I Tried: The Happy Diet

And it was delicious


I don’t know if this is just me — and it may very well be — but sometimes I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. This experience runs a range from extremely exciting (who the F am I to be invited to attend fancy events like, say, the Opera in Rome, and on top of it, borrow fancy clothes to wear to said events) to somewhat painful (It is my job to talk to developers about evolving our CMS and how we plan to do that incorporating java script? I am so clueless on that front that it is likely the aforementioned question does not even make sense.) Lately, I am feeling much more of the latter pang than I am the former delight. And because I like to think that I am a living, breathing organism that represents the ethos of Man Repeller, I do not take lightly the monthly themes we set in place.

As it is Get Your Shit Together month, one thing I have been focusing on somewhat acutely is getting my adrenals together. As in, pooling together as many endorphins as humanly possible and emanating their effect everywhere I go. (E.g., if you are to see a glitter trail on a downtown New York sidewalk, my hope is that you’ll assume I was recently there farting sparkle because I am so damn happy.) In order to achieve this utopian level of euphoria, I have instituted a small practice that I’m calling The Happy Diet, wherein I have done exactly one thing each day this week to accommodate my most hedonistic pleasure bone and exactly nothing else.

Monday’s pleasure might be regarded as foolish by the world’s pragmatists, but I don’t care — I hauled ass from Bowery where I live to a tiny, seedy coffee shop that sells a disgustingly delicious almond-flavored coffee on 81st and Broadway near a doctor of mine, with whom I did not have an appointment. I read the paper on the 35 minute train ride over then sat there with my coffee, read some more of it, and came back downtown to work. It was such a fiery way to start the week.

Of course, stresses piled up as they are wont to through the progression of Monday (I had to interview four contractors to determine which one would build the conference room in our new office space, and how do you measure how good a contractor is, really?), which is why Tuesday’s happy was punctuated by making an important decision. Following work, I planned to attend a workout class and yes, sure, while working out is medically proven to pump endorphins out of your pores, you know what is not but feels spectacularly indulgent in a much more satisfying way? Skipping the damn workout, going home, ordering sushi and taking a bath with a glass of red wine in your hand. I listened to six-year-old music by the band Matt & Kim and asked myself: if this isn’t nice, what is?

On Wednesday afternoon, I was forced to take a phone call with a lawyer who has been asking me questions that I don’t understand about financial documents, “dragging,” investment details and equity. These are not conversations that come naturally to me. In fact, I zoned out three times thinking about a leopard print skirt. Following the one hour and 36-minute-long conversation (absolutely soul-crushing when you’re being billed for time you don’t want to spend doing something), I stepped out for a brisk walk, called a close friend I had not seen since February because life has been in our way, invited her to meet me for fro-yo at Forty Carrots and there we spoke about life and relationships and our feelings for 33 minutes before I returned to work high on life, full on cheesecake-flavored ice cream.

Because I had nothing planned for Thursday, I surmised on Wednesday night that I would wake up an hour earlier the following day to provide for myself a) ample time to meditate (sometimes it is really fucking hard for me to just sit down and do it but I have insofar as never regretted it), b) read a chapter of this book I’ve been working through for about two weeks — it’s boring because it’s like business school in hard cover, but makes me feel productive when I can get through stuff — so that c) when I dipped back into the pages of last week’s WSJ Magazine, I wouldn’t feel as guilty. The final reading material led me to discover this brand called Alumnae. I plan to obtain these at some point.

And as for Friday — reliable Friday! Because, as you know, an approaching Saturday is the world’s greatest state of mind to be in, I don’t quite feel like I need to do much. (At the time of this writing, it’s Thursday at 1:53 p.m.) That said, though, I do plan to leave work a little bit early, meet my grandmother at a cafe on the Upper East Side and drink a shitload of wine with her (she is a lush, what can I say?) until we can’t even remember what we’re talking about. By the time night falls and I’m ready to call it quits, I will surely remember the previous week — through the calls with contractors and lawyers and the inputting numbers in Excel — as the Best One Ever.

M.Patmos poloJennifer Fisher charm necklace, cuff and rings, Khai Khai earrings; photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


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  • Sally

    Okay this week sounds qt & fun. I wonder whether one can keep up this routine or whether it would seem too indulgent of a lifestyle over time. Not that I think any of the “happy” activities you enjoyed were particularly lavish, but you did listen to your body and mind and prioritized yourself. I worry that if I tried the happy diet, I would never workout, eat a ton of chocolate, and spend a lot of time in my cozy ass bed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wonder if it’s meant to be a temporary fix OR if it is assumed that one would just exercise some control while also maintaining this happy diet. Probably the latter. I think it would definitely take a controlled human to maintain their work/life responsibilities while also prioritizing themselves when necessary. I get into trouble when I tell myself I “deserve” too many things, when in fact I really don’t deserve them at all.

    • Yvonne Dunlevie

      Sally! You know what I’ve done that has been great is I have removed the word “deserve” from my vocabulary and replaced it with “earned.” I’m constantly cutting deals with myself — but in a positive way!! — wherein I think of what lavish thing I want to do and then give myself a way to earn it. Because trust me, I LOVE eating chocolate and spending time in my cozy bed.

  • Amelia Champion

    This is a wonderful post. I had a similar week where I did a bunch of seemingly unimportant but thoroughly enjoyable to me activities and guess what? I feel happier! One of them was reading Man Repeller every am with my green smoothie:)

  • Beatrice

    Leandra, this made me smile so much. Happy diet seems like a great way to listen to yourself and respect your own needs… This resonates with me today because I was so sick this week & actually made myself feel guilty for staying home from work for a day. Like, who guilts themselves when they’re running a fever? It was an a-ha moment, where I realized I was the one bringing me down: not the cold, not work. Me. My own expectations for what I *should* be doing were drowning my ability to take care of my health (and probably, ok definitely, were affecting other parts of my life). I have to recalibrate the language I use when I talk to myself and not minimize my needs/feelngs. So, when I was feeling down and out and Nyquil’d up, I guess Idid the happy diet–watched the entirety of Netflix’s septuagenerian film selections (Grace and Frankie and Something’s Gotta Give), texted my grandma, took a long bath, and ate pho from a mixing bowl. It was regenerative. Hope your happy diet continues to be healing and…happy.

  • Jolie

    I am a firm believer in The Happy Diet and try to incorporate it into my everyday life as much as possible. Your week sounds so exciting! Sometimes the best, most relaxing and fun thing can be to meet up with a family member for happy hour, tbh. I feel like my new mantra should be “if Leandra’s grandma can go out on a Friday, so can I!”

    Some of my personal favorite Happy Diet activities: walking through Hudson River Park from Chelsea to the West Village, getting off the subway a stop earlier than usual to walk home listening to music and podcasts, buying bodega flowers, and splurging on skincare stuff in Koreatown. Baths are also a huge part of this for me, as well.

  • Be Bttgln

    Hey L. What business book are you reading?

    • Dadi Shroff

      I want to know the same thing. (As my question above suggests)

      • Leandra Medine

        i’m double fisting smarter faster better by charles duhigg and the originals by adam grant right now!

  • Such great advice, thank you. I should try something like this too x


  • This sounds so fun! lately I’ve been feeling the worst I ever have due to my career and such. Today I was actually thinking of setting myself a challenge of doing something similar to you to just be more positive every day. After reading your article I am most definitely going to do it.
    thanks for sharing!
    The Fashionista Bubble

  • Anya van Wyk

    Feeling sad at 3.30 in the morning, so decided to get up and read Man Repeller. Already feeling better. Thanks for the above, Leandra. I’m definitely going to start the Happy diet.

  • Eden Kravitz

    Leandra! thank you, thank you! I absolutely love your writing.
    Oh, and where did you get that Israel flag bracelet? it’s adorable.

  • Leandra I am so HAPPY that you did happy things!

  • AlWAYS Love your jewelry

    Jennifer fisher charm necklace link broken?

    • Leandra Medine

      yikes. fixed!

  • This is wonderful. The main thing I took away (besides the lovely writing) is that achieving happiness is not just about relaxation, but about really absorbing experiences: reading the news, enjoying wine with your grandmother, hearing the things that have been going on in your friend’s life. It means slowing down. And it is possible, even in NYC!

    Recently I started waking up at 6:30 to write before I go to work at my advertising job. So I’m tired at 10:30 — so what? I finally realized that, as you said, I was living someone else’s life. In my case I was pretending to be a person who liked going out late a few times a week. I don’t! I like reading books and writing as the sun comes up. Glad I finally figured that out! Needless to say, I am much happier with this new ritual in place.

  • Dawn

    How about calling it the Healthy Diet?

  • Dadi Shroff

    Leandra can you please tell me the name of that book which is business school in hardcover? I’m applying for a master’s next year and every little bit helps when preparing for interviews.

    • Leandra Medine

      abswered below! i’m double fisting smarter faster better by charles duhigg and the originals by adam grant right now!

  • Now this is a diet I can get behind! Hopefully it’s something you can stick to long after the week is over – maybe not every day, but a few times a week!

    Your grandmother sounds amazing – kinda makes me miss getting drunk with mine!

  • Hadas Drutman

    This was a brilliant piece! You just made my week (the one starting in 6 minutes). Thank you! ✨????

  • Avril Brady

    aw this made me miss my grandmother! my gran was a total legend too. Enjoy every second you have with her. Love your positive energy Leandra 🙂 x

  • I was going to ask what business book you was reading but saw the exact same comment further down lmao 🙂

    • Leandra Medine

      answered below! i’m double fisting smarter faster better by charles duhigg and the originals by adam grant right now!

  • Simi Botic

    This is AWESOME,

  • Maddie

    would this coffee shop be on East or West 81st?

  • Isadora de Andrade

    You know I’ve been thinking about this a lot, even picked up a book called “the happiness project” to help me understand why sometimes you have to actively pursue having a happy day, being kind to people, treating yourself, instead of just being ON all the time, always all about the work and stressing. Life is right now! I have this conversation with my husband all the time, that I would regret only enjoying life when we retire and we’re all done with the making money part of life. I feel like it’s all about balance, but balance is something to actively practice, it just doesn’t happen naturally.

  • Leena

    This is lovely! Such a great practice to talk about, I feel like I am constantly reminding my friends to reward themselves for doing whateva tha f*** they wana do! Stuff like spontaneously dipping out of yoga class for a glass of wine. Reading MR during my lunch break is a little example of something that I do for a pick me up during the day!

  • a nice and good philosophy of life !

  • HeleenP

    where can I find that smiley mug ???!!!!!!

  • Mary Kate Burke

    What’s the coffee spot?!