Health and Wellness

21 Days of Happiness Challenge

I don’t think I have ever really tried to have a new year’s resolution. All I know is that they usually fail. I think the most common resolutions are working out or eating healthy, aka weight loss. Luckily, right now I’m supposed to be gaining weight for baby, so this isn’t going to be what I’m talking about.

Though in the state of life I am in right now, I think it’d be a good idea to have a new year’s resolution. Right now, I’m about done (for the most part) being sick and I’m about to be a full time student again this J-Term. I’m going to be honest, I’m really nervous.

I’ve learned that as humans, we function well and happily with these two things: routine and habit.

When we have the same morning routine, we can get ready for the day, no matter how zombie we are. This is the same for a bedtime routine, a routine when you get home, a routine at work (or school), etc. etc.

This is the same for habits. If it’s a habit to bite your nails, by golly you will continue to bite your nails. (I’m still working on this. I know, I’m terrible.) Some habits I would like to have down pat someday is to pray 20 minutes a day (preferably 30-60 minutes), shower at night, and never go to bed without a clean sink.

When I worked at Catholic Youth Camp (Shout out! Apply to work there! Send your kids there!), mid summer you have a slump. The staff watched this talk on happiness and the science of it. I don’t remember much from it, except that we did this awesome happiness project.

So, it takes about 21 days to start a habit. That is 21 days in a row without missing once. It’s just three weeks right? WRONG. It can be tough, but the fact that we were all doing it together made it sooo much easier.

So what is this happiness project? Well, it consists of five activities. If done for 21 days, you are guaranteed a happier person. Really! I’m serious!

1. Write down 3 things you are grateful for. You will be literally rewiring your brain to look for the positive. I bought a journal to do this. I actually kept on doing it even after the 21 days. I even moved to writing 5 things a day. I have since dropped this habit, but hey it worked!

For example, I am thankful for my Grandma. her cookies, and the beautiful snowy day.

2. Journal about one positive experience that happened that day. For this I wrote in the same journal, I would usually pick one of the 3-5 things I wrote down already that I was grateful for and write a couple lines about it. Sometimes I’d write a whole page! The key is to write about it so that you relive the positive memory.

3. Exercise. 10 minutes a day (you can change the amount of time if you’d like. 10 minutes is the minimum). This is the hardest one for me. I have been blessed to not struggle with body weight. Besides the winter coat I gain in my face every year, it always goes back to normal, and I’m honestly not even trying. It’s actually a totally natural thing to gain weight in the winter, but now that we don’t live in huts, it’s not really that big of a deal. ANYWAY. The big thing about this part of the challenge is discipline. Are you a spoiled brat? You probably are. I definitely am. Because I can’t bounce around too much with the baby, how I’m going to approach this will be to do 10 minutes of either yoga, riding a stationary bike, walking on the treadmill, or walking around the track each day. I’m really lucky to have the school gym. My class gets out at noon so in the afternoons when I’m not studying theology or psychology I’ll get my butt in the gym doing something called exercise for at least 10 minutes.

4. Meditation/Prayer. This one can be weird. On my phone I set my alarm for 2 minutes and look at a cross or a painting. Sometimes I will get my butt to the St. Thomas Chapel or St. Mark’s Church for this. Others can close their eyes, but this is not possible for me. It can be hard to focus. Actually, it IS hard to focus, especially when you’re not used to it. If after literally two seconds you start thinking about lunch or your plans later, THAT’S OKAY. This task is to help you focus, you don’t have to be perfect at it already.

5. Affirmations. Random acts of kindness are the bomb, but they can be hard to plan. Affirmations are easier to plan though. Make a list of people now, or pick one each day. It’s easier for me to pick someone on my friends list on Facebook and send them an email, Facebook message, text, voicemail, letter, etc. etc. to praise them or thank them. Again this is looking at the positive, but also describing it and reliving it.

1. 3 things you are grateful for
2. Journal about a positive experience from the day
3. Exercise for at least 10 minutes
4. Meditation/prayer for 2 minutes
5. Affirmation

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