The 8-Step Happiness Workout

BY Harper's BAZAAR Arabia / Feb 8 2020 / 17:35 PM

Striving for a “perfect life” is so 2019. Meet the new wellness leader who is redefining what it means to be truly joyful today

The 8-Step Happiness Workout

Happiness has had its own mood swings in the past decade. First, we learned that it’s more satisfying to plant our own arugula than to build a McMansion. The Happiness Project gave us proofs of love. We sparked joy Marie Kondo-ing our closets and rolling our T-shirts. Then Instagram happened. We compared, we lamented, we read inspirational quotes to pick us back up. But happiness was in a downward spiral, with anxiety and loneliness spiking especially among younger people. By 2018, the most popular class at Yale—in the university’s history of all its classes ever—was Psychology and the Good Life taught by Laurie Santos, with nearly one out of four undergrads forgoing philosophy and physics to learn how to be happier.

Now the pursuit of happiness is taking a new tack. Harnessing the science and plasticity of the brain, psychology, and our digital devices (or not), we’re embracing the negative and letting our low mental states guide us to higher ground. Imperfection is the new perfection, self-honesty is the rage, and our anxiety is helping us find our bliss.

Happy Not Perfect is a Web site, app, 10-college “Mind Your Mind” tour, interactive exhibit at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and Beverly Hills, and a line of mood-altering adaptogens such as Chill the F*** Out aromatherapy spray, all created by Poppy Jamie, a 29-year-old Brit. When Jamie was growing up, her neurotherapist mom always asked her how she was taking care of her mind. Unusual at the time, especially in England, she says. Jamie—who apparently has an excellent mind, as she simultaneously completed a degree in politics at the London School of Economics and was the youngest TV presenter at ITN in the U.K.—noticed that she was constantly in overdrive. Her stress intensified when she moved to L.A. in 2013 to work for MTV and ITV, and found herself in a new country without knowing a soul: “It was one part optimistic, one part sheer determination, and two parts overwhelming anxiety.”

Jamie woke up one night with a realization. “I’ve been doing life so wrong. I believed that if I were more perfect, things would be easier. We often think, ‘If I had a better life, job, body, then this wouldn’t have happened.’ How deluded we are, thinking that perfect exists. What would it mean to strive for happiness instead?” That night she wished she could put her mom in an app for everyone who doesn’t have a therapist in the family. She bought the domain for the three words in her head, Happy Not Perfect, reinforcing her new priorities, and fell back asleep, a miracle in and of itself. Its mission is “to make it easy for people to look after their minds, and in doing so, make the world happier,” says Jamie.

The app offers more than 300 mindful exercises, including a quick, eight-step (most steps take less than a minute) daily routine that’s based on research from Alex Korb, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and author of 'The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.'

The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, Dhs55 at

To achieve happiness follow her quick 8-step happiness workout routine...


Pick from 51 moods ranging from “meh” to “butterflies.”

SCIENCE SAYS: “If you label emotions verbally, it allows emotional processing to take place and reduces their impact.”


View a 30-second visual instruction on belly breathing.

SCIENCE SAYS: “Deep breathing affects the brain by modulating activity in the vagus nerve, calming the brain’s stress response, slowing your heart rate, and therefore establishing a state of relaxation.” 


Write your worries on the screen, then watch them burn up.

SCIENCE SAYS: “Studies show that regularly journaling your thoughts is a great way to reduce stress and find mental clarity. Burning them helps you let go of negative old thought patterns.”


Draw or play a game.

SCIENCE SAYS: “Creativity boosts happiness. Many studies have shown the power of art therapy for improving happiness and wellbeing


Jot down who or what you’re grateful for.

SCIENCE SAYS: “Writing a daily gratitude list can make you feel happier, sleep better, and even improve your immune system.”


In a virtual notebook, write what you can do to boost your happiness for tomorrow.

SCIENCE SAYS: “Those who set regular, achievable goals enjoy a release of feel-good hormones upon completion.” 


Share a positive vibe by sending an inspirational quote to a friend.

SCIENCE SAYS: Building relationships and having a support system that feels appreciated has been shown to aid mental health.


Select a 3-, 8-, or 15-minute meditation geared toward your mood.

SCIENCE SAYS: “Hopefully by now, everyone knows that meditation calms the mind and pretty much makes everything better.”

From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: Jan 2020 Edition