Speaking with Elle magazine in a new profile that separates the real Jennifer Aniston from the false persona generated by years of tabloid stories, the Dumplin’ actress opened up more than she has in recent times, and bestowed some incredible life lessons based on her personal experiences.
Perhaps the most surprising advice came while discussing a topic that’s frequent fodder for her gossip-column counterpart: her previous marriages to Brad Pitt and Justin Theroux. “My marriages, they’ve been very successful, in [my] personal opinion,” Aniston said. “And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy, and sometimes happiness didn’t exist within that arrangement anymore.”
Her sound outlook — choosing happiness — is further solidified by her blatant rejection of fear-based decisions. “At the end of it, this is our one life and I would not stay in a situation out of fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of not being able to survive. To stay in a marriage based on fear feels like you’re doing your one life a disservice,” she said. “When the work has been put in and it doesn’t seem that there’s an option of it working, that’s okay. That’s not a failure.”
Although she got the reality check through her marriages, the thought process is applicable to any relationship. Going through a breakup is a totally normal part of life, and it doesn’t mean anyone’s failed at because they’ve reached that stage — it just means that there’s more happiness to be had elsewhere.
However “powerful,” “incredible,” and “admirable” a happy ending may seem, Aniston recognizes that “everybody’s path is different.” And anyway, as she said at another point in the interview, “Why do we want a happy ending? How about just a happy existence? A happy process? We’re all in process constantly.”
Instead of focusing on a “fairy tale” schedule that dictates when a woman should get married and have children, Aniston has focused her energy on developing sincere friendships, which have allowed her to fulfill most of the roles a traditional path would have offered. “We always joke that we raised each other, we mothered each other, we sistered each other, we’ve been kids to each other.”
It’s a “glass-half-full” reality she created intentionally by “always being open. Allowing myself to feel what I feel,” she said. “What brings me happiness? I have a great job. I have a great family. I have great friends. I have no reason to feel otherwise. If I did, I would need to go get an attitude shift, a perspective shift.”
So, the next time you find yourself defining your worth based on society’s outdated standards, do like Aniston does. Ask yourself, “What brings me happiness?”