A Dare that Might Just Change Us — #The Happiness Dare #TellHisStory

February 2, 2016 | Happiness, Tell His Story, The Happiness Dare | 63 comments

Today is my birthday. My family says it's actually my birth-month. I won't lie: I know how to drag a party out.

I think that one of the reasons I love my birthday so much, is because it gives me a reason to celebrate during a time of year that can feel heavy.

By now, a lot of us have blown our resolutions. The news is downright depressing. The weather has been dreary. We're fighting colds and trying to manage overwhelmed schedules. Some of us just got the Christmas decorations put away, and we are still vacuuming up pine needles. We feel the pull toward hustle, toward proving ourselves. And it's all just a little bit exhausting.

But my birthday reminds me that happiness is possible, even on the hard days. My birthday reminds me that I don't need a beach to find happiness. I can find it right here, in my messy, regular life. I'm 44 years old today, and I know this for sure:

I want to build the kind of life that I don't need a vacation from.

I want to embrace a life where I wake up to the present-tense moments, unafraid of what might happen tomorrow and untethered to the junk that happened yesterday. I want to discover happiness in the life I'm living, not in some elusive idea of what life is supposed to be.

This year, I'm daring my heart to be happy.

It's actually a dare I first took more than a year ago, as an act of self-care. The dare was born out of the bland malaise I'd been living under. Life felt gray, despite the fact that I'd been blessed with good health, a loving family, a roof over my head, and a faith that promises this: God's Got It.

Yet I felt a dullness. I didn't like that.

I began to actively seek happiness, and to spread it. This dare has changed me.

Today, I invite you to take the dare with me. Will you join me?

happinessdare

Happiness Dare

#TheHappinessDare

Let's do this. Let's take the dare. Let's find happiness today, right where we are.

Let's watch more sunsets, eat more often by candlelight, wear feather boas, and look around at our world in wonder.

Let's say yes, even if we're scared. And let's say no, because sometimes we need to.

Let's be contagious with our happiness. One of the surest ways to increase our own happiness is to go out of our way to make someone else happy. The fastest way out of the dark is to share the light from your own candle with someone else. Let's share our light. Fill someone else's parking meter. Invite a new person to the table. Give to a cause. Make someone laugh.

Let's also be generous with our thanks. We could look for God's hand on a hard day, be grateful for the little things, and count a blessing we didn't even ask for. We could make a list of three things, every day, that make us smile. It costs us nothing at all to be grateful for what we already have.

I am in the middle of my own Happiness Dare, and it reminds me how the simple act of chronicling the little things makes me appreciate the life I've been given. I would love if you would come along with me. I started a hashtag this weekend over here on Instagram, as a way to chronicle my own Happiness Dare. This is me, paying attention.
HappinessGrid

I have made my choice. I refuse to join the chorus of negativity. I resist the pull toward bitterness. I will not sleepwalk through my own life. I was made for more.

I’m in.

You too? Join me, wherever you are, on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Tag your posts with #TheHappinessDare. Every day, let's look for happiness, even when it’s hard to find. Because sometimes, the looking is what will save us. There will be days when this will take effort, so we might need to make happiness a spiritual discipline.

When we choose happiness, we are not denying the pain of this world; we are refusing to give in to it. Happiness is a feeling; it’s also a decision. It’s a choice we get to make every single day.

We could do this, together. We could go on a holy hunt for happiness, and track it together -- celebrating the holy, ordinary beauty right under our own two feet.

To Jesus Christ my Savior, we say, thank you. Of all the people in the world, your followers should be the happiest of all. Let our lives reveal that truth. Until we meet you in heaven, make us more like you here on earth: happy and holy. We will honor You, from this day forward, in our holy pursuit of happiness.

#TheHappinessDare

This year,  we are daring our hearts to be happy. We are taking The Happiness Dare. I do hope you'll join us! Mark your moments with #TheHappinessDare. I can't wait to see what emerges this week in #TheHappinessDare stream! Let's do this.

Click here to print out the list of 30 ways to make the dare a reality in your everyday life.

Happiness Dare

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Jen Avellaneda. She had me from the title of her post, "Love is Not A Mathematical Equation"! Find Jen here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. :) xo Jennifer

63 Comments

  1. Kris Camealy

    I’M IN!! 🙂 XXOOO HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweet friend!! LOVE you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yay Yay Yay! Thank you, Kris. xoxo

      Reply
  2. June

    Happy birth-month, dear one!

    Reply
  3. Jean Wise

    I;m in. My word of the year is JOY and I need some reminding to seek and find joy everyday. Thanks for the push! And happy birthday!!

    Reply
  4. MB

    Happy birthday(month) friend! God bless you 🙂

    Reply
  5. Deborah Will

    Happy Birthday Jennifer!!!!

    Reply
  6. Monica Sharman

    I have a lazy tendency toward despair, so . . . I am totally in. This is what I need.

    Reply
  7. Jacque Watkins

    Beautiful…just the happiest idea!! Here’s to more sunsets and surprises and so much joy! xoxo

    Reply
    • Bob

      Hello Jacque, I notice you have kept yourself private, I respect that but I also wanted to let you know that I read your post all the time, I like your insights and encouraging messages!

      Reply
  8. Sylv_R

    Oh, I like this! And it fits perfectly with the One Word I chose for this year… Kind(ness) …and the new year’s resolution I made to go with it (first one in decades) “To be kind–to myself, too!”

    Reply
  9. Rebecca

    Happy Birthday! February is my birthday month, also. I love this challenge- it goes perfectly with my word of the year ” Purpose”. I have been surviving/not living for a while and am using 2016 to craft more Purpose in my life after 40. Thank you for this!! It should be fun…Now what color feather boa should I wear????

    Reply
  10. Betsy Cruz

    Happy birthday, dear Jennifer! I just love this happiness dare! And I love your beautiful list, pinning that for sure because I’ll need to look at it again. I’ve been meditating on Proverbs 15:15, “For the despondent, every day brings trouble, for the happy heart, life is a continual feast,” and after asking my 16 year old what she thought was the best way to cultivate a happy heart, I wrote a blog post about it! God is surely speaking to me. Thanks for the joy you’re spreading through these words! (Have you read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. A great happy read!)

    Reply
  11. Susan

    Birthday blessings! I learned several years ago to live #thehappinessdare. Life is way too short to be discontent with the ordinary. Life in Christ and living in His victory is extraordinary, every.single.day.

    Reply
  12. Colleen Connell Mitchell

    Oh, sister, I do so LOVE how you celebrate! I am all in for this party. February is my one month of the whole coming year that has wide margins. I want to make it sacred and special. This will be guide.

    Reply
  13. Shelly Miller

    I’m so in!! Love this and Happy Birthday my lovely friend. xoxo

    Reply
  14. Anita

    Happy birthday! I’m in :). In Ojeda math, you would be 8 today ;). I’ll be 5 on my birthday in June. When my students ask my age, I tell them I’m halfway to 98 ;).

    Reply
  15. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Happy Birthday Jennifer!! I’ll be the double nickels soon, but I am finding that moments in my life are sweeter now than when I was young. I think our seasons of gray, or even black contrast with the seasons of yellow and fuchsia – making them all the more beautiful. You can’t have one without the other…at least that’s what I believe. Joining with you! 🙂
    Blessings to you this day and in the year ahead,
    Bev xx

    Reply
  16. Tiffany

    Love this and I’m in! Especially to this –> “Let’s say yes, even if we’re scared. And let’s say no, because sometimes we need to.” I’m working on that and I’m glad to do it with a whole community of supporters!! Happy Birthday to you. Thank you for so brightly shining His light.

    Reply
  17. Brenda

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer. What a beautiful idea…the happiness dare. 🙂 Hope you have a lovely day. I should have known we were contemporaries b/c of your name. 🙂 It gives away your generation doesn’t it? 🙂 My high school best friend’s name was Jennifer. We’re the same age for a little while. (I won’t be 45 until July.) ((birthday blessings))

    Reply
  18. Carly

    Happy Birthday! I love the idea of actively seeking happiness and the list is great. I definitely want to try at least some of these suggestions.

    Reply
  19. Ellen Chauvin

    I will not sleepwalk through my own life. Yes, this. Thank you!

    Reply
  20. Mary

    What a wonderful way to look at life-the happiness dare. This will bless God and us as well. Happy birthday, Jennifer! We share the same day for our birthdays! Love that we have that connection!

    Reply
  21. Trudy Den Hoed

    Happy Birthday Month, Jennifer! May God give you many more years filled with His love, peace, and joy! I’m in on the Happiness Dare. 🙂 Right now my office windows are getting snow-packed from a blizzard raging outside, and I so long for spring, but I’m so happy we are safe and cozy in a warm house and our children and grandchildren are safe at home, too. 🙂 I’ve been trying to open my eyes more to the blessings right in front of me.

    Reply
  22. Lyli Dunbar

    Birthday girl, you are inspirational. xo

    Reply
  23. Kathy/holyvacationqueen.com

    Happiest Birthday Happiness Woman! Hope you have the most joyful Birthday!! And love the Happiness Dare..and all the precious Happiness ideas!! Have a blessed day!!!

    Reply
  24. Dawn

    Happy Birthday Beautiful Jennifer! 😉 You are a blessing to so many and your words bring hope and show His love. Bless you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, sweet friend.

      Reply
  25. MamaJoyful

    I’m not on any social media, but I’m joining in anyway:) Thank you. I needed to know it’s okay to make Happy happen.

    Reply
  26. Kristi Woods

    HaPpY bIrThDaY!!! Love the dare idea, Jennifer. Just today my fare-skinned, freckle-faced 11 year old opened the door for me 6x in less than an hour. Talk about warming a heart! The dare sheet awaits on the printer. I’m ready to roll. Maybe a family member or two will even take the dare with me. 😉

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I can’t wait to see what you find in your holy hunt for happiness. Be sure to tag me on IG or use #theHappinessDare hashtag. I will be featuring some of the posts over here, and on my IG feed later this week.

      Reply
  27. Janis Cox

    Jennifer,
    This reminds me of 3 or 4 years ago when I joined Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare – Counting the Blessings. It was amazing. I took pictures every day of three things to be thankful for. It changed my attitude. It changed me. May your dare be the same. May the Lord show you a bountiful package of blessings each day.
    Blessings to you on your search,
    Janis

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That is wonderful, Janis! Ann really revolutionized the thoughts of so many of us, as we thinking about joy and counting thanks. She’s a gift.

      Reply
  28. Rebekah

    Happy, happy, happy birthday month, Jennifer!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks so much, friend.

      Reply
  29. Tara Ulrich

    Happy Birthday! And yes love this idea. Gladly will join you in #TheHappinessDare.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      So glad, Tara! Tag me or use the hashtag #TheHappinessDare on IG so I can find you, and celebrate the moments you’re marking. So fun to have you along.

      Reply
  30. Michelle

    Happy Birthday to you!! This is a great idea! I’m excited to look for happiness!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Can’t wait to see what you find in your hunt! Tag me on IG, or us the #TheHappinessDare.

      Reply
  31. JViola79

    Happy Belated Birthday, Jennifer! Love this! If we but open our eyes, it is amazing the ways we will find to spread happiness. And in the spreading, we may just catch a bit for ourselves too 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Amen, friend. Thanks for the birthday wishes. If you take the dare, be sure to use the #TheHappinessDare tag. I’ll be featuring some of the posts here and on IG later this week.

      Reply
  32. Martha Orlando

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer! May happiness and joy embrace all of us, each and every day!

    Reply
  33. Leah Adams

    “Daring my heart to be happy”…what a beautiful thought. I need to do the same. Thank you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hey Leah! Thanks for stopping by. You make my heart happy. 🙂

      Reply
  34. Alecia Simersky

    “I want to create a life I do not need a vacation from.” YES! Count me in! Happy Birth-Month! 😉 I like celebrating mine all month too :).

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      So glad you’re taking the dare, Alecia. Tag with #TheHappinessDare. I’ll be featuring some of the posts on my IG feed, and here, later this week.

      Reply
  35. Sue Donaldson

    love this – pinned this – come visit – we’ll go to the beach .

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That sounds like a VERY happy place! Post some pics and tag with #TheHappinessDare.

      Reply
  36. bluecottonmemory

    Happy Happy Birthday – all year long! Your happiness dare sounds like a recipe for success! I’m experiencing a happy dance moment in the right-now! It’s a beautiful feeling!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, friend! I appreciate you so much.

      Reply
  37. Joy Lenton

    “I refuse to join the chorus of negativity” – This alone will go a long way toward greater inner rest, peace and contentment, especially as the negativity is mostly self-directed. I want to participate in the happiness dare. It’s just what my SAD-afflicted soul needs right now. Happy birthday, Jennifer! Thank you so much for generously offering such a great gift to us on your special day. Enjoy every bit of the month-long celebrations! 🙂 x

    Reply
  38. Dolly @ Soulstops.com

    Jennifer,
    What a great way to celebrate your birth month…I had to chuckle at #16 and I did #18 a few weeks ago…Happy and blessed birthday to you, Jennifer 🙂

    Reply
  39. Angela Howard

    I love this! I’ll add to the list by saying “Celebrate small wins!” I just received an email from a friend who has had a difficult few months. She simply wanted to celebrate a small win regarding her family. It was so refreshing! It made me think of some positive things that I had overlooked in my own life. This is a wonderful way to have a happy birthday month Jennifer – and a happy life!

    Reply
  40. Alisa Nicaud

    I love #TheHappinessDare! There is so much negative in the world, “going on a holy hunt for happiness” is a great idea. Thank you for sharing this with us! And Happy Birthday Month!

    Reply
  41. Bob

    Happy Birthday Jennifer, while I am not your typical reader, I really enjoy your posts and insights!

    Reply
  42. Lori Schumaker

    Happy belated Birthday, Jennifer! And I’m loving #TheHappinessDare! What a great challenge to keep us looking for joy!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    Reply
  43. Elizabeth Stewart

    Saying YES with my whole heart to so much of what you wrote here.

    Reply
  44. CM Hazelwood

    Well, first, Happy Birthday! And I spread it out as much as possible, too! What fun! And I’m in for the #TheHappinessDare. Today a friend gifted me with an encouraging painting, with Psalm 32:8 I will post photo soon.

    Reply
  45. Amanda Jones

    Happy Birthday to you! Oh, and, I am in! 🙂

    Reply
  46. jessicavanroekel

    Happy Birthday! I love your happiness dare! Dare you! or should I say: ‘dare me!’

    Reply
  47. Nancy Ruegg

    Happy birthday, Jennifer, and thank you for spreading the “happy” to all of us with this delightful dare. Here’s another idea: Make a young child laugh. That sound of joyful exuberance can’t help but make you smile, too!

    Reply
  48. Debbie Ahlberg Keeler

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer! I love the Happiness Dare! I’ve been doing a form us this through a FB Group for people with Chronic Illnesses. The group is named Joy through Chronic Pain! We all understand each other because we understand the pain we all deal with everyday, but the purpose of the group is to find the Joy in everyday moments! I’m definitely in on your Happiness Dare! I’m also keeping you and your Dad in my prayers for peace and comfort for you and for health & healing for your Dad.
    God bless you today!

    Reply

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