How to Find Joy on a Daily Basis

but first coffee notebook

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, the side-effects of working from home, I suppose. Too much time in your own head! 😉 When do I feel like I’m living my best life? There are times that I feel over-the-moon by my day-to-day, and other times that I don’t feel so fulfilled even though I love my job, apartment, family & friends. So it makes me wonder… How can I focus on channeling that happy, fulfilled feeling every day? I’ve found that I feel happiest when I slow down, appreciate and find joy in the simple things, let my passion show through my work, exercise often, eat mindfully, and keep a tidy home. It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? For whatever reason, it hasn’t been happening lately. I’ve been in a major funk that I’m pretty antsy to get out of. I made a pact with myself to take on February with fresh, sparkly new outlook, each and every day. It’s the month of love, so hopefully it’s a bit easier to shower myself with a little extra self-love this month.

blogger desk

I touched on this a bit the other day, but January really was not my month. I don’t want to dig too deep into this (because dwelling on the past is never a good thing!), but there has been a whole heck of a lot going on behind-the-scenes on a personal level. Between ‘family stuff’, putting too much pressure on myself to start the year off on the BEST-FOOT-EVER (like, why do we do this?!), getting sick and coming down with a cold that lasted weeks, travel plans that went awry, and letting some not-so-glamorous aspects of my job affect me on a deep level, it was starting to feel like just about everything was going wrong. (And Mercury was in retrograde, too. Call me crazy, but I believe in that.) It was the perfect storm and as a result, I’ve been in such a funk these past few weeks. I won’t get into all of the not-so-pretty specifics, but I just haven’t felt like myself a whole lot more than I have. Never a fun feeling, you know?

I’ve never seen a doctor for it, but I the more and more I read about Seasonal Affect Disorder, the more I’m certain I have some (probably more mild) form of it. Considering it’s only February and we’ve got a longggg road ahead of us until spring (at least in Chicago, anyways… or maybe not thanks to Groundhog Phil that predicted an early Spring!!), I’ve challenged myself to put a sequin-y spin on each and every single day.

I know it’s not always going to be rainbow and butterflies (obviously), that’s not what I’m getting at. But the simple act of finding joy and sprucing up each day to live in a way that brings just a bit more happiness, you know? And how am I doing that, you ask? Here’s what I’ve come up with…

52 lists project book

I mentioned my morning routine here, and that’s where I want to get back to. I’m a creature of habit and I operate a whole lot better when I’m following (at least a shell of) a schedule. At night, I thoroughly enjoy mapping out the following day. I start with my last meeting/call/obligation and work backwards from there, all the way up to my wakeup time to make sure my morning gets off on the right foot and sets the tone for a great day.

I feel like I’ve tweeted and snapchatted this one million times, but I genuinely look forward to my seemingly-simple morning rituals. Wake up, grab a mug (two, actually), start brewing one of my favorite Nespresso VertuoLine Grand Cru capsules (usually Altissio)–, microwave a mug of water and squeeze in half of a lemon, drink my lemon water, and whip up whichever coffee concoction I’m feeling that day. I grab the paper from outside my door and do some skimming while I finish my Nespresso. I make myself drink a full glass of water before I make myself a little something for breakfast. And then it’s to my desk I go! (When it’s nice out, I usually opt to take about a 15-minute walk outside instead of reading the paper. It’s nice to get some fresh air before I settle in to work. Being outside is such a great way for me to relax, and you can read a bit more about that here and here!)

I’ve been brewing my Nespresso at home for years, and it’s the best way to take your average coffee up to the next level. I’ve recently been using the Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo machine and it’s truly “a cup above,” just like their new Experience a cup above campaign states. (You can read more about the new machine here!) Especially this month when I am focusing on making each day a bit more special, settling into my day with a luxurious, creamy latte or frothy cappuccino with extra cinnamon feels extra nice!

caneel bay coffee mug

Sleep. For me to start my morning off right, I need to make sure I’m getting adequate sleep. I’ve always struggled with sleeping (especially when I was in New York and running my business outside of my normal work hours), but there was a point a few months ago where I thought I had it all figured out. I was finally feeling settled in Chicago, and I was getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. But I got way off track and have been feverishly working to get back on a healthy sleep schedule. I always joke that I’m nocturnal because most of the time, I do my best work after dark. But staying up late doesn’t allow me to get a full night of sleep so I’ve actually been setting an alarm to step away from the computer and go to bed. (I’m actually working on a post breaking down all of my sleep secrets and what I’ve found that works for me… Stay tuned!)

Update: Read that post here!

coffee and donuts in bed

Exercise definitely plays a role in my overall happiness. (I did a quick round-up of all of my favorite fitness classes here.) I make it a point to work out just about every single day. And while I actually haven’t been skimping on the workouts lately, I definitely haven’t been getting my additional 10,000 steps in each day. I truly think that lack of outdoor exercise has taken it’s toll! I need to make it more of a point to GET OUTSIDE. Remember this post? It’s so easy to forget, but fresh air and a few deep breaths can be mood-altering, in the best way possible.

coffee and donuts

LIGHT! Let there be L-I-G-H-T! I think this is one of the things that drives me the most nuts about winter. I can deal with the cold after a while, that’s not the issue. My issue is the lack of daylight. It’s unbelievably depressing for me! I have huge windows in my apartment and much prefer working in natural light, but it’s been so gloomy lately that I need the lights on during the day. I was brainstorming solutions with Hallie the other day and she actually has one of those sunlight lamps that she’s going to let me borrow to test out. Here’s to hoping!

simplified planner pineapples blah blah blah notepad

Next up, finding ways to unwind and distance myself from work. #MajorKey When your office and living room is one in the same and your kitchen and bedroom are just a few steps away from your desk, there’s no room for separation of church and state. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to splurge on a second bedroom or an office space, but for now this is what I’ve got to work with. Some of my favorite ways to gain a little bit of distance…

  • Reading – There’s nothing like transporting your mind to a separate place entirely!
  • Taking a Bath – I tend to take my baths at night. Not only are they a great place to dive into (no pun intended) your book, but they are incredibly relaxing (lavender bubble bath, every time!) and actually help prime your body for sleep.
  • Sweat Sesh – I mentioned this above, but working out is the easiest way for me to forget about my workday.
  • Fresh Air – Taking a long walk does wonders for my mental space and creativity. An afternoon walk (this is usually how I take my “lunch hour”) is crucial a lot of days! I’ll admit, I often feel guilty for leaving my desk, but I always come back with a fresher mind to take on my to-do’s.
  • Breaks! – Like I mentioned, I’m not the best at taking the time to do this. But if I don’t have time or the weather is too crummy for an enjoyable walk outside, it’s so beneficial for me to take a break (even indoors) when I hit that afternoon slump. Yes, powering through with coffee usually works, but taking a step away from the computer while having my afternoon Nespresso is even better. Usually I will clean and mark off to-do’s around my apartment, but lately I’ve been opting to enjoy this little break instead. Whether it’s picking up a book, journaling, calling a friend or family member, doing a face mask, or even cooking a meal, it’s extremely therapeutic to take a little breather after a sitting at your desk for hours on end.
  • Coffee Dates – Since I work from home, scheduling in time for socializing with other human beings is essential. Coffee dates are my favorite. (Well, maybe second to wine dates depending on the day, but you get the idea.) Hallie and I will often work together at my apartment or hers, and always over a freshly brewed Nespresso.

sprinkles donuts coffee happiness project breakfast in bed

And sometimes when none of your other healthy tricks will work, just have a donut. 🙂 It’s all about moderation, right? I’m a firm believer that if work out and eat healthy 80% of the time, I should be allowed to have a little cheat here and there. Hanger is real, you guys.

Who else out there is suffering from a little bout of seasonal affect disorder? Or have you in the past? Would absolutely love to hear any tips and tricks you might have!

coffee donuts desk

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Leave a Comment


  1. 2.3.16
    Rena said:

    My secret recipe in such cases is cooking a pudding 🙂
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  2. 2.3.16
    Erika said:

    Girl! I love how you just dive into the nitty-gritty of life sometimes. We all know life isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time, but talking about it allows others to boost you back up a bit. January was a B! And now, I feel like the new year has actually started. So, wishing you the best 2016 has to offer, and can’t wait to follow along on your journey this year!

  3. 2.3.16
    Callie said:

    You should try a wake up light alarm clock. You can find them on Amazon and it’s done wonders for me this winter! There’s nothing like waking up in the sunshine of the summer but this is as close as you can get in the midwest winter!

  4. 2.3.16
    Shannon said:

    January is the monday of months. Cheer up, plan and stick to your unwinding rituals. Good luck!

  5. 2.3.16
    Meagan said:

    January was not my month either. Here’s to hoping February is better! 🙂

  6. 2.3.16
    Lulu said:

    I made a list called 101 things in 1001 days… it may sound silly, but having a “bucket list” with a substantial but not infinite timeline of items both big and small has really helped me to feel like I’m constantly working towards something and created more meaning in my life. You should try it out because I think you would like it a lot! I’m a list maker, and this is like the ultimate one.. ha! (I posted mine on my blog if you need a more concrete idea of what it is!) xo

  7. 2.3.16
    Lucy said:

    This is such a great post! It’s so important to unwind & take care of ourselves for a change!

  8. 2.3.16
    Shannon said:

    Nice tips! Wishing you luck and good vibes for getting out of your rut!

  9. 2.3.16
    Laura said:

    I started taking Vitamin D last winter! They don’t call it the happiness vitamin for nothing. 🙂

  10. 2.3.16

    Great challenge!

  11. 2.4.16
    Lauren said:

    The wintertime is definitely not my favorite, and the biggest thing that bothers me is the lack of natural light, as well! For some reason a nice and bright room just makes me happier/feel more productive! But I forsure want to exercise and get more fresh air like you suggested!


  12. 2.4.16

    Such a great post! I know exactly what you mean. I’ve have been working on my morning and night routines.

  13. 2.4.16
    Hannah said:

    Really enjoyed this post. Its nice to know we are not alone in our daily struggles!

  14. 2.5.16
    Monika said:

    I have this light that is like real sun and it helps with seasonal disorders. Have a look. It really works!


  15. 2.5.16
    Rebecca said:

    First of all, I love your posts! Thanks for sharing! This post in particular is so relatable and it sounds like you’ve got some great insight and are on the right track! It’s really all about lifestyle and developing healthy habits! Xo Dr. dubner

  16. 2.5.16
    Paula said:

    I love these suggestions and your pictures look great!

  17. 2.5.16

    THIS. Same. I need to get on that. LOL.

    “I’ve found that I feel happiest when I slow down, appreciate and find joy in the simple things, let my passion show through my work, exercise often, eat mindfully, and keep a tidy home.”

  18. 2.27.16
    emily said:

    i love this post – and i’m glad that january is over! xo