[Chapter 14] Chasing Happiness with Kelli Davis-Pease

How did my guest for today and I end up being friends? Majority of you might say that it’s the power of social media. Donning my Dwight Schrute voice, I respond that with a “False!”

It started with a snail mail.

I am beyond excited to introduce to you my guest for this week, Kelli Davis-Pease (IG: happsters)! I touched base on her professional career, what makes her smile, how she got inspired to build her online happiness community, her favorite quotation, and her favorite course in university (clue: it’s totally unrelated to her degree!)

Kelli is an alumnus of University of Southern California with a degree in Communications. “I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do when I entered college,” Kelli replied when I asked her why she chose her degree. Kelli shared that her passions and interests lie in writing and marketing which she eventually narrowed down to a Communications degree.

When I asked her about some memorable courses, I expected typical creative writing courses. Her answer was quite the contrary. “It was a course on the Beatles!” Kelli responded. “I absolutely loved learning how the Beatles rose to fame and all the ins and outs of the culture back in the 60’s. It was a nice change from the more serious classes I took while in college.”

JP: My favorite course was Spanish. This is totally unrelated to my program in Business Economics. This was also a great decision as this opened my love for learning languages. For those who are doubting whether to take courses unrelated to their degrees, one or two elective courses won’t hurt!

Kelli enjoying a tech-free weekend at Big Sur. Photo taken at @kellidavispease Instagram

Kelli currently works as the Director of Marketing at a software company for health clubs and studios. She credits her career advancement to her first job working as a Marketing Coordinator at her parents’ fitness company. She is fortunate to work with her brother and husband which, quoting Kelli, “makes the days go by faster and helps make working fun.”

Despite working in an open-space environment with a small group of 10 people, she admits that she still gets stressed, at times. “I tend to get stressed when other people around me aren’t happy,” Kelli added. “I’m very sensitive to other people’s energy, so I sometimes take that on myself.”

Kelli’s online community is called Happsters. This group has 100,000+ followers of Instagram, an established niche on Facebook, and has given birth to other groups, most notably the Happsters Squad. I’m fortunate to be part of this online group as it is my source of positivity, support, and encouragement. The encouragement can come as quotations from Instagram posts, post exchanges with other members, and even the simple act of sharing good news on Wednesdays.

Kelli credits her husband for coming up with the community name. “It actually started because he was combining ‘Happiness’ and ‘Hipsters’,” Kelli mentioned. “It’s like Hipsters, but Happier!”

From its conception, the Happsters community has launched initiatives and projects to spread happiness around communities. From a blog, to making happy notes to share with people, all the way to spreading cheers to people walking in the streets, the group lives up to its name. This led me to ask how Kelli comes up with her activities. “Sometimes I’ll just have a random spark of inspiration and other times someone would suggest an activity to me.”

Happsters has touched the lives of many people around the world. Kelli has had the pleasure of meeting so many members throughout the years. “I’m so grateful that I’ve connected with many happy people from other countries, including you Chino!” Kelli and I haven’t met personally, but I look forward to that moment. Positivity and perfect timing are important keys!

Happsters Squad event. Photo taken from @happsterssquad Instagram

Happsters at Cardiff Kook giving out free flower bouquets for Valentine’s Day. Photo taken from @happsterssquad Instagram

One of Kelli’s projects is the “Happsters Snail Mail” program where members of her happiness community sign up and share mailing addresses so that other members can send letters. When this project started, I wasn’t a member of the group. I also don’t remember how I ended up in this project. I am certain that I was interested in the concept and decided to take a plunge.

I sent a handful of Christmas letters and e-mailed personalized video messages to other people. In turn, I also received tons of letters from people, including a letter from Kelli. To be honest, I was quite surprised from Kelli’s letter. With such a strong online following, she still takes the effort to make personalized messages. I also didn’t expect to start a beautiful friendship with her despite living in opposite ends of North America.

“The snail mail is one of my favorites because I love how it takes us back to simpler times when we people would connect via paper and pen and take time to actually put something in the mail,” Kelli said.

JP: This project motivated me to send snail mails to friends and family around the world. For example, I look at my calendar and see which of my friends has a birthday coming up. I prepare my snail mail about 2 – 4 weeks before (depending on the recipient’s location). I thought that this would be a nicer initiative compared to the mundane birthday greeting on someone’s Facebook wall.

“Favorite app. Instagram. “It connects me to my community.”
Book recommendation. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. “She has a fascinating take on creativity.” For those interested in mindfulness, Kelli recommends The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Favorite quotation. “Something amazing is about to happen”.
What makes you smile? “Puppies and kittens make me smile without fail!”
Netflix shows. “I’m currently re-watching “The Office” on Netflix. I can never get enough of that show!”

Kelli and her creative side. Painting the LOVE letters. Photo taken from @kellidavispease Instagram

I believe that the concept of happiness is subjective. This led me to ask Kelli on her thoughts about it. “Happiness is finding joy in my everyday life and being able to follow my passions wherever they take me,” Kelli responded. Kelli started Happsters not as an end-goal but, rather, a vehicle not only for personal happiness but also to spread happiness to each other.

“Do not chase happiness!” Kelli advised. Before we ended the interview, she shared valuable tips on how we can achieve happiness in our daily life. “Focus on the 4 G’s of happiness: Gratitude, Growth, Giving, and Gathering”. She expounded these ideas further by emphasizing the importance of giving thanks every day, following your passions, giving back to causes you believe in, and surrounding yourself with positive friends and family.

“You’ll increase your happiness exponentially,” Kelli said.

Achieving happiness doesn’t require a lot of effort. Take it from Kelli. Simple positive actions go a long way.

On y va!

A sample of @happsters’ Instagram posts.

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