Today was one of the most painful days I have experienced this year so far. After receiving several hurtful and upsetting texts while trying to study, I broke down to my friends in the middle of Kaldi's. One agonizing hour later, I made the difficult decision of leaving a friendship that had grown sour about a month ago. Although I was reassured by my friends and family that I had indeed made the right decision, I was still hounded by the pain that I had caused the other person throughout the rest of my day, and the words that I was texted continued to sting long after I had said goodbye.
Today was nonetheless a good day.
At about this point, you must be thinking that I'm crazy to reaffirm the day with such a positive attitude. I certainly don't mean to make light of my circumstances in any way. For me, ending even a toxic friendship is a challenging decision whose pain will take lots of time, lots of conversation and lots of prayers to heal. I stand here and acknowledge that nothing can take away the fact that the ordeal I went through today was really, really horrible. Yet I also affirm that this difficult part of today lasted a mere hour and a half out of the day's twenty-four hours.
Today was a good day because I did much more then vent and cry about something that made me so upset. I had a great start to my week by attending Passion City Church – which is one of the places that has changed my life the most profoundly. I went bowling with a group of friends from Bread Coffeehouse, made a new pal, and tried amazing chili-cheese fries. I ate the most phenomenal breakfast food – strawberry cream cheese, red velvet cupcakes, coconut puffs, and apple cider – at Dooley's Brunch. I received love from family members and friends alike, who gave me hugs and encouraging words and texts when I was feeling upset. I spent quality time with my roommate, laughing and crying together, after having not properly hung out with her for a week. Most importantly, I cheered on my friend and fellow-church goer, Ariana, who got baptized at my church today and officially began her Christian journey.
These are the sort of events that I record in my happiness journal, which I keep to remind me of the fact that there is good in every day regardless of the trials that I face. According to Action for Happiness, writing down three things you are grateful for every day increases your positivity and helps you when we are going through challenges. I decided to stretch myself and make it five. Before I go to sleep, I record either a funny moment, a happy memory or a genuine compliment that made me smile. For the thirty seconds that this process takes, it truly reverses my sight to see the glass as half full rather than miserably empty. In fact, when I combined this practice with writing down three things I was excited about for the next day, I became so enthused that I found it difficult to go to sleep.
I've kept my happiness journal ever since the eleventh grade, in a turquoise notebook that was given to me from the Dutch equivalent of Walmart whose cover encourages me to "make a note a day every day, and soon this will be your favorite book". One of the reasons that I value this notebook so much is that it serves as a reminder of who I am, what I value and who has supported throughout the years. It reminds me of the activities I used to love – such as watching Vine compilations with my brother or challenging myself to pat as many dogs as possible. Oftentimes, when I'm feeling particularly nostalgic, it reminds me of what makes me happy EXACTLY a year ago today, leaving me to reflect on how much my life has changed since them. When I tend to look back at my high school and early college time as a series of difficulties, my happiness journal reinforces me of the beautiful moments of joy that overpass all my trials.
No matter what stage I am in life, writing a happiness journal is not always easy. While some days I am fortunate that the gratitude flows from my fingers until I fill nearly a page with all the fun activities I did that day that I was grateful for, other days, I find it challenging to even come up with one mite of positivity. I am not here to advocate a highlight reel of my life, as I know that each of our lives is intertwined with many hardships. Yet I am here to hold to the hope that even on the worst days, we are still blessed beyond measure. On those worse days, I revert back to the blessings that do not necessarily concern themselves with today, but that I continually take for granted – such as how grateful I am for my dog, or how much I love music. I go to sleep with a slightly lighter heart and the realization that tomorrow a better day with more entries will dawn.
Even though I have only a few pages left in the journal that I have kept for two years, I hope to continue expressing my gratitude about all the blessings I have received in my life. And no matter how your day looks like today, I encourage you to do the same. Join me in shifting your pessimistic outlook by counting your blessings rather than your downfalls. Journal memories of your adventures so that one day you can look back at them and remember how much fun you had. Write down sticky notes of compliments people have given you.
Follow in my footsteps of keeping a folder on my phone of screenshots of conversations that make your heart glow, or of making a movie every day of your fondest memory. Scribble down the texts, quotes, and memes that made you laugh uncontrollably, and make a playlist of the videos that bring joy to your life. Keep writing, until you have a collection of happy memories that you can review to remind yourself of the joy in your life that was there all along. Keep writing, so the next time that you have a bad day, you can choose to focus on the good.