Melissa Harris is on a mission to help you become a happier person. The retired psychology professor recently opened doors to a new Wellness Lab on 1854 South Coast Highway, Suite 1, and welcomes anyone looking for ways to achieve, what can be, for some, one of the most elusive emotions.
“Although many of the discoveries around happiness seem simple, having the science to back it up can show the huge impact happiness can make in our lives,” Harris said. “Additionally, because we have such strong, and often conflicting, cultural narratives about what makes us happy, science can help debunk many of the myths we learn as humans. It can provide the insights we need to fill in the disconnects between what we think will make us happy and what actually does.”
Harris’s interest in positive psychology and happiness came after the effects of the pandemic when she saw many people searching for ways to boost their positive mental state.
“So many people want to be happy, and they don’t know how,” Harris said. “I’ve spent my life looking at the research behind it, really studying it, and getting to know what works and doesn’t. And we know that about, you know, around 40 percent of our happiness is from the choices we make, and 10 percent is circumstance. So whether you are going through a divorce or just won the lottery, that’s only about 10 percent. Then, about 50 percent is innate or genetic. And obviously, there’s variation with individuals.”
Harris said the path to happiness isn’t a one size fits all method and works with clients ranging from 7 to 89 years old. She offers a 12-16 week course or ongoing sessions depending on the client’s needs.
“One of the things that we do in the beginning is look at the happiness myths and take some time deconstructing them because happiness means something different to everybody,” Harris said. “We work on embracing a range of emotions and being aware of how we process them to get to that place where you can be happy. It’s not about ignoring being sad. That’s something we know is unhealthy for your well-being, but your physical body doesn’t really appreciate that either.”
Along with the one-on-one sessions, Harris plans on hosting weekly 45-minute mindfulness evenings for “people in a hurry.”
“Practicing mindfulness shouldn’t feel like something extra to do,” she said. “I pitch it as mindfulness for people with full schedules because practicing mindfulness shouldn’t feel like a chore, and there are many different ways to approach it.”
To learn more about Harris’s services, visit www.juniperhappinessconsulting.com or search @juniper_wellness_lab on Instagram.