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 Instead, what I learned very quickly, was that everything involved outdated templates, and the work I had been doing in my early twenties was leaps and bounds ahead of the work even senior management was doing at this new company.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.



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  1. Cadry says

    Congratulations, Amanda! This sounds like a really cool opportunity. Several tenants of The Happiness Project struck a chord with me too, like Be Gretchen. In our very social world, it can be easy to look at what other people are doing and the ways that they are succeeding and judge ourselves by their barometer. But it’s only by taking our own pulse that we know what resonates for us, what works for us, and what excites us. I can tell from your words here that this new area of growth ticks all of those boxes for you. I look forward to seeing every way that you will Be Amanda! xoxo

    1. Amanda says

      I often think of “Be Gretchen” too, especially in the context of doing things that make me happy, as opposed to doing things that make other people happy or that I’d like to enjoy but actually don’t (for example, camping – I do not like to rough it, as much as I wish I did!). I love what you said about judging ourselves by our own barometer. It’s easy, especially in the blogging world, to compare ourselves and think we should be doing more or doing things differently. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Cadry! xo

  2. Caitlin says

    amanda, i really love these posts from you. they really make me think about my situation, and i always feel like you are writing specifically for me. the happiness project has been on my list to read for a while now, and i really must get around to reading it as soon as possible. i have noticed on instagram how much you read, and it makes me wish i was able to set aside more time for myself to do it. i must.

    the nutrition program sounds perfect! i cannot wait to read more about it and your experiences! it seems things are beginning to fall into place for you and i couldn’t be happier for you!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Caitlin! You always leave the sweetest comments.
      I love The Happiness Project and will often re-read sections of it when I feel like I need a reminder. Let me know what you think of it when you read it. xo

  3. I am so happy for you Amanda 🙂 I really need to check out the happiness project ( I have no idea about it)

    1. Amanda says

      Thank you! I’m really excited!

  4. WHOA! So amazing! Good on you for finding a great program that fits your needs, personality and hopes. The timing is perfect, too—so nice to start fresh in the new year and spend the rest of this one preparing and detoxing.

    I’m a big Gretchen Rubin fan. I read her Happiness Project and Happier at Home while away on vacation over this past New Year’s and so many of her ideas struck me hard, too. And, I think some of the things I started doing in response to her writing is starting to manifest for me now…more to come on that. 😉

    1. Amanda says

      Oooh, I’m looking forward to hearing what has started manifesting for you! xo

  5. Jessie says

    How exciting! It is so inspiring for me to read about the positive shifts you’re making in your life. I actually just started reading Undiet and am very excited to learn more about Meghan’s holistic approach to healing and wellness.

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Jessie. <3 Undiet is awesome! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


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