It is now #day52 of #100happydays. I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long.
When I first heard about the 100 Happy Days Challenge, I wasn’t sure if there was any point in my participating in it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m that annoyingly positive person who is happy every day with few (but not zero – I’m only human) exceptions; but because I consider myself as having a calm, inwardly-directed sort of happiness, not derived from any specific excitement or experience, I wasn’t convinced I could think of one tangible or photograph-able thing each day to depict it. Secondly, I’m hopelessly bad at regular Instagram-ing or any sort of routine social media update. I’m online everyday, yes, but I don’t like the pressure of having to contribute or output something everyday.
After thinking it over, however, these turned out to be the precise reasons why I decided to go ahead and take up the challenge. Let’s think about what this whole “100 Happy Days” thing is for. What it is is simply posting a photo each day for one hundred days depicting something that made you happy that day – but why do it? To quote the official website: “while the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being.” Upon a first skimming, I thought “oh yeah, it’s saying that people need to take the time to stop and think about how good the little things – the ‘moments’ – in their life can be, as this will help them to achieve happiness… well, I don’t need to do that, I already have happiness.” But then I stopped a beat and tried to recall some of the everyday things that made me a happy person, and they didn’t all immediately leap to my mind. Mostly, I just thought “FOOOOOD! OMNOMNOMNOMNOM!”
The fact is, I am happy and in sync with life because I’m lucky enough to be very content with and secure in myself as a person, and in turn that makes it easier for me to get out of bed and face the world with a sense of safety and a positive energy, embrace most events as essentially positive, and appreciate what my day has to offer. But I’m not aware I’m doing all of this. Or, I know I’m doing it, but I’m not paying attention to what’s actually happening most of the time, and I let too many days slide by because they seem to be routine, when in fact they’re often filled with lots of minor things that keep me in my usually upbeat mood.
That was the first reason why I decided to participate in #100happydays – I already know I’m happy when it comes to the big things in life, but I wanted to pay more attention to the details. That was the big goal.
My other goal: to stop being a commitment-phobe. I’ve never been great with that feeling of obligation and I have years of overdue assignments and turning down personal trainers to prove it; and when it’s a regular commitment, well that’s even worse. Even if it’s enjoyable, I often still have trouble – because the activity is not the point… I just don’t like being told what to do, even if I’m the one who put myself in a position to be told. This is something I’ve never really tried to “fix” about myself, but I’m grown up enough to start trying.
As a bonus goal, I wanted myself to stop thinking about food as the main “superficial” source of my happiness. I could see the challenge stretched out in front of me, probably 90 out of 100 days of just food porn photography. But out of all my other daily experiences, what else makes me smile?
So, standing here at the halfway mark, what have I learned? I’ve definitely discovered more about myself and how I tick on a daily basis than I thought I would. Here are some of my observations:
Forcing myself to pay attention to the little things that make up my day has made me much more aware of my mood
The fact is, though I’m happy with life in an overarching way and I’m very seldom sad or angry, I go through more days in an ambivalent, “neutral” sort of mood than I thought. I would estimate those lacklustre days to be about once or sometimes twice per week; I don’t find myself “unhappy” on those days at all, just a little bit “whatever” and robotic – they are the times when I take a few minutes longer to post my photo, to remember what made the day special. This isn’t necessarily a horrible thing, but it’s just slightly at odds with how I thought of myself – as this bubbly individual who springs out of bed everyday in a nauseatingly good mood. Nope.
I’m more aware of the things that improve my mood throughout the day even if I didn’t wake up like a Disney princess.
An achievement at work, something sweet the boy did for me, an online shopping parcel received (that was a popular one!), spreadsheet-OCD satisfied, travel planning, a good conversation with a friend, a well written article or engaging book, certain social events, and yes, food. All the food. It’s not that I was completely clueless about the effect these things had on my happiness before, but now I’m just more acutely conscious of it happening, and while it’s happening (often thinking, I should take a photo right now).
My life reeeally isn’t particularly exciting, especially during the week.
While I have numerous social engagements on weekends and struggle to fit all the wonderful things from each Saturday and Sunday into the one photo (usually I just end up posting multiple), the things that make me happy every day from Monday to Thursday are much the same. Aside from the odd after-work girl date there’s: food, parcel deliveries, good weather, relaxing with a girly TV series marathon, interspersed occasional evening activities such as crafts and jigsaw puzzles. This takes me to the next point.
I want to be doing more with my life.
I spend an awful lot of time on my daily routine and organisational activities due to being as pedantic and obsessive compulsive as I am so I won’t even go into them, but with better managed time, I could be doing more, and have in the past done more. What happened to my blogging? What happened to experimenting with new recipes? What happened to going to book club meetings, going for a riverside walk in the new suburb I just moved to and taking some photos? What happened even to constructing beautiful, creative outfits out of my way-too-large wardrobe and photographically noting them (yes, that is a fancy way of saying “moaaar selfies!”)? Happy though I may be, I seem to need a kick up the arse – I need to stop squandering my time, clearly.
Let’s not even talk just talk about the “productive” things I mentioned above – what about making more of an effort to get out during the week and do fun things? Most of my social engagements seem to revolve around food, and maybe it’s because I’m getting “old”, stagnant and boring, but I could also go to the beach, go to gigs, go for a long, leisurely bike ride, take Japanese lessons, see more arthouse films, have a picnic in the park.. the list is endless. I don’t think I’ve done half of those things this entire summer, and the ones I have were probably once or twice! I feel I need more excitement in my day-to-day life to lift my mood on my “whatever” days, and even though a good mood isn’t equal to true happiness, I have no excuse for letting life pass me by while I just sit around boringly contented, either.
In spite of the areas that have room for improvement I’ve spotted in my life, out of 50 days, I only had one sad day
For one day, I felt very low and it all came crashing down quite suddenly due to stress and a number of other factors. It was quite distinct from a mere “meh” mood sort of day. Still, it didn’t take long for me to realise that it was my amazing friends who helped get me through that. Guess what my photo for that day was of? I’m grateful that, if this sample is representative of my life, this means I am only unhappy 2% of the time.
At around Day 40, I did a big audit of all of my photos so far and and determined that just under half of my #100happydays photos were of food
For someone whose Instagram account featured almost exclusive food and #ootds before, I think that’s not half bad!
As I said, I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long… but I know I have because the insight into my life that this exercise has given me makes me feel like it’s worth completing. It’s also a little addictive!
For the next 50 (or rather, 48) days, I hope to make some adjustments to my daily life that will help add more colour and excitement to my challenge photos. Curious to see how I’m doing down the track? I’ve given my photos their own unique hashtag of #100happyindienomdays