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The Pursuit Of Happiness — My 7-Step Magical Formula For Personal Happiness

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*This article originally appeared in Men’s Health and was adapted for Lean It UP.

I‘m a New Yorker.

I grew up on Long Island with two amazing, extremely successful parents. I’ve lived in NYC for almost 10 years and counting, including 4 years at NYU studying business. New York is work, career, finance, and money epitomized. Living here, you’re constantly pushed to be “on” 24/7, hustling and grinding, as if climbing an endless career ladder is the sole purpose in life.

That’s the impression you get, at least.

Conversations over cocktails start and end with work. First dates naturally gravitate towards it. And that’s fine. That grind can be thrilling and oh-so-fulfilling. Especially working in fitness, where I get to connect, motivate, help people directly, and (…hopefully) make a positive impact.

I’m an entrepreneur first-and-foremost and you see all of that with Lean It UP — career and ambition are extremely important.

But they’re not the only things.

Last year I spontaneously decided to make a massive change. I moved to Paris for a year to hit up culinary school. And somewhere along the way, between the incredible people I met from all around the world; the European laissez-faire attitude towards work; THE FOOD AND VINO; the vibrant, immersive culture and history; the adrenaline rush you get from working in a professional kitchen; and the fact that everyone is miraculously outside on a terrace eating/drinking at 3PM, I realized that I had to re-engineer my own life back in the US.

My priorities. My focus. My personal balance. Working to live; not living to work.

Some people are completely happy grinding away endlessly. But I’m not. And by putting that in perspective and taking a step back, I’ve learned a few things about what truly does bring me happiness.

As Kid Cudi so eloquently put it, we’re all on the pursuit of happiness. Everyone has their individual ways to get there. For me, these are the biggies. Some of which I’ve been doing for a while, some I’m still learning to do better.

Life’s about the journey. Here’s my happiness 7-pack, in no particular order.


1. Always plan something to look forward to.

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There was a Dutch study released in 2010 that showed our largest boost in happiness comes during the time leading up to a big vacation.

You’re happiest during the anticipation phase — not on the vacation itself.

And 1000% not after, when you’re in that chasm of post-vaca depression.

Coincidentally (or maybe not), there’s also a Dutch word for that phenomenon: voorpretwhich literally translates to “pre-fun.”

That’s not to say your time sprawling out on a beach or rendezvousing through a monkey-infested jungle won’t be incredible. It will be. But I make it a mission to always have something big on my calendar that lights me up.

And it doesn’t have to be something monumental like a jaunt off to the other side of the world. Go micro. Things like weddings and bachelor(ette) parties (but hopefully not 10), concerts, baseball games, cooking classes, food festivals, weekend hiking trips, Tough Mudders, or something as mundane as brunch with friends all work swimmingly.

Whatever it is. Get in the habit of stuffing your calendar with things you actually want to do.

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Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • Michelle

    What a motivational and insightful article. I love your website and workouts. It was nice to get a glimpse at you personally. You seem like you really have a great (and enviable) drive for perfection. Keep stuff like this coming!!!

  • robin warnberg

    Awesome article! So important to learn how to make yourself happy. Sharing with everyone I know

  • Kevin Chadrjian

    Loved the article…..relates alot to what im currently working on in my own life. Love seeing you’ve come so far since school. Hope all is well!

    Kevin Chad

    • Appreciate it Kev! Means a lot. Hope you’re doing well, keep doing what you’re doing.


  • D Jones

    This is great advice – and struck a chord with me personally since I recently moved to New York from the slower South and have been struggling with the lifestyle. I’ve been following this website since 2015 and I can’t tell you how huge of a difference it’s had on me, so thank you so much for all your hard work!

    • Thanks a ton for the kind words D and glad you found this helpful! NYC really is a unique beast — I’ve lived here for 10+ years and it still continuously surprises and challenges me. Keep chugging along!