I signed up for the #100happydays challenge on Tuesday, September 22nd — shout out to Shaundrika for introducing it to me!
I am a pretty happy person to begin with, so I’m not completing this challenge to become happy. I’m already happy.
So why am I doing it?
Reason #1: I decided to complete this challenge to make sure that I’m taking time each day (even if it’s just once and it’s just for a second) to make sure I do nothing else but enjoy being happy. That’s it. It’s about letting myself take time for me.
The first day was the hardest, because I found myself wanting to stop and take a picture of everything — every little thing — that was making me happy. Keeping myself limited to just one picture per day was initially pretty difficult, but I think it is also forcing me to slow down and fully appreciate that one thing before moving on to something else.
After just a few days, I’ve already been noticing that I am happy throughout the day for lots of different reasons. The people in my life are the main reasons for my happiness, but there are also other, smaller sources of happiness that I know I don’t usually spend very much time thinking about.
Some of these smaller sources of happiness tend to get lost in the shuffle of the busy day or forgotten about all together. We have a lot of stuff. Many of us have more stuff than we need to be happy. That’s why I’m choosing to focus on the little things that do make me happy for my first #100happydays. (Yes, I can totally see myself doing this for more than 100 days…perhaps each 100 days I can have a different focus.)
So while I’m focusing my #100happydays on some of the little things, I can also see myself doing a little purging through this process. If during these 100 days of the challenge something crosses my path and it doesn’t bring me happiness, I’m going to get rid of it. There really is no need to be surrounded by anything that isn’t purposeful or beautiful — or both, no reason to be surrounded by things that we don’t need or don’t bring us happiness.
And that brings me to Reason #3: I am going to try to make a photo essay or photo journal of some kind with the pictures that I take for the challenge. Maybe I will use them in a collage or publish them in some other digital format. I’m not sure. As I collect the images, I’m sure I will have a better idea of what I can create with them.
Here are the pictures from my first few “happy days”:
If I wasn’t already aware of that fact, just a few minutes in the supermarket would be notification enough. Pumpkin spice has taken over!
It’s just so exciting to try all of the pumpkin and pumpkin spice versions of our favorite foods. (I didn’t buy the pumpkin pasta sauce this time, but there’s always next week. Last year, I mixed it with an Alfredo sauce, and it was delicious!)
I’m trying some new pumpkin-flavored foods this year including the pumpkin spice oatmeal, yogurt, and almonds. They are all surprisingly delicious! (They even have pumpkin spice Jell-O…I was a bit undecided on that one. If I can think of a good recipe that calls for it between now and next week, I might try it then.)
I’m trying my best to pace myself with all these pumpkin foods, but it’s hard to do when we know these goodies won’t be around for long. Each time I go to the store, I find something new that is pumpkin-flavored to try. It’s almost as much fun as going picking for real pumpkins!
I saw the bright yellow copy of The Power of Others sitting on a shelf of new releases at the library. I didn’t recognize the title, but I hoped that it was on a topic I am very interested in right now, how individuals have influence over one another, our actions, and our ideas. Sure enough, the subtitle assured me that I had found what I was looking for; it read: Peer Pressure, Groupthink, and How the People Around Us Shape Everything We Do.
As I’m beginning a new concentration of studies on Creativity and Innovation, I’m finding that the concept of social psychology keeps popping up. Yes, there are some individuals who are perceived as being more creative or innovative than others, but why? Is it something specific within the individual? Something specific that they do? Is it the way the individual reacts to those around them that they become more creative? Is it the way the individual is perceived by others that makes them seem be innovative?
For anyone looking to better understand social psychology and the impact we have on one another, The Power of Others by Michael Bond is a perfect read. Bond discusses various aspects of social psychology by using personal interviews and research along with explorations of well-known events in recent history to outline associated behaviors and motivating factors. He addresses how we can begin to feel emotions expressed by those around us, how our individual behavior changes when we are in crowds, factors that can contribute to one person harming another, our concept of what a hero is, how our shared experiences create bonds, why our differences and commonalities can bring us together or pull us apart, and what can happen if we are without others altogether.
Though I don’t yet have all of the answers to my questions, this book has helped me better understand the concept of social psychology and reinforce the idea that there is most definitely a strong connection between our ideas and the power of others.
Yesterday, someone asked me if Paper Towns is a love story, and my immediate reaction was, “No, not at all.”
They responded with, “Well, the movie looks like it’s about a love story,” and I realized that I might have thought so too, if I had read the book any earlier than I did.
It’s been said that things often fall into place when they are meant to, not a moment before or after, and I believe this to be true about my reading Paper Towns. I would have certainly enjoyed the writing style and characters if I read it earlier, but I think I would have missed out on the more important aspects of the book.
Today, I am much more aware of and interested in social psychology and the individual as a part of a larger group. I am fascinated by how ideas are generated and by creative thinkers and what makes them so. To me, this story is much more about our ongoing struggle to separate who we are from who our groups make us out to be, and our need to truly understand who the people that we think we know really are.
For example, in Paper Towns, we meet a character who overcompensates his confidence because he feels rejected and another character who distances himself from those he likes the most because he his afraid of their rejection. We watch a character who has shied away from attention or conflict most of his life suddenly embrace and seek it out on his own because he is influenced by those similar actions in another character. We get to know a character who is revered (or despised) by others for her ideas and learn that those very ideas are a direct result of how those people have made her feel and believed her to be.
John Green uses Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and “Song of Myself” to help weave these characters in and out of one another’s lives and help us learn, throughout the book, the depths of their interconnectedness. We learn that these characters’ actions and feelings are all connected to and with one another. There are many moments when the characters themselves have glimpses of these same insights, especially at the end, but, just like in real life, they never fully seem to figure it out.
Paper Towns really isn’t a love story in the classic sense; it is a testament to what we each mean to one another, what we all do for and because of one another, and what we must try to do so that we can better understand one another and ourselves.
The books we choose to read, and the reasons we select them, are as individual as we each are. That’s part of what makes Sixty Books so exciting. Sixty Books isn’t about a certain set of books; it’s about making any book you want to read a regular part of your routine.
Sometimes we choose to read books that are of a common genre, style, or theme and other times we choose books for their variety. We may choose to read books because they support our ideas or we choose books that will challenge our ideas. We can opt to read books that are bestsellers and popular or we may choose books for their obscurity.
Every book you choose to read shapes your personal Sixty Books and, in turn, shapes you.
If you are ever stuck on choosing a new book to read, try choosing a book from any of these suggested categories:
Read a book you always wanted to read as a child but never did.
Re-read a book you read and loved as a child.
Re-read a book you hated in high school or college.
Re-read a book you read last year.
Read a book to a child.
Read a book with an elderly person.
Read the book at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Read the book at the bottom of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Read the book at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list the day you were born.
Read the book your boss is currently reading.
Read the book your best friend is currently reading.
Read a book your librarian recommends.
Read a book that Goodreads suggests for you.
Read a book from your local high school’s required summer reading list.
Read a self-published book.
Read a cookbook.
Read a book of poetry.
Read a collection of short stories.
Read a book of plays.
Read a book about history.
Read a book on business.
Read a book on finance.
Read a book about psychology.
Read a book about religion.
Read a book on race relations.
Read a book on art.
Read a how-to book.
Read a book about health or nutrition.
Read a professional development or self-help book.
Read a biography.
Read an autobiography or memoir.
Read some realistic fiction.
Read science fiction.
Read a romance novel.
Read historical fiction.
Read a murder mystery.
Read a classic.
Read another classic.
Read some Shakespeare.
Read a banned book.
Read an award winning book.
Read a seasonal or holiday book.
Read a book by an author of a different gender than your own.
Read a book by an author of a different ethnicity than your own.
Read a book by an author of a different faith than your own.
Read a book by an author of a different generation than your own.
Read a book by an author of a different sexual orientation than your own.
Read a book by an author of a different nationality than your own.
Read a book by an author of a different political party than your own.
Read a second (or third or fourth) book by an author you’ve read before.
Read a book translated from another language.
Read a book with illustrations or photographs.
Read a book with interesting cover art.
Read a book with more than 400 pages.
Read a book with less than 100 pages.
Read a book that became a motion picture.
Read a book that was given to you as a gift.
Read an ebook if you only read print or a print book if you only read ebooks.
Listen to an audio book.
Are there other ways you choose your Sixty Books? Let us know in the comment section below or on Twitter using the hashtag #SixtyBooks.