211: Grace Harry – Creating Your Arsenal of Joy Snacks


“All of these things around joy and pleasure are so penalized and stymied in this country for the business of capitalism.”
Grace Harry

Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey.

In today’s episode, we will talk about how you can cultivate joy in your life. I think that many people start this creative business journey with the best intentions of creating a joyful or fulfilling work environment for themselves. Yet the reality is that a lot of times, we beat ourselves up. We feel like we’re working really hard and not getting any results. Then we start to think, “Oh well, maybe I just don’t have enough energy to do this full time, or maybe I don’t have all the skills that I need. Maybe I just don’t have what it takes, and there’s no way I could get to this next level.”

But what we really need to do is get ourselves some joy snacks! Joy snacks are the little things that give us a quick boost of energy to focus on feeling good and being inspired for a little bit longer.

Our guest for today is my dear friend, Grace Harry. Grace is a boss and a keeper of wisdom. Most importantly, she is a joy strategist. So, what does that even mean? It means she teaches people how to take control of their own joy in life. It’s been a pleasure to witness her go through her own deep work over the last couple of years!

Read through as Grace and I discuss the many times we shift identities throughout our lives, how to cultivate our own “joy snacks,” and what we lose when we don’t protect our joy.

Who Is Grace Harry?

Today’s guest, Grace Harry, is a Joy Strategist, among many other things. After dropping out of high school in tenth grade and working for The Cosby Show, Grace ended up working in the record industry for 27 years. When she decided to move on from the industry, she was the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services at Def Jam Records. She has also worked for MCA Records, Jive Records, and Geffen Records.

We had met through our friends, Scooter Braun and Usher. We all ended up on a bit of vacation together a few years back, and I really loved getting to know Grace and all that she represents. She shares her fear that people are forgetting how to be themselves and explains that, now, her thing is people who create art to connect with others. She and I talk about how to get back to how we feel and the process of shedding the things that don’t grow us.

She has done a tremendous job of moving herself to find her own joy and help share that with others. So with that, I bring you, Grace Harry!

Shifting Identities Throughout Our Lives

I believe that our identities change over time because of the different experiences that we have. In the process of changing, we all shed and let go of our previous identities so we can step into new and brighter ones.

I asked Grace to share about how her identities have changed over time, and she shared, 

“Growing up, my mother and I moved to different places every year. I went to six elementary schools, one middle school, and four high schools and still didn’t finish after 10th grade.”
Grace Harry

This experience allowed her to meet new people. Yet for every encounter made,  all she craved for was to be wanted. So she had to create for herself these new identities to keep up with these personalities she met along the way. 

Over the years, Grace would find herself being a chef at The Cosby Show. Then she would work in the record industry for 27 years, running creative and marketing and digital at times and working with artists in so many exciting ways. She had her third divorce, and those changing identities all came down to one thing:

“I can’t get rid of them. When I look in the mirror, I can see my old relationships and doing the whole cycle. … But instead of penalizing myself and being upset, I realize I’m just not that person anymore… Those people (identities) are important. I wouldn’t be this person if I didn’t go through all those Graces in the past. But those versions of me, the way they respond and react, don’t work for the version of me now.”
Grace Harry

In the end, Grace’s experience of shifting her identities over the years helped her have a kinder way to look at herself. Though she doesn’t necessarily need these experiences, she learned so much from them. She grew so much, learned to love herself, and discovered how to respect and honor other people. She learned how to let go of the behaviors but not the education, which I think is really the powerful message she wants to leave us.

I’ve been developing this process called identity alchemy. It’s a three-step process of deconstruction, curation, and becoming, which we’re constantly doing our whole lives. This is more about personal branding and creating assets around who we are. Grace’s story helped me realize that every one of us experiences an everyday process of inner alchemy —when we rearrange the different parts of ourselves and continuously change them over time.

Even more than that, her story reminds me that our identities build upon the last one we’ve had and the importance of learning from our past selves. It is my favorite and most treasured part of this process because it can allow us to curate things that truly nourish us as people.

Cultivate Your Own “Joy Snacks”

Being in the middle of the current pandemic might make it harder to find our own joy snacks. But just as Grace has learned, we can curate our own environment and cultivate our own practices to become the chief energy officer. Doing so gives us agency within ourselves to navigate joy, high energy, and emotional frequencies. These opportunities are what Grace calls Joy Snacks, and I asked her which one is her favorite.

“For me, some mornings, I had like a full-on bubble bath because I knew that would soothe my own heart. Some days I’ll put on three songs that make me feel like a crazy bad-ass and dance around most mornings. Some mornings I read a book. Sometimes I pull cards. Sometimes I just get in touch with a friend from [another country.] So it’s different.”
Grace Harry

Grace says that joy snacks are all about cultivating things that truly nourish us. It requires a little bit of a process because you need to become mindful and aware of what truly makes you happy. As Grace explains

“The simplicity of finding our own pleasure is really the point of it for everybody. … It’s also about staying centered within your own connection to yourself when other people have different practices.”
Grace Harry

Isn’t it empowering that not only do we have the ability to feel joy but we also have the power to find and create a source for it? What’s better is we can all create joy snacks that are unique to our own needs. It means that if you’re into sports, then engage yourself in sport; if you love to dance, then dance every day! Find something that can help release endorphins for higher energy frequencies. That’s the simplest way it can come together for everyone.

What We Lose When We Don’t Protect Our Joy

Despite having the ability to create our own source and build our arsenal of joy snacks, it can be challenging to protect them, especially from something or someone with a very different energy.

“As the chief energy officers of our life, it’s our job to just stay within good energy in our bodies. It’s all we have to do. If that was a game, you need to be the goalie. You’d like shoving; you’re knocking out all the things that interrupt your joy.”
Grace Harry

As adults, we’ve realized by now that we cannot depend on other people to protect us from whatever it is that interrupts our joy. Sadly, though, many of us forget what joy is all about. We fail to open our hearts and the children in ourselves, which Grace believes are our true selves.

“Think about the age when you were free, or when you really felt your best. That’s when you’re a kid… In my case, knowing that helped me reintegrate all of the parts that are really delicious for me to keep and not all these things that I keep on thinking that adults should do. As soon as you get rid of these things in your head, you’re free.”
Grace Harry

When we start to become adults with responsibilities, it can also become easy to forget our own happiness. But that shouldn’t be the case! Being aware of what makes you happy is part of your arsenal. If you can maintain that, it will help you feel good even when pressures are coming from outside of yourself. That is how an adult still feels like a child even when the world tells them they’re not.

How Joy Can Be the Key to Identity Alchemy

One of the most complex parts of being human is knowing who we are and creating our own sense of identity. It’s hard because there’s always an influence outside of us that can interfere with what we really are. We tend to put so much of our attention and energy on what we aren’t that it’s easy to lose sight of our true selves

Grace’s advice to overcome that is simple: Simply open up our hearts and let our true selves in to play around with the world outside of us and experience absolute joy. However, she also emphasizes the importance of protecting it. You have to create your arsenal of joy snacks. You have to know who you are and what makes you happy so you have something to support you when people knock out your joy.

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

With that being said, I define Identity Alchemy as the process of deconstructing who you don’t want to be to realize who you want to become. 

Through it, you’ll be able to identify your shadows or the things you don’t want to be true about you and shed them slowly. I believe that the deconstruction process of life and your inner world is such a massive piece of understanding who you are to curate who you want to become. In general, I noticed for myself that the more inner work that I do — the deeper shadow work that I do to understand myself — the better life becomes towards the path of wholeness.

Joy is cumulative, and one of the best ways to keep ours lasting is to create our arsenal of joy snacks. Grace says that it’s all about the energy we bring into whatever activity we are doing, as long as it turns upward toward joy! And if somebody does try knocking out your happiness, just remember that they have no power over you. Grace’s journey is an excellent example of alchemizing our identities. I was honored to have her on the podcast today. 

If you loved this episode, make sure to connect with Grace on social media. She’s on Instagram, and you can see a ton of her work there! And, of course, you can find more about what she does on her website here.

Thank you so much for joining me today, guys. I hope you enjoyed this episode — if you did, please screenshot it and post it to Instagram and tag @nickonken Grace, @graceharry, and me, @nickonken. And if you’ve got time, leave me a review on Apple Podcasts. I’d love to hear from you. 

As always, stay creative, guys! I’ll catch you next time!

Nick Onken

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


“We have to get back to a connection to the self and source without an intermediary.”
Grace Harry

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • What does a Joy Strategist do [12:20]
  • How to protect your joy [14:30]
  • What is Joy’s favorite joy snack [15:40]
  • How to stay connected to yourself [18:00]
  • Were the Salem witches midwives [26:00]
  • What does the rainbow signify [27:30]
  • How many times do we shift identities in one lifetime [37:00]

Links Mentioned:

Connect with Grace Harry on Instagram  | Play With Grace

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