The Quest for the Secret Formula

I frequently talk with clients about our desire to “hack ourselves into happiness.” We look for a secret formula. A formula that maybe we haven’t thought of or seen a prescription that we can easily follow to hack ourselves into happiness.

Now, I know that a secret formula doesn’t exist, and yet, with all my being, I want it to be a reality. I want there to be an easy answer, a magic wand, a formula for happiness, and I see it in my clients.

My bookshelf is a testament to my search for the secret formula. Whenever I got scared, doubtful, or stressed, I would hightail it to my local bookstore, find an expert on-line, or attend a personal growth seminar to buy their secret formula. Eventually, I realized they don’t know the answer. They have tips and tricks that will help IF I implement them, but I still need to do the work. I still needed to practice daily.

Just like a workout app won’t magically put you into good shape, a personal growth book/seminar won’t either. Real personal growth requires daily intention and guidance from those who teach us that we have to love ourselves and trust ourselves rather than look for an easy answer.

The challenge is the quest gives me hope that I could quickly get out of my pain and suffering. But it also gave me a lot of unnecessary drama, angst, and disappointment (not to mention the loss of money).

The magic formula’s quest kept me stuck in a cycle of shame and insecurity that looks like this.

  • A feeling of doubt and insecurity
  • Searching for someone somewhere to KNOW an easy way (the secret formula) 
  • Finding someone who says they know and feeling hopeful
  • Attempt to do what they say but not feeling any easy, immediate relief
  • Shame and belittling myself so that I still don’t feel any better, and now I am out more money.
  • A feeling that something’s wrong with me.
  • Doubt and insecurity that once again, I did it WRONG


After repeating this over and over ad nauseam and never getting an answer, the realization finally came: there is no secret formula. The answer lies within, and I need to start by trusting my inner wisdom and myself.

Again, we all KNOW logically there is no magic formula but giving up this quest is painful. Because within the quest is the belief that it is easy, that we just need to hack a few things and bammo, we will be healed!

Honestly, my life didn’t start to shift until I allowed myself to mourn the loss of this quest. Until I acknowledge my hope that the formula would exist and that this quest was causing me more pain in reality.

Now let me be clear, I would love for the secret formula to exist. When I am filled with doubt and insecurity, the temptation is great to look externally for the answer, a new program, and a new book.

But now I lovingly remind myself:

“There is no magic formula outside of you. It is here, in my, get quiet, get uncomfortable, and see what happens.”

AND I allow myself a period of mourning for the magic formula because there was an incredible high in the hope that someone else could tell me what to do. I give myself permission to feel that hope and then the loss of that hope and the realization that I CAN figure this out; it is just going to take some practice. It is both a mix of sad and empowering.

Does this mean I never ask for help? HELL NO, I ask for help all the time. But I am much pickier about whom my mentors are and what I am asking from them. I make sure I get help from people who aren’t selling magic formulas but instead are selling me to get back in touch with myself (hello self loyalty!). I look for people who will help me with my practice of self-awareness, curiosity, and kindness.

You have the answers. We all need a little help in remembering that and implementing that concept.