Day 6: People Are Amazing

Some days it feels like you’re all alone. Some days it feels like you versus the world and the world is kicking your ass.

Today is a day like that for me. Today I’m struggling to face myself and my life when all I really feel like doing is crawling under the covers, ordering a huge pizza, and bingeing on some crappy mind numbing Netflix show that is of no redeeming social value whatsoever.

And then I don’t. I don’t hide, I don’t quit, and I don’t succumb to my dark desires for digital televised self loathing. And it’s not because I have an endless supply of happiness, or gratitude, or Zen-like calmness. I wish I had those things, but I don’t.

Instead I avoid falling in a pit of despair because of one very simple and important thing: Other people.

When I’m feeling down, I reach out. I tell my closest friends that I’m having a bad day, I talk to my partner about my confusion and the deep desires in my heart. I sit with my Buddhist sangha, and I pet my cat (if she let’s me). I bitch, moan, and cry but I don’t do it to an empty room. I do it to someone, anyone who will listen.

The Biology of Loneliness
As humans it’s our biological nature to fear solitude. Back in the jungle book days of our species being alone meant death. We developed a need for other humans that was deep and lasting. And this deep need served us well for centuries as we lived in tight knit communities, huddled around fires, praying that we would be safe from the beasts hiding in the shadows.

The problem is that in the modern world our tribes have become fragmented. We no longer see the tight bonds we share. And we’re too willing to accept a televised approximation of a relationship instead of investing our time and energy into the real people all around us. And why not? Televised relationships are so predictable, the story archs so archetypal, and the drama so engaging.

Real people are boring, have problems, aren’t air brushed, and get sick and die at unexpected times.

But if you’re going to create lasting happiness in your life you have to learn to pay attention and appreciate all those pink little bags of blood that make up your life. Yes it will mean you have to learn to be patient, listen, and compromise some level of control and preferences.

But I assure you that it’s totally worth it. When you take the time to be aware of, thank, and love the people around you for who they are, you’ll find they hold and cheer you up when you need it most. People are amazing and it’s about time you started treating them that way.

Happiness Challenge #6

1. Practice: Make a list of 5 people who’ve had a positive impact on your life recently. Make sure to include at least 2 people you know well and 2 people who you may not normally thank or express kindness to.

  • Think about how these people have helped you and the support they offer you.
  • Close your eyes and feel their support as it holds you up.
  • Then write out an email, letter, or note to each of them telling them thank you. You can either do one a day for five days or do them all at once, it’s up to you.
  • Then send the emails, mail the letters, and drop off the notes.
  • Once you’ve done this let go of any expectations of the replies you hope to get.
  • Let these thank yous be like ships of love you send out without hope they will return. Feel what it’s like to appreciate those around you without expecting anything back.

2. Reflect: After you’ve written or sent your messages, pause and notice how it feels.

  • What questions pop into your mind?
  • Did you feel shy about saying thanks?
  • How does saying thank you make you feel about your own life?
  • What does it make you feel about how you support others?

3.Share: As always share one or all of the ways below.

  • Write a Blog Post: Share one of your letters openly or what your experience was as you wrote them or after you sent them. Make sure to post a link in the comments or on Facebook.
  • Share on Social Media: Share your list of amazing people and why they rock, share something this challenge helped you see, or share why saying thanks was hard for you. Remember to share with the tag #30dayhappy and in our facebook group (
  • Share in the comments: If you do nothing else please share in the comments. Share a question you had or the people you wrote to, or something you liked or struggled with during the challenge.

Day 5: Tell a Good Story

My Girlfriend is Magic
Sometimes when my partner asks me about my day, I launch into a tirade about how much everyone in the world sucks. I tell her about the appointment that stood me up, the guy that cut me off in traffic, and the horrible customer service call I had. I complain that I lost my wallet, was late to a meeting, and how our car share wasn’t available when I needed it.

When I finish she looks at me calmly and replies, “It sounds like you had a rough day.” I smile back and say, “yeah, it was”. And then she does something really amazing. She simply comes over and touches my arm or gives me a hug. And in that moment it’s like every bad thing about my day just melts away.

All of a sudden I remember how lucky I am, that I get to wake up everyday in a warm bed, with a furry cat, and walk the 20 feet to my home office. I remember all the amazing conversations I get to have with clients, all of the articles I’ve read, and how lucky I am to have someone to talk to about my very bad, no good, bummer of a day.

So what happened? Is my girlfriend a wizard with magical touch? Well no, at least I haven’t been able to prove it, but it’s not her magic that changed my mood. What changed was the story I was telling about my day. Instead of telling myself a story about the crappy day I was having, I was able to see that along with that story was another story that felt much better to tell.

Your Life is a Story
Your whole life is a story you tell yourself, and you get to decide what that story is. You get to decide if it’s a tragedy, a comedy, a romance, or a Young Adult dystopian novel. Sure there might be days when you struggle to see the light and it feels like everything is going wrong. But even on the best days something goes wrong, and even on the worst days, something goes right.

What makes a day, a week, a month, or a year good or bad is largely determined by the details you focus on and the stories you choose to tell yourself about them.

And one of the simplest and most powerful awareness practices you can do is learning how to notice the stories you tell yourself and choosing to tell different ones.

Happiness Challenge #5

Today’s challenge builds on the challenges we’ve worked on up to this point, so if you’ve done those challenges you’re one step ahead. If you haven’t done any of the previous challenges, now is a great time to catch up.

1. Practice: The first step to telling a new story about your life is to notice exactly what story you’re telling. As you go throughout your day notice the stories you tell to yourself.

  • Notice the stories you tell about the other people (esp. the rude ones).
  • Notice the stories you tell about your life and how this day fits or conflicts with that narrative.
  • Simply notice these stories without judgement and with curiosity.

2. Reflect: Now that you’re at the end of your day and before you write in your journal take a few minutes to reflect on the stories you told yourself today. If you want, you can write down a few themes or even notes about the stories you told yourself. Or you can simply reflect on them in your mind.

Then think of one event today that was positive and write a very short story about it and why it was good. It can just be a few sentences and at most a paragraph. Keep it simple and small. Bonus: If you want to do extra take an event that you saw as negative and rewrite it as positive or neutral.

3. Share: Now it’s time to share your experience so do one or more of the following:

  • Write a blog post: Write about the stories you tell yourself. You might include how it felt to write a positive story about your day or what it might be like if you put a positive spin on a neutral or negative story. Make sure to add a link to this post in your post, post a link in the comments, or share it with the Facebook group.
  • Share what you learned on social media. When you share your stories with others, it gains power and encourages others to reinforce how you want to see your life. As always include the tag #30dayhappy and/or share in the Facebook group.
  • Write a comment: Ask a question, share your experience, or share one or more of your stories in the comments below.

Great work on the challenge so far! The story I’m telling myself is that you’re all working hard, learning a lot, and beginning to notice some simple things you can do to increase your happiness. I’m a very lucky guy to know so many amazing people who want to make the world a better place, one smile at a time.