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Why I’m eating more ice cream, wearing more colors, and laughing more

The #1 Way to NOT Be Happy

We can stop trying to be someone we’re not. Happiness begins in that moment, when we look within and say, “I was not created to be her; I was created to be me”. Happiness is an inside job. You don’t find happiness by being the best version of someone else; you find happiness by being the best version of you. –The Happiness Dare

If you want to succeed at not being happy, I’ve got the guaranteed path to accomplishing that: try to live someone else’s life.

Spend your days comparing yourself to her. Wish you could be her. Do everything you can to be like her.

This will make you feel so unhappy. You’ll probably feel frustrated that you just can’t do it like she does. You’ll probably beat yourself up over the fact that you’re not as good as her. And you’ll stress over not measuring up.

Or, you can choose to be YOU. To focus on making the most of where you are. To intentionally cultivate the ground right where you are. To do all you can to be the best version of you.

I loved the encouragement in The Happiness Dare to stop trying to feel like we had to try to do what makes other people happy and fulfilled and instead find our own happy spot.

Don’t look at others and think, “It makes her happy to garden, so I should do that, too!” By all means, if the thought of planting and weeding and harvesting sounds amazing to you, go do it (even if that is just with a little container garden on your porch!).

But if the whole gardening thing sounds utterly boring and exhausting to you, please give yourself the grace to not feel obligated in any way to become a Master Gardener. Unless you want to be miserable.

You have to figure out your own happy spot, instead of thinking that what will bring someone else joy and fulfillment is also going to bring you the same joy and fulfillment. Don’t try to be her, because you aren’t her.

The #1 Way to NOT Be Happy

If you’re struggling to figure out what makes you come alive and what brings you joy, ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes me feel happy?
  • If I had an entire day to myself and napping wasn’t an option (!), what would I choose to do?
  • What are some of my happiest memories?
  • What do other people say to brings life to me and puts a smile on my face?

As I’ve been taking the Happiness Dare, I’m realizing that there are so many beautiful things all around us, but often, I’ve been too busy and focused on productivity that I’ve missed them. This dare has really challenged me to look around my world and find the happy. To add more shots of joy into my every day life. To wring the delight out of what might seem ordinary.

I’m letting myself take time to slow down and enjoy a bike ride, to buy those discounted flowers, really be in the moment in a conversation, to savor the beauty of the ocean, to slowly enjoy books, to eat more ice cream, to wear colors I love, to stop saying to myself, “That’s not who you are!”

My daughter said to me the other day, “Mom, you’ve been laughing a lot more recently!” I know she’s right.

By intentionally seeking to do things that make me smile more, I have a lot more joy in my life. And I think this joy is becoming contagious!

What makes YOU feel happy? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

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46 Comments

  • Oh how I wish those shirts were v-necked. I can’t do the high neck t-shirt thing! Pizza and doughnuts make me happy, but I don’t think that is the best thing to add more of in my life. 😀 Lol…I’ll just stick to the other things that I love to do…but oh how I wish I could eat more pizza and doughnuts without a negative affect.

    • B. says:

      Me too about the v-neck t-shirts!! I love the spring colors, but I can’t do crew necks either. 🙁

    • Angela says:

      Me either. I already have a short wide neck. So no crew neck for me. I’d love more French fries, and potato chips in my life. That’s not happening either with my weight problem. I use to weigh 93 lbs. Now I’ve gained over 70 lbs in 10 years. Not sure what the deal is. Still I want to find things that make me smile. Great post!

  • Renee says:

    Thank you for this post. As a woman, it is very hard not to compare myself to those around me. We go to the store, and most magazines show a woman with what I would consider the perfect body, perfect hair, just perfect. And, we are taught early on, that we are to be perfect. But, we forget, that God did make us perfect, perfect in His eyes. I eat a low carb diet, and, for 5 months, I did not eat anything that would take my carb intake higher than my daily goal. But, last month, I splurged at Books A Million, and went to Joe Muggs and got their bananas foster frappe, and let me tell you, it was sooooo good. I felt so guilty for even drinking it, and make myself sick at the thought of how many carbs might be in that drink. My husband has encouraged me to eat the things I want, and I just refuse because I’m afraid that I’m going to gain weight, but through his encouragement, I realized that drinking that delicious frappe, was okay. I have now had 2 more since that date. We live about 45 minutes from the closest BAM, so I’ve said that when we do make that trip, I will treat myself to that frappe, and it’s okay. Thank you for your post! They always seem to come at the right, needed time:)

  • Guest says:

    It is a joy to read this post. As one of your very long time readers, I have long appreciated your blog but appreciate this happier you. 🙂 I’ve noticed a trend over the last several years that a number of my favorite Christian bloggers have eased more into grace and it’s been a lovely change as it’s something I need to grow in as well.

  • leisa Parker says:

    The last month I’ve slowed down. I found out that a friendship had become very one sided and had been for some time. And worst of all It was zapping me of happiness. Being lonely has made me happier than the friendship had. I’d like to make new friends but I am enjoying the peace I am finding inside myself.

  • April says:

    I always have so much “have to do” in my head that it’s so hard to remember what I “want to do.” It seems silly that “What makes you happy?” would be such a thought provoking question. Hmm

  • Sue says:

    No Naps? But thats my most favorite thing to do…..I can do without the ice cream….but not without my naps…

  • Bethany says:

    A day to myself without napping? I loved thinking about that question. Read, drink tea, drive or walk in the country, make photo canvases, eat yummy food, enjoy the sunshine, paint a room.

  • Amber says:

    We spend so much time being busy and so little time focusing on our own happiness! The things that make me happy, it seems I do so rarely! I am making a conscious effort lately to bring more happy moments and less time being busy! It is so easy to go through life not even realizing we don’t take the time to do that.

    My ideal day of happiness would be spent on a beach (I don’t know why I have never moved to the beach!) with my kids, a good book or 2, and a notebook for writing!

    • saba says:

      Happiness for me these days is to be able to get all my chores done…including activities..dinners…basketball lessons…and being able to sit down with my husband and end our day with a light chit chat.

      • Jennifer Lee says:

        Saba — My book, The Happiness Dare (which Crystal references here), has an assessment in it that helps people discover their own happiness style. It sounds like you MIGHT be a Doer! (That’s my primary happiness style, too!) When the book comes out, drop me a line at jennifer@jenniferdukeslee.com. I’ll send you a link to the online assessment. We haven’t released it yet, but I’d love for you to take it. 🙂

    • Yes, I really feel like us mommas are so incredibly busy- we try to do it all. Happy for me lately is being ‘all in’ in a new friendship (fortunately that is not one-sided.) A milestone birthday this year has me seeking to intentionally enjoy more- even all the running around for childrens’ activities. I’ve let them do a little more as they get older and my mission is that we all enjoy it!

  • Amy S says:

    This is something I’ve been trying to figure out over the past few months…I love baking, but my figure doesn’t love it. Perhaps using it as an opportunity to share with others. But I want to figure out a different outlet. I started cross stitching, and set up a new blog (but haven’t written anything yet). There are times that, in sitting down to rest after a day at work, cooking and caring for the 3 littles, I’m too tired to do much more, so my rest time is spent watching something.

  • Karen says:

    I was grocery shopping at Aldi today and saw all their live flowers left-over from Mother’s Day marked down to half off. I picked the most beautiful & bought it. My grocery budget could handle the few extra dollars & I thought of posts where you’ve encouraged us to do so. Now they’re sitting on our dresser & make me smile when I see them. Thanks for being real & for your encouragement to enjoy beauty.

  • Bonnie says:

    Happiness for me is being able to sit and enjoy the birds singing, hanging out with my friends and laughing until you cry, crocheting and just being still. Life is too busy and I try and cherish the down time.

  • Hannah says:

    So appreciate these posts about happiness and choosing fun things that allow happiness. I have such a drive to work, and I forget to play! I really want to choose to have some time to play with my kids, to read a book I actually want to read for a few minutes or to play in my garden (because gardening does make me happy!) and sometimes I just feel like I’m wasting time because I’m not working or doing housework. Thank you for the ongoing reminders that these fun choices are ok! I want my kids to notice I’m laughing more as well!

  • Amy says:

    I would read, hike with my family, go thrift shopping with my daughters, play games, try some new recipes, and wash the dishes while listening to a good book. I love washing dishes.

  • Theresa L says:

    Coffee. Coffee makes me happy. Hearing my kids laugh. A hug from my hubby. One of my cats napping on my lap. Books. Teaching Sunday school. Laughing with my girlfriends.

  • Tara G. says:

    Psalm 16:5-6… I’ve been meditating on and praying this Scripture as a reminder of being content.

  • MJ Sherwood says:

    This is a message people need to hear! I recently decided to let go of losing the last 5 pounds because it was keeping me from enjoying spending much loved time in the kitchen with my kids! I started writing again and the change in my heart is a complete 180. It is beautiful when we can accept who we are and celebrate it!

  • Jennifer says:

    I noticed dressing in a style that is yours and colors that look good on you/you love really make people see how happy you are and automatically compliment!

  • Becky says:

    Thanks for this! Exactly what I needed to hear. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others but we will thrive more in being content in who God made us to be.
    P.S. Where did you get your cute cardigan? 🙂

  • Joy says:

    I love taking a walk. I have been looking forward to the weather warming up so I can walk and talk with God, so good for the soul. I LOVE my black choose joy shirt. I wish the colored ones had the same style of neck, the colors are so pretty.

  • Chelsea says:

    I love the new color of shirts! If I thought it would look half as cute on me as it does on you, I’d buy one in an instant!

  • It is flat out amazing how much eyes that see and a heart that’s thankful changes us from the inside out. And I’m so with you on smiling more (and finding the fun & funny)!

  • Jessica says:

    Thank you for posting this! I needed to hear this today and will probably always need to hear messages like it and that helps me get closer and closer to the happiness that I have been striving for in my life. Love your website – have been a reader for about 7 years 🙂

  • Jen says:

    I love iced coffee. I drink it daily but have tried to cut back on the sugar in it, so I’ve decreased the amount of things I like in my coffee.

    We’ll see if it helps with my weight loss goals.

    Also, your stock is beautiful (the flowers)!

  • Kariane says:

    Right now I’m loving cheese, making homemade beauty & household products with essential oils, dancing with my two boys, and the fact that we can choose the course of our days (http://everydayintentionalliving.com/thought-day-muir/). Wonderful!

  • Lynn O. says:

    I love playing with my dogs and snuggling them and my cats. Love Tulips and I should buy them the next time I see a bunch of them since I always tell myself I shouldn’t spend the money. Spa treatments in Hot Springs, Arkansas and spending time with my husband!

  • Jessica says:

    I’m trying to eliminate all types of clutter from my life so I can focus on what makes me happier. Through your site and others, I learned how to coupon and got really good at it. Too good? Because I had tubs and bins and shelves overflowing. My husband found bags of shampoo and he said that if it were booze, I’d have a major problem!! So I have cut wayyyyy back on that and tomorrow, a refugee organization (with the right tax credentials so I can count the donation on my itemized taxes) is coming to collect what remains of my stockpile. I have enough to keep my family clean and fresh smelling for several months. There’s no need for me to have bottles of shampoo precariously balanced and ready to fall on someone’s foot without warning! I grew up without what I needed and I’m glad I realized that the stockpiling was getting too close to hoarding behavior. It doesn’t pain me to let it go so I understand that I am not a hoarder and I have also reformed my shopping habits and have not added to the stockpile in over 6 months. It just isn’t dwindling fast enough!

    I’ve been making more time for knitting and crocheting. I really enjoy it. Less time in line at the store on a couponing trip means that I can instead be knitting (or playing with my kids, or baking treats with them, etc).

    My husband also appreciates the less clutter. And I can still use my coupon skills for when we are running low on something!

  • Jenni says:

    I realized recently that having a beautiful home makes me happy. Cleaning and organizing are part of that, but adding things that lift my spirits and removing things that don’t make such a difference as I am in my home for most of the week (homeschooling, one-car family, etc.) When we have a little extra money to spare, I find it worthwhile to find ways to improve our surroundings. I just started following @curiousdetails on Instagram and just love her aesthetic.

    Other things that make me happy – an iced coffee after lunch to begin the 2nd half of my day. David Austin roses (I bought 4 bushes for myself last year as a 4-year Mother’s Day gift and am so glad I did this year as they bloomed magnificently). Seeing arugula sprouts in my raised bed. Listening to Pandora or podcasts while I sew.

  • Jenn says:

    I didn’t know that the T-shirts were in colours now . I have a black one and I cannot do white with young children . And I absolutely love the neckline!!! This is one of the few T-shirts that I have that doesn’t require A Cami underneath to bring the neckline up so I’m not showing so much when I’m bending over with the kids ! Now off to order myself a shirt …

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