As many of you know, I’ve been doing the 100 Happy Days challenge on Instagram (www.100happydays.com). However, I changed it to #100daysofjoy because happiness is circumstantial, whereas joy is an attitude of the heart no matter the situation. I’d rather have joy.
I know some people have misgivings about the true purpose of this public challenge–an article from thoughtcatalog.com cites the challenge’s “narcissism and banality”–but I had two very specific reasons for wanting to do it on Instagram versus just keeping a private list. First of all, people can keep me accountable. If it gets to be ten at night and I haven’t posted, someone can say–hey, where’s the picture? Did you remember to look for God in the little things today? Also, seeing other people’s challenges really encouraged me, and I wanted mine to do that for others. A few people have told me how much my pictures have inspired or encouraged them, which completely made my day.
Today is day 50 of my challenge, and I’ve compiled a brief list of what God has taught me so far through #100daysofjoy.
1) Joy is not always easy.
I’ll admit that I didn’t put much thought into deciding to do this challenge. On March 3 I was really happy. 100 days of joy? Sure, I can do that. No problem. There was an initial honeymoon period of two or three weeks when it was new and exciting and fun. But then things changed. I was busy, worried, and annoyed. Many days, I was not exactly overflowing with joy. But commitment means doing what you said you were going to do even when the mood you said it in has left you, and I was committed to this 100 days of joy challenge. So here I am at day 50. Finding joy every day may not be easy, but to quote Bethany Hamilton–I don’t need easy, I just need possible.
2) Joy is a conscious choice.
True, joy is an attitude of the heart no matter the circumstances. But when circumstances get rough, I don’t just automatically still feel joyful; I need to take a step back and remind myself of the attitude I need to have. Last weekend (I’ve been running into examples of joy everywhere lately), my team lost all three pool play games and then the single elimination bracket game in our tournament. After the final game, when we moved our stuff out of the dugout, we happened to set up right next to the team that had just beaten us twice in a row. I could hear their coach talking very seriously about everything they needed to work on (which couldn’t have been that much, considering they’d outscored us by approximately thirty runs that day) as the girls just sat there. They were top seed and got to continue playing for the championship, but their faces looked like they were going to a funeral. Meanwhile, my team–who had gotten blown out of the water all day–was joking around, laughing hysterically, and generally having the time of our lives. I’m sure any passerby would have thought that we’d won and the other team was headed home. Joy is a choice. If you’re not feeling it, paste a smile on your face and fake it till you make it. Believe me, it works. And sometimes you don’t even have to fake it–sometimes, like last Saturday, God just gives it to you in such an abundance that you step back and say, wow, is this even real life? I’m a very competitive person, but honestly, I was so incredibly excited to be back on the field after ten months out with an injury that I didn’t even really get upset that we lost the tournament. Joy, joy, joy.
3) What brings me joy.
If joy is an attitude of the heart no matter the circumstances, then technically everything should give me joy; I should never not have joy (ha, it’s going to take me longer than 50 days to accomplish that). But some things make me smile a bit more than others. Many of my 50 pictures so far have been of kids. There are quite a few of ball fields, several of me with friends, and a few of my desk (taking aesthetically pleasing pictures of my homework is how I psych myself up to do it). Little things make me smile–cutting avocados for lunch, messages from old and new friends, the sound of a ball hitting a glove, that great feeling of wearing flip-flops again for the first time since last summer. I also think I’ve grown a lot more accomplished at finding joy in the not-so-great parts of life. I understand now, when faced with a trying or sad situation, how to take a step back and say–this is bad, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m going to keep my head up and smile while I wait to see what God’s going to teach me from this.
4) My life is really amazing.
I have so much to be grateful for; it’s ridiculous how blessed I am. Take yesterday, for example. I got up in my nice house, freely read one of my many copies of the Bible, and took medicine that my family was easily able to obtain. I joked around with my brother doing tee work in the garage and then took a hot shower. I played with babies, went to math class with my best friend, got a cute haircut, went to work (read: sat on the sunny patio, ate Doritos, and watched kids run around), and went to see the Winter Jam behind-the-scenes movie with another of my best friends. My parents told me they loved me and I went to sleep in a warm bed. Yesterday wasn’t absolutely perfect, of course, but it was pretty awesome.
Up above I mentioned the little moments–the everyday things that don’t seem extraordinarily special at the time. Riding home with my dad listening to the Braves game with the windows down. Lying in bed journaling in the morning. Waiting at the bus stop. For the past several months, I’ve been so busy that I think I’ve forgotten to stop and appreciate the little moments. This challenge has helped me notice them again. Day-to-day life can be so special if we slow down and choose joy.
5) Joy is absolutely, entirely, incredibly worth it.
Some days it’s a struggle to have joy. My smiley Instagram post takes up one moment of the day. For many of the other moments, my mood isn’t really that great. But when I choose joy–when I paste that fake smile on my face and growl with gritted teeth, God, I REALLY need You to help me find some joy, because I am sure not feeling it right now–it comes. And it’s so amazing, y’all. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have joy? Who wouldn’t want to smile and laugh with pure and unadulterated joy every moment of the day just because life is beautiful? Now that I’ve tasted it, there’s no going back. It’s a fight to have joy, but I am determined to win because it is so very worth it. If I keep fighting the little battles every day, maybe soon I’ll win the war.
If you want to jump in on the last half of my #100daysofjoy challenge, click the link on the sidebar and head over to my Instagram @haileyh412.