Lessons From Failing the Happiness Year Challenge

How I learned that someone else’s challenge might not be right for me… at least not by the same boundaries.

Photo by Denise Jones on Unsplash

At the end of 2019 I was desperate to find happiness and to celebrate it every day. I was eager to take on the same challenge that Gretchen Rubin had taken on over a decade ago in her book “The Happiness Project”. I eagerly wrote my rules for living, virtues and a small sketch for each month of the year. It worked pretty well for a few months.

Until March happened. I had realized that some of the challenges that I had taken in the first two months of the year were based on her challenges. I realized quickly that the challenges that Rubin set for energy in January weren’t really helpful for me. I rephrased it to fit my needs more. That was the only glitch in the first two months.

There was a car accident in March that made me believe that I was too busy to pursue the challenge and I questioned my own worthiness of happiness. I had totalled a car after all. Then after COVID set in, all bets were off. I wanted to just survive for a while.

Did I experience happiness this year?

If anything, I grew more grateful throughout 2020. I had a job throughout the year, I made new friends and grew closer to some of the people I had known from the past. I got married this year after living for 7 months with my soulmate who I started dating in December of 2019.

The only truly adverse experience I had this year was having to move out for a medical quarentine to keep my mother safe. I gave up the comfort of my home and my fur babies to put pressure on a relationship that was under 6 months old at the time.

I count myself blessed to have a stable year when I know that many others have not. I’ve realized that happiness is found in enjoying the little things and knowing how many things there are to be grateful for on a daily basis.

I do have some regrets about giving up so easily

I think that a happiness project, designed to the participant, would have great benefits. There’s a lot to learn from focusing on happiness in various areas of our lives. Taking on challenges that force us to grow and enjoy the happiness we have in each season is powerful.

I wish I had stayed the course and am keeping the challenge in my back pocket for another year. I feel that there is a lot to learn by pursuing making each area of our lives better.

A lesson in designing personal challenges

I mentioned that one of the biggest thing I noticed in the short time I participated was that the same goals and focus areas that worked for Rubin did not work for me.

While there is nothing wrong with a good personal challenge and taking inspiration from other people, I think it’s also important to customize the challenge to our own needs. To be able to put our own spin on it.

What inspires you about a personal challenge and the person presenting the challenge? What areas of the challenge are you drawn to? Are there any ways that you can tweak the challenge to work for you?

It’s a lesson that I’ll carry with me every time that I approach a personal challenge. To look at what worked or didn’t for the originator and then break it down to parts and find out how it works and applies to my own life.

Writer, wife, lifelong learner. I write about personal development, emotional wellness, relationships and lifestyle. rachellaangelpage@yahoo.com

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