*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.
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: voorpret, which 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.