Mental Health

Being Happy

When I started the ‘100 Happy Days’ challenge on January 1st, I guess I wasn’t very realistic. Or, maybe I just didn’t properly think about what it means or what it should mean. The official website actually challenges you to ‘be happy for 100 days’, but now I’m over halfway through, I don’t think that’s what it’s really about.

Happiness is something that comes and goes uncontrollably in our life – it’s something we have absolutely no power over. We can’t pick and choose when an unfortunate event is going to occur or when a bout of depression is going to creep up on us, it’s just impossible to anticipate when our mood is going to change. You could be on top of the world one minute and hit rock bottom the next.

Mood, however, is very different to attitude. We may not have control over our emotions, but we certainly have control over the way we choose to deal with them. Something I’ve learnt over the past 50 or so days is that happiness is not the key to contentment, positivity is – which, although sounds similar, is really in a league of its own. If something out of your control happens to make you unhappy, there’s not a lot you can do other than try to be positive about it, otherwise it’ll affect you negatively for longer than it needs to. The way I see it, the more unfortunate circumstances we have to face, the sooner we become truly able to be happy with our lives and not see sadness as a bad thing.

One of the great things about our species is we’re not perfect. We can’t switch our emotions on and off when it suits us and we can’t just put things out of our minds because they’re bothering us – we’re sensitive creatures and it’s in our nature to worry, stress, be sad, get angry, cry and feel down sometimes. The purpose of this challenge is to make and keep you happy, but really we should embrace every emotion and learn how to deal with each of them.

I think a quote that’s relevant, and I’m not just saying this out of my love for Harry Potter, is: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” That being said, sometimes it’s hard to ‘turn on the light’, and that’s okay too.

By all means, take on this challenge and see where it gets you. But remember you haven’t failed if you can’t be happy every minute of those 100 days – you’re only human and the key is positivity and perseverance, not happiness. We’re so much more complex than that.

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