The answer to that original question is “YES.” Yes, I can be happy for 100 days in a row and alas, I now find myself having crossed the finish line of the 100 Happy Days Challenge. While I’m sad this happiness experiment is over, I’m proud to say that I am not a part of the 71% of people who failed to complete the challenge. In the final days, many of my friends and family asked me what I learned from this experience, so here we go:
- Happiness is everywhere, every day. There were definitely days during the challenge when I had to stretch to find something that I could say made me happy. Obviously there are people and things in my life that make me happy every day, but I couldn’t post the same thing all the time! Happiness can be found in even the smallest places in your daily life. You just have to know where to look.
- Happiness is a matter of perspective. Try starting your day by filling your mind with positive thoughts and you’ll be surprised by the result. There’s always going to be times when you have a stressful day at work, you’re feeling overwhelmed, or something else generates a rainy cloud above your head, but no matter what the circumstances there is always something that can put a smile on your face.
- Count your blessings. It doesn’t matter if it’s a thing, person, or experience, everyone has something to be thankful for. On days when I struggled to find my happiness, which everyone does at times, I simply ran through the list of blessings in my life and my mood instantly changed for the better.
- Misery loves company, but so does happiness. While many of my happy days were filled with material objects that bring me joy, more often than not I posted pictures of people and experiences that brought happiness to my life. Whether it was having date nights with Lisa, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings, or catching up with old friends, it’s the company you keep in life that can make all the difference. If you find yourself to be unhappy a lot, maybe you need to take a little time to reevaluate the people, not the things, in your life and whether they are truly adding positive value. As I’ve grown into my late 20s, it’s become very obvious that one key to a successful and happy life is to void yourself of negativity and toxic people. It’s never fun to say goodbye to people who have been in your life and this reflection may sound selfish, but it is your life. You have to live it the way you want and share it with those you want to share it with because they make you a better person and not simply because you have history with them. Sound too harsh? Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.
- Time flies. Holy cow does it ever! It’s a good thing I took so many pictures because I feel like I blinked and missed the whole thing. “Time flies” is an incredibly cliché adage, but it’s still very true. The minutes, days, weeks, and years pass by so quickly that it’s so crucial to stop and smell the roses on the daily. And by roses I mean those things, people, and experiences that make your life richer because they are present.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. It seems like nobody takes pictures anymore! I have even immensely cut back since my college years. At GVSU, I was always the guy with the camera in hand documenting memories. While my friends were annoyed at the time, they were always thankful the next day when we were slugging on the couch reminiscing about the previous night’s shenanigans. Now that everything is so instantaneous, it’s rare to see people take the time to actually take and share multiple photos. When’s the last time you saw someone actually create a photo album on Facebook? These days it’s a selfie here, a picture of your dinner there, a POV shot of your feet on the beach with the caption “sweet, sweet summertime!” or that fifth glass of wine you’re drinking after a long day at the office. Break the mold and don’t be the person who focuses on getting that one definitive and artsy picture for Instagram to document your life adventures. The next time someone asks you to pose for a picture, don’t roll your eyes. Embrace it and have a little fun! Certainly don’t live through the lens of a camera, but document those memories! You’ll thank yourself later on. That was one aspect of this challenge that was, well, challenging. Every day I wanted to take and post more than just one photo, but that’s what the rules called for. I mean I still took multiple photos, but it did bother me occasionally that I couldn’t share more (hence my Honorable Mentions).
- Happiness is a choice. No one else is going to make you happy in this life. You have to create and nourish your own happiness. I think for some, waking up in the morning and simply deciding to be happy may be a difficult concept to grasp. We choose our food, our clothing, our partners, and our jobs, but choosing how we want to feel is a bit different. It’s not just being thankful, or just having good friends. It’s a variety of ingredients you have to add to the crockpot of your life and let them simmer over time to create your happy meal.
So there you have it. 100 days later, these are the lessons I hope to keep in my mind for years to come and I hope at least some of them resonate with you as well. With that, I give you my final days in the 100 Happy Days Challenge. Enjoy.
Day 91, 92, and 93: Movin’ on up!
As you may know, Lisa and I recently bought our dream home we now dub, The Makowski Manor, which you can read more about here. On this day, the mayhem began as we started to pack up our condo in preparations to begin the move, which led us to closing day!
While we had already closed on the condo a few days prior, on Day 92 we officially became homeowners! We signed the mountain of paperwork, grabbed the key, and took the first steps into our house where we hope to make many, many glorious memories in the future. As I’m writing this, we have about 90% of our belongings moved in and we’re on a roll (I’m already putting my personal touch on the place).
Tonight will actually be our first night as a family sleeping in the Manor. That’s right, tonight the kitties and Daddy Matt are packing up the car and moving in! From what Lisa tells me about the first time she moved them, I’m in for quite the concert. The Makowskis are on cloud nine.
Day 94: Breakfast with Momma Bear
Pre-Fourth of July holiday weekend, Lisa and I were blessed to have my Mom and sister, Katherine, help us start the move. We weren’t even planning on moving anything until after the long weekend, but Mom was in town with the van, Katherine is off for the summer from school, and many hands make light work so we took full advantage of it! While in town, I had the pleasure of going out to breakfast with this pretty lady at Anna’s House, which is an amazing mom-and-pop breakfast joint in the Grand Rapids area. The original restaurant is on Plainfield Avenue in GR, but we went to the newest location that just opened up on the East Beltline near Woodland Mall. Incredibly tasty menu options and everything looked and tasted very fresh. Two thumbs way up from this guy’s waistline.
Day 95, 96, 97, and 98: East Coast Trip 2014
Over the holiday weekend, Lisa and I jumped on a plane and headed for the east coast to visit our friends, Renee and Brent. The weekend found us in Philadelphia for the Fourth (which is the most patriotic place you could possibly celebrate America’s birthday) stuffing our faces full of Philly cheesesteaks and adult beverages and then to Atlantic City for a few days. You can check out a full recap of our epically fun weekend here.
What’s not included in that recap is this photo from Day 98. While waiting in Chicago on a layover, Lisa and I broke out some Jelly Belly Bean Boozled jelly beans. Never heard of them? Here’s how the game works.
In each box there are an assortment of colored jelly beans. The tricky part is that there are two flavors associated to every one color of jelly bean. One flavor is delicious, the other will make you want to barf. Speaking of barf, that’s the flavor I ate when Lisa snapped this gem. From the box in the picture, I think you’ll get the idea. One white jelly bean may taste like coconut, while another white jelly bean will taste like baby wipes. Its hours of fun and cringing faces! Word of caution from someone with experience: if you have to eat one of the nasty flavors, pray to whatever God you worship that its toothpaste. That’s by far the most tolerable.
Day 99: 100 Likes
Back on Day 37 I began a new mission of changing the world one smile at a time by creating Matty Sunshine – a promoter of positivity and champion of happiness. Essentially I search the web for positive news stories, quotes, videos, and pictures and share them on Matty Sunshine’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. This world is simply filled with too much gloom and doom and I think we could all use a few more smiles. Well on Day 99 Matty Sunshine’s Facebook page reached the milestone of 100 likes! Thank you to everyone who has shared the smiles! Check out more about Matty Sunshine’s origins here.
Day 100: New Beginnings
How poetic that with the end of the life adventure that has been my time chronicling 100 days of happiness, a new adventure begins. They say once you attend Grand Valley State University you’re a Laker-4-A-Lifetime and that holds true for me now more than ever as starting mid-August, I will be joining the University Communications team as a Communications Specialist at GVSU. Most of my responsibilities will include finding and communicating the positive stories that come out of the various arts programs at the University (theater, photography, broadcasting, film/video, etc.), which is right up my alley. While I will miss those I have had the pleasure of working with at Herman Miller, I look forward to getting back to my roots in order to start planting new roots professionally at GVSU.
In the coming days I also plan to post a fun recap of my top 10 days of happiness from the challenge so keep an eye out for that.
Cheers to new beginnings and create your own happiness, friends!