provides a kind of blueprint for us to follow on how to live a good life.
And I believe that a good life is one that creates beautiful traditions. Sazan and I were just talking about that this week. We’ve got three kids now and with the holidays, it’s harder for us to travel. So, little things, like cultivating traditions in your home, are important.
Sazan: Yeah, life happens for everyone. When the nine to five creeps up, after a long day, the last thing you’re thinking about sometimes is: “Oh, wait, let’s have a family movie night!”
You and your significant other can look at some of the things in your lineage that have already been passed down. For others of us, maybe your family hasn’t cultivated any traditions, and you want to be that first generational family member to start a tradition. It doesn’t have to be larger than life things. I think it’s about: What are the most important things to you? Prioritize those things and do the most important things first.
So, for instance, in this current season we have a newborn. We are starting very simple. Once a week we are having a family night. Why? Because we realize that when our kids one day get older, the greatest success that you can achieve is your kids wanting to come back home and actually hang out with you one day when they don’t have to.
We see that’s a goal we have for our good life, so let’s start by cultivating that. Let’s start watering that seed. What are some ways we can intentionally hang out with our children and create some memories?
It’s easy. It’s literally maybe takeout and a movie. Or maybe it’s doing a holiday puzzle next week and cooking at home. Your kids are going to thank you for it one day. They’re not going to remember all the things that you bought them, but the time that you spent, so start pouring effort into the things that are super important to you in your life.
And if you don’t know, I would say like go on a journey and go find those things that bring you joy. Get off of your phone and go and do some things. Go and find those hobbies and just, I don’t know, discover a little bit more about life that’s out there, because I think we can all grow and learn, despite what age you are.