Nineteen days ago my friend Kerry posted a challenge to her Facebook friends – be happy for 100 days. She had discovered a website called 100HappyDays.com and quickly become one of more than a half a million people taking part in a new social media trend. 100HappyDays.com asks people to take just one moment each day to reflect on what makes them happy. There’s no background information on the website, no biography of the happiness guru who created it…just few simple statements about happiness and a challenge to post a happy picture each day for 100 days to the social media account of your choice – Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.
The word happiness caught my attention and I was “in” even before I looked at the site.
What this challenge does for its participants is immensely more important than who created it. It is an exercise in mindfulness. When our lives are crazy busy, our thoughts tend to go right along that same path. Have you ever been reading a book only to realize that your mind has wondered off to something on your to-do list? Being mindful helps eliminate the mental clutter and makes us more aware of what surrounds us; what is happening in the here and now.
Thinking about happiness trains your brain to focus on the elements in your life that create happiness. It forces you to stop doing things out of unconscious habit and do them by choice instead. And when we realize we do indeed have a choice in what we focus our attention on, we tend to choose more of the things that make us happy. Think of it as one big circle of happiness…
Think happy. Choose happy. Be happy. Repeat 🙂
Studies of mindfulness have shown that it leads to healthier, less stressful, more creative and wait for it…yes, happier and more satisfied lives. I know firsthand that there’s some truth to this. Once upon a time I used to plan vacations while I was on vacation. I’d say to myself, “this place is great but wouldn’t a trip to ___ be so much better.” I had great time, or so I thought, but now, I wonder how much more fun I would’ve had if I’d just enjoyed the trip I was on.
I’m still working on mindfulness but the more I learn, the more I’ve begun to realize that mindfulness is very much like training yourself to see the world through the eyes you had as a child – back when everything was a wonderment. When I read now, I let myself get lost in the book, just like I did when I was a child. When I sit on my lanai looking at the birds in the backyard, I see only the nature that surrounds me. When I am out on the water in my kayak, I am one with my environment. And in those moments where I make the choice to be present, I am at my happiest.
Today I’ll post my 19th happy moment of my 100 Happy Days challenge. It’s not too late to start your own happiness project. Even if you don’t post a happy picture online, take a moment just to be happy.