Being a happy person – A conversation with Sara Hefty

Published by Access 2 Perspectives on

Sara Hefty works in communications with growing specialties in being a happy person, feelings literacy, and transforming anger, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and negativity into energy that serves the highest good of all – whatever that may be. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and has certifications in transformational coaching, holistic health coaching, and cancer support education. She currently studies psychology at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.

In this conversation, Sara shares with Jo how she committed herself to becoming a happy person and the journey that this led her onto.

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Image credit: Sara Hefty. A photo from the pictures on my wall.


Linkedin: /in/sarahefty

TikTok: @being_a_happy_person

Instagram: /sarahefty/

Sara Hefty is a multi-passionate person. Born in 1981, she and her husband have happily been together since 1999. They live in Union, Wisconsin, with their dogs Bexley Joy and Freyja Sunshine. Some of Sara’s additional passions include: painting upward spirals and the human journey, deploying with Team Rubicon (a veteran-led humanitarian and disaster relief organization), playing pickleball, procrastinating on completing her private pilot’s certificate, hunting for rocks, attending shows, reading paperbacks, collecting recipes from the New York Times, learning French, improving her home, having new-to-her experiences (locally and abroad), becoming an impactful activist, connecting to people from all walks of life, empowering kids who paint and draw, enjoying the fresh air, sunshine – especially sunrises and sunsets, forest bathing and star gazing, getting energized by drumlines and marching bands, and so much more. 

Which researcher – dead or alive – do you find inspiring? Darwin

What is your favorite animal and why? All. They’re loving.

Name your (current) favorite song and interpret/group. Home by Blue October

What is your favorite dish/meal? Pizza!


Jo: Welcome back to a new episode of this show. And today we have Sara Hefty in the room. Welcome, Sara. It’s great having you. 

Sara: Thanks, Jo.. I’m glad to be here. Thank you for the invite. 

Jo: So we’ve known each other for a couple of months now, and I was surprised and also, how do you say, positively surprised to witness the journey that you recently embarked on not so recently where and it’s certainly in the double digits. 

Sara: It’s in the mid forty s at this point already. I know. 

Jo: Well, so what we’re talking about is that you have a daily video report about your journey of becoming a happy person. And that’s basically usually two to four or five minute videos, recording yourself, sharing with your friends, followers, people who you have in your network through social media, and then you share with them what makes you happy that day and what action it takes to become a happy person. And coming out of place that we’ve also talked about previously on this very podcast, with mental health issues of some sort like that any of us can run into. I’ve mentioned another episode around mental wellbeing or general wellbeing, really, that the brain is nothing but another organ in our bodies, and we need to take care of it just as much as we do with any other organ in our system, like the physical system. I’ve shared that I had depression in the past. We had guests who also suffered from mental health issues and conditions. You can get out of it, and you’re getting yourself out of it, and you let everyone participate in this journey. It’s for sure, it’s deeply inspiring. Thanks for sharing this, first of all. Second, please tell us more about it, like how the journey started and what made you feel. You want to share it with a wider audience. 

Sara: Right. It is the thing that a lot of people keep very close to themselves. Right. And so where I started, where I’m at now, is I have recently faced the fact that I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and earlier I had been diagnosed with PTSD, and so I had worked with psychologists and therapists to receive those diagnoses. And the funny thing with the depression and anxiety diagnosis was my therapist literally told me, he was like, well, we just need to put something on paper. And he was just like, in order for the insurance, we need to have something on paper, so this is what we’re going to put. And I think he either was being very sincere in that statement, or he recognized very quickly that I was not ready to accept those things about myself. And what was interesting is I could accept the PTSD diagnosis several years earlier from a psychologist, but I wasn’t ready to hear anxiety and depression from him. And so that was several years ago at this point.

Jo: One second. Sorry to interrupt, but just for those who are not familiar with the acronym, other people, people like me. 

Sara: Oh, sure, yes.

Jo: PTSD means post traumatic stress disorder. And it happens several months or years, sometimes decades after we experience a traumatic situation, like loss of parents or close siblings or an accident. And the brand is currently able to cover that up for quite some time. 

Sara: Yeah, that was my experience. My maternal grandmother had passed away from cancer. It was really horrific, though, with cancer when I was a child, and I never processed that grief. And so here I was at that point, 25 years later, and my psychologist was like, or my psychiatrist rather, was like, that’s PTSD, because I couldn’t even talk about her without bursting into tears. And so complicated all the things, right? And so we worked through that. I was like, yes, I have processed my grandma’s mother’s grief. Yes, I’ve done that work, came through that diagnosis. And so then many years later, I had the diagnosis of depression and anxiety and was not ready to face it until I was. And that happened fairly very recently. It was several months ago now, at this point where I was like, you know what, I do have anxiety. I struggle with anxiety. I do struggle with depression. What am I going to do about it? And once I face that realization or that reality for myself, that this is what professionally trained people are seeing in me, and this is what the label is. So now I have more information, right? Instead of being in place of denial, I cannot do something with it. And at that same time, as it happened, I came across this idea of whatever path you take is going to be hard. So pin that idea for a second. And for a long time with coaching, which I’ve been trained in, there’s always this question of like, well, what if that were possible? What if you could do XYZ? Right? There’s always that possibility. Factor that’s in there is that possibility question. And so coming back to what we just pinned a moment ago, as far as whatever you choose is going to be hard, I was like, okay, well, what if choosing happiness is hard? And what if choosing to dwell on anxiety and depression is hard? And not saying this is the right way forward for anybody other than myself, quite frankly, but for me, I choose not to go to medication. And that’s a very personal choice. And I’m not here to say one thing or the other. Friend anyone is absolutely a personal choice. And for me, I choose not to. And so I was like, okay, what can I do in my personal life to move forward? And when I realized that, okay, what if happiness isn’t always rainbows and unicorns and butterflies and sunshine and just like, easy, it’s like, what if happiness isn’t always easy. What if people actually work for happiness and put effort into being a happy person? I’m like, Well, I’m going to try that because I was putting a lot of effort into being anxious and depressed. I spend a lot of time, like, overthinking things or disassociating, perhaps spending a lot of time, like, on the couch watching Netflix or whatever the streaming service happens to be, right? And just really checking out or being in demand. That’s the energy and effort I’m putting into those activities. What if I try something else? And what if I try having my North Star be ‘happiness’ and burning what actually makes me happy? So pause there for a moment because the next thing I get into is kind of like how I went through that and trying to find what I like, what I want, what my needs are. And that was kind of the next step in that process. But that’s where it started, was a realization of, like, okay, this is where I’m at. Where do I want to be? And defining that a little bit more. 

Jo: Yeah, thanks for pausing here, because that’s really a defining point. And for me, it’s also quite recent with the depression to accept this is not part of me. And it’s I don’t know if I would call it like, I don’t know, some people carry cancer and give it a name or whatever and then hopefully get rid of it eventually. But depression is really here to stay one way or the other, and it’s done on us to learn how to deal with it and to find strategies, not to let it overcome ourselves. And that’s basically what you’re doing, right? 

Sara: Right. And this is something I have been working on without the labels for the last 15 years, to be honest. Really. Like, I’ve always been looking for personal development and growth opportunities. So that’s what led me to coaching was just like, oh, I can help make people, teach people, coach people to have a happier existence, quite frankly. And I’m doing that for myself along the way. And it really wasn’t until I faced the fact that, yes, okay, I have a harder time than other people. And I really got to see that with my husband, because my husband, we’ve been together 23 years, and I’ve been through 17,18 years old. We’ve known each other for a time, and he does not struggle with mental health. And so I have that in my home, right? As far as like, oh, this is how a healthy person has boundaries and defines their wants and needs and sticks to that and puts themselves he just does this right. And here I am from week to week, day to day, sometimes struggling with XYZ. Like, I’ll have a good run of it for a bit and then something will pause. And we started noticing it was like a project. Like, I would go from one project to the next. I was never finishing anything. So I was getting a rut.

Jo: Entrepreneurial mindset Sorry to interrupt. What you said is what we met in a business development course, and it’s the mindset we like to create and not to conclude kind of thing, 

Sara: Right. In that case, you get support. You get support, you can hire people, you hire a team, and they can take those things and run with it. But from an internal perspective, for me anyway, though I’ll speak for myself, it was very draining as far as not finishing things. And so for me, now I’m starting to finish things. Case in point, I’m doing a 21 day yoga challenge. And as you know, like, the daily video clip that I do is called Being a Happy Person. And so one of my friends, a couple of decades at this point, reached out, she now lives in the area, and she’s like, hey, if this yoga studio is branding themselves as, like, the happy place in our town, she’s like, you need to do it. I’m like, that’s all I need to hear. I have done yoga prior to this maybe five or six times in my life. I know it’s really good for you. I’ve studied holistic health coaching. I know how good yoga can be for you, but I wouldn’t do it for myself. And so now I stepped into this challenge, and we’re on day 17 of it, and I have my 1721, and I will finish it. Even finishing off one session at a time has brought a lot of fulfillment, and I know the good that is bringing to my body because it’s releasing tension. So that was really the thing I started with the mindset, because that’s what you work on when you’re in coaching and therapy, and that you’re in your mind and your heart, right? And now I’ve done 15,20 years of work on those things, and so I’m adding in the physical side as well to catch up with the work that I’ve been doing internally. And it’s making a huge difference in how I show up throughout the day. And I found that to be really very helpful. So I’m trying out a few other things, like pickleball, which has more of a social aspect to it. 

Jo: Can you explain that for a minute? Because I’ve never heard that term before. You talk about it. It’s a local sport, team sports. 

Sara: I’m sure it’s international. I’m sure there’s people playing it around the world, but I don’t know how widespread that might or may not be, but pickleball is kind of like ping pong on a tennis court. 

Jo: Oh, my God, it already sounds like fun. 

Sara: Yeah, it is. It’s a good time, and especially if you’re playing in doubles. And it’s typically geared towards retirees because it’s not as the athletic requirements of tennis out there and you’re still moving. Do not misunderstand. My husband and I showed up wearing jeans the first time we showed up to a pickleball court. That was not proper attire, we quickly learned. It’s doing stuff like that, right. Getting out of your comfort zone, trying something new and practicing practice. And that was hard, that was a hard choice. We knew it was going to make myself happier. I played Todd as in high school and I’ve always wanted to be really good at that. And I’m like, okay, I get to be a beginner with it. So that’s a shift in thinking. I get to be around people and communities who are learning together because it’s a fairly new sport in our area. 

Jo: The mindset that you just mentioned, you get to be a beginner is for once a threat. Because at this age, in our thirties and forties in my case, we think we’re back, we need to have it all together, we need to know our game and then to start with something new is quite intimidating, it feels like. But once we dedicate ourselves, okay, I’m trying something new, I get to be a beginner. I can allow myself to not know everything about this new thing and learn right. And suck it in. And that’s the process. 

Sara: Exactly. And I’ve been like that since I was a little kid, where it was like I grew up in. They talk about the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset and so the fixed mindset being very perfectionistic, people pleasing you based on your talents, not on how you persist with something. And that’s the fixed mindset. So it’s like if you’re not perfect at something right away, you think you’re a failure in the fixed mindset. That was how I grew up. Good, bad, right or wrong, that’s just how it was. We did the best with the tools they had, right? And so that’s why I always packed grades, I was always very active in the community, etc, etc. I checked all the boxes, but I always feared that I wouldn’t like it. If it’s something that comes easy to me, I would not do it. So shifting that into a growth mindset of being like, I get to be a beginner, I get to learn, I get to make mistakes and not get kicked out and to continue being accepted. So it was a lot of work on accepting myself and that’s what the growth mindset allows for folks, as I’m learning that it’s a place where you get to make mistakes and still continue forward. You’re not kicked out. And the pickle ball community has demonstrated that very beautifully to me and so that’s why I really appreciate them so darn much. And it is always interesting going into a new sports arena and showing up as I am and playing because you don’t know what to expect. And it’s that challenge, right? That’s where I’m like, okay, happiness gets to be a bit of a challenge and that’s okay. But I know how good I want to feel after pickleball and I know the competitor comes out of me on the court. And that’s always fun, too. It’s just a matter of really finding what lights you up and then doing the work to actually get there. And that’s the struggle that I have found with, like, happiness is like, it’s so easy, or in my case, it’s so easy to just sometimes talk yourself out of going and showing up. And so that’s where my challenge comes in as far as, like, you have time, you’re going to enjoy it. You’re going to feel so much better once you complete whatever the thing might be and go for it. Like, you know, you have to go for life, right? 

Jo: There are several things I would like to reflect on what you just said. So for once, the dilemma with being a perfectionist from wiring, I think that applies to many researchers. And then there’s a lot of talking around imposter syndrome and academia nowadays. And I don’t know, it’s so much that I’m getting tired of hearing the term because, like, I also heard, thankfully, somebody else talk about this. Like, it’s not imposter syndrome you’re talking about, you get to be especially as a researcher, we are on the edge of knowledge each and every day. We don’t know what we’re researching. That’s the whole point of being a researcher. So of course there’s something that other people would easily label as imposter syndrome. You cannot know more than you know today, and there’s, like, more to discover for that for once. But then also, I love what you said about the process, like, you know, what makes you happy and then, you know, it’s not going to be easy to get there. So at the point of thinking about, okay, what can I do to feel better about myself and become a happy person today and then also tomorrow and next month by just learning a new skill and then being aware, like, what role does that play? Being aware is going to take work and effort and energy, brains.

Sara: That was the key. Yeah, that was absolutely the key, just knowing. And I don’t know who’s talking about anyone, right? Because it’s just like that for me. And I think for people like me who grew up with a fixed mindset and a very hierarchical nature as far as, like, parents and teachers and everybody else’s, they’re on a pencil and you must follow what they say type of thing, and you must be perfect in what you say, otherwise you’re bad, right? And so if you’re bad, you’re not loved. And then it’s like a whole nightmare up here. And I think that I know I’m not alone in that. And so realizing that it is work, and you get to use all those skills that you know because you put a lot of work into or I should also get to speak for myself I’ve put a lot of work into being an anxious person and being a depressed person. It’s like, oh, God, what if I get to put a lot of work into being a happy person? And for me, that’s been the key. And as you were talking a minute ago there, the term that came to mind for me is as I was trying out, because I don’t know myself very well. Like, I’m 41 years old, and I am now. I feel like I’m kind of, like, in my early 20s as, like, on the development scale as far as, like, I am identifying who I am, what I like, because I haven’t yet done that so much in my life, and I’m starting that now. I find that’s true with a lot of divorced women. I’m not divorced, but I see that off. I’ve seen that in my parents, right? Because my mom had always identified as, oh, she was my mom or my dad’s wife, and now she’s Jane, and she’s like, who is Jane as a 75 plus year old woman, right. So maybe I come by it honestly, right? Who knows? But the term that came to mind was a happiness nomad, because I’m trying out different social circles, right? I’m trying out different social or happiness activities, whether they’re with other people or by myself. And I found painting was really good for me because it was a creative outlet, and that was a need that I had that was not being met . I know you’re surprised. My corporate day job creativity was not, like, much love to my corporate job. It served me in many, many ways, don’t get me wrong, but from a creative side and having my voice heard, that’s not my role in that work, right? And so I was like, okay, I need to have a place where I can just put forward all my creativity and do it as long or short as I want. I can go in any direction. And I found that in painting. So that was one thing. Again, I didn’t know that about myself several years ago, and I found it a couple of years back.

Jo: Sounds like happiness also has a lot to do with purpose and finding a purpose. 

Sara: Yes, for me it does. For me it does. I have read so many books on purpose, so it’s interesting that you bring that up. The way to nail that right on the head there.

Jo:  That’s very much a place for me.

Sara: That’s more helpful. 

Jo: Okay, several lines of conversation here. So why purpose? 

Sara: Well, because I never knew what my purpose was, and so when I was I’m going to go back to high school with this Jo. So I graduated from high school in 2000. In 1998, when we finally got the Internet for the first time, with the dial up and everything like that, I was a sophomore into my junior year of high school. So 16,17 years old. I would be online and I grew up in a rural area. So I’m 8 miles out of a town of 2000 people on a 160 acre farm on dial up Internet, looking at whatever college rankings were out at the time and whatever job was paying the most and had, like, the best lifestyle. I found actuarial science. I have studied actuarial science in college because I didn’t know myself well enough. I do love math. Like, don’t get wrong, I love math. I work in a bank, so I do, like, finance. I like it. I love it. No, I love people. I love helping people move from find, like, amazing. And so I didn’t know myself, but that’s where it went back to when I was 16,17. And I’m so sorry, I forgot the original question as far as what was the starting point.

Jo:  Just to reflect on what purpose means to you.

Sara: Yeah. I didn’t know what my purpose was. I was such a good people pleaser. And I was like, Well, I checked the boxes for my parents. I know I’m going to college. Like, that was prescribed. I’m going to university. And from there, I was just really lost. And up until now,

I didn’t know that purpose. And so what I have found for myself, I’m a multi, passionate person. And you saw that with, like, the content I sent over. As far as, like, I’m doing this, I’m doing that and doing the other, and I’m letting that be okay. Right? And that’s something I have always been from the time I was a kid, I’ve always been into different projects. I’ve done everything from showing pigs at the state fair to working in a fancy schmancy hair salon. That is just the most uppity, up thing you can think of. I’ve done the full range of these things, and it’s just that’s who I am. I’ve had more jobs than anybody, I’m quite sure, but it’s been fantastic. And that serves me quite well. And so now I get to take both these 40 years, 41 years I’ve been on this planet and start sharing it out and training other people. And, like, here’s what I’ve come across. Here’s the wisdom that worked. And take it, leave it, but know about it. And so you can make your own choices and move forward. Because here’s what’s really helped me out in living a better life and being a happier person and having that happiness as my North Star. That is my purpose. And everything else falls underneath that, like, my business, my work, my choices. It’s like, does this improve my happiness or not? And if it does, it’s a yes. And if not, thanks for the opportunity, but no. 

Okay, so I just quickly want to share. It was like, three or four weeks ago now when I suddenly felt so happy. And at age 43, I finally understood and felt what happiness really means at this moment. This is what it’s at the moment. It’s not something in the future or anything. It has to do very much with my purpose because I felt I finally stepped into my purpose. Knowing about your purpose is one thing, but then to have the confidence, okay, I’m not there. People are listening. I have something to share. That means something for people. People can actually gain from what I share with them and actually stepping into the purpose that everybody keeps talking about, like, yeah, how do you do that? I would say, now that I’ve done it, just do it.

Sara: I would love to add something to that because this is something that I haven’t yet spoken about on being a happy person, because it’s literally happened in the last 24 hours here and has been baking a bit. So, let’s see. Long story short, I volunteer with an organization called Team Rubicon. They’re a humanitarian and disaster relief organization. So think of some of the floods that have hit recently. We send teams down and show up and muck out the homes and get to know the homeowners, et cetera. And that’s done for free. Right? So the point of all of that is I was recently asked to be a trainer for a training leader, which means I would facilitate these local trainings so that when there is a crisis, that people are trained up and ready to just hop on the plane and go right to these areas. And so that there’s, like, less confusion, more efficiency. And people are just like, I know what to do. I can go. And to have more people like that, it’s important. Right. So what I realized with that, and I have said this for years, is that I have been raised by teachers and preachers. Like, you go through my family, everybody is either a teacher or a preacher in some capacity. And with that, I don’t consider myself I don’t want to dive too deeply into this, but I don’t consider myself a religious person, which separates me from my family. Right. Like, it’s a difference. Right. And yes, I have focused for 15-20 plus years on mindset and how to think about something and how to process something. And that’s a lot of times what I find in my family, they love whatever religion it is that they choose to follow and practice. Right? So it’s like, okay, I have that piece, but I didn’t have, like, the teacher piece. Like, the teacher didn’t really resonate with me. And Coach, even though I’m trained up as a coach, was not resonating with me anymore. So I was like, what? To your point, what is my purpose? What is my purpose? And then Team Rubicon came in with this training lead, and so literally, I fell in love with the role as far as, like, you have a region, you’re going out just, like, once a quarter, blah, blah, blah. It’s all structured and set up, which I love. It’s a veteran led organization. So it’s very organized and hierarchical. So I love these. I love the structure of that. And so, you know what, that got me excited and I’m like my purpose then is to take all of these tools I have and I’ve read them in ebook form, right? So we have the ebook. But I just like the interaction training. Because when you can train somebody in a new skill that improves their mindset or how they are their confidence and that might be anything from, like here’s how you take here’s how you saw your right. Here’s how you put down trees so you clear roads that ambulances can get through. Right. That fills your cup for a lot of people. Or going back to more like the mindset work that I’ve been doing for the last forever in a day. If I can teach somebody how to understand and train in somebody to understand the relationships better and understand why they keep repeating the same thing over and over and over again in whatever relationship dynamic they have, they’re going to carry that with them for the rest of their life. And they’re going to have more intelligence about who they are, how they operate, and they can make choices. So they get out of that place and being stuck, that is my purpose to answer that purpose part of the question. And I didn’t find that in a book, right? I didn’t find that training purpose in the book. I found that by really going, okay, maybe it isn’t a book I should check myself. Because it is that thing where it’s like you go and do what makes you happy by being a happiness nomad. And try not a bunch of different you know, learn a bunch of different social hats and find your groups because it took a minute for me to find team Rubicon, right, and find that that was right for me after trying a bunch of different groups or the pickle ball or whatever, right? And I have a lot of different groups to my identity and that is very, very helpful and useful for somebody like me who’s multi-passionate and has a lot of different interests. And so all that’s to say is to your point, you just do it, right? Like you show up and it finds you type of a thing and it is the whole thing. You’ve had it all along, right, from The Wizard of Oz, like you’ve known all along. It’s always been inside of you. 

Jo: It’s also cheesy, but it’s true. It is so crazy. 

Sara:That’s what it is. And literally that’s what’s happened in the last 24 hours. You just sit with it and it is really funny how it shows up when you’re speaking. It’s like when I was speaking so desperately as to tell me what my purpose is in buying those books and kind of being like white knuckle. About like this is so stressed out about like, I need to find my purpose. You get to do all this other work first, sweet child. 

Jo: There’s no shortcut to purpose. 

Sara: Say that again. 

Jo: There’s no shortcuts to purpose. 

Sara: No, turns out there’s not. 

Jo: I sometimes ask that of PhD students, because to choose science as a profession is a dedication for a lifetime or for the PhD, which still is three to five years, sometimes longer. And then there’s also the question, why did you choose that research topic? And for many I think it’s 50 50 from my experience. I didn’t do research into the numbers, but like from the responses I get, it’s either a curiosity. People enjoy this child-like ability to continue asking questions to the world, like exploring. For me it was also not having to settle on anything and just get busy for the sake of earning money, but to be busy with something mind boggling and challenging. But also then there’s the other league where it’s really about purpose. Like I want to cure a disease because my uncle died of it and I can’t let that happen again to anyone else. Or I want to save the world because of climate change or any of these big quests that we are dealing with and that’s quite a burden to carry. And for me it was a little bit of both. I love research, I love to do the experiments and the data and the experiments part was not so much my favorite because it’s so repetitive and frustrating and tiring in life sciences. But sitting and analyzing the data, I could have done that for years.

So what is happiness like? I know what it feels like and also doesn’t have to be big. Of course there’s also little happy moments that you can find for yourself each and every day. What is happiness for you? Is there different types of happiness or is it just one? 

Sara: Yeah, I think the former rather than the latter. I think there’s a bunch of different types of happiness. So I am part Finnish and so the Finns have a number of words for snow. Do I know them? No, I don’t. I apologize, I do not know them. I just know that there’s a lot of words to describe snow. And I now live in Wisconsin, I grew up in Minnesota. And so I think, like snow, happiness is kind of one of those words that covers a lot of different varieties. That’s one of the reasons I do the daily video is because each day it’s going to be different. You talked a little bit about burden and I want to kind of compare that with delight. Going back to purpose and I’ll circle back to this question is like for me, when I was okay, I have worked with people what I want in coaching and then what I found, we were having these really deep conversations right, and we’re going into some pretty dark places, for lack of better word. And what I was noticing was, like, I was trying to mention the researchers that will choose their passion based on, like, I’m trying to cure this disease because a loved one has experienced it. That’s what I was trying to do with my coaching. I was like, oh, I want to cure depression because it’s running in my family and or I want to cure alcoholism because that’s and I’m just like me, I can’t spend my time there because it lowers my energy. And now with this training idea, that delights me because I can meet people in that place, and for me, it’s a higher vibrational place as far as I’m teaching them something. They’re learning a new skill, they’re learning an evergreen skiller so they can have for life. And so for me, that brings me happiness. And that was not a nuance that I noticed until I did right? And so it’s like I was so focused on coaching that it wasn’t XYZ for me that I couldn’t see what helping people could be until I was able to, until the training dropped into my lap. As far as I’m concerned, here’s a way to help people, here’s a way to improve life, here’s a way to do that. And so I think that allows for purposes when you can maybe take what you’ve been focusing on for so long and try to make work and put a new access to perspective, putting a new perspective on it and seeing it through a new lens. So it’s related, but it’s vibing at a higher place, or it brings its mouth to your face and delights your body rather than like a heaviness. So that’s part of what I think happiness is. And now I know that happiness works. It takes effort. It’s not just rainbows and unicorns and being in the flow. And there definitely is that to it as well, where you do feel in the flow and you do feel that. So I feel that it’s like happiness as a North Star, happiness as a guide post. Happiness is like a way to measure your temperature emotionally. And I think it’s something to seek out and know that it’s not always you’re human, you’re not always going to be happy. And so, especially in the state of the world, there’s a lot going on. And I’m a very transparent person. I like to think that what I share on the daily more or less is that even if XYZ happened, here’s what I learned from it, and here’s what I can do to have a better day the next day. Type of thing. Or the next time something like this happens, whether that be a loss or just overwhelmed from taking on too much, for example happy to bury. 

Jo: Yeah, I think I would like to bring in the work, responsibility and accountability, because when you just broke up. Yeah, exactly what you’re doing. You’re taking listening into your own hands? Because many people, including myself in the past, I thought I need to meet the one or several people who make me happy. But those concepts are so wrong on so many levels. And again, they kept telling me, oh, you know, to find the one who makes you happy, just to wait. And you will find the right person eventually. By not being religious myself, none of my family actually is religious but still appreciates spiritualism and the law of the universe and such things and I still feel greatly to many of my colleagues who are all many who are natural scientists where this could be further from the ideology that research comes with. It was really hard for me to accept that there’s such a thing. Seems to work. Like I said earlier, that’s not really creepy. It’s actually comforting once you accept that, but responsibility, like you made a conscious, dedicated commitment and decision to build your own happiness and then you’re sharing other people.

Sara: Right. And that does shift because what you focus on shows up and however you want to look at that, whether it’s and I think we all have this experience where it’s like, okay, so I recently now have a Toyota Camry or Camry and it’s basically a silver looking car, right? Like if you see a silver car, that’s what my car looks like. But before that I didn’t pay attention to silver cars, right? And now I see them everywhere because that’s what I have, that’s what I look for, that’s what I noticed. That’s what stands out for me, right? And so it’s like, okay, well, as soon as you start for me anyways, like when I started focusing on happiness and challenging myself and let it be a challenge and I was also very gentle with myself at the same time when I was looking for my purpose is very white knuckle, right? I must find an answer to this. Not only do I expect an answer, I demand an answer and it better show up when I get done with this book, if not earlier. And now the happiness. That’s why I call it a North Star. It’s a guide post. It’s like, alright, that is who that’s who I want to be. I want to be a happy person. So I have that as my North Star. I have that as my attention, if you will. And I know I’m going to be doing a video pretty much every day of the week, right. I might take a break here and there because I get to be human too and come back to it. Yes, we decided once I take a break yeah, you get to be gentle with yourself during this process too. And I think allowing it to be gentle is allowing grace with your own self. I know that something that doesn’t happen for a lot of us. And I think that’s what we get to do with happiness. And when we soften it, choose a yoga term. When we soften a bit, it makes a difference and it creates a different type of experience in life and I think that allows for more happiness to show up and to be noticed when you’re looking for it. And I know that sounds so simple to be like, oh, just start focusing on happiness. Kind of like that scene from whatever the Bill Murray movie is as far as like, well, just stop doing that and you’ll be fine. Well, that’s not really a cure, right? Like, that’s not really the answer anyone wants to hear. And that doesn’t work for everybody, obviously, but adding in more things that make you happy, adding and that focus on what if I get to work on happiness, has been very game changing for myself. And so I hope it helps other people to consider that as an option and consider that as a way to something to play with and to be like, what if that does work for me? What if that even improves my life by a fraction of a percent? Then I think it’s worth it because there’s far too many people who are just hurting at such a desperate level. And if it can help anyone that regenerates our travel today, Jo. 

Jo: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, it is very inspiring. It has been throughout this journey ever since we started posting these videos. It’s so inspiring and supporting and comforting and also being allowed. Are you allowing us to witness you on the journey? And I remember the first three or so, it was still work for you, but then suddenly something started shining, like from inside and your eyes were sparkling every day, like whenever you’re young. It works. 

Sara: Here’s the trajectory. Yeah, that’s good to hear. It’s hard sometimes to see it in yourself, right? Like you’re just like, alright, it’s 11:00 at night, we’re doing this video, let’s go. We better do things a little bit. 

Jo: Yeah, I mean, it’s like a research project. You can actually see the development. How it’s working.

 Sara: Better with filters, like on the fun side of social media, right? Like the easy stuff. This is what a green screen looks like. But as you were sharing, one thing that came up for me that I wanted to share as well is with all of this, I’ve had some dark times in my life, I’m sure other people have as well. And I think that it’s pretty well known that the semicolon is a symbol of suicide awareness. And what I have done is I have borrowed that symbol, if you will, and I’ve put a heart on either side of it and I define that as the human journey. So here’s what I think is that we typically start in love, right? Like in the womb even. Is what I’m talking about, like all of our needs.

All right, so with this human journey idea and taking that semicolon, having hearts on either side is that we all start in love. And again, I mean, that from the place of being in the womb. If all of our needs weren’t met, we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made it. So we start in love, everything’s met, we’re just floating around with goo and that’s all great. And then at some point in life, something happens and that love, perhaps we feel like it pauses and we forget that it’s there. And for some of us, that might be days, weeks, years, decades even, where we forget that we matter, that we belong, that we’re loved. And what I have found by putting a heart on either side of that semicolon is that when we can remember that there is love on the other side of whatever darkness that we’re experiencing at that point. And that other we need that love from other people because we’re not going to be able to take ownership of loving ourselves at that point. But when we can start connecting to other people in whatever way that makes sense for you. Whether that is through a church or through a nonprofit organization volunteering or through a mindset community or whatever it might be. But showing up in some way, shape or form and just being there and being part of it and letting yourself experience love again, that helps me, is what I’ll say about that. And so I literally have that tattooed on my arm along with a piece. So that is my finished word for strength of will, perseverance against all odds and determination. And so it’s something that I do like to share because happiness isn’t always easy. It’s not. And so I think that human journey captures my experience with life anyway pretty darn well. And so I do like to share that. But people I started painting as well. So I have, like, an upward spiral that I paint. And because I’m an upward spiral, right. You go up for a time and things are great and wonderful, but then there’s that shadow part of the curve, but then you come out of it at a higher place with more knowledge and wisdom. But there’s probably going to be another shadow spot, and you kind of keep going through life. So I have a whole spiral series and then on my wall, over my office there, I have the human journey of the first time I painted the back. That’s what I mean. Painting can be very powerful. Sharing your creativity can be very powerful. So find a way to share your voice. And that’s another version of happiness. 

Jo: That’s a good reminder that every single human being on this plan is going through a roller coaster called life. Or hopefully, of course, one moment of happiness that I also just remembered as we were sharing is after a heavy rainfall when the sun is peeking out and you’re standing there like soaking it all up. Like, maybe that’s the homework for the listeners. What are three things you can think of that make you super happy? And for the moment, let’s come up. So I already shared one, another one is my dogs just to cuddle them. And so every morning I look into the dog’s face and they’re like adoring me no matter what. Unconditionally dogs are great.

Sara: Dogs are great.

Jo: And the third one is being with the family. My mom is still around and my dad passed away a couple of years ago. But knowing that family is always there for you, it’s most of them, everyone necessarily. And then friends when it’s four. But then friends and family can be one. What’s yours? 

Sara: Let’s see my three things that make me happy. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the dogs. Like, we have two puppies, they’re just little love dogs. And for a time we did not have dogs in the house. And it was definitely different. We were in a different place and it was so yeah, dogs are amazing. Love our dogs. And I’m also with you on the sun. I love winter sunrises. And I’ve actually taken that palette color and have started using it in my business, to be honest. And so I love that energy, I love those colors. I love the winter sunrise. It’s just so, so pretty. And then really, for me, anything that helps another person and that’s really what fills my cup, is when I can do hard work and make a difference. I don’t know if that’s a farm kid in me or what you want to call it, but it’s like maybe that’s the finished part of it. He’s doing the grid and then I think all of that, it must be hard. And then I just feel so great afterwards. And I think that’s where I’m at now. So those are my series. 

Jo: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. And you’re turning out of Wisdom into a booklet. 

Sara: I am. So I’m taking one thing at a time and turning them into grab and go items. And in this case, it’s an ebook. So I’ll have them on the website. The website is being a happy But the first one I have is Spark. And it’s called Spark for a couple of reasons, because it’s the first one that’s intended to spark, right? Spark. Spark is going to be a whole catalyst. But really that ebook’s purpose is to uncover your love stories. And what I mean by that is like, what is your love dynamic? Like, what is your love imprint? What is the story you tell yourself about love? And to take that story and then be able to understand your past, present and future relationships through that lens of the story you’ve been telling yourself and have been living and existing and attracting those relationships with. And whether they’re romantic or platonic relationships, right? And giving you some more choices as you move forward with do you want more of the same or do you want something different? If you want something different, take a look at these five steps. And it’s a short, like for all of that which it does deliver on. I can assure you it’s less than 30 pages. It might be 25 pages from start to finish. But all the nonsense, there is no fluff in that. There is no fluff, right? 

Jo: Cool. 

Sara: But yes, people can find that in being a happy 

Jo: Thanks for sharing that. And we put the link in the show notes, aka the blog post where you find this particular piece. The purpose of as an organization is for today is also and the purpose of my work is actually to bring joy and happiness into the workplace that is known as academia because there seems to be a dialect thereof. And I dedicated and committed myself to be one of the few who bring happiness back to academia. 

Sara: Thank you for your work in doing that, to have these conversations and to I mean, I’m so excited to see like, we’re acting at those with happiness and sharing some of the science behind it and just seeing what unfolds with all of that because I think I just have a plus right now. And granted, Wisconsin is cold here, but it’s fantastic work that you’re doing. So thank you. 

Jo: And thank you because you’re very much supporting me and doing the work. And I also look at some research papers and articles on happiness. I’m sure there is research out there from psychology and neuroscience, this and that. So I’ll be interested to look into them. 

Sara: Yes.

Jo:  All signs back, like discussions we’re having, even if we look up the signs only after we have the conversations. But you will also find those in the blog post. Thanks Sara, and have a fantastic day. 

Sara: Thank you, Jo.

Jo:  And speak soon again whenever you’re available. 

Sara: Sounds good. I’ll be here.