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Cultivating Happiness with Dr. Gillian Mandich


Delve into the science of happiness with our latest podcast episode featuring Dr. Gillian Mandich! Join us as we explore practical strategies and insights to cultivate joy and well-being in your life. Tune in now for an enlightening conversation that will inspire you to live your happiest life

00:00 Introduction and Background
02:01 The Science of Happiness
06:29 Journey to Happiness Research
09:49 The Relationship Between Health and Happiness
11:45 Cultivating Happiness as a Habit
18:52 Rethinking Happiness as a Destination
24:04 The Impact of Gratitude on Happiness
30:50 Frequency and Intensity of Gratitude Practice
31:18 Sharing Gratitude with Others
32:12 Modeling Gratitude for Children
36:10 The Dark Side of Pursuing Happiness
39:25 Giving Ourselves Grace on Bad Days
41:41 Finding What Works for You
47:25 The Importance of Embracing a Full Spectrum of Emotions
48:20 Finding Meaning in Pain and Suffering
55:43 Conclusion and Where to Find Gillian Mandich

Gillian Mandich 0:00
Hi, and welcome to the Invigor medical podcast, where we’re going to walk with you on your journey toward optimal health performance and well being. My name is Natalie.

Derek 0:09
And I’m Derek.

Natalie 0:09
And we’re going to be your hosts on this journey. In each episode we share insights from top professionals in physical, mental and emotional health. With that said, let’s dive into today’s podcast.

In today’s Invigor medical podcast, we are excited to have Dr. Gillian Mandich. Uh, Gillian is the founder of the International Happiness Institute of Health Science Research, Say that five times fast and an acclaimed author in the field. Gillian, welcome to the Invigor medical podcast. We are so excited to have you this morning. Should I is it Gillian? Is it Dr. Mandich? Dr. Gillian?

Gillian Mandich 0:43
Gillian’s fine. Gillian’s perfect.

Natalie 0:44
Gillian’s fine, okay.

Gillian Mandich 0:45
Just don’t call me Gilligan. One of my brothers called me that when I was a child and made me cry. So I’ll answer to anything but that.

Natalie 0:51
Oh that’s terrible.

Derek 0:52
I will be honest. When I was looking up some material to research this episode Gilligan’s Island is one of the things that popped up.

Natalie 0:57
Oh, my gosh, well, if you’re Gilligan I get to be Ginger.

Derek 1:00
There ya go.

Natalie 1:01
I loved that show growing up.

Gillian Mandich 1:02
Yeah. Then I sometimes get called Dr. Mandik.

Natalie 1:07
Oh, gosh! [laughing]

Gillian Mandich 1:07
There’s no K in my name, but that happens. So as long as you avoid those two answers, I’ll answer to you.

Natalie 1:10
I think, I think we’ll be okay. For this one.

Derek 1:12
I think we’ll be good.

Natalie 1:12
I think we’re you know, I’m Natalie. This is Derek, but you know, but by the end of the show-who knows? Maybe we’ll all have special nicknames for one another.

Derek 1:19
That’d be fun.

Natalie 1:20
Just become all really close friends as we-I’m already I’m already happy. This is great. This is fantastic. Gillian’s just got the energy we’re already feeling. Anyway, the point being Welcome to our show, we’re so excited to have you.

Gillian Mandich 1:34
Thank you!

Natalie 1:35
You’re welcome.

Gillian Mandich 1:36
I love chatting about the science of happiness, so I’m happy to be here.

Natalie 1:38
Oh, I can tell. And it’s like all over your face. If you’re if you’re only listening and not watching-you’re just exuding an aura of happiness. And I’m excited for this conversation. Because, you know, we talk a lot about health and wellness on The Invigor Medical Podcast and obviously, mental health is a huge, huge part of your overall health and well being, right? But I don’t know that we’ve ever really spent time talking about happiness, or the science of happiness. I know that I reference joy, a fair amount. That’s something that I try to, you know, have a focus on in my life as well, but I’m really excited to dive into I’m not sure many people would think about there being a science of happiness. So maybe we could start a little bit with how did you get here, you know, to being in this place where you’re the founder of the International happiness Institute of Health Science Research, like, that’s crazy and amazing. Tell us about the journey.

Gillian Mandich 2:30
So, you know, I think the number one question that I get asked when I tell someone I’m a happiness researcher, or I study the science of happiness is like, Do you have a real job? It’s a very foreign concept, because, you know, if I, if we, you know, started this conversation, and I said, I’m a nutrition researcher, or I’m a diabetes researcher, or cardiovascular disease, your follow up question wouldn’t be ‘Do you have a real job, Gillian?’ Right?

Natalie 2:55

Gillian Mandich 2:55
But for some reason, just like we can apply scientific principles to learn about nutrition, or diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, or physical activity, whatever it is, we can learn about happiness. But the thing is, it’s actually, and I find this very surprising, a fairly new field in sort of this from a scientific perspective. So it wasn’t up until about the mid 90s, that we actually saw a significant increase in the body of literature surrounding happiness, which, when you take a second you pause and think about that. So up until the mid 90s, which isn’t that long ago…

Natalie 3:26
No, it’s not.

Gillian Mandich 3:27
…We were really focused on the disease. What’s wrong? How do we fix it? As opposed to the other side, right? Like, we get one shot at life? How do we live our best life ever? How do we learn to be happy? You ask every single parent in the world and you say, what do you want for your child? And they tell you, ‘I want my child to be happy.’ But we’re not taught how so like, No wonder there’s confusion. And no wonder there’s a huge gap in terms of the research. So…

Natalie 3:51

Gillian Mandich 3:52
To be totally honest, I didn’t even know you could study happiness until the second year of my PhD.

Natalie 3:56

Gillian Mandich 3:57
So, I’m from London, Ontario, I did all three of my degrees at Western University go Mustang. London, Ontario, Canada. And I used to study childhood obesity. My master’s degree-so all my degrees are in health science.

Natalie 4:11

Gillian Mandich 4:11
My Master’s degree focused within health science was child and youth health. And I was working with children and families that were living with obesity. And so I went right into my PhD after my master’s. And in my second year, I was having this like, existential crisis as like one does in grad school…

Natalie 4:26
Of course.

Gillian Mandich 4:27
…Where they’re like, ‘What am I doing with my life? Where’s this all going?’ And I was having it Pilates one day. And there my Pilates teacher had two reformers and the reformer beside her-she had a prof that day that was from the business school at my school at Ivy it’s called and, you know, as I’m telling her that she’s like, well, you know, maybe health science isn’t like the right fit. Maybe you should come to the business school. You seem pretty entrepreneurial. We have a health section here, like maybe that’s a better fit, and I was like, you know, maybe, and then she made this off comment and like, have you ever had an off comment that someone probably doesn’t even remember saying to you…

Natalie 5:01
Mm hmm

Derek 5:01
Oh all the time.

Gillian Mandich 5:01
…that like, completely changed your life?

Natalie 5:03

Gillian Mandich 5:03
She says to me, “Or maybe you’d be interested in my sister’s research. She’s out east on the east coast of Canada in New Brunswick. And she studies sustainable happiness. And I was like, what’s that? I went home and I Googled it. And then-so sustainable happiness is more like how our environment affects our happiness.

Natalie 5:22

Gillian Mandich 5:22
But to be totally honest, that was the first time the second year of my PhD, that I sat down at my computer and thought you can actually study happiness, like that’s a thing. And so because I was in health science, I started researching the connection between health and happiness. And I started reading all this literature, like, when you compare happy people to less happy people, happy people have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, they have stronger immune systems, they heal faster from injury, they tend to make better nutritional choices, they tend to sleep better, both in terms of duration and quality, and like the list goes on and on. And so I thought, well, if my interest is in health promotion, then this seems to be a better fit. Because one, it has nothing to do with the number on a scale, right? When you’re talking about obesity…

Natalie 6:05
Right. Of course.

Gillian Mandich 6:05
…children who have a BMI above a certain percentile, so it’s inclusive to everybody. There’s no stigma associated with saying I want to be happier. And the benefits are so far reaching in our personal life and our physical for our physical health, for how we show up at work in all sorts of aspects of life. And so halfway through my PhD, I completely switched topics.

Natalie 6:06

Gillian Mandich 6:06
So I stayed in health science, but I went from obesity, to happiness. So my PhD actually took me five years instead of four, because I had to restart all of my research, but I’m happy that I did, because it’s been a really cool journey. And I think that now we’re in a different world, right? Like the post pandemic world, we can talk about mental health. And it’s not why do I care about it? Which was the question I got asked a lot before, but it’s like, what do I do about it? Like, what can we actually learn from the research? And how do we apply what we know to actually make meaningful change?

Derek 6:55
Yeah, that is so fascinating. So there’s something that you said, that talked about how the relation between health and happiness? And that got me-a big question that I have about that is, is the health coming from the fact that person’s happy? Or is the happiness the thing that is, is spurring the health to move in the right direction?

Natalie 7:14
I was kind of wondering about that, too. What comes first, the chicken or the egg, right?

Gillian Mandich 7:17
Yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, that’s a great question. So to be totally honest, we don’t know fully the answer yet. Part of the reason for that is, like I mentioned, like, we’re learning so much in this field, even from when I got into it to what we know now has changed so much like even when I first got into it, we used to have this theory called the setpoint theory. And we used to think that the way happiness worked was sort of like a thermometer in a room, right? Like, we have sort of our level of happiness, when something good happens, it goes up, and then eventually it goes back down, or something hard happens, it goes down, but we kind of get back up to that temperature. But what we know now is that no matter what we were born with, each and every one of us have the capacity to not only increase our happiness short term, but we can actually sustain it at higher levels. So it is something that we can actually do something about. In terms of your question-so that’s just sort of an example of where we’re continually learning. I think that your question is a really great example of where that is, as well, because what we see is that happier people tend to make healthier choices. But like you said, it’s sort of like, where is the line?, and also, there’s a distinction between being unhappy and being depressed as well. And I think that that’s an important distinction, right? Like we can have be an overall happy person and have a bad day. And that’s very different than if you are, you know, receiving a clinical diagnosis for depression, right, hallmarks, like extended periods of time and things like that. But what we do know is that across the board, even when we sort of, and a lot of what’s interesting is, a lot of the initial happiness research came from twin studies.

Derek 8:52

Gillian Mandich 8:53
So what they did was they found twin’s that were monozygotic. Like, genetically identical, separated at birth. And so the other hard part about answering your question is, as soon as you get into like environmental real life…

Derek 9:04
There’s so many variables.

Gillian Mandich 9:05
…It’s not like we can control everything in a lab.

Derek 9:07

Gillian Mandich 9:07
So this twin study is an example of kind of best that we can kind of do some times, right, genetically identical, separate environments we can assess. And so that’s where a lot of the work, especially at the beginning about, you know, thinking that happiness was really genetically determined came from those twin studies. But it’s not this black and white thing, but what we do know is across the board, you know, when people are feeling happy, they tend to like, like I said, all the physical health things, they tend to be more productive, better problem solvers, make more money. So there’s a lot of different things that I think and also, it’s sort of like any momentum, any habit more that we do it, the more that it starts to grow too, right? And happiness, happiness works that way too.

Derek 9:47
And I would imagine that the relationship is what is the word I’m looking for? They run concurrently. They I’m sure that they run in both directions at the same time. So it’s hard to you know, really identify this is the one specific thing that makes you happy or this one specific thing about being happy makes you healthy. So, but absolutely fascinating.

Gillian Mandich 10:02
Yeah, it’s kind of like obesity in that way. Like, when I used to study obesity, people would say, ‘Oh, it’s because of the social media. It’s because of the food. It’s because of fast food.’ And it’s, it’s just not a simple answer. It’s a complex question with a very complex problem and a complex solution.

Derek 10:16

Natalie 10:16
Well I know in the wintertime, when I’m sad. So sad. It’s been so foggy here in eastern Washington for so long.

Derek 10:24
It has.

Natalie 10:24
And I’ll tell you what, I don’t-I do struggle to get to the gym more and be eating the way I need to be eating and like get up on time, like and I just feel sadder. And it affects every other area of my life because I’m in the seasonal blues, right? So I know that just for myself, at least.

Gillian Mandich 10:43
And that is a real thing. Like that’s the other thing is that seasonal affective disorder. So this tendency to dip in North America, it’s in our winter months, right? It’s flipped when we go across like Australia, here in North America. When the cold weather hits, when the dark days hit, we tend to hibernate, we do tend to see a dip in moods. That’s absolutely true. It’s true for myself as well. And so knowing that, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, because the times when we really need to do things is the times when we’re least likely to want to do that, right?

Natalie 11:14
For sure. Right.

Gillian Mandich 11:14
And so it’s the depths of the winter that it’s the hardest to get out and go to the gym, right? When it’s a sunny, beautiful day in the summertime. And you’re like it’s not as hard. And so oftentimes, this is where the work comes in. Because that’s the other thing. I think people like we see these quote cards on Instagram all the time and say like, Choose happy. Today, I’m happy. And I’m like, it doesn’t quite work like that. Like, we don’t just wake up in the morning and we choose happy like we’re choosing our outfit. Like it doesn’t work like that. We actually, a lot of happiness is a habit. It’s a skill, it requires effort, it requires work on an ongoing basis. And unfortunately, people don’t want to hear that because they want a magic pill. But if you think of a lot of the good things in our life, they require us putting it-putting in effort and work. Because those are the things that if you think about like your physical health, right? Nutrition, all of those things a big player sleep, they require us to actually be a participant in that. Things don’t just fall into our laps. Right?

Natalie 12:07
Right. And so your goal, I’m assuming with this institute that you founded is to help equip people and learn how to cultivate the skill of happiness. Am I right?

Gillian Mandich 12:19
Exactly! So what happened was, when I was doing my PhD, I was when I was doing recruitment for obesity, it was really difficult. And so I would go on TV in like my small town, London, Ontario, Canada. And it was like a morning show that only aired in my town of like 300,000 people or whatever it was. And I was recruiting for obesity. And then I realized that TV was like a fun way to teach something just in a shorter amount of time. I was teaching at the university that I was at at the time, too. So I realized I love teaching. And I was like, wow, TV is this opportunity to teach just in a different classroom. And so then I started going to Toronto. So in Canada here, all our big TV shows are shot out of Toronto, which was what two hour drive from where it was. So I did drive up, do TV. And then because I was on TV, people started asking me to come to their companies and organizations. And so my company was sort of born out of that, because it’s like, yeah, we can talk about like, essentially, if I’m going in and doing you know, a lunch and learn or a Keynote or workshop. It’s teaching it’s different classroom. With no marking, by the way. So that’s also a good thing. And so yeah, so essentially, I am the most-the thing that lights me up the most is figuring out one, how do we do research? And then two, how do we learn and apply that research to make meaningful change, so that we can live a happier and healthier life?

Natalie 13:37
Oh, my gosh.

Derek 13:38
That’s great.

Natalie 13:38
I love that.

Derek 13:39
So I-my brain is brimming full of questions right now. And like, I think that a lot of people think in terms of like, okay, how can I apply this into my life, but in a in a large part, I’d like to kind of try to understand the actual mechanisms, like how does this actually work? Because if you know how it works, then you know how to utilize a system better. Right? So I guess my question for you is like, happiness. Is it? Is it? Is there a location in the brain where like, if someone’s happy and lights up? Are there specific neuro chemicals that are associated with happiness? How, like, how exactly does happiness work in our brains and our bodies?

Gillian Mandich 14:16
Great question. So again, this is a complex answer because it’s not like a simple like sometimes you see Instagram like I guess, you know, for Instagram today but like you see like serotonin happy molecule, dopamine, this, it’s really not that simple. And a lot of it is really, we’re learning still so much about what’s going on in the brain. And then you add in things like you know, the anticipation of something being happy not bringing you as much happiness so I don’t think we know enough to give a very clear answer, but I also don’t know if there’s ever going to be one because there’s different things like even with happiness. There’s different levels to our happiness. So this goes back to like Aristotle and like Nicomachean Ethics back so long ago, he sort of described two types of happiness. So one he called hedonic happiness. And that’s like the sex, the drugs, the Rock and Roll that’s like a feel good in the moment, you know that you’re going out with your friends doing a shot at the bar, eating dinner or whatever like that in the moment. And then there’s another type of happiness, which he called eudemonic. E U D, eudemonic. And that was more like, purpose, meaning, legacy, overall, kind of what I look at my life like not in the moment, but if you kind of like bird’s eye view, zoom out and look at your life. And so even within that, like there’s different types that have different ways of sort of being expressed and understood in the body. But one thing I think that’s really interesting across the board is that what we see is that with happiness, it there’s not a one size fits all equation, it’s really very different, both in terms of what makes us happy-like, I can’t tell anyone how to be happy, because it really does come down to us having to answer that question for ourselves, which is a very difficult question for a lot of us to answer. Because, you know, we often don’t even think about that. I mean we want to be happy. But we actually take the time to think about what is it that makes me happy?

Natalie 16:13

Gillian Mandich 16:13
And then our definition for ourselves with happiness evolves throughout our lifespan, right? Like, it’s not like we figure out this equation, and then we’re good, right? If you think about what made you happy when you were 16, versus now versus when you’re 100, it’s different. So a lot of it is this dynamic moving process of, you know, deeper self understanding and learning that for ourselves?

Natalie 16:34
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s like, I mean, I think people notice, like, if you notice a feeling of happiness, but you’re right, getting down to the nitty gritty of like, why am I happy? Or why does this make me happy, and the difference between like, just really happy in the moment kind of thing and like, overall, kind of what I’ve always kind of referred to as like a biding joy, to like, live in a state of joy, you know, but but but it being a choice, but also drawing awareness in the moment to those things. So can you maybe take us through a little bit like, what is what is the process of like cultivating happiness? Or, you know, what’s, what’s kind of the first step?

Gillian Mandich 17:12
Yeah, I love this question. I’m asked this question a lot. And and my answer is, you know, it’s not about like, I think as soon as we think about, okay, what do I have to do to be happy? What’s step 1 ?

Natalie 17:21

Gillian Mandich 17:21
We think about, What do we have to do? What am I going to put on my to do list? What’s the additional activity that I need to do? And I always say, step number one, before you actually start doing anything else-It’s about appreciating the good that you already have in your life. So instead of seeking like S E E K, happiness, step one is seeing like S E E ing seeing happiness. My camera’s blurry there. If you can’t see me if my hand is over there.

Natalie 17:48
You’re good.

Gillian Mandich 17:51
Because a lot of it is like, and the reason I say this is because this has been particularly a salient sort of silver lining that I’ve seen through the pandemic. So before the pandemic, when I would ask them constantly asking people what makes you happy, right?

Natalie 18:06

Gillian Mandich 18:06
I’m a happiness researcher. You can’t take it out of me. And so I would hear things like, Oh, the trip, I just went on the promotion, I just had my birthday party, whatever it was. Now, when I ask people, I’m hearing much more frequently, I’m hearing things like going for coffee with my mom, having dinner with my friends, like giving my sister a hug. So a lot of the things that we actually had in our life that were good, it’s like we almost took them for granted, or we didn’t appreciate how much happiness they actually brought until they were removed. So I really think that step number one is to start to appreciate what we have. And then the other thing I would say too, is that-So many of us think happiness is a destination, right, like I will be happy when, fill in the blank. When I have X amount of dollars, when I get married, when I get divorced, whatever it is.

Natalie 18:55
Achieve this goal. [Giggle] Divorce, that ones funny. You know, no, no, she has a point.

Gillian Mandich 19:02
Been there, done that, happier. [laughing] We think that one day in the future, if something happens, then I will be happy.

Natalie 19:12

Gillian Mandich 19:13
And this is like a very real thought. And to be perfectly honest, like, I caught it’s so natural, right? Like, I caught myself when I was writing my PhD dissertation about happiness saying, I will be happy when I finish writing a PhD about happiness. So you know, we all think that sometimes. And so the other piece is really what I call-and I borrowed this term from Adam Grant.

Natalie 19:36
Oh I love Adam Grant.

Gillian Mandich 19:37
He wrote a really great book called Think Again. It’s the first book that I ever listened to on Audible and then bought.

Natalie 19:42

Gillian Mandich 19:42
You know, like, bought the hardcopy. Yeah. And this book really challenged us, challenges us to rethink things to think about, what do we believe and why do we do it? And are there different perspectives? And so with happiness, you know, instead of seeing it like a destination, how can we rethink Get. And so when we look to the research, instead happiness is not something that we arrive at one day. And it’s not a permanent state either, right? You don’t get there like say you get the house, you get the car, you get the guy, whatever it is, one what we know from research, it’s it doesn’t bring us as much happiness as we anticipated that it would.

Natalie 20:15

Gillian Mandich 20:15
Two, it doesn’t last for as long as we think that it will. And so even if we get it, it’s not going to bring us what we anticipated that it did. And it’s also contingent on things happening, that may or may not happen. So instead, the way I think about happiness, once I’ve resort of thought that it’s not this destination. What a happy life means is I almost think about happiness, like a muscle. So if you want to get strong, go to the gym, you exercise, right? You lift weights. Over time, your muscle gets stronger.

Natalie 20:21

Gillian Mandich 20:24
And so happiness works the same way. And like you would never go into the gym, say after we’re recording, you go to the gym, okay? You have the best workout of your life. You would never leave the gym and text a friend or a partner and say, like, grab your phone and be like, I just had the best workout of my life. I’ve reached fitness.

Natalie 21:02
[laughing] I’ve reached fitness.

Derek 21:04
I mean, you see memes about that all the time, where it’s like, I eat one salad. And I’m like, okay, Where’s where’s my good body? Like, you know, people think that that’s something that’s gonna happen.

Natalie 21:13

Gillian Mandich 21:14
That’s not how it works. We, but even when we see that meme about nutrition, it’s funny, because we understand that one salad doesn’t change your body, your body composition, right? But with happiness-if we think about happiness, the same way we think about physical activity, right? It’s a practice, it’s a habit, then what it does is it takes happiness from being contingent upon something in the future, and it brings it into today. And the question is, okay, well, what can I do today, to build my happiness muscle, right? To build that habit. And what we know also from research is that the frequency of happy moments is much more predictive of a happier life than the intensity. So we’re better off to have…

Natalie 21:56
Say that one more time.

Gillian Mandich 21:56
…short bursts more frequently, more often, versus like the one big day that we’re having a big party. The small bursts are actually what adds up to more happiness. And if you actually think about it, most of our days are pretty ordinary.

Natalie 22:08

Gillian Mandich 22:08
Most of our days, we kind of get up we have our routine. And so if you actually take the time from those days, and you add up how much time that is, that’s actually a lot more happiness, but it doesn’t hold as much cognitive real estate, because it’s nothing special or ordinary, right? It’s just us in our day to day life. And so the question becomes, okay, what happens is that as I do things on a daily basis, that makes me happier, your happiness muscle gets stronger. That’s why I said earlier that not only can we maintain our happiness short term, when we do this habit over time, we can actually sustain it at higher levels. And so happiness becomes a question of what are some things that I can do today to make myself happier one because the small bursts matter and to the other thing is that what happens is we get what we call upward spirals of positive emotion. So most of us are more familiar with like downward spirals, right? Like one thought, and then like the world is ending, or like we’re dying. We also go the other way, too. And so it’s like, say, for example, you receive a nice email today, right? The next email that you reply to, you’re like, a little bit nicer when you’re responding. If you have that upward spiral, right? A little bit more pep in your staff. And so those small bursts, think about them like reps. And that’s actually how we are happier as we do things on a regular basis that makes us happy today.

Natalie 23:26
It kind of makes me think of, yeah, it kind of makes me think of Tim Ferriss, he’s somebody I’ve followed and read for years, talking about achieving things and how saying, What’s this quote, like 10x effort, or 10x results doesn’t always require 10x effort, that it’s the small incremental changes over time that will lead to that huge result. And, you know, I’ve heard that and thought of it many times in relation to goal setting, but never really in to the idea of happiness and cultivating and practicing happiness. And one thing I’ve often wondered about, and I’m guessing this is something that you might touch on, is one thing that I’ve always enjoyed doing is kind of finding the common thread between people that are high achievers or living really, you know, living happy, healthy lives. What are the common threads that you see, you know? And I see a lot of like, well, you know, exercise, good sleep, hygiene, meditation, journaling, and gratitude practices. I see a lot of that, and I’ve never been really good at that. There’s times in my life. When I am I tend to overcomplicate things and sit there and be like, Oh, what do I really feel grateful for right now? And I like struggle instead of-so but I’ve noticed in the times that I have done it more regularly, it does become easier but I’m wondering can you speak to that a bit? What kind of an impact does a gratitude practice have on…

Gillian Mandich 24:53

Natalie 24:53
…cultivating happiness?

Gillian Mandich 24:56
I love I love this question. And before I answer, I just want to really highlight, just put a little exclamation smiley face next to something you said, which is that sleep, nutrition, and physical activity are foundational for our happiness. So all three of those things are very important. What we see on days that people exercise and move the body of their body, they’re happier than on days or not, and even as little as 10 minutes of physical activity per day, can greatly increase your odds of being happy. Yeah, sleep. We all know what it’s like to have a good sleep and how we feel in the morning versus when we don’t. We intuitively know that.

Natalie 25:31
Ah, such a difference. I know when my kids have to when my kids have and when they have not, I’m very aware as well.

Gillian Mandich 25:37
And so those are all really important, but I generally don’t find that I’m spending a lot of my time talking about those because it’s kind of like, that’s not new information. We all kind of know that at this point.

Natalie 25:46

Gillian Mandich 25:47
Right? We knowing the type. So I also listen to the Tim Ferriss podcast.

Natalie 25:51
Oh, love him.

Gillian Mandich 25:52
I heard this quote, like, it’s gotta be like, 8, 10 years ago. I don’t know how long the podcasts have been on. But this is like old school days. Like back in the day.

Natalie 25:59
It feels like forever. It feels like he’s like an OG podcaster is what it feels like to me.

Gillian Mandich 26:04
Yeah. It was around the time he first like interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger, I think? That the podcast came out with this gentleman, Derrick Sivers. He’s had Derrick Sivers out a couple times, I think. But Derrick had this quote, and I use it in my talks a lot. And Derrick said, if more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.

Natalie 26:22

Gillian Mandich 26:23
And it speaks to this point of like, knowing versus doing right? Like knowing is not enough. It’s like we see that quote all the time, like knowledge is power, knowledge is power. And I’m always like, no knowledge is potential power. It’s what we do with what we know that matters, right? And so we all know, we’re supposed to sleep well. We all know, we’re supposed to you know, get out and get some sunlight and move our body. That’s, it’s the sort of the execution piece. So we’ll sort of tie in a little bow around that those are all really important. And then let’s talk about some things that you may not know as much about, like gratitude, for example. So what I love about gratitude, is in practicing gratitude at its most basic level, like the most simplest form is taking time to appreciate the good things in your life. Taking time to think about or reflect on or write about the things that you’re thankful for in your life. And then like, I get this question a lot, is it better to write it down? And so in like a good, better, best situation, it’s good to think about things that we’re grateful for, and that does have some benefit. But if we really want to maximize and I bet if you are listening to this podcast right now, you’re one of those people that wants to get the most out of everything that they do, right?

Natalie 27:30

Gillian Mandich 27:30
And so writing it down is better than just thinking about it. The other thing is, it’s a key thing about a gratitude practice is you can’t just every day, right I’m grateful for my French Bulldog Jocko. I mean, I am grateful for my french bulldog Jocko. He’s sleeping right beside me right now and I don’t think his snoring is loud enough to be picked up on the audio. But if at any point during this podcast, we’re listening to your story, it’s my Bulldog.

Natalie 27:57
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Derek 28:35
This is gonna be my one mention of Andrew Huberman.

Natalie 28:38
Oh my gosh. Andrew Huberman. Here we go.

Derek 28:41
So I’m a -For anyone that hasn’t seen any podcasts up to this point, I’m a huge Andrew Huberman fan and talking about OG episodes like the first 100 episodes of The Huberman lab podcast, his Bulldog Costello is in the background snoring.

Natalie 28:53
Oh, no kidding.

Derek 28:53
He’s like, I apologize if you guys can hear it. And then at a certain point, he died and it was whole sad thing.

Oh so sad! But everybody loved him at that point because he was always in the background.

Yeah, everybody loved Costello because he’s always in the background. So I would, I would suggest keeping your Bulldog in the background because he’s just gonna become he’s

Natalie 29:08
He’s just gonna become a part of everything. Yeah, and if he wakes up, you just can pick him up so we can all take a little peek. Cause I love, I love little dog.

Derek 29:11

Natalie 29:15
Yes, but the specificity of like continually, like if I say everyday, like Oh, I’m thankful for my kids. I’m thankful for Jack. I’m thankful for Lucy it. It doesn’t feel…

Gillian Mandich 29:24
Exactly. You have to mix it up because we’re creatures of habit. Right? It doesn’t. It’s like when you get a new car, right? In psychology, we call it hedonic adaptation. But what happens is something good happens and you see like a big burst, or something really bad happens, like you go through a breakup, and you plummet, but you don’t stay at either the high or the low forever, right? We tend to go back. And so one of the things is maybe one day thinking about people that you’re grateful fo,r things that you’ve learned, body parts that you like, podcasts that you’re grateful for, whatever it is, but mixing it up. And the other thing is, is that when you can make it a bit more descriptive or full sensory experience. So if you’re grateful-um on the weekend, I went to my friend’s house and we just like decided to be like, inspired by Martha Stewart and we decided that we could make a pizza on our own like a show, but get the whole thing.

Natalie 29:29

Gillian Mandich 29:29
So obviously, it didn’t go like Martha Stewart. It tasted good! Like it just wasn’t pretty, right. So I wrote about that experience, right. But when I was writing about it, it wasn’t just the like, focusing on you know that it didn’t go well. But it was like, how did the pizza taste? What did it smell like? What did the dough-when you can involve more of your senses? In that experience? That is better? And then the other thing is jury’s still out about like frequency intensity, like, do we need to do it every day? Can it be once a week? Um. We-Jury’s still out. But what I do think, my opinion is that when we think about those small bursts of joy that we can do every day, taking time to reflect on something that we’re grateful for, is a great opportunity to create a small burst that doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t take a lot of time, and really could be done anywhere. The one thing I will say, personally, so all of the tips and tools and strategies that I read about in research I try, right? Because I want to try it myself too. And so with gratitude, what I’ve been doing lately, it’s almost like gratitude 2.0, where if I’m writing about someone or something in my journal, or thinking about it, I’ll then send a text or a voice note, because it’s really nice to feel gratitude towards people. But when you can actually take that additional step to take 10 seconds to leave a quick voice note, I’m just so grateful that you took the time on Sunday to make pizza with me and we had so much-like whatever it is. That’s something that it’s like a double boost, because I get a boost in my happiness, because I’m reflecting on when I’m grateful for. My friend or whoever is on the receiving end of the message gets a boost. But then I also get another boost, because I also did something that made them happy.

Natalie 31:57

Gillian Mandich 31:58
So that’s where I’m at these days with my gratitude practice is sort of the sharing of it, you know?

Natalie 32:02
So one of my best friends, he, for years has been so good about like just sending that message, like saying the thing out loud about, you know, someone that you’re thinking, and that’s kind and you’re grateful for them and something like get specific about what it is. And we’ve been friends for years now. And I noticed that that has really rubbed off on me. And there’s a whole backstory to that for him with a friend that committed suicide years ago that he was supposed to have dinner with and, you know, he had run into the gym and all this and he wished he had said those things, you know, and, and so now I realize even just like, if I’m like in the grocery store, I’m like, Oh my gosh, girl, I love your sweater, you look so great in that color kind of thing. You know, it’s like a veritable stranger. But I noticed even just from that, I like feel-they light up, they feel better, I light up, I feel better. There’s like this reciprocal energy exchange thing that’s happening. So I love I never really thought about that, in the sense of the gratitude practice, though, in the making sense if you’re writing down something specific out about someone, and then how much larger that gets when you put it out there. And I like think about like the mysticism of life and like what’s happening in energy fields that we’re completely unaware of. But I believe that there are,there’s like these ripple effects when we do things like that.

So there actually is…

Oh science! Yes, I love it!

Gillian Mandich 32:41
…this research in the UK. It’s published in the British Medical Journal from the Framingham Heart Study. And what they find is that our happiness actually spreads three degrees from us.

Natalie 33:35

Gillian Mandich 33:35
So when we focus on our happiness, it not only affects the people that we meet, but then also the people that they meet. And the other piece of it is, I think the number one question I get asked from parents is like, how do I help my children be happy? And my answer is, unfortunately, we can’t force anybody to be happy. That’s just the truth of it, right? But as a parent, one of the best things or even as an adult, modeling our behavior for other people is the best way to encourage behavior change in another.


And children in particular, they’re like sponges, right? Kids don’t often hear what you say, they watch what you do. And so not only is it in terms of this gratitude example, where you’re taking the time to share your gratitude with someone else, you’re also modeling what that’s like for them and for anyone else that with you. And so, you really do see this, sort of like you said, this halo ripple butterfly, whatever they call it effect where it actually does go beyond us.

That’s incredible.

I think that’s pretty cool.

Derek 34:09
That’s incredible. So I do have a question. And this kind of goes along the gratitude practice lines of I was just thinking, it’s great to get to the end of the day and be like, Oh, I feel so grateful for these things. But what do you do in a situation where you get to the end of the day, and it was just a really hard day? Or you’re just like beat down? And I think this could be also be a bigger question for just like happiness in general, right? Because happiness, I think is something that a lot of people can struggle with. Of like, Maybe I’ll never be happy. Maybe you know, they ask these types of questions where it’s just like, you know, so for people that are going through hard things, what is your advice to them?

Gillian Mandich 35:11
I love that you asked this question. And I will answer it in one second. But first, I want to say that. So I didn’t realize that when you study happiness, a lot of people assume you’re happy all the time. And so I just want to make it abundantly clear that yes, I am a happiness researcher, and no, I’m not happy all of the time. But that’s also not the point. So the goal, like in all honesty, because remember how I mentioned, I didn’t even know you could study happiness until the second year of my PhD. And so, a lot of times researchers pick topics because they’re personally interested in that for whatever reason. And so when I was like, this light bulb went off, like, hey, I can study happiness. It naturally invites questions like reflecting on your own life, like, do you feel happy, right? And so I was going through a divorce at the time, so my answer was no.

Natalie 36:00
Oh gosh, girl.

Gillian Mandich 36:00
But what I realized was that, you know, I thought, okay, like, I’m this second year super naive grad student whose goal now that she knows you can find happiness is like, I’m thinking to myself, I don’t like feeling sad. I don’t like feeling anxious. I don’t like feeling down. So why don’t I just figure out how to get rid of all of those feelings and just be happy all the time. So when I first started studying happiness, my goal was to figure out how to be happy all the time. Then I got into the literature. And sometimes in the literature, it’s called, like, sort of the dark side of happiness, where what we see is that people that try to be happy all the time, end up being less happy than other people.

Derek 36:44

Gillian Mandich 36:45
And when I first read that, I was like, Wait a second, like, how can that be, like I thought about like weight loss, right? Like if your weight loss goal was, you know, X amount of pounds. Even if you don’t get there, like at least you’re trending in the right direction-is what I thought, right? But then I thought about it, some more, rethought it, thank you, Adam Grant, what I realized is that, what happens when we don’t reach a goal, like if someone was to take a microphone and put it in our head, and people heard the self talk that we have going on, we get hard on ourselves, we get down on ourselves, right? We’re not that kind to ourselves sometimes. And so what I learned is that the goal in life is not to be happy all the time, it’s impossible to be happy all the time. So if we set the goal to be happy all the time, we’ve set an impossible goal. So we’re never gonna reach it. And so really, in terms of healthy psychological functioning, it’s about embracing a full spectrum of emotion, right? Like, if we’re in a funeral, it doesn’t make sense to be happy. Grief, makes sense. Sadness, makes sense. Whatever it is. So that just to sort of circle back to your question, I’m not happy all the time. But that’s not the point. And the reality is that we all have bad days, myself included, and that’s part of being human. So two things on that. One is when we’re having a bad day, and we’ve all had them. It’s, if you’ve ever tried to be happy through when you’re having a bad day, right, like just sort of put on a smile, put on your rose colored glasses, and just like fake it till you make it…

Derek 36:45
You end up feeling worse.

Gillian Mandich 37:04
What ends up happening, you feel worse.

Natalie 37:51
And so tired.

Gillian Mandich 38:01
You’re more drained. You have less energy. It doesn’t work. So in research, sometimes we use the term toxic positivity, right? Which is like when someone tells you ‘Oh, just like look on the bright side. Keep your chin up.’ Like whatever sort of platitude they want to throw at you. What we see is that toxic positivity leads to emotional suppression. So when we’re actually not feeling our emotions, and when we suppress our emotions, they don’t go away, they actually get stronger, we call this amplification. And so instead of trying to be happy, it’s really about embracing that kind of emotions and like, to be honest, like, I will sometimes just have a day. And there’s not a particular clause, like sometimes we can identify our bad mood, or why we’re unhappy for a specific reason. But sometimes I’ll just have a day where I’m just a little bit grumpy, or whatever. I just, I now give myself the grace to have a bad day. And maybe that means that I’m not as productive that day. Or maybe that day means that I changed my plan for what I’m going to do, and just chill or, you know, take some time for me because the next day, I always wake up with more energy, right? We have to give ourselves the grace and the time to be, and we all have bad days. And so really, I think a lot of times when we’re feeling more challenging emotion, you know, like sadness, like depression, like anxiety. We think that they’re bad because we’re not as familiar with them, but they’re just different, right? And sometimes those emotions, like, I never use the word positive or negative when I’m talking about emotions, because an emotion isn’t inherently positive or negative information, right? If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, but you were unaccountable to something at work, that’s probably a signal that you weren’t responsible or that you didn’t you know, you didn’t do what you were say you’re gonna do. So I’d love that you asked this question. We all can’t be happy and myself included. We all have bad days, and we have to give ourselves the grace to be human. On each and every day of the days that we’re happy and the days that we’re not feeling happy.

Derek 39:59
I was just gonna to kind of wrap up a thought there of like, so in that case, maybe a gratitude practice is good when you’re feeling grateful. But like this might speak to a reason for like a more general journaling practice, where like, just whatever you’re feeling that day, if you’re feeling if you’re wrestling with like this emotion of like this, today was a hard day, being able to just get that and acknowledge that in a journal. Like that can be very cathartic.

Gillian Mandich 40:23
Yeah, you know, and I think that this speaks to there’s not a one right formula or one right way. So some days, you must, might just be sort of in a weird funk, and maybe focusing on something you’re grateful for shifts your mindset, and then your mood is different. And then some days, maybe you’re not and it’s better to do, you know, sort of stream of consciousness writing, or maybe that day, it’s better to just go like, I used to teach yoga to UFC fighters in university. So every once in a while, I just want to go like hit some bags, you know, or just do some like boxing with someone. So maybe it’s the day that like, you’re upset, and maybe that’s a better outlet. So it’s different, right? And that’s where the piece of learning about our spouse is so important. The other thing is, sometimes we’re having a bad day, one of the best things that we can do is go do something nice for someone else. Because often when we’re so in our own bad mood, we’re so internally focused, that taking the focus off me, I whatever it is, even if we’re in a bad mood, and just like how can I be in a place to help someone else can sometimes be a great way. Sometimes we just need to shift our mood, right? Like, sometimes you’re you’re in a bad mood, and you can put on like a funny like comedies skit show and then you feeling better after. Or some days it’s like, today I need to quit my day. It’s different all the time. Right? So finding those things that work for us knowing that there’s no perfect formula, there’s no one thing that’s going to work every time it’s really about sort of getting curious with ourselves, like what do I feel that I need right now? And sort of giving ourselves the flexibility to sort of answer that question every time?

Natalie 41:54
Yeah, I kind of I kind of had a little bit of a kind of follow up question. After talking about like, what do you do, like when you’re just like having a bad day, not happy. But I had this thought when you were kind of describing like, you have the wide range of emotions. So I’m like a huge, huge Brene Brown fan. And I love her quote, “You cannot selectively numb emotion.” And when she talks about feeling being like on a scale, and like, if, because you were talking about like feeling happy, you’re just I want to feel happy, I don’t feel anything else, right. And if like this is the middle, the way she described it, there’s a scale on one end is happiness, and on one hand, you know, blissful happiness, I should say. And the other is like the absolute pits of despair. If you’re numbing all of this stuff that’s negative, she like visually showcased it, as you know, you’re coming inward towards the middle on the negative side. But this positive happy side simultaneously is going at the same speed. As you’re like trying to protect yourself and numb yourself from all these negative things that you never want to feel because all you want to feel is happiness, you actually lessen your capacity to feel happiness. And I was reminded of that, when that’s what you’re saying. Because I feel like you’re basically saying the exact same thing with different words. Like if all you’re focused on is being happy, you’re actually going to be less happy, right? Because you have to kind of like, numb and ignore other emotions that you’re likely feeling, you’re just rejecting. Right? There’s no space for it. And I just love that.

Gillian Mandich 43:17
I love that.

Natalie 43:17
Yeah, I love that analogy. And because it’s, it’s tough, and it’s actually it’s been really impactful for me as a parent, too. Because when my kids are feeling sadness, and I also went through a divorce and had kids at the same time, and the thing I wanted the most was to save my children from that pain. You know, and I couldn’t, that was so so hard. I’m gonna get emotional. Yeah, but it was so hard because I wanted to save them from that, but I realized the best thing that I could do is just be present with them in that pain, you know, and, and celebrate the, the joy that we could and so that kind of leads me a little bit to the next question is like, when you are like, it’s not just you’re having…

Derek 43:56
Ugh. We’re all tearing up here!

Natalie 43:59
…sorry, Derek! It’s what if it’s, you know, when you’re not just having a bad day, you’re having a bad time, you know? You’re going through it in some way. And it’s not just the day, and there’s something hanging over you, you know, whether it’s you’re going through a divorce, or you have a sick family member, or there’s just been a huge change in your family situation or, you know, lost somebody, whatever it may be, you know, it’s not I’m just having a bad day. It’s there’s a, there’s a weight that you’re carrying, and you’re holding. So when that’s the case, how do we cultivate happiness in our lives?

Gillian Mandich 44:35
So I don’t think that all situations require us or necessitate us to, to be happy, right? Like, if we’re going through a divorce and it’s painful, like it doesn’t make sense to be happy. You know, sometimes like you think about or you people say like, you don’t have the highs, you can appreciate the lows and not that you need those or they’re necessary, but I think that we have to give ourselves the grace to know that we can’t be happy all the time. But like you said, there’s a big distinction between just like having a bad day and taking the night or like going to the spa or, you know, hanging out with your dog all afternoon just to kind of fix that, versus going through really hard thing. Part of the reality of being a human in the world is at some point, we’re going to face hard things.

Natalie 45:17

Gillian Mandich 45:18
Some of us listening right now moving going through something hard right now, or have a friend or a loved one that is that we can’t change, right? Like, like an illness, or like the death of a loved one or divorce. And so the way I think about it is like, like I mentioned, how I think about happiness, like a muscle, right? So we do these things on a daily basis that make us happy, we put in the reps. So over time, our muscle gets stronger. So if you were to imagine in your head like a graph, it’s like the line is going up, right? So if you have time and happiness on the x and y axis right over time, our happiness which is on the y is going to go up, sure. But what happens is that you’re going up, we’re doing our things and then boom, something hard happens, right? A pandemic happens, a job loss happens, a divorce happens, whatever it is, our happiness goes down. That’s natural, because something hard happened. And then over time, this is where you know, and the word resilience has been thrown out a lot the past couple of years. But this is where resilience comes in. The resilience is our ability when something hard happens. How do I bounce back? It actually comes from an engineering term of like bouncing back like rubber bouncing back. But there’s also another term which is talked about, not as much, I don’t think it has got as good a PR agent as the resilience did with the pandemic, but flourishing. So resilience is about bouncing back to where you were before. But for a lot of us, like I’d be willing to bet every single person listening to this podcast, they don’t want to just get back to where they were you want to grow through it, learn from it, have the experience make you stronger. And so then what happens is, if you imagine that lines are going up, it actually goes above. So it’s sort of this zig zaggy uptrend line as opposed to a straight linear line, because nothing in life is straight, linear or easy all of the time. That’s life. So what happens is, as we start to grow that happiness muscle, our high, get higher, our lows, those difficult things, they don’t go away. They just get higher too. So we’re in a better place to cope with them more in a more resilient way. And coping with something in a resilient way doesn’t mean practice pretending to be happy all the time. Right? It means we’re humans with a full spectrum of emotions. I I’d be willing to bet you’re also a fan of Dr. Susan David.

Natalie 47:28
Yeah. [Laughing}

Gillian Mandich 47:30

I feel like the two of you are just vibing right now. that are podcast

I bet our podcast lists and playlists and books on our bookshelves are probably very similar.

Natalie 47:35
Yeah, probably.

Gillian Mandich 47:35
One of my favorite quotes from Susan David, uh Dr. Susan David is that “It’s normal, healthy, and a good thing to experience, the full range of the emotional experience.” You know, and sort of giving ourselves the grace and the compassion when we are going through hard things to go through hard things.

Natalie 47:56
I love that.

Gillian Mandich 47:56
To not try to force because the other thing is like when you try to pretend it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work anyway.

Natalie 48:03
No. No. It’ll come back up eventually.

Gillian Mandich 48:06
It’s just hard! Like I remember. So I was married, then I was in a four year relationship. I remember when that relationship ended, being so sad. Like the pain that like, hurts your soul. And then I remember thinking like, wow, like my first thought was like, Oh my gosh, this is so painful. And then my next thought that popped up, I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m alive. Like I gave myself that range. Like, I loved so hard that that was what happens on the other side. But it actually was a very, it made me feel alive, right? You somehow feel like, like, it just it’s not that it’s joy, or bliss or rational or good. But a lot of our emotions, and the variety of them are part of the human experience. Right? And it’s about living life.

Natalie 48:51
I am so glad you brought that up.

Gillian Mandich 48:52
Like how do we live our experience as opposed to just going through the motions moving everything, you know, just whatever that is, like we sort of have a choice. We want to watch like the black and white TV or an HD 4k, whatever that could be by this day. You know,

Natalie 49:05
I love that you brought that up. Because I think that’s something that I’ve kind of found and learned as I’ve gone through therapy and learned things like the internal family systems and is is holding the paradox it because I think that so often, we we may finally give ourselves permission to feel sad. But we don’t give ourselves permission to feel the joy and gratitude simultaneously. So we become binary, I’m this or I’m that, you know, and so it’s like if you’re feeling really sad, and you’re like, Oh, I feel happy. And it’s like, oh, well, I shouldn’t because somebody just died. So I definitely shouldn’t be feeling happy right now. Right? I shouldn’t feel joy. I should just feel sadness. And so you said give the grace. Give yourself the permission, whatever it may be, to feel both things and it’s so funny. You brought that up at about a relationship because the first really like big relationship I got into after my divorce that ended in heartbreak. And it was the first person I said I love you too. After I ended, and I was so sad, and I felt so let down and I remember also going, I’m so glad I let myself fall, I can do that I can love again. Oh I’m so glad I can live again, I’m so glad. And I was feeling exactly at the same time that I was feeling so let down and hurt and betrayed and all of these other things. But it was so freeing to me. And I think one of the first, like, biggest examples I felt of holding that paradox, and it’s something I still struggle with every day. I don’t think it’s like, like happiness-a place you, you arrive, right? I’m not just like, Boop! Great at holding everything all together. Did it. Strong. You know? Read the book, I get it. You know, I have to remind myself because I will feel, I will feel myself shoulding on myself. I should feel happy right now. Or I should feel sad, or whatever. So I’m so glad that you brought that up about like, the complexity and the wide range of emotion that we get to feel as humans. Yeah. And how cool that is even my son sometimes being like, Mom, don’t you just wish there was nobody died ever? Did you just wish that and I like, honestly answered him. I’m like, you know, Bud, I’m not sure that I do. Because I’m not sure that I would feel the intense amounts of joy in quiet special moments with you and with other people I love if I wasn’t aware of the finite time that I have with you. You know? And that, that just saying it gives me chills. Cuz? Wooo, let’s go to church. Come on, Gillian. Let’s do some stuff here. You know, because this is such a big important work that you’re doing and I’m so glad that we have you on today.

Derek 51:42

Gillian Mandich 51:45
So good. One last comment on what you said. I’m so with you about like, I also read a lot of stoic philosophy.

Derek 51:51
Oh I love stoic philosophy. Okay, no, you’re preaching.

Natalie 51:53
[Laughing] I love it.

Gillian Mandich 51:54
Yeah? Okay, okay. So I read the Daily stoic every morning. Read a lot of Marcus Aurelius, right? You probably listen to Ryan Holiday too.

Derek 52:02

Gillian Mandich 52:02
Between us which we asked we’ve got the same playlists.

Natalie 52:02
I love it. This is so great.

Derek 52:03
We’ve got it all. We got, I was actually gonna bring up Man’s Search for Meaning later, but it’s

Gillian Mandich 52:11
Viktor Frankl Yeah. So I from reading stoic philosophy, there’s a concept called memento mori. Right. Remember your death? Remember, you will die. And I have it in, I got a Cricket. You know those like…


…printer things? I decided I want to be crafty this year. So I got a Cricket and I printed out memento mori. And I put it on the mirror in my bathroom. And so then my sister came over and she’s like, What is this memento mori mean? I’m like, oh, like remember your mortality? Remember, you’re going to die. And she thought it was like the most morbid thing that I did. And I explained to her, I’m like, no! When you remember that you’re going to die, it helps bring into perspective that you are living.

Natalie 52:54
It brings it into focus.

Gillian Mandich 52:55
Right? Yeah, it really does. And I want that reminder. Because I want to be present. I don’t want to blink and look back at my life to be over. Like I really want to be present in my life. And one of the ways to do that is to do that.

Natalie 53:07
Gillian, you are so speaking my language because I have a single tattoo on my wrist and it says Be here now. It’s my reminder for presence. Like get this, I’m literally considering my second tattoo. For a phrase that I heard recently, I can’t even remember where I heard it. But the phrase is It’s later than you think. And I want to get it as like the stem of a dandelion with dandelion seeds blowing away like the time is. Yes.

Derek 53:07
Oh my goodness.

Natalie 53:09
I was trying to sh-I got goosebumps when you said that like truth bomb.

Oh my gosh. Yeah. So it’s so funny that you said you put that on your mirror!

Derek 53:42
Now I havea feeling that if there’s anybody out there listening to this, that’s like, I should get a tattoo. What should I get? Now there’s gonna be a ton of people. Oh, my gosh.

Natalie 53:51
That’s fine. Take the idea if it helps you, like live in presence and enjoy, like, absolutely. But that’s just um, we’re feelin’, I’m feeling a major kinship with you Gillian.

Derek 53:59
That’s great.

Natalie 54:00
And I’m so glad to have you on today. And I feel like we’re-let’s do it again.

Derek 54:03
Yep. I was, I was gonna share just one quick thought. And just to add in to everything. I have a tradition of listening to Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl every winter, because it’s set in the wintertime. And it’s, you know, for those that don’t know, it’s about a psychologist who went into the concentration camps and came out with insights and amazing, like, amazing insights on life and things along those lines. And something I’m going through a little bit of a hard time with my family at the moment. But listening to it really gave me a lot of, of time to reflect about that. And one of the big things he talks about and something that actually you’ve talked about too is that happiness cannot be pursued or meaning cannot be pursued. It has to ensue. Right? It just has to happen. And another big thing that Viktor Frankl talks about is that if there’s meaning in anything, there has to be meaning in pain. There has to be meaning in suffering. And so by really focusing on the foundations of, you know, your health of focusing on the foundation of your sleep of all these things that lead to eudaimonia, right that you took, we’re talking about the lead to a flourishing life. The reason why you have to build that foundation is to get you through the hard times, so that you can actually make it out to the other side and enjoy the good times. So I agree with Natalie, I’ve absolutely loved having you on the show. And we’d love to have you back at some time in the future.

Natalie 55:26
Thank you, Gillian, for making the time to be with us today. And thank you for the work…

Gillian Mandich 55:31
Oh, my gosh! You make me so happy. Thank you so much for having me.

Derek 55:32
It made me happy as well.

Natalie 55:34
I hope it made all of you who listened happy as well. And Gillian, if people want to find out more about your work, and they want to follow you, where can they find you?

Gillian Mandich 55:42
Yeah, so my website is my name I’m Gillian with a G. G I L L I A N M A N D I C H everything else links out from there, my work stuff, social stuff. It’s all that’s a good place to go. Or you can just search me on Instagram. I am doctor. @drgillianmandich.

Natalie 56:00
Awesome. Thank you so much for making the time. I hope that we can have you back again in the future.

Gillian Mandich 56:04
Yes! I would love to. Yes.

Derek 56:06
Thanks for tuning into the Invigor medical podcast.

Natalie 56:09
If you enjoyed today’s episode, you can support us by liking and subscribing.

Derek 56:12
Your feedback matters. So feel free to share questions or future episode ideas in the comment section.

Natalie 56:17
For more information about our prescription strength treatments for weight loss, Ed and overall wellness, all from qualified doctors and reputable pharmacies, visit us at And don’t forget to use code PODCAST10 for a 10% discount on your first treatment plan. Until next time, stay well.

Podcast Guests

Cultivating Happiness with Dr. Gillian Mandich

Dr. Gillian Mandich


Podcast Hosts

Cultivating Happiness with Dr. Gillian Mandich

Derek Berkey

Cultivating Happiness with Dr. Gillian Mandich

Natalie Garland


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