With busy malls, crowded streets, cookies to be baked, presents to be wrapped and cards to be sent, the most joyful time of the year can be one of the hardest to choose joy. I came across this quote a few days ago and had to share it with you guys.
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday.” – Henri Nouwen
Sometimes I feel like I’m just suppose to be happy. I’m very lucky to have a job, a home, a family that cares about me, but it’s easy to let life’s little annoyances, worry, stress and frustration take center stage. And when you’re feeling beat down by it all, choosing joy and happiness can be tough. This quote was the reminder I needed that joy and happiness don’t just happen to us, we have to look for them, choose them and intentionally decide to live our lives that way. If you’re struggling to find your joyful self this season, these tips should help you out:
1. Get Plenty of Rest
The holidays tend to be one of the craziest and busiest times of the year and I sort of hate that. Every year I vow to shop early so that I can actually just enjoy it. But even with that done, there are always parties to attend to, last minute gifts to buy and visitors to entertain. If you’re not well-rested all these things will make you exhausted, miserable and Scrooge-like. Let’s avoid that, okay?
2. Start Slow & Quiet
Mornings can be so hectic, can’t they? When I wake up in the morning, the craziness begins. Rob gets up and rushes out the door, while I jump up to take Oliver out for a walk. As soon as I get home, I’m a nervous wreck, feeling behind already and it’s only 10am. I know we all don’t have the luxury of waking up and spending an hour sipping coffee and reading a book, but carving out a little time each morning to do something for you can set the tone for the rest of your day. Maybe it’s saying a quiet prayer, drinking coffee and checking the news or going for a quiet stroll around your neighborhood. Moments of stillness and peace remind me to breathe and that calmness usually continues throughout the day.
3. Be Thankful
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being thankful. Showing thanks, even if just saying a few words in your head is yet another way. Taking a few moments to think about what your thankful for can only make you smile and feel happier.
4. Dress for the Season
As I’ve stated numerous times before, I believe that getting dressed in something that makes you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin can be a major mood booster. It’s true for the holidays too! And putting on something that’s got a little holiday spirit to it is the perfect way to choose joy. Instead of holiday dresses, this year I’ve been gravitating towards combinations like this one—festive pants that can double a work pants, tailored blouses and unique accessories like these velvet leopard heels and this furry color block stole (also in navy) that I can’t get enough of! It looks so pretty over a grey or camel coat too. Whether you’re going to a holiday party or to a friend’s house, adding festive touches to your outfit will make you and everyone around you feel a little bit more in the holiday spirit.
5. Be Kind
Really, we should be kind all the time, but something about the holidays makes me want to go out of my way to be kind. I smile at more strangers, I say hello to people as I walk down the street, I let go of the little annoyances I encounter on a daily basis, I forgive the cab driver who cut off my uber and made me late to dinner. When I find myself ready to complain about something or someone, I stop myself (again, a practice I should be more diligent about year round). It’s sad, but I spend so much time complaining about things every day and it’s exhausting and serves me no real purpose. Making an active decision to be kind, gives me more peace all day.
6. Write Cards
The long-last art of letter-writing doesn’t have to be dead. Writing a note to a friend in a different city or a grandparent will not only remind you of how lucky you are, but also be a unexpected pleasant surprise for them. Both parties will be left feeling more joy and that’s a win-win!
7. Give More Than You Receive
I’ve always loved gift-giving. It’s like a bit of a high when you find the perfect present that you know that special someone is just going to love. Then seeing them unwrap it and watching the joy spread across their face—aw, that’s the best part. My sisters and mom rarely buy clothes for themselves, so usually that’s what I get for them and I always have so much fun picking out different things for each of them since they all have different styles. If you’re still looking for something, these goodies are all under $100.
8. Keep Things Tidy
If you’re anything like me, a messy house puts you on edge. Keeping things clean and organized puts me at ease and makes it easier to choose joy in other areas of my life. This ten minute routine is a game-changer and an easy way to end your day on a positive note.
9. Stay Active
My workout routine can be a bit of a roller coaster throughout the year. Some weeks I’m going to yoga three times, the next week I sit on the couch at 5 and drink wine. Being active during the holidays will not only relieve any added stress and give you extra energy, it’ll also make you feel less guilty about that extra cookie, peppermint patty or cocktail you consumed earlier in the week.
photography by Jules Kennedy