Project Happy 2015 #ProjectHappy2015
I entered 2014 full of optimism.
I quit my job; I was ready for anything that was going to be thrown into my way and I was ready to discover more of the world. Armed with my first ever Starbucks planner, I was excited to try something new that I didn’t do before.
For the next 365 days of 2014, I promised myself I was to write AT LEAST one thing that made that day a happy day. No matter how busy I got, no matter how tired or down I was, I was to find at least ONE THING that made me happy, no matter how simple it was.
Appreciation vs Expectation
It all started when I realised I had a notebook back in my college days where I wrote things that would make me happy. This was more of a checklist of things that I needed to do to make me happy. The experience was an interesting one because I was able to enumerate things that would trigger happiness in me. But there was a problem with the list I was making. These were things that I expected to do to gain happiness. I wasn’t listing down things that would make me happy, I was listing down things that would make me feel disappointed if they were not done. (okay please bear with my pessimism here for a bit) When this thought got to my head I just realized that instead of writing a wish-list, why didn’t I write down a thank you list?
How Grateful are you?
How many times have you really given thanks for the things that have made you happy? How many times have you said thank you even for the little things that just made life even better? When was the last time you were thankful for a good night’s rest? How about a wonderful morning awakening? Maybe even a dish that really caught you attention?
That was when I thought, this 2014 it was going to be a happy year because everyday I was going to declare the day a happy day.
How to Get started
So to begin with the happy Journal or Project Happiness, I had to set some guidelines for myself to make this more interesting than just placing logs. Here were some that started to develop over the course of writing on my planner:
- Write the things that trigger your happiness, things like a new experience, a delicious meal, a random encounter or things you wish to recall after a year later
- If you can’t think of anything to write, write down anything simple that made you feel good or comfortable such as having a good nap, or getting your favorite cup of coffee, or even getting to chat with an old friend.
- It helps to add small details which you think are nice to recall when you look back into this log, in my case, if it’s a trip, a gathering, or an activity, I tend to write the names of the people present
- Sketch or doodle if you want. I’m not a very good sketch artist or doodler but I like drawing stuff that remind of the event or log. Even if it is shapes or in my case, Chinese characters, these things help me visualize the log entry better.
- Numbers and Markers are delightfully helpful. If you are trying to build a good habit or breaking a bad one, marking logs are quite helpful. What I did was I wrote the character “水” for days that I swam and “动” for the days that I exercised. This was in an effort to have a healthier lifestyle.
- If your planner or journal as a weekly notes section, write a lesson you have learned for that week. This goes in the belief that happiness is not pointless, it bears fruit to experiences that will help you grow.
- DO NOT MISS A DAY, one of my challenges for keeping this up was that I missed some days when I was feeling down, tired, or just plain busy. To deal with this I look back in my social media feeds or phone photos that will remind me what happened in those days that I missed.
- Backlogs, complete them before you forget! I had some serious backlogs then, it would last to as long as almost 2 weeks in backlogs! I strongly suggest, DO NOT have backlogs to more than 3 days. Log every end of the day! Even if it is just a one-liner like “I ate dimsum”.
- Something new? Underline them. For things I did for the first time ever, I would underline them so I can see all the things new to me that I have done this year.
- Write your own guidelines, I made my own, you don’t have to be too strict. No. 7 and 8 are the most important ones, if you have your own rules, make them. The important thing is log daily, and don’t miss a day!
Was I always Happy?
Honestly, no. There were days of really deep depression when I had very bad days with the family, friends, bestfriends or work. There were days that made me feel so down that it would cause me to stop writing for days in the happiness journal. But when I would pick myself up and start recalling, reflecting and remembering even the littlest things that made me feel okay. These I would write down so I may say, even the darkest days, I was blessed.
Sometimes, even challenging experiences I would write down as a happy one as these became stepping stones to my growth like: “I lost my 32G classy USB with Dracula doll keychain”. Because this experience taught me loss, acceptance, and detachment from material things.
Happiness is a choice
Sometimes, a blessing or a fortunate event may seem so small when we become filled with sadness and trials.
How can you see a beautiful flower bloom amidst the gushing winds and unforgiving rain?
You look. Look hard. Lift up your head and squint. Try your hardest and there! You will see her. A beautiful frail blossom and when you see it, the storm will seem to cease, the cold rain will feel like a warm caress, and you will be filled with enough energy to keep braving the storms of your life.
Happiness calls for reflection
I heard from a priest say that we should have a moment of reflection when we become very happy. This is because we need to ask ourselves the cause of the happiness. If we find ourselves only becoming happy through shallow, superficial, and fleeting factors, then we must be careful as we are in constant danger of losing happiness. This means we need to find sources of happiness that are beyond materialistic, hedonistic, and personal fruition.
We need to find happiness in a more supernatural (or may I say Divine) scale.
Altruism, charity, humility, faith, hope, and love. Find your supernatural cause and you will be happy.
Happiness can Teach, together with Humility
One of my greatest realisations while reading through my logs was that my inputs started transforming. Initially it was all about what I ate, what I drank, what I bought. As time moved on I became happy because of what I saw, who I impacted, who I helped, and who gave help. I became happy about possibilities and opportunities. Even simple encounters with strangers and moments of silence and meditation made me happy. I became happy about having lesser things to hold and keep. I became happier when I saw others happy.
I genuinely wanted to help people not to make myself feel good about doing it, but because I wanted others to feel good.
This was when I learned more and more about happiness in a more supernatural state. I can almost hear Jonathan Livingston Seagull in his ultimate flying just beside me as I tread this path.
You Can be Happy
There were times that I went through months and months of challenges. There were times that I became very self-destructive and just borderline wanting to hurt myself extensively. But if I can tell you one thing about having gone through depression the first step to happiness is to acknowledge that there is a truth. It is absolute and universal and it is your life-goal to find that truth. All else will follow.
Friend, you can be happy.
Join me this 2015 to make it your happiest yet. 🙂