Last week I posted my first 7-day challenge. It was a real eye-opener in different aspects of my life, not to mention an interesting way to spend my focus. Read all about my findings in this challenge report!
The happiness advantage challenge
I did the following every day (for the sake of this challenge, during one week) to gain a “happiness advantage”. Read all about it in the happiness advantage challenge post!
- Write down 3 things you’re grateful for
- Keep a daily journal by writing one entry about a positive experience you had that day
- Exercise daily for 30 minutes to an hour
- Meditate daily for 15 minutes
- Do a daily random act of kindness
My first challenge, this feels exciting! Naturally I want to take off on a good start. The mister proposes going to the gym over breakfast, so my daily exercise is being taken care of. In my daily 3 gratitudes I mention that I love how he makes my life easier.
I guess everyone has one of those relatives they dearly love, despite how they manage to spam your facebook timeline with the most random wisdoms, jokes and political messages. Instead of rolling my eyes with a good-hearted smirk I put myself in his shoes, and decide he could really use some extra TLC. I picked my most appropriate postcard from my stationary collection and penned down a fun message I hope will cheer him up when he discovers it on his doormat.
Since monday’s meditation didn’t go that well, I decide to start the day with the help of an app by Meditation Oasis. Although I love these apps (and they’ve helped me do guided meditations excellently in the past, including Simply Being and Relax & Rest) my own mindset seemed to have changed; I have a hard time not focusing on the start of my day. I got a lot to learn when it comes down to meditation, but at least the effort is there.
Because I forgot to mail yesterday’s postcard today’s exercise consists out of a hearty stroll around the block.
I decided postponing writing down my 3 gratitudes because I woke up being inspired for a new article. It might have been the subject of the post, but I’m starting to wonder if I would have started the day on a lighter and happier note if I had done this exercise right away. #WFWChallenge 1 – Nathalie 0.
While I’m at it I send a tweet to the Spotify support desk as my random act of kindness for the day; I love how their Discover Weekly feature throws awesome new music at me every week. And I know first-hand that people in support can use all the extra love they can get!
Journaling and writing down my three daily gratitudes seem to be taking less and less effort. I also got my workout covered, as we’ll be attending our weekly salsa dance class tonight. But the meditation, hmpf. Instead of enjoying some anticipated relaxation I feel it starts to become a chore. After reading this nice beginners article about meditation I decide to go back to basics, and make a little corner in my office. Incense, pillows, meditation music, the works. I finally start to realize that it’s OK not to become a total zen-master in 15 minutes. It brings me some peace, which I hope to practice even better tomorrow.
As I have to head out to run some errands I decide to give walking meditation a try. Admittedly focusing on my steps did help me keep my concentration, but the act itself doesn’t manage to calm me down – yet. At home I do more reading up on meditating to form a tactic to learn the ropes in the future.
As life swings me by my old town I write all about how grateful I am for having a loving mother to visit, and journal about it at the end of the day.
Saturday + Sunday
Unfortunately I ran into a couple of problems this weekend (the worst of which being an acute case of food-poisoning after eating at a restaurant). Rather than beating myself up to get the challenge done I decided to cut myself some slack, and accept the week as it went.
A few days into the challenge I noticed the benefits of positive journaling and writing down the things I’m grateful for. With these two little efforts (often done just after I woke up) I soon noticed my days took off on a more positive, lighter note. And truth be told, I am amazed how such a little change in your daily routine can make such a difference! The same counts for daily exercise, although taking the step to head out for a walk or undertake a dedicated hour of sports does take a little bit more effort, especially during busy days. It kept me fresh, focused and simply feeling happier. Point 1, 2 and 3 are definitely keepers, and I will look for a way to seamlessly weave them into my daily routine.
It was obvious that meditating was my biggest problem, and maybe even concern. I’m not sure whether it was the need I felt to complete my challenge in a satisfactory way, or whether I had the wrong expectations with the concept of meditation as a whole. Nonetheless this item of the challenge was the hardest, and at the same time most educational to me. I promise you haven’t heard the last of me considering this topic, as I am already researching various techniques. If you have tips concerning the matter, please don’t hesitate to share them!
Admittedly I thought doing a random act of kindness every day would be the easiest exercise. Oddly enough* I felt this was a harder practice than I anticipated, especially with my effort to keep my actions varied. I think I like spreading a bit of random love best when I feel I can do so more spontaneously.
* I like sending people occasional e-mails and letters of appreciation, from friends and family to (former Discovery Channel) survival guru Cody Lundin and Dr. Costas from the reality tv-show “What happens in Kavos” (“Zon, zee, zuipen, ziekenhuis” in Dutch). I know these well-meant words can really mean a lot, so whenever I feel they’re bubbling up I do my best to get them out there.
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Are you interested in doing this challenge? Read all about it in this post!