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The Art of Being Alive Series: Interview With the Founder of 'The Happiness Planner"

06/19/2015 10:14 am ET | Updated Jun 19, 2016

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"The Happiness Planner is a stationery line designed to help people welcome more happiness, positivity, and joy into their lives by applying the practices of positive thinking, mindfulness, gratitude,and self-improvement." -- Mo Seetubtim, Founder of the Happiness Planner.

My attraction to this stationery item "Happiness Planner" was derived from the title itself, "Happiness." This word "Happiness" elicits some emotional response for us all in one form or another, and why is that?

Several research out there points to several notions about happiness; for instance in this one research they ask, "Is becoming happier as easy as trying to become happier?" The research evidenced, with two small experimental studies published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, found that simply trying to be happier could actually elevate mood and well-being. Although it states in this same article that this research by the the researchers Ferguson and Sheldon's important findings challenge earlier studies suggesting that actually trying to become happier was, in fact, counterproductive. Just like this quote from this article that says, "It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness."

This article by Kashdan , he explained this phenomenon of happiness that scientists have started to study and narrates their findings to be that "as people place more importance on being happy, they become more unhappy and depressed. The pressure to be happy makes people less happy. Organizing your life around trying to become happier, making happiness the primary objective of life, gets in the way of actually becoming happy."

So, what then is it? Is "Happiness finding" to seek happiness itself or to seek for the why and how of things that matter to us, to seek a greater meaning to ourselves and explore that path?

One other research stated that studies show that "the happiest people are those who seek meaning as opposed to immediate gratification or pleasure and that to find fulfillment, each of us must uncover our true hopes, ambitions, dreams and ideas, then make our actions match these ideals."

Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote in his 1946 manifesto Man's Search for Meaning.
"One must have a reason to 'be happy."

According to this piece, studies have also shown that " a sense of purpose and meaning increases well-being and life satisfaction, boosts self-esteem and can even ward off depression".

These research findings speak to the basic ponder of happiness since we all want to be happier as it is the general expectation of us being alive, because if you're alive why can't you be happy?

I think, Happiness is the combination of instant gratification and the meaning we place on things that matter to us and gives us a sense of greater purpose for being alive; because sometimes, who wants to deny themselves of pleasure and moments of just being care free and child like? The problem with getting happy with instant gratification alone, is that it is unsustainable, soon it will become meaningless and we will feel empty; so knowing that happy can lie in that present moment without going too far to find it while being rooted in self discovery of placing meaning to things might help us to have a higher sense of being alive. At the end, it gives you total peace within you.

I lay these notions on the table because I realize that "Happiness" is very subjective, and as I explore through this docu-book project "The Art of Being Alive", I can't help but see the connection between exploring a meaningful life and happiness as the center of the project; which makes this interview a very important one.

With all said so far before we proceed to the full interview, some hearing about the happiness planner for the first time might wonder and be skeptical, that "Can a Happiness Planner make you Happier?"

I personally think the founder, Mo Seetubtim is a brilliant mind for creating a conscious product because while there are several opposing views on whether we should pursue happiness, or organize our lives focusing on happiness; I think it is an open ended conversation. We should welcome Happiness into our lives and forever remain open to it even when we think least of it, just like Mo Seetubtim stated in the planner that "By reflecting on your days, you will be able to work on yourself to become a happier and more positive person..."

As this project is about uncovering stories and finding inspiration exploring the meaning of life, let's dive into the story behind this brand and the founder, hope it inspires you to realize that Happiness is within you and you have the power to create your own roadmap to Happiness regardless of your background, as you explore your Art of Being Alive...

Adedayo: Why did you create this company?
Mo Seetubtim: The Happiness Planner was created due to a number of things. (1) I have always been interested in psychology. I grew up with a philosophical entrepreneur father who introduced me to the art of positive thinking, mindfulness, and self-reflection at a very young age. But my desire to really inspire people actually started back in high school when I felt like my high school friends weren't passionate about what they wanted to major in college. That's when it became my goal in life to inspire people to live a purpose and passion life and to find happiness from within. (2) I started my blog, brandmentalist.com, a few years ago. Through that I discovered that most people are having a hard time managing their emotions and trying to feel positive when facing with life's challenges. Positive thinking isn't something you can magically have a paradigm shift over night after reading an article. It's something that you have to practice over and over until your mind is trained. So here I came up with an idea for a product that could be integrated into people's lives - The Happiness Planner. (3) I have always wanted to have my own brand as I love business, marketing, branding, and design. So launching this business is something that I dreamed of doing since I was a little girl.

Adedayo: What is your desire and long term vision for this company?
Mo Seetubtim: My desire and longterm vision for this business is to have a larger impact to people. I want to be able to help people shift their attitudes and change their outlook on life because it's the only thing we can control. With tools like stationery which people use every day, people can change their focus from the negative to the positive and be inspired to plan their lives around things that truly matter. Besides coming up with more products to suit the market's needs, we'd like to inspire little kids to follow their dreams and turn their passion into a career, and help underprivileged kids get the education they need.

Adedayo: What is the meaning of life to you?
Mo Seetubtim: I think the meaning of life is that life is a blank canvas and in order to have a meaningful life you have to fill it with meaning. In order to do so, you have to find your passion and purpose in life, inspire others, and create a better world with it. This is the only way to truly feel fulfilled and rich in life. However, the search for one's passion and the path to success will not happen over night. You have to enjoy the journey. The meaning of life lies in its journey, not destiny. Enjoy it - every bit of it. Trust yourself. Believe in destiny. Follow your intuition. Work hard. Follow the flow of life and try to understand the nature of people and things.

Adedayo: What is the unique story behind your company?
Mo Seetubtim: I'm not sure if this is a unique story behind my company but it's my life's story and it's definitely different from most entrepreneurs out there in the US.
I grew up in a Buddhist country, Thailand, in the busy capital city called Bangkok to a Tiger mother and an entrepreneur father. My mother pushed me to study hard. She was very strict and very conservative. I had a lot of conflicts with her mainly because our attitudes were different. Luckily, my dad was the opposite. He's an optimistic, free-spirited entrepreneur who loves to teach me about life and people. He told me that mom had been living that way for 30+ years, she's not going to change. All I could do is to change the way I looked at things. That sentence has stuck by me since and inspired me to learn more about psychology. My dad was my life mentor who has influenced me to become more positive, mindful, resilient, and believe in being a life-long learner. Moreover, as a Buddhist, we grew up doing meditation as part of school curriculum and I still use meditate to help me heal every time I struggle to control my thoughts and mind..its a long story. ( I write the complete story in the introductory part of the planner)

Adedayo: What did starting this company mean to you?
Mo Seetubtim: Starting this company means that I now have the ability to inspire people on a larger scale and I have the complete control over it. I was a very creative kid and having my own company instead of working for someone else, I have the freedom to create products I wish to see in the world. It's very fulfilling to see that people love your work and that you have helped hundreds and thousands of people become happier and more positive. Energies are contagious. So if you can help one person become more positive and happier, you are actually helping another 10 people who are friends and family members of that person.

Adedayo: Your company's mission is what?
Mo Seetubtim: Our company mission is to inspire people to live a purpose and passion driven life and to find happiness from within. Not only do we want to inspire adults, but also little kids who can grow up with the right kind of attitudes and values.

Adedayo: What is a conscious company to you and what is your deepest desire?
Mo Seetubtim: A conscious company is a company that thinks about others - the world and the environment. A conscious company is not a selfish company. A conscious company cares about making the world a better place. Our deepest passion, desire, and purpose is to inspire people to live a purpose and passion driven life and to find happiness from within.

Adedayo: What world ideally do you dream of?
Mo Seetubtim: We dream of a world where everyone is balanced and feels happy from within.

Adedayo : What is "The Art of Being Alive" to you?
Mo Seetubtim: The Art of Being Alive is the art of making the most of being alive by living a life that creates a large positive impact to the world.

Adedayo: Why does your product, "The Happiness Planner" matter?
Mo Seetubtim: Our products matter because we help people become more positive and happier -- hence, making the world a happier place.

Adedayo: What is one advice you will give to millennials on discovering their art of being alive?
Mo Seetubtim: Our message to the millennials is ... find your passion and your purpose in life and live by it. That way you will feel happy, rich, and fulfilled. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Enjoy the journey. Follow your heart and trust your gut instinct.

I thank Mo Seetubtim for sharing her voice through this interview for this project series, for creating a product that allows us to create space to welcome happiness and plan in daily inspiration into our lives. As a side note, I did receive a complimentary copy of "The Happiness Plan", which I'm excited to explore for the next 100days.

In the planner, Mo writes on how to create your Happiness Roadmap and this is a piece of what she says about using the planner " They are designed to get you to think, so that you can plan ahead and integrate happiness habits into your daily life over the next 100 days..."

I finalize with this thought, that "Happiness is something we all deserve and I hope we don't spend our lives waiting for it or searching for it, I hope we can find it in everything, everywhere and everyday."

If you will like to share your voice in this project through an interview, I welcome you to share using this link : http://www.formget.com/app/form/share/rrsr-137716