Two of my friends told me about the 100 Happy Days challenge. I began the challenge on June 11 with a handful of people using #DaleyWordHappy to track our happy moments and did I learn a lot! Only two of us completed the challenge. I was not surprised. The challenge was not as easy as it seemed; however, it was well worth the lessons learned along the way.
Lessons learned from the 100 Happy Days challenge
- Happiness rarely comes with fireworks and is often overlooked.
- You need to prime your body so that it is able to recognize and receive happiness.
- Some days you may not feel happy, but it does not mean that you can’t have a positive outlook.
Happiness can be found in the simple things you overlook
I get up at 3:30 in the morning during the week day. On day 3 of the challenge, I kept whining to my husband about not wanting to get up. Later that day, I passed by a gravesite and realized the gravity of what I said. Boy was I happy for that unanswered wish!
As the days went by, I realized the reason why I easily found happiness: I appreciated the “little” things in a BIG way.
- The wonderment of a sunrise and sunset
- Uneventful days
- Giggles from silly jokes
- Doing the things that we love
- The simple touch of a blanket or reading a message that touched my heart
There are prerequisites to happiness
I found that if my mind, body and soul were not in the right state, I not only had peripheral blindness to happiness, I also could not see the happy moments right in front of my face because I became disoriented by the density of the fog that represented “life.” I found primers to happiness included some of the following:
- A well-rested body
- Supporting others
- Having a positive perspective on life
- Having hope
- Being vulnerable
- Taking care of your mental, spiritual and physical health
- Acknowledging the things that others do to you
- Being transparent
People play an important part in our happiness
When reflecting on my 100 days, I found that people are a very important part of happiness.
- My family played an integral part to my daily happiness. The time we spent together, the laughter, getting through hard times and even just watching a TV show brought a contentment that was so soothing and steadfast that it could have been easily missed. Next to my relationship with God, these folks are key to reaching the highest and the most steadfast type of happiness: joy.
- My husband is my rock. He has been key to staying as healthy as possible: comforting me, tending to my health needs and just being there.
- My friends play an important part to my happiness, too. Whether it is that friend who softly talks me off the ledge and then gives me a gentle but firm kick in the butt or my office friends leaving a note or giving me support without asking, I need my friends and they need me.
- My (spiritual and emotional) therapist has also helped me with perspective, contentment and self-reflection. I look at all the things going on in not only my life but also my friends’ lives, and it’s overwhelming. By the time you reach middle age, your cup literally runneth over. Bottled-up issues from childhood get mixed up with the crazy parts of your adult life. On top of that, when our “crazy” mixes with other people’s “crazy,” it creates a hailstorm of madness. Whether it is at work, at home or on social media, I recognize the madness in their brains coming out on social media. Our brain has yet to have adjusted to the ability to take in the amount of data that comes at it every day so it can absorb it, filter it and sort it with the crap that we already have in there. Having a safe place to sort things out has helped me maintain perspective, focus … and a sense of humor about my brand of “crazy.”
Achieve happiness in your life
Make a commitment to being happy
Most of the days I had to choose a happiness moment. There were some days I struggled and a few where it was an exercise. Life includes daily challenges and waiting for those challenges to go away to obtain happiness is choosing a path of defeat. You will learn things about yourself that will make you uncomfortable but you will find through choosing happiness, you will heal and grow in ways you never thought you could.
Learn to be vulnerable and transparent
By the 10th day, I realized that this challenge was causing some anxiety. There were days when I did not feel happy and it made me feel like I was failing or a negative person. However, I found on the days where happiness was not in the forefront, I was still grateful. I also found that I was doing things like recovering from an illness or resting, which are primers for happiness.
Whether you do something like the 100 Days of Happiness challenge or some therapeutic exercise of your own, you must be vulnerable and transparent. Don’t abandon your commitment when it becomes difficult. Trust me, if you are not transparent, do not think people do not “see you.” They won’t find you accessible and relatable. Much more important, you can and will do harm on social media–possibly to someone you care for. When we post only dinners, pets, bubbles, jumps and those moments when the camera captures a second of our day, it leads some people to believe that a happy life is one that is easy and challenge-free.
Have the courage to take all of the content out of dark boxes
I think I was in my mid twenties when I was able to open all those dark boxes from my childhood. When I dared to look at the entire contents of each box, the abuse, loneliness, homelessness and loveless existence were just noises. What stood out was the support, encouragement and love. My level of gratitude made the ugliness turn into an annoying buzz. Dare to open your dark boxes and look at all the contents that are inside. Don’t let the ugly wrapping keep you from enjoying the gifts that lay inside.
Want more than doing bad all by yourself
Don’t make the fact that being alone beats being around negative people become your standard. The truth is you WILL probably do bad all by yourself. Build your support system. Don’t freak out over the weeds–just pluck them! Yes, you can do bad all by yourself but you will do a lot better with the right people around you.
I have had people tell me that everyone around them failed them. Frankly speaking, if you are a person who wants but not gives, people will shy away from you. We are all fallible humans who need support. We all go through the trials and tribulations called life. In order to be supported, you must give support first. In order to get love, you must give love first. In order to find a friend, you must be a friend first. All these things and more must come without expectations.
I remember several incidents during my 100 Days of Happiness challenge where my God-sent foot soldiers came scrambling out like bugs in a dark room. I did not have to call them for support; they just showed up. Friends want to give you more than you give them and you should have the same desire because it’s in this vicious cycle you will find your most joyous moments come from your friends and loved ones.
Prime yourself for happiness
- Get sleep. The body, mind and soul heal with rest. Make resting a part of your daily routine.
- Be spiritually tuned. My prayers and moments with God are engrained in my normal routine. There are times when it is a fall-to-the-knees or hand-in-the-air times, but that is usually when there are acute situations or perhaps when I have neglected my spirituality.
- Get real. Admit hurt if you are hurt. Masking can you miserable. When you don’t want to “satisfy” people who enjoy seeing you fail or be in pain, you start living a lie. You will find yourself devoting your time to concentrating on hiding from others than working on finding happiness.
- Get help. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for help. As a matter of fact, it might be one of your best moves for happiness.
Through this journey I did hit some bumps. Learning that maybe one or two people dear to me did not love me the way I wanted them to love me was a little heart-breaking. But I also was reminded that no matter how much “stuff” I was going through, I should not grow complacent in supporting those who support me. Overall, this challenge confirmed there ARE oh so many ways to have 100 happy days. Find yours!!