i was laying in bed after my third surgery in three months, and i could feel depression creeping in. the previous day, i’d broken down about work, completely blowing a minor situation out of proportion. my mom and little sister looked like they’d seen a ghost — clearly, things were slipping from my control.
i started a happiness project to press reset on my emotions and focus on something bigger than self-pity.
after three weeks of centering joy and well-being, i feel like a new person with an even greater determination to experience joy in my daily life. sometimes we don’t know what we’re missing, until we find what we’re missing.
now, i’m clearer about the triggers that can block my well being and the bad habits that keep me in an emotional slump. i won’t fake, this project didn’t send me into utter elation and complete bliss, but it did something even better.
first, it was the antidote to a looming depression and pity party. i cut both off at the pass by channeling my energy into something much more positive. also, it forced me to be intentional about the little things that make me smile. organizing my spare bedroom, taking walks and chilling with friends were easy happiness boosters that i had previously taken for granted.
life lessons from my happiness project:
be gentle with yourself. some days we feel like shit, and that’s okay. instead of running from my low moments, focusing on happiness made me investigate my sadness on a deeper level. what are my triggers? how is the anger i direct at others really meant for me? before this project, i would have laid in bed for days, been quick to snap at my partner or ate a pound of junk food when feeling emotionally uneasy. now, my goal is to welcome tough emotions and be gentle with myself as they pass. as my grandma says, “trouble don’t last always.”
investing in joy is preventative. just as we save money for a rainy day, consistent investments in joy help us overcome emotional turmoil. when i’m feeling insecure, i draw upon all my meditations to remind myself that i am enough. when i’m feeling anxious, i wrap myself in the affirmation “something special is happening to me right now.” we wouldn’t expect a car to drive without gas, so how can we ensure our well-being without investing in happiness?
make happiness part of your daily routine. the affirmations and meditations i use to get me through tough times are part of my daily self-care routine. every morning before getting out of bed i say “thank you” three times, just to express gratitude for waking up. before leaving the house, i light a candle, burn sage and meditate for at least ten minutes. sometimes, i use the dynamic guided meditations by the black feminist breathing chorus, and other times i’m just still. all these things act as buffers to my joy — protecting it from interference.
it’s the little things that count. i didn’t go sky diving during my happiness project or take a trip to tahiti. instead, i set an intention to do small things each day that would uplift my spirit. this is important because unless your last name is kardashian, you can’t take a dream vacation every week. in order to make happiness part of your daily routine, the little things that bring us joy must become a priority.
since writing about the death of my friend’s daughter in “how i found happiness during painful times,” so many people have reached out saying the post helped them process their grief. i’m speechless because my dream is to positively affect others and create healing spaces for black women while doing it.
i’m blessed that my 21 day happiness project may have blessed someone else. let’s continue to focus on how we can support and love one another — we have nothing to lose but our chains.