15 Days of Happiness :: Do Something You Enjoy


This morning I woke up and knew I should hit the list, get going and make sure I was super-effective all day.

I got the children off to school, made a phone call, and then I couldn’t do it.

We live in a society that expects us to be constantly productive, and in all honesty I enjoy being productive, staying busy, etc.  But it’s true that if we don’t have any margin, if we’re scheduling every minute of every day, we’re going to burn out.  That’s the feeling I had this morning.  A week and a half left of school and I kind of don’t care because I’m burning out.  We can’t function on empty.  This morning I decided to take control of my schedule by making time to do something enjoyable.

I took my timer to my sewing table and made a quilt block.  Then I set it again and made another.  (You can see the blocks here.
)  I feel happier because I allowed myself to do something I enjoy.  It wasn’t urgent, it wasn’t related to a deadline or a school, and it wasn’t necessary.   But it did the trick.

Today I hope you’ll find even a few minutes to do something that is enjoyable to you, something that perhaps feels like an indulgence you can’t afford right now (I’m talking time, not money).  Decide how much time you are willing to give it and then let yourself relax and enjoy it.  Now I feel refreshed and ready to jump back in, which is a good thing because my afternoon is packed!

Good luck!
Jennifer *This post is part of a short series on happiness.  You can find a complete list of all posts in the series here.
For the previous post, click here .  For the next post, click here .

15 Days of Happiness :: Live in the Moment


Someone once said “We do not remember days; we remember moments.”  I agree with this.  Each day is filled with so many moments we really don’t remember them all, but I also find that when I live in the moment I am able to grab more of them, and sometimes much of a day is recorded in my heart by consciously memorizing moments.

I’m doing this little happiness challenge because I know I’m in some of the hardest weeks of my year.  It was late last night when my youngest daughter, who is a terrible sleeper, finally gave up:


Today I admit I feel a lot like she looks.  I haven’t had enough sleep in weeks, and this morning as I held a grouchy toddler on my lap I almost fell asleep doing it!  And yet, there is nothing I can do to slow down just yet.  The sprint must continue.

In a few minutes I will leave to pick up 7 children from school early, drive two of them home as a favor to a friend, then take the others back to the school (feeding them lunch in the car) for some end-of-year testing.  From there we will pick up my older students and begin the weekly shuttling that piano lessons require.  Sandwiched in there we have math homework to complete, an after school obligation, and a soccer game to get ready for.  I don’t yet know how I’m going to get the soccer player to her game on time and the kids home from piano.  I don’t know how the house will get clean for tonight’s party or what my family will eat for dinner  while I host another party.  I know it will all work out; I just don’t know how to make some of it work yet, and that’s a stress.  As I’ve had these thoughts racing through my mind all morning, I realized that I am making my day harder by worrying about it all at once.  It’s not even noon and I’m worried about 5 pm and 7 pm and so forth.

So I took a deep breath and remembered that I can lighten my load if I deal with the day sequentially.  I’ll tackle what’s in front of me right now, and soon I will have navigated the day successfully.  I can also remind myself that I knew this day would be nuts, which is why I got everything ready for the party in advance.  Relief!

My #1 priority for the next 10 hours is to live in the moment.  There is so much to enjoy if I’m not racing ahead of myself mentally.  The top picture of my daughter giggling on my bed came in a stressful moment and I’m so glad now that I paused to enjoy her for 30 seconds.


I paused at the soccer field on Saturday to marvel at the beauty of the location, the beauty of the mountains, the green grass, the clouds and sky.  I turned in a circle and took in every angle, wishing my husband was there with me to enjoy it.  I memoried it, and have re-lived it in my mind many times since.  The moment is frozen in my heart as a happy one simply because I paused.


Yesterday was a rush as well.  How glad I am today that I paused for a moment to read and photograph this to-do list, created by my daughter before she left for school.  The chalkboard is now covered with something else and that sweet list is gone.  I’m so glad I read it and shared it, because the Smiths, who were driving for 8 hours to get to our house, enjoyed it too.

I’m setting my timer for 15 minutes to clean as fast as I can.  Then we’re off for several hours.  Before I go to bed tonight I will write in my journal at least 5 moments I was present for, 5 moments I memorized because I wasn’t rushing ahead.

I hope you’ll join me!

Jennifer *This post is part of a short series on happiness.  You can find a complete list of all posts in the series here .  For the previous post, click here .  Find the next post here .

15 Days of Happiness :: Try Something New


Studies have shown that novelty and challenge bring happiness, so today my happiness task was to try something new.  I had to send a dessert somewhere, so I tested this recipe for Coconut Oatmeal Cookies.

Granted, making these cookies wasn’t much of a challenge, but tasting them as a family did add a feeling of novelty to the afternoon.  (And by the way, they’re delicious!  Even my children who avoid coconut were begging for more.)  It’s nice to do something different, nice to add a new recipe to the file of favorites, nice to be out of the rut.

What new thing can you try today?  What challenge could you tackle that would make you feel good about yourself?

I’ll share a challenge I’ve been working on for the past year or so.  I’m kind of a homebody and tend to be uncomfortable with big group activities.  Give me one or two people to talk to and I’ll make friends quickly, but throw me into a large group get-to-know-you game and I feel like running.  This can sometimes make me hesitate to plan parties for my kids, so I’ve been consciously working on throwing fun parties, particularly for my teenagers and older children.   I’m lucky to have a good friend who I regard as a master party planner and I’ve called her for suggestions and advice.  I’ve had the opportunity to throw some parties for girls soccer teams this year and because I researched, planned well, and went in with a smile, they have gone well.  We had one here last Saturday night and when the house finally quieted down I was happy in the knowledge that 15 girls had a great time at my house.

Tomorrow night I’m throwing a second party for my 10 year old daughter’s team.  I’m both more and less nervous.  Less nervous because I think they’ll have a nice time; more nervous because I don’t have much time to clean the house and do the last minute rushing around that always comes with parties.  Either way, it’s going to happen and I’m going to get better at acquiring the skill of planning great parties.


In her awesome book, The Happiness Project , Gretchen Rubin says this, “One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition.  You become larger…. Research shows that the more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.” (p.78) Whatever it is, trying something novel and/or challenging will make you a better person.  Don’t forget the 15 minute approach if this sounds like too much work.  Choose a challenge, set a timer, and see what happens.  Have fun!

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