Finding Happiness From Wherever You Are with Dr. Marissa Pei

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TBT 40 | Achieve Happiness


We all know that life is not always sunshine and butterflies. Sometimes, we find it hard to even find that slightest glint of light. We feel hopeless and unhappy. As an expert in various fields and a poster child for diversity, Dr. Marissa Pei has a lot to say about how to overcome that sadness and turn it into joy. She talks about her new book, 8 Ways to Happiness: From Wherever You Are, showing us that no matter what your disposition in life, you can achieve happiness. By embracing the pain and struggles, you turn those into a positive experience that helped you grow as a person. She also touches on the subject of perfectionism and how being a perfectionist drains the joy out of life. Marissa says always aim for being happy 88%, move out of that perfectionism into joy, and don’t forget to start your day with gratitude.

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Finding Happiness From Wherever You Are with Dr. Marissa Pei

We’ve got a very special guest that I’m super excited to have, Dr. Marissa. She has a PhD in Organizational Psychology and she’s been working for Fortune 500 companies. She’s got an amazing podcast herself that is the top podcast of the year among 440,000 podcasts. I could go on and on and say wonderful things. They call you the Asian Oprah. Tell us about how excited you are about your book launching and why did you write this book?

TBT 40 | Achieve Happiness

8 Ways to Happiness: From Wherever You Are

Thank you so much for having me here to give a little preview and celebrate my launch day and birthday and celebrating life. This is going to be a day all about happiness and time and living our best life. 8 Ways to Happiness: From Wherever You Are is birthing now. It did take me nine months to write it. Yes, they do call me the Asian Oprah because Michael Bernard Beckwith, one of the teachers and The Secret, Founder of Agape International Spiritual Center, he introduced me to Oprah when she came to Agape as, “This is the Asian Oprah.” He dubbed me that name and she looked at me, smiled, looked down and said, “Nice pants.” It took every part of me not to say, “Do you want them? I’ll take them off.”
This book is self-help on steroids. It comes from not a place of, “I know more than you.” It comes from a place of, “I know if you’ve had past pain, if you have future fear, if you have ever felt like you’re not good enough, you’re not worthy, the voices in your head, you’ll never amount too much, you’ve been hurt as a child, if you’ve had hurt as an adult.” I know it, I get it. I spent decades shoving all that stuff down and not dealing with it and thinking can’t change the past so why bother. I realized around midlife opportunity time that what you don’t deal with will come back and deal with you. I realized too that I am one of the majorities. Seven out of ten of us, as many as eight as my honorable moniker will say, have past pain and grew up in dysfunctional homes.
Why are we saying that there’s something wrong with us, that we’re behind the eight ball, that we will never catch up? That’s BS. That’s a belief system that keeps us unhappy and completely stuck in our pain marinating in it. I had enough. I got to that moment of, “Is this all there is? Is this what life is? Am I going to spend my entire life trying to catch up to something that I don’t even think is possible, which is happiness?” I realized that I could either blame and shame and feel bad about what happened or reframe and look at pain and life as something that helps me chisel into even greater and more beautiful good. All pain in life serves as a touchstone for us to grow and expand and to help others who are going through similar things.
I want to talk about your book because one of the things I love about the book, I’ve read it, is you said, “To stop pushing it down.” A lot of people, they read this positive psychology and they think it’s all about positive, and ignoring what’s happened. What I love about your book is you’re not saying that at all. You’re saying let’s embrace it. Let’s feel deeply. You have some really great exercises to let people to get it out and to feel it, then also to reframe it. The exercise continues to give you the other side of the coin because they’re both there in the moment and we have to be able to experience and express both of them. That’s one of the things I’d have to say that I loved about your book is your approach in that. You are fun and witty and you bring all your funness to the book as well.
You could either blame and shame and feel bad about what happened, or reframe life and look at the pain as growing experiences. Share on X It’s because I am very shy. Sarcasm is another service I offer and I am glad. The whole point of going down into that black hole that we all have, that we’re afraid that if we go in there we’re going to be like Humpty Dumpty break into a million pieces and not be put back together, it’s not true. There is a bottom. You have to go deep enough to feel it fully one time. You shovel out the Shiitake and you find the seed that is the beautiful, magnificent, unique you and we all are, that’s our birthright. Then you shovel the Shiitake back as fertilizer to understand that it’s all for a reason to help us grow. I developed things as a result of this pain that makes me unique and who I am. Certainly, one of the things that I’ve got to do with the pain is transmit it through the book and to allow myself to be creative in the expression of the exercises. I promise if you do the exercises all the way through, you will never hate yourself the same way again.
One of the other things I love that you embrace in the book is when you talk about happy 88% of the time. It’s like you apply the 80/20 rule with your twist as you explained why in the book and everything. We’ll let people read the book to find out why. I want to talk about that idea of perfectionism, that we think we have to be happy 100% of the time. In chapter seven, you talk about perfectionism. Let’s talk a little bit about that, our expectation.
There are 30% of the population who’s not had trauma. This book though is still for you because chapter seven and eight, Out of Perfectionism Into Joy and Out of Control Into Happiness, are specifically for people who are overachievers, who are recovering overachievers also known as control freaks and perfectionists like me. It’s never enough. Nothing’s ever enough. First you say, “When I make this much money, I’ll be happy or when I get this project done, I’ll be happy. Or when I have this relationship, I’ll be happier. Or when I have this number of kids, I’ll be happier.”
She’s talking about how we don’t stop to take a look at what we have accomplished.
It’s appreciating what you do have and who you are and what is going on around you because if you step up the 88% line and look at 100% and all you’re looking at is, “What’s wrong? What still needs to be done? What do I need to transfer on to tomorrow’s to-do list?” It’s not a good feeling. It’s like, “I didn’t get it done.” That feeling can last you an entire lifetime. In fact, if you have that feeling, you’re always in the worried prattle of your head. There’s a great Tibetan saying, “It’s as if you’re sitting in front of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over your head.” We don’t want to do that. We want to appreciate where we are, what’s going on, and what we have done. I asked people to turn 88% mark and look towards what has been done. What is good, what is good about that person with you? What is good about you? What is good about the job that got done? What is good about life? That finding the good is a huge balance tool in order to get us to 88% happiness.
Something that I started to do as a recovering perfectionist and control freak was every day, we’ve got to practice that on a regular basis. I started at the end of every day, instead of looking at what I didn’t do on my to-do list, I started to do a list of wins for the day or things that I did do that did take care of my health, that took care of my family, the things that I did focus on in relation to moving my strategies forward. Whatever steps that I took as I did take those steps. Even if you’re sick, you can look at what you did do, which was to take care of your health. I started that practice every day of looking at what I did accomplish, so it was a perfect transition. Instead of ending the day feeling deflated and defeated in like, “Another day, I didn’t get done what I want to get done and what I’m supposed to get done.” I could appreciate what it is that I did do and be in gratitude and have a beautiful transition then into family life and have dinner with my family and be in a different state of mind. It shifts the whole energy.
Dr. Wayne Dyer would say, “Start your day with five grateful things.” I’m a recovering overachiever, so I follow your lead and I start the day with eight gratitudes every morning. As soon as I wake up, I don’t think about what I need to do. I’m grateful for eight things and you can follow me online. I do it out loud now because we’re in the middle of the 21-Day Fast from Complaining with Dr. Marissa. You’ll see my eight gratitudes every morning. Before I go to bed, I do eight gratitudes at night before I fall asleep. I’m sandwiching my day in a gratitude sandwich. That’s how it works. It works well for me. You’re preaching to the choir.
I’m not saying it’s just like reinforcing what you’re saying. Sometimes the naysayers will say, “That’s fine for you, Dr. Marissa. You’ve got everything going, you just wrote what’s to be a bestselling book.” I want to say that I’ve done it too. I started to be in gratitude when I was going through the divorce process and it got me through the divorce process. People need to know that it works. It doesn’t matter who is saying it, and you can hear a thousand times and it works a thousand times.
What you don’t deal with now will come back and deal with you. Share on X For anybody who is buying the book, make sure that you go to Dr. Marissa on Facebook and give me the finger. That way, stream it and let me know if you’ve gone to get the book.
For everybody who goes and buys your book, it’s your birthday present, go in and buy it and it’s a book that you want to have because these exercises are super valuable. There are all these balance tools in there that are extremely valuable. People pay coaches to do these exercises. It’s a huge value that you’re getting. To get that in this book, what do they need to do?
They need to go to, which is a direct link to Amazon.
We’ll get into some different topics. We’re going to take this to the next step. We’re going to take it further into some other discussion. What I wanted to talk about was chapter seven where you talk about perfectionism. We talked a little bit about that already, but I wanted to take a look at anything that you could suggest. Letting go is a huge and difficult thing. I talk to people all the time and it is so hard for them to let go of what’s not in the highest priority because they should just be getting everything done. Their challenge isn’t that there are so many things to do because we all have in all areas of our life more to do and accomplish. I was wondering if you had a tip that you like to use or to give to help people to put things into perspective and to let go.
Sometimes we get stuck when we can’t let go because of the principle of it. I don’t know if you’ve ever used that term, “I can let go of things where I know that I have done something. I’ve stepped into it. I had a part in it, so I can let it go and apologize.” If someone has offended me or if someone has done something to me that violates the principle of it and I can’t let that go and so I spent a lot of energy, I’ll stay up all night writing a note. If they can just hear me or understand me, then they’ll understand where I’m coming from and then they’ll apologize, which will never happen, and they’ll see where I’m coming from and how important that is. We do that one to ourselves. As Don Miguel Ruiz will say, “You are the star person in your life and everybody else is not your supporting character.” They have their own lives, they have their own books, and so it’s so important for you to be okay with where you are.

TBT 40 | Achieve Happiness

Achieve Happiness: Sometimes, we get stuck when we can’t let go.

You can write this down. It’s Part of my Tai-Chi polishing table mantra which is, “Everybody does the very best that they can do. If they could do better, they would but they can’t. They’re still magnificent beings, they’re just having a 12% day or 12% year or decade. What you think of me is none of my business and what I think of you is none of my business.” That’s from one of my past guests, Dr. Terry Cole-Whittaker. She has a bestselling book with that title. It’s brilliant because if we can disengage from the principle of things, then we feel better. It’s not about whether it’s right or wrong, it’s whether about does it feel good or not. That’s why I believe in a friendly universe, not because I have data that it necessarily. It’s because people will say, “There’s starvation, murder and AIDS. How can you say it’s a friendly universe?” I can say it’s a friendly universe because I choose to find the things that prove that it is a friendly universe, that aren’t on the news because the news doesn’t broadcast it.
That’s why my show is all about balancing the bad news because of all-time lower rates of violence and murder and all-time high of nonprofits that are working towards improving the planet for all the areas that we’ve suffered on our own. That’s why we have pain, so that it’s become something that we can help other people with. That makes me feel better. It’s not about proof or right or wrong, it’s about what thought action belief system, what BS will make me feel better than most. As soon as you catch yourself not wanting to let go, ask yourself, “Is this making me feel better or worse? Do I want to feel better or worse?” I only have 10,888 plus or minus 2,000 days left in my life. I do not want to be like that saying, “Sitting in front of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over my head.” I want to be able to have clear glasses to see life at its best. That’s my choice. That’s my ability. That’s the most powerful tool that I have in life is focus interest.
That point that you’re making is having that choice to say, “I control the meaning of whatever is happening around me and throughout my day.” If I realize that and I realize that I can choose from an empowering meaning and I can choose from a disempowering meaning, I call it a productive meaning or an unproductive meaning. I can change everything the way you just shift that lens that you’re looking from, that can change everything.
I would say every moment you take a breath and say, “Am I having a productive moment with myself right now or an unproductive moment with myself?” That’s my choice because I got to take me wherever I go.
You can shoot it in the moment like that. I think that’s the key thing, is to remember that we can ask ourselves in any moment. My only thing is that if you feel any kind of anger, sadness, hurt, fear, guilt, that’s a trigger or shame, it’s a trigger for us to say, “We have a better opportunity here.”
I use INTBOAD, which stands for It’s Not That Big Of A Deal. Sometimes it is, but rarely is it that big of a deal. I’ll prove it to you. I’m sure you were mad about something. Can you remember what it was? Most of the time we can’t even remember what it was because it wasn’t that big of a deal. It felt like it. I’m not going to tell you don’t be angry. You’d darn well-angry when you get frustrated and annoyed. I let myself be angry for sixteen seconds and I will jump up and down and growl and bite my pillow, but no more than sixteen seconds. I try not to because the Law of Attraction is at work and whatever I focus on grows bigger. I am an advocate though of venting. You have to able to release and to be able to let it go. If you shove it down, you’re going to be like George’s father in Seinfeld. If you remember that episode where he had a million dollars of equipment and all day he kept saying, “Serenity now.” Anytime anything happens, he shoved it down. By the end of the day, he lost it and destroyed all of the equipment because he did not release what he needed. We’re human. We get pissed, we get annoyed and we get frustrated. Just don’t marinate in it.
It’s our birthright to be our unique selves. Share on X We don’t need the volcano effect and then you destroy everything in your path and that’s not productive. Venting every once in a while is much more productive.
It’s not about losing your temper, it’s about how quickly can you recover. That is the ticket.
I know that you’re on your way to the studio and for the audience, if you haven’t already jumped on to buy Dr. Marissa’s book, please do that. Please support Dr. Marissa in getting her book out there, getting her message, and I promise you that you will find a lot of value in it. You’ll get the opportunity to never hate yourself the same way again.
It’s a cross between, “I’m okay, you’re okay, you’re still okay. Don’t sweat the small stuff and the big stuff.” I’m grateful.
I loved it and got a lot of value out of it. That’s what we want for all of you. Go on and get that book on
At the end of every show, I sign out, “It’s all about balance, peace in and peace out. That’s world peace through inner peace.” Peace of love to everybody out there.
Thank you, everybody, who’s reading. We want to point out that being happy is productive. You get more done when you’re happy and you appreciate more around you. That’s why this was an important topic for Take Back Time. Appreciate that creating happiness for yourself is going to get you better results and is going to get you where you want to go faster. It’s going to help you let go of all that small stuff that doesn’t matter. Take care everyone.

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About Dr. Marissa Pei

TBT 40 | Achieve HappinessPh.D. credentialed expertise but supremely down to earth and relatable, Dr. Marissa has a broad reach across topics and fields, from Leadership Effectiveness to Hope and Happiness, from Diversity and Teamwork (Why Can’t we JUST GET ALONG?!) to 8 Ways to Happiness from Wherever You Are, from Branding and Marketing to Self-Development (Be the Best that You can Be and Broadcast it!) and motivation for special groups including Women, People of Color and Entrepreneurs (Calling the BS Belief Systems that Help and Hurt the Entrepreneur/Leader/Women/PoC in Business). Thanks to her decades of experiential experience with public, private, government and international organizations, Dr. Marissa also has the ability to tailor any talk/program to ensure that the takeaways are relevant and translatable from theory/concepts to positive changes in the individual and organization.
A poster child for diversity, Dr. Marissa’s inclusion as a woman of color will balance out your speaker line-up to reflect your organizations’ valuing of diversity. Dr. Marissa balances out young and old, black and white, professional and personal, work and play, real and optimistic, because it’s all about BALANCE for Hope and Happiness.
A seasoned sought-after speaker on large and small stages, Dr. Marissa has motivated people all over the US Europe and Asia, ranging from the LA Convention Center Small Business Vendor Fair (Frank Mottek from KFI who MC’d the event said “I’ve never seen a gathering of 5000 people quiet down so quickly and listen with so much attention as soon as Dr. Pei started speaking!”) to Amgen Pharmaceutical National Conference in Seattle, Toyota National HR conference in New Orleans, Wells Fargo National Event at the Kodak Theater with fellow speaker William Shatner/Captain James T. Kirk, Women’s Economic Forum New Delhi India, and the University of Shanghai, China to name just a few.
A Consulting Organizational Psychologist for past 25+ years with Fortune 100+ companies like Johnson & Johnson, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, Cedars-Sinai, AT&T, Mattel, LA County, Toyota & Bank of America, Dr. Marissa helps implement More Joy and less Stress at work…through strategic planning, teamwork, valuing diversity, managing change, improving communication, appreciation, conflict resolution and executive coaching for the technically brilliant interpersonally challenged leaders in the organization. Former professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management, Boston University and the European Business School, Dr. Marissa taught Organization Development, Managerial Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management and HR graduate level courses and co-authored a bestselling business text with Dr. Fred Massarik UCLA Professor Emeritus “Organization Development and Consulting: Perspectives and Foundations” Pfeiffer.
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