Episode 192: The Happiness Episode with Sandra Ann Miller

Happiness feels so…elusive right now, right? Happiness coach Sandra Ann Miller joins Amanda to talk about how we might have happiness wrong.  In this episode we will explore the following questions:

  • Are unhappiness and consumerism linked?
  • What is hedonic happiness? How is that different from eudaimonic happiness?
  • Can money buy happiness? And are billionaires happy?
  • How and where can we find happiness (you might be surprised)?
  • What’s the difference between being happy and toxic positivity?
  • Is happiness possible in an unjust world?
  • Is it okay to be happy while so much bad stuff is happening in the world around us?

Also in this episode: Amanda discusses the recent piece by Derek Thompson for The Atlantic, “Why Americans Suddenly Stopped Hanging Out.” How is that impacting our own personal happiness? And how do we rediscover our community?

Find Sandra here

Instagram: @thehappyistofficial and @sassylittlepod
Threads: @thehappyistofficial and @sassylittlepod
Website:  The Happyist

Btw the book Amanda read as kid (like 100 times at least): A Pocket Full of Seeds, Marilyn Sachs.

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Welcome to Clotheshorse, the podcast that spent a few days this week feeling full of despair about the future of humanity, thanks to TikTok.


I’m your host Amanda and this is episode 192! And yes, I really did lose all faith in humanity briefly this week thanks to TikTok, and I’ll get into that briefly in a few. But first, let’s talk about this week’s episode! My guest is Sandra Ann Miller who is…well she is many things: a writer, a podcaster on hiatus, and a happiness coach. Yep, you’re heard me right there…Sandra is a happiness coach.  Happiness might sound like a very un-Clotheshorse, very un-Amanda thing to discuss, but happiness and how difficult it can be to be happy, has been on my mind a lot lately. And specifically how that ties into consumerism and life in late stage capitalism.  Sandra and I are going to discuss where and how we can find happiness (you might be surprised), how that ties into “stuff,” and how we can find happiness while living within an unjust world. And we’ll explore the question “Is it okay to be happy when so much bad stuff is happening in the world around me?”


So I’ll just go ahead and admit to you that I did not watch the Super Bowl. I guess you’re probably not surprised by that.  In fact, I was working on editing last week’s episode while the Super Bowl was happening.  But I definitely heard all about the $21 million worth of Temu commercials that aired during the game, with the somehow accidentally very appropriate slogan “shop like a billionaire.” Because you know, you don’t get to be a billionaire without exploiting a lot of humans and Temu, well, exploits a lot of humans.


Anyway, I shared a post on TikTok about Temu–honestly, it was something I put together last August and shared on Instagram then, and because the TikTok algorithm works in a way that I will never understand, that post went viral and it has been viewed more than 375,000 times…and it’s still going strong. Instagram would never do that!


And I guess I’m supposed to feel “good” or a sense of success from that kind of exposure, but honestly, it’s been kinda depressing.  Because for every one comment that is like “thank you, I had a feeling Temu was bad,” there are 20 along the lines of “well, it’s not my problem, I like cheap stuff.” Or “i’m placing another Temu order right now.” Etc.  I won’t even go into the comments denying the Uyghur genocide or trying to lean into “whataboutism.” Or the one guy who thought I was actually Nike or Amazon trying to turn people away from Temu? 


Dark times, my friends. It was just so sad to see how little people cared about other humans. And yeah, Dylan warned me that people on TikTok are “feral,” but I was still so surprised? Dismayed? Disheartened?


And it made me think a lot about how challenging relationships and empathy are in the social media era, especially 3+ years into a pandemic that has isolated us even more.


This week I read an interesting piece from The Atlantic by Derek Thompson called “Why Americans Suddenly Stopped Hanging Out.” It came out on Valentine’s Day, and that irony is not lost on me. I’ll share it in the show notes so you can check it out.


Thompson writes about how until the 1970s, Americans were very social, participating in community groups, churches, book clubs, political associations, sewing circles, social clubs, bowling leagues, the PTA, etc…and in general, both adults and kids were spending a lot of time with people outside their families. And this decline continued through the following decades.  According to Thompson, “From 2003 to 2022, American men reduced their average hours of face-to-face socializing by about 30 percent. For unmarried Americans, the decline was even bigger—more than 35 percent. For teenagers, it was more than 45 percent. Boys and girls ages 15 to 19 reduced their weekly social hangouts by more than three hours a week. In short, there is no statistical record of any other period in U.S. history when people have spent more time on their own.”


Now, three hours a week might sound like NBD, but that’s 156 hours in a year.  And that’s a lot of time someone could be spending laughing, making up inside jokes, collaborating, just being around others (which has an impact on our mental health).


Of course, we tend to think that social media, texting, emailing, face timing, etc are a substitute for IRL socialization (and certainly during the early years of the pandemic, we had to settle for that), but I think we know that doesn’t fully fill the void.  There is something about the IRL energy (and discomfort) that is good for our brains. And helps us understand other people, build empathy and connections.


The happiest time in my life was the years I spent living in LA.  I did fun stuff with my friends every weekend, I laughed with my coworkers, I had friends I met at barre class every night, and in general, I spent a lot of time with other people. When Dustin and I moved to Portland, I still saw people but a lot less. My job was kinda lonely and I worked all the time. Dustin worked at night often (back then he was still doing live sound and touring), so most nights after work, I sat on the couch with the cats or I went for a walk alone.  And yeah, I felt a little depressed.  Which was interesting to me, because I am kind of a solitary person by nature, or at least, introverted and good at being alone.


Did your parents have friends when you were growing up?  My mom really did not. She worked, she came home, she watched tv, she spent time with my grandma and uncles about once a week. But she didn’t have friends really that she hung out with or talked on the phone with.  And she  definitely stood in the way of my building friendships: I wasn’t allowed to go to sleepovers or parties. I was pretty heavily parentified by mid elementary school, spending my evenings, weekends, and summers babysitting my brother and doing housework. I was often not allowed to participate in social stuff because there would be no one to do those jobs if I wasn’t home.


And so I spent a lot of time alone, reading, making stuff, and of course, doing chores.  It wasn’t uncomfortable to me, because I was used to it.  It was wild to move into adult life and make real, long lasting friends who over time, became my family more than my actual blood relatives.  And I would think sometimes how strange it was that my life was so different from my mom’s.  It wasn’t just the friends all over the world that I made over time.  It was the volunteer work I did. The exercise classes. The creative collaborations. 


By the time we arrived in Philadelphia two years before the pandemic, that stuff was drying up.  All I did was work and hang out with Dustin and Dylan.  


Now that we have made the move to Lancaster, I’m committed to changing that because I can see that while I have a lot of social anxiety (and I think years of isolation has made it worse), being around people is good for me: for my brain and my heart.  A few weeks ago we joined the coworking space in town, The Candy Factory, and it has already felt like a new good thing for me just to make jokes with others and laugh.  


There is something to be said for the greater social impact of this decline in social activity. I think it fuels trollishness, apathy, and well, unhappiness.  In his essay, Thompson writes, “I do think every social crisis in the U.S. could be helped somewhat if people spent a little more time with other people and a little less time gazing into digital content that’s designed to make us anxious and despondent about the world. This young century, Americans have collectively submitted to a national experiment to deprive ourselves of camaraderie in the world of flesh and steel, choosing instead to grow (and grow and grow) the time we spend by ourselves, gazing into screens, wherein actors and influencers often engage in the very acts of physical proximity that we deny ourselves. It’s been a weird experiment. And the results haven’t been pretty.”


Why did people stop hanging out? I mean, I can only speculate on the reasons, but I don’t think any of them will surprise you:

  • There aren’t as many “third places” to hang out, meaning places that are neither school/work nor our homes.  The mall is kinda dead, a lot of people feel unsafe in parks, and every other place costs money.
  • People are working.  They are working a lot.  How many people do you know who only have one job? I feel like that list is pretty short for me at this point, and those people with only one job are working all the time, answering texts and emails after hours and on weekends.  And for me in the past, it has felt like too much to try to socialize while knowing I’ll end up having to deal with work stuff in the midst of that.
  • Life in the digital age eats up a lot of time and emotional energy, with a constant flow of notifications, new posts, messages, and so much more. There isn’t time (or energy) left to go out and see people IRL.


To me, it’s no coincidence that politics have gotten even more divisive, conspiracy theories more extreme, and the world generally much scarier.  Because we don’t know one another any more.  

And if you don’t think in the midst of this loneliness (see also: last week’s episode), that we aren’t spending more time scrolling and shopping, well, I know you know that we are.  It doesn’t help that social media platforms (literally all of them at this point) have integrated ads and shopping seamlessly.  


So, here’s what I want to hear from all of you: what are you doing to connect with others? To build community? Where are your third spaces? The answer is going to be different for every one. And how do you think we can build a bigger, stronger slow fashion community? I want to hear your ideas. You can send me a voice memo recorded on your phone or write it out in an email. I have sad news: the Clotheshorse hotline is officially RIP.


Okay, I’m keeping the intro short this week because my conversation with Sandra is quite long, so let’s jump in!


All right, why don’t you introduce yourself to everyone?



Hello, I’m Sandra Ann Miller, and I am reluctantly a happiness coach, but thrilled to be one at the same time.



Yeah, you know, when I first got your email and I was like one sentence in, I was like, happiness coach, no, delete, spam folder, whatever. I kept reading. So why don’t you tell everyone how you became a happiness coach?






Yeah, well, you know, it’s the term that I have the issue with, not the actual work. So I’m working through that. But I had been in a pretty bad mood since about 2016. And yeah. And






I sat myself down at the end of 2022 and said, girl, we can’t keep going on like this. Like we need to do something. And it’s not like I was walking around growling or anything, but I just wasn’t happy. I just wasn’t feeling good about enough stuff. And it’s not like I didn’t go out with friends and laugh and have a good time, but they’re just inside. It just wasn’t great. And so I did some research like what should I do and you know I’ve been to therapy and all that and that’s great but it was it was something that I knew I needed to do and I needed to shift something and I stumbled upon of all things happiness coaching and weirdly it clicked with me. It’s like yes this and let me just preface this like I went to film school, I’m a writer. But once I started looking into it, I’m like, yes, this is sort of what I think a lot of us are missing is just having the permission to be happy, especially with the world being the world and our lives not being perfect. We keep waiting for something to change in order for us to be happy. And that’s not really working, is it?



Yeah, I mean, happiness has always felt so elusive, right? But then I take a step back and I’m like, actually, like, that was a pretty happy time where that day was really happy or I felt great. And I think we, well, you know, I’ll just say when you and I were preparing for this episode, you said something that really stuck with me that I’ve been reflecting upon, which is you said.


I think we’ve gotten screwed up about what happiness is. And I think we tend to think it has every happy moment has to be like the equivalent of a Sundae buffet. And I mean like Ice Cream Sundae buffet at Disneyland on your birthday. And everything’s free. And everybody is required to give you like five compliments during the day. We have it built up that like certain moments of our life are intended to be the most important and meaningful and happy days of our lives. We hear these things about like, oh, your teenage years are the best years of your life. I’m sure you’ve heard that. You heard that a million times when you were a teenager. And I was like, I really hope that is not true because the rest of life is going to be real bad if this is as good as it gets, you know? But we hear these things that kind of build up this idea about what happiness is.


Right. And we’re kind of taught that it’s outside of us.


Like we need to achieve certain things. Our lives have to be a certain way. You know, it’s a lot of it is status. We have to get that job and earn that money and buy that house and drive that car and go to these places and be seen in these shoes and carry this purse or whatever it is. And that isn’t working for anybody as far as I can tell. And what I don’t think we know or what I didn’t know


that there are two types of happiness. There’s hedonic and there’s eudaimonic. And hedonic, you know, hedonism, it’s…


Everything that’s kind of outside of us, it’s people, places, and material things. It’s experiences. It’s what we are taught to go forward and grasp for. And the problem with hedonic happiness is because it’s outside of us, it doesn’t last very long. And when it goes away, it’s really deflating and depressing, and we wonder what we did wrong. And now we have to go after more and more. And it has to be bigger.


and bigger and that happiness hits us and then it goes away again. Whereas with eudaimonic happiness and that’s like a spelling bee word it’s e-u-d-a-i-m-o-n-i-c and that’s the happiness that comes from within that’s the true stuff that’s the real deal and that’s that comes from having a sense of appreciation for who you already are and what you already have.


It’s understanding your worth and it’s understanding your sense of purpose. And those are all things that we aren’t really taught to do or feel good about because if we have a strong sense of self-worth, well then we must be really, you know, in love with ourselves, conceited, arrogant, or whatever. And if we have this, right? And if we have this, yes!



It is discouraged to feel good about yourself. Yeah.



to have a sense of purpose, well that’s also sort of arrogant, like I’m going to go forth and conquer or whatever, but it’s not. And so we are almost in all ways taught to be unhappy.





Yeah, it’s true. It’s true because I think there also is like sort of a, I don’t know, like a jealousy component to happiness, not like your own happiness, but like seeing other people being happy or confident or having a sense of purpose, depending on the moment you encounter that, you just, you feel angry, right? That’s what like the jealousy is where you’re like, why isn’t that me? Why don’t I have that sense of purpose? Why don’t I feel that good about myself? Um, the social media era definitely like exacerbates that for a lot of us because we’re only seeing the highlights real. We’re not seeing people’s true like internal experience, but exactly, exactly. And so I think I don’t know that kind of one it like ups the stakes for what happiness is, but at the same time it makes us more unhappy because we are experiencing



Mm-hmm and we’re seeing everything through a filter.



our own resentment of other people’s happiness. It’s really hard to be happy right now.



It is, and a lot of it is, you know, one, like I said, you know, we feel like we have to earn it or deserve it, and then we look outside at the world, well, how dare I be happy with this going on and with that going on and these things happening. And believe me, it’s not that I’m not aware, and it’s not that I’m not upset and angry and doing what I can about it, but it’s not one or the other.

And that’s the thing, you can be happy and extremely pissed off. And you can be happy and so sad about what’s happening. It’s not a one or the other. It’s walking and chewing gum.



Yeah, yeah, you know, you’re making me think of a book I read as a kid. And I can’t remember the name of it. It might have been a Lois Lowry book, but I might have the wrong writer. And I’m going to have to look it up and put it in the show notes for everyone later. But.


Basically, it takes place during World War II. And this girl and her family are in hiding, right? Because they are Jewish. And one day while she is at school, her entire family is taken and sent off to the concentration camps. And she’s left alone. And a family hides her away in their school. And the teacher, one of the teachers there will often come to her and chastise her for laughing or being happy because she should never feel joy again as long as she’s lost her family. That’s what this person says to her. And that really stuck with me, has stuck with me through my adulthood. And I think back to when I was in my 20s, my partner passed away while I was pregnant with our child. So it was a very, very bad time. And there would be moments during all that grief where I would laugh. or feel like, wow, that was a nice day. And I would have this moment of guilt, of I shouldn’t be feeling happy right now. I am going through one of the worst times of my life.

And then I would remind myself of how ridiculous that was, that life is layered and life is also short. And sometimes things are going very wrong within your life or outside of your life in the larger world. And that doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments where you laugh or are happy.



Right. You can have both. And we’re learning not to live in the binary, right?





Sandra (

So we need to kind of open that up emotionally as well. So being happy isn’t taking away from any other circumstance. And it’s also not like dancing through the daisies, completely oblivious to what’s going on. That’s not happiness. That’s toxic positivity. And that is the antithesis of happiness. In order to be truly happy, you have to feel all of your feelings. You have to really embrace all of your emotions, because one, we are in control of them, believe it or not. So you don’t have to let them run amok if you don’t want to. And two, they’re there to teach us. There’s some sort of lesson that anger or that disappointment or that upset or that sadness or that frustration is trying to teach us. And we just aren’t taught to pay attention to that and kind of ask the question like, why did I react that way? Why am I feeling that way? Was it that big of a deal? Or, you know, was it an overreaction? And just get to learn about ourselves in that way. I don’t think we’re ever really taught that. We’re just taught to not do something.



Yeah, definitely, definitely. So how do you recommend that we cultivate that right kind of happiness within our lives? Because obviously, Clotheshorse is a podcast about over consumption and shopping and the fashion industry. And I mean, I think we can all agree that there is such a massive link between our pursuit of happiness and our shopping habits and our over consumption. Right. So how do we cultivate the right kind of happiness that doesn’t necessarily involve buying shit? To be blunt.



Because we all know that happiness lasts until you get your credit card bill, right?



Or if you’re lucky, I mean, it’s like you get the package and you take the stuff out of the box and you’re like, oh, now I’m sad or now I tried it on and I’m like, what’s wrong with my body or whatever? Because it was so crappily made. So that happiness is very fleeting.



Yeah. Oh yeah.

Right. Well, we’re taught, I mean, we live in a capitalist society and we’re taught to be very good consumers and we’re taught, again, to reach outside of ourselves. And I forget, was it the 80s where retail therapy became a thing?


Oh, I don’t know. It just keeps coming back. Right. And all the think about all the movies we watched growing up that were like the shopping montage, like especially if it’s like a teen movie. That’s the real turning point between the nerd being miserable and alone and then being popular and in demand, you know, happy. It’s like, oh, it’s the shopping trip. That’s that’s the real turning point in the plot of this film.



Well, and it’s, you know, there is a hole we feel, right? There’s a gap that we feel inside of us. And we don’t know what that is, but we want to fill it up.

And so we reach for things that are outside of us. And believe me, I’ve been there where it’s like, these pants are gonna change my life. Those shoes are gonna change my life. I need that purse, right? Doesn’t, but we think that there’s some sort of solution outside of us. But to create eudaimonic happiness, the real deal, it’s really simple. It’s just shifting your perspective and learning to appreciate things. It is my preferred term because gratitude has sort of been co-opted by toxic positivity and it also gives you a lot of homework. You’re supposed to be feeling it all the time, you’re supposed to be journaling about it. No, appreciation is, you know, it is gratitude, it is being thankful, but when we look at the word itself, it’s kind of mathy. 


I’m a wordy chick, so I kind of like that word a lot. So having appreciation for the smaller things, as well as the big things, it helps you to kind of be aware of what’s bringing you joy. So for me, it’s hawks and hummingbirds and green lights and parking spaces that are good, and especially if they’re free, those will make me extraordinarily happy. And we can argue that those are outside of me of course, but it’s the appreciation I feel that lingers and brings me joy and makes me smile. So if you can focus on, you know, if it’s a really good cup of coffee, then hey, appreciate it. That’s wonderful.


And if it’s getting to work on time and you thought you were going to be late, appreciate that. I say thank you all the time to everything. You know, the food delivery gets there earlier than I thought. Thank you. The green light stays longer than it should. Thank you. It’s a silly practice, but it really helps me to stay in that place of appreciation where things are good. Even when I’m having a bad day, there are good things happening. Thank you for that.


And then it’s also really getting to like ourselves, if not actually love ourselves. And again, without conceit, it’s just, how can we not like ourselves or love ourselves? We are with ourselves all day, every day. So we should have a good friendship with ourselves. And…that takes time and that takes understanding and a lot of the way we feel about ourselves was kind of pushed upon us by other people or society or parents. So we have to kind of get to, yes.






So we have to kind of get to know ourselves and really pay attention to how we do things and how we move in the world and what our talents are and what we’re really good at. And whether that’s just how we show up for our friends or the fact that we are kind enough to hold open the door for somebody, it’s just paying attention to those things and creating that sense of worth. And then of course having a purpose or being a caregiver or going back to school or just trying to be the best human you can be. It doesn’t have to be I’m going to save the world or I’m going to create this app or I’m going to do this thing. It’s just what’s driving you now. What’s making you feel the most you right now. And so those are the ways that we start planting those seeds of real happiness. And then of course the it’s when that high goes away, you don’t have that crashing low anymore because your foundation of happiness is pretty solid. You understand it better and you’re not looking for it to come to you. You’re creating it yourself by appreciating that cup of coffee, by that thing you need, dish soap or whatever, it’s on sale. Oh, thank you. That’s great. I’m saving like a buck. Whippy-doo. It’s just… looking around for the good stuff and it is there. But again, it’s not in a toxic positivity way. You’re not BSing yourself about it. You have to really understand your joys, what makes you feel good. For me, like the perfect french fry is heaven and that brings me a phenomenal amount of joy. So it’s just really appreciating who’s around you, what’s around you and embracing that.



Yeah, you know, as you talk about that, I’m thinking about how often, and I think this is like the kind of stuff, you know, you’ll hear from like self-help articles in women’s magazines. And well, I suppose most of them are RIP now. So let’s say blog posts or social media content. It’s always like, oh, are you unhappy? Well, to get happy, you have to make these extreme life changes and then you will be happy. So, you know, you will quit your job and get a new job or you’ll go back to school or start a business or you’ll you know, it’s just it’s always these huge things, right? And what I have found, it all costs money for sure. And it’s all just like, out of reach for a lot of people to be like, I’m just going to quit my job because it makes me unhappy is not an option for most people. Right? Like they it’s like a whole process or moving to a new place or you know, all of these other things. And it’s often just sold to us is this like big thing we have to do. That’s that’s the reason happiness is elusive for us. And I



Right, and it’s all costing money.


I had this one year where I just was like, I am so unhappy. And believe it or not, it was before 2016, which is saying a lot, because 2016 was definitely a turning point in my life too. But I was just like, everything about my life sucks. I like don’t really like my job, it’s okay, but it’s like not great. And I keep getting into these really unhappy dating situations. I feel really lonely. I feel like everything I do is just like so hard. And it’s really hard for me to find happiness.


Rather than saying, you know what I’m going to do is I’m going to quit my job. I’m going to move to another city. I’m going to start my life over. I’m going to join a gym. I’m going to get a personal trainer. Like all the big things that people will say are like, this is what you have to do. I said, OK, my New Year’s resolution is that every month this year, I’m going to add two things to my life, like a way of doing things that makes me happy and is like brings sustainable, long term happiness and quality of life improvements. So I got a library card so that I could read more books and save money while I was doing it. That was great, right? Cause the side benefit is that I would also walk from work to the library and I’d get to like see birds and people and squirrels and just feel, feel good while I was doing it, right? I signed up for a produce box so I could cook more food at home, which cooking is like such a source of joy for me. And then I could also eat a nice lunch every day. That was my leftovers, right? Like just a little thing that was like, ah, right? You know, joining a car share service because I didn’t have a car and sometimes I just I just wanted to not carry my groceries home or go to the beach or something like just these little things and one I carried so many of those changes on for years and years even until now and two I was happier like almost immediately.

It was wild, you know, I didn’t have to like reboot my life at all.



Right. Because it’s, yes, you can do those things. And let me tell you, I have leapt and the net has not appeared. And so I refer to that as malignant optimism. Like we’re taught to, like, if you want to manifest something, you’ve got to believe and you’ve got to dig in and, you know, stay the course and all that. No, I basically destroyed my life because I have been on the floor in a heap weeping with a three day notice on my door with no money in my bank. My cable and internet turned off, you know, the special color that the DWP and the gas company would send before I could they’re going to turn you off. Yeah. And so like, you know, if somebody came to me and said, just appreciate what you have. I’m not a violent person, but I probably would have taken a swing, you know what I mean? And so I’m…



Oh, I know this one. Yeah.



I understand being in that depths and I love how you decided, like, I’m going to make myself happy and I’m going to do these things that bring me joy. And they didn’t really cost a whole lot, did they?



No, no, and they weren’t they weren’t these big scary changes, which when I would talk to my friends About my unhappiness. I never even said the word unhappy, but like it was it was apparent They their suggestions would be those huge leaps like you should move to you should move to la or you should You should like totally quit your job and just like take six months off and I was like what who’s gonna pay my bills? I am a person who’s moved all around the country many times, moving does not equal instant happiness, you know? Quitting your job, getting a new job even, it can it can lead to a higher quality life. It can also lead to a nightmare. And I think that it’s just like often the options we’re giving for finding happiness are either buy something or take this huge change, make it right away, and then the happiness will be there. And listen, I’ve had that kind of optimism about a change in the past. Like I eventually, actually after that year of making myself more happy, I did move to LA. I did get a new job. And that was a great move for me, but not right out of the gate. I was like, moving is so stressful. I’m so lonely. I keep getting lost. Like. everything in L.A. is harder, you know, and like I would have to like, you know, I’d be like walking to the subway in the morning. I’d be like, hey, here are reasons to be happy. It’s February and it’s like 75 degrees and sunny. Right. There’s like parrots that live in my neighborhood and there are palm trees, which are really cool because I’m from Pennsylvania where they don’t grow. And, you know, I would have to see these beautiful things and I would feel really, really happy. But the moving wasn’t the reason. I just think the narratives for pursuit of happiness, it’s like we’re told don’t be too happy, but also make do things to make yourself happy. But only these like really specific things. It’s like hard to win.



It really is. And it’s, you know, it’s like, it’s also, it’s your fault, right? It’s your fault you’re not happy.



Yeah, yeah, definitely. It always is, right? And it’s like a change you’re supposed to make immediately to address.



But we’re not taught to be happy. We’re not taught to, right, we’re not taught to foster the things that will bring us joy. It’s like, don’t pay attention to that, that’s too small. Go for the bigger stuff. And the bigger stuff is just draining and it’s only going to fix a little bit.



No, definitely not.



and that happiness really isn’t going to stick if you’re not already happy in you. So if you had moved to LA before you had set yourself up for good stuff, how bad would that have been?



I would have been like, you know what I need to do is get a boyfriend. Now I’ll be happy because that’s another thing. It’s always like you. I remember actually about a month or two before I moved to LA, a friend who is like not my friend now I realized was like not a friend was we were out and she was just like, you know, you know what your problem is, is that. She was like first off you’re not gonna get that job in LA because if you were you would have it already so you need to give up on that and Secondly your problem is you have too high of standards for people you date and if you would just like Not look for someone who was like super handsome or super successful or super interesting and just be happy that they like liked you Then you would be happy and I was like what you’re saying. I should just like compromise what I want in order to be happy. Like I was like, that is really bad friend advice. You know, it was sort of just like give up and then you will be happy. I’m sure that was coming from different, something within her for sure. But I do think like it is hard to find happiness sometimes because we’re looking in the wrong places. But I also think like we’re reallyAmanda (26:17.616)

quick to look for what’s bad. And it’s like we can’t give ourselves, I think it’s stigmatized to feel happiness sometimes. And I think, especially if you are like a smart or funny or politically or environmentally minded person, like if you care about things, you care about people, being happy is almost like anachronistic to being that person, like you’re not supposed to be, right? And you and I were talking about this before, how the different generations that exist right now on our world right now, their approach to happiness was and is sort of different. Like, I’m not really sure. I guess like when it comes to like boomer happiness, it’s probably really rooted in consumption is my guess. 


Well, and also how dare you be happy? Don’t you see what’s going on in the world and you didn’t work hard enough for it or anything like that? You know what I mean? It’s like it was all about work, work.



Yeah, it’s true. It’s true. And like, you know, the 80s were like the me decade because boomers were like young adults then. And they were like, it’s all about me and my career success and what I can buy and like really conspicuous consumption. Right. And then Gen X, which, you know, you said, you know, you’re Gen X. I’m on that cusp of Gen X millennial. Definitely identify more millennial because the Gen X people always thought I was too young and uncool, which was probably true. Gen X was like, it’s not cool to be happy.






Right? Like if you’re happy, I don’t know. I immediately think of like Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites when I even say that out loud. Not that he said that, but that was his energy. Like if you’re happy, then you’re not paying attention to the world.

And then millennials, we go with the pendulum swings back to like, if you just buy the right stuff, you’ll be happy. But most importantly, you’re going to show that happiness on social media. So like avocado toast and travel and clothes and Coachella and all of that. Like, I remember specifically when like social media was like really happening, like Instagram specifically, like, let’s say 2015 ish. 2014 being like, why is everyone on earth happier than me? Like I just was like, I don’t go on big trips. I haven’t had some picturesque destination wedding. I never eat avocado toast. I don’t even really like it that much. Like I don’t have a perfectly curated breakfast at home every day. I am not a foodie out there taking pictures of my meals.


You know, I just felt like I was being shown there were these different kinds of happiness you could have and none of them were in reach for me or maybe even of interest to me.



and none of them are real.



None of them are real, but it takes you a while to figure that out, right? You’re like, wait a minute. You know, I think for me, it was like there was this one couple who seemed to have the most perfect relationship ever based on Instagram. And I hung out with them once for a whole weekend with other people. It wasn’t like a weird threesome or anything. And, you know, like just don’t want to start any rumors there. But we were all hanging out and I was like, oh, my God, that couple is like really unhappy. Like they are disrespectful to one another. They seem to have no interest in what the other person thinks about or says, or they share no common interests. And I was like, wow, like, wait, you’re telling me that not everything on social media is real? Like that was it. You know, I was like 30 years old or something, and I was like, wow, well, you just got me. Like, I’m so shocked. And I like wonder like. I Gen Z, I think, to a certain extent, has like, and I really hate generalizing by generations, but the reality is that there are patterns here. It seems like Gen Z, they’re in a unique place, which I do not envy, which is on one hand, hey, guess what? The world is so fucked. And then the other hand, like, well, whatever, I’m going to get my own happiness. Like, I don’t know. Like I feel like we all need like a happiness overhaul.



We do. We really do. And I’m going to be a little dark here for a second. To me, the reason why I’m such an advocate for being happy right now, as is, is because…


Happy people aren’t the ones dropping bombs. Happy people aren’t the ones picking up guns and ruining lives. Happy people are not the ones trying to take away rights and opportunities from other people. And happy people are not the ones not baking cakes. We have had enough unhappiness.

For so long and when we look at our landscape and we talk about, you know, cultish behaviors and people being in a cult, whatever kind of cult we can, you know, conjure up, it’s because people are feeling lonely and afraid and feeling invisible. So they reach out, again, reaching outside for something that makes them feel connected.


If we start realizing that, hey, the most important relationship I’m going to have is with me. And again, that sounds very selfish, very conceited, but it’s not. It’s the same thing as putting your mask on first. You have to do it because if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not really going to do a good job of taking care of other people. If you’re not very healthy with yourself, then eventually all that care and love and stuff that you give to other people, you’re just going to burn out and be even unhappier. So it’s…


It’s that we’re at a crucial time in this world. And I mean, I could have never imagined where we would be when I was really happy in the 90s. You know, things seemed pretty good. The worst thing that happened involved a cigar. And, you know, I mean, definitely there was war and, you know, there’s the Gulf War and stuff. And it’s really easy to kind of not remember that because it was so far removed from us, right? Our gas prices went up. That was, and you know, if you didn’t know anybody in the military, then you really didn’t know what was going on, right? So again, that’s perspective. We don’t know what we don’t know. And it’s really easy to remember just the good parts that we were experiencing. But getting to today, never in my wildest dreams could I have, you know, Margaret Atwood-ed this scenario, right?



Yeah, I mean, this century, I think about this a lot. Like, were was it a simpler time in the 80s and 90s? Or am I fictionalizing it like, you know, because right now is so nightmarish? I don’t think so. I think it is really fucking grim right now.



Yeah, I will say it was really easy in the 80s and 90s, because we didn’t have social media, we didn’t have cell phones, you might’ve had a beeper, and then towards the end of the 90s, you might’ve had a really big brick of a cell phone. So things were easier, life moved slower, even though then we thought we were on the cusp of everything, technological, and we’re just living in the future, right? But…

It was a simpler time. All of these things that keep us connected also complicate things and they overwhelm us. And you know, now there are a bunch of people that are getting rid of their smartphones and going back to a flip phone just to get away from the overwhelm. And yeah, were we happier then? I don’t know. I mean, I was a kid, so yeah, probably. But


As a society, well that’s when we started with, you know, the power suit and, you know, greed is good, right? That line from Wall Street. So all of the materialism really started coming into play then. And the 90s had a little bit of pushback with it with grunge. But…

not a whole lot. We had like an awareness of the environment and things we should do and MTV would give PSAs about not using paper towels, right? But we are where we are, so we can’t look back. And I know that especially now, we think the pandemic’s over, it’s really not. But we keep wanting to go back to a normal, but that doesn’t exist anymore. We have to create our reality in the way that we want it to be. We can’t keep looking back to what was. We have to deal with what’s going on right now and work to create something we can live in, be proud of, be comfortable in. And that’s understanding we only have so much control over our lives and this world, but we do have a say in how we feel. And we can really work to build that happy muscle, just like you did. It can be as simple as a library card. It can be as simple as a walk through the park. You know what I mean? It doesn’t have to be these big things. It doesn’t have to be, you know a complete shift, it just really starts simple and that’s what we need to kind of start embracing because we can’t keep going on in this misery, in my opinion, it’s not working. To me it’s clearly not working and we need to do something and to me that something is being happier within ourselves because from there we’ll start making better choices for ourselves, for our community and hopefully for the world.



Yeah, I agree with that. You know, it’s funny, like thinking about how we sort of have to accept the change, right, is really, really important. There was this subreddit a couple of years ago. It’s gone now. Reddit had to get rid of it because it was so, like, toxic. And it was called No New Normal.

And it was basically I think it started as like people who didn’t want to wear masks or social distance, right. And who wanted to be able to eat in restaurants. I literally remember seeing a post on there that was like, I can’t believe I can’t even have a date night at a restaurant. And it’s like, well, if you really want a date night, there’s like a million other things you could do that don’t involve a restaurant. So maybe you’re just really boring. That’s a whole other conversation. But it evolved into like, why are women having jobs? And, you know, why do women get to like pick who they marry? And why racism isn’t real? Like, you know, like things it was just it was I was like, wow, like, I don’t even know what normal y’all are trying to get back to. You don’t want this new normal where like the world is better. Like maybe you were I don’t know, you’re like thinking of like the 1950s from the perspective of like a cis white male. Like, I’m not really sure, but we’re never going back there. And if you’re sitting around, I mean, imagine the amount of energy one would spend being upset every day about how women have jobs. Like imagine the toll that would take on you physically and emotionally to be sitting around all day being angry about how women have jobs or are allowed to vote or that people wear masks. Like just thinking about how miserable you would be all the time because you just cannot accept that like the world has changed. 



And even that, no it’s crazy, but even that, it’s looking outside yourself and pointing the finger at like, I don’t like how you do this and I don’t like how that’s being done and I don’t want this anymore. And it’s like, okay, but where is that coming from? What part of you is broken in that way that you need to hate other people? And I’m purposely using that term because there is no dislike anymore. It’s just, it’s gone to that level.



Oh, yeah, it’s very it’s very extreme. And yeah, like I think about that, like how exhausting that must be. Just how exhausting it must be. I mean, we all have those moments where we’re laying in bed at night, like maybe we are having trouble sleeping or we woke up from a bad dream or we’re laying in bed and we start thinking about some job we had or some co-worker we had or someone we dated like 10 years ago who treated us poorly and you’re starting you can feel yourself getting angry. Right.

I just like I have I assume for people who are just like so full of hate that this is like every moment of their lives. They feel that anger. And I hate that feeling when I’m laying in bed rehashing something someone said to me at work five years ago, you know, like I can’t imagine having it all the time.


Which is not to say, I mean, most people who are listening to close hours and I would hope all are not in that boat of being full of hate, but they may be feeling that it’s really hard to live in the moment because the past seems so much better. Right. And I think that’s also I think it’s a normal part of getting older, whether you’re getting older as in you’re in your 20s now and you’re no longer a teenager or you’re like in your 50s and you used to be in your 40s. Right. Like you still


You feel that longing for what you think was a better time.



Right. Well, I think we also mourn the future that we were hoping to have. You know, that for me is like, you know, I had these plans and now they’re, they’re just not doable. And that makes me sad.

But I also want to go back to your point of, you know, when you’re lying in bed and you’re ruminating over what happened at work. I’ve done that. I did it not that long ago. I’m in the showers, lovely, perfectly warm water, you know, shampoo my hair. And I’m going over a situation that is super petty at my office. And I lather myself up into just being super pissed off about it. And I’m like, I just ruined a perfectly good mood over nothing because this is just petty BS. And that’s what I find fascinating. That’s what I mean that we really do have a say in our emotions. That was self-inflicted. I did that. Not the situation, not the person doing the situation. I did that. And so if we can kind of get into the habit of understanding how we kind of stoke our own fires, both good and not so great, that is really helpful in kind of managing our…


are upset, are emotions that we don’t necessarily feel comfortable in, we get to determine how long we hang out with them. You know what I mean? And it’s not just, I don’t believe in ignoring things or pushing things under the rug, but at the same time, if you’re just kind of picking that scab, poking that wound, well, that’s an intentional act. It’s not just the emotion, you know, coming over you. It’s…you diving into it. And like I said, I do it, I still do it. And I’m like, why are you doing this to yourself? Knock it off. But that hate and that rage that’s going on, it’s constantly being stoked. And we can see it in certain aspects of social media and the media itself. It’s purposely being stoked because, well, somebody’s making money off of it, right? So if we can kind of dial back our participation in that and kind of take ownership over what we’re feeling and what we’re doing and how we can do it better for ourselves. And this isn’t like some sort of moral high ground. It’s just how are you feeling, how are you doing, what can you do to help you? Then that’s the start. But if we’re constantly looking outside of who’s got something more than we have or who’s doing something we don’t like, then


If we’re looking at that, then we’re causing our own discomfort. It’s not necessary. Somebody is always going to have more than you, and people are always going to have less than you. Whatever you have, appreciate it. Because it can go away, or it can blossom into something even more great. But it’s just understanding that we have a lot of power. And we just don’t always utilize it in the right ways for ourselves.



Yeah, that is so, that’s so true, that the power really is within us. Thinking about the idea of this hedonic happiness, which is just stuff, right? It does raise a question, which is like, I mean, I don’t know, it’s like an adage, right? Money can’t buy you happiness. And I think most people existing right now would say, well, okay, maybe buying stuff for the most part bring your happiness, but there’s something to be said from being able to pay your rent and your bills and not worry. Right? But then I think even that like honestly like I get so stoked when someone posts like, you’re not gonna believe it, but I paid off all my credit card debt or I made my last payment on my student loans or I was able to get some of my student loans forgiven. I feel such joy for that person and that happiness. And I think sometimes like, yeah, there is happiness in money. It’s just not in the stuff aspect per se.

Unless it’s something like, hey, I finally bought a bike and I don’t have to walk anymore and it’s great. I save all this time. OK, yeah, there was happiness in that purchase. But we know that the vast majority of the things we’re sold every day don’t really make us very happy. So that raises the question, are billionaires happy?



Well, let’s see. Let’s take a look outside our window right now and just have a glance. I would say for the most part, no. If you look at some of the ones that are more vocal right now, absolutely not. And again, especially right now. 



Oh no, Elon Musk is like incredibly unhappy. I think we can all agree. Yeah, seriously, seriously.



And but when I look at those people, they are constantly going after more and more and more. And I pick on Jeff Bezos a lot because his yachts yacht has a yacht. And so how much more do you need? And I wouldn’t feel that way about Jeff if all of his workers were happy and taken care of and were on the path to home ownership and retirement with good health care and all that stuff, right? If we heard those happy tales coming out of Amazon, I would have a different perspective on Mr. Bezos. But I would say if, I think Oprah’s a billionaire, right? I think she’s, she has to be and she should be, and I think she’s pretty happy.



She has to be or damn close. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think so too.



I think William Buffett has led a pretty happy life. I don’t know him personally, but you know what I mean? He’s not out there snarking. So I would say, you know, the Obamas may not be billionaires, but I would think that they have a sense of happiness. So when I look at like, you know, the ultra wealthy that are chill, like Mackenzie, right? Mackenzie Bezos.

She’s given it all away. That’s how you do billionaire. She’s still fine. She’s still sitting pretty, but she’s doing something with that money. Because how much do you really, really need? And I often equate happiness with cake because cake does make me happy. But a cake on its own, like a really good cake doesn’t need frosting. It’s delicious as it’s. If you just have frosting,

you’re going to feel sick pretty quick, get that kind of queasy headache. So the cake itself, the actual sponge, as they say on the great British baking show is you demonic happiness. It’s delicious on its own. He donna. Happiness is the frosting and if you put too much on, you’re not going to feel very good. You’re going to be a little nauseous.


And if you look at a well-made layer cake, there’s a good ratio of a lot of cake to a little bit of frosting. That’s the balance you want. You don’t have equal parts cake and frosting, because that would just be gross. You want to really kind of…



I mean, I might eat that. I’m just saying. I’m I do love some icing, but it does make me sick.



Okay, and I don’t want to get sued here, but have you ever had a Sprinkles cupcake? Okay, I have never not had a headache after having a Sprinkles cupcake. And there would be a line out the door and I’m like, exactly, I’m like, there’s too much frosting, there’s too much whatever’s going on in this frosting that is just, it’s just out of whack. And yet, huge, hugely popular. But there is a balance. And you have to just kind of appreciate your cake, and then slather on a little bit of frosting every once in a while, and enjoy it even more. But the frosting isn’t the goal. The frosting just makes you sick. It’s delicious, but it makes you sick.



It’s true. I do feel like we are so many of us. We are in this. This is what modern life is. Whatever that means. It’s been the modern life for decades now of we work, we shop, then we work some more, then we shop and we work and we shop. And we shop because work sucks. But we need to work to shop. Right. And there is no doubt that the fact that so many of us are so overworked and so stressed out about money and our future, there’s no doubt that is the reason we buy so much stuff or one of the big reasons. Like, I definitely I mean, I’m sure you’ve had the job to where it’s you’re on lunch and you’re just like, oh, I’m going to go look at Zara and buy something to cheer myself up. So I have a reason to get through this day. Right. Like, like we prop ourselves up with that stuff and that whole notion of like, treat yourself. It is like, it’s like so you can cope with late stage capitalism. And so I wonder, like, do you have advice for people who are buying stuff to cheer themselves up, who are stuck in the workshop, workshop life that we live, what they could do instead of buying something?



Well, just like you said before, read a book. You can get a free one at the library. You can get a free audio book from the library. Spend time with friends. That doesn’t always have to cost something. And if it does, just maybe make it a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. I will say this. We are raised to be very good consumers, like I said before. And debt will anchor you like nothing else.



So if you’re able to spend money and it doesn’t put you into debt, I don’t know that I have an argument for you. If you’re spending money and it’s putting you into debt, that’s keeping you anchored to that job that you don’t like. You are stuck in an awful pattern and no amount of shopping is going to get you out of that. You’re only putting yourself deeper and deeper and deeper into that hole. And I have been there because when you are feeling low, you want anything to lift you up. And you will find reasons and excuses and deals and sales that you can rationalize to death. But it’s a band-aid and you’re not dealing with the actual issue of why am I not happy? What about this job makes me unhappy? What about my situation makes me unhappy? And what can I do to make myself happy so my situation can start changing?

What pair of shoes has ever solved a problem.



It’s a true story. You know, as soon as you say shoes, I think of Carrie Bradshaw. And I still don’t know how all those shoes fit in her apartment. I mean, we know that the math wasn’t mathing with Sex and the City, but I think so much of this one episode where she wanted to buy her apartment and she couldn’t because she had spent all of her money on shoes.

And while many of us are not hoarding like $500 shoes, I think many of us have seen how this cycle of just trying to exist has cost us a lot of money and a lot of sort of maybe long term security and happiness. That, right? It’s a trap.



Oh yes!

Well, when was the last time you heard the phrase, disposable income?

That was a buzz term in the 90s for marketing. You know, women and single women and gay men have the highest level of disposable income. That’s who we’re going to focus in on. Right? And they found a way to make that go away. And it’s not really in our control. If you look at what CEOs are making versus their employees, that gap is just mathematically crazy. So there’s some real stuff there that’s not within our control. Minimum wage hasn’t gone up in forever. And I remember, like, my uncle in the 70s could have a really crappy apartment and work a part-time job and put himself through a state university without debt, right? You could do all that. And now you can’t, because everything is crazy expensive. So the math is there. It’s not our fault. But Amazon isn’t going to solve the problem. Something showing up for you each day or each week isn’t going to solve the problem. That euphoria of opening the box lasts for how long? 30 seconds?



It’s so short. Yeah.



Yeah. And you know, you use the product a couple of times and you get a little joy and then it’s collecting dust somewhere, right? And so if we if we examine how we operate and everybody’s different, it’s like, OK, so I noticed this about myself. This brings me joy in the moment. And then I look at my credit card bill and then that joy is definitely gone…and then I realize how stuck I am. So how can I get out of this pattern? And the only way is to do the inside job, do the work inside, and start building your form of happiness. And really take advantage of what’s around you, whether it’s the library, whether it’s friends, whether it’s a walk, whether it’s joining a group for a hobby that you like. There are ways to fulfill yourself and your needs that aren’t expensive, that aren’t necessarily causing a cash flow problem, you know what I mean? So it’s just, you know, everything you said you did when you wanted to become happier, that is just genius. And so it is doing the things that you like to do. I also love to cook. So it’s not always a pleasure in my teeny tiny kitchen, but I do love to cook. It can be dangerous if somebody else is in there, but if that’s something that you like or you want to learn to do, do it. And yes, there’s a little bit of money involved in buying food and spices and supplies and whatnot.


But that’s an indulgence that I will allow myself. Like I went through a phase during the pandemic where I wanted good crockery. And so when Stove went on sale and Le Creuset went on sale, I put it on my PayPal credit. I could pay it off in six months interest-free and that was it. Like I said, I’ve got a teeny tiny kitchen. I can’t get anything else cause it’s chocoblocks full of all the stuff I love. But I put it to use.


when I got my Vitamix, I got a refurbished one, again, able to pay it off in six months, no interest. So I do understand, like, you want something that’s going to add to your life, absolutely go for it. But do it in a way that you are comfortable with, that isn’t costing you in either the short term or the long term.


And we get to enjoy our lives, but it’s not always stuff that brings the joy. There’s other ways to do it. Maybe it’s gardening for you. Maybe it’s knitting. Maybe it’s learning to play the ukulele. It’s finding what really lights you up and indulging in that much more than, you know, and please God, I hope nobody says, but shopping really lights me up.



You know, sometimes I think for people, the shopping is not really the stuff per se. It’s the like being out and about and maybe your friends are with you and you all go out for lunch. And I found for me, like, you know, my friends and I would think the thought of like hanging out with my friends and getting to go shopping feels like such a luxury now that we are like three years into the pandemic, almost four. And, you know, we haven’t seen one another in real life. And, you know, we’ve been trying to be we’ve been forced to try to like get back into so-called normal life. And it’s been really difficult for like all of us. But when I think about the before times when we would go shopping together, which we would do a lot. We’d go out for lunch, we’d stop and have a drink. We’d be laughing and telling jokes and having a good time.


It wasn’t the stuff. It was the time together. And during the pandemic, you know, especially in 2020 and 2021, people were like, I’m going to go buy so much stuff online. Right. It’s not the same. It’s like you can place your huge she in hall and maybe you could make a video of it. That’s the way you could connect with people when it comes. But is that the same as a whole day spent together, like coming up with inside jokes? No. It’s it’s just not the same. And I do feel like.


You know, we have I think people are getting burned out on the solo disappointing online shopping. That’s what I want to believe, that people are realizing that the real joy of shopping is not the stuff. It’s the it’s just being out in the world with other people, you know. Which brings me to my next question, which is, you know, listen, as you’ve mentioned, shit is going down right now. It is dark. It is dark. This timeline is very dark, right?

I think as we mentioned early in our conversation, there is this thought that we should, when things are bad, whether it is climate change, whether it is genocide, whether it is war, that we should not have any joy or happiness in our lives while those things are happening, even if they’re not directly happening to us. I mean, climate change is happening to all of us, but you know what I mean. There is this expectation that we should live a life of joyless austerity and maybe despair also. And if we don’t, then we’re bad people. So can you explain to me, how can you find happiness in a scary world and not feel ashamed of happiness?



If we don’t have happiness, then all we have is anger, grief, and sorrow, and rage. How’s that working for us so far? How’s that working for the world so far? So it’s not that being happy takes away from the understanding of what’s going on in this world right now. It’s saying that for me to operate as a human in a healthy manner, I need that well-toned interior of understanding happiness and joy so I can cope, so I can go out there and be helpful to other people so i can make decisions based on logic rather than anger and so it’s not just you know dancing through the daisies like i said before it’s not that understanding that we are here for a very finite period of time and we need to do our best and to do our best we need to be our happiest, I believe. And that is all within context. You know, if you looked at my life, it is so far from perfect. It is not at all how I saw it, you know, happening. And all of that’s okay. And yes, I have times where I mourn what I thought was going to happen that I was so sure was going to be. But so what?

you know, and that’s a very flip phrase, but really, so what? We can put a lot of meaning on a lot of things, but we have to keep perspective of what to be really upset about.


I will share with you that I am talking to you from my teeny tiny 225 square foot duplex that I thought maybe I’d live in for a year, possibly two. This month makes it 11 years. Yeah.



Oh wow, well that’s great because you know what, you don’t have to move and moving sucks as a person who just did it. So there you go.



Moving does suck, but it’s so ridiculously cheap for the area that I live. Utilities are included, and yes, I stub my toes an awful lot, but it’s… I’m oddly in no rush to move. Now, you would think to be really happy I need a bigger space and I do want a bigger space. I miss having house guests. I miss having dinner parties. I miss that. But this has given me a level of happiness and freedom that a bigger space just couldn’t provide. So it’s a compromise that I made that really isn’t a compromise. If I’m building my coaching business but I’m also a worker bee right now,

And I go in eight to five every day right up in the elevator. I work with lovely people. I’m so, so grateful for that because I’ve been in jobs where it wasn’t lovely. And so is it perfect? No. Is it a dream job for me? No. And that is just fine. Everything doesn’t have to be so heightened. Everything doesn’t have to be Instagrammable, right?

We just have to understand what our priorities are and what’s gonna foster that happiness right now in this world as we have to exist in it. And I’m a novice, I wear my mask everywhere, sometimes I’m shot a look, but I also go out to dinner. Like I take myself out to dinner, I’ll meet with friends.

Last night I had dinner, took myself out because it was Thursday, so that was my treat. I’m like, it’s been kind of a long week, we’re just going to go and have some vegan moussaka, really great Greek place by me. And it was just lovely. Now there were several big parties, so I did get a little paranoid towards the end. I’m like, okay, it was much more crowded on a rainy night than I thought it would be. But it’s, it’s a chance for me to sit down, have a good dinner and write, and that brings me joy. Did I spend a little bit of money? Yeah. But it was just being around that energy of happy people, people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and whatnot there. So it’s having an understanding of who we are, our circumstances, and what we’re dealing with and still giving ourselves permission to be happy, no shame, doing what we need to do to be our best selves, and that ripples forward. So all of our happiness, it’s contagious, right? If you’re around a really happy person, how do you feel when you’re with them?

And on the flip side, if you’re with somebody in a really crap mood, and you’re in a good one, how do you feel when you’re around them?



Yeah, terrible.



Well, they can. It really can. It’s like, okay, we’re going to have a little bit of a war here. Whose mood’s going to win? It’s usually the crap mood because, you know, it just sucks the oxygen right out of the room. But I have to ask, you know, let’s all picture it together. Who do we think is stronger? A happy person or an angry person?


I mean, probably the happy person, right? Which is ironic, because, yeah. Interesting.



Right, but most people would say, oh, the angry person. Because, well, at least when I’ve asked it, I will say most people I’m very reductive. But it’s…

We lean towards the anger because we see that as powerful, as productive, and we see happy people as just, you know, standing there smiling, you know, while the world around them is burning, and that’s just not the case. I think if you are able to be happy in your worst circumstances, you have an inner strength that is admirable.

And there is absolutely no shame in that, and that is something worth giving to yourself, because it goes out to the world. So there is no reason not to be happy in this horrible, horrible time.


Because I think happiness is the antidote. I really do, and it’s a wackadoodle theory. But clearly, in the last seven, now eight years, the perpetual anger and upset hasn’t helped.



Mm hmm. Yeah, it hasn’t. It hasn’t. But it’s interesting. It’s like, you know, I’m going to tell you that. You know, what’s happening in Gaza now is really hard to reconcile with day to day life. It is very challenging to get up every day and say, like, I’m going to live my life today? 

People have been suffering around the world our entire lives. And unfortunately, we’re never allowed to get off the treadmill of capitalism to just sit within our grief. Like we have to work, right? We have to pay rent. Like I don’t get to skip paying rent this month because the world is unjust, right? And…

I will tell you, like, I have seen so much across social media. And my husband has reminded me that often the most unhappy people are the loudest people on social media, which I think is fair. So many people out there saying, like, well…


I see all of you out there like getting married or going on trips or celebrating your children’s birthdays. And I just can’t believe what selfish monsters you are. Or I remember someone who I respect deeply posted back in December that they were basically shaming anyone who was celebrating Christmas because how could they do that during all that suffering and that they were going to go to holiday parties because they had to. But they would just be pretending to have a good time.

And I see people posting like I literally am. I was up crying all night over this and I am now crying all day. And I just I want to reach out to these people and just like take their hand and be like, it’s going to be OK. But I think, you know, there’s not going to be a simple solution where things get fixed really fast and we get to return to living our lives oblivious. Like we have to, unfortunately, find a way to be both happy and sad and angry. You know, and I think maybe that is because we have been taught that the way that we’re happy is these like huge unreachable things. Maybe that’s why it’s hard for us to see that we could be both happy and grieving.



And I can totally understand that, especially if you have family in that region, especially if your religion is in that region. I completely understand how that is devastating in a way that I can only imagine. And to see that people aren’t stopping in their tracks and paying attention, I get it. It feels like it’s being disregarded.

I also think that we are in a period of such…huge overwhelm. I don’t even know how to describe it, but what we’ve been through from 2016 on, between, you know, seeing that we have Nazis here on our soil, that we have a pandemic that was just kind of, you know, initially glossed over, and all of that loss. We have first responders and doctors and nurses and hospital workers that have never gotten a break.everything just keeps happening. We were watching George Floyd be murdered. We’re seeing other people murdered just for jogging or being in their bed and somebody else got the wrong address. There’s a lot that has happened to a lot of people and a lot of communities are affected. So if you’re just witnessing any of this, there’s a level of overwhelm that I don’t think that we’re recognizing, and we’re still trying to process the first bit of trauma, let alone the most recent trauma. So there’s a lot that we have to process, and it may come out as silence and an apparent non-reaction.






because we’re processing it, like how is this happening after everything else is happening? Why is it we can’t stop this? How is it that this hasn’t changed yet? So, I understand how people feel that way.

I remember the first time I lost a friend, it was the spring break after high school, and he died in a car accident, and I got into the car the next day, and the radio came on, and they were just playing music like nothing had happened, you know? And this beautiful soul was taken from us, and people were just going on about their lives. And you know, I’m, I think maybe I was just about to turn 19, and…

I was just staggered, like how can anything go on like it’s normal? Don’t they understand that this person is no longer here? But the perspective of the world, that’s not even seen. It’s just my community that was affected. You know what I mean? And so I understand the devastation. I understand, and again, like I said, I’m very reductive. I’m not comparing this to anything.


It’s just everybody’s perspective on a situation is a little different. And all we can do is kind of educate and share what we’re going through. I have friends that are literally scared to death right now and are so angry and so devastated and feeling all the things. And all I can do is be present with them and be an ear and a shoulder and an arm.


And it feels kind of useless. Like, am I really helping? What else can I do? And that’s sort of our human experience. What can we do? Well, we can pick up the phone, we can call our representation and say, this is what I would like to have happen. We can go out and vote. We can go out and protest. We can decide, I’m not going to do business with this person, or I am going to do business with that person. There are certain things that are within our control, and there are certain things that aren’t.


I believe in bearing witness to things and having an understanding and when appropriate asking questions. But…

life does go on and people are going to get married and babies are going to be born and how do we not celebrate that? And go ahead.


What is the choice? Just like you said, what is the choice? Do I stay home from work? What is the choice? And so that’s sort of the rub. What is the answer? What is the solution? We’ve been doing this a long time. We haven’t seemed to come up with one. Like this is the appropriate way to behave. You know what I mean? And so…



I mean, the pandemic itself is a great example of that, right? Like, life had to, we just, for better or worse, in some ways worse, it was kind of like, well, y’all need to keep working and living as if it’s normal life when it is 100% not. You know, that was an extreme version, but it is…



that we’re still debating it.



Yeah, we are. We are still debating it. Like, how could it have been better? I mean, I have thoughts. We all have thoughts, right? Yeah. I still have them. Like, I still, yeah. But yeah, I mean, you’re right. Like, you know, like something that honestly becomes more and more apparent as you get older is the fleeting nature of life. And it’s not selfish.

And you can tell me if it’s selfish. I won’t hurt my feelings. It’s, in my opinion, it’s not selfish to be happy while you’re living that life.



It’s not. How can anyone tell you not to be happy? And why is happiness the villain here?



 I think that, you know, we’re all learning and growing all the time. And I think that we are learning and growing as a society, you know, to be better humans, right? To be better to one another, to be better to the world around us. And I think that right now, we are learning a lot.

about, especially I would say people who are younger, because we dealt with 9-11, right? We’ve been dealing with genocide and atrocities around the world our entire lives. If you watch the news, you can in fact understand what Ethan Hawke would say, like, if you’re happy, you just don’t know what’s going on around you, you know? Like, yeah, you’re not paying attention, right? I can see that. And I think that many of us who are older have learned that like, hey,



Yeah, you’re not paying attention. Yeah.



Planes can run and fly into the Twin Towers and people can die and it can be an extraordinarily nationally traumatic experience. And yet people are still gonna get married that week or babies are gonna be born that week.



Every day there’s a tragedy. And…

Every day there’s something wonderful too. So how do we balance that? And I think that is just a personal decision.

But you cannot judge another person for carrying on, because at the end of the day, you don’t know what they’ve been through. You don’t know the traumas they’ve already dealt with and survived and have worked with. So the assumption that somebody looks like they’re happy and burden-free can be very, very wrong. So it’s, again.


It’s not feeling other things when you’re happy. I am happy and I am pissed off. I am happy and I am sad. I am happy and I am frustrated. And that’s me all day long.


So it’s not just one thing. That’s toxic positivity. That is bullshit. And that’s the difference. So anybody that’s good vibes only, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. Anybody who doesn’t want to feel anything negative, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. But anybody that tells you, you shouldn’t feel positive about something, is also doing a huge disservice. So that’s what we’re dealing with here.

There’s no way to be perfect in this world. So let’s just all try to stop and let’s all try to be really kind to each other because we don’t know what somebody else is going through. We don’t know what other people are dealing with. We shouldn’t assume we’re all the same. 



So, okay, you know, when you meet with someone to coach them on their happiness, like, what do you do? How does it start?



Well, it starts with willingness. It starts with giving yourself permission to be happy. And that’s the first thing. And it must sound really silly. But you have to not only want it, but allow yourself to have it. And if there’s any sort of pushback to that, it’s gonna be a harder work. You have to really kind of surrender to wanting to be happy.


And that can be a challenge, especially if, I know anger was my bestie for a long time. It really made me feel protected. I was really good at it. And you know, so it’s understanding that we have to kind of let down some of our armor and we have to kind of bring down our walls and really start to open up. And it’s a great thing.


And that doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you, you know, a doormat. It doesn’t make you a mark. It’s a different kind of armor. It’s really pretty. But it’s, so to start, that’s where we begin. Are you ready? Are you willing to commit to it?


And it’s not really a long process. Like I know some coaches like, let’s look at this signing up for a year kind of crap. No, it’s six weeks. Yeah, we worked together for six weeks and hopefully in that time you see a change. And then I want you to go out there and kind of live it and see what sticks and see what you might need help with and maybe you don’t need any help with it, you’ve just got it and good. But if after a bit of time that you want to do some more work then we get together again. But to me, anytime you’re trying to make any sort of change, you can’t always be in a learning cycle. You have to kind of take in the information and then go out and apply it and continue your learning from there.


So it’s basically we chat for an hour once a week for six weeks and kind of just go over really feeding into that eudaimonic happiness and understanding how to still achieve the hedonic but really just building up that happy muscle within you and finding that resilience and finding that joy and just really starting to


appreciate and like your life. And again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. All of that good stuff will come, but it’s just really appreciating what you have right now as it is. It’s transformative in really, really lovely ways.



Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think this is really important work. You know, this is like life changing for people.



I do. I mean, it’s, it is, it was for me. And I mean, it’s, it’s totally goofy. Like a happiness coach is totally.



I know it sounds so silly, but then when you talk about it, you’re like, oh my God, like so many of us need that help. We need to learn. Yeah, yeah. It’s…



Yeah, it’s just a little guidance. Because it is really our natural state. Babies, aside from colic, don’t come out of the womb grumpy, right? Like if you have a colic baby, that’s unfortunate and all that. For the most part, they’re kind of thrilled to be here, yeah? So how do we?



Yeah, yeah. I don’t know. I will say when my daughter was born, she did seem really pissed off for like a day or two, but…



Well, you get a slap on the backside, yeah. And that’s how we were birthed in my generation. You came out, they whacked you on the ass, and that’s how you were introduced to life. Ha ha ha.



And that’s how life began. But yeah, I know you’re right. You’re right, though, like in general. Yeah.



So yeah, we come in screaming, you know, in general. I mean, birth is painful, rebirth is painful. I’m not gonna gloss it over. But when we look at ourselves as children innately, excluding certain circumstances, because again, I’m reductive, innately we want to be happy. We want to have joy. We want to have fun. We want to…

Share that joy. You know, we’re playing, we’re sharing our toys with our friends, right? We’re bringing people into our circle saying, hey, come join us on, you know, we’re all going on the slide or whatever it is. That’s how we start. How did that end? So it’s just kind of relearning that a little bit, that yes, we’re meant to be happy. Despite everything, we are meant to be happy.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t other things too.



Yeah, I totally agree. Well, I want to thank you so much for sharing some what I think is really important advice with everybody who’s listening to us. And I think, like, once again, probably for a lot of listeners, it’s like, wait, why aren’t we talking about clothes today? Well, guess what? We’ve been talking about clothes this whole time. You just didn’t see it because we’re really talking about is how.


Sometimes or often, what we think is gonna make us happy is not the actual thing that’s gonna make us happy. And we just aren’t seeing what’s really gonna make us happy.



I totally agree and as somebody who went to the whole uniform capsule wardrobe situation, oh my god that makes me so happy. I’m never having to think about what you’re going to wear because you can wear everything. It’s bliss. So just to bring it back to the clothes.



There you go, simplicity, saving time.


There is a way for them to bring you joy, absolutely. But yeah, no, I really appreciate you having me on. I think you have an amazing podcast and I love what you talk about and what you’re teaching people, so thank you, thank you.



Well, thank you.

Thanks so much to Sandra for spending some time with me. I really enjoyed our conversation and I’ve been thinking about it nonstop over the last few weeks!


There are many places you can find Sandra and benefit from her thoughtful expertise:

  • Follow her on instagram and threads where you’ll find her as @thehappyistofficial
  • Find her on both of those platforms as @sassylittlepod (and you can also find out more about her substack).
  • And visit her website, thehappyist.me


Of course, I will share all of that in the show notes.


One last thing before I end this week’s episode: don’t forget about our first ever Clotheshorse webinar/hang out sesh, happening on February 29 (aka leap day). It’s free and hosted virtually via zoom.  We will be talking about why clothes are kinda garbage right now.  There are about 30 spots left, so don’t snooze on signing up!


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Thumbprint is Detroit’s only fair trade marketplace, located in the historic Eastern Market.  Our small business specializes in products handmade by empowered women in South Africa making a living wage creating things they love like hand painted candles and ceramics! We also carry a curated assortment of  sustainable/natural locally made goods. Thumbprint is a great gift destination for both the special people in your life and for yourself! Browse our online store at thumbprintdetroit.com and find us on instagram @thumbprintdetroit.

Picnicwear:  a slow fashion brand, ethically made by hand from vintage and deadstock materials – most notably, vintage towels! Founder, Dani, has worked in the industry as a fashion designer for over 10 years, but started Picnicwear in response to her dissatisfaction with the industry’s shortcomings. Picnicwear recently moved to rural North Carolina where all their clothing and accessories are now designed and cut, but the majority of their sewing is done by skilled garment workers in NYC. Their customers take comfort in knowing that all their sewists are paid well above NYC minimum wage. Picnicwear offers minimal waste and maximum authenticity: Future Vintage over future garbage.

Shift Clothing, out of beautiful Astoria, Oregon, with a focus on natural fibers, simple hardworking designs, and putting fat people first.  Discover more at shiftwheeler.com

High Energy Vintage is a fun and funky vintage shop located in Somerville, MA, just a few minutes away from downtown Boston. They offer a highly curated selection of bright and colorful clothing and accessories from the 1940s-1990s for people of all genders. Husband-and-wife duo Wiley & Jessamy handpick each piece for quality and style, with a focus on pieces that transcend trends and will find a home in your closet for many years to come! In addition to clothing, the shop also features a large selection of vintage vinyl and old school video games. Find them on instagram @ highenergyvintage, online at highenergyvintage.com, and at markets in and around Boston.

St. Evens is an NYC-based vintage shop that is dedicated to bringing you those special pieces you’ll reach for again and again. More than just a store, St. Evens is dedicated to sharing the stories and history behind the garments. 10% of all sales are donated to a different charitable organization each month.  New vintage is released every Thursday at wearStEvens.com, with previews of new pieces and more brought to you on Instagram at @wear_st.evens.

Deco Denim is a startup based out of San Francisco, selling clothing and accessories that are sustainable, gender fluid, size inclusive and high quality–made to last for years to come. Deco Denim is trying to change the way you think about buying clothes. Founder Sarah Mattes wants to empower people to ask important questions like, “Where was this made? Was this garment made ethically? Is this fabric made of plastic? Can this garment be upcycled and if not, can it be recycled?” Signup at decodenim.com to receive $20 off your first purchase. They promise not to spam you and send out no more than 3 emails a month, with 2 of them surrounding education or a personal note from the Founder. Find them on Instagram as @deco.denim.

The Pewter Thimble Is there a little bit of Italy in your soul? Are you an enthusiast of pre-loved decor and accessories? Bring vintage Italian style — and history — into your space with The Pewter Thimble (@thepewterthimble). We source useful and beautiful things, and mend them where needed. We also find gorgeous illustrations, and make them print-worthy. Tarot cards, tea towels and handpicked treasures, available to you from the comfort of your own home. Responsibly sourced from across Rome, lovingly renewed by fairly paid artists and artisans, with something for every budget. Discover more at thepewterthimble.com

Blank Cass, or Blanket Coats by Cass, is focused on restoring, renewing, and reviving the history held within vintage and heirloom textiles. By embodying and transferring the love, craft, and energy that is original to each vintage textile into a new garment, I hope we can reteach ourselves to care for and mend what we have and make it last. Blank Cass lives on Instagram @blank_cass and a website will be launched soon at blankcass.com.

Gabriela Antonas is a visual artist, an upcycler, and a fashion designer, but Gabriela Antonas is also a feminist micro business with radical ideals. She’s the one woman band, trying to help you understand, why slow fashion is what the earth needs. If you find your self in New Orleans, LA, you may buy her ready-to-wear upcycled garments in person at the store “Slow Down” (2855 Magazine St). Slow Down Nola only sells vintage and slow fashion from local designers. Gabriela’s garments are guaranteed to be in stock in person, but they also have a website so you may support this women owned and run business from wherever you are! If you are interested in Gabriela making a one of a kind garment for you DM her on Instagram at @slowfashiongabriela to book a consultation.

Vagabond Vintage DTLV is a vintage clothing, accessories & decor reselling business based in Downtown Las Vegas. Not only do we sell in Las Vegas, but we are also located throughout resale markets in San Francisco as well as at a curated boutique called Lux and Ivy located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jessica, the founder & owner of Vagabond Vintage DTLV, recently opened the first IRL location located in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas on August 5th. The shop has a strong emphasis on 60s & 70s garments, single stitch tee shirts & dreamy loungewear. Follow them on instagram, @vagabondvintage.dtlv and keep an eye out for their website coming fall of 2022.

Country Feedback is a mom & pop record shop in Tarboro, North Carolina. They specialize in used rock, country, and soul and offer affordable vintage clothing and housewares. Do you have used records you want to sell? Country Feedback wants to buy them! Find us on Instagram @countryfeedbackvintageandvinyl or head downeast and visit our brick and mortar. All are welcome at this inclusive and family-friendly record shop in the country!

Located in Whistler, Canada, Velvet Underground is a “velvet jungle” full of vintage and second-hand clothes, plants, a vegan cafe and lots of rad products from other small sustainable businesses. Our mission is to create a brand and community dedicated to promoting self-expression, as well as educating and inspiring a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle both for the people and the planet. Find us on Instagram @shop_velvetunderground or online at www.shopvelvetunderground.com

Selina Sanders, a social impact brand that specializes in up-cycled clothing, using only reclaimed, vintage or thrifted materials: from tea towels, linens, blankets and quilts.  Sustainably crafted in Los Angeles, each piece is designed to last in one’s closet for generations to come.  Maximum Style; Minimal Carbon Footprint.

Salt Hats:  purveyors of truly sustainable hats. Hand blocked, sewn and embellished in Detroit, Michigan.

Republica Unicornia Yarns: Hand-Dyed Yarn and notions for the color-obsessed. Made with love and some swearing in fabulous Atlanta, Georgia by Head Yarn Wench Kathleen. Get ready for rainbows with a side of Giving A Damn! Republica Unicornia is all about making your own magic using small-batch, responsibly sourced, hand-dyed yarns and thoughtfully made notions. Slow fashion all the way down and discover the joy of creating your very own beautiful hand knit, crocheted, or woven pieces. Find us on Instagram @republica_unicornia_yarns and at www.republicaunicornia.com.

Cute Little Ruin is an online shop dedicated to providing quality vintage and secondhand clothing, vinyl, and home items in a wide range of styles and price points.  If it’s ethical and legal, we try to find a new home for it!  Vintage style with progressive values.  Find us on Instagram at @CuteLittleRuin.