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“In the beginning I struggled to find even one picture a day, but by the end I was finding 10 pictures a day—it was so much easier to find the things to make me happy.”— Dmitry Golubnichy, as told to TODAY.com
Dmitry Golubnichy was born in Ukraine and was living in Switzerland when, at the age of 27, he found himself in a slump. He admitted that he had every reason to be happy, but said that he had fallen “into a trap of sadness.”
So Dmitry made a resolution to come up with one thing a day that made him happy. He had the idea to make his gratitude public so that he’d have enough “social pressure” to stick to his plan. And, on October 30, 2013, he posted his first #100HappyDays picture to Instagram.
Little did he know that, in the days to come, over a million people would join him in the #100HappyDays challenge.
Dmitry only has 538 followers on Instagram today — which may be a fair number for an individual, but isn’t a ton for the creator of a social media movement.
The photos from his first round of #100HappyDays were, as you may expect, personal, and they didn’t have much engagement.
#day9 showed what seem to be the results of a performance review.
#day51 showed some progress on the website that Dmitry built for the movement. The website (https://100happydays.com/) launched on December 30, 2013.
Oddly, Dmitry’s first round of #100HappyDays ends at #day96 on February 6, 2014.
And then starts over again on #day1 on April 1, 2015. There were no photos posted to his Instagram in the almost 10 months between.
But he did finish the challenge the second time around.
According to the official #100HappyDays website, “the challenge has been taken by more than 1,500,000 people from 220 countries and territories around the world.”
It also claims that 71% of people who try to complete the challenge fail, citing lack of time as their most common reason. This seems like all the more reason to try, according to the verbiage on the site.
When website visitors sign up, they are prompted to choose their preferred platform. Instagram is the first listed, and is by far the most popular channel for the hashtag.
Over 23M photos have been tagged with #100HappyDays on Instagram. According to Dmitry’s 100HappyDays application to the 7th Annual Shorty Awards, the hashtag was used more than 10M times on Facebook and 3M times on Twitter.
Perhaps it was unintentional, but you do have to hand it to Dmitry for creating a hashtag that leads to exponential growth—almost all registrants use the hashtag more than once, and a fair percentage use it as many as 100 times or even more. That type of retention would make any brand jealous. Plus Dmitry’s Shorty application claimed ”87% of asked participants have responded they would take the challenge again this year, while the majority of the rest admitted they continue using #100HappyDays hashtag on occasional basis to mark their happiest moments.”
The Twitter account in particular posts lots of images of inspirational quotes or thoughts either in a handwritten font or typed on top of generic, filtered photos.
A scroll through the Instagram photos that have been tagged with #100HappyDays leads one to believe that perhaps some of the same types of things make all of us happy—or at least publicly happy: cats and dogs, food, drinks, selfies, workouts, flowers, kids, significant others, friends, sunrises/sunsets…and baths.
The #100HappyDays challenge was taken on by a handful of celebrities, whose photos didn’t vary too much from those of the general public. The celebrity participants were almost entirely female and many were far from household names.
According to the above mentioned Shorty Award submission: “When TODAY Show took the challenge on behalf of the show, their Facebook post engagement more than doubled comparing to that of pre-Superbowl coverage (to be specific, +135% in Facebook likes & +104% in overall social engagement).”
On the whole, the #100HappyDays challenge seemed to put happiness into the social media realm through microblogging, or “blogging done with severe space or size constraints typically by posting frequent brief messages about personal activities” (definition from Merriam-Webster). Followers and friends of those taking the challenge were taking a peek into happy-focused digital journals.
In this HuffPost UK article, a business mentor and coach supports the idea, and Canadian Living writer Simone Castello completed the challenge and enjoyed the experience.
This HuffPost editorial raved:
“The #100HappyDays challenge helped me remember how lucky I am. If I was having a bad day, I sought out happiness in the small things I could control, and looking back, those were often the most precious moments. It pushed me to proudly share my positive outlook with friends and strangers and notice how it lightened them up too. It gave me permission to do what I really wanted, including finishing writing my cookbook, partying instead of sleeping, telling the truth to an ex-boyfriend, and taking a vacation by myself because I felt like it. The effects were nothing short of extraordinary, and I’m without a doubt living a happier, more fulfilled life.”
Yet, many preferred the private diary-tucked-under-the-pillow of yore.
“Instead of living it, I was wasting time framing my happiness, contemplating filters and adjusting the brightness and the blur…The happiest moments—impromptu living room dance parties, sharing a mango with my soon-to-be-teenaged brother, those first gasping breaths after an excruciating workout—were ephemeral.”— LinkedIn Pulse Post
“The challenge is reminiscent of gratitude diaries – a self-help technique that has been around for a long time. I had one after a difficult time last year. It features disgustingly and deliciously greasy cheese enchiladas and copious dog pictures. My friends will be thankful I didn’t bestow such mundaneness upon them for 100 solid days.”— The Eighty8
“Psychologist Jocelyn Brewer says that while the 100happydays foundation stipulates that the meme is not a competition, social media can create a culture of one-upmanship. ‘Perhaps it’s also pressure to do something new and to be original, arty or creative in their expression of this happiness,’ she says.”— Essential Baby (Australia)
The #100HappyDays concept only lasts, well, 100 days, and the hashtag has seen a decline in popularity since it first gained widespread notoriety in 2014.
However, the United Nations Foundation declared March 20 the International Day of Happiness in 2013, and 100happydays got involved in 2015, which may help with the sustainability of the hashtag. The website 100happydays built collects data about what makes people happy around the world based on hashtags used alongside #100HappyDays or #HappyDay.
We all find happiness in our own ways, whether by posting an image to Instagram, journaling, meditating, or creating. Happiness can be documented, sure—but it’s important to remember that documentation is not necessary.