So, it’s December.

The year is almost over.

We’re all ramping up for the holidays, about to embark on a month of eating, shopping, traveling, socializing, and quashing down our mini-nervous breakdowns precipitated by the aforementioned activities using some of the other aforementioned activities.

It’s supposed to be a season of joy, connection, and treats, but sometimes, it feels like a parade of stressful things that don’t live up the hype.

It’s a magical time. I really do believe that, actually.

I love the holiday season, un-sarcastically. I love that these holidays are about light, and joy, and holiness, and gratitude, when things get a little dark and slow. I love that I am finally allowed to listen to Vince Gauraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas on repeat. I love that I get to make plans to see people I adore and don’t get to see very often. I love that there are fires and sweets and presents and trees and candles.

I even love cheesy Holiday markets, full of stuff that I would never buy but made by people who are trying to bring a little bit more love and light into the world in the form of those acrylic afghans or dream catchers or geode aromatherapy holders (yeah, the Holiday markets in Oregon are a special kind of flavor, let me tell you).

I love less the stress I feel to MAKE THE MOST OF THE YEAR BEFORE IT’S OVER. I usually devote this time, when I’m not doing holiday planning (food planning, travel planning, present planning, so much planning!) to thinking about this year and …wait for it…planning for the next.  See a theme? It’s really easy for me to get into a planning mode. It’s harder for me to actually enjoy the fruits of my labor, so to speak, before I’m off to the next plan.

So this year, I’m doing something slightly different. This season, I have decided to make it explicitly about joy.

I am following my feel good this month. I’m doing some planning, sure, but I am also trying to spend this month figuring out what brings me joy, what feels like a treat, what is pleasurable.

(Maybe it will turn out that what brings me joy is planning. It would make sense, since I do it so often.)

My hope is that I will learn a little bit more about what brings me joy right now, in this month, as opposed to focusing on what I think might bring me joy in the future.

I’m doing it also because I always make my clients give themselves treats and it’s one of the hardest assignments they get. And I have to admit, I’m not always great at it myself.

So, I thought I would make it a little project for the month. Joy is such a big concept. But treats–treats are doable! So, I bring you:

The Treat Yourself Joy Along

Here are the rules. (Let’s take a moment to appreciate the irony of devoting a month to exploring joy, treats, and pleasure and then creating some rules around it.)

1. Figure out what brings me joy. And to do it. For the month of December. I’m aiming for one treat/day.

2. What counts as a treat? Anything that brings a spontaneous smile to my face. I learned this from Martha Beck in her appropriately named book, The Joy Diet . Feel free to buy and read if you want some Treat Yourself extra credit.

3. Keep track of my progress, in my own notes. I might check in here, too.

If this is something you’d like to do with with me, then shoot me a message  (hi@laurendrusso.com). I’ll even host a weekly call or something like that–where we check in and share our experiences. My hunch is that the more people involved, the more creative all of our treats, rewards, and joyful activities will be.

What do you do that brings a spontaneous smile to your face? How can you up your joy quotient this month?