Friday, May 23, 2014

… clap along if you feel like a room without a roof …

It's been awhile! I feel like my little blog needed a bit of a facelift - let me know what you think!
 Best friends turn the lights on for you & support you no matter what! Love ya Bran!!

Earlier this spring, I decided to challenge my classes to join the 100happydays challenge. I was doing a unit that was discussing burn-out, motivation, and stress management. I thought it would be a good way to get them started and joined as an example and to spur them onward. And, you know, bonding and fun and community!

I think I was the only one who actually finished. Granted - I cheated sometimes (it is supposed to be a photo a day – some days I didn’t have a good photo to post and posted a list), I was late occasionally (if it was over 24hrs between postings, I figured that the thought was what mattered) and I had tech issues (it’s hard to post from no-battery devices).

My students all noted that it was hard for them to find things to be happy about every day, and that there was so much pressure. Others commented that the only things that made them happy weren’t things they could show me pictures of.

Fair enough, I suppose. 

For my part, there were days that it was hard to find things to be happy about. Like the day I wrecked both rims on the right side of my car and got two flats, or the day my roommates lost my cat (who thankfully came back), or the days that just nothing seemed right. I was stressed at work. I had bad hair days, bad body days, bad mood days, days I cried a LOT. Those days, I had to work for my joy. I had to actively LOOK for things to be happy about. I was work. Sometimes it was tedious.
The first few days, it seemed a little wrong to LOOK for things that made me happy. I was told as a child that it was something that sprung from goodness, that it was a ‘spiritual gift’. But the more I looked for joy – for happy – the more I seemed to find. In small things, quiet moments, and little breaths of air in my world that were sweet and full of promise for more good things to come.
I also noticed some patterns forming in my behaviors and choices that lead me to be happier – almost without thinking about it. 

 a manner of traveling...

  • I started choosing to be happy with my mini-successes, instead of pushing for huge ones. The maybe-one-day PhD is not the only goal worth relishing or celebrating! 
  •  I chose to be more honest with myself and others – which is hard for people-pleasing me! Sometimes, the honest truth can make things simple, sometimes it is hard, and sometimes it means asking for help. But I never noticed it making me unhappier overall.
  • I chose to accept others where they were. Comparison is not healthy for good relationships – I try to compare people to earlier versions of themselves, and me to an earlier version of myself if I need to compare people at all.
  •  I chose to start the day on my own terms – when I wanted, how I wanted. Granted, this means my mornings are early to get in my much needed run and my commute – but it is a choice that honors my body and makes me happier overall. I helped when I could and did what I could for others. 
  •  I chose to linger in the things that were beautiful or worthwhile or that made me feel more bliss. I took the time to enjoy the things I loved when I stumbled across them. I bought the good coffee, got the nice prosecco, and savored the dark chocolate I really wanted. And I settled in to really, truly, enjoy it.
  • Maybe the hardest lesson in the journey so far was letting go of things. I have a hard time with letting things go in general. I like to know the whys and the mechanics and the dynamics and figure out the exact reason a thing happened and sometimes … it just isn’t there. There is no explanation. It is a THING. And … it’s just there. And sometimes you need to be ok with that, even though it is hard to be. There is no point in staying up late just because someone on the internet is WRONG.

It is important to note that I did this for myself and not for the web's enjoyment. There were days I actually felt a little bashful about my photo posts, or felt annoying, or kind of oddly braggy. The spirit in which I posted, however, was always a happy spirit – not a ‘look at me’ one. As the start site says – if you’re doing this to show off or for other people’s approval, you automatically ‘lose’.

So – did the challenge meet the claims it made?

  • YES – I started noticing what made me happy every day.
  • Overall, YES – I did feel like I was in a better mood every day. 
  • I didn’t particularly track compliments, but I took them with more grace! 
  • Overall, I did realize how lucky I was to have the life I have.
  • Yes, I was more optimistic overall!
  • As for falling in love – I think I fell more deeply in love with the all the tiny, huge, abundant wonderful things and people I already loved – and found a few more.

Is the challenge worth it? That’s for you to decide. But I’m hoping to continue searching for happiness, and choosing an attitude of happiness, for many days to come!

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