Jennifer Garner has found the secret to happiness: embracing it.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT ERDMANN

Unlike most of us, Jennifer Garner does not get road rage. Unlike most of us, she does not blow a gasket, scream at her GPS, or cut off other drivers when she’s lost on the streets without a clue as to where to turn. No, when she veers off course, which, she notes, is an all-too-frequent occurrence, she often actually finds peace in those moments and may even stop to notice a gorgeous tree. Really. Garner has her mother to thank for her wonderfully well-adjusted perspective. “She is a comfy, smart, wise lady,” Garner says of her mother, who imparted her motto, “Happiness is your responsibility,” to Garner and her two sisters during their upbringing in West Virginia. Since then, happiness -- and the decision to seize it -- is something Garner just hasn’t been able to shake, even during those times when she’s driven down the wrong road in life.

“You can make choices,” she says. “And a big thing that my mom has always been a believer in -- I know it’s a total cliché -- is finding happiness in the smell of bread baking or in taking in a sunset or in a beautiful tree. When I was a kid and we were carpooling, I’d be in the backseat with my friend, and my mom would stop the car and say, ‘We are not moving until you look at that tree!’ At the time, I was like, ‘Okay, all right.’ But I did it.” She laughs that trademark Garner giggle and adds, “Now I never know where I am. I’m always lost. But I also always see a really pretty tree.”