Realizing Happiness

One of the best things about the Fourth of July falling on a Friday is that the fun of the holiday seems to continue through the whole weekend. Ryan’s friend Eric drove in town from Ocala on Thursday night and stayed with us through Sunday morning. Our first visitor!

ryan eric

The three of us had a great Fourth of July and spent most of it at Brittany and David’s house on the lake. They have the most gorgeous home and Ryan and I have told them that they’re selling North Carolina lake life pretty hard!

fourth of july at the lake

We’ve been to their house twice now and both times we left wanting to move in.

Lake Norman Swimming (Picture from Brittany)

They had a good group of people over for the holiday and all of the kids who came to play seemed to have a blast in the lake. And so did Sadie!

swimming vizsla

She probably jumped off their dock 20 times throughout the day and swam her little heart out as she doggie paddled back and forth between me and Ryan. She was one tired pup by the time we drove home after the fireworks and we considered that a victory!

As for the fireworks, we took Brittany and David’s boat out on Lake Norman and had one heck of an awesome view of probably six different firework shows happening all over the lake. As the finale of the final firework show lit up the sky, I leaned back into Ryan’s chest on the boat and told him, “I just feel so happy.” (Sadie, on the other hand, did not. She was shaking up a storm but did better than expected.) It was one of those rare rush of emotions that happen when you feel like you’re fully in the moment and realizing your happiness as it’s happening.

This may sound goofy, but after reading The Happiness Project, one thing that stuck out to me was the author’s views on happiness and happy memories. She wrote that all too often while we’re making the actual memory, we know we’re having fun, but sometimes we get more happiness out of remembering the experience than we do from actually living it. She said this realization made her want to focus on in-the-moment happiness.

Her example was vacations. Yes, we have a blast on vacations, but sometimes remembering the vacation brings about even more joy than the actual activities themselves. I totally got where she was coming from and it really made me want to focus on my happiness and recognize and appreciate happiness in my life as it was actually happening. This may sound a little out there to you guys, but after struggling a bit during our time in Ocala, I feel like I am truly grateful for the changes this move to Charlotte has brought into my life and I’m trying to focus on appreciating little sources of joy that seem to pop up daily right now.

Question of the Morning

  • Do you feel like you recognize “in the moment” happiness or do you think you often realize how happy you were after the fact?
  • When was the last time you felt truly happy in the moment?


  1. says

    my little brother got married this weekend so we had LOTS of in the moment happiness – the whole weekend, we ALL kept saying, “what an AMAZING time this is with our family and friends!” however, itz definitely easy to get caught up in it all and not realize it until after the fact.


  2. says

    I think I really need to work on the “in the moment happiness” – I usually realize when something special is happening, but I usually enjoy looking back at memories more and find myself want to relive them. Finding happiness in the moment is so important.

    I know I’m years behind, but I think I need to finally read that book this summer.

    I think the last time I realized I was happy in the moment was when I went home to visit family in NY – I was constantly surrounded by love and happiness and I definitely felt it.


  3. Brittany says

    The feeling of happiness is definitely a sweet mixture of both. Living in the moment and just enjoy the company we have can be the happiest time. Looking back on the best days in my life bring back a joy that cannot always be expressed and I am thankful for those memories. Whether looking through old photos or just simply letting myself day dream, happiness can come in many wonderful forms 🙂

    Just this past weekend I was able to see my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their two kids for the first time in almost a year as they just moved back to the states from overseas. So many memories came back to me from the past 8 years and each one felt special in it’s right, and we loved spending the entire weekend together reminiscing and laughing.

    Thanks for sharing, Julie!! 🙂


  4. says

    So glad that you had a super fun and “happy” 4th! I totally agree with you on not taking for granted those happy fun moments. This year, while on vacation, I did make a conscious effort to enjoy the moment and think about how lucky and happy that I am. 😉


  5. says

    Making me think so deeply this morning! Well, I guess I’m a little half and half. I know there’s way too many vacations I’ve been on that I didn’t fully enjoy until later. But I guess it would be good to really try to remember this next time and try to be fully happy in the present!


  6. says

    So true! I think social media makes us remember the good times after the fact even more. Sometimes I look back on Instagram and get all dreamy thinking about past vacations and fun times, but sometimes those fun times are wasted because I’m so busy trying to social media it! Silly!


  7. says

    Agreed! You always realize how happy you are down the road.

    Those joyous moments hit you later in the form of a memory and you realize, oh my, that moment was epic.

    The 4th was so fun these year and the highlight was my girls bopping my dad in the head with plastic cups giggling madly and I realized how much I love my family! I will cherish that memory always =)


  8. says

    I’ve read about half of that book, and you’ve inspired me to pick it up again. I completely agree though, those moments of total happiness are so rare and hard to realize when you’re “in it.” Great thoughts to start off the week! 🙂


  9. says

    I don’t think that sounds goofy at all! This past year I’ve really been working on appreciating and becoming aware of my happiness in the moment. It’s an incredible feeling. Moving to Omaha was definitely one of the best things my husband and I could have done. It sounds like moving to North Carolina is the same for you.


  10. says

    In the moment happiness is one thing I have to work on, specially now that I’m far from family, and alone. I didn’t realize it until last week when I came home for two weeks, and one day I was crying over the fact that I won’t be able to spend as much as time as I wish with my little nephews. Then I changed my mind and decided to focus my energy on being happy in the moment, to squeeze my time with family, enjoying every single moment. So far, it’s the best choice I’ve made. The present is more important, and we have to realize it to live in it! Besides, the little things add a special meaning, and they are the spark of joy!


  11. says

    I love this post. I have really been trying to feel “happiness” lately too without even reading that book! I have just realized that I am truly enjoying life right now and am trying to capture the feeling daily. I am worried for when my semester starts again in august, because I have realized that for me stress is my biggest enemy. It sucks all of my energy out of me and I want to learn to channel it better so I can enjoy life through those moments too!


  12. says

    Aww, sounds like you guys had a great time and I’m so happy you realized your happiness in the moment which I think will make you EXTRA happy when recalling it months/years from now! 🙂

    I think I recognize more that I’m relaxed in a happy moment but reliving the memories makes me appreciate those happy moments even more. I also think it’s interesting how bad things fall away as you recall happy memories. For our 15 year anniversary, I booked a balloon ride over Napa Valley and I always look back with bursting happiness and I almost always forget I had the absolute worst cold of my life.


  13. says

    The past year I’ve gotten better at recognizing happiness in the moment. I’ve realized how much joy I receive not from material things, but from the people I spend my time with. But yes it’s easy to get caught up and not think about it until after the fact.


  14. says

    Moving to a new city and experiencing a ton of new things can definitely help you appreciate the little things in life more. When my husband and I moved to San Francisco, we spent nearly all of our time together exploring and we continued to be amazed at how fun it is just to wander and adventure. Now that the newness of SF has gone away, I have to remind myself how lucky I am to live here and remind myself to appreciate the moment. Great thoughts for Monday morning. Make it a good one:)


  15. says

    I love this post! Sometimes, I get worried about admitting I’m happy (crazy, right??) because I’m scared that admission will make it go away. I think that staying in the moment and recognizing the little things that make you happy (the breeze, the way your dog smells, etc) is a good way to remember, Hey! I’m happy and it feels great 🙂


  16. says

    I always strive to recognize happiness in the moment. I spend more time thinking about the present and future than I do the past. My happy moments come from “in the moment” experiences or thinking about and getting excited for things that are to come. I feel like whenever I am doing something fun and active outside I feel happiness in the moment.


  17. Kara says

    I know exactly what you mean. There are moments where you realize life is perfect (in that moment) & nothing else matters. It’s awesome when you can actually sit back and cherish that in the moment! Love your blog!


  18. says

    A couple of summers ago, a camp counselor friend invited several counselors and me over to his house after the week wrapped up to go out on his boat and hang out. The group ended up being nearly all of my best camp friends, the weather was absolutely perfect, and it was one of the most fun nights of my life. I so clearly remember being on the boat, speeding out into the water, and thinking, “I am SO happy right now.” That whole experience is one of my absolute favorite memories, and I think realizing how amazing it was in the moment made it that much more special 🙂


  19. says

    I am currently at my lake house in Minnesota on vacation and I have experienced true happiness in the simplest of things it seems – the feeling of my hair blowing in the wind while taking an evening boat ride and running amongst the rolling green plains and blue lakes. It most certainly is the little things in life that can make you the happiest!


  20. zoe says

    wow.. such a timely post for me too! it’s so wonderful to seize the moment. I think a lot of times we live out our predictions about how something will go. if we go into something thinking “i’m going to enjoy myself and look past the little annoyances of daily life” i think I usually do. then, i’m better able to remember that time. i just visited my boyfriend this weekend after being apart for 6 weeks and thought “i’m going to set aside the little things and focus on how amazing the big picture is- we’re together!” and it was fantastic! it was a trip where i was struck by those moments of joyfulness and i’m sure i will be able to look back on it frequently.


  21. says

    I love this, Julie! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Some of these more personal and real posts are my favorites. I read The Happiness Project too, and I too loved what she said about remembering in-the-moment happiness. I’ve especially been more aware of doing this since Hunter was born. Having him has made me realize life goes by SO fast, and I really do need to cherish every moment, stage, and memory with him. I had several of these in-the-moment realizations while we were camping this past weekend. I was with family, in the beautiful great outdoors, no distractions, and really focused on just taking it all in. 🙂


    • says

      There is definitely something to be said for being outside and away from everything that makes recognizing our happiness a bit easier! And Hunter is so precious! 🙂


  22. Shannon says

    I really love this! Having a 6 week old, we are already seeing how fast life is going and there have been so many moments (even this weekend), that I have stopped to look at my husband, and just savor the joy we have just watching a seeing our little girl grow and learn. Life moves so fast. Thanks for the reminder. This is a great post!


  23. says

    I think it depends on what I’m doing. I notice when I’m with my boyfriend, I recognize that in the moment I’m happy, but when he isn’t there I tend to realize after the fact how happy it made me. One thing that made me happy, was yesterday, just being able to spend time with my brother again (he lives 6+ hours away).


  24. Ali says

    Loved this post! If you’re interested in reading more books about happiness I definitely recommend The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It’s all about training your mind to live in the moment and accepting the things you cannot change. It has completely changed my outlook on life!

    PS- I’ve read and loved your blog for about 4 years but this is my first time posting 🙂


  25. says

    In-the-moment happiness isn’t always the easiest for me to recognize, but in the rare occasion I do, I appreciate it so much more. Because then, when you look back on those moments and remember how happy you were, you get the joy of reliving that in-the-moment happiness all over again. I’m so glad you’re finding joy in NC!


  26. says

    I definitely agree on sometimes not realizing happiness when it’s actually happening. I think often our minds are so preoccupied with silly things such as all the tasks we have to do when the weekend is over, that we don’t let our mind just be in the moment and enjoy it instead of worrying about what’s next. Thanks for the reminder!


  27. says

    I agree completely! We were able to go camping with family and friends over the weekend, and nothing could have been better! Sometimes just sitting there and doing nothing around a campfire is just what happiness is all about 🙂


  28. says

    I think I’ve always been really good at recognizing my happiness in the moment but then I always lose it pretty immediately when I realize it’s not going to last. I have always been one to reflect at the end of a truly wonderful day and feel unbelievably sad that it’s over. It’s a blessing and a curse.


  29. Jodi Stutts says

    Julie! We briefly met at Brittany’s this weekend ( we were the ones with the two munchkins that arrived late!) I had been reading your blog off and on and just put it together that’s who I met!! Haha!! I am with you on living in the moment. It’s ESP hard w kiddos bc you want to enjoy all the sweet moments, but many times you are consumed w parenting itself! I actually told Jayson as we were leaving the fireworks show that this Fourth of July was my most favorite fourth in years and maybe my most favorite day in a while!! I was so happy from beginning to end, consumed w wonderful friends, kids and activities! I bet we were saying the same thing to our husbands at the same time!! Congrats on your move!! I love Charlotte and am ESP partial to the lake!! We have lived here for almost 6 years and wouldn’t move for anything!! 🙂


  30. says

    What a wonderful perspective! I don’t often realize how happy I am in the moment, but sometimes I do, and you’re right— those moments make me so happy later on.
    I felt my in-the-moment happiness yesterday when I was on a walk with one of my best friends. We could have walked and talked for hours and hours without stopping, and it just made me smile to know I have a great friendship like that.


  31. says

    I loved your reflection about this! I am actually reading her second book, “happier at home” and it’s been so wonderful to see the insights as she moves through these type of happiness projects.

    With having a baby it’s similar too-its’ easy once she’s in bed to think “oh she’s so cute, I’m so glad I get to hang out with her” but sometimes during the day when the moments are tough (she won’t eat, doesn’t want to nap, etc.), it’s hard to FEEL happy. I love how Gretchen says to “act the way you WANT to feel.” Love!

    Cute pics from the weekend!


  32. says

    I had a truly happy weekend this time around! I always feel happy in those good moments, but love reminiscing. I do that often about my wedding day. While I was so, so happy in the moment, I look back and am just overcome with emotion and joy since it was such a truly perfect day!


  33. says

    I love that book! I think she’s totally realistic about the small changes we can make to choose to be happier. And yeah, it can definitely be tricky to recognize true happiness in the moment.

    I think the last time I felt that way was one of our last days at school. I just wrapped up my first year teaching, and just watching the kids really sit and talk and be friends with each other made me feel all warm and fuzzy about our little community.


  34. livitant says

    I love this! Taking a quick walk or just break outside during the day helps me to stop and appreciate where I am and all I have- even on the tough days we can find happiness!


  35. says

    I’m happy for you 🙂 Right now I’m at a point in my life where I’m looking at places to live after college. I don’t want to return to my hometown…I don’t want to stay in my college town….You are making Charlotte look pretty good Miss Julie! Love reading about your adjustment to this city, it makes me anxious to start my own next chapter 🙂


  36. says

    LOVE this! I totally agree – it’s so easy to forget to live in the moment. I never really thought about it like that, but I’m definitely going to try and focus more on enjoying the moment!


  37. Amber says

    I grew up on Lake Norman and my parents still live there. Every day is a vacation when you are on lake time! Seeing your posts on how much you love LKN makes me so happy! It is the best feeling when people enjoy and discover the place I call home! I have so many recommendations I wish I could share but I will only leave one of my family’s favorites! Next time you’re in the mood for a non-calorie friendly breakfast on the water, I highly recommend Midway Boathouse Grill’s sausage, egg and cheddar breakfast sandwich on sourdough add a tomato! Very delicious and very greasy. 🙂


  38. Sally says

    Wow – I never really thought of it like that, but I’m really going to try and recognize my happiness in the moment:) I’m so glad you are enjoying your new hometown…from all your posts it makes me want to visit, it looks so lovely! I hope the house search is going well!


  39. Cristina says

    6 months ago we had our second baby, and life is just so unbelievably sweet right now. Our family is complete and life is good. I focus on my blessings and savor my happiness every day! I used to feel like I rushed through life and always needed to have something on the horizon to “look forward” to – since I have started making an effort to be more present I feel like I don’t need that anymore. I’m happy for you! Life is too short to not appreciate your happiness!


  40. says

    Sounds like such an amazing celebration! I’ve always thought Brittany’s house was just stunning in her photos (ok, I sound like a creeper haha), so I’m not surprised you wanted to move in. 😉

    I think I am pretty good at embracing those happy moments as they happen, rather than after the fact, but I could do a better job at being “present” and not usually thinking 10 steps ahead and planning my next day/vacation/career move/etc. The last time I remember being amazed by my happiness was actually a little over a year ago on a date with a guy who turned out to be a douchebag. Even though things didn’t work out, at that moment, I was blissful (and oblivious haha).


  41. says

    This is so pertinent to my life! I always struggle with in-the-moment happiness, but love life the most when I am successful at it. For me (as someone prone to stress) it helps to have other little ducks in a row, like the house being tidy and getting my workout in, so that I can really sit back and enjoy.

    Thanks for the good reminder, Julie!


  42. says

    My boyfriend and I are travelling the world together for a year. It’s so easy to get caught up in taking photos and documenting our trip for emails and Instagram. But, I am very conscious that the really unforgettable, life-changing moments are the ones that can never be captured in a photo, or even in words. I cherish them. It’s our time.

    I’ve loved following your journey. We travelled in North Carolina and fell in love. We also love Florida and are currently in the Keys. Hearing that you are so happy in your new home makes me smile.


  43. says

    I definitely know what you mean. I feel like with traveling, especially with action-packed days, I don’t always recognize the happiness of it in the moment. Usually, though, there will be one or two moments in particular that stick out as particularly amazing.

    I was recently on a trip to Myanmar, and my boyfriend and I were visiting these beautiful temples. We climbed to the top of one, and were met by two little boys whose parents were caretakers there. The older boy pulled out a mess of bills and coins, and showed us all of the countries’ currencies he had collected. He didn’t have Malaysia (which is where we’re currently living), so I gave him and his brother some loose money that I happened to have not yet exchanged. They were just so happy and proud of their collection, and I really felt happy in that moment. For whatever reason, it stuck out to me both at the time and in retrospect.


  44. says

    I love that book so much- especially for quotes like that! I just got back from vacation and am a little bummed- but you’re right, remembering the fun things makes me almost as happy as being back there! So glad to hear that you are loving NC 🙂


  45. says

    I really want to read that book now! And Ill admit I am an afterwards kind of person. I’ve always had to fight against my pessimistic nature, so I guess it goes with that. Instead of always looking back at moments I didn’t enjoy until it was too late, I’ve been trying to remember to enjoy the now. Thanks for the reminder!


  46. Sarah Whitney says

    I completely understand what you mean! Finding happiness in the moment can be hard, but is truly such a wonderful feeling. I’m so happy to hear that you’re loving your new location!


  47. says

    More and more recently, I’ve been really trying to live in the moment and focus on the happiness I’m feeling right at that time and soak it all in. It’s good to be in the moment and feel the joy of life!


  48. says

    Such an eye-opening question at the end, and definitely something I want to focus on more. I do think I’m pretty good at recognizing ‘in the moment’ when I’m happy, but should do it more often! I think one of my most recent & truly ‘happy’ moments was finally moving into our new duplex!



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