For the last year, I was running a happiness project on my Instagram profile. The concept was to post a picture of something that made me happy everyday for a year. That project ended yesterday, and I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness as a concept with that project and my year-long happiness project focused around behavioral changes as well.
When I was reflecting on what the Instagram project taught me, I realized that there’s been a lot of not great things that have happened over the last year. I lost friends to addiction or suicide, I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and fibromyalgia, I dealt with a lapse in my ED, very close friends of mine have departed for different states and countries, the list goes on.
But everyday of the project, I found something to be happy about. Even if it was just the way I was dressed, or hanging out with my dog, or how bright the sunshine was. Everyday there was a piece of good that I could focus on, even if the day as a whole felt boring or awful.
What the Instagram project taught me is that I have to choose to see happiness. I have to allow myself to feel happy. And that’s hard! It’s hard to see the good or the happy when the day feels awful, and it’s especially hard when dealing with mental illnesses. Some days my brain doesn’t want to let me see the good and I have to sit down and list it out and realize the day was actually far better than my brain seems to think it was.
The project I’m running here is making me realize what I can do to my own behavior to make happiness a more reachable goal. I have always heard that happiness was a choice, and honestly I was bitter about it. I didn’t want to hear that I had to change myself in order to change my outlook.
Years of treatment later, and I’m finally in a place where I can choose to be happy. When I was at my worst, or even when I was fighting my way out of being at my worst, I didn’t have that direct choice. I was focused on making sure that I got to a healthy point in my life, where my brain and my body was healthy.
Now that I’ve done that as much as possible, I can choose the behavior and the mindset of happiness. It still isn’t easy, and there are still days where I want to not choose happiness, but for the most part I can do it.
I’m grateful, because I know this is a sign of progress. I know this is a sign of my personal recovery and how hard I’ve worked at it. Obviously, my recovery isn’t anyone else’s recovery, and this isn’t something everyone can do. But I’m (dare I use the word) happy that I am in a place that I can, and a place where I allow myself to.