A couple of days ago I was enjoying a beautiful day in nature exploring with my daughter and Natalie (my other half). We walked through the trails, caught bugs (my daughter loves bugs), canoed, and stared in amazement at the trees—but most importantly we laughed and enjoyed the simplicity of life. As adults we feel that there is a lot we can give or teach to our children. However, we often forget that they are often our greatest teachers.

One of the greatest lessons I learn from my daughter is how to find joy in the now and appreciate the simple things in life.

What was easy when we were children (finding joy in life) often becomes challenging in the adult world of busy schedules and never-ending responsibilities. As an adult, happiness becomes a choice, and we can learn this lesson of how to live in joy from our children and then apply it to our relationships and our lives. We can choose to create moments of joy with our partners and acknowledge the simple pleasures. Just as it’s our responsibility to make time for all of our responsibilities, we must also make time to create that space for joy. Below are simple tips to create happiness in your relationship.

Make Your Partner a Priority:

Everyone wants to feel that they are valued and important to someone else.

Make eye contact in conversations to let her know that you are fully engaged in her world.

Tell him how important he is to you.

Show gratitude and appreciation for the small things that she does for you. Remember that everyone has choices and if she does something for you it’s because she made the choice to make you a priority. Don’t take anything for granted.

Keep physical contact with each other. Physical contact not only makes you feel more connected with your partner, it actually has been shown in research that it releases the same chemicals that you produce when you feel happy as well as the chemicals that take away pain and help your body to heal. This can be as simple as holding hands when you walk or giving him or her a big squeeze as you are passing by.

Make the Time for Joy:
If you can make time for other things such as work, children, hobbies, friends, or Facebook you can make time for the person that you share life with.

Do a joy audit. Ask yourself how much time you are spending doing things together that you enjoy on a weekly basis. Increase the time!

Create mini dates. Set up your schedule so that it includes time together. Be realistic with the amount of time you set aside and be consistent. Both of you need to participate in deciding how and when to spend time together so that you are both committed to it. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, even a walk in the park or sitting looking at the night sky can be very joyful and intimate. Remember, watching or going to a movie does not allow a space for conversation. Plan activities that create the space for true connection.

Enjoy the mundane. How enjoyable are you making the time together when you are doing are things that just have to get done? Activities that are not necessarily fun, such as cleaning, cooking, or running errands, can be turned into enjoyable shared time. If you have to do it anyway, why not make the best out of it? The time will pass by and chores will get done whether you decide to make it fun or complain the whole time. You decide what type of experiences you want to create.

Create something to look forward to. Life may feel repetitive or dull at times, and an experience that you can both anticipate, plan, and be excited about together will bring spice to your life and make you closer as a couple. It can be a simple plan, such as a night out or a day of relaxation.

Learn how to let go. Does the house truly have to be perfect? What is truly the priority—the superficial stuff or your relationship? You could lose everything but the person who you share life with will be by your side if you do. Therefore, let go of what isn’t important and give that person, and joy, priority.

Do random acts of kindness. Don’t wait for your partner to take the lead—set the example. Doing something nice for your partner will not only make that person feel good, it will make you feel good too. Leave her a note in the bathroom in the morning telling her that you love her, bring coffee to bed for him, open her door, send him an email or text to let him know that you are thinking about him. Research shows that these small gestures have a bigger impact on a couple’s overall happiness than bigger, less frequent gestures.

Reminisce! Take time to reminisce about the joy-filled moments that you have experienced together. Remembering those moments will make you feel connected and create a desire to create more moments to cherish.

Grow Together:

Ask you partner his or her dreams and desires. Children change as they develop, and we also change. What our dreams were two years ago may be very different that what they are today. Check in with your partner and daydream about life. Go one step forward and create individual and shared visions of the life you intend on creating together.

Take 10 minutes a day. Make a commitment to spend at minimum of 10 minutes each day discussing your day. It is important to feel that you are part of each other’s life. Talk about the good stuff, especially the good stuff that you did together!

Truly listen. Don’t just try to get your point of view across, listen to find something that you can agree with. The more you do this, the more you may find that you want similar things but may express them in different ways. Your partner may be offering you a new way to look at life.

Support your partner in his or her journey. Remember that the purpose of your relationship is to help each other grow and develop, not to set limitations.

Learn something new together. One of our natural needs is to feel like we are growing; therefore, take the time to learn something new together—such as taking a workshop or a class. Even if one or both of you have resistance to it, I guarantee it will help you feel more connected and give you a fun shared moment to talk about.

Remember that happiness is a decision, both on an individual basis and in a relationship.

Are you creating what you want in your relationship? Are you choosing happiness? If you have children in your life, observe them as they revel in life’s joys—you could learn a few things. Take a walk with your partner through the woods. Stare in amazement at the trees. Catch bugs—or maybe just notice them. Laugh as you remember that happiness is found within the simplest of moments shared.

Author's Bio: 

Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed., Ph.D. (ABD) holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology. Joeel’s extensive career as a relationship coach includes certifications in P.R.E.P, a 30-year research-based program for couples, Nurturing Father’s curriculum, and Parenting 21st Century. Joeel is now taking a select number of Life, Relationship, and Entrepreneurship Coaching clients. Contact Joeel at joeel@transformationservices.org