Article in brief: the author shares her experience with going through the 100 happy days challenge.
Earlier this year, I got an email from a friend of mine with a title that read “Are you up for the challenge?” My competitive side kicked in and I was excited to see what the link she had sent was about. In front of me was a bright screen screaming “CAN YOU BE HAPPY FOR 100 DAYS IN A ROW?” There it was, the #100HappyDays challenge that promised things like “be in a better mood every day” and “fall in love during the challenge” among others. As an optimist-turned-pessimist, I was itching to get back into the glass-half-full crowd so I signed my next 100 days away to happiness.
Day 1: One of my close friends sends me a box of French pastries to my hotel room so I start to think that things are already looking up for me.
Day 2: I get some news that results in a massive blow to my happy efforts. I remind myself that I’m meant to be happy so I take a deep breath and accept the situation. I remember that I am blessed for the life I have and continue my march towards happiness.
Day 23: I get into a (minor) car accident and I am late to a meeting with very senior people because of it. I fall flat on my face causing my abaya to rip. I can’t focus in the meeting because I’m shaking. Everything about this day is bad. Everything. Except that I go home and see my family. That makes me happy. I continue trying to reach my happy place.
Day 48: After a super intense week at work, I jump on a flight for a weekend trip to Istanbul with one of my close friends. Happy feels good!
Day 61: I hit a bird on my way to Abu Dhabi. I’m in shock. I’ve never hit anything. I’m in utter shock. I get closer to my house. I hit a cat with my car. The bumper is ruined. The cat is dead. I sob in my car. I hit a cat. I have never hit a bird or a cat and today, on Day 61, I hit both. I have a 6:30AM flight from Dubai the next morning, which means that I have to leave Abu Dhabi at 3:30AM. It’s already 10PM. I get home in complete shock. My parents are there and I explain to them what happened. Midnight strikes and my mother gives me a hug and starts to read Qur’an to ward off any evil eye that may have come my way. I’m home though, with my family. That makes me happy.
Day 68: My niece’s birthday is today. She turned two. I’m so grateful to be here. I’m so happy.
Day 69: It’s my parent’s anniversary. My brothers, sister-in-law and I join them for a beautiful dinner in Abu Dhabi. It’s all so beautiful. Life is beautiful
Day 95: Family trip! Except that things didn’t go exactly as planned (think unforeseen visa problems and literally flying to the wrong airport). Where are we? No one has any idea. My baby brother and I check Google Maps and we are nowhere near our final destination. We have to take the morning flight so we find a nearby hotel. We meet downstairs for dinner. The food is incredible. We have no idea where we are, but we are together. Loving this!
I’ve had enough time to reflect on this exercise. Although it’s true that I didn’t find love or the internal switch that makes all my thoughts happy, what I did find was far better. I found contentment. I remembered the little things that made me happy. I realized that I was the only person who could change how I react to something, so I did. When I hit a bump in the road, I didn’t dwell on it; I took a deep breath, accepted that I needed to do something about it and did it. That made me a lot more productive. It gave me more energy to do the things I love with the people I love. It gave me time to reflect on how grateful I am for the family and friends that I have. It gave me time to be thankful for all the professional challenges I face as they continue to push me outside my boundaries and grow in my career. It made me many things, including an optimist-turned-pessimist-turned-optimist.
Haif Zamzam is a bon viveur who just can’t get enough of life. Her inflexibility for the norm coupled with her constant hunt for a challenge pushed her to the private sector where she is a professional in a top-tier consulting firm. Haif has an MBA from INSEAD and a Bachelors degree from the AUS. Through her column, Joie de Vivre, French for “Joy of Living,” Haif hopes to show how living with your head in the clouds is highly underrated.