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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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24 Questions That Awaken The Real You An Open Letter To the 5 Year Old Me 16 Things I Learned from Taking the #100happydays Challenge 26 Things I’ve Learned Since Entering The Working World 8 Depressing Things That Happen When You Don’t Talk About A Problem, And 3 Uplifting Things That Happen When You Do

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Last Updated on February 25, 2020

5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain

5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain

“Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty. To believe there is an order to our days. A purpose.” – from the popular show, “Westworld”

It’s different for us all. My personal quest for purpose began with five stages of grief and one startling realization that everything’s endlessly fragile. Adversity, as it happens by rule, found me terribly unprepared, so I decided to take my time. Today, I can honestly say that I’ve grown.

Ugliness and beauty, good and evil, pain and laughter – everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary. In the face of difficulty, that is the only mantra you need.

Here’s how I learned it and why you should too, with five simple rules.

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1. Embrace the Complexity

Quite insidiously, adversities come in all shapes and sizes. Paralyzing physical disabilities, mind-wracking mental problems, ruthless emotional havocs, all leading to the same painful acknowledgement: all the beauty in the world cannot possibly make up for the ugliness that surrounds us. Shattered to pieces, helpless and bare naked, we sit in our therapy chairs, apologizing for being so negative.

Eventually, what it all comes down to is the nature of negative emotion. Our positives overshadow our negatives, thus wrongly teaching us that the road to well-being is paved with nothing but positive feelings and thoughts. How utterly wrong!

“If you’re not failing every now and then, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything innovative”, Woody Allen said.

It’s a classic “learn from your mistakes” rule, but in this case, it implies growing from negative experiences. Make peace with your negativities and embrace beauty and ugliness alike! Accepting this marvellously complex world just as it is will allow you to find purpose in adversity and meaning in misery.

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2. Find Balance, Regain Control

Still, accepting adversity is only the first step toward eventual victory. One can endure only so much trauma in life; if we’re not prepared to deal with difficulties in a productive way, even the minor setbacks can get us off track. Our strengths come from learning, and the best way to learn is through a series of trials and errors. Just like phases of grief or stages of drug addiction, adversities suggest a disabling loss of control, so find your way to regain it.

Some call it the coping mechanism; for others, it’s a spiritual will. However you choose to name yours, know that not all supporting systems are equally beneficial, though each is effective in its own way. Escapism was mine, but it only helped me retain the illusion of beauty. It wasn’t until I opened up toward the ugliness and accepted the naked truth that I was finally free. Whether you choose to dwell in art, religion and spiritualism, thus feeding your resilience from within or to reach out to others for help, choose wisely.

Whatever the means, the second rule is a golden one: find your inner balance and stick to it. Eventually, it will lead you out of the vicious circle.

3. Fight with Patience

My bargaining turned in depression with a single touch. Fearless and free, my dance instructor timidly put her hands on my shoulders and I realized, for the first time, just how tense, stiff and cloistered I was. And just like that, I started letting go. Adversities have their sneaky ways, but in my experience, becoming aware is what hurts the worst. It took me a year to recover from this little moment of self-discovery, and I know remember it as the edge of the rabbit hole.

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Some sufferings are impossible to console; I know that now. The only way to get through is to, well, get through. Depression and despair are only the beginning of the excruciatingly unnerving process that ravages the mind and shrivels the soul, and once they strike, there is no easy way back. So, fight them with patience. When your head starts spinning and your feet lose ground, go to your happy place. Over there, you’ll be reminded that nothing is forever, not even our little existential psychosis.

Take a deep breath and say “om”. When things cannot be combated, they have to be endured, so practice patience and learn to let go. Finally, keep repeating to yourself that this too shall pass.

4. Keep Swimming

Nothing is impossible, in the end. Your negative thoughts will gently pour into your positive ones, just as two streams come together to become a river. In the event of the inevitable disaster, one can only be as calm as still water. Suffering teaches patience, and the latter gives rise to flexibility. Ultimately, what is life than a series of unfortunate events and a handful of bright moments in between? If adversities are impossible to avoid, than learn to glide through as smoothly and patiently as water does with rocks.

Even if spirituality isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you have to admit that this is one solid metaphor. Staying adaptable in the face of change will soothe your panic attacks and keep you sane and sober-blooded. Even if you fail, you’ll know exactly how to breathe and face what’s in front of you once it eventually strikes again. Stay calm and visualize a better tomorrow; if anything else, it will give you strength to dive deep and weather the storm. And, in case there’s somebody’s hand to reach out to, grab it firmly and don’t let go.

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Being flexible against adversities takes a lot of learning, just as staying brave demands a lot of courage. It’s a long, arduous step-by-step routine, and you can reach the end only by swimming on. Persist, even when you fall.

5. Never Stop Searching for Inspiration

And, if it’s a guidance you need, where else to seek it than in experiences of others? Find it in art, in people around you, in chance encounters. The pure beauty of perseverance can be discovered where you expect it the least, so never stop searching for inspiration. If self-help literature soothes your pains and clears your mind, don’t let cynics discourage you. Your path toward reconciliation is nobody’s but yours to choose.

Ever heard of Nick Vujicic? Or Nando Parado? Inspiring people sound their yawps over the roofs of the world, sometimes voiceless, sometimes limbless, sometimes both. Born without arms, Jessica Cox became the most unusual certified pilot in the world, and you can rarely see her without a smile on her face. If you’ve already ripped all of your bucket lists and said goodbye to your dreams and plans, meet Sean Swarner, who’s officially became the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest. The stories just go on.

Make your own guidebook! Pen down your positive thoughts, cover your walls with quotes and devise your personal mantras. Whenever things get hard, they’ll be there to remind you of what you need to do. It’s the simplest of all life hacks, and one of the most effective ones.

Find beauty in the world, but never stay blind for its ugliness. However daunting, adversities and emotional pain challenge our inner strength, thus making us resilient and allowing us to grow. As soon as you recognize them as the wind in your sails instead of the devastating storm, the purpose will become simple and clear.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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