The 100 Happy Days Challenge: A Simple Experiment to Increase Happiness

Jul 14, 2014 4 min readOpen

One night, I got a Facebook message about the 100 Happy Days challenge. So I clicked through and here’s what I read:

“While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in: Every day submit a picture of what made you happy!”

OK, fair point, we don’t take time to appreciate things anymore…

I was about to click away and get on with my life, when I read that next sentence:

“71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason.”

Uh! Wait, so most people fail that happy thing because they don’t have time? I’m as busy as everyone else, but this feels like a cool challenge…

OK, you got me: let’s do this!

It’s YOUR challenge, not a race for “Likes”

I wanted to do this for myself, not to get likes. Instead of Facebook or Instagram, I used an obscure blog to post my happy pictures.

Why? Because then there’s no expectations nor judgments: it helped me be completely free to take pictures that truly made me happy without second thoughts.

My pictures try to capture raw happy moments. Very often, I took crappy pictures (poor light and no filter) or lame things (only has a meaning for me) and that’s fine since it’s YOUR challenge.

llama in Paris
Example of a lame picture: “Day 26: Possibly the only llama roaming Paris’ streets that day”

Practicing creativity in your own terms does wonders because it helps you express yourself in ways that might only make sense to you.

Going the distance: Easy to set, easy to skip!

Some of my friends completed #100happydays as groups (Facebook, mailing lists…), others used mobile apps for daily reminders. As it happened, I decided to try it solo and low-tech to see how I would get on.

Getting started requires a bit of discipline, then it took me about 2 weeks to get into the daily habit of taking my photo, as part of my routine.

book in French
Day 12: At a coffee shop; helluva sailing book!

So … did I sometimes forget to take my daily picture?

Sure! In 100 days, I forgot twice, so I ended up stretching my challenge by another 2 days.

Anyways: your challenge, your rules!

In our culture of multi-taskers and high-volume of information, it feels great to spend a few seconds every day to capture a happy moment.

Taking a daily picture can be that one daily thing you create by yourself and for yourself.

A virtuous circle

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” —Steve Jobs

It seems like most people don’t have 100 straight happy days, we all have ups and downs: such is life. The question is, how do you deal with not being happy at all times?

This challenge is about training your perception on things. Scanning your environment for positive things quickly creates a virtuous circle by adding a positive outlook on your daily activities.

Day 83: Welcome to seeing the glass half-full

Even on my gloomy days, thinking about my pictures had me get out of the house and go for a walk to explore outside and see what would make me smile.

It’s a fantastic reality check—you can’t always change the course of events, but you can always adapt your perception of it all.

Yep, you’re busy, and we all are. The key question is, are you too busy to enjoy the ride?

Paris façade
Day 36: Back from the bakery; sunshine it is!

My own challenge has been fantastic. In 100 days: I found a job that I love, I finally moved in my own apartment and visited four countries — for fun!

What’s #100happydays impact on all this? It made sure I enjoyed the process of getting there as much as the achievements.

You’re done now, what’s next?

I’ll keep posting happy pictures after Day 100, because for now it feels more natural to keep going rather than to stop. It’s OK to skip certain days; it’s all about continuing to check in.

P.S: I’m not sharing all of my 100 pictures here because most of them are pretty boring, but to me, they are happy boring.

Positive thinking is not an achievement: It’s a muscle you should train … just like creativity.

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