Written by Janeen Diamond, author of Save Your Marriage in 30 and a regular contributor to Familyshare.com and Hope After Divorce.

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Besides the cooler temperatures and beautiful fall colors in the mountains, I love what it represents - the holidays are coming, family time is more prevalent, I get to make soup for dinner more often than not, it's time to turn the fireplaces on and bring out the blankets, and it's by far the best time of the year for driving around in my convertible PT Cruiser with the top down. I tell myself it is good for my soul. It makes me feel happy and alive. And if it's too cold for the top to be down, I put it down anyway and blast the heater. I know there are others of you out there who do the very same thing!

I believe whatever it is that makes us happy - the small pleasures in particular - is what we should do on a regular basis. Life can be full of challenges and trials, heartache and sadness, hard work and stress. We have to take control of our own happiness and involve ourselves in things that bring us joy. We need to feed our own souls and look for those little things that make us tick. And while we're at it, I think we should help our family members do the same.

Make a list right now of the things you would do more often if you had time - and then MAKE the time and start doing them now. Here is a short list to get you started:

  • Do something creative - attack a difficult recipe or make some clever Christmas ornaments;

  • Play with your pets - put on a warm sweater and take them for a walk or to a dog park;

  • Get in your cozy robe and sit by the fire and paint your toenails;

  • Stay in bed a few extra minutes in the morning and listen to the birds chirping outside your window;

  • Plan a pie-making party with some of your friends.

I decided a few years ago to begin making the holiday season less stressful and more meaningful. I stopped giving such expensive gifts and started focusing more on enjoying this time of the year and helping others enjoy it as well.

I would rather spend time having lunch with my friends, having parties with my family, and attending events that instill the spirit into my soul, rather than spend my time shopping, paying bills and worrying about what to buy for everyone.

Take this special time to begin making a change. Focus on becoming healthier and happier - whatever that means for you personally. Those around you will benefit greatly too. And once the New Year hits, you'll be prepared to continue moving forward with more ideas that will help you nourish your soul. Make it an on-going activity. Always be searching for new experiences in life and ways to enjoy being alive. When you feel nourished - body AND soul - you will be available for yourself and others to love, to serve and to make life better. Get going on your list!

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