It’s the beginning of a new year and tradition suggests that we make a list of resolutions for the coming twelve months. Basically, these resolutions are things that we’d either like to give up or goals we’d like to achieve. Weight loss, improved fitness and quitting smoking are predictably popular choices, but anecdotal evidence has demonstrated time and again that many people’s resolutions have been abandoned by the end of January with some making it to the end of February. However, I have just discovered the 100 Days Happy Challenge, which offers a more sustainable approach than making resolutions.
This phenomenon, which first appeared in 2014, requires the use of social media, but if you’re not an avid Facebooker, Tweeter or Instagrammer, I have an alternative solution that I’ll share with you shortly. The 100 Days Happy Challenge is quite simple; for 100 days take a photo of something that makes you feel happy and post it to social media. The concept is that by taking notice of at least one thing every day that brings a smile to your face, you’ll learn to notice and appreciate the small things that are often overlooked because we tend to focus so much on the stresses and struggles of everyday life. It doesn’t matter what it is: a bird at the window, spectacular cloud formations, sun on your face or a really delicious cake.
You can of course take the 100 days challenge as a solo venture and simply share your happy moments with friends and family. Or, you can join the official movement by signing up at the 100 Days Happy website. Here you’ll find instructions about how to use social media alongside “tips and tricks from others who have participated in the challenge and completed it. And you may need them!
According to the website: “71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason.” We are living in an era of increasingly busy schedules and our pace have life has been picking up speed for some years, so much so that we don’t have time to enjoy those moments that make us smile or appreciate the natural world around us. It seems that we are willing to forego happiness for stress, and to some extent it is because we have become accustomed to submitting to the demands of a society that insists that ‘doing more’ and doing it quickly is a sign of success. In this context, it is not so surprising that two-thirds of people who started the challenge were unable to complete it.
Briefly, the instructions for the challenge are:
- Submit a picture every day of something that made you happy
- Remember that it is not a competition or opportunity to show off
- Register for the challenge and choose your favourite social media platform to post images with the hashtag #100happydays and a hashtag of your own if you want
- If you don’t want to use social media, you can post your pictures to the challenge website.
Writing a gratitude journal
And, if you’re not a fan of social media there is another way to become more mindful of the happiness in your life – start a gratitude journal. It doesn’t matter what day you start it on and it isn’t like keeping a diary. Journalist Samantha Brick started a gratitude journal twelve years ago, before it became a fashionable trend and ‘gratitude’ products started appearing in the shops.
The idea came to her during the period following her divorce when she felt a failure and being frequently surrounded by couples intensified that feeling even more. Whilst on a holiday she started noting down things that made her smile during the day and discovered that she felt happier just by doing that and reading over them again. So, she settled on writing down three happy things at the end of each day and has been doing it ever since.
Unlike a diary, you don’t need to analyse your feelings or record the disasters; you just write the three “Things I am grateful for today.” You can use a blank notebook, an ordinary diary or one of the specific gratitude journals that are available in stationers or online.
Even when your day seems bleak or stressful, there is always something that makes you happy, whether it is sunshine on your face, a smile from a stranger or an unexpected visit or call from a friend. It’s good to recognise happiness every day, but we can start with 100 days.