I saw this thing on Instagram (or Facebook… or somewhere). A challenge posed ~ Can you be happy 100 days in a row?
Me? The obvious answer is no, of course not. I can’t even maintain a level of happiness throughout an entire day. One hour, I’m good. The next, something has upset me. A few hours later, I’ve moved past it. Until something else comes up. It’s the emotional rollercoaster that is my life.
But then I really thought about it. Maybe it’s not important to “be happy” all the time, but to teach yourself to appreciate the things that give you happiness when they occur. To focus your attention on those things. To train yourself to be positive, rather than to allow yourself to be swallowed up in misery all the time. Negativity is a downward spiral. Or in my case, a cyclone into the pits of hell. If I focus on it, I can end up in a black hole for days (months… arguably years) at a time.
I am a strong believer in the law of attraction and what you put out into the universe comes back to you and all that crap. I think what you think becomes your reality. If you say “life sucks”, life will truly suck. If you say “nothing ever goes my way”, “I have terrible luck”, “someone out there is against me”, it all becomes true. Why do that to yourself? There is enough shit in the world. Don’t make it worse for yourself (and, in turn, everyone else around you).
If all of this is true, then by default, the opposite is also true. “Life is awesome.” Right?
Unfortunately, we live in a society and time where we have useless, stupid stress, too many options and choices, too little time (or too much), no REAL social hardship (war, long-standing natural disaster, etc.) to endure that makes us appreciate how much we really have… and complacency and unrest is the norm. We actually have to TEACH ourselves not to think this way. I can’t speak for everyone obviously, but for me, I grew up with this mindset. As an adult, I came to realize that happiness isn’t something you shoot for or earn or the golden finish line. It’s a choice.
It’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of thinking, an attitude.
Yes, I am fully aware this is oversimplifying things. There are situations in life that honestly suck. Misery is real. There are things that happen in the human brain that hold us back. I get that. (Believe me.) But I think the first step in changing your life to be closer to that seemingly-unobtainable, perpetual happiness is to be aware of those teeny tiny little things that bring a smile to your face, or even just the things that make you stop yourself from blowing up the neighbourhood and yourself when everything else is hopeless.
It’s really hard. Especially when you aren’t used to it. But I am also a subscriber to the adage “fake it till you make it”. In this whole thought process thing, it’s important to tell yourself you have things to be happy about until you believe it. There are psychotherapy practices based almost completely on this principle. Cognitive behaviour therapy is basically just that. Change your thought patterns until the desired thought becomes the new way of thinking. Instead of having to remind yourself to think that way, after a while, you just automatically do.
Even when things are at their bleakest, especially then, no matter the emotional climate you find yourself in, look for just one thing that you are blessed with. That is the point of the challenge. After 100 days, you can look back and see that life really isn’t so bad.
I keep saying I shouldn’t have started it while I’m unemployed and doing absolutely nothing. Some days, I sleep through the majority of the day and only am awake for a few hours to sit on the couch and watch TV or read. There was also a week I went through during the challenge that was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced. Some of the things I came up with were a huge stretch. I didn’t WANT to document or remember some of those things because it felt pathetic or even a lie. But, looking back at them now, I actually do feel happy about it. I’m glad I did it during this time in my life. I know now that I can put into practice what I believe and have it make a difference in my thinking. If it had been during a time that I was out everyday, doing stuff, being around people, blah blah blah… maybe it would have been too easy. Happiness would have been inevitable. Since that was not the case, I actually had to really think and dig deep to find things some days. It makes it more of a success in a way.
I have 12 days left and I have not missed a single one. Despite my world practically falling apart, the depression, the malaise and apathy, there was always something I could be happy about, whether specific to the day or just in general. Even if I don’t post one more thing for the next 12 days (which I most likely will!), I still feel like I made it.
(originally posted to wohngsikneuih)