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Let's Talk about Happiness and Joy

Monday Canyon Ranch Zwift Ride with Mari Holden

“I am a happy camper so I guess I’m doing something right. Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

– Henry David Thoreau

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

It’s the holiday season, and we came across this TED talk by Ingrid Lee about happiness and not waiting for things to be perfect…

The differences between happiness and joy

Happiness and joy are not the same thing...

We often use the words “happiness” and “joy” interchangeably, but in fact they’re different things — and I find it really helps to pull them apart.

Happiness is a broad evaluation of how we feel about our lives over time.

It’s synonymous with what psychologists call “subjective well-being” and encompasses various factors, including how we feel about our health and our work, whether we feel we have meaning and purpose in life and how connected we feel to other people. If happiness is how we feel about our lives over time, joy is how we feel in the moment.

Joy is an intense, momentary burst of positive emotion. We can tell we’re experiencing joy because we feel it in our bodies and minds. We smile and laugh, our posture opens, and we may feel warm or light. Joy makes us feel like the best version of ourselves — energized, invigorated, and alive. Because happiness is somewhat big and complex, it’s not always easy to know what will make us happy. Many of us have been conditioned to see happiness as tied to certain big milestones in life, such as finding a partner, getting a promotion, buying a house, and having a child. We tell ourselves that securing these things will complete the puzzle and give us our “happily ever after.” But the reality is we’re not always especially good at predicting what will make us happy.

Research has shown that while happiness tends to spike in the wake of this kind of big life event, it tends to return to its natural set point not long after. Reaching a milestone can feel good, but eventually, we start to look for the next milestone, and then we’re back to thinking, “I’ll be happy when …” all over again. It’s also important to note that we don’t actually have a lot of control over how or when these big things happen to us. And the problem is when we fixate on these milestones, it can sabotage the joy we find in our lives right now.

In other words: In our pursuit of happiness, we end up postponing joy. 

Every time we say to ourselves “I’ll be happy when …” what we’re really saying is “I can’t be happy now.”


We put off spending time with the people we love to put in overtime at work so we can get that raise. We don’t have time for hobbies because we have to take on side hustles to get ahead in our careers.

Focusing on uncertain life events removes our power to create joy in the present.

Every time you say to yourself, “I’ll be happy when …” what you’re really saying is “I can’t be happy now.” The habit of saying, “I’ll be happy when …” keeps us wishing and searching instead of enjoying and living.

Here’s how to stop waiting for happiness

Even though moments of joy are small, they do something significant: They expand our world. So often, we dismiss joy because it distracts us from the big happiness we’re hoping for. But even though moments of joy are small, they do something significant: They expand our world.

I sometimes think when we’re waiting for happiness, we freeze in place.

What I’ve learned about leaning into the present rather than waiting for the future is that something unexpected always happens. Sometimes it’s an adventure, and then you’re left with memories you never would’ve had if you’d just waited for happiness to find you.

Other times, we find new friends, new opportunities, and new inspiration — things that may actually help us get to the happiness we’re seeking faster or help us uncover a new definition of happiness. And whether that happiness comes sooner or later, in the meantime, you’re living a full life, one that is rich in joy.

So what are you waiting for?

Now, when I catch myself saying some version of “I’ll be happy when …” I try to imagine myself in the future, looking back on right now. Then I ask myself: “How will I wish I’d used this time?” Asking this question always brings me back to joy, because the answer is never “Waiting for things to change.” Usually, it’s more like “Living the best version of my life as it is right now.” See, waiting for happiness is often rooted in a kind of perfectionism, which works backwards from an imagined perfect life and measures everything else against it. Anything that falls short of that so-called perfect life is a disappointment. And since perfection is unattainable, even when you do get the thing you were hoping for, you’re constantly operating at a deficit.

Joy, on the other hand, starts where you are. 

Joy begins with a beautifully imperfect life and asks: How can we can make this life more vibrant, more fun, more full of the things that make us excited to wake up in the morning? t’s a creative mindset, not a comparing one.

Is there something that you’re waiting for before you can be happy? What would happen if you stopped waiting and started creating joy right now?


The other important thing that we need around the holidays is rest…

We found this other great TED talk by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith about different types of rest…

Have you ever tried to fix an ongoing lack of energy by getting more sleep — only to do so and still feel exhausted? 

Sleep and rest are not the same thing

We’re suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.

Rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of your life.

The first type of rest we need is physical rest, which can be passive or active.

Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest means restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.

The second type of rest is mental rest.

Do you know that coworker who starts work daily with a huge cup of coffee? He’s often irritable and forgetful, and he has a difficult time concentrating on his work. And despite sleeping seven to eight hours, he wakes up feeling like he never went to bed. He has a mental rest deficit.

Schedule short breaks to occur every two hours throughout your workday; these breaks can remind you to slow down. You might also keep a notepad by the bed to jot down any nagging thoughts that would keep you awake.

The third type of rest we need is sensory rest.

Bright lights, computer screens, and background noise can cause our senses to feel overwhelmed. This can be countered by doing something as simple as closing your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day, as well as by intentionally unplugging from electronics at the end of every day. The fourth type of rest is creative rest. This type of rest is especially important for anyone who must solve problems or brainstorm new ideas. Creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us. Allowing yourself to take in the beauty of the outdoors — even if it’s at a local park or in your backyard — provides you with creative rest. But creative rest isn’t simply about appreciating nature; it also includes enjoying the arts.

Emotional rest also requires the courage to be authentic. An emotionally rested person can answer the question “How are you today?” with a truthful “I’m not okay” — and then go on to share some hard things that otherwise go unsaid. If you need emotional rest, you probably have a social rest deficit too. This occurs when we fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those relationships that exhaust us. To experience more social rest, surround yourself with positive and supportive people.

The final type of rest is spiritual rest, which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose.

To receive this, engage in something greater than yourself and add prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.

We hope you like the topic conversation for today and wish you a happy week!

as always,

Be Kind, Do Fearless

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