In January of 2018, I was inspired by a friend to do the 100 Happy Days challenge. The 100 Happy Days Project was founded by Dmitry Golubnichy, who questioned his “why” and his life’s purpose. He realized he wasn’t satisfied with his life. Noticing his friends’ happiness caused him shame about his contrarianism. He decided to stop complaining and set a challenge to be happy for 100 days in a row. He made a hashtag and called it #100happydays. This project is all about noticing small or large things in your life that make you happy.
When I decided to do it, I was categorically unhappy. Though I liked my work at the time (I was working a temporary, full-time job with a very regimented schedule), while having nightly coaching calls, I didn’t have much autonomy. I was involved in a difficult and complex relationship. I was also living in a beautiful city where I knew only a couple of people. All three of my major tenets of life were on the fritz.
Having attempted (and quitting) the Hundred Happy Days challenge a few years before, I was skeptical. I didn’t know if I could or would finish, but I was mostly nervous about posting photos daily.
These questions swirled around: was it vain to post pictures of my life? Was my life too dull, predictable, and small? Would I be faking happiness because inside I really felt stifled? Would other people think this is dumb or worse, not care at all? Why did I have to make this public?
I examined friends who posted (self-promoted?) often and realized they did not bother me. In fact, I enjoyed their commentaries and unique photos! I thought about the public aspect of this project. Why did I need to post publicly to be happy rather than simply acknowledge my feelings, happy or not? This was (and still is) a big topic. One friend hates when people share posts about their dying pets and bad days. Another friend thinks social media is a concept to stretch outside of our insular bubbles and he welcomes debate and contrary viewpoints.
I know one person who has never been on social media, with the exception of LinkedIn. She’s never had a Facebook profile, an instagram account, a snapchat feed, or a twitter handle. She wears this as a badge of courage. She’s a cultural anomaly for my generation.
The 100 Happy Days project has been interesting: at the beginning, I felt self-conscious because I wasn’t much of a participator in social media. In the middle, I got the hang of it and my posts became more interesting. By the end, I was confident and told stories along with my photos. Overall, my posts were innocuous. They reflected how I felt. Over the course of the three+ months, I became comfortable with where I was. I made some big decisions.
Two of the difficult decisions were to move back to Los Angeles and to break-up with my boyfriend. I’d had a love-hate relationship with LA for a few years, as I’ve written about in previous posts (What Does “I Love You” Really Mean?). Yet, when an old friend announced that he had a room for rent in his large duplex, I was compelled to make the move. I realized that I needed to be closer to my support system. That part of the decision was underway, but I still had to contend with my wishy-washy feelings about the relationship I was in.
In the one hundred days, I definitely found sparkling moments and little (or big) things to be happy about. But, I wasn’t settled in myself. That was my biggest take-away. I maintained my positive attitude and kept an eye on gratitude, but wasn’t thrilled.
Looking at my life over the one hundred days, I realized how alone I felt. Moving back to LA was step one in regaining my true happiness.
I decided to do a second round of the 100 Happy Days project. Looking back, everything felt electric! I reconnected with old friends, ate amazing sushi, went on some neat trips. My grandma died during this time, but I felt supported by both my real life friends and online supporters.
Now, it’s been well over 200 days since I started this project, and I had been debating doing a third round. The same initial questions came back to me.
Does anyone really care? Do people think they know me because I post a small slice of life? Is this tedious? Am I self-absorbed? Who really needs to do this a third time in a row?
I only partially wanted to know the answers to these questions! I felt indecisive about doing the project again, but ultimately decided to start. I’ve turned this into my personal project for almost a year. I’ve learned that I can post without major embarrassment, leading me to realize that I can also speak publicly. Additionally, I’m realizing that there’s beauty in online vulnerability. I didn’t understand that before.
I also realized this project has helped me find grace in difficult days. Albeit corny to use a hashtag to acknowledge happiness, it’s been rewarding. I’ve connected with old friends because of it, and I’ve grown.
If you’d like to do this, simply start today! I’d love to see your posts so be sure to comment below if you decide to check it out! As a sign of my own progress, I invite you to follow along my third round www.instagram.com/neonneen.