As hokey as it is, I’ve joined the 100 Happy Days Challenge. I started in late February and realized I would value the experience more if I attached a little bit of writing to it. I started this blog in case friends and family wanted to follow along with me.
And, let’s be completely honest, if I’m accountable to people I know, I’m more likely to stick with it.
You can find out more about the challenge above, but for me, it’s about paying attention to the small things that make us happy and focusing on those rather than the negatives that we encounter every day.
I think being happy is something we tend to separate from being a responsible adult. As we get older, we don’t forget about happiness but we are so focused on the mundane world of paying the bills etc. that being responsible and being happy slowly become mutually exclusive; i.e. “I was so irresponsible last weekend, I didn’t do anything on my to-do list!” And, when they’re not mutually exclusive, we ruin the moment by telling ourselves we should be doing “responsible thing” instead of “fun thing”. For example, while going out for brunch I’m thinking “You should be saving money by cooking brunch at home.” or, let’s face it, eating a piece of toast because who wants to do all those brunch dishes? Anyway, this kind Dementor-like thinking can suck the happiness out of an activity and is difficult to break out of. To make this worse, our brains tend to pick up and hold on to the negative much more readily than the positive. I think, but don’t quote me on this, it’s a leftover from trying really hard to stay alive way back when – after dinosaurs but before people cared how you dressed.
All of this is to say that, first, I think it’s important and worthwhile to learn to notice happiness in the tiny – picking up fresh flowers while grocery shopping, taking the time to have a slow morning and enjoy a cup of coffee and a book for fifteen, twenty minutes before starting the day or [insert what makes you happy here]. Second, a part of this is learning how to break out of that negative thinking cycle of “should” and enjoying the moment for what it is. Third, by keeping count of the happy things, even if it’s only by checking in once a day, should help me accomplish one and two.
This might be harder than I think (and I already think it will be pretty hard) but I would rather be the person that keeps a happiness tally in her head than a negative one. And that, my friends, is worth working towards.