Take The Happiness Challenge

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The world’s a big bad place.

There are things out there that are far worse than lions, and tigers, and bears; bad news comes in threes; and they never have the right shoes in your size. Robert Frost was indecisive, but it seems more than likely that the world will end in both fire and ice in some kind of nuclear warfare within our lifetime. Indifference and apathy are the favoured forms of YA existence.

It’s easy to take refuge in an angst-filled teenage wasteland. To become one among the disillusioned masses barely getting by in a dystopian reality. To see your life in the slick, disjointed shots of a Guy Ritchie film. Happiness, on the other hand, is too mainstream. Happiness, if anything, is best when it remains a warm gun.

And that’s why I challenged myself last year, in 2012, to The 366 Day Hapiness Challenge: finding 366 things that made me happy. Every day I blogged about one little thing that had made me happy that day.

A song that reminds me of a person, a K-Pop video, a picture that makes me melt (and if this happens, chances are its subject is a puppy), a quote that makes me think, a book – any book that I can get my hands on, a sale in Zara, and the process of drying myself off with a Turkish towel all give me the warm fuzzies. There are little things out there that just need to be captured and held on to when the dark and twisties come around.

Because it’s true. The disillusioned YA have got it right: nobody cares. But if nobody cares that you’re miserable, you might as well be happy.

2012 was a long year, a helluva year, and I desperately sought happiness all through it. I fell in love, in like, and in lust that year, and the only one that didn’t disappoint me is lust. I tried so many new things, and met so many new people, but most of them didn’t live up to the expectations I had of them. I took a few enormous leaps of faith, only to realise that I live in the Real World and not in Assassin’s Creed, so I landed flat on my face.

But in 2013, I’ve still wished on the first star I’ve seen every night. I’ve still sung along when a good song came on the radio. I’ve still fallen in like, and earlier this year I fell in love – the real, I want-to-make-some-one-else-happy kind of love – again.

There’s a happy person inside me, who’s simmering just beneath the surface of existential angst and wayward soul-seeking.

And that’s why the Challenge was good for me. It’s been almost a year since it ended, but I remember how hard it was to update the blog when I was miserable, heart-broken, or stressed out. But therein lay the Challenge: Looking for the little things when the big things seem to be crashing down around you.

A year on, and I’m still a work in progress or in repair, depending on when you met me, but I’m probably a better person than before the Challenge began.

The 366 Day Happiness Challenge might have been completed, but the real challenge has been to carry it forward, and to keep choosing to be happy. 2013 has been a better year than 2012, though, because now I know that I can find them. I can find the little things that are so much bigger in the long run – because the reasons for your unhappiness will fade, but the little things will always be around to make you happy.

It’s a challenge, being happy. But I’ve never backed down from a challenge yet.

Indefinitely Long Real-Life Happiness Challenge: Accepted. TC Mark

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