Sunday, May 18, 2014

Happiness, Gratitude, and all that jazz

51 days ago, I began a daily practice of taking note of something that made me happy, and posting it on Facebook. I'd seen a couple of other people begin the practice, and something about it drew me, caught my attention. I suppose it resonated for me especially as this was while the buzz of the "Donegal is Happy" video was still very much in the air. I noticed that it made me feel good to see what made other people happy. The challenge is to post each day for 100 days with #100happydays, linking to all the other people participating in the same challenge.  Officially it should be a picture, but I haven't always used a picture, and participants adapt the challenge to suit their own ideas and interests.  
So, half-way through the 100 days, what have I discovered?  That there are opportunities for happiness, little joys, special moments and treasures in every day, even in the days that have difficulties and worries in them. I'm still working on finding what the differences are for me between happiness and gratitude.  It's strange - I'm grateful for anything that makes me happy, and I'm happy for everything I'm grateful for, but they are still different emotions.  I've been keeping a nightly gratitude journal for many years, and the practice probably does contribute greatly to my sense of happiness in the world, and yet, this 100 Happy Days project has opened up something new.  I suspect it's something to do with the fact that the gratitude practice is private, introspective, and the happiness practice is public. I name it. It's external.

Not all my friends are on Facebook, and I've found myself trying to explain what this is about.... so here are a random few of the "Happies" I've posted during the first 50 days of the challenge.....

Day 2. Taking yarn and a hook and making something with it makes me happy. Making something that will form part of an anti nuclear weapons statement ditto. Joined Caroline Kuyper to help make Wool Against Weapons 7 mile long scarf. #melshappydays
Day 7 #100happydays, what's making me happy today is having coloured pens to play around with and being part of an online Art Therapy and Happiness project. #melshappydays

Day 16. Food makes me happy. I enjoy cooking it, learning about it, watching others cooking it. Today, I'm really happy to have salvaged yesterday's failed lentil-loaf and turned it into today's delicious shepherdess pie. Always learning! . . .
Almost forgot to say - I enjoy eating it too!

Day 20 I was asked today "Are you not afraid you'll run out of happy things to post?" No. I'm afraid I'll forget to post some of the things that have struck me,but not made it just yet into a post. Today, happy to be in my hometown with some of my favourite people. #100happydays, #melshappydays. — with Gavin Kelly and Aileen O Dea.

Day 32 of my #100happydays, #melshappydays: Watching a blackbird totally enjoy his supper of leatherjackets in my back-garden this evening made me happy

Day 38 of #100happydays, #melshappydays. It makes me inordinately happy to switch on the radio and find I can identify the piece of music that's playing. Happened today. Feels good! ("I think that's Fingal's Cave... or is it the Hebrides? Or is it known as both? It's Mendelssohn anyway..... Correct!")

Day 46 of my #100happydays, #melshappydays. Today was a day to mark in its ordinariness, one year on from my surgery, and out the other side of my treatments. It makes me happy to have finished a job in my garden, made flapjacks, and tried a new soup recipe, to call on friends and simply to BE. Happy and grateful.

Day 50 of my #100happydays, #melshappydays, and I'm very happy to be spending this weekend celebrating my sister's birthday, exploring Kilkenny and this morning, encountered something I've only seen in books before - a pocket-handkerchief tree. Beautiful, and we found it at just the right time, I'd say! Happy!
I didn't start doing this in order to encourage others to do it. I didn't give it a lot of thought - just said Yes, I'm up for that! and went with it. I only know now, at this half-way point in the challenge, that I'm very glad I began the practice, and that yes, it has certainly contributed to an increased sense of happiness within me.
What makes YOU happy?