In the Pursuit of Happiness: Part I – Joy and Passion

I’ve decided to take a dive into the ol’ happiness pool… so hang on y’all!

I am no expert and I’m not about to pretend to be.  I don’t walk around with a glowing smile all the time and positivity seeping out of every orifice.  I try to, but let’s face it… I’m human and I’m a women in her mid-thirties with changing hormones who is toying around with an early mid-life crisis transformation!

However, my desire to write about this topic stems from some serious decisions that I’ve had to make in the last few weeks and more that are in my near future. It’s not yet the time or place to talk about these things, but know there is reasoning behind these thoughts.

I feel like it’s everywhere… social media, magazine and newspaper articles, books, blogs, podcasts… happiness is the focus and the goal is discovering how to fully reach it.  You see tactics such as “clean out the clutter”, “learn to say ‘no'”, “take time for you”.  People suggest to “spend more time in nature”, “play more” and “escape from technology”.  Or how about “be in the moment”, “eat clean” and “meditate”.  

All of these things have proven results and seem legit.  But, I personally look at this list, question myself and feel like I’m failing at happiness.  I wouldn’t call myself unhappy.  I know there are times where I am not on Cloud 9, but I’m not an unhappy person.  Unlike the authors of most articles I read about happiness, I am not in the happiest place in my life right now.  But, I am currently striving for that what-seems-like unreachable place called “true happiness” as I tick away at my keyboard.  In these next few weeks, I’m going to try and use my experiences and efforts to simplify this big notion of “true happiness”… possibly for my own ease of heart, but hopefully you can get something out of it too. Also PLEASE contribute your thoughts!

When I think of happiness I think of two words: joy and passion.  With joy, like Marie Kondo preaches in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I do believe that the material items we have in life should bring us joy and serve a purpose, or they are just things taking up space.  I think this same concept applies to the things we do in life, they should also bring us joy…well, sort of…well, at least ultimately.  Let me explain.

The definition of joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”.  I can tell you that things I am passionate about ultimately bring me joy, but sometimes the process to get there is painful and heart wrenching and ugly.  That’s where my second word, passion comes into play.  Passion is defined as, “a strong and barely controllable emotion”.  Notice this doesn’t say “positive” emotion.

I think passion is the exception to the concept of joy with regards to happiness.  Or another way to say this is that happiness isn’t always about getting rid of negativity, but sometimes diving head first into dangerous passion knowing that the ride is going to be bumpy, but the end result is going to be joyous.

Some examples… If you know anything about me, you know I am passionate about movement, the outdoors and my boyfriend, Marcus.  However, spending 30 days running 500-miles across CO didn’t bring me joy every moment along the way…in fact most of it was agonizing, but I’d do it again without thinking twice.  I also am passionate about helping people be healthier, and have chosen a career doing so, but I don’t wake up every morning just dying to go to work.  The passion I share with Marcus is over the top, but our relationship isn’t all hugs and kisses (there’s definitely some bugs and hisses).  But, ultimately if I could trek my way through the mountain with Marcus by my side, inspiring others along the way, I would be the happiest girl in the world.

Mid point on my 500 mile run, bruised and broken and passionate!

To start this blog series off, I wanted to get the ideas of joy and passion out there and what they mean to me.  In the next several weeks I will be diving into how I try to implement these concepts into my daily decisions and attitudes.  How these outlooks define my moments (for good and bad) and how they ultimately play into my happiness.

Until then though… please enjoy my favorites for the week.


Favorite Quote:

“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Favorite Exercise:

Ab Wheel Out

I truly LOVE ab wheel outs!  I do them at least once a week!  This exercise works on core strength and straight arm strength in a dynamic fashion.


Favorite Recipe:

Avocado “Ice Cream”

(because sometimes you just want a health scrumptious treat!)


  • 8 oz whole fat coconut milk
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 1 dash of vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder


  1. Put all ingredients into a blender/food processor of choice
  2. Blend to desired consistency (doesn’t take long)
  3. Eat it!
  4. Optional Toppings: chopped nuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes

14 thoughts on “In the Pursuit of Happiness: Part I – Joy and Passion

  1. Loving this Jenny! Keep up the great work lady. In my world happiness ebbs and flows but joy remains constant. The quote ‘Glance at circumstance and Gaze at God’ has always realigned my perspective to help weather the ups and downs of life. It’s a process isn’t it?!

    1. Love this miss Becky and than you for your support! Happiness, joy, passion…whatever you want to call it… whatever you see it in your world… we all are our own beings with our own evolving perspectives on life. Love you my dear!

  2. Absolutely love the quote first off and secondly love your passion and honesty. Jenny LaBaw you are an amazing person!!!

    1. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment sister! You are one of the women that inspire me everyday to be my best and without you this blog wouldn’t even be a thing. Thank you for being you!

  3. So appropriate for me too, Jenny, in so many ways. I love the differentiation between Joy and Passion….I see both in you, and inspiration as well….look forward to hearing more about your transformation. I also used the quote from Elizabeth Gilbert for my current Challenge team I’m on…it’s so true!!!
    sending hugs,

    1. Thanks for taking time to read and comment Kim! Your words are so sweet and such a huge compliment coming from someone as outstanding of a human being as you! So glad you like and use this quote too! Hugs!

  4. This is great Jenny! I enjoy your blog posts so much!! You are a beautiful, authentic soul!!????

    I love the perspective of looking at happiness as a component of joy and passion. That makes sense. Yet, I wonder if the definition of happiness can differ for each of us? I agree that life presents is its challenges and no one has it all together. I don’t think we’re meant too. I think we’re here to constatntly learn and reach out to each other to share experiences and you do this so beautifully friend.

    When I read “contribute your thoughts on the word happiness” in this post, what came to mind for me is inner peace. Of course joy and passion are a component of that inner peace but for me, when I’m content with the energies that flow within me, I find I’m at my happiest. It brims from the inside out!

    So in essence, I sometimes feel we all reach for happiness like it’s a destination but I consider happiness as an inside job. At least that’s where I’m at in my journey in life.

    A contentment with knowing that for me (much like you), happiness isn’t in any object or amount of money, it’s not a destination or perfect relationship, it’s how much work I’m willing to do on myself. The more expansion I experience, the more happiness because I’m trusting and listening to my inner guide more than I ever have before in my life. Does that make any sense?

    The best way to describe it: when my busy monkey brain is quieter, my ego isn’t battling for attention in all the things it tells me I “can’t” do, my inner cheerleader is stronger than my ego, I’m willing to ask for and share what I need emotionally, being conscious to not accepting negative energies around me(which is difficult at times cause I’m a fixer); I’m in alignment with my power. That’s an up and down journey in itself- the bumps are the growing pains for sure. But that alignment brings great joy and happiness because I’m growing mentally and spiritually – then the rest seems to fall into place. That blows me away time and again.

    Whew! That was deep.????????. Hope you don’t mind the share. ????????

    Oh, and avacado ice cream…yum!! ????

    1. YES Michelle!! I love this girl and I do agree. I agree with your outlook, but I also agree that we all have our own version of happiness and what that means to us and what it looks like. I so appreciate you taking time to share a bit of YOU with all of us… beautiful YOU! I will write more in future posts in this series on just what you’ve touched on… XOXO

  5. I love this and this topic! I hVe recently been passing this marquee daily that says, “happiness is your right, pursue it!” And that really has me thinking: I’m not sure we are guaranteed happiness in this life. The whole concept is interesting to me. I look forward to more on the subject.
    I love tagging along on your journey. I’m right there with you.

    1. Love this Sally!!! Thanks for sharing that quote…something to ponder for sure! And thank you for joining me on my ride.. I feel the love and support. I too am with you sista!

  6. Hey Jenny! I’ve been following you on Facebook for over a year now, and you’ve been such a positive force in my life.

    And you’re right. Happiness isn’t the same for everyone. A lot of the times we’re all in a kind of miserable sense of existence, aren’t we? But it’s difficult to find our own style of happiness; and it’s up to us to figure this out.

    It took me over 10 years to find my happiness and you wouldn’t believe what did it for me – books, reading, gardening and music. Yep. All the basics… the stuff I loved when I was a teenager. I also find that when I’m eating well and sleeping a full-night’s sleep, I’m really going well too.

    But so many of us don’t know how to start and won’t know until the very end of our lives… we don’t have to look far – our happiness is within us all.

    1. Lynda thank you so much for following my blog and I’m so happy that I have somehow impacted your life and been a positive force. I love your words and completely agree. Thank you for contributing your thoughts and experience!

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