The period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is always magical. Even during the most stressful times, we somehow manage to see joy in simple pleasures during this time of year.

So the question becomes, how can we stretch the magic of the season, that special joy we feel, into our every day lives? Why is it that we allow that warm glow of the holiday spirit to subside as the days go by?

Is it really as simple as we just stop focusing on creating memorable experiences? Do we just forget to make finding moments of joy a priority in our lives?

I believe it really is that simple. For me, living in joy is all about awareness. And as I consider how I found my way to heightening my joy quotient, I recognize that the process has unfolded over the past few years. I've been supported by using a tool I now know as a "word theme of the year" and it's the perfect compliment to this new year message today.

Step 1: Be Present. Heightening your awareness to feelings and senses is the first key to extending more joy in your life. To be aware, you have to be present-- you have to show up. When you join your family for breakfast in the morning are you distracted, or engaged? Are you jumping ahead to all your worries of the day, or are you laughing with your child over the silly story on the back of the cereal box? Remember, your reality is your now. The rest is just prediction. Wouldn't you rather be happy for no reason, than worried for no reason? The beauty is that when you are present and aware you allow joy in.

Step 2: Let Love In. This step shouldn't need much explanation... The visions of renewal bring us all a little closer to the energy of our hearts. And during the holidays we tend to become masters of forgiveness. We almost can't say "no" to love. So why not consider that same philosophy after the holidays? Four years ago, faced with some very tough choices, I knew that if I could just make my decisions based on "love first", then I would never live with regret, no matter what the outcome. And so it is.

Step 3: Let Go. I believe that the greatest joy killer for most of us is our need to control. That constant, frenzied state of doing serves only to keep us stressed and out of balance. When we learn to let go, we automatically adjust to make room for joy to enter our lives in the same way that simply exhaling leads to relaxation. "Letting Go" became my word theme three years ago. Mostly I let go of the false notion that I could somehow control and predetermine outcomes. Detachment and acceptance came next.

Step 4: Choose Faith not Fear. Fear ruled my world for many, many years. When I finally acknowledged and accepted the existence of a power greater than myself, a dark cloud lifted for me. Certainly, not everyone agrees, and many argue that you can "let go" without "letting God". But for me, when I turned my fears over to the universe to handle, I made plenty of room for more happiness and joy. The realization that I was still struggling to keep fear at bay, after all this internal work I'd done, was crippling to me two years ago. Adopting the mantra, "I Choose Faith Not Fear", kept me focused, grounded and productive.

Step 5: Practice Makes Progress. Over the years, I began putting all these pieces together into my self-care practice. And I realize now that I call my new coaching program, The 12 Baby Steps Foundation Formula, because I believe in the power created by a the concept of a solid foundation. That power is pure joy. And the foundation is built with practice...practice that makes progress, not perfection! In 2010 I knew my mission was to share the power of the Foundation Formula with everyone who might benefit from the uplifting message. So I chose "Stepping Up" as my word theme. And as we glide into the new year, I know that in order to continue to grow, to learn, to change, and to transform, I will have to develop "Consistent Persistence" to keep moving onward and upward. 2011 is the year of "Consistent Persistence".

Step 6: Give Thanks. Of all the things we can do to shift our attitudes, there is none more powerful than shifting into an "attitude of gratitude". I simply rise to express my thanks for a new day each morning. Grab your journal and write down all the things you are grateful for. Or, as one friend does each night, just list three things you that you are thankful for. Or simply commit to keeping a list, and periodically updating with whatever comes to mind. Remembering the little things makes me smile and I hope it will you, too!

So what word or words will you adopt as your theme for 2011? And what simple pleasures will you make sure to include in your day to day life to lift your spirits and create more joy?

In this new year, and beyond, I exclaim:

"Joy to the World"!

Author's Bio: 

The creator of The Wise Well Woman’s Way, Nanette Saylor is living her mission to inspire women to see beyond the limitations of their histories and to courageously explore all life’s possibilities. A gifted speaker, writer, and creativity coach, Nanette believes “Everything begins with baby steps.” She inspires entrepreneurial women to commit to a personal self-care practice in her signature coaching program “The 12 Baby Steps Foundation Formula for Creating More Clarity, Serenity & Success”. Learn how to begin your transformation today with a no-cost 12-part audio e-course available at: