When was the last time you thought about what really makes you happy?

When was the last time you thought about things that bring you joy?

Have you fallen victim to the same happiness mistakes that I did?

As a kid, happiness is something you don’t have to think about too much. Then you get older, life takes a few funny turns and you forget that it is even okay to be happy. You never have time to think about where happiness comes from. No one informed you that you cannot count on anyone else to bring you joy. You might even still be under the impression that joy must always be spontaneous, like it felt when you were a kid. You never really learned the secret of happiness is that you must create it for yourself.

The truth is happiness and joy both take a little effort. And the emphasis is on little.

A former therapist asked me to make a list of 20 things that make me happy. Only 5 could be with someone else. Everything else on the list had to be things I could do on my own. (A natural lover of list making, the homework itself made me happy.) What was the point of this homework? Not only was she giving me permission to create joy in my life; she gave me responsibility for my happiness. She also helped me see that the things that bring joy into my world generally don’t take much effort or time. They are also totally within my control.

Of course going on an adventure to Tea City in Shanghai or relaxing on a beach in Hawaii makes me happy. But if I’m always waiting for the next big adventure I’m leaving big empty spaces in my life. When you learn happiness doesn’t have to come in a crazy big package, life suddenly takes on a whole new shine. Something as simple as a delicious cup of tea while I dive into a really good book can bring me a tremendous amount of happiness. The best part is this kind of happiness that doesn’t cost a lot and I can make time for it almost any day.

I’ve been making a conscious effort to find my happiness on a regular basis since creating my first Happiness List. (I’ve since revised it once… Happiness v2). And, instead of a grand adventure for my 42nd birthday, I am spending this week creating just a little extra joy.

I plan on indulging a bit more in the little things that make me happy this week. The official kick off to my efforts was actually last Friday with a weekend at Timber Creek Retreat House. There was much tea, reading and time to connect with both myself and my Brian, the only person who appears on my happiness list by name.

I’m still working this week because I have created a work/life harmony where I can be joyful and not dread going to work. I think after almost 8 years of doing this I haven’t burned out because I set boundaries for my time and make sure I set aside space where I don’t work. Having the best clients helps too.

The rest of the week I’ll “surprise” myself with daily doses of joy. While I have a couple of things planned (like our regular Sunday movie night and a massage on my actual birthday) I’ll get up each day with the intention to create my joy and live my happiness…that’s just a little beyond my ordinary effort. Like I tell my clients when it comes to their journey…this week is about doing happiness and joy just 1% better.

I want to challenge you to join me this week and do the same. How can you create just 1% more happiness and joy in your life?

When was the last time you thought about what makes you happy?

When was the last time you MADE joy in your life?

When was the last time you connected with your own version of authentic happiness?

If it’s been awhile, join me this week. I’ll be sharing my #BirthdayJoy on Instagram and would love for you to play along. If you want to share your own thoughts, joy experiments and happiness hacks, tag me @ThriveFit and use the hashtag #JulyJoy. I love to stretch out my birthday for as long as possible….so keep creating your joy all month long if you feel like it!

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