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16 Things I Learned from Taking the #100happydays Challenge

16 Things I Learned from Taking the #100happydays Challenge

When I decided I wanted to do this Happy Days challenge, I didn’t realise how hard it would be. The challenge was to photograph yourself during a happy moment. This was a daily task to be completed for 100 consecutive days. Doing anything for this long, short of breathing and sleeping, is quite a challenge. There were a couple of times I forgot to take a picture. There were a few times I forgot about it completely until about 11pm. But, I did it. And I’m really proud that I completed it. Some of what I learned was things I thought I already knew, at least intellectually… but doing this challenge made them real. Now I know for sure. It’s probably one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done, and reinforces that I am indeed “enough”.

1. Happiness is a choice

Whether you choose to look for happiness or not, it’s definitely there, waiting to be discovered.

2. Happiness can be found anywhere…

…as long as you search for it. Sometimes, I get the impression that making an effort to be happy somehow isn’t as “good” as it just naturally happening spontaneously. This forced effort somehow makes happiness feel like it’s worth less. Well, that’s bullsh*t.

3. Happiness is about appreciation / gratefulness

This was an interesting realisation. I’ve read lots about happiness, and this is one of the things that often came up. Until I actually did this, I didn’t appreciate how important it was. I realised there was no reason I couldn’t be happy with what I have now, while still pursuing what I wanted.

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4. This challenge was awesome – and fun

Being happy is awesome. Being happy is fun. Who would have thought that? I’m hoping you can sense the sarcasm there. Participating in the Happy Days challenge will let you experience happiness in a whole new light.

5. Find things to make you happy

Go out of your way and consciously search for activities that make you happy. This quest makes it no less meaningful whatsoever.

6. The smallest things can make you happy

Sometimes it was as simple as having dinner with my parents. Another time it was a funny Twitter account. Even just acknowledging that I was doing this challenge made me happy. The smallest things eventually add up to big results.

7. I have more of an opportunity to make others happy

Lots of my pictures were about me. I really enjoy making other people happy. Looking back at my 100 days, I realised I’ve got the opportunity to do it a lot more. The challenge doesn’t need to stop at day 101.

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8. Your happiness is your responsibility

Nobody owes you happiness. You need to earn it. It doesn’t usually happen by accident. Sometimes it does, of course, but do you really want serendipity on its own to be responsible for your happiness?

9. I missed the challenge when I stopped doing it

It was still on my mind after I’d completed the 100 Happy Days; which, I suppose, was kind of the point of this challenge.

10. It wasn’t easy

Some days I wondered, “What in the world will I choose for my happy moment?” It’s called the #100happydays challenge though. To complete it, you needed to be persistent. That’s why 71% of people didn’t complete it. They cited “not having enough time” as the main reason. If you don’t have time to be happy, what do you have time for?

11. I cared less about being judged

I was happy and that’s what really matters. Why would I need to pay attention to what other’s said? Why should I be affected by what someone else thought? On day 44, I posted a picture of a cool t-shirt that my dad bought me. Someone I knew said to me, “You must be running out of things to be happy about, if that’s all you could come up with.” This really annoyed me. Why does anyone have the right to question what makes me happy? That feeling lasted about 5 minutes – then I just started feeling proud. I was proud of the fact that I was succeeding at this challenge and making my life better. I was proud that this other person was doing nothing of the sort.

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12. There are no rules, only beliefs

There are no rules about what makes me happy, you happy, or anybody else happy. I also did two happy moments on day 7, and one on day 104. Why? Because I’m a rebellious lunatic, that’s why. Joking aside, just because there are “rules”, doesn’t mean you have to follow them blindly. Unfortunately, that’s what most people do. Do you want to be most people?

13. A wide range of things make me happy

Friends, writing, driving, Jack Daniel’s honey, socks, myself, reading, playing “I spy”, juggling, basketball, food, weights, moving out, clothes, climbing, roller coasters, irony, compliments, gratitude, friends, cooking, myself… the list just goes on and on. It really helps when you take the time to tabulate what makes you happy.

14. It can be a huge event, or something infinitesimally small

From my best friend visiting from China, to some cool socks – happiness is everywhere. Don’t dismiss anything, big or small.

15. Your happiness will inspire others to be happy

Two other people in my team at work started participating in this 100 Day challenge whilst I was. I like to think I had something to do with that. Maybe I did inspire them? Who else could I inspire? A variety of people were interested in the challenge. They asked me lots of questions about it, but never did anything about it themselves. What would you do?

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16. It’s easy to get out of the habit of recognising and appreciating happiness

I added this point in about three weeks after day 100. I’m not taking the time every single day to appreciate a moment of happiness. Everyone has stuff going on in their lives, but every time I asked myself the question “If I don’t have time to be happy, what do I have time for?” it really put things into perspective. Most matters simply don’t matter – being happy does.

To sum it all up…

Is there really anything more important in the world than being happy? For me, no. Nothing else seems to matter if I’m not happy. There are some people who’ll read this and think I’m selfish. They would be wrong. One of the things I love most of all is developing, helping, mentoring, coaching and empowering other people to be happy. It’s probably the most fulfilling thing I do. I do it because it makes me happy, and; hopefully, makes them happy too.

Because I’ve been on a journey to discover who I am and what makes me happy, I’m in the perfect position to help other people do that. Discovering this attribute has been the best and most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done. Why wouldn’t I want to help other people have that same experience?

So, I did the #100happydays challenge for me. However, if I inspire even one of you to take the challenge, or think about your own happiness in a different light, I’ll be happy. If I actually inspire someone to do something about it, I’ll be ecstatic.

Featured photo credit: Jessica Tam via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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