Focussing on Happy Moments

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I’ve struggled to write this post for a long time.  I was going to sit down and write it as I approached each century mark, and I couldn’t bring myself to write because I didn’t know how to clearly share with people why I decided to do it participate in the challenge and why I continued to extend it.  It all started with a challenge from my friend Shawn Davids to start the  100 Happy Days Challenge which asked you to post 100 pictures of happy moments for 100 days on a social media platform of your choosing.  It encouraged others to think about the happy moments in their life.  He stopped and I & continued long after to where now I am approaching almost 600 days.

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After my fathers passing in 2011 I struggled with focusing on the things/people that made me happy.  I tried to fill my life with many personal and professional events that I enjoy participating in.  During this time I had many professional breakthroughs and new opportunities from those breakthroughs.  Managing my happiness with these breakthroughs while inwardly struggling with the personal challenges presented by my father’s passing was confusing for me, and I struggled to make sense of it and enjoy the happy moments that were all around me.

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The 100 Happy Days Challenge has helped me reflect about each day & help me see that even with a difficult or disappointing day I can find something that makes me happy.  However I know with the hashtag #100happydays #200happydays #300happydays, etc… that I have indirectly given some people the impression that I am always happy or that I am always trying to put on a act of being happy or that I was attempting to be someone I am not.   This was never my intention and still it is not.  It is all in how one perceives things.  Ones perception is not always reality.  Am I trying to “sell” this post and my instagram photos as someone who is always filled with happy moments?  My simple answer is no.  I am however using the photos as a way to reflect personally on moments that make me happy and put the focus on those moments rather on the difficult ones that have consumed my thinking and drained the joy from my happy moments previously.  Do thoughts of my Dad and challenges pop into my mind still?  Yes they do… but finding a happy moment in those days helps me through those days and gives me a lot to look forward to in the future.

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Moments that now pop up on my memory wall on Facebook and spark a flood of emotions and awesome conversations with my kids, family, and at times my teaching colleagues.  I couldn’t stop this project after 100 days.  I was enjoying capturing these moments, sharing them and it was helping me with perspective and putting some focus back on the happy moments in my life.  Many of the quick captured moments were of my kids experiencing life and sharing their joy with my wife and I.

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Did I capture something every day?  The answer is… almost.   I have doubled up on some days.  This was due to me not taking the time to get my camera out to capture the moment and sometimes due to me falling asleep before I could take the time to post it.   Are all of my days filled with only happy moments.  The simple answer is no.  However many of days there were many big moments to choose from while other days there were singular moments that stood out and a few days that I was still searching for a moment late into the evening… important to note… I did find one.  It is about Mindset and what you choose to focus on.  I am learning to focus on things that make me happy.  What makes you happy?

Hugh McDonald


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20 Responses to Focussing on Happy Moments

  1. Joy Kirr says:

    This, my friend, is why we get along. Looking for & noticing happy = living happy. Thank you for sharing this 600-day + journey with us!!

  2. Pingback: Focussing on Happy Moments | Leadership With Pu...

  3. Anne-Marie Middleton says:

    I echo Joy in my thanks. I love seeing your photos as they bring a smile to my face usually when I need it the most. By reading your post this morning it reminded me to stop moving so fast and be in the moment. Even if it is just for a short time, my thoughts have been stilled. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for taking the time to reach out Anne-Marie! Your point about slowing down and being in the moment is one I am working on myself. I am trying to quickly capture the moment with a picture & then get back in the moment & saving the sharing until after the moment has passed. I am not always perfect with this, but I am getting better.

  4. mmebunker says:

    Thanks for this post, Hugh! For many reasons, I often struggle to see the happy. I’ve always enjoyed your photos because they remind me that life is a giant collection of moments and that our quality of life improves when we focus on these small moments for which we are most grateful.

    • Thank you for your kind words Beverly. I could not agree more… a giant collection of moments. Some of my favourite moments now are sharing anniversaries of big moments in my kids life with my kids. It is so powerful & it excites them to see the pictures or little videos of them. It shows them where they were & how far they’ve come. It sparks a lot of fun conversations.

  5. T. Henriksen says:

    Hi Hugh,

    What a lovely post! I often try to see the positive in things. It is important and what gets us through all the difficult things that happen on a day to day basis. Someone said to me earlier this week, “Tia you always have a smile on your face!” Yes, I try to. The alternative isn’t something I want to do each day. What does being grumpy or overwhelmed with everything do? How does it help us? Like you, it is not like I am trying to be someone I am not, or pretend that everything is a-okay, it’s just better thinking of the positive, instead of the alternative. There are so many things we cannot control, our attitude is one that we can. Might as well make it a positive one!

  6. michellek107 says:

    Seeing YOUR happy days makes me happy. I so appreciate all that you share and do, my friend. Your actions affect me daily, even though you don’t even know it. When I see your #600happydays on photos, it makes me smile EVERY SINGLE TIME. Thank you!

    • Michelle,

      Thank you so much for your note of kindness my adopted Canadian sister! It is nice to know that these little pictures bring a smile to your face too. They help me a lot. Often I will look back through them when I need a comforting moment.

  7. Victoria Olson (@MsVictoriaOlson) says:

    YOU are inspiring, my friend. The Happy Days project is like a live gratitude list; it must be incredible to look back on these posts when you’re having a bad day. And you’re right… it also makes it easier to figure out that *one single moment* that went well out of all the weeds that overtake a day. You’re amazing ❤

    • Thank you for kind words my Canadian Neigbour in the USA (for now). I love checking out you & Karl’s photos. They are often breathtaking & inspire me to play with filters & techniques when I take landscape photos. Hope all is well down south & that you are enjoying your opportunity to concentrate on your school work & being a couple with Karl in the same city. It must be a fantastic feeling!

  8. faige says:

    I love that I came across this post on Twitter. Life takes many twist and turns but finding that “happy moment” keeps us going. Despair doesn’t! Thank you for sharing your photos and thoughts.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment Faige! Truer words have not been said. Sometimes abiding by them prove difficult, but if we can find that 1 happy moment in a day to focus on then it makes it that much easier to look forward to more of them in the future.

  9. Hey Buddy,

    First, I hope you are well and happy and looking forward to a fantastic weekend with your family!

    Second, I love your #100happydays posts and have often wanted to start doing the same. The truth is that being intentional about spotting happy moments — things that we can be grateful for — is SO important to our own well being. I haven’t taken the time for that in my life and the result is that I’m often “down”. Things throw me into a tailspin too easily, that’s for sure.

    Finally, I wanted to comment on this:

    However I know with the hashtag #100happydays #200happydays #300happydays, etc… that I have indirectly given some people the impression that I am always happy or that I am always trying to put on a act of being happy or that I was attempting to be someone I am not. This was never my intention and still it is not. It is all in how one perceives things. Ones perception is not always reality. Am I trying to “sell” this post and my instagram photos as someone who is always filled with happy moments? My simple answer is no.

    That’s one of the most insidious parts of social media. We judge each others intentions — and think we know the reasons behind their use of a particular space. Or we feel the pressure to be a certain way or portay a certain outward face to others, slipping into the notion that social spaces are a competition to be and seem perfect.

    That corrupts spaces for me and I wish it didn’t happen. But I also know that the people I actually care about never make those assumptions about me. They appreciate me because they’ve taken the time to know me beyond my posts.

    So let this worry go. Who cares what skeptics think. They don’t make you happy anyway!

    Rock right on, Friend….

    PS: I totally wish we could interact more. I need more Hugh in my life. And more #geniushour and more #sd36learn. YOU make me happy!

  10. We might not be happy every day, but we can hope to find something happy in each day. Your posts inspire me and I look forward to seeing your next 600 happy days. I would say that 99.5% of my days are more happy than not…. but I can’t even make it through a 10 day selfie challenge for photos!! ((HUGS))

  11. claire chalcraft says:

    I have only just seen your post (better late than never, eh?) and wanted to thank you. It has inspired me not only to think about the many wonderful and positive moments in life (I am blessed to have many) but also about using those positives consciously. For passionate optimists like me there is sometimes the feeling that one really ought to be looking after everyone else despite not always feeling inside as positive as one does on the outside. Your line about using the #100happydays as a way of reflecting on happy moments instead of “on the difficult ones that have consumed my thinking and drained the joy from my happy moments previously.” certainly resonated with me – thank you for an inspiring reflection. Best wishes to you and your family.
    Claire Chalcraft
    Twitter: CMCinSwitz

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