What I learned from 100 Happy Days

Can you be happy for 100 days? That’s not really the question. I’m not sure most people can be happy for 100 straight minutes. I know some people who can’t be happy for 100 straight seconds. But then again, that’s not really point of the 100 Happy Days challenge.

Scrolling through my Instagram account one day, I noticed my cousin’s daughter (hi Sydney!) was posting photos with the hashtag #100happydays. I was curious and my curiosity led me to the 100 Happy Days website.

Here’s the deal: You take a picture every day for 100 days of something that made you happy that day. You have options to post to social media using the #100happydays hashtag or you can sign up and make up your own hashtag. You can even submit your photos via email if you don’t want to be one of those people who constantly posts happy photos on social media. (I’d like to say “heaven forbid we share our happiness, no matter how big or small” but that smacks of being judgemental and I gave that up for Lent.) Oh, and it’s free.

Scene from a morning sunrise on one of my regular running routes. #100happydays

A sunrise as seen on one of my regular running routes. #100happydays

As I looked at other results from in Internet search, I found a dissenting article ripping the project. No one is happy every day, it said. And further by posting our happy moments we are setting impossible standards that we need to be happy all the time.

While it is true that no one is happy all the time and that we should never gloss over the difficult moments of our lives, I humbly submit the author completely missed the point. No matter how shitty my day was, there was always something that made me smile, something that brought me a bit of joy. Happy doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing cartwheels down the street. And that’s one of the key things I learned during my own 100 Happy Days.

1. Happy has a lot of different looks. Sometimes happy does look like cartwheels down Main Street. I was overjoyed ice skating with my boyfriend Scott, going out on cross country skis for the first time and having dinner with college friends I haven’t seen in so many years we can now count in decades. Other times, happy was capturing a sunrise or a sunset. It was snapping a photo with a buddy a work who makes me smile or a plate of pancakes.

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Every day happy. My morning coffee and fresh snow. #100happydays

 

 

 

2. Food apparently makes me very happy. I took a lot of photos of food. My top three happy photo topics were running, food and nature. And you know what? That sounds about right.

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First ice cream of the season with my mom. #100happdays

3. Sometimes you have to look for the happy. There were days, I’m not going to lie, when I felt a bit scrambling. “What could I post to Instagram today? Something has to make me happy!” And sometimes what made me happy were the simple things around me: The dried hydrangeas that Scott brought me in the fall which are more beautiful now then when cut fresh in the fall, the giant jar of peanut butter my friend Vita brought me from Canada, whatever book I’m currently reading, the picture my niece drew me for my birthday last year. Yes, sometimes I have to look around and find the happy. That was the beautiful learning of this exercise — there are things all around which me make me smile. I don’t need an awesome day to be happy. I just need to look around and smile at what is simply around me.

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My niece drew this picture for me and it always makes me smile. #100happydays

4. Too many selfies? Too bad. We’ve all read the articles about how narcissistic is it to post selfies. If so many people hate selfies then why are they generally speaking the ones which gain the most favorites on social media? Don’t like me making duck faces? Too bad. I’m having fun and not taking myself too seriously.

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Making funny faces while watching freighters in Detroit. #100happydays

5. Thinking visually. I work with words. It’s how I enter the world. But this project forced me to think visually. I may feel happy but how do I show that in visual form? It got me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity (ok, forced me) to engage with my world in a slightly different way. Oh and also I had a horrible time keeping track of 100 days. I doubled up on a couple and ended up off, as in posting more than 100 happy days. No matter. Because the project will stay with me for a long time.

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Special thanks to Scott who endured numerous selfies because spending time with him really makes me happy. #100happydays

If you want to check out more my Instagram feed, my user name is amylmoritz.

If you want to try your own #100happydays, I urge you to dive in and try it!