There’s a lot of unhappy going on out there. Buzz words that conjure the worst viral stories and make our hearts drop into the pits of our stomachs. Words that lose all authentic meaning in the moment and become emblems of pure emotion, driving parents to despair. A once normal word like ‘gorilla’ triggers conflicting feelings of anger and hopelessness. Add ‘anti-vax’, ‘forward-facing’, and ‘breastfed‘ to the list and you’re sunk; it’s evolving and eternal. And it’s also true—these things do happen and they’re awful, but reading about them on Facebook every day doesn’t empower us, it drowns us. Sure we’re drawn to the heavy, but shouldn’t we also celebrate the light? 100 happy days was my shift in focus, my commitment to happy—and it can be yours too.
What is this 100 happy days stuff?
Let’s be realistic, life isn’t always happy. My 100 happy days were not all happy in their totality. There were dark days of frustration, sorrow, loneliness and discouragement. But there was something happy about each of them. I loved 100 happy days because it was a declaration of independence from a state of despair. Darkness could and would exist by necessity, as life isn’t perfect. But my happy is going to exist too, in spite of the darker stuff. Happiness is a choice, and 100 happy days was a commitment to choosing happy in some small way, every day, no matter what.
How does it work?
I was helped along the way by a little something called ‘confirmation bias’. In a negative sense, it is what fuels spikes in fear of crime when crime rates themselves drop. You search for details that confirm your worldview. If you think the world is a scary place, you will remember the scary stuff. If you believe the world is a happy place, you will find happy things. I found myself looking for the happy spots in my day and inevitably I would find something (even if it was just that lactose-free milk was now available at Starbucks.) At the end of each day, I would gather my sparkly shiny bits of happy news and eagerly share them with my friends.
Hashtags are used to draw attention and contribute to a broader conversation. #YesAllWomen enabled conversations about misogyny and violence against women. #HasJustineLandedYet put the spotlight on a PR executive’s ill conceived racist tweet. #100happydays was about flooding news feeds with happy. It’s like a public service campaign to bring awareness to happy, making it more accessible. Free happy for all!
Social media is a powerful agent of change. In so many good news stories, one person’s life circumstances are altered thanks to a story going viral and a wrong being righted by some outside force. 100 happy days doesn’t demand an intervention for a different outcome. It changes the perspective about the magnitude and prevalence of problems by giving context. Happiness is an inside job and that level of positive energy can be contagious.
I might have annoyed people, I don’t know. Nobody was vocal enough to be like “Hey you! Knock off the happy over there, it’s after 11 pm.” Mostly, I got a lot of encouragement from others, and some people even said they looked forward to hearing about my happy stuff and were sad when it was over.
To be honest, I’m a little bit sad too. 100 Happy days did its job for me. It helped me to refocus, recharge and be thankful. Towards the end I was even able to engage my son a bit and started to ask him to pick out his happy pieces of news for the day. Perhaps, this experiment will change the way he perceives every day and influence the positivity he puts into and takes from all of his experiences—a lifetime of happy.
Previously published at Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops. Alison Tedford is a Canadian freelance writer and mom. She documents her journeys in parenting, mental health and fitness on her blog Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops.