100 Happy Days: Day 101

I’ve just completed the 100 happy days challenge, which I posted on my Instagram account (https://instagram.com/norecipelife). In case you haven’t heard of it, the basic idea is that you post at least one picture a day capturing something that made you happy. It was kind of fun, and definitely interesting, but more often than not I found it kind of annoying. Just another frustrating thing I have to do that I don’t want to.

In theory, participating in the 100 happy days makes  you think about good things in your life, with the intention that it will take focus off the negative things and make you grateful for what you do have. I love that idea. It’s great. But the reality didn’t really work out so well.

A large part of this not working out as planned was the time in my life I chose to do it. Because I work from home there are a lot of days I see absolutely nothing interesting whatsoever. Due to a lack of means to go out and do exciting things, bad time management, and a pretty uneventful social life, there really didn’t seem to be anything worth sharing on a lot of days. I’d search around for something and usually it would just be a picture of food, or I’d google image search for something cool and be happy about that instead of anything in my real life. A lot of my pictures wound up being of food, or coffee, and while I don’t have a problem with that really, it is kind of boring and seemingly pointless if you look at them all together. It got to a point where I was like, is food really the main thing that makes me feel happy at this point in my life? Because that’s kind of sad. On my penultimate day, the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality in all 50 states, and it was awesome to be able to include that in my set of pictures. I was very glad that happened on the 99th day. However, the next day I posted several pictures and ALL of them were food-related.

Lesson number 1: If you’re going to start this challenge, you should try to pick a time when something interesting or exciting is already built into your plans, so that you have other things to share than just food. Vacation, graduation, party, I don’t know. Something like that. Or you could actually have a social life, unlike me.

On the few occasions I spent time with friends and wanted to take a picture, I generally felt too awkward to ask them to pose for/with me to take a picture, so I would just snap a photo when I thought of it, resulting in very bad pictures. A lot of the time when I’m with my friends we aren’t sitting that close together so it’s actually hard to get a group shot unless they’re willing to pose. One time in particular, when I would most have wanted to share a picture of the two of us, my intense fear of rejection kicked in and I just couldn’t make the request. Most of my friends are also not that into social media of any kind and always seem a little bit unwilling to smile for the camera… whereas I take selfies all the time. Of all my friends who I know have Instagram accounts, none of them are people I see with even the remotest regularity. So I just stole the pictures I could, usually extremely mediocre shots that did not actually capture the enjoyment of the time spent together.

Lesson number 2: Learn to ask people if they’ll be in pictures with you. If they seem annoyed or act like it’s a big deal, just don’t ask them again. Or, ask them why they don’t want there to be any record of your friendship, if you want to guilt them into it.

Then there are the times that being absorbed in actually living, I didn’t stop to take the time to take a picture. Later on that day I’d be annoyed that I actually had something to talk about but couldn’t share a picture of it. Or I was feeling a more abstract happy, based on something that you can’t really capture in a photograph. Some people would get super creative at that point, but I didn’t really want to take the time, so I usually just took a selfie (making a weird face) and then posted that with a note about my happy thing that’s unrelated to the selfie.

Lesson number 3: Experiencing things is more important than taking pictures of the things you’re experiencing. If you actually believe you’ll forget about it in time, you can write it down later.

But, another thing about this time in my life… my mood wasn’t in a great place either. I had several low points during those 100 days and it sometimes became very hard to think of anything that I felt good about in the moment. I couldn’t resort to “I’m happy that I have my health” because it just sounds so clichéd, plus how would I even take a picture of that? And you can always share a picture of your loved ones or something, but as I said before I am kind of hesitant to share pictures of people on social media who do not tend to share pictures of themselves, even though I would really like my Instagram to reflects that sometimes I do actually spend time with other people–I’m not 100% loner. But no such luck. So on the days when everything pretty much felt miserable, and nothing in my life was bringing me joy, I’d basically just pull something out of my ass or post nothing, if I was running out of time and had no ideas. I didn’t feel good about, it but I decided to finish this thing that I started so I gave it at least some effort when I didn’t feel like doing it at all.

Lesson number 4: Forcing, fabricating, or pretending happiness is not always possible. Sometimes you need to ride out a bad time (whether it’s a minute, a day, or a week) and deal with it the best way you can.

Then, of course, there was the fact that most of my photos got about two or three likes. Some only one. Occasionally, none at all. I don’t have too many followers yet, so the pool of ‘grammers who saw my posts by default was pretty small. Still, every time I posted a picture and it got the bare miminum of likes, I would think “no one cares about my life. No one cares about my happiness. What’s the point of doing this if no one cares?” Of course, that’s not why you do the 100 happy days challenge—if you’re going to do it, do it for you. However, the point of doing it on social media is to share the experience, which is harder to keep up if you get no response. Otherwise, you can take a picture and just look at it by yourself. It always feels better to get the likes. It’s almost as if your happiness is getting confirmation or validation, like “being happy about this is good.”

Lesson number 5: Other people might not understand or agree with the thing that makes you happy. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should be ashamed or second-guess yourself. 

I would have to say I’m glad that I tried this, and coming out of it I do feel happy-ish, but not really happier than I was when I started. Maybe if I had made more effort to have adventures so that I could take pictures of cool, exciting things, or if I had people in my life that would take group selfies with me on a regular basis, I would have gotten more from it? I don’t know. I think the way things did work out, it was brought to my attention how boring my life is. And it REALLY is, especially these days. The occasional point of interest will pop up but that’s pretty much it.

Maybe it’s that little voice always there in the background saying that you need to post awesome instagram pics so that you’ll get more followers, so that people will envy your life. Most people on social media feel this way. We want people to look at our posts and think, that’s cool.

Lesson number 6: For a regular person, like me, it’s important to find ways to be happy in mundane or lonely times. Being able to take real pleasure in small things and knowing what to do to live a life you enjoy, even if it’s boring, is what’s going to make it worth living in the end, maybe more than doing things that will result in exciting stories.

I wouldn’t call the result of this challenge either a failure or a success. I would be interested to try it again sometime in the future, sometime when the everyday life I’m living is a little closer to what I really want. Preferably with a bit of travel, a lot more friends, and some kind of accomplishments mixed in. If that doesn’t work out, maybe I can do it again and learn to be more happy with my life without the excitement of adventures or the validation of a lot of likes.

*This post is longer than I expected it to be, but I had a lot to say. I considered putting a few of my pictures in this post, but lately it’s been harder, for some reason, to get posts formatted the way that I want if I add pictures. It screws up the paragraphs and it’s a bitch to fix. Besides, you can view them all on Instagram… 😉

Posted on June 28, 2015, in Blog, Extras, Life and Style and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Now I even feel like THIS post was pointless. I thought there would be people who would be interested in a more in depth look at how 100 happy days can go when you’re not really that happy, or when you don’t have anything interesting going on. Instead I just think no one cares at all, and I should just go to my Instagram and remove all those posts. My experience clearly means nothing.

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