Real Life

I star jumped around the globe!

My photos make people smile
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Paula Simpson, 56, from Ocean Grove, Victoria, shares her story:

With the Statue of Liberty, in New York, positioned perfectly behind me, I turned my attention to my husband, Mark, holding the camera.

“Ready?” I called out.

“One, two, three, Go!” he shouted.

At his signal, I started doing star jumps, as he held the shutter button down to capture the moment.

“Got the shot?” I asked, dropping to my knees, panting.

Laughing, he nodded.

It was 2013, and Mark and I loved to travel around the world and share silly photos with our friends and family back home.

Travelling the world. (Image: supplied)

It was the first time I’d tried this pose and when I posted it on Facebook later that day, it went down a treat.

I was amazed by the response I got, with dozens of likes and comments.

This is so fun, one comment read.

You should do this everywhere you go, said another.

I showed Mark.

“It could be a fun timeline for all of our travels and adventures,” I joked.

He agreed.

So on the same trip, I tried star jumping at Times Square too.

When I got home, it’s all my friends could talk about.

Star jumping is so much fun (Image: Chad Konik)

“Your star jumps really cheered me up,” one said over a cuppa.

It made me happy knowing I’d helped others crack a smile at my expense.

Years went by, and the pose became a regular part of my travels, from France, the Greek Islands and Italy to Bali and New Zealand.

I even star jumped while surfing and paddle boarding too!

Sometimes, other tourists would look over and laugh, but I didn’t mind.

Making other people smile made me happy.

I even convinced Mark to star jump with me on my 50th birthday and our wedding anniversary.

At one family gathering, I got my mum, dad and three sisters involved.

“That was great,” laughed Mum.

Star jumping while paddle boarding (Image: supplied)

Then in December last year, I saw a competition advertised online searching for Australia’s happiest person.

We’re giving away four stays at Oaks hotels and all we want to see is your happy face, it read.

That sounds like me, I thought.

I knew how much my star jumps made my friends and family smile, so I posted the pictures to social media with the tag #happyfolkschoose oaks and patiently waited.

A couple of months later, I got a phone call from an unknown number.

“Congratulations, you’ve won the happiest person in Australia competition,” the person on the other end of the line said when I answered.

“Oh my goodness,” I squealed excitedly. “Thank you!”

Dr Tim Sharp, AKA Dr Happy, presenting Paula with her award (Image: Chad Konik)

As soon as I got off the phone, I raced to tell Mark.

“The prize is four holidays for two people across Australia with Oaks Hotels,” I told him, excitedly.

“That’s amazing,” he beamed. “Well done!”

First, we’ll head to Sydney for the Vivid festival and to climb the Harbour Bridge.

After that, we might go to Kingscliff in northern New South Wales and even Darwin.

Life’s all about chasing happiness and for anyone searching for joy in their lives, my advice would be to smile.

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