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Alumni Story: Finding More Happiness

By Katie Sigeti ’06, philanthropy manager, alumni programs
The research of Cassie Mogilner Holmes ’98 shows that a high level of happiness stems from personally connecting with people and the present moment.
For most of us, happiness is an aspirational way of living. For Cassie Mogilner Holmes ’98, it is a livelihood.
Throughout her career, Cassie has studied happiness with a focus on the role of time. Explaining the catalyst that drove her to pursue this area of study, she shares, “One evening early in my career, on a late-night train home to my 4-month-old and husband, I was about to give it all up. I felt exhausted and utterly overwhelmed. There was too much to do and not enough time to do it all, let alone to enjoy any of it along the way. But instead of quitting my job as a tenure-track professor, I rededicated my research agenda to solving this very problem that plagues so many around the globe.” 
Cassie decided to use her research to develop and teach what has become one of the most popular courses at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management: Applying the Science of Happiness to Life Design. “After years of teaching traditional marketing courses, I made a decision driven by happiness: I would develop a course that would teach our MBAs and Executive MBAs how to achieve greater satisfaction in their professional lives and their personal lives.”
After learning of her course’s impact on the lives of her students, Cassie yearned to expand the reach of her teachings to those outside her classroom. She published her first book, Happier Hour, on September 6, 2022. The book provides a practical guide with actionable strategies on how to think about and spend time living a more joyful life.

Throughout the course of her research, Cassie’s ultimate purpose has been to help others increase satisfaction in their lives. “To identify my purpose, I completed an assignment that I give my students and describe in Happier Hour, ‘The Five Whys Exercise.’ Answering my fifth layer of ‘why?,’ I learned that my purpose is to create knowledge about what makes people happy, disseminate knowledge about what makes people happy, and help those around me feel happier. Whenever I see that my research, teaching or interaction with a colleague, friend, or one of my kids has helped make that person happier, I feel happier. It makes me feel utterly fulfilled and brings me immense joy.”

Cassie shares, “How we spend our time defines who we are, the memories we cherish, and how we will be remembered by those we leave behind. I developed a new framework for how individuals should think about and spend their time to experience greater fulfillment in their days and increase satisfaction with their lives.”

Cassie’s research uncovered important findings that highlight the high level of happiness that stems from personally connecting with people and with the present moment.
  • Merely thinking about time (vs. money) boosts people’s happiness.
  • Age influences the way people experience happiness and the types of experiences that produce happiness.
  • Having too little or too much discretionary time hurts happiness.
  • Gifting time through experiences cultivates happiness in relationships.
  • To feel happier, people should spend their days on a variety of activities but their hours on more similar activities.

Reflecting on her years at LJCDS, Cassie shares, “I truly valued my time at Country Day.  Whether in the classroom, on the sports fields, or planning class events, I felt supported to make my way and admired my classmates as they did the same. Country Day felt like a friendly community of individuals. I cherish my friendships from my Country Day days, some of which are still among my closest today.”

For those Torreys following in her footsteps, Cassie advises: “Regardless of what field you’re interested in pursuing, work hard and focus on the activities that you enjoy.”

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