What is the key to happiness?
That is one of the Universe’s most mysterious questions, one that people spend their entire life trying to answer. You might say it is The Question, with “What is the meaning of life?” and “Is there life after death?” being probably the only other questions more commonly asked.
So what is the answer? Can we even answer it at all?
I’m not sure, to be completely honest. That’s the problem with happiness: It’s so specific to each individual person.
For instance, to me happiness is:
- A warm fluffy blanket on a chilly evening
- Caffeine when I’m tired (Moms, I know you feel me on that.)
- Hugs and kisses from my babies
- Milk chocolate M&Ms
- Spicy tuna rolls
- A good true crime book
- A hot bubble bath with epsom salt
What is happiness to you?
In this post, I am going to discuss what I think is the best happiness definition, the benefits of being grateful, and share a simple 21 day happiness challenge you can try. Keep reading for the full scoop!
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
The best happiness definition
Don Draper memorably said, ““But what is happiness? It’s the moment before you need more happiness.”
Not only is “Mad Men” my favorite show of all time, but this quote has stuck with me for a long time. It makes me wonder if we should even be trying to find happiness to begin with. Is it something we can find? Or is it an endless loop of searching and being left disappointed?
Admittedly, it’s a very cynical quote. But it leads to another very important question: When will it be enough?
Ponder that, and then read these less pessimistic quotes from Country Living about what happiness is."They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for." – Tom Bodett Share on twitter "There's nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons." – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower Share on twitter "If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present." – Roy T. Bennett Share on twitter "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy."- Anne Frank Share on twitter
Which one of these resonates with you the most? Make sure to share it so others can benefit from it.
Now, I want to dive into all the amazing side effects of being grateful for the things in your life.
So, what is happiness? Can we even define it? Here is my best attempt:Happiness is recognizing what you have in life, being grateful for for the good, and not letting the bad consume you. Share on twitter
The benefits of being grateful
Practicing daily gratitude has a lot of really amazing health benefits. When you can figure out what makes you happy, it’s important to regularly express gratitude for it. After all, it is a wonderful gift from the Universe, and it’s just good manners to say, “Thank you,” when you receive a gift.
According to an article on Forbes, there are 7 science-backed effects of being a grateful person. They say that:
- Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
- Gratitude improves physical health.
- It improves psychological health.
- It enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
- Grateful people sleep better.
- Gratitude improves self esteem.
- Gratitude increases mental strength.
One of the easiest ways to practice gratitude is journaling. Writing in a journal has a lot of mental health benefits. One of the best is that it helps you brainstorm all the things you have to be thankful for in your life.
When I write in my journal, I like to write down three things I’m grateful for that day. And not just food, water, and oxygen. I try to be really specific. For instance, “I’m grateful that my husband’s work day ended early so that he could give me a break from the kids.”
Even if you’re in a place where you aren’t able to dig deeper than “I’m grateful I got out of bed,” that’s okay. Start from where you are, and then make it a goal to be more specific and thoughtful over time.
Keep reading to find out the 21 day happiness challenge that can help you get started not just feeling happier, but more grateful too.
The 21 Day Happiness Challenge
Since we’ve kind of sort of nailed down what happiness is, and why it’s important to be grateful, let’s try something fun that will inspire you to feel happier.
I am a big fan of daily challenges, whether they’re 7 days, 30 days, or even longer. They are great ways to take small action steps toward a goal, and also have others hold you accountable.
I am going to be opening each day up for chat in my Facebook group, and I would love to see you there. You can join using the following button. Please make sure to answer the questions and agree to the rules when you do. That keeps the group a safe space for all the members.
I’m going to start posting on July 1st, so make sure to click above to join before then. When you do, feel free to introduce yourself on the related pinned post! I’ll be giving away a copy of one of my favorite books at the end of the 21 days, so make sure to turn on notifications and keep your eyes peeled for more info.
Here are your daily challenges!
Now, let’s get into the meat of the challenge. Remember, join my Facebook group for accountability and a chance to share your strategies with us. Every day, do the following activity and write in your journal about what you did and how it made you feel.
Click the image to order a journal if you don’t have one already!
Day 1: Go for a 30 minute walk, and take the time to point out all the beautiful or inspiring things you see.
- Where did you walk to?
- What did you walk past?
- Did you see anything beautiful along the way?
- Who did you walk with?
Day 2: Read an article of inspirational quotes, and really let them soak in.
- What article was it?
- What was your favorite quote on the list?
- Which one surprised you the most?
- Which one inspired you to take action?
Day 3: Take a relaxing bath, and give yourself time to really care for yourself afterwards.
- How long was your bath?
- Did you use any bubbles or salts?
- Did you do anything else while you bathed? (Listened to a podcast, read, etc)
- What did you do afterwards to keep the relaxation going? Did you apply lotion? Use a face mask?
Day 4: Listen to a song that really makes you happy, and start a dance party!
- What song did you pick?
- Did you sing along?
- Did anyone else join in the dance party?
- What other songs make you happy?
Day 5: Spend some time smiling and laughing at old photos.
- What were the photos of?
- Who else was in them?
- Why did they make you smile or laugh?
- What was the last photo you took?
Day 6: Write down 3 things that went RIGHT today.
- What were they?
- Name something that went wrong, but how you plan to avoid it next time.
- Where did you write them?
- Write down a positive affirmation to carry you into tomorrow.
Day 7: Perform a random act of kindness!
- Who were you kind to?
- What did you do?
- How did they react?
- How else can you incorporate these acts on a daily basis?
Day 8: Do not check emails or social media first thing, and unplug from social media an hour before bed.
- What time did you end up logging on?
- What sites did you scroll first?
- How did it make you feel?
- How did you sleep after unplugging an hour before bed?
Day 9: Call or Facetime a friend you haven’t chatted with in a while.
- Who did you call?
- What did you talk about?
- What’s your favorite thing about them?
- Write about your favorite memory with them.
Day 10: Get creative with some paints or colored pencils.
- What did you draw or paint?
- Are you going to display it somewhere?
- What is your favorite medium?
- Are you an avid artist, or not so much?
Day 11: Plant something that can grow.
- Do you enjoy gardening?
- What did you plant?
- Where did you put the pot? Or is it in the ground outside?
- Don’t forget to take gradual progress pictures!
Day 12: Practice 10 minutes of meditation.
- Did you focus on a particular word or image? If so, what was it?
- How did it go?
- Was it hard to stay focused?
- Did you do guided meditation, or just wing it?
Day 13: Snuggle with your furbaby.
- Is your furbaby a cat or a dog?
- What’s their name?
- Did it make you feel better?
- Do they like cuddling, or did they fight it?
Day 14: Hydrate yourself!
- How many ounces did you drink?
- How did you feel afterwards?
- Do you like drinking water?
- What’s your favorite benefit?
Day 15: S.M.I.L.E. at people as you’re going about your day.
- Who did you smile at?
- Did they smile back?
- Who had the best reaction?
- Did it make you feel better overall?
Day 16: Buy yourself a gift, even something small.
- What did you buy?
- Are you in the habit of treating yourself?
- Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?
- How did you feel after buying it?
Day 17: Get yourself organized.
- What room or area of your house did you decide to tackle?
- Did you make a list first, or just wing it?
- Did you make a pile of things to donate?
- How long did it take you?
Day 18: Pay someone a compliment.
- Who did you compliment?
- What did you say to them?
- How did they react?
- How did it make you feel?
Day 19: Hug and/or kiss a loved one.
- Who did you hug/kiss?
- How did it feel?
- Is this someone you hug/kiss often?
- Make a commitment to be more affectionate on a daily basis for the oxytocin and dopamine boost!
Day 20: Plan your dream vacation.
- Where are you traveling?
- Who are you taking with you?
- How long will you be gone?
- What activities are you planning?
Day 21: Practice Self Care Sunday on whatever day of the week it is.
- Figure out what self care really is for you by reading this post.
- What self care activity did you pick?
- How did it turn out?
- How relaxed did you feel afterwards?
After this 21 day challenge, spread the joy!
I hope this challenge has been restorative for you, and it has helped you really focus on the things that make you happy in life.
Make sure to spread the word! Post a picture of you doing one of the activities on social media using the hashtag #21dayhappinesschallengewithDTT so I can cheer you on! You can also share the pictures in the comments of the daily thread I post for each activity.
Happiness doesn’t have to feel like an unattainable prize that’s only for certain people. Happiness is for everyone, including you, and it can fill you with purpose like nothing else.
It can be found in the darkest of times, if you just turn on the light, according to Dumbledore.
Do things on a daily basis that lift your spirits. They don’t have to be major things. You can take baby steps if you need to. I’ve definitely been there, where the little things feel impossible.
But you know what I’ve learned? If I could tell Don Draper anything, I’d tell him first of all, to be kinder to his liver. But I’d also tell him that happiness begins with the moment you decide to seek happiness.