A few months ago, I came across a website promoting a challenge — 100 days of happiness — where one would post a photo to Twitter or Instagram for 100 consecutive days, along with the hashtag #100happydays.

Why did I find this interesting? Wasn’t I already happy in life? What would taking pictures every day have anything to do with the feeling of being happy?

I had no idea. But having to take a minute out of every day to look at things in my life that really made me smile was something I wanted to do. People can’t ‘make’ you happy, only you can do that for yourself. What I wanted to learn was what actually made me happy. Because everyone deserves to have happiness, even me.

During this challenge, I kept a daily journal (ie. blog — #100happydays) of the little things that made me happy each day. Some days I did not have an accompanying photo, but I wanted to record everything I was feeling and everything I learned about myself for the future, hoping my sons will read it.

In the past 100 days of my life, I learned 4 things about being happy:

1. It’s always the little things.

Almost daily, I discovered little things that would make me smile, something I probably wasn’t even aware of before the challenge. Things like being appreciated and complimented would often go unnoticed in my life, shrugged off, but now when someone personally thanks me for something, it really touches me. When a friend does something nice for me, it truly feels amazing to know someone actually cares about me. We all need to think of others more often.

Other little things that made me smile included certain smells that brought back memories; walking by myself, whether enjoying the activity of downtown or the quietness of a forest; watching the seasons change; falling asleep to the sound of rain; and even a quick trip to the beach.

2. You need to surround yourself with the right people to share your life with.

So many times I found myself writing about my family, people I work or volunteer with, new friends made through Twitter. It’s my choice who I spend time with and it certainly makes sense to spend it with people who make me smile, people who are positive.

I am so thankful for my sons, as I’m sure anyone would figure out if they were following my challenge. I love spending time with them and hope the feeling is mutual. In a few years their lives will move on, and I may not be a big part of it anymore, so I choose to soak up all the time I can get now!

I truly appreciate favours people do for me — more than they could probably imagine. I’ve never really been one to ask for help in life, always thinking I can do anything that is needed. Well, I can’t. Sometimes in life we have to ask for help, and those people who are quick to say ‘yes’ are the ones we appreciate more than words could ever say.

Through Twitter, I have opened up a new part of my life by actually meeting new people. For years, I never really had close friends — sure, I was friendly with coworkers and parents I volunteered with — but not close friends. During the past few months, I have met some amazing people who I probably never would have had the chance to meet in real life. Some really great relationships have been formed and there are other people I have yet to meet that I simply can’t wait for. Surround yourself with people who make you happy — definitely working on that!

3. You need to make yourself happy because you can’t rely on someone else to.

Such a true statement. I think everyone lives through those relationships with people who feel their partner needs to make them happy. If things don’t work out, is it because they didn’t make sure you were happy or because you didn’t make sure you were happy? It’s always up to you.

Things I did for myself during the challenge included buying flowers for myself, which certainly brightened up my days; listened to my favourite music, read books and played games I enjoyed; exercised and took care of my health; and also improved my self-esteem (ie. presented a workshop for the first time!), something I’ve always had issues with. The more you do things for yourself, the more happy you are doing them — and in general. Try it.

4. Enjoy today and look forward to what tomorrow brings.

This may just be a personal thing I discovered about myself. I’ve realized that it’s such a waste of time and energy to look at the past. It’s done…and while it’s brought you to this time in your life, you need to see what’s in front of you right now.

I love doing new things. I love having new experiences in life. I never knew that until this challenge forced me to look at what truly makes me happy.

I like Brussels sprouts and strawberry daiquiris. I’ve learned to play pool, chess, disc golf and even kayaking. I’ve seen movies in 3D and experienced a live performance of Cirque du Soleil, things I’ve never done before but honestly, love. I’ve unplugged a kitchen drain and put together a barbecue. I started dating after more than 20 years. And I have loved doing all of it.

I will continue looking for the things that make me happy each and every day, even though this ‘challenge’ is complete. Maybe you don’t need a challenge to see what’s already in your life, but I did and am thankful I saw it through.

I look forward to tomorrow and next week and next month, because I know what it takes to be happy … and I will be.

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