Happiness: Does It Exist?


[Rachel Strella]: 0:00

Welcome to episode eight of the Light Her Project Podcast, Real Women.

[Vixen Divine]: 0:05

Real talk.

[Rachel Strella]: 0:06

I'm Rachel Strella.

[Vixen Divine]: 0:07

And I'm Vixen Divine.

[Rachel Strella]: 0:09

Thank you so much for tuning in today. Today's topic is happiness. Does it exist? So let's start with our personal experiences. Vixen?

[Vixen Divine]: 0:21

I think personal experiences, the question is, what has happened in our personal lives that have shown us if happiness really does exist? Because there are some people, I'm sure that you know, that are miserable all the time. Like there is nothing that seems to ever make them happy. So yes, it exists. I think it exists and I think it exists though within our minds. Happiness is a state of mind and a state of wellbeing as opposed to, like you can't, that's why they say you can't buy happiness because it physically doesn't exist. But our personal experiences starting with me has been that I find that I can find happiness in just about any kind of situation. because I think that's the optimist in me. So I've had times where, you know, someone will say something that is really kind of a downer, really is a downer, you know, you know, and I'm like, well, I can always find that bright side of it. And that's generally how I live my life. I am probably one of the happier people to exist. And because I have that bright side mentality, I can always find something worse that's happened. So that was my personal experience. So in my daily life, pretty much, I'm pretty much a happy person. And when people come at me with something gloom and doom, I mean, don't get me wrong, there's times to be sad, but most of the time it really is just a matter of perspective.

[Rachel Strella]: 2:07

I know that about you because when I come at you, doom and gloom, you always have a ray of sunshine. And I appreciate that because sometimes it's not always easy to be happy. But when you have other people who are super positive, it kind of motivates you, it becomes contagious. You know, does it exist happiness? I think it does. The older I get, the more I realize it's really individual and it is internal. I'm still on my quest for happiness. And in fact, during the pandemic, I took a course, it was through Coursera from Yale, it was called the Science of Wellbeing. It was a 10-week course, it was intended to increase your happiness. So one of the things that I learned was that we are doing all the wrong things to make us happy, okay? What we think will make us happy is not actually what will make us happy. So... They call it, the instructor called it, miswanting and it's eye opening. So the things that we yearn for, more money, the perfect body, true love, these are ultimately not what are going to make us happy. And this is all science-backed stuff. This isn't just stuff being made up. So very interesting and I'm still on my quest. I will reference my kind of Bible for happiness. Zen and the art of happiness which is my go-to when I'm feeling doom and gloom. It brings me back to center. I'm on my quest for happiness. I know it exists. It is internal.

[Vixen Divine]: 3:47

Okay, okay, I like that. I like the positivity you spun there. You know it exists.

[Rachel Strella]: 3:53

I do.

[Vixen Divine]: 3:55

Well, okay, if it exists then, the question is, what is your happy place? That's our first question for today. What is your happy place? I have heard this, people say, oh, this is my happy place. But for me, I'm pretty flexible in my happy places. I mean, in most situations, I recognize that there are situations that I can't be happy in. You know, like I said, almost all the time, but there are those little bits of time that I reckon, I know if I'm in this situation, I'm looking at, I can't do this, I can't. But I take the initiative to remove myself then from that situation. And I know I can't be happy if I'm just sitting around anywhere, like doing nothing. Like I will get, my mind will start to go if I'm just doing nothing. And it's not a happy thing for me. I just, I need to be doing something all the time. And that's just me. But I think it is a matter of recognizing where I am and what situation I'm in. And I can recognize, because usually I can find something but I can see then if... There's nothing here to work from. I just remove myself from the situation and then I'll be happy again.

[Rachel Strella]: 5:25

I agree with you I mean, for me, my happy place, I've always been a writer, you know, so I enjoy writing, whether it's journaling, writing my blog, whatever it is, you know, I feel at home there because I just, words are my thing. But if I had a physical place, like, because that's what I thought the question was, happy place, for me, it would be the beach. And I know that sounds overused, but... I spend three, four weeks a year at the beach, and it is the best place for me to feel a sense of peace and happiness. And in fact, for the home that we go to in Avon, it's called our happy place. You know how they name places and it would be so, it's my happy place.

[Vixen Divine]: 6:11

tell you though, the beach is not a bad thing. Coming from a skincare perspective, I want you to put sunscreen on. But other than that, it's not a bad place. I mean, looking at the water, it is so awesome. There's so much of it. It's so vast. Like you could really feel internally small, but internally kept if you're looking at something like that. You know, it's not a bad place to be. I can see where your mind could go and be silent in such a place like that. So that's not, I don't feel like it's overused. I feel like it's perfect for you

[Rachel Strella]: 6:51

It’s healing, it's me. I mean Aspen would not be my happy place I could tell you that right now.

[Vixen Divine]: 6:56

Hahaha[Rachel Strella]: So

[Rachel Strella]: 6:58

Okay next question and I love this question because it's let's face it this is the question. Can you or how can you still be happy when you're going through something that is challenging? So wow that's the eternal struggle. I bought this Zen book a long time ago, and essentially is my Bible for feeling good. And the overarching premise of the book is that everything that happens to us is the best possible thing that can happen to us. The author says, events are just events. It is your reaction to the event that caused your unpleasantness, if you felt unpleasantness.[Vixen Divine]: Absolutely. And there's one passage I really love, okay. It says, you are like a railroad switch. Each time an event occurs, you channel the activity onto positive or negative track. Even though the event hurt you or took something from you, you are still in charge of channeling it into a positive or negative track. You determine its future outcome. And it goes on to say, you know, if you've ever had anything happen to you that seemed really horrible at the time, but then it's out to be something that was like the best thing that happened to you. That's what we're talking about here. He said we need to look at all events in light of that information and learn to see the perfect truth now in every situation. Wow, this is a great philosophy. And I have to say, I need a constant reminder because life is hard. Things happen to us. Things hurt us, things take it from us. People are out for no good. And some lack empathy and compassion, you know, and

[Vixen Divine]: 8:41

Very much.

[Rachel Strella]: 8:42

Can we still be happy, you know when we're going through something hard? Yeah, is it easy? No, it takes constant practice at least for me to feel accepting and happy, you know when events aren't working in my favor

[Vixen Divine]: 8:55

Well I think it's a matter for me going through something hard is a matter of stepping back. You know, whatever's happening to you is happening to you, but you have to see it. So you have to step back for a second. Literally quiet your mind. Let it all go because sometimes you have people chattering at you. You should do this. You should do that. Oh, he's this. She's that blah, blah. Like there's too many people in this situation. So you have to step back, quiet your mind, and actually put your situation in actual perspective. And what I mean by that is the perspective that you have is just that, the perspective that you have. It's not necessarily what's really happening in the scheme of things. Say, for instance, you went to the grocery store and you didn't have enough money at the checkout. You're embarrassed. It's the worst thing that ever happened to you at that moment. But really, is it really? You have to sit back and be like, okay, I have, let's say $100 and it's $102. All right. You know what? How much is it? You ask them, you know, let me put this back for now. You know, you have the rest of the groceries, you know? Okay. You didn't get to get, you know, whatever is the best thing, the can of soda or whatever it is, but you have everything else. And even though you're embarrassed, you know, that situation is not really as bad as it may seem. It has happened to other people. You won't be the first, you won't be the last. But to you at that time, it feels like the end of the world.

[Rachel Strella]: 10:47

Yes, no, I totally agree with you there. It is hard, I mean, it is embarrassing. I used to work at a grocery store when I was in high school, college. There would be people who would get their entire wallet and have a whole cart full of groceries that would have to sit there until they went home, came back and paid for them. But it happens. Everyone has bad days. You know, the author of the Zen Book calls it the tyranny of events and you have to free yourself from that. If you wake up and something happens and it just wasn't ideal, don't ruin the rest of your day by focusing on this bad outcome. Like move on from it, say whatever, it happens.

[Vixen Divine]: 11:22

Yeah, I totally agree with you. I mean, when you said basically, you do what you need to in that situation, but what your reaction is, is totally up to you. So if you don't make that rash, that's a problem. When you make that rash decision and you didn't step back and look at it, that a lot of times will determine how your outcome is going to be, good or bad, positive or negative. Happy or sad.

[Rachel Strella]: 11:53

You’re right, we jump right to reaction.

[Vixen Divine]: 11:55


[Rachel Strella]: 11:56

That's a very hard thing to do, but I know it's possible with practice to just take that step back and give us this event perspective for a minute. Okay, next question. What habits or mindsets keep you happy? And is it more habits or mindsets or a combo of both? So I mean, for me personally, there's a couple of... practices, I guess I'll call it. I have a gratitude journal that I write in. It said that it is impossible to be sad or disappointed if you are in a state of gratitude. So I don't know the exact quote, but that's basically the premise of it. So gratitude, I think, is a big thing for me. I recently started, restarted meditation. I've had bad luck with it in the past. I've kinda had a breakthrough that's been helpful. And I, you know, there's a quote in this book from a Buddhist leader that said, meditation is not an escape from life, but a preparation for really being in life. And that really changed my perception of meditation because now it's a survival tool to prepare myself for whatever could come my way. I also think of things that make me happy like the beach, you know that helps. I know a lot of people who have like apps and prompts and all these other things that we'll talk about a little later in the podcast. But I have little post-it notes, you know like an affirmation. I guess you could say throughout the house, just kind of a reminder of like, Hey, be happy. It doesn't say that, but it's personal to me. It works for me. So what about you?

[Vixen Divine]: 13:39

Well, for me, it is, I don't do habits well. I don't do habits well. I'm more of a reactive person. What I do in that moment, that reaction is definitely more me. So for me, it's a mindset and that keeps me happy. It is that the glass is half full rather than empty. I don't know, I guess over the years it has become actually a habit for me to think that way, because I always know there's someone less fortunate than myself. I'll never forget, I saw an interview and it was a news anchor and she was interviewing a man like billionaire status, like super, super uber rich. And she's interviewing him and I forget exactly what the subject was, but he talked about in his mind, He said, everyone, everyone can be successful. All they have to do is put on their shoes and get out there and work hard. And you know what the person interviewing him said? She said, what if they don't have shoes? because there are people that don't. And he didn't really know what to say to that because I'm sure in his mind, he hadn't put that into perspective. He's thinking someone at least who has probably a roof on their head who already is of some means, all they have to do. Well, he forgot about, there's a lot of people, a lot of people. who are homeless and without a lot of things. And in his mind though, he just thought that everyone is, you know, just, they're just lazy. They can just do it if they wanted to. Well, that's what I understand. I understand there are people like that. And I understand this mindset helps to keep me happy. And I may not be a millionaire, but I still feel unfortunate. to be able to have the education I have, to be able to have the friends that I have, to be able to have this roof over my head, own a salon. You know, all these things that I feel like I'm fortunate because there are a lot of people who have a lot less than me. So in that sense, I'm happy.

[Rachel Strella]: 16:08

Alright my journalism background is coming in to play here. If I was interviewing a billionaire, I wouldn't insult him by saying something like that, because I get the point that she was trying to make. But what are you supposed to say? I mean, the point that he was trying to make is 80% of life is showing up or whatever that quote is. Perspective is key. And your personal philosophy is what causes it. It sounds like for you as your guiding light, you have a personal philosophy, you have a mindset that will get you through any challenge or any hard time difficulty that you're going through. So we'll come back to this thing with the money bill. We'll come back to that. All right, next question. Is ignorance bliss? In other words, is it better just not to know? Wow. That is an interesting question. And I think it depends on your circumstance. It's something that is unnecessary or insignificant in your life that you don't need to know about, there's probably no harm in not knowing. For me personally, I'd like to make informed decisions. So I feel like I need the full picture to be able to do that, even if it's something that I might not wanna hear. I know people who keep their head in the clouds and avoid bad news at all costs like, they can pretend it's not happening. I don't find that particularly healthy. That feels more like denial to me. But that's just my perspective. Everyone is different.

[Vixen Divine]: 17:39

This is true. This is true. I feel almost the opposite of what you just said. I feel like in some situations, ignorance is indeed bliss, but it's better not knowing because sometimes it can be devastating to the psyche. My, for instance, would be, if I had six months to live, nobody needs to tell me that. Nobody needs to tell me that. You know what? Because I don't need to know that, if you're taking me out to dinner a little more than you usually are, great. You know, I'm having a good time with that. You know, but I don't need to know, for instance, another thing. Okay, say the apartment that you rented, you rented on the first, but they called in the exterminator on the 28th of last month because your house, your apartment was crawling with roaches and they cleaned them all up. I don't need to know that apartment a few days before me was crawling with roaches. Even though there are no roaches now, I am going to feel some kind of way about that. That's the ignorant, those are things that I don't need to know. So, yeah, no.

[Rachel Strella]: 19:03

And I get it as somebody who's OCD if that if I had that information about the roaches. Oh, no I’d be getting out of that apartment. Nope!

[Vixen Divine]: 19:11

Even though they've cleaned it out for you.

[Rachel Strella]: 19:14

Nope, doesn't matter. Tell me, that's all I'm gonna see when I go in the kitchen. That's just how I work.

[Vixen Divine]: 19:20


[Rachel Strella]: 19:23

I mean, you could go all kinds of ways here. I think it is a matter of personal perspective. And there's something, I don't know what it is, but there was this poll that went out. Like if you knew the day you were gonna die, would you wanna know? Absolutely not, because I would feel like I would have this timer and a countdown to that, and it would weigh on me. So yeah, I definitely wouldn't want to know something like that. I think it's more people who... kind of just don't want to know, well, anything bad. Just in general. Sometimes there are things that are bad, but it all depends on how you, your psyche and how you handle them, I think.

[Vixen Divine]: 20:06

I'll tell you what though, I'll take the timer. I will take, if I know, but I only need to know, like if you told me that, give me 12 hours. In 12 hours, like I don't need to know a whole month, a whole six months. Like I don't need, cause then that countdown is gonna feel really, yeah. But if you give me 24 hours or 12 hours, that'll be good. I'm okay with that.

[Rachel Strella]: 20:34

Yeah, I wouldn't want any of it. I wouldn't want to know. Wouldn’t want to know. No, no whether it's now, 12 hours, a week, a month, I wouldn’t want to know. Alright let's talk about what we're seeing. So a lot of people probably heard about the book you know the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I read the book. She also came up with an app that is kind of one of many spin-offs of this. So the Happiness Project you know I’m familiar with some of the key concepts of the book and Basically, she embarked on this project to discover happiness and document her findings over a long period of time And it's been a long time since I read the book, but I recall one part that really stuck out to me It talks about giving someone a hug. She said if I remember correctly you need seven seconds to feel the goodness of a hug and I always think about that because when I hug someone it's like one second but seven seconds. She also talks about some very basic things that help with our happiness, like clearing out clutter, which that's easy for me. Getting more sleep, not always easy for me. But the book was a huge hit and had a couple of spinoff opportunities, one of which was the Happier app. And you know me out of curiosity couldn't help myself. I downloaded it yesterday. Three minute quiz to assess your sort of persona as it relates to your happiness. The result for me. Tell me if this isn't me. I'm a questioner. I'll comply if you convince me why. So it's my understanding now that I'll receive daily prompts. I haven't looked yet today, that I'll receive daily prompts to help me establish a stronger sense of happiness. And so I'm intrigued to see, I got an email today to kick it off. So.

[Vixen Divine]: 22:24

That's you. Yes, you need some kind of proof, some kind of research, some kind of, you need some kind of convincing. You're just, if it's out of thin air,[Rachel Strella]: Nope. I don't care what they're giving you. You're not buying it. You need to research it. You need to figure it out. You need to validate what they're saying if you are going to hone in on that. That's it. You're just not going to just do it.

[Rachel Strella]: 22:57

It’s only a 3 minute quiz

[Vixen Divine]: 23:02

but that three minutes was very accurate. That was very good.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:06

I was a little scared. I’m like, they've been tracking me all this time.

[Vixen Divine]: 23:12

Hey, you know what, Alexa, I'm telling you, I think she's listening.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:19

Mm-hmm, maybe. It’s all connected.

[Vixen Divine]: 23:21

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:25

Well, do you want to say anything else about this or should we move on to the next one?

[Vixen Divine]: 23:30

Well, I think you should probably let people know exactly where that three minute quiz is because I think that accuracy was pretty good. Maybe other people should take that.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:42

All you need to do is download the Happier app on the App Store and the first thing it does is prompt you to take the quiz.

[Vixen Divine]: 23:49

Okay, I hope everybody got that.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:51

Let me know what you get Vixen I'm curious. Alright, alright, moving on to something else we're seeing. So there's a reddit thread. Does money buy happiness? Okay, million dollar question, pun intended. The author of the thread, you know, goes on to basically say, you know, that money doesn't buy happiness, it buys comfort and security. I agree with that. I think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. There are basic things that we need to get to a point of ideal. And physiological safety, that all falls under financial stability in my mind. Which is on the second one of the tiers. So if you don't have enough financial security, well that can create stress.

[Vixen Divine]: 24:42

Thank you.

[Rachel Strella]: 24:44

However, when I think about the thread, and when I read through the comments, I think they're talking more about, can money actually buy happiness? I mean, can you buy whatever you think to make you happy? If you recall that science of wellbeing course that I took, that I mentioned earlier in the podcast, we missed one things and money was one of them. So they did a study on this. This is so interesting. So obviously if you live in a poor nation, As your income goes up, so does your life satisfaction. Cause we're talking about basic needs here. Now, if you're in a wealthier nation, like most of us, that was a little different. So what they were looking for was the connection between income and life satisfaction. And they wanted to know if there was a threshold of income to life satisfaction, a certain amount of money that once you got that, any more of a bump would mean no more happiness. So can you guess what that number would have been for household income?

[Vixen Divine]: 25:49

For America?

[Rachel Strella]: 25:50

Actually, you know what? It was an individual income. I'm wrong. It was individual income. Can you guess what that number was? That threshold that they found out?

[Vixen Divine]: 25:59

For America?

[Rachel Strella]: 26:01

Americans, yes.

[Vixen Divine]: 26:03

Probably for an individual to feel secure. I'm probably going to say 75,000?

[Rachel Strella]: 26:11

How the heck did you know that?

[Vixen Divine]: 26:16

No, I didn't cheat. It's just, I think that honestly, when you look at, in all honesty, Americans pretty much, we're pretty privileged and a lot of times we're greedy. So $30,000 in a... from a poor person, that would be like really good. But thinking of someone who, is a median income. So$75,000 in my mind is like where a new like psychologist would start. Like so that's starting like that professional level. So that's where I got that number.

[Rachel Strella]: 27:02

You did great because that was a number that basically you're not going to get any more bump in happiness. And they call it emotional well-being, emotional well-being score. It rises with income, but stopped at 75. And so, you know, why 75? They aren't exactly clear, but they know that it's a plausible number of what you think money's not an issue anymore. And you know, that you've got everything covered in the United States. But that's really interesting. So more money, more problems, right?

[Vixen Divine]: 27:31

Well, I'll tell you what now, and you might, I want you to think of this too. Honestly, the first year, the first year doing income tax, when it was over $100,000, like it didn't feel, like it didn't feel any different than like that 75,000.

[Rachel Strella]: 27:55


[Vixen Divine]: 27:55

In all honesty, like I didn't feel, you know. Oh, I have a lot of money now. You know what I mean? I didn't feel that way. I really didn't. For you, when you made your first $100,000, did you feel weird about it? Any different?

[Rachel Strella]: 28:14

I mean, the irony for me was that like, at that point in time, I was working so hard that I didn't stop to think about that and enjoy it or savor it or feel any different. It was more like, great, I just have to do one more thing and file this dang tax return. Well, I know there's a threshold for a lot of different things, but I remember at that point, that was how I felt, you know.

[Vixen Divine]: 28:40

Okay, so you were just working so hard that you really didn't feel any sense of accomplishment or anything. It was just like, oh.

[Rachel Strella]: 28:46

I did, but it didn't make me feel happier per se. I just know what else I gave up to get to that point. I realized that that's also part of being an entrepreneur, but it wasn't as celebratory as I thought it was going to be.

[Vixen Divine]: 29:03

Yeah, I didn't feel this celebration either. It was just like, oh, okay, yeah. Yeah, so I go with that $75,000. So anyone who's listening to this, who doesn't, you know, feels like they don't make enough money, believe us, you, 75,000 is fine, just strive to that, you'll be fine.

[Rachel Strella]: 29:27

Yeah, yeah, I mean, and I was taking this course, this was for Yale students. So these are 20 something students. She said, so by the time you guys, Yale graduates are 34, you're set. You're set and the income that will make you happy. It's interesting to hear it from that perspective. Wow. Okay. This was a really interesting topic. Do you have anything else to say about the money buying happiness thing, Vixen?

[Vixen Divine]: 29:54

No, other than really that perspective, I don't think that money can buy you happiness. Like it's not a thing I can go to, you know, you can't go to Walmart and buy happiness. Like it's not a thing. It's not a thing. It is, it's definitely in your mind. So you just have to make a determination that that's what you're going to be and then figure out what's the best way to get it for you.

[Rachel Strella]: 30:16

Yeah. I mean, I think this is a really great discussion. I think we covered all the main points here. And it also depends on who you are. I think that also affects things as well. You could be somebody who values that over, you know, finding the love of your life, or whatever that could be. So it's up to me every just like we talked about in the beginning. Everything is individual.

[Vixen Divine]: 30:39

Yeah, but you do have to realize that you do make your own happiness. Some people wait, some people wait. They're like, oh, I'm going to be happy the moment I find her or the moment I find him. I'm going to be so happy once I find the one, you know, or the right job or, you know. No, no, no.

[Rachel Strella]: 31:04

No, that's a really good point. I'll be happy if I just XYZ. And then once you get to XYZ, you'll have something else that you'll be like, I'll be happy when XYZ, you know? So there's always something that we want. Does it mean we're gonna be any happier when we acquire it? No, just give us another benchmark for something else that we want.

[Vixen Divine]: 31:25

Mm-hmm. Yeah, it's just ourselves. We have to figure out what it is that makes us happy, whether it's whatever that external thing, whether it's affirmations, whether it's something you need to concentrate on, whether it's mindset. You just have to figure that out, but that's what it is. It's not going to be an external thing that's going to make you happy.

[Rachel Strella]: 31:47

Very true. All right, we're coming to the end of the podcast. Is there anything else you'd like to add about this topic?

[Vixen Divine]: 31:55

That was it, I think we covered it pretty good.

[Rachel Strella]: 32:00

The only thing that I'll say is, you know, I feel like positivity, happiness, all those positive type of emotions, I think that they're contagious. You know, and I think that what you started on a path of feeling good, it's setting you up to always feel good. So like you've seen people who are always miserable,

[Vixen Divine]: 32:20

Yep, yep.

[Rachel Strella]: 32:21

They’re always gonna be miserable, they're always creating drama, you know, if you're on a path for happiness, you're always going to be happy. Despite any of the external conditions. It is contagious, and I think it's contagious in a positive way.

[Vixen Divine]: 32:37

It is, it is. And if you're a negative Nancy, that's a term in case you don't know. If you're a negative Nancy, you're going to be a negative Nancy. You'll find negativity in whatever you are. But if you're happy, if you have that happy mindset, it's so much easier to find happiness in whatever you're doing or wherever you are. So keep that in mind.

[Rachel Strella]: 33:03

I agree. All right. Well, we had a great podcast thanks for everybody tuning into the Light Her Project podcast. Remember you can follow the conversation online with our hashtag. So in the meantime, keep it real, Real Women.

[Vixen Divine]: 33:16

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