8 Ideas for Finding More Joy

Have you ever climbed into bed wondering, “Where did the day go?” Have you ever felt you were on a treadmill–trying to go “somewhere” that never arrives? In our busy world, we often find ourselves living on auto-pilot with one day blurring into the next.

Several years ago, I implemented the “8 Challenge Life Principles” into my daily routine. These Principles take very little time and are so simple to implement–you could start using them tomorrow if you like. The Principles have allowed me to realize great contentment, happiness and meaning in every day. The days of auto-pilot living have been replaced by purpose-filled living through the application of the Challenge Life Principles.

Challenge Life Principle 1 ~ Good Morning: The first thing I do after opening my eyes each morning is say (aloud or to myself):  Something great is going to happen today–I can’t wait to see what it is! When I started this practice, it was a bit awkward–perhaps, because I was at a low-point and didn’t fully believe the words. I said it anyway. Every day! Soon after, great things started happening.  Why? … Because I was looking for them!

If we awake thinking about stressful events, the tough day ahead, everything we need to get done, we start the day “on defense.” We prime our life for a stressful day–we expect it–and we usually find it. Even when little or large blessing bestow us, we often miss them. After all, we aren’t look for blessings–we are looking for stress.

Starting my day with this affirmation has proven an effective method for turning my attention to blessings instead of barriers.

Challenge Life Principle 2 The 3-Step Action List: For those who have taken the Change Your Life Challenge: A 70 Day Life Makeover Program for Women, the 3-Step Action List will be familiar. Each day,  I choose three to complete during the day that MAKE TODAY MATTER… even if everything else goes astray. We all know how life can interrupt our well-made to-do lists. Narrowing our focus to three priority action steps helps us focus and prioritize our day.  The items on this list needn’t be mountains to overcome or extremely time consuming; … they simply need to MATTER and move  us forward.

I began this practice when I realized how busy my life had become. I was always BUSY! BUSY! BUSY! Boy was I busy. What was even more amazing than how busy I was…..

is how LITTLE I was getting done! We often confuse BUSYNESS with ACTION! We can be very busy and not move forward. (Just look at a hamster!)

When we carefully choose 3 things that matter each day…we end up with over 1,000 things done each year! Things that matter! How many people can say this confidently: Last year I completed over 1,000 tasks that mattered or moved me forward… and I am doing it again this year.

You can have a mile-long to-do list if you like, but mark three things! Stay focused! Life will interrupt and when it does, you will be ready for it!

People often ask–what about when you are sick or not feeling well? I still have a 3 step list. Every single day! On those days, examples of 3 things I might choose to make the day matter and move me forward might be:

1. Take my vitamins

2. Get extra rest!

3. Feel good for taking care of myself.

Challenge Life Principle 3 ~ Each Day, LEARN or TRY something new.

This “something” can be little. You don’t have learn a second language or anything, but each day learn something new, try something new, or see something you have not yet seen.

Examples include learning…

a new word…

a piece of trivia…

see something you haven’t seen before on the drive home….

try driving a different route…

try a different store…

try a different recipe…

try a different type of book…

read a book on a topic that interests you…

do something fun…

finger paint…


make a snow angel…

stop and look at the sunset versus walking (or driving) past it…

go stand under a tree in your yard and look at it from below…

make up a constellation, try to find it every night…

We often get caught up in the same ol, same ol, and forget about how exciting each day can be (if we let it be)! When we learn, try or see something new, we awaken our senses to gather many of life’s riches.

Challenge Life Principle 4 ~ At least once each day or twice if you are a parent, say YES instead of NO, or  I CAN instead of I CAN’T.

NO and I CAN’T have become auto-responses for many of us.

Can you come make a snow angel?

No, I can’t.

Can you play a game?

No, I can’t.

Can you meet me for dinner?

Sorry, I can’t, I’m busy.

While it is good to say NO to those who cross our boundaries, when we are with those in our inner circle, or with our self, we need to let go of these auto-barriers and say YES and I CAN!

I discovered this principle because I actually became tired of hearing myself say “no” to my daughter when she was younger. When she went through her “threes” she would ask if she could do something. I would say “no,” on autopilot. She would ask: Why? I didn’t have a good answer. Since “NO” didn’t seemed to be a good reply, I tried “yes” instead.

By really being present and adding daily spontaneity, my life changed. What a magical world kids (and pets) live in!  I was so happy to finally climb down from autopilot world and see that perspective!

Challenge Life Principle 5 ~ Enhance Your Immediate World: Whenever you leave the house—or come into contact with another person ask yourself: What can I do to make a positive difference?

My mom raised me with very few rules in our single parent home. However, one rule

she engrained  (and boy did she engrain it LOL) was:  Leave everything touch by you better than when you came into contact with it.

Now, she didn’t mean be a perfectionist, what she meant, was to give within reason, to leave our special touch. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people  walk around and wonder.. “What’s in this for me?” Today’s high-expectation world is much different than the world of our great grandparents! When we begin looking for opportunities to give back in the littlest ways, we start a ripple effect.

Kindness is contagious–like the “smile syndrome.” Have you ever noticed what happens when someone smiles at you? You smile back! This starts a chain. If everyone who read this today smiled at everyone they met (stranger or friends), can you imagine the smiles that would spread in a single day?

We can make the days a bit better through very simple actions. When you check out at the grocery store, instead of digging through your purse or checking your missed calls, why not sincerely engage the cashier? Whenever you pay for something, why not place the money in the person’s hand and look them in the eye and smile? When a person is grumpy… Why not treat them even better? Resist the temptation to spread the negativity–it’s too contagious to let into your life. Why not open the door for a stranger?

Why not take the other person’s cart back to the store since you are walking that way anyway? Why not help someone with their extra bag on an escalator? (Thank you to all those who have helped me! LOL!) Why not do something kind, knowing that one simple act of kindness, creates waves.

Challenge Life Principle 6: Do a Nightly “Make Today Matter” check. When you are done with the day… BEFORE climbing into bed, ask yourself– What is one more thing I can do to make today matter?

I started doing this after I lost my brother suddenly. I realized how magical each day was. Instead of putting something off for tomorrow, I embraced one last thing each day.

Some days, I would get online and find a site to email a solider. Just took 3-4 minutes.

Sometimes I would just get something ready for the next day. Sometimes I would make a quick call or jot a quick note. I took one last moment to appreciate and live that day before climbing into bed!

Challenge Life Principle 7:  At Night.. Let it All Go!

While you are preparing for bed, think of all the things that happened that were stressful during the day. They have something to teach you– even if you don’t know what it is– thank them, then LET THEM GO! (Thanking them doesn’t mean you like them… and letting go doesn’t mean you are happy about them.) Take any upsets and do the same.

Then take all the good things and wonderful things, be thankful for them, write them in your gratitude journal, and then let them go, too! It is VERY important to appreciate, remember, but let go. This allows us to focus fresh each day.

There is a quote, “Never let yesterday use up too much of today.” We don’t live in the past.  When we accept and appreciate each day for everything it is or isn’t… and then let it go, we clear ourselves to live fully the next day.

Challenge Life Principle 8 – End as You Began:

Once you are in bed, imagine yourself waking, saying your affirmation, identifying your list, moving smoothly throughout the day–feeling confident, feeling beautiful and strong.

Imagine yourself handling what needs to be handled, reacting in appropriate ways, handling any stressors with calm assurance.

Imagine yourself achieving your goals, interacting with others. See yourself having dinner, enjoying family. Then let your mind rest!!!!

Studies have shown time and time again that those who visualize the day ahead have a MUCH HIGHER success ration of achieving what they see. It is a science they actually study now in athletes. When compared groups who visualize versus practice for two hours do better in competition.

Living the life we want, living in contentment and happiness begins in our mind, and then in our choices. Each day we can choose auto-pilot or we can choose to enrich our lives.

We don’t remember days, we remember moments. This Living the Challenge formula helps to turn off autopilot and plant seeds for wonder-filled moments.

Your Weekly Challenge: Try adding 1 of these simple routines do your day each week. Once you have one down, return to the list and add another.

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