“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama
Since so many of us are looking for happiness, wanting to share it with those we love and care about, I came up with this idea of a 10 Day Happiness Challenge. I trust that by committing to these practices and by doing more of the things that bring meaning and joy into our lives, we will all start appreciating ourselves and our lives a lot more and as a result we will become happier.
So here it is, your 10 Day Happiness Challenge. Enjoy.
P.S. Just so you know, I will embark on this challenge as well. I will be doing what you are doing and experiencing what you are experiencing and together we will make this world a brighter and happier place. Let’s begin.
Day 1: Give a smile to every person you meet
I love walking on the streets with a big smile on my face, but you know what I love even more? To share my smiles with total strangers. The look on their faces once they accept “my gift” is priceless.
If you ask me, we are way too serious. Of course we all have “grown up problems” and we all have a lot of things on our minds, but that doesn’t mean we should stop enjoying life. Life is short, we might as well enjoy it as much as we can, and smiling will help us do just that.
On this day, your “job” is to wear a smile on your lips at all times and to share your smile with everyone you come in contact with. Trust me, you will be a lot happier if you do.
“Nobody needs a smile so much as the one who has none to give. So get used to smiling heart-warming smiles, and you will spread sunshine in a sometimes dreary world.” ~ Lawrence G. Lovasik
Day 2 – Return to ONEness
There are days when I have moments of intense clarity, moments when I can look at everyone around me and realize that we are all ONE, connected to one another. In those moments, I feel so much acceptance, love and compassion towards everything and everyone and I feel like hugging the entire planet.
If you go on the Moon and from there you look down on planet Earth, I am sure that this concept of Oneness will make a lot more sense to you. Of course, there is no need to go on the Moon, you can experience it all here on this planet.
We are all in this together. This is our home, both mine and yours, and no matter how cheesy it may sound, we are all one big family, all connected, all ONE.
On this day, you will practice tolerance, love and acceptance towards everyone you come in contact with. By doing so, chances are that you will experience the ONEness, the connection between each and every one of us.
“We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate each other.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Day 3: Practice forgiveness
Forgiveness is such a powerful thing, for it can heal our hearts, making room for love to enter, allowing us to go back to our real and authentic Self, giving us permission to re-connect with one another at a deeper level. We forgive not because we are weak, not because we are naive, not because we want to be hurt again, but because we are strong enough to understand that the more we hold on to grudges and resentments, the more we pollute our minds, our hearts and our lives.
On this day, see if you can practice forgiveness, not only towards those who might have harmed you but also towards yourself, for the things you might have done, consciously or unconsciously, to hurt or harm, not only yourself but those around you as well.
Let go of anger, bitterness, hate or resentment as much as you can. Allow love to govern your mind, your heart and your life and allow peace to come to surface once again.
“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” ~ Thomas Fuller
Day 4: Let go of pointless drama, toxic relationships, thoughts and behaviors
We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of stress, anxiety and unhappiness, and instead of detaching and letting them all go, we cling on to them. For some strange reason, we believe that our happiness will come from holding on to toxic thoughts, things, people, experiences when in fact it will only come from letting go of them.
“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.” ― Deborah Reber
On this day, you will work on letting go of all the pointless drama, toxic relationships, thoughts and behaviors that are present in your life. On this day you will learn to shift your focus from the bad on to the good.
Day 5: A complaint free day
I used to complain A LOT about every little thing that was happening to me and all around me. I was so busy pointing out all the things that were going wrong in my life that I couldn’t see the many things that were going right. I was really good at pointing the maaaany things I didn’t like that I forgot about the things i did like.
“Complaining not only ruins everybody else’s day, it ruins the complainer’s day, too. The more we complain, the more unhappy we get.” Dennis Prager
On this day, you will give up the need to complain about the many things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed, and instead, you will focus on the things that make you feel good, on the things that are right with the world. You will go 24 hours without complaining, because you deserve it!
Day 6: Embrace an attitude of gratitude and appreciation
I love the feeling I get every time I start to acknowledge the good that is already present in my life. We get so busy with our problems and so preoccupied with the many things that are missing from our lives that we forget to express our gratitude and appreciation for the many wonderful, people and things that we already present in our lives.
On this day, you will embrace an attitude of gratitude and appreciation and you will say an honest “thank you” for all the beautiful experiences, things and people that are making your life a lot more meaningful and joyful.
“Gratitude is the key to happiness. When gratitude is practiced regularly and from the heart, it leads to a richer, fuller and more complete life… It is impossible to bring more abundance into your life if you are feeling ungrateful about what you already have. Why? Because the thoughts and feelings you emit as you feel ungrateful are negative emotions and they will attract more of those feelings and events into your life.” ~ Vishen Lakhiani
Day 7: Practice Self love and acceptance
If you ask me, not too many people know how to be their own best friend. We are pretty good at being our own worst enemy but not so good at being our own best friend. The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with your beautiful and magnificent self and that is why you need to learn how to love and accept yourself fully.
On this day, you will act in kind and loving ways towards yourself and you will treat yourself just as you will treat your own best friend. On this day, you will work on building the relationship you have with yourself and you will give yourself permission to be whoever you want to be without placing any harsh labels or judgements on yourself. On this day you will treat yourself with much love and acceptance.
“You surrender to a lot of things which are not worthy of you. I wish you would surrender to your radiance … your integrity … your beautiful human grace.” – Yogi Bhajan
What if, on this day, you practice giving without expecting anything in return. What if on this day you allow yourself to feel the wonderful joy that comes from doing a good for someone without expecting anything in return.
It can be anything… calling a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while, giving free hugs (I looove hugs), paying for the person behind you in a drive-thru or at a coffee shop, leaving money in a public place for someone to find, or maybe sending a card or flowers to a person that might be going through a hard time. It can be an expensive gift that you give, it can be money or maybe just a love note that you leave on someone’s desk. It doesn’t really matter how big or small your gift is as long as you give it from the heart.
Giving is receiving, it really is, and the more we give to others, the more that we will receive ourselves.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ~ Lao Tzu
Day 9: Lighten your material load
I used to be so bad at giving away things I no longer needed. I remember when I came back from U.S., I was in shock when I saw that my sister gave away all my things to “the poor people”. Because she assumed that I no longer needed them, she gave them all away.
Even though I didn’t want to admit it at that time, the truth of the matter is that she was right. I really didn’t need those things anymore but I just couldn’t give them away. I was so attached to every single thing I had and I couldn’t understand how can people give away their things. It felt like such a weird concept to me. Not sure who was weirder, me or the concept.
I thought I was the one owning the stuff when in fact the stuff was owning me. Well, things changed, I changed and I am happy to say that I now know how to let go of the things I no longer use and I do it with ease.
When you give away things you no longer use, or need, you make room in your life for better things to come your way. You take out the old and you allow the new to enter. Lightening your material load can be a real therapeutical experience.
On this day, make time to go through your house, your closets, your basement, etc. and take out all the clothes, shoes, bags, books, and any other stuff you no longer need or use. Give it all away and see how much better, lighter and happier you will feel.
“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.” ~ Mother Theresa
Day 10: Awareness Day
A few years ago I came to the realization that one day I will die (yes, it took me quite some time to realize that one day I will die). I saw in my mind’s eye this image… It was me on the death bed, looking back at my life with regrets, many regrets about the many things I didn’t had the courage to do.
That image really scared me! As a result, on the same day, I made a commitment to myself to start living life fully and to make the rest of my life the best of my life. To stop running away from my fears and from life and to start living. In those moments the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt made more sense to me than ever: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
On this day I want you to use your imagination, to see how your life would look like if you continue living your life the way you are living right now. When you will be on your death bed ready to leave this world, looking back at your life would you be happy with what you see, would you have any regrets?
I don’t want this exercise to scare you but rather to give you the push you need to start living lifeuse one fear (fear of living with regrets) against another fear (fear of doing the things your heart desires) and in the end to get the push you need to start living life fully. If you don’t do the things you fear doing and if you don’t follow your heart, chances are that you will live a life full of regrets…
“Remembering that you are going to die one day is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. Follow your heart.” ~ Steve Jobs
You see, happiness is not so hard to achieve.
By giving yourself permission to practice these things for 10 days, not only will you become a lot happier, but you will also become more disciplined and focus on building other new positive habits in different areas of your life. If you tell your mind you want to try something for 10 days, it will most likely be willing to co-operate. 10 days doesn’t feel like a very long time.
After you have completed your 10 days, your conscious mind will have the choice of stopping or carrying on with these healthy and positive practices… or at least that’s what it thinks. Your neural pathways have formed already and chances are that you will continue with the new healthy habits. You have seen the benefits along the way and your unconscious mind will want to continue if it has been beneficial. After the 10 days, you can pick some of your favorite things from this list and continue for 11 more days, to make it a total of 21 days… Your 21 day happiness challenge. Use your imagination and just have fun with it.