Who’s Game?

After watching the Happy documentary, I’ve been mulling over the idea of happiness. One evening, I was reading a magazine, and a single quote gave me a lightbulb moment…

“Happiness isn’t being cheerful all the time,” says John Sharp, a psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School. “It’s being interested in things—finding out more about something, learning how to appreciate something better, incorporating something new that fits with what you already have.”

So! Inspired, I decided to have more everyday adventures this fall. Then I wondered if I should make it a new series on the blog, since it’s more fun to do things as a group. Would you want to join me?

How it would work: Each week, I’ll issue a single challenge. (Think: learn to tell a great joke, write a handwritten letter, go see a movie by yourself.) The following week, we’ll regroup and share our experiences! What do you think?!

The challenge for this week, should you choose to accept it, could be to not watch TV for a week. (Or, at least, cut way back.) And see what surprising things unfold in your life…

Thoughts? Are you in? Does this sound fun to you? Fingers crossed, I really hope so!!!

P.S. The no-complaining challenge

(Photo by Christine Carreira. Graphic design by Rachel for Cup of Jo)

  1. this is wonderful.

    the happy documentary is so inspiring and the whole happiness movement seems to be catching fire. i absolutely love the idea of living life with intention, and the notions that we are the determiners of our own happiness and that happiness is something we can actively strive to create for ourselves.

    i really hope you continue this challenge series, jo!

  2. I recently saw this documentary and haven’t stopped thinking about it since! My 2012 resolution was to take a class of some kind each month of the year: cheese & wine pairing, zumba, scuba lessons, knife skills, etc. It has been such a wonderful experience and a great way to continue to challenge myself. I will absolutely continue it in 2013. Read more here:

  3. This makes me so happy. I just moved to New York this weekend and am feeling particularly overwhelmed by losing my immediate friend group. Normally, I am a passive blog reader – but this will get me participating.

    Epic idea.

  4. I love the idea!!! And agree with Nina, that would be a wonderful challenge ;)

  5. This was an easy challenge to meet.

    … as our tv broke about two weeks ago! Lol


  6. I am in! Starting tomorrow:) This is the week I am starting. Good luck everyone!

  7. Yes. Game on, please.
    I am big on learning new things. I also think happiness for me is in doing for others and I often need reminders that it is ok to do nice things for me…to make me happy.

  8. the tv one is a cinch. we (me, hubbie, 3 kids) watch no more than 1-2 hours a week during the fall&winter and next to none during the summer. (except when the sf giants for in the playoffs!)
    i really enjoyed that documentary, it has definitely stuck with me since i saw it last spring. happiness is relative and it has nothing to do with money and lots to do with people.

  9. Love the idea and the quote. Although I can’t do this weeks challenge – TV shows starting back up is one of my favourite things about fall (along with the leaves changing colour, baking with pumpkins, lighting candles in the evening, sipping hot chocolate……..). I will pass on this one but will start next week.

  10. I’m loving this so far! This morning I have a couple projects to do around the house and I would usually have the TV on as background noise, but not today. I feel much more focused, and I’m listening to great music.

  11. I’m in!

  12. such a great idea- i’m so in!
    the tv challenge won’t be too difficult, excited to see the rest of the challenges.

  13. I love this idea, Joanna! Looking forward to it:)
    THANK YOU !!!

  14. So, my husband and I realized one day about three years ago the t.v. hadn’t gone on for almost a month before we decided that meant it wasn’t something we needed. We donated it to Goodwill that day. The cable company still doesn’t believe we actually don’t have t.v. they think we just changed carriers and don’t want to tell them. They only stopped stalking us about a month ago. Anyway, almost immediately we noticed how wonderfully connected we felt without the incessant drone of the talking box invading our privacy. I think you’ll discover so many wonderful surprises. Time you used to spend “trying to find something to watch” becomes time you actively use and enjoy. Your attention spans lengthens. Your time for snuggling and cozying up with a cup of tea and a great read is never cut short. You read more. You are less inclined to listen to or add to idle chatter. You look into your partners eyes more. I will never go back. So, I might be lacking a few pop culture references and touch stones every now and then but what I’ve gained in my quality of life and depth of intimacy with my husband put that to shame. I once heard someone say that you can live life or spend it watching other people live theirs. When faced with the choice so clearly, who would choose the latter?

  15. My boyfriend and I split up 3 weeks. After being together for almost 5 years, I feel a little lost. I had already started a list of things to Get My Single On. I think this Happy challenge falls right in line!

  16. yes! I’m in

  17. Great idea! I try to do this anyway but it would be great to have new ideas and some accountability! I’m in!

  18. Great idea! I try to do this anyway but I’d love having some new ideas and accountability. I’m in!

  19. To me, a new challenge (such as to give something up) is a different animal from the happiness prescription you quoted of “being interested in things”.

  20. I love this idea! It’s funny because I just read an article in Business Time on “How to be Happier: 10 things to stop doing now” I’m also going to have to check out the Happy documentary, it sounds pretty fascinating.

  21. Love it! I’m in! this is a real big challenge for us! :s


    Paula & Laura

  22. I don’t want TV much. I have actually been trying to watch more for my job as an actor. So I think I’m going to skip out on this challenge.

  23. Oh man, no TV?? We can try… it definitely would be interesting to see what we would come up with to do without our beloved shows each evening! As for the idea to go all Vegan for a week, NO THANKS!!! That sounds awful lol! Way too involved and complicated, not to mention expensive. Checking for additives that come from animals? WTH… These are meant to be fun, not a chore.

  24. This is a great idea! We don’t have a TV in our apartment, so I think I’ll customize this challenge to no Netflix!

  25. I LOVE this idea!!!

  26. Love. This. Just, so much. I always get more into “challenges” for myself when I have a group of some sort to confer with along the way!

    I have been thinking a lot on this subject lately, myself.

    Ok, totally down with this week’s challenge but I watch almost no television at all anyway, for a myriad of reasons. We don’t have cable and between jobs and school, I don’t have much time. BUT I do tend to watch an episode or two of The Simpsons (I know, it’s an addiction lol) right before going to bed. This week, I will try to replace that with reading a few pages in my current book! Can’t wait to hear how everyone does with this one. <3

  27. I am all in! I think this challenge series is a great idea :)

  28. We haven’t had a television in more than five years. There’s one show we watch on Hulu very occasionally. It had freed up a ton of time for us to do things we love: explore the city, spend time with friends, go to lectures. Of course, now that we have a baby, we don’t really have time to do any of these. But we also don’t veg out in front of the TV in the evenings. Instead, I just catch some extra zzzs or use the time to read a book (recommendations piling up), while my son sleeps in the room next door.

  29. We didn’t have a TV for nearly 3 years. We then bought a GIANT one so we could host big TV related events like the Super Bowl. But since we went without one for so long, I hardly ever think to turn it on anymore. I love just having the radio on while I’m at home.

  30. sounds awesome! I’m in!

  31. very good

  32. amazing idea! I just watched the movie too, but havent put anything in to action. I have to admit we’ve been w/o TV for 4 years, and find that we waste an equal amount of time on the internet… ;-(
    I love the No complaining!

  33. Can’t do this during the playoffs, sorry. Go Nats!

  34. Love this!!! I am so in. I am so making him do the challenges with me!


  35. I love this challenge. I’m in!

  36. Great goal! I try to enjoy the everyday in my days – esp weekends now that I have a toddler. It’s great exposing them to everything.

    I don’t think I can do your goal for the week though – Football and Basketball season. I don’t watch too much TV – too busy with being a teacher. But I do watch Netflix with my husband (so that may count as TV).


  37. Joanna, I really love this idea. A series of fall challenges will be so much fun, and I think small goals lead me to do more overall. I can’t wait to see what else you come up with! Meredith’s comment about all she achieved without TV is great — and so true! I also love Claire’s idea of a “Break-up Bucket List.” I just broke up w/ my boyfriend of 9 years (I’m 23!) and moved to a new state for a job. I’m going to incorporate that idea and The Happiness Project book into my own bucket/goal list. It will give me something to focus on, help me meet new people, and just be fun. Thanks for the inspiration! I’ll stayed tuned for how this challenge goes & what’s happening next week!

  38. Count me in, Joanna. I love this idea!

    I secretly think about giving up TV all the time. I really enjoy watching TV, but I’m always wondering if there is something else I could be doing that I would enjoy more – like reading or having a long chat with my husband.

  39. What a fantastic idea! I’m totally in. Can’t wait to see what other challenges we do!

    Also, the glasses are marvelous! Have you ever looked into Warby Parker? Their glasses are around the same price, are super cute, and they are like the Toms of eyewear in that for every pair purchased they donate a pair to someone who needs glasses but can’t afford them. Talk about the gift of sight!

    Happy weekend!

  40. I’m totally into this idea! Although, I’ve already cut back the tv time in my life waaay down, so I think I’ve got that challenge completed! :)

  41. Not me! I’m deep in a Frasier marathon (thank you, Netflix!) and almost done knitting a sweater (because watching TV doesn’t count if you’re also doing something productive like knitting or folding laundry, right?) But I love the idea and will catch you next time around.

  42. I’m in too!

  43. I was in up until the part where you said I had to cut back on TV. I barely get to watch it as it is and thank the Lord for DVR!

    Next challenge, please.

    : )

  44. love this! i was just thinking yesterday that all my husband and i do together anymore (since having a kiddo) is watch tv. i hate that! i’m in.

  45. I know this is probably a silly comment but I LOVE that this post wasn’t hidden behind a ‘read more’ link. I find I don’t read all of those posts so I’m glad I didn’t miss out on this one (I guess I presume posts this long are now filed under read more??)

    Anyway. This series sounds great. I can’t wait for more x

  46. love the idea….especially as the days grow shorter.Less sunlight always makes me a little gloomy.This challenge is sort of a moot one for me, however.I normally don’t watch TV at all.I mean never.However, I have been thinking perhaps I should- so I’ll reverse this challenge and watch tv this week.No reality shows, however.I’m only willing to do so much….lol.
    Love your blog!

  47. I’m game! Love this idea so much. I love little mini challenges like this. And I’m glad to kick it off with something simple like not watching any TV!

  48. Love the idea! But I also love tv… Will try to cut down (:

  49. Hmmmm, this sounds like it could be interesting. I’m definitely game for something new. :)

  50. Oh I’d totally love to watch no TV for a week! – When do we start? :)

  51. I’m in too !!! Definitely. Lets try our best !!! :) I think tv will be the hardest chalange for me.

  52. i love it! what a great idea! i feel happier already. :)

  53. Great idea! I am totally in. But I do not own television, so it it not really a challenge for me :)

  54. I’m in :)

  55. I’m in :)

  56. I dont usually jump on the band wagon for blog challenges but this seems like it will be a great idea!

  57. Great idea! I’m totally in! I’m starting right now actually! :) Keep the good ideas coming!

  58. you’re inspiring in the most unpretentious and down-to-earth way.

  59. Totally love this! When my husband was born, my husband and I decided not to get a cable subscription. That’s means no TV for us, except for occasional DVD nights. But that’s such a rarity now.

    The benefits of no TV are palpable. I feel a clearness of mind and focus and also we get to read more!

    Looking forward to more weekend challenges!!!

  60. I love this idea! I am working my way through Dawson’s Creek on Netflix, but I will happily take a break to read more, talk to friends more, write more letters, get into the city more, and take more walks. Of course I need a day to prepare ;) so I’ll start Saturday!

  61. Great idea. I don’t watch TV, but I surf the web way too much. So I’ll cut that out in lieu of TV! Thanks for turning me on to the Happy documentary. I think it’ll really have some effect on my life!

  62. I don’t watch TV because cable is too expensive and I’m just so busy! It’s amazing how much you really don’t miss it.

  63. Great idea, I do that all the time! Love it. How about eating VEGAN for a whole week? No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no honey. And watch out for the additives, they might come from animals as well.
    That would be fun, wouldn’t it?
    LOVE and PEACE from Nina

  64. can’t wait for this challenge series! i’m interested in the no tv thing…but what if its on for your kids? Does that count?

  65. I love the idea! I’m in! To be honest this week won’t be much of a challenge, I don’t watch TV, I have one and it’s always disconected. I only have it for when my mom comes to visit and wants to watch her favorite shows. I quit watchingI TV a long time ago, I find it boring most of the time. If I want to see a show, I’ll do it online or if I see a channel is National Geographic, but that’s it.

  66. I’m totally in! That is, once the A’s are done with the post season, which hopefully will not be the case any time soon! I have noticed, though, that TV is a major detractor of adventures. Let’s have some fun this fall!

  67. I love this idea! But Sunday night is Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, and Bob’s Burgers… wow, maybe I should cut down on tv. I think I’ll do no tv tomorrow and two other days this week. Challenge accepted!

  68. Great idea! I just quit my facebook in an effort to be happier. Can’t wait to see what the next challenges are. <3

  69. K says...

    I’m in!

  70. This sounds wonderful! Must consult with my husband who’s just a little addicted to TV. Will also make him watch this documentary with me before starting the challenge.

  71. I’m in! I love seeing movies by myself ;) I could give up The Today Show and take my kid to the park in the mornings… I would really like that! xx

  72. No TV for a week, you say? Well, we currently aren’t watching TV and my husband is playing his Playstation instead while I blog (lol).

    I think the challenge is a great idea. :)

  73. Lovely. Yes yes yes!

  74. There’s a pumpkin festival near the Carousel for All Children this Sunday in Willowbrook Park, Greenbelt, Staten Island, NY. It’s kind of old fashioned and simple. Puppet shows too. Greenbelt Conservancy website –

  75. I’m IN! My challenge for this week is to go for a short run everyday! And I’ll also piggy back on your TV challenge!

  76. I accept. Starting tomorrow, no tv for a week! Thanks for the motivation!

  77. This sounds like a great series- though I don’t actually watch TV very often anyway…. but I’ll be excited to see all of the challenges

    PS great idea about the complaint one!

  78. I will have to watch this documentary. Thanks for the tip. I like your weekly Fall challenges. But TV makes me happy so I’m not giving it up. I love watching the news and I just got my next DVD of Downton Abbey from netflix today….but keep us posted on your week sans television.

  79. This is great! I just broke up with my long-term boyfriend and started a Break Up Bucket List (things I want to do in the next year that I wouldn’t have done while I was in my last relationship). This will be a great way to incorporate smaller goals into my everyday life along with my larger ones, like a solo trip abroad and yoga teacher training. Thanks! This is right up my alley :)


  80. I’m in! My husband and I just moved to NYC this summer and I’ve been trying to do our own little adventures. But not watching. tV for a week is a great idea.

  81. . says...

    Brilliant idea Jo. I’m in!
    Can’t wait to hear how everyone goes!

  82. Jo, I love this! My best friend and her husband at 31yrs old left everything they knew and took teaching positions in Liberia with the Peace Corps. No running water, no electricity, lack of proper sanitation and disposal. They left on June 7th and when they left I decided that if they can do without electricity for 2.5yrs, then perhaps I really don’t need a new purse, or bracelet, or sweater. I decided to challenge myself to not shop for shoes, accessories, or clothes for a year. 18 weeks and still going strong. It’s really opened my eyes about consumerism in this country- and also happiness.

  83. So game! i just watched that documentary as well, and i’m reading the book “The Happiness Project” so i’ve got happy on the brain! let’s do it!

    two leaf clover

  84. So… I didn’t watch TV tonight and I:
    1) reorganized my entire kitchen
    2) completely cleaned and restructured our craft/exercise/storage room
    3) made pasta with mushrooms in wine and whiskey sauce

    I’d say its working so far… Thanks for the challenge!!!

  85. Love it. Bring it on (and very good idea :)

  86. No problem for me, I haven’t watched tv for three weeks!

  87. We haven’t watched (much) TV since our son was born in 08, and it has been the best experience of our lives. I can see now that it was an addiction of mine growing up and into early adulthood, and I am so glad that the only times we watch now are the occasional football game with friends or family, or evening netflix dates after the children are asleep. Our sons (almost 4 and almost 2) watch minimal television as well – the 3yo watches an episode of Planet Earth on occasion and the 20mo does not get any screen time. This week I’ll challenge myself with less computer screen time while the children are awake to see what unfolds!

  88. Joanna, you should read the book The Happiness Project. It was written by the ex-clerk of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. It’s kind of what you were talking about- a small steps approach to being happy! It changed my year!

  89. In. Excited for more weekly adventures.

    We have no cable as well and it’s great (cable free since 2005 – we have a TV that we occasionally hook up to our computer to watch something but it’s pretty rare). I found that I go to the library way more often and read instead to fill the time.

    I still love television shows and we still download programs to watch sometimes but not nearly as much as when I’d sit in front of the tv mindlessly watching things I didn’t even care about. The bonus is also that we we now only watch stuff we really WANT to see so I enjoy it more.

  90. Y says...

    I love going to movies in the mornings like a grandma, and don’t mind going alone either! And I haven’t owned a tv for over three years now since living in NYC so this one should be easy :)

  91. My husband and I always talk about giving up TV for a week…This sounds like the time to try it! Fall comes and goes so fast.. It would be great to enjoy during the week and not just on the weekends.

  92. I love it!
    Just yesterday on FB, I asked my friends their favorite recommendations of something to do, see, eat, experience, attend in my city. I’ve been getting so many great responses! I’m excited to try things I would never have thought of!

  93. What a coincidence that you should post this! I just started a happiness series on my blog last week all about ways to add happiness and ways to find moments of joy in your life.

    Not sure I could go a week without TV, but who knows!! :)

  94. Yes, I love it!

  95. Love this idea! Count me in for sure
    Samantha xx

  96. I’m so in … for next week’s challenge! Haha. We don’t watch a lot of TV since we don’t have cable. In fact I’m just settling in to stream the new Modern Family now :) I’m excited to see your other challenges.

  97. I love this idea! Totally in! (Also, going to movies by myself has become one of my few treats now that I’m in a city.)

  98. I love this idea! And I’m so in!

  99. I’m in! This is an awesome idea and I am 100% game :)

  100. Great idea, Jo! Maybe add try a new recipe or improvise a recipe. Two of my favorite things to do when I am feeling blue are: reading a book aloud in foreign accent or having a solo dance party with the music blasting. Sometimes I like to dress ridiculously, since it helps me get into crazy character.

    Anyway… I don’t watch TV — haven’t had one for about 5 years, so there isn’t much to miss. Sometimes I’m out of the loop when people start talking about the Bachelor or The Voice. What am I really missing though?

    I’ll take the challenge.

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful blog.


  101. I’M IN! Love this idea!

  102. Love love love it! I’m in all the way!

  103. I find the quote about happiness interesting. I’m not sure I entirely agree – I mean, I agree that curiosity and exploration definitely contribute to my happiness – but I also think that happiness is a choice, a philosophical outlook that we cultivate like any other practice (yoga, cleanliness, eating habits, etc.)

  104. Perfect-I’m in. Headed to NY for a few days of visiting friends and family and eating (!) so staying away from the tv will be a bit easier than usual. Can’t wait for a bagel…no good ones in the Midwest.

  105. I challenged myself this week to turn my laptop OFF at 9pm! I don’t have a smartphone, so I am cut off from the net at least an hour before bed! It’s been great so far!