The Personal Happiness Formula for High-Achievers - Christine Kane

We were dying.  All of us. Collectively experiencing a most brutal end.

I kept my gaze forward, knowing that even a slight sideways glance meant that I’d witness the suffering of my neighbor.  From behind me, there was a grunt.  In front, a slight groan.

And then, when we each thought we could bear no more, the woman who caused this pain gave us our next assignment.

She told us to rest.

With exhales, slaps and grunts, all arms in the yoga class collapsed out of the pose.

Then she gave us one of those blissful yoga-teacher looks.

Calmly she encouraged us to use that moment to do the opposite of what we were each doing.

She told us to smile. 

She said that in life, when you’ve completed something challenging or painful – whether that challenge is exercise, yoga, firing an employee, losing a client, or your first time speaking on stage – to take a moment to break out into a huge celebratory grin.  This teaches your body to associate challenges with good feelings.

In other words, when you keel over panting and groaning, you are essentially telling your body this:

“Omigod! That sucked! We barely made it by the skin of our teeth!”

And your body says in response: “Hated it! Let’s never do that again!”

So, when the next challenge shows up (which it always will), your body makes that same association, which may or may not look like one of the following:







The runs.

(I added that last one for a special friend of mine.)

But when you smile?

You train yourself to love the process and embrace the challenge.

And even though it feels 100% goofy, it kinda makes sense, no?

That’s because when it comes right down to it, happiness is a lot about training.

People seek happiness.  And it’s always this big holy mother-ship nebulous idea of happiness.  Have you noticed?

But what always kicks the butt of the big holy mother-ship nebulous idea of happiness are all these simple practices that do one elegant thing:

Shift how you’d normally think about it. Change the culturally-accepted way of looking at it.

Implement all the habits you can to trick the ego into telling a whole different story than the heavy serious painful story it wants to believe.

Think about your business, for instance.

At first, you dream and dream of crossing the $75,000 mark.

Then you do.

Then you tell yourself that $150K would be awesome.

Then you reach that.

Then you think, well $500K would REALLY be hip.  Then, it’s been there done that.

In other words, there’s always another goal to reach.  Your ego will always focus on where you are not.

But the thing is – no matter how fast you walk towards the horizon – you’re never going to ARRIVE at the horizon.  That line where earth and sky meet will always be out in front of you.

In spite of what my desire-resistant Buddhist friends tell me, I happen to think that this is the coolest thing about goals.  There is no “there!”  (And, oh yeah, if there were?  I can tell you one thing, friend. You’d be bored out of your mind within 3 hours of arriving.)

So, then, as world-changing, passion-craving, bright-shiny-object-loving, wealth-creating, idea-coming-up-with, crazy ass entrepreneurial types — how do we be happy?

Well – for starters – it’s that dumb little smile.

(Try it right now. Seriously. Stop reading for a second. And just smile real big.  I promise no one will post a photo of you doing this on their Pinterest page.)

It’s a daily gratitude list.

(Quick. List five things you’re grateful for right now.)

Or it’s practicing mindfulness.

(Take a moment to feel yourself breathe deeply.)

Then there’s celebrating milestones.

(I’ve celebrated everything from breaking the million-dollar mark in my business to getting rejected and getting up the next day to try again.  Oddly enough, the bigger triumph was the second one.)

Now, as you read over this list, you might not feel all that excited. That’s fine.  If you’re having a grumbly day, then one kicky article isn’t going to rock your world by making you inhale deeply.  Okay. So be it.

However, when you do it again tomorrow and then again the next day and then again the next?

Well, that’s when it gets interesting.

That’s when you start to experience this build up of mojo mastery, and you notice that your usual reactions have evolved into something much more profound.  You notice that you are happy.  And – dare I say – more successful too?

Which is why, as I stood there in that raging hot yoga room that smelled like feet, I smiled like a crazy person while my arms throbbed and my heart pounded nearly out of my chest.

My own personal happiness formula is a cumulative melding of large intentions, big ass leaps, new translations, focused attention, thinking clearly, thanking everything, and an unending willingness to look goofy.

What’s yours?

  • Alle L’Eveille

    LOVE this post! It is a great reminder that you don’t need to stay enmired (my word) in your stuff, you can choose to let it go and release it’s power on you. This is hard to do but the more I do it the better it becomes. I use your Situation Upleveler Tool all the time when I’m faced with what I expect to be a challenging client call or meeting. It worked wonders!

  • Jo-Ann Blondin


    I had to laugh about this article. I went to my scheduled yoga class immediately after reading this article and what do you think our instructor said? She told us to smile. Which I did after reading your article, in class and now as I write this.

    Thanks for your guidance,

  • Maria

    My happy formula:
    – Be the smiles you want to see around you
    – Enjoy sunshine, ’tis free!
    – If it sucks, embrace it. Then turn it around.
    – Laugh out loud at least three times a day
    – Call someone you love, everyday.
    – When all else fails, go for a run. Feel the power of your body.

  • Carmen Jubinville

    Totally love your writing style and humor! 🙂

  • Kalia Kelmenson

    My formula involves that imperfect action of reaching forward, while appreciating what is. I would absolutely NOT be happy ‘getting there’ where’s the fun in that? And i’ve also done the never happy with what is route- which is no fun and games…
    So dancing along that line, stretching myself through the postures, and finding the equilibrium, and being aware when I’m over-stretching one way or another-
    Thanks for this post- loved it!!

  • Kimberly Sherry

    Love your description of us…”world-changing, passion-craving, bright-shiny-object-loving, wealth-creating, idea-coming-up-with, crazy ass entrepreneurial types”…life is never boring, always something new to challenge us…lovin life and lookin forward to what’s next…
    Thanks for all you inspiration!!!

  • MelAnn Morales

    I’m smiling really big right now – and I needed this… After a very frustrating day – a reminder to smile – to reprogram my body to turn it into something that feels good! Sharing the post!

    • Christine Kane

      MelAnn – Awww. I’m so glad this helped. And congratulations on a frustrating day – because those days often hold the best lessons for us. (Yeah, I know. That’s an annoying thing to hear… but you gotta know it’s true!)

  • Tova

    Right on, but I think Buddhists (desire-resistant or otherwise) would also say there is no “there”, there is only here. Here, now, the present. That’s all there is. (As my mother-in-law likes to say, the future’s a mystery, the past is history.) That doesn’t mean you don’t have desires and goals, only that you don’t let them become a reason not to be present in the moment.
    My happiness formula? Gratitude all the way. You can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time!

  • Lauren Ebbecke

    Well said everyone….I, too, do gratitude spurts especially when the challenges get more challenging. Yep, that yoga will have muscles speaking to you that you never knew existed!!! Focused attention on my business this year is one of my goals. I am working it like never before. If it is not an Absolute yes, it is a no for me. Embracing fear and taking imperfect action has been fabulous these last 4 months. Stepping out in a big way to help others. I love the willingness to look goofy and will add that one to my formula 🙂

    I, too, love supporting, collaborating or just being with all of these powerful women and watching their dreams unfold! It is a goldmine! Thanks for all that you do! Love and Light coming your way!!

    • Christine Kane

      As always, Lauren, thank you for your ideas and thoughts! Sounds like you are poised for your best year yet!

  • Roxane Lessa

    You’ve obviously been doing hot Bikram yoga, no? That shit kicks your ass, but feels so amazing when you’re done. Wish I could do it now!! Thanks as always for your inspiration. I’m smiling more than I ever was!

    • Christine Kane

      Roxanne – It’s actually kundalini. Bikram made me wish I was dead. (I know that’s just my resistance – but I still never want to go back!)

  • Teri Beckman

    Thanks Christine for a wonderful 2 days of Platinum Masterminding… I so appreciate you bringing us all back to path and potential of happiness! I am smiling! 🙂 BTW – Buddhists definitely desire happiness – and you help this Buddhist get there. Much love to you.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Teri! And yes. I do know that Buddhists desire things (and happiness!) I think what I am trying to refer to here are the newbie Buddhists who are often the most vocal! 🙂

  • Devon Clement

    What can I say that Maggie hasn’t already said perfectly? I need to do this more!

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Devon! Missing your fabulousness! Hope you are soaring!

  • Maria

    Thank you, Christine!

    Thank you for your wonderful writing style
    Thank you for your relentless Rock Star Presence in my inbox
    Thank you for standing up for us goofs!
    Thank you for smiling
    Thank you for laughing
    YOU ARE SO INSPIRING!!! I want to be like you when I grow up – except, duh, hope that never happens! 😉

    Love & Light from France

    : ) Maria

  • Mindful Mimi

    Love your clear way of putting thing on paper!
    My happiness formule:
    * imperfect action
    * gratitude
    * baby steps
    * daily intention
    * forgiving myself

    And the biggest: doing what you love! makes me happy all the time!

  • MarieNeige

    SMILE and let the brighest sun shine in my heart!

  • Maggie Reyes


    I love your “unending willingness to look goofy!” I have that one too. (and so does The Hubs – practically a pre-requisite for deepest joy in my book!)

    I also do ‘gratitude spurts’ like you describe above – they are an instant vibe shifter and I find them super useful – anytime anywhere.

    I am so proud and happy to say that my personal happiness formula has been deeply inspired by yours. Completing incompletions. Absolute Yeses. Looking at life from a whole new angle. Humor and Big Juicy Goals. Action. Bold, Delicious, Imperfect Action.

    And community – I love being surrounded by powerful women living their dreams. Makes me happy to watch them and be in their presence. Thank you for the life you have created that has so deeply blessed mine.

    • Christine Kane

      Awww. Thanks Maggie! I always LOVE reading your comments because they give me so much insight into positive thinking! (Brooke Castillo and I were both talking about how much we adore you as our client for this very reason! 🙂 )