My Fifteen 100 Happy Day Challenge Lessons
I wrapped up my 100 happy day photography challenge 2 few days ago. I had a few simple self-imposed rules that guided me through the 100 days:
- Photos must be taken on my Pentax K5, not the camera on my phone. Since we have an awesome camera, I want to force myself to use it more, and this seems like a great way to do it.
- I initially said I may not take photos every day. Clearly, I don’t half ass things and took daily photos.
- Once a week, I share all the photos on www.myperfectbreakdown.com.
- As my blog is anonymous, my daily photos had to be free of any obvious self-identifying elements (i.e. no selfies).
- I am only allowed 2 photos of my dog during the 100 days. This arbitrary number was chosen to prevent me from simply taking her photo at 11pm if I didn’t get another photo during the day. Sadie made her appearance on Day 50 and Day 85. Day 50 was her first appearance as it celebrated a big milestone. Day 85 was an 11pm desperation photo, exactly what I wanted to prevent.
Following these rules, I took at least 1 happy photo for 100 consecutive days!
Today I want to reflect on what I’ve discovered about myself through the process:
- I love fresh food. I have always known I love really good food, but I also discovered that fresh food in particular makes me happy. Whether it be fresh fruit or fresh salads, I love digging into great healthy fresh food (Day 37, Day 79 and Day 86).
- I have never before in my life enjoyed gardening. This year, now that I actually had time to pay attention to my gardens, I actually took a little bit of pleasure in trying not to kill our vegetables and seeing them grow (Day 8, Day 30 and Day 38).
- I have always maintained that I do not like fall or winter. But it turns out, when forced to search for and see happy moments, there are many things about winter that I do enjoy – something as simple as wearing boots again is an enjoyable (Day 83) or curling up next to a fire to keep warm with the power goes out (Day 66).
- We love to travel and see the world, even if the world is just our own back yard. Seeing and experiencing new things is almost a sure way to put a smile on my face (day 95).
- I noticed through the process that similar things would make me happy on a regular basis, but I chose only to share different things each day. This is interesting to me, first because there are simple things that happen very regularly that I love – for example, I love enjoying a chai tea latte almost daily, but this only became a photographable moment on Day 88. Second, this is interesting because I wasn’t content sharing a repeat happy moment. Something in me drove me to search for different photo worthy happy moments to share. When I started, I never had a rule that each photo had to be different, but it somehow developed into one. And, I’m glad it did, because it forced me to search harder for something different every day.
- Taking a simple happy photo, once a day, no matter what is occurring, did in fact help me see that even on really bad days, there are still things that make me happy. It may be as small as a flower growing up between some rocks (Day 84), or my husband bringing me a Dairy Queen Blizzard (Day 25), but these things do make me happy and I now understand just how important it is to acknowledge such small happy moments in the midst of a bad day.
- At times, happy is not obvious to me and not easy to find. On bad days, I have to search for happiness. I have to make an effort to find something that will make me feel good. There have even been days where my husband has had to make a happy moment for me (Day 67).
- Most things in my happy photos were not purchased. While there were days where I did use something mass produced to create a happy moment (Day 18 or Day 87), there were actually very few days that I relied on a mass produced, commercial item to make me happy.
- There is just something about fresh air that helps create a happy moment for me. I find that going for a walk (Day 69) or stopping to take in a mountain scenery has a calming effect on me (Day 29).
- I have always known that nature has an important influence on my emotions. As a women living in a land locked province, I did not realize how much the presence of water is on my mood. But as it turns out water in particularly important to me (Day 5 and Day 27). When watching the light ripples in a stream, or the raging current of a river, or even the stillness of a lake, I feel a unique sense of calm and inner peace.
- Good friends and family are an important part of my life, and almost always, they provide me with happy moments (Day 39 and Day 48).
- I found that I started to plan events that would be guaranteed to make me happy. The event could be as simple as an evening glass blowing class with friends (Day 89), that I just knew would including smiling and laughing.
- My mom and sister will forever have a positive impact on my life (Day 52). Even though they are gone and are deeply missed every single day, their memories still shine through and result in unexpected happy moments in my life.
- Sometimes happy moments can be so freaking obvious, that its almost as though they come along just to smack me across the face and make me pay attention. Like random signs in my travels that seem to present themselves as key moments, and they are so obvious that I cannot help but notice (Day 41, Day 62 and Day 96).
- Spending time with my husband is very important to me, and he almost always puts a smile on my face. While I know that we are not perfect for the most part, even after an argument, we constantly make each other happy (Day 19).
So now that I’ve reach the 100 day mark, what’s next? Am I going to continue?
I know many people, my husband included, have been encouraging me to continue. I have been really coy about my decision lately, because I have been struggling to answer this for a few weeks now. I’m very torn. I know if I sign on for another 100 days, my personality will not allow me to do anything but the best, so I have to be prepared to continue carrying my camera around with me. I am absolutely afraid of starting and then stopping short for some unknown reason. I am not a fan of quitting, and then feeling like I’ve let myself down.
I know that to continue means that I have to be prepared to work to see happiness every day – it is not always an easy task. And honestly, looking back, for the most part these first 100 days were all relatively easy days. Even my bad days, weren’t that bad – by this I mean that I had no active miscarriages to contend with, and no sever illness or deaths in my circle of family and friends. I distinctly remember being happy when we did not end up pregnant last month, because I knew it meant I would get through all the days without facing some of the darkest times in my life – the loss of our child through a miscarriage. I’m not sure if I want to tempt fate again on this one because I know I will struggle immensely to see happiness through such an event.
Yet at the same time, the last week has been particularly hard on me, possibly even one of the worst weeks we’ve endured through all of our RPL struggles as I am sorting through a lot of emotions right now. So, part of me knows that forcing myself to continue to search for small happy moments is probably a good thing.
Yet, honestly, part of my hesitation about signing up for another 100 days, is the thought of having to find happy moments during brutally cold winter days. This may sound silly, but if you have lived with -30C for more than a week, you probably know what I mean. While, I am not miserable throughout the winter, I just don’t love it. And I don’t want the project to turn into random photos of things in my house as I try to see happy moments on cold winter days.
So what am I going to do? I am leaning towards continuing. So, for now, I think I will continue on the premise that if it starts to feel like a chore (as opposed to fun), I will probably quit because the point is fun and happiness.
I have no set end date in mind. Maybe another 100 days. Or maybe another 265 days, to bring my total to 365. Only time will tell.
If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.
Lovely photos. I think you should continue, if it doesn’t become a stressful task for you. I would invest in some really good gloves though… And I wonder how your camera will hold up in the coldest of cold?
Thank you for the encouragement. I didn’t event think about the actual taking of outdoor photos in the cold! I always wear mittens, so you are so right when you suggest that good gloves may be required! As for the camera handling the cold, I guess only time will tell! 🙂
I really enjoyed this post. I wouldn’t have thought about reflecting on it, but it really does tell you a lot. 🙂 I look forward to more pictures too. I think your plan is perfect.
Thank you so much for the encouragement! I think the reflection came out of a need to focus on happiness over the last week. 🙂
I think you should continue. I am actually going to start doing this myself because it is something that I want to reflect on – the happy times. I don’t have a nice camera but my phone is brand new with a 13 MP camera on it that I believe would work well. So…..- let the happy days begin!
Thanks for the encouragement! I think its a great idea to start doing the 100 happy days!
I have no doubt a camera phone will be perfect – in fact, I suspect that’s what most people do because it would be so much easier to carry just a phone! The only reason I chose our SLR over my phone is that I wanted to learn to use it better, but it is a pain in the butt carrying it around with me.
Enjoy the happy!! 🙂
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I think you could compromise with maybe an additional 30-50 days, instead of a full 100. That way you can re-assess at the end of 50 days and not end up feeling like a failure if you need to take a break from it.
That said – this is an excellent project! I’ve seen people doing 100-day happy/grateful things on facebook and tumblr and wordpress, but they usually don’t include photos. Your 100 happy days has been an inspiration, and I might just end up stealing it.
I like your idea of a shorter time frame. And absolutely steal it, it’s been a good thing for me. 🙂
Selfishly, I want you to continue because I love your photos.
Though not quite as intentional as your project, my instagram account is super helpful at reminding me that I have an exciting, full life. It’s nice to have proof, eh?
I think I should look into this instagram thing, I suspect I would love it 🙂 (and, yes, I am that out of touch with the world).
And you are right, it is nice to have proof that life is good and happy. 🙂
Such a wonderful post. I’m so glad that you were able to find glimmers of happiness along this difficult journey. It really is amazing how the simplest of things can lift you up sometimes. Maybe just go for a shorter challenge, just a month, so you don’t feel too much pressure? Lovely to hear that this has helped you though, I’ve had 3 losses now and can feel your pain in your blog. Sending you hope, strength and love xxx
Thank you for your love and support – it means so much. I so hate that you are on the same path, and I desperately hope that it works out for you, sooner rather then later! 🙂
I loved this post. It made me smile 🙂 Pawkisses for a Happy Weekend 🙂
Thanks so much! I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well! 🙂
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I think this has been such a beautiful way to capture joy even in the little things which we often take for granted. These things truly do bring joy and moments of happiness even on the bad days. Hopefully there will still be one thing you enjoy and that makes you happy even on those bitter cold days. I know for me, it was sometimes as simple as a hot bath or a cozy blanket. 🙂 No matter how long you decide to keep it up, know how much joy it brings to all of us too.
P.s. I feel the same way about being near water too.
Oh, a hot bath, that sounds delightful! And thank you for pointing out that my little moments make other people smile as well.
They really do! ❤
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