#HappinessWatts wants you to ride, eat, drink and be merry

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What is it that gets you to put in that extra kilometre, that extra hill? What powers you?

Is it because you coach told you do so as you chomp down on yet another bland nutrition bar?  Or is the view, your riding buddies or that burger and beer following the ride?

Maura Kinsella, pro racer for Optum p/b Kelly Benefits and founder of the lifestyle brand Happiness Watts, encourages you to look up from your Garmin every once in a while; take in your surroundings; ride with friends and yes, have that piece of chocolate cake, beer, cookie, burger or whatever it is that keeps up your #HappinessWatts.

Maura Kinsella (left) started Happiness Watts as a hashtag and by making T-shirts for friends. Now it's a social movement.
Maura Kinsella (left) started Happiness Watts as a hashtag and by making T-shirts for friends. Now it’s a social movement.

“I started the Happiness Watts brand because I would always see cyclists –amateur and pro– start dreading the day-to-day training and life of being bike riders,” said Kinsella. “Many elite athletes that I know are super crazy, disciplined, neurotic and will not do anything beyond what they think will be ‘good’ for performance. They go to bed early, only eat salads for dinner, don’t drink, etc  However, a lot of these athletes are super unhappy because they are so extreme; this extremism has given way to the common misconception in racing that ‘the more I suffer, the better I will perform.’”

Countering that mindset, Happiness Watt instead promotes balance.

“Happiness Watts promotes that having that piece of chocolate cake, enjoying going out with friends, etc. is actually beneficial for performance because the psyche is such an important contributor to physical output. I believe that ‘watts’ or power can be derived from things that make us happy,” said Kinsella.

What started as popular hashtag on Instagram and Twitter (#HappinessWatts), turned into a social movement and a full-fledge brand with a website, an international following and merchandise.

“Two years ago, I started making T-shirts for my friends who really loved the idea and from there I decided to go full-throttle with it. It’s been fun connecting people and hopefully encouraging more fun in training,” said Kinsella.


On the website you’ll find athletes –weekend warriors and pros alike– connecting through social media and showing how they get their “#HappinessWatts”.

For example, you’ll see Canadian champion Leah Kirchmann enjoying a stack of banana and peanut butter -laden pancakes or Alison Tetrick (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits) laying out pool-side after a hard race. More than anything, you see smiles not suffer faces.

“This is a good venue to see the ‘person beyond the pro’,” said Kinsella. “We want to encourage this healthier mentality and “balanced extremism” for future generations of aspiring athletes.”

How do you measure your #HappinessWatts? Share what makes you smile and connect with others by using the hashtag #HappinessWatts on social media.