What I learned doing the 100 days of Happiness Challenge

It’s been a long, long, long time since I blogged. We’re back with a doozy of a post – so buckle in.

 

I recently completed the 100 days of Happiness Challenge.

The idea behind the challenge is simple. For 100 days, take and post a picture of something that made you happy that day. I love a good challenge (if anyone recalls many moons ago when I challenged myself to blog every day for a year). A challenge that requires me to post things publicly is even better as there’s a sort of accountability with the entire internet when your completion (or lack thereof) is public. The reason behind the challenge is to help focus on the little things in life that make us happy, to think positive thoughts and to generally become a happier person.

I think.

I probably should have researched more about the point of the challenge before doing it. My main takeaway was: if you’re sad it will help you be happier. Not by making you a happy go lucky all the time person. Instead by allowing you to see not everything is awful on account of the moments of joy scattered like seeds on a sesame seed bagel (albeit some bagels are seedier than others).

So here’s what I learned – no it’s not 100 things.

  1. It doesn’t actually make you happy.
    • Sure you acknowledge moments of joy and happiness. But on the whole are you a happier person because you took a picture of something that made you smile every day? I don’t think so, it more just helps you not focus so much on things that are sad. Maybe you think that pulling your attention away from whatever is dragging you down makes you happy – I disagree but more on that later.
  2. It’s really hard to take pictures of everything that makes you smile.
    • Partially because I feel like I turned into one of those cliche Instagram girls who has to have perfect lighting and stop constantly to capture something rather than enjoying it. At some point I gave up on the lighting thing and accepted that no matter how many different filters I tried, some of the pictures still looked like garbage. But garbage that made me happy. So what do I care if you think I’m a stinky photographer? Leave me alone with my smelly garbage photo. :p
  3. Some things that make you smile can’t be captured in photography – or shouldn’t be.
    • There were moments that made me smile these past 100 days that were comments, jokes and other life experiences that can’t be captured in a single photo. They were fleeting, they were verbal or it would have ruined the moment to get the camera out and try to take a picture of it. Nothing ruins a moment more than stopping everyone while you pull out the camera and force everyone to hold a pose. There’s a line between enjoying a moment and documenting it. One of my pet peeves includes people who spend too much time documenting events that they don’t get to enjoy them. I opt more often than not to experience rather than document, so this challenge went a bit against my normal inclinations.
  4. You suddenly find yourself putting more of your life online than you might have otherwise.
    • I don’t usually post a TON to social media, but I do post. With 100 days of happy challenge I had to post more often than I would have otherwise. I don’t post meals that I eat or every time I take pictures of my snoring dog, but with this challenge, I sort of had to. This additionally opened up a lot of unsuspected conversations with people who took notice of my posts that previously haven’t commented/liked my posts.
  5. Sometimes, nothing made you happy that day.
    • There were a couple of hard days in the 100 days. Some where I would get to the end of the day and realize – wow, this was not a good day. I didn’t take any pictures, I could barely think of anything that brought a genuine smile to my face and yet I still had to do the challenge. Maybe not everyone does 100 consecutive days and thus skips those sorts of days, but I wanted 100 consecutive days and so I had to find something at the end of the day that would make me happy. Thank goodness I have pets.

 

So why did I do the challenge?

This is where the blog gets a little heavy. You don’t have to read further, this is mostly for me and my healing.

For just over a year now I’ve been dealing with depression – something I’ve never experienced before in my life. The why behind it I’m not going to get into. Generally things were pretty bad and I felt like no matter where I turned there wasn’t much in the way of help. A strong feeling of isolation, a general lethargy and lack of drive for basically every aspect of my life. I tried a lot of things to get better: books, counseling, medication, meditation, travel, food, exercise, Netflix marathons…nada.

A lot of “help” would include things like “look on the bright side”, “don’t let it get to you”, “think positive” etc etc. Well I’m positive that didn’t solve the problem. Thinking positive doesn’t take away what’s causing pain in your life. Yes, it can help you stop dwelling on it. It can help you to not feel sorry for yourself all the time; but it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue. I think there’s a line between depression and feeling sorry for yourself in a rough situation and sometimes those lines cross or line up for a bit and even influence each other.

Honestly I don’t think this challenge was the answer. I probably knew that going in but somehow felt like I needed to try based on the number of “think positive to be positive” type comments. I’m still glad I did the challenge; but posting pictures of small things like a sunset or a good meal doesn’t change your entire demeanor. I knew about halfway through the challenge that I would likely write this blog and if nothing else the challenge opened me up to blog about the much taboo topic of mental health. So that I’ll count as a general win.

I can almost guarantee 95% of the people who read this blog after following my 100 days of happy challenge had no idea why I was doing the challenge and what I was going through. Most people don’t talk about mental health whether they suffer from it or not. There are movements trying to bring awareness, and yet those suffering don’t talk about it. Why would we? Being told to “get over it” isn’t going to help you when you’re drowning after all and that seems to be a lot of the so called help when people do cry out.

When we’re physically injured people rally to help, send well wishes and check in on you. When you’re mentally injured we hide it and as a result are largely left to deal with the problems on our own. Some people may have a cry for help, others might not. Most people don’t know how to help whether they know what’s going on or not. Frankly those who need help might not even know what that help looks like to even ask for it.

 

So what helped me?

God.

I know I just turned half the readers who made it this far off. I don’t care. Like I said this blog is for me and there’s no way I’m ignoring the presence God has had in my depression.

Prior to my suffering that lead to depression I wasn’t great at reading my Bible or communing with God on the daily. Sure there would be periods that were strong and periods that were really bad but overall I wasn’t great. I’m still not amazing at it and because we’re all broken individuals and I don’t expect to ever be truly great at it. As my suffering increased I found myself driven back to the Word more and more regularly. Sometimes in tears. Sometimes as I ran out into the rain listening to my audio Bible to get away from whatever was going on.

Despite this frequency of reading the Word, the suffering did not lift and eventually spiraled into full fledged depression. At this point I couldn’t read anything. Focusing on any book was too much work – even the Bible. So I turned to podcasts and online church sermons in between bouts of depressive Netflix binges. Recently I listened to a sermon that pointed out that God can use bad situations in our lives to draw us back to him.

Maybe I was in danger of falling away – my job gets crazy hours and sometimes I justify not having devotional time by being too tired or because I just worked a 18 hour day etc. Similar to how a gardener prunes a plant to help it grow better, so too does God sometimes use trials to help us grow closer to him. That is I think the biggest thing I’ve learned over this past years even beyond the 100 days of happiness challenge. Instead of thinking a small photo of the day may make me happier, I can realize that I’m in the hands of someone bigger than I am who ultimately has my best interests at heart.

 

So the 100 days challenge is over. What now?

Well I continue forward with my life – just without documenting it as much. Regardless of ups and downs; I am still fighting. I’ll probably still post some happy photos to social media and I’ll definitely be reading my Bible more.

I move forward in full knowledge that God has His hand in what I’m doing and where I’m going. Yes going through this has majorly sucked and yes I’m still technically dealing with depression. I’ve gone through much I would never have chosen to experience. I’m still healing. But God uses the broken not the strong – because He is strong. God has placed me where I am and He knows what I need. He knows where I’m going and He knows that experiences like this in my life will be of benefit down the line; maybe to me, maybe to someone else, maybe both.

I’ve had experiences in the past that I wasn’t fond of at the time. Ultimately they helped me to help others through similar situations or put me in a place to talk to those I might not have spoken with or even took me somewhere I never imagined I would end up. There’s a reason and a plan in the midst of darkness and no amount of thinking positive will change what God has planned for your life. God is of course looking at the big picture and as evidenced over and over in the Bible, He knows what he’s doing even when the present is less than desirable.

It’s not that we can’t be happy – but in our broken world and separation from God it is not a constant state. Through the Bible God’s people were constantly crying out to God. The Israelites cried out over and over again. David did as evidenced in many of the Psalms. Even Jesus wept. Actually, going through my own difficult times led me to many such passages and one thing that came up over and over again through the cries of the people – God heard. God always hears us. It’s just that what we want may not be what is best for us in the long run. As a child cries for a candy but their parent instead forces them to eat their vegetables, so too does God know what we need to grow.

 

It’s not that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s what doesn’t kill you drives you to Him who is not only stronger, but the strongest.

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Published in: on February 18, 2018 at 11:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In Less Than Two Weeks I’m Going to Africa

Whaaaaaaaat? That seems like absurd facts but it is very much true. I’ve never done anything of this sort before and I’m simultaneously freaked out and excited.

I’ll be leaving for Tanzania where I will spend three weeks away from the world wide web and its trappings. But I think it’s going to be an amazing experience I could never hope to have here in Canada. I’m not really a camper and so I’ve had to borrow a lot of camp type equipment. Of course having never been to a third world country, I don’t actually know what I’ll need.

So I’m going to go stare at the list I’ve got and try not to spend any more money on things to take with me. It’s all going to come out okay, I think it’s just the lead up time that’s getting to me.

Published in: on May 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Perils of Parallel Parking

So I love watching people try to parallel park. I think it’s a riot sometimes.

You see, I like to say that the one thing I learned in High School was how to parallel park. This is of course a lie as I learned many other things in High School, but whatever it’s a thing that I say sometimes.

I’m damn good at parallel parking. I know the edges of my car to a “T” and can get her in a space with only a handful of inches of room on each end. This is a fact. Okay so I haven’t like, entered any parallel parking competitions…but that’s not the point.

The point is, where I live there is a lot of parking around that is only parallel. Now my being pretty handy at parallel parking means I sometimes have to bite my tongue and walk the other way so I don’t go over and pound on a stranger’s window to say “DUDE WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” and try to tell them how to do it correctly. There are obviously some instances (see: friends) when I will go over and help a person out…but that’s about it since I know I’d freak a person out if I banged on the window to help them.

But I can’t help watching people try to parallel park. And I feel a little sad everytime I see someone whose car will clearly fit in the space they’re after give up because they can’t get the angle and they keep hitting the curb. Those are the people I really want to help out..only I’m usually too far away and they’re driving off in a huff looking for another space to park.

Really they’re not perils of parking at all. Just my own inner turmoil when I see other people trying.

Published in: on September 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The story of my lucky earring

So I have this set of earrings that I adore. Like, they’re my favourite and I don’t even know where I got them from.

But one of the earrings is on a mission to run away.

You see the backs don’t click in to the earrings or anything and so they are pretty easily separated from the backing. This has happened to me multiple times when the front catches on my sweater whilst changing and is pulled free from the backing. It sounds like it ought to be painful, but trust me I don’t even notice it until I discover the earring gone.

This has happened two times now where I swore the earring was lost forever. Once when at a restaurant when I took of my scarf and it apparently caught. I didn’t realize it was missing until many blocks and half a concert later. I swore it would never be seen again but maybe I’d call the restaurant just in case.

I found it that evening in my shirt. What?!

This morning it happened again. I had accidentally slept in them. I discovered the one missing after I had changed and walked the dog. I dug through all my clothes. My laundry. Swept the bedroom floor. Nothing.

Because I knew these to be boomerang earrings, I figured it might turn up when I went to bed as under my pillow or something (that has happened). So I went ahead and went out.

I walked probably a total 40 blocks. Went to a 3 hour play, went for dinner and them came home and took the dog out. It was windy (but my hair was up).

I just lounged on the couch and took my hair down only to find the earring in my hair. Now how did this not get pulled out by the hairbrush or the 40 blocks of walking? I’ll never know. But it has reinforced my belief in the lucky boomerangesque earrings.

Published in: on July 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions are still very much opinions.

Everyone is entitled to think, everyone is entitled to like things and not like other things. The problem I have is when people start hating on each other when said opinions and likes don’t coincide with those around them.

I don’t like to eat fish. That’s a preference that I express ad nauseum to my friends and coworkers. But I have never, ever once told them it was not okay for them to eat fish.

But tonight the issue was in regards to abortion. Which deals with more than one person including an unborn, unable to make decisions for themselves person. I am in a distinct minority against abortion, despite being a woman myself and I realize this. But I’m entitled to my beliefs same as you are and no amount of screaming, name calling, beating or otherwise cyber bullying is going to change your opinions or mine. So I don’t know why people bother with that. If you want to have a sensible, mature discourse, I’m more than happy to oblige.

At this point in the evening, my opinions on abortion aren’t the issue.

The issue now becomes about the legality of Government actions. About changing rules and modifying time stamps to push your opinions on other people and tell them that their opinions aren’t warranted. This is what the government has resigned itself to?

I’m not sticking all night with this. I don’t even live in the USA anymore. But I will be interested to see how this pans out, but more importantly how it’s covered/not covered by the media.

Published in: on June 25, 2013 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mixin’ Up the Blog

One of these days, I’m going to find a blog title that works for me forever. I feel so inclinded to updated it over and over again.

Okay to be fair, the first change was cause the title used to reflect my college kid status, and the second title was about my writing every day mission I had that year. Now that I’m not doing a hard every day thing, I need to have a title that works till forever. Yes. That’s going to be a thing, right?

The idea of the blog is not changing. But I can’t very well have an “every day” blog when the every day mission is completed. So here we embark upon a new title, a new page, a new chapter. Who knows, maybe changing blog chapters this time – like all the other times – will also come with changing life chapters.

More to come, obviously.

Published in: on June 23, 2013 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Crazy Not Bomb

So this afternoon with work going pretty slow, I stepped out to get a coffee.

As I exited the building I noticed a firetruck at the bus stop and thinking not much of it went forward on my coffee hunting. La de da. When I got back to the office, there was a man in a yellow vest at the elevators. I stepped into the open elevator sort of confused as to why he didn’t and he promptly informed me I couldn’t use that elevator. Okay, weird. So I got out and used another.

By the time I got back to our floor – the 5th floor mind you and sat down at my desk with my coffee – a couple of coworkers came down the hall looking for a window. As has happened previously in these situations they picked mine.

Turns out the entire front half of the building had been police taped off. That’s right, the front door I had legitimately just came through not minutes before.

Um. Okay.

A Google search turned up a disappointing nothing and we were left to look out the window as camera crews arrived and other emergency vehicles. A couple of guys tried going back downstairs to find out what was going on. Turns out there was a suspicious package delivered ten floors above us. Pretty much everyone left my office to go search the web for more information.

Then I saw the Hazmat truck pull in.

It was pretty much at this point that the work day seemed over. It was nearly 5pm and I had a meeting at 8 that I was going to attend from home via the magic of video software. Our head of technology started going around telling people it may not be a bad idea if they all left. Another google search turned out news that we had been “evacuated” (said news site later refined the information to say the 15th floor had been evacuated, but really the scare was there).

I went home. I turned on the computer and got a feed of some photos of the event from the other side (legit, what did we do before twitter?) and after a while got word that the package was not anything dangerous and everything was declared safe.

What I really want to know, is what made the package suspicious in the first place that half the building/block got taped off when the delivery was to the 15th floor? It just seems a little odd is all.

Oh well, that was my day. Huzzah for some added interest.

Published in: on June 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Made A Thing

Despite the fact that the summer is nearly upon us, I have finally figured out how to make one of the beanies/toques I’ve been wanton to make since mid Feb.

I didn’t have a pattern, and that what scared me the most as I’m not all that good at crocheting, but I went for it and am pretty excited with how it came out overall.

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The darker purple photographs pretty close to black, but I think it looks pretty good overall. I may do a second (better?) one with the dark purple as the base, but I don’t have enough of the other color left to pull that off. 😦

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Now I just have to wait for it to get cold in order to wear it. 😦

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Published in: on June 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The New and Shiny Blog?

Doing a little overhaul on the blog. The crazy green dancey girl theme was getting old.

Still thinking on the title, not sure about it anymore as I obviously fell out of the “every day” part of the blog. I’ll probably try to get back into it, but I’m open to suggestions for new and exciting quirky blog titles.

Blogalog. I dunno. Something like that. Fun and yay sounding.

I’m going to sleep on it.

Published in: on June 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Percy Jackson

So despite the fact that I’m probably like a hundred years behind the times on this one, I started reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson Series.

A couple of my friends were reading it when I graduated, but at the time I was A – graduating and had finals and my whole life to figure out and B – reading a lot of classic literature instead.

So seeing as I’ve seen many, many, many clips of the Percy movie and I’ve been reading a lot more YA on account of the fantabulous John Green, it seemed like a good time to pick up the Percy series. Thankfully the library system round here is amazing and within days I had the first two books ready for pick up.

I’m not sure what I was expecting.

Maybe some sort of bizarre Harry Potter rip off tale? Maybe some otherworldly fantasy a la Sword of Shannara series? I figured they’d be easy reads that I could pick up and read passively over my lazy weekend. Instead, I got an enjoyable adventure book with mythological twists with an amazing blend of real world to magic world.

Harry Potter just sort of hides the magic away in a corner. Percy Jackson’s world literally hides it under their noses.

I read the first book well before the weekend was over and am already half way through the second and have the rest of the series on hold at the Library. I’m wait-listed though for most of them, so hopefully they come in shortly as I was not expecting this book series to be so enjoyable that I’d want to keep reading it farther than the first two any time soon.

But hey, that’s enjoyable writing for ya.

Published in: on June 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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