I nearly missed Mental Health Awareness Week! Not entirely sure how that happened, considering how many social media channels I’m on right now (and, perhaps more significantly, how amazing my mental health is right now). Today’s post will have a little nod towards MHAW: sit back, relax, and read on.
If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll have seen nearly daily photo updates from me collated into an album called Daily Dose of Happy. For those who know me through this blog, essentially my boyfriend thought it was a bad idea for me to be stuck indoors all the time when I’m feeling low (which is generally what happens). So he challenged me to go outside my house every day and take a photo of something that makes me happy. A dog walker with a giant yellow lab, a flower, maybe some food (to be honest I think he expected a lot of food photos from me).
I mean, I thought it was a brilliant idea. For extra accountability (I know me too well to realise that I’ll forget or get bored in three days and quit) I decided to publish the album on Facebook so there’s that little bit of extra deterrent from stopping. And there you have it: the Daily Dose of Happy! Here, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve taken all of the photos which doesn’t have any personal identifiers in (like human faces).
So much more came out of me starting this album than I would ever have anticipated, both in terms of my personal mental health and the reactions of the people around me.
The first thing I learned is: it’s easy to miss the little things in life that make me happy. By intentionally setting myself the target every day to actively seek out these little things, I’ve found that a lot of things do make me smile on a daily basis. For a lot of you, many of these photos will be completely mundane. Well, for me, happiness is in the mundane. It’s in the things that mean next to nothing to someone else. It’s in the things that I’ll miss if I blink at the wrong time. When I’m in a very low mood, those reminders may well be a lifesaver.
Another important thing that I’ve learned whilst doing this project was that perfectionism isn’t always the best way forward. Though I’m a slob most of the time (just look in my room… Actually, please don’t. That’s a bit weird) sometimes I tend to be quite rigid with my personal expectations.
Take this project: when I started, I felt like I had to post every day. I start to beat myself up every time I miss a photo. It took me a while to force myself to accept that I won’t post a photo every day and that’s okay. This project helped me realise that being a slave driver to myself isn’t good for my emotional well-being and, paradoxically, my general productivity. It’s time to take that to other areas of my life.
Finally, perhaps most importantly, I will never realise the full implication of my actions on other people. This is probably more important when it comes to social media and the internet, but I realise that it applies to my day to day life. When I started the Daily Dose of Happy, I expected perhaps a couple of friends would notice and give some photos a like. Two weeks in, more often than not when I whip my phone out someone would ask if it’s going to go in ‘that album’. I’ve had friends privately messaging me saying that my photos sometimes make them smile too. One person even said to me: “you realise that there’s now a lot of people looking forward to your happy photos?”. I did not anticipate that kind of widespread response from me posting photos on Facebok.
Okay, so that’s a good thing. In the same way offline, I will never realise the effect that a smile, a ‘hello’, or an ‘are you okay?’ will have on somebody. On the other hand, I will never quite grasp the full implications that a sarcastic comment or a cold shoulder will have on someone because I simply don’t have a clue what’s going on in their life. It’s a personal reminder to be kind, when I can.
On that note, have a happy weekend! Cyber hug!