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100 Happy Days

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100 Happy Days by Chloe Cook

Winter 2014

Oh Happy Days!

Teach yourself to see joy in the ordinary moments.

Back in March this year, I came across a project called 100 Happy Days (http://100happydays.com/). This instantly appealed to me, bringing together my love of helping others find happiness by overcoming issues that hold them back, stop them being who they want to be, with my other passion in life, photography.

The idea is simple – every single day, for 100 days, take a photo of what made you feel happy that day.

Quite apart from the fact that it’s a photography project (and I love photo projects!), it also follows the same principle as the ‘3 Gifts’ exercise I often set for my clients. With ‘3 Gifts’ I ask that at the end of every evening you write down three positive things that you’ve noticed throughout your day – it primes your brain to seek out the positive moments in every day. Similarly, if I know that at the end of the day I have to have taken a photograph of something that has made me feel happy, I’ll consciously be looking for that happy moment throughout the day. Do it often enough and regularly enough and that act of
consciously searching for the happy moment gradually becomes more and more unconscious, until you’re automatically noticing the positive stuff in life because that’s just what you do now. It becomes a natural way of how (and who) you are in the world.

As I began the project I realised that I needed to be able to calibrate how much of an impact it was having on my levels of happiness. So I decided to turn the project into a little bit of an experiment…

As a standard part of the Cognitive Hypnotherapy work I do with my clients, I use short questionnaires at the beginning of each session I have with them, which form the basis of the research project being conducted by The Quest Institute, of which I am an active part. The questionnaires are designed to map and measure a client’s progress over time in three main categories – levels of anxiety, levels of depression and level of general mental wellbeing. I decided to fill the questionnaires in myself at various stages throughout the 100 days for the purposes of my little experiment and see how they changed as the project progressed. (NB: for anxiety and depression, the lower the scores the better, with the lowest possible being zero. With wellbeing, the higher the score the better, with a maximum of 35)

On day 1, my scores were as follows: Anxiety – 8
Depression – 8
Wellbeing – 21

On day 100, my scores were this: Anxiety – 3
Depression – 4
Wellbeing – 29

I think the results speak for themselves: my happiness levels were definitely improved. And not just evidenced by the numbers I’m showing you here – I could genuinely feel it in myself too.

Coincidentally (or not!), my 100 days ended on the eve of my wedding in June. As the finish line came into sight I realised that I’d enjoyed the project so much and was feeling significantly better as a result of taking part that I decided to continue it for a full year. My ‘100 Happy Days Project’ became ‘365 Days of Happy’. By the time you read this I’ll be almost up to 300 days. I have a feeling that once the year is up, I’ll be carrying it on indefinitely.

I’ll be honest with you, not every day has been easy. There have been days where it’s been hard to find a happy moment. Where I’ve struggled to see the good bits, or the light shining through the darkness, or the love pushing through the anger. That’s just the way life is sometimes – bad things happen, we get faced with challenges we weren’t expecting and we have to deal with difficult stuff. But deep down I’ve known that the happy moment would be there somewhere if I could just open my eyes and my heart wide enough to let it in.

The great thing about this project is that it’s taught me that there is always, ALWAYS something good in every single day. It might only be small, but it’s there. Even on the really tough days there was something that I was grateful for, or awed by, or feeling good about, even if it was hidden in amongst the not-so-good stuff. Sometimes, you just have to search for it.

I now routinely set this project as a task for my clients to complete a part of our work together, and clients are reporting back to me that they can feel it working too.

So why not give it a go yourself? It only takes a second of your time to snap a picture on your camera or phone. And at the end of it you’ll have a hundred photos of happy moments that you can remember forever.