‘Fear makes us feel our humanity.’ ~Benjamin Disraeli

Post written by Leo Babauta.

The moment my first daughter Chloe was born, I was filled with an overpowering joy — she was a living miracle! I was also filled with soul-trembling fear — here was a fragile new life, entrusted into my incompetent hands.

It was overwhelming, this mixture of two powerful emotions.

I call it Joyfear.

Copyright pending.

I discovered this word in an exercise on Sunday at the World Domination Summit during a talk by the amazing Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen of Mondo Beyondo (check out their site, it’s awesome). During the exercise I came up with the word and wrote it on my arm.


It turns out that the birth of each of my kids was filled with Joyfear. And it turns out every single defining moment in my life has been filled with Joyfear, with a mixture of intense joy and intense fear into one ball of powerful emotions that both lift me up and make me see things clearly when I hadn’t before.

My first marathon was filled with Joyfear (actually every marathon had it). I felt Joyfear when I quit my day job and became self-employed. Joyfear was there when I fell in love with my wife and then when I married her, when I moved my entire family with absolutely nothing to San Francisco last year, when I published my first book, and in a smaller way every time I create something new and put it out into the world to be judged.

Having only joy is great. Having only fear sucks. But having both … that’s life-defining.

Do not shy away from Joyfear. Seek it out. Recognize it when you happen upon it. Joyfear will change your life, and you’ll never forget the moment you find it.