When I started this blog I realised that of the four challenge areas, Happiness would be the hardest to measure. The other stuff is a little easier to prove, right? You can count adventures on your fingers. And we all know whether we've fallen in love or not. And while the perfect pair of jeans is most certainly a challenge, it's pretty easy to see if your wardrobe has made improvements.
But happiness? It's so fickle! It changes moment to moment, day to day. Really, it's unrealistic to believe that you'd come to the end of 365.242 days and decide that Yes. I have achieved it. Happiness, forever.
Nonetheless, I feel like I've made a progress in this tricky business of happiness so let's see how we did:
Give up junk food for a week
See a career advisor
Enrol in a writing course
Go to bikram yoga every day for a week
Pay off old debts and set up a budget
Volunteer for a cause that's close to my heart
Disconnect for a week
Identify long term goals for career, home and relationships and start working toward them
Make and sell softies
See a dietician/nutritionist
Hang out with some sharks
Donate something special to a special cause
Go to a personal trainer
No complaining for a week
Keep a list of things I'm grateful for
Plan a weekend escape with the girls
Have one day completely free from spending
Download Zombies! Run! and run for your life!
Give my career a boost....apply to start studying Masters in 2013
Check out those gaps! Man, I have a whole lot of catching up to do.
But am I happier than I was a year ago? Yes. And some days No. But for the most part, Definitely (particularly when it's a 40 degree day outside and I've just had lunch with friends and we're flirting with old Italian men while buying granita for the long hot walk back to work).
It's not necessarily that I have more things that make me happy, or that I've cracked some secret code. I just know more clearly what makes me happy and what doesn't. And of course it helps that by sheer luck, I live a life in which I'm safe from war and persecution, in which I don't have to seek refuge in countries that refuse me, where I have been afforded the luxury of a good education and career and where I never have to wonder where my next meal will come from or where I'll sleep. That sure helps.
For me happiness is showing compassion. It's being thankful the good things (and people) in our world. It's celebrating beauty. It's taking the good with the bad. It's being inspired. It's refusing to be nice. It's feeling healthy and exercising. It's waking up and looking for the good in each day (which admittedly is an ongoing struggle, especially when your first hot chocolate of the day isn't super hot).
And oddly - a key part of happiness for me is sadness. I've always thought there's something exquisite about heartbreak. Those moments where you'll see something on the street, or in a book or even in a movie, that cracks your heart. Call me crazy, but I love those moments.
But mostly I've come to realise that happiness is my friends. Brace yourself for some mush.
I'm not quite sure where I'd be without them. But I do know that whenever we spend time together, no matter how sad or stressed or worried I am, I leave knowing that everything is going to be okay.
This one always reminds me of my friends. I'm so very lucky.
So Happiness in 365.242 days? Achieved. Someone remind me of this the next time I'm complaining about that hot chocolate.
What's your happiness secret?