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How To Be Happy: Your Comprehensive Guide

by Larissa Russell March 08, 2016

This is Your Compeahensive Guide To Being Happea! It's hard to wrap words around happiness. Therefore this post is long. Bookmark, even if only for the amazing videos I have embedded!

I. Intro: Who Am I to Write About Happiness?

My name is Rissy. I am the official Green Pea “Cookie Miss,” and I’m a pretty happy girl. That doesn’t mean I’m never in a bad mood. I’m 24 years old. I live in San Francisco, run this Green Pea Cookie company with a small team, do yoga a lot, tutor math, write, and read books about political speechwriting because I think it would be neat to be involved with international foreign policy and/or diplomacy down the road in my career. (I’m ready to be the National Security Advisor.) I've got a great family, including an 18 year old dog and a wonder of a boyfriend who exudes the love of 3 naked baby siblings in a bathtub and looks like he scadoo'd straight out of the Disney Channel. You can get to know me on our YouTube, "Entrepeaneurs."

But as much as I like writing about myself, this blog post isn’t about me at all. (Darn!) The post is about how to be happy -- or really -- how to live joyfully. It’s just that happea makes for a better pea pun, and so this company and I will use the words “joy” and “happiness” interchangeably. It is true that I am no more of an authority on this subject than any other human on the planet, who is just trying his/her best to live well.

It also happens to be true that 40,500 people search “how to be happy” on a monthly basis on Google according to Adwords Keyword Planner (are you one of them? that's a lot!) 

...and since Peater the Original Green Pea Cookie is here to spread peasitivity and love, and since that little guy came out of our brains, and since this exchange is not uncommon,

PERSON: “How’s it going Rissy?” (friendly)
RISSY: “Great!” (overjoyed)
PERSON: “Great! What’s going on!”  (surprised)
RISSY: “Nothing in particular! Are you having a great day?” (grinning, laughing)
PERSON: “Teach me your ways.” (is she being sarcastic? do I have something on my face? what’s so funny?)

...I thought I might as well figure out what my “ways” are and share them. So I thought and thought and I drank some coffee and this is what I came up with: 


II. What is Happiness?

On sadness vs. happeaness, Peater the Original Green Pea Cookie once wrote: "Sad doesn't mean I'm not a happea cookie just so you know. I don't think sad and happea are opposites, that's why. Because happea is like breathing or rolling around..."

In Peater's view, sad sits on top of happea. Happeaness is not a competing energy at all. It is the very pulse of the universe. That is how he can be a happea cookie and still get peaturbed sometimes. For him, the opposite of sad (some temporary gladness), is also sitting on top of happea:

If we agree with Peater and define happea (happy) as that underneath thing (let's do it!), then no things or thoughts will make a person (or a pea cookie) happy or unhappy. Thoughts or things will only provide the temporary bad or good mood.

Sure, there are things "happy people" do and things "happy people" think, and doing these things and thinking these things may indeed have a positive effect on your state of mind. For instance, here are 12 tendencies of happy people:

    1. smile for no reason
    2. laugh at your own jokes
    3. sing in the shower
    4. eat more chocolate (dipped green pea cookies)
    5. dance with your kitchen towel and your frowning cat
    6. don't look at your phone while you’re walking
    7. count your blessings every day
    8. don't compare yourself to others
    9. give and don't expect anything in return
    10. tell the truth
    11. challenge yourself to learn
    12. forgive first

The list goes on and these are all great habits. But more often than not, happiness is the cause of these things, and not the effect. Once happiness is noticed, these things can help create a spiral upwards or sustain you when you're blue. But without noticing happiness as a body in the first place, these extra tasks become pieces of a worn out, saggy and lifeless costume in a heap on the floor, trying to stand up without muscles or bones.

In the same way: Bringing a team of talented people together, giving them a Slack account, signing them up for Asana and Google Drive, drawing pictures of a green guy named Peater, setting up a place called and a commercial kitchen operation and raising money MIGHT bring about an idea for selling Green Pea Cookies, but the delicious recipea for the cookies, the business plan and the initial bootstrapped execution in my apartment kitchen are more apt to precede. The tools are secondary. 

In the same way: Christianity is not the crucifix, the Bible, or a church. But maybe that helps people feel closer to their faith. Yoga is not a pair of LuluLemon pants or an overpriced mat. But maybe they motivate you to go to class. A garden is not a fenced off plot of land, bug spray and a hose. But maybe that stuff helps the flowers grow.

In sum: Happiness is not something to be achieved or found by imitating people who seem happy or by repeating quotes printed on rustic wood; rather, it’s something to be realized as already there underneath everything, as your truest you, and then expressed however you see fit.

III. How to Realize Happiness in 4 Steps

Here is a step by step guide for realizing happiness, or joy, or love, or your best self, or world peas... whatever you want to call it. Start with number 1, but nothing is ever finished, and also, do them all at once.

(Note: if you have a short attention span or don’t have time to read this post, then just go click on “products” and go buy a box of green pea cookies. I promise it’s your real shortcut ;) .)

(1) Watch Yourself Living
(2) Balance Things Out
(3) Decide that Every Day is the Best Day
(4) Lead With Integrity


(1) Watch Yourself Living.

I see you on Bart, checking yourself out in the reflection as we go under the Bay, eyebrows up in the center, a slight squint and lips pursed into your best cool guy face. And I also see you, yes you, as you tuck your hair behind your ear and cross your arms tightly in front and sneak a peek or two at your gait in the dark black glass Starbucks storefront on Market Street.

You're a fun show. Now start watching from the inside. It's mindfulness. What’s the thought going through your head as you check out your own reflection? As you read this? What stories do you tell yourself, first thing in the morning when you reach for your phone to check if you got any mail or notifications? When you step over a homeless man sleeping on a grate? When you’re shaving and you cut your protruding chin? When you smile at someone you find physically unattractive? When you raise your voice at someone?

Just watch. Emotions can be funny. Watch your fists clench under the table as you listen to the tongue of the person next to you smack around his mouth while he slurps noodles and chews them as if into a microphone with his mouth open (I’m looking at you, @yingquan!).

Why? Underneath your clothes, you’re all bare; underneath your worries and the emotions that sit on top of happiness, you’re already happy. Maybe the little you that you’re watching is mad, but that doesn’t mean the part that’s doing the watching can’t be happy. In fact, it always is.

How can you tune in? With practice. You’re never done. Some people meditate to help cultivate that perspective. But regardless of whether you say “om,” light some incense in the closet, stand on your head, put a bead dot on your third eye and sit with your eyes closed, spine straight and legs in the shape of an isosceles trapezoid every morning, make the whole day a meditation practice just by watching yourself live it.


(2) Balance Things Out.

Now that you're watching your behavior, you can tweak stuff. Isn't that fun? If you notice you’re feeling disappointed all day, see how it feels to think a positive thought now and then and look on the bright side. If you’re always telling yourself you’re not good enough or you’re waiting for someone else to validate you, see how it feels to tell yourself you're great and not be overly swayed by praise or degradation. If you notice you’re a lustful maniac in your head, maybe cut back on those thoughts too. Beyond thoughts... how about what you're actually doing with your hours and days and months? Do you focus on yourself all the time? Do you work all the time? Do you eat ice cream all the time? Do you just sit with your legs in the trapezoid and do nothing else?

  • One of my yoga teachers posted this picture a while ago and a gajillion people shared it. Here I’m sharing it again!

    This is so great. Note, however, that HAPPEANESS is not sitting in the middle of the opposites, it’s beyond them. Getting in between the extremes of virtue will help you see down into it. Let me draw the same diagram from a bird's eye view:

    Note: This doesn't mean that your feelings (good or bad) are not legitimate and that you should not feel them. Feel them as much as they need to be felt without indulging in them. Don't lose sight of the real, happea you.


  • (3) Decide that every day is the best day and that every person is the best person.

  • You're watching yourself, you're balancing the things you think and do... GREAT! But what about the rest of the world and all those other people you have to deal with every day?

  • Happeaness is behind your emotions. We already established that. And guess what! It's also behind everyone else's, and behind everything else in the whole wide world. Bring it out by choosing to see it. Allow it to take its own diverse material shapes EVERYWHERE instead of limiting the world to your expectations and provincial interpretations, of which it will inevitably fall short. Watch this:

  • “Let your gratefulness overwhelm into blessing all around you… then it will really be a good day.” YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • And just as every day is the best day, every person is the best person. But people speak different love languages. This is why the golden rule, "treat others as you'd have them treat you" can be tricky. Meet others in their world. You don’t have to like everything about every person, and you won’t. Who cares. Communication helps a lot when it comes to people you care about -- chances are they're trying to meet you in YOUR world and don't know how -- but in general, you’ll be happier if you focus on the good in people, not on the part you wish you could change. (I bet they want to change a ton about you too. People have their own values. Is anyone really “right?”)


    (4) Lead with Integrity.

    You're watching yourself, you're balancing yourself, you're seeing some little piece of joy in everything and everyone... Done!?? #Never. Because realizing happiness is a continuous practice and not a one-shot deal, integrity matters.

    Nathanial Branden says, “Self-esteem is the reputation we earn with ourselves.” If you cheat, you’ll start to believe you’re the kind of person who is really a cheater, and you’ll have an excuse to cheat next time.  By the same token, each time you stick by your words and beliefs, you’re strengthening the idea inside yourself that you’re the type of person you want to be.

    So much damaging hypocrisy comes from the tendering of responsibility for oneself to an assumed personal identity, title, group or organization with a supposed larger purpose. “I’m a member of a group serving God,” they lazily resign, “I am doing good through that, therefore it’s ok that I am murdering people.”

    Sort of like, “I’m at the cool kid’s table, therefore I’m cool even though I’m secretly feeling like a mean dork.” “I’m in the hot guy fraternity, therefore hot girls will not notice that I am lazy and smell.” "My team lost, so I'm a huge loser and a reject even though I have never played basketball in my life and barely know the rules." “I work at such and such investment bank, therefore I’m a hard worker so it's fine that I waste half the day looking at pictures of my ex boyfriend on Facebook to pass the time when I know I don’t really have enough work to do.” “I’m a yogi with my legs in a trapezoid, therefore I’m peaceful. NOW F* OFF!”

    Just like you cannot rely on a rustic wooden board with quotes on it to make you happy, you cannot rely on anything external to make you complete. The good news is, you don't have to, because you're complete already. Watch this video of a perfect book from Shel Silverstein, which inspired Peater's love for rolling around: 


    IV. Conclusion

    Before you can feel happy, you have to recognize what happiness is, as well as what you are. So, these ideas in mind, go make some coffee and have a box of Dimpea and think about it for yourself. But don't forget to watch yourself think.

    I hope you'll discover that you ARE happy already, beneath everything. And that you're you already, too. 

    Happea Day,

    Your Cookie Miss, @rissyrussell

    Larissa Russell
    Larissa Russell


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    • 2 cups of crushed green pea cookies (1-2 boxes of original green pea cookies will do depending on how thick you would like the crust)
    • 1/3 cup butter or coconut oil melted (liquid form)
    • 1 bag of Guittard semi sweet chips (not needed if you purchased chocolate dipped green pea cookies for your crust!)