I went through my divorce in 2011. It was not a happy year. My former spouse and I reached the amicable decision to divorce together and there were no surprises, nor was there any mistreatment of each other. So as far as divorcing went, I actually had some of the best of circumstances. Notwithstanding, it was a year filled up to the brim with uncertainty, sadness, worry and grief as every part of my life changed.
About this time last year, I decided I would never in my life have a repeat of the year I had just “survived.” I was determined to take my happiness into my own hands and I declared that 2012 would be my Year of Happy. I pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and started writing all of the things I could think of that make me happy. The range was noticeable, from hearing my daughter’s laughter to taking a road trip to polka dots. What I observed upon completion and reviewing my then 3 pages of happy notes was that most of it was completely within my control.
I realized there was no magic to it. I absolutely had the ability to take charge of my happiness – it merely meant I needed to develop habits and live intentionally. I also knew that I needed a measure of accountability – to make sure I kept my happiness intention top of mind. So I embarked on a happiness picture project. Every day I would take a picture of something that made me happy. At the end of the week I would post my pictures in a Facebook album. My goal was two-fold: that it would hold me accountable by publicly declaring my habit and it may even make others happy, too.
The benefits I reaped from developing and maintaining this one tiny habit were extraordinary. Not only had my theory about controlling my own happiness been right, but I did not anticipate the joy it would bring to my children or those around me. It also “forced” me to make sure I was doing things that would guarantee happiness. I set up my life in such a way that I was planning for my happiness in advance and it worked! I can say that I have never felt happier.
I do not want to give the impression that all of my days in 2012 were stress-free and without challenges. That isn’t the case. But what changed significantly was my outlook when those less-than-perfect days hit me. I knew that despite a bad day – I still had to find my happy. And I did. It was always there. I just had to look for it and pay attention to it. I simply needed to live my happy.
My Year of Happy album may be viewed at: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2878586240531.200862.1136256063&type=3#!/media/set/?set=a.2878586240531.200862.1136256063&type=3