21 Day Happiness Test

23 days ago I watched a TED talk about happiness and at the end the guy suggested doing the following for 21 days:

– Exercise.
– Meditate.
– Write down three new things that made me happy. It’s important to try to find different things every day, because it keeps you on the lookout for what made you happy, thereby making you more aware of happy moments, however fleeting.
– Do one random act of kindness.

I thought exercising every day was going to be the hardest, but the random act of kindness was harder. I don’t know how truly random I was about it. I counted helping people who emailed me about me their murdered relatives (I wrote a book about cold cases so I regularly hear from people asking for help). I used that one a lot. And if you don’t already know how to meditate that would be a challenge, but I’ve already learned something called MBSR.

Some days it was difficult to come up with three new things that made me happy. But in the end I could always recall some brief moment, like the night I killed a mosquito. It had been dive bombing me for hours, and I was accumulating welt after welt, when finally, at 2 in the morning, I got him. I felt this wonderful moment of bliss laying back down to sleep knowing that stupid mosquito wasn’t going to torment me anymore. (I also felt bad at having to kill it, but it was self-defense.)

Bottom line: did it work? Yes. Part of me thinks just making the effort of doing all these things every day in and of itself is a mood-enhancer, but prior to doing this every day I felt a little bad. It’s hard to describe. I’m facing a bunch of challenges, (growing older, finding a day-job, etc.) and it’s not depression, but I was beginning to feel, well, just bad about it. I started every day with an ache. The ache is gone now. I’m still in the same rough patch in life, but I just feel a lot better.

So if you’re in a rough patch and doing everything you can but things aren’t working out, because life is like that sometimes, do the above. I’m going to keep doing it.

I was concentrating on lining up my shot and didn’t even notice this guy look at me with this very annoyed expression! I’m sorry movie-set guy.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

3 thoughts on “21 Day Happiness Test

  1. Stacy do you remember who the speaker was? I’d like to watch it. Isn’t TED wonderful? I need to remember to go to it more often…

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