An Atmosphere of Growth

If you’ve read The Happiness Project, you may be familiar with the phrase in my post title. There are a few quotes from Gretchen Rubin’s book that have stayed with me over the years, with her “First Splendid Truth” being one of them:

“To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.”

Happy Barley
This dog epitomizes happiness.

I first picked up a copy of The Happiness Project shortly after it was published in 2010, when I was a few months into my window-less (and passionless) cubicle job. Two weeks into starting and spending my days staring at a computer screen and feeling disconnected from any meaningful social interaction, I knew things were headed south fast, although in a different sort of way than my last job. When I had interviewed, I was under the impression I would be learning a lot in my new role, because despite managing millions of dollars in organic search revenue in my previous position, I told myself I was far from an expert and only had a few years of experience under my belt. Instead, what I learned very quickly, was that everything involved outdated templates, and the work I had been doing in my early twenties was leaps and bounds ahead of the work even senior management was doing at this new company.

Desperate to regain the zest I once had for my work but not knowing how to get back to that place, I began browsing the self-help and happiness sections at my local bookstore. The Happiness Project was front and center on display and I could not read and absorb it fast enough. That “First Splendid Truth” was a total Aha! moment for me. At my last job, I had gone from feeling good to feeling bad, while still maintaining that atmosphere of growth. But in my current job, everything was wrong.

Over the next few years, as I made big life changes and honed in on what truly interested me, I always fantasized about going back to school for culinary nutrition. Not a traditional culinary education, and not a traditional nutrition program either. The problem I ran into was that there are very few schools that focus on plant-based food, and those that did, would have required moves to new cities and tens of thousands of dollars. Not a great fit for someone who had recently moved cross-country twice in the span of a year.


So, I tabled that idea and worked on creating my atmosphere of growth on a smaller scale. This is one of the reasons why, if you follow me on instagram, you’ll see that I’m constantly reading. I love learning about food policy, plant-based nutrition, happiness and psychology (the latter is what I studied in undergrad). And then I happened to read about an online culinary nutrition program that was exactly what I was looking for…except it was brand new and already full. I added my name to the waiting list and didn’t give it much thought for the next few months.

…until a couple of weeks ago, when I started to research it again, and then last week, when I received an email asking if I wanted to skip the wait list and enroll for the next session.


And so with giddy excitement (and one last round of review just to quadruple check everything), I enrolled to become a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert (C.N.E.) with Meghan Telpner! I don’t start until Spring 2014, but I feel like the timing works out just right because it gives me a chance to unwind and detox from the last few years (and work on a couple of other fun projects I’ve been brainstorming).

I can’t even tell you how pumped I am to get back to more formal learning that’s in line with who I am, and also to share that with you all here! Meghan is one of those rare people who radiates positivity and passion, and I know this is going to be a great next chapter for me.

On that note, I’ll end this lengthy post with another quote that I often think about from The Happiness Project:

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

Leave safe and stagnant to follow your passions.