Solving the Happiness Formula

What Juhan learned from 200 Days of LivingOS

Juhan is one of the earliest members of LivingOS. She knows LivingOS better than anyone, so I thought to feature her expert experience today.


I have followed Charlene since she founded Perfect College App. I discovered Perfect College App in college and began to reflect on how I would rewrite my college application if given another chance. While I was sad to see the end of Perfect College App, I am happy to see the birth of LivingOS after a few years.

Charlene’s articles made me realize that personal growth is key to achieving happiness in life. I applied her lifehacking guides to my life and have seen tremendous improvements in work and life. Today I’ll show you how I create my own happiness recipe with LivingOS guides:

🌳 Work

1/ Craft a 90-day success plan for my new job

One of the early successes is the 90-day plan I created for my new job. When I share the 90-day plan with my manager, my manager was very happy and intrigued to learn more. He even pushed back his meetings to make time for this discussion. After reviewing the plan together, my manager helped me tailor the plan, clarify expectations, and craft a personalized growth strategy.

2/ Better manage my energy

  1. Set a clear goal and deliverables for each work session.This deliverable could be writing a few lines of codes, a presentation, or a consensus with my colleague. For example, Charlene would coach me to narrow down the problem to a specific, well-defined problem, document my progress, and share tangible results.
  2. Schedule my work session in 45-minute chunks.After several experiments, I found that 45 min is the sweet spot for my attention span. By dividing my time into 45-min work sessions, my brain could get some rest to avoid burnout. This is similar to how HIIT gives you time to breathe in between each intensive session. By scheduling break into my deep work, I can brave through my debugging session and clarify my confusion.
  3. Tackle small tasks first and move on to bigger ones.Instead of tackling the big hairy task, I like to start small. Small tasks, often unfinished tasks from yesterday, help me get in the flow and warm-up for the day. I would gain confidence and a sense of achievement and be mentally prepared to solve the big problem. Whenever I feel challenged, I would look at the items that I have checked off and keep going.

3/ Combat information fatigue

As a new hire, I often find myself overwhelmed by new technologies and domain knowledge. I used to pack all information into my brain. After learning the just-in-time mindset, I realized that there is no need to add unnecessary burdens to my brain.

In addition, I have used Charlene’s tutorial to design my digital brain and capture all the important knowledge. Even better, I get to tap into this reservoir of knowledge whenever I need new inspirations or resources.

🌳 Life

1/ Find a healthy lifestyle that sticks

When I first read Charlene’s article on How to turn crisis into renaissanceI was captivated by the possibility of supercharging myself.

Looking back, I realized that the price I paid for a messed up sleeping schedule. In college, I messed up my biological clock and ended up half asleep in classes. I was tired but couldn’t find a way to stop or fix my bad habits. I knew that my work performance would suffer if I delayed the fix.

With this new awareness and motivation, I started to live a healthy life. My day now begins with a 10 min yoga to wake up my body. Then I’ll jog for 45 mins and take a refreshing morning shower. After I fully awake my body, I would make my bed and set the stage for work. This new lifestyle boosted my productivity.

The key to keeping up my new lifestyle (66+ days) is to make time to relax. As I wind down my work, I would listen to music on my walk to give my eyes and brain a good break. I also enjoy meal prepping with my incredibly sharp knife.*

*Side note: The sharp knife helps turn my chores into joy.

2/ Get out of my sad childhood memories

Sometimes I just wanted to forget my past, yet I wasn’t able to undo the memories. As Charlene said in Getting the Love You Want, unpleasant memories are unfinished business — they will keep coming back until you face it. After running away from my childhood troubles for a while, I decided to “talk” to the teenage me.

That wasn’t easy. The process of examining scars, hidden wounds, and archived memories made me cry several times. After several “talks” with my younger self, I finally realized that my unhappy past doesn’t speak for my future. I can still have hopes, opportunities, and happiness.

3/ All I need is to recognize and understand my emotional needs.

As I gradually resolve the “complaint” from sad Juhan, I found that I was braver than expected. It’s time to say goodbye to the little crying girl and wind down the haunted dreams.

In addition to resolving my unfinished business, I also wrote down the 10 things I’m grateful for every day. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until I repeatedly journal the 10 things for weeks. Going through the list, I was surprised to see a positive shift in my emotion. I began to appreciate the good things that occurred and revisit the happy moments. This awareness of good things made me more optimistic and confident.

Now I’d tell myself: “No matter what happens, I’m going to be okay.”

I was affected by the pandemic job markets, too. After many kind friend referrals, I eventually landed a job. As I began to thank each person through emails, I was blessed and humbled by every single heartwarming response. At first, I felt helpless because I couldn’t do anything in return. Then, I realized that it’s not about giving back for the sake of fairness. It’s about passing on this generosity. The act of sharing my experience with you is just an example of me fulfilling my purpose in life.


How can you be happier?

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” — Aristotle

Now that you know my happiness recipe, it’s time to take action. You can start by practicing gratitude, changing your habit, and getting inspiration from LivingOS.

Seeking happiness is a life-long process. It’s not easy, but I hope you can find happiness, love, and your sense of self throughout this journey.

Don’t forget to document your journey and share it with us.

Here’s to a happy and fulfilling journey!

Juhan

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