33 days ago I decided to start a personal challenge. I blogged about the “100 days of Happy” challenge on day 1 (check it out here if you’d like to see what it’s about) and will continue to give updates along the way. I’m about one-third of the way through and I’ve already learned so much about what makes me happy. More importantly, I’ve started to pick up on the real life lesson hiding in the shadows: how to be happy when there isn’t much to be happy about.
Let me start at the beginning. I began this challenge just a few weeks before Spring break. Spring break is always the time for my favorite holiday of the year….my birthday! (Ok, ok…maybe it’s not really a holiday.) But either way, Spring break is always an exciting time, so I had a lot to look forward to. I had lots of time to relax, went on a road trip to Bend, and just enjoyed my surroundings. It was absolutely pleasant. Being happy every day wasn’t really a challenge. But not every day is a vacation. Even if you are on vacation, not every day is going to be perfect. No one lives their whole lives without having bad days. Life isn’t like that.
When my perfect vacation came to an end, the stresses of real life started piling on. School, bills, work, fights with your boyfriend, spilling your entire plate of dinner, getting a speeding ticket, catching a cold, stubbing your toe…..whatever it might be, the bad is going to find you eventually. This is when the game really begins. You’ve been in the outfield the whole time and now you’re up to bat. How are you going to handle it? The true challenge, I’ve come to realize, has been trying to maintain that internal sunshine state even when the clouds started rolling in.
Here is where I found inspiration. Eight months ago I moved to Oregon from Hawai’i to attend WOU. A lot of those back home warned that “it rains a lot” but I didn’t mind. I’ve since been paying extra attention to the rainy days. Not only are they are the rainy days not nearly as frequent as I thought they’d be, I noticed something else unexpected: no matter how much rain comes pouring down, or how dismal the day may seem, Oregonians don’t let it stop them. I still see people doing the same activities: walking the dog, going for a jog, cutting the grass, or playing with their kids at the park. And no, they aren’t being sheltered by an umbrella! A neighbor told me “well, it’s not like you’re going to melt!” I am so inspired by that way of thinking. Why should you let a little rain stop you from acting like it’s sunny out? I’ve pondered the thought a lot lately and have been able to apply it to my every day outlook. When the day seems like there’s no hope for happiness, I try not to let it stop me. And it doesn’t just happen…I have to really put the effort into it. This means mentally setting yourself up for happiness. If you’re having one of those days when everything seems to be going wrong, stop and take a moment. Reflect. Remember the things that bring you happiness and let them bring you up.
It’s a never ending lesson I’m learning. Every day of our lives is teaching us something. Even the bad days. So take a step back and try to figure out what the lessons are. You’ll be happier in the end.
By Tia Jay