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One of the things I like the most about not having a car is that it forces you to be a little bit vulnerable.

Sure, in this day and age, you can take advantage of ride-sharing or just rent a car. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with public transportation, that’s another option. But there comes a time when you’ll wish you could borrow someone’s car.

Why is it so hard to ask?

If the number of cars that line our street during the day is any indication, there are certainly plenty available. The truth is I’ve always avoided asking for help unless it was an emergency. For example, if I slipped on a rock after a long stroll down the beach, I would, most likely, ask for a stranger’s help in the long hobble back.

I wouldn’t like how vulnerable that made me feel. And I know I am not alone.

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Clearly, my daughter thinks the way to be more joyful is to sing Christmas carols every chance she gets.

Or perhaps I should say Christmas carol. She only knows one.

The truth is, as much as I love the big picture of my life, my daughter will tell you I sometimes get a little … serious. And for someone who’s already pretty busy doing what she wants to do, the holidays can be a distraction I’m not always as grateful for as I should be.

But you know, that Christmas carol eventually won me over. Joy is contagious. And so I’d like to pass some along to you, just without the singing.

Here’s what I’m doing to bring more joy into my life, now and hopefully year round.

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In 2010, a chance encounter with Leo Babauta saved me from a terrible mistake.

I’d recently had a minimalism epiphany after our family moved for the second time in 3 years.

As I unpacked box after box, I saw how our stuff was driving decisions we never consciously made. We mostly bought little things–a new fry pan one month, a toy for our young daughter another–but we also rarely threw things away. Over time, our stuff had become a burden (at least to me).

The way I saw it, it was a vicious cycle. The more stuff we needed to store, the more furniture we needed to hold it all. The more furniture we had, the bigger house we felt we needed. And then you had to spend all that time cleaning…

It was driving me crazy and I wanted to make a big change … right now.

My zeal backfired. My three-year-old felt under attack and protectively guarded every toy. My husband, who is sweetly nostalgic, couldn’t bear to part with his softball mitt from his childhood. “What if she plays softball one day?” he bemoaned.

The more I tried to convince them that they needed to change, the more they resisted me. In fact, the more they resented me.