Hey Lauren: Can You #Hustle Your Way to Happy

"Hey, Lauren" is our new bi-monthly column from licensed psychologist Dr. Lauren Hazzouri.  Dr. Hazzouri is a TV show host and founder at Hazzouri Psychology, where she’s carved out a successful niche treating women who are psychologically healthy—but trying hard and not getting satisfaction in various aspects of their lives. Through her life experience and training, Lauren’s developed a program that allows women to live meaningful lives and feel fulfilled doing it. Lauren is founder of HeyLauren.com, a project for women, where she provides evidence-based insights on job stress, relationship woes and everything in between. 

photo credit: Moriah Ziman Photography 

photo credit: Moriah Ziman Photography 

To submit questions to Lauren follow the prompt at the bottom of the article. She'll be responding to your needs every month! In her first post, Hey Lauren addresses the issue of "the hustle."

FOR DECADES, psychology focused on ill-being—providing scientifically-driven treatments to help miserable people be less miserable. More recently, the positive psychology movement set out to determine how to improve normal lives. Much research has been done to answer the ultimate question: What makes us happy? Everyday I have women (just like you!) trying super hard and not getting any satisfaction, rolling with the 'Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop' mentality and coming into my office saying, “I just want to be happy!” The problem is NOT that no one is talking about happiness—an Amazon search for books on happiness results in 22,083 differing opinions and tips, and to date, there have been 544 ideas worth spreading about happiness at TED. The problem is that no one seems able to define the word happiness. Happiness is defined by Merriam-Webster as the state of being happy. I don’t know about you, but one of the first things I learned in Fourth grade vocabulary class is that it’s not acceptable to define a word, using that word or any variation of that word in the definition. The only students, who tried to get away with that were those who hadn’t studied the vocab list. 

"No one seems able to define the word happiness."

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In this case, it’s not that simple. Happiness is hard to objectively define. I remember (back in my doctoral training days when I studied happiness) having to split the happiness variable into positive and negative affect ( mood) and life satisfaction. The problem— and, I’m sure you’ll agree!— is that you can have a ton of positive feelings, like your life a whole lot and yet, not feel blissfully happy. Many times, the missing factor is that we still don’t like ourselves!

It’s been said that the key to happiness is healthy self-esteem. People often confuse confidence and self-esteem. While correlated, they’re not one in the same. You can be confident in many areas—your skill-sets, your appearance, your ability as a tennis player—and still have very low self-esteem. Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance that arises from appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities, while self-esteem is confidence in one’s own worth or value. In an attempt to feel good about ourselves, we often improve our tennis game, lose those five extra pounds, or #Hustle, #Hustle, #Hustle. While good for a confidence boost, there are many champion tennis players and experts in their respective fields, who’s self-esteem remains very low. However, confidence and self esteem are correlated, and self-esteem and happiness are correlated, too. 

Recent literature points to three levels of happiness. There’s The Pleasant Life—a life filled with fun and positive experiences; The Good Life—the life of one, who’s identified her signature strengths and uses them to access Flow; And, The Meaningful Life— the life of one, who uses her strengths and abilities to make a contribution to the bigger picture, the world. It’s said that people who live The Good Life and/or The Meaningful Life are happier than The Pleasant Life livers, but the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Adding pleasant experiences and fun to the other two seemingly renders the best results. I know, shocking!

Here’s the deal— We can use this insight to make our #Hustle work for us, rather than against us! Get off the proverbial hamster wheel and #Hustle to use your signature strengths ( areas in which you have high confidence levels) to live The Good Life, losing yourself in Flow. This way, working hard can feel good! If you’re lucky, you’ll discover that those same strengths can be used to make the world (—even your community) a better place to live The Meaningful Life. The best part—doing so will allow you to feel your worth and value, and in turn, increase self-esteem.  

"Get off the proverbial hamster wheel and #Hustle to use your signature strengths to live The Good Life."

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In the words of Gloria Steinem, “Self-esteem isn’t everything; it’s just that there’s nothing without it.” Apparently, not even happiness! So, let’s get started. 


Take this brief survey at authentichappiness.com! Knowing your individual strengths is the most important part. 


Flow, a term coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is the result of being so engaged in an activity that your awareness of time disappears, and you are almost one with what you are doing. I’m sure you’ve heard an artist talk about losing herself in her art. She’s describing flow. To achieve flow, you need to be able to do three things: engage for an ample amount of time on one task, focus wholeheartedly and with intensity, and finish the task to completion. Ready, set, flow!


The trick to fulfillment is to make the shift from self-centered to others-centered. Use your strengths to get outside yourself and do things in your community to make your world a better place. Remember, giving back is an integral part of your personal growth and development, and the bonus is that you’re doing great things. 


Take breaks and get social. In reality, we are social beings having a human experience, not visa versa. When we spend too much time mastering our craft, we get a little bit squirrelly! Have pleasant conversations. See amazing places. Do fun things. For this one, think — You only live once!

With a commitment to honing your #Hustle toward the life you deserve ( —which at times means to #AntiHustle!) and have fun, too, you might be the one to finally define happiness for us all. 


Dr. Lauren’s on a mission to bring psychology to the public. She contributes to a variety of online publications, provides candid talks to women’s organizations across the country, and was recently cited in Forbes. Lauren’s next appearance is on September 9, when she will deliver a Ted Talk entitled Life Works. Her talk is said to highlight various aspects of the book she’s currently writing on “how to do the human-being thing really well.” 

Dr. Lauren is the 2016 recipient of The Psychology in the Media Award from The Pennsylvania Psychological Association and is a member of The American Psychological Association. For more from Lauren, visit @dr_lauren  and sign up for her weekly newsletter at HeyLauren.com.


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