I wanted a few days to really sit and think about what had happened to me over the last 30 days—what these 5 tasks taught me, if they really helped, if this could be an ongoing method to make me a happy person, if they were actually a ladder out of my rut. And a funny but sad thing happened. On Wednesday, I stopped doing them. All of them. Didn’t do them on Thursday either. Not even Friday. Didn’t do a single one.
The absence of the 5 tasks on those 3 days confirmed everything I already suspected. They work. They have been working. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were horrible. I was a mess—I was anxious, stressed out, felt physically “off,” and all of my bad habits instantly found their way back to me. But today, I’m back on track, and I already feel better.
So my conclusion is this: Not only do they work for me, I need them. I need all 5. I need them every day. I’ve had a glimpse at happiness, and I’m going work my ass off to keep it. These tasks are hard at first; they take some getting used to, but they change over time and they get a little easier (and some days they’ll be hard again). But you start to realize that this effort you’re putting in is changing you, changing your perspective. It’s not a bunch of peddled easy answers, or other people telling you how to look at things, or self-help books suggesting you look at things a different way–it’s you. Through these tasks, you’re the one who is creating profound and life-altering changes. But it takes work, effort, accountability, patience, community, flexibility, and creativity. It takes all of these. As the past three days proved, though, it’s worth it because when they’re gone, you notice. You notice hard.
Throughout this month, I read some other articles that listed lots of things happy people do. Sometimes it was 22 things, or a dozen, sometimes more or less. In reading those, though, I noticed that many of those on the list were by-products of these 5 core tasks. These 5 are the basic building blocks of all kinds of better behaviors and outlooks that start to happen organically. I think you need all 5 because they all do different things, they all have their own flavor and associated realizations.
3 things you’re grateful for
Journal about something good that happened
Random Act of Kindness
But I will add a 6th that I discovered was also important. Spend time on your art—whatever it is for you, whatever activity you naturally pour your passions into. For me it’s writing, and I was able to include that in how I approached this experiment. I wrote every day in some form. And I’ve got a body of work to show for it, daily time spent on something I love, something that grounds me, and it made each day feel whole and worth it.
So, I say a giant thank you to Shawn Achor and his TED Talk for these 5 magic tools, and I thank my inner me for finding my way to the unknown 6th. I learned tons from these 30 days, and am incredibly glad I did it. And I’m eternally thankful to all of you who stuck with me. The accountability and encouragement you provided kept me at this. If you take on a similar project you’ll need that, so make sure you’re involving someone who is going to cheer you on and remind you that the work is of value, that you are of value.
What’s next for me? I’ll continue to do each of these tasks every day. And if I miss a day and feel horrible again, I’ll jump right back on the train. I’ll keep writing and see what I can do about turning this experience, or any experience, into a book. And in the words of a new friend, I will: “Keep. Going.”
Again, my most heartfelt thanks to all of you for your steadfast encouragement, support, anonymous gifts, wise words, advice, and friendship. I owe my newly found happiness to you. Thank you.