Monday, March 9, 2015

The Little Steps to Happiness

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination…” – Souza

If there’s one thing I continue to learn in my life, it’s that finding happiness is a continuous mission. It’s not something that is achieved after a certain number of experience points or a certificate given at the end of a long course. Happiness is already here, in some way, and it must be embraced, nurtured, and appreciated.

Almost a year ago, I decided to try the 100 Happy Days challenge. The concept is simple. For 100 days, you take (and post to social media, if you want to) a photo of something that made you happy each day. At the end of it, you’ll have had 100 photos that are purely based on your joy. What’s more important is that it kindly forces you to find the happy in your daily life.

100 days sounds like a long time. We have no idea what the next 3-4 months will hold, no matter when the challenge starts. Bad weather? The stomach flu? An unexpected financial situation? These are the things that we can think about and get caught up in on that “road to happiness” we so constantly obsess over. But no matter what, there is a silver lining on those gloomy days. I saw them myself while doing the challenge. I stepped outside of the moment to find the happy. So in the case of the three icky situations I mentioned, you might take a photo of the heating blanket you snuggled under to stay warm and dry, the crackers and sports drinks that kept you hydrated and healthy, or the relief of paying off an annoying bill.

I think it’s important to remember that there is something to be happy about within each day. If you find that it’s hard, why not try the challenge? Even if you don’t want to post the photos on Instagram, you can take them every day, maybe journal about them, and see how happy your life already is.

When things are tough, it’s hard to believe that they’ll ever get better. We tend to put pressure on the future for our happiness. “When I get a better job, I’ll be happy. When I meet my soulmate, I’ll be happy. When I start a family, I’ll be happy. When I retire, I’ll be happy.” We don’t know when/if these things will happen. The first step towards happiness is reveling in the now. Looking around. Remembering what we do have. Knowing that we live well without the things we think we need.

I’m thinking about doing the 100 Happy Days challenge again, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll just keep searching for those little happy moments and keep them to myself. Maybe I’ll make a scrapbook about it. I don’t know.

If you’re in need of some perspective, I think this challenge is a great idea. However, if you don’t have the time, why not consider making a list every week (or day, or month) of the good things that happened. Here’s an example of things that make me happy on a daily basis lately:


And if you think you need big life moments to be happy, take a look at some of the photos I posted on my Instagram while doing the challenge last year:

I’m still learning how important these little moments are. I could dwell in the things I haven’t accomplished, in the stress I face in certain aspects of my life. And yet, I can look around and smile about the little things I actually do and can have. A tasty bagel and coffee breakfast. A cute pair of socks. Blooming flowers in the spring. Sleeping in on a day off.

These things remind me of  how lucky I am.

Especially around this time of year, as we wait for the slush to melt and the temperatures to rise,
I hope you can use these exercises to see how lucky you are, too!

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