100 Happy Days: A Review of Sorts

Mental Health, Technology

So this was a social media craze a while back – not so relevant now, but as I reach the end of my life as a medical student and look back on the challenges and the highlights, it definitely came to mind.

For those of you who haven’t come across it, the challenge is to have #100HappyDays, in that the goal is to try and find one thing to be happy for each day for 100 consecutive days. And document it by posting about it on your preferred social media platform. You can read more about the idea here – I’m sure the founders will be able to explain it much better than I can!

Like all things on the Internet, it had its supporters and it had its haters.

A lot of people really got into it and loved sharing their special moments with everyone and seeing other people’s’. They connected with the idea of taking time out to just appreciate something and let that appreciation improve their mood.

Others, like this guy, weren’t so keen. And I see his point. It does have a lot of potential to be attention-seeking, quite “narcissistic” and contribute to this fake image of success that gets promoted on social media and eventually makes people feel like they’re not having as much fun as everyone else. Which is bad, it puts people in a bad place and is no good!

So how does it balance out? Is it a good idea or isn’t it?

I’m in no position to declare #100HappyDays a good or bad thing. What I can do, though, is talk about my experience with it. #100HappyDays featured around the middle of my meddie-life, when I was finding things quite difficult and very much wanting to just pack up, call it a day and go home. It wasn’t so much the ‘busy-ness’ of life that the 100 Happy Days website talks about, as much as the monotonous, grey situation that it was. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Life was a bit grey (it did not help that Melbourne in winter is literally grey as well!), and 100 Happy Days was very, well, yellow. Refreshing and bright.

Now, Delegato is quite right in his Thought Catalog piece – a lot of the posts I made were very boring! I remember posting about what I thought was a cute teapot at a café (it was white with a crack in it?), or beating my personal best on a run by about a minute (which was probably due to error on my phone’s GPS) or eating things which were very plain and boring (I’m sorry, but yoghurt, blueberries and a TimTam chucked into a bowl is NOT worth a photo!)

But it helped. I sound like a parrot, but honestly, taking time out to think about something that made you smile, to document it, to be able to look back on it in the future when you’re feeling glum – it inexplicably did put me in a better mood.

One of the criticisms of the concept is that it’s all a bit fake and temporary. A bandaid solution, Day 101 we’re back to unhappy. But I don’t think it has to be that way. I think it’s about making happy a habit. The default. It’s 100% ok to not be happy! To get upset and angry and disappointed and all the million combinations of those emotions. It’s healthy and necessary even! But slowly moving your baseline up from neutral to slightly positive helps you cope with those nasty lows, and helps you enjoy an average day much more than you would have otherwise. Plus, actively seeking out things that make you happy means you’re actively seeking out things that are good for you – people, places, experiences that put you in a better mood and frame of mind. It’s not about having a picture-perfect life, but about finding and actively incorporating happiness in the day-to-day. When that becomes a habit – and 100 days is a long time, plenty of time to start forming a new habit! – I think you definitely develop some tools and skills to help you get that point.

I mean, it’s not for everyone, I have a few friends who started but then found it seemed a bit pointless and that they didn’t need it or it wasn’t working for them.  But for anyone even remotely interested, I would 10/10 recommend giving it a go. If nothing, it’s fun and the camera on your phone certainly gets a good workout!

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