What is Twelve Months of Bliss? // Twelve Months of Bliss is a monthly challenge, lasting one full year, that encourages self-reflection and loving yourself better, as well as acts of kindness and thoughtfulness towards others.
How will this work? // *This particular 12 Month challenge was completed in May of 2016 but you can still take part! On this page you will find all 12 challenges, as well as 12 recaps, that will help guide you on your journey. If this is your first time starting 12 Months of Bliss, I recommend journaling your thoughts and reflections through each month’s challenge. (This is an awesome thing to look back on at the end of the year, trust me!)
Twelve Months of Bliss Community // The hashtag dedicated to Twelve Months of Bliss is: #12MofBliss and can be found on Twitter as well as Instagram.
JUNE 2015: Happiness Stamped
“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.” -Lord Byron
Challenge: Write & mail one person/week a note, card, or letter of encouragement. Please – no emails or text messages – this should be real SNAIL MAIL!
How often: Once a week. At the end of the month you will have written and mailed 5 total notes.
What you will need: Paper, stationary, cards, pen, postage stamps.
Why?: Who doesn’t love to get something (other than bills) in the mail? Sometimes all someone needs is a note from a friend saying ‘I’m here, I’m thinking about you, and I think you’re awesome because _____.’ This is your time to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, someone you know is going through a tough time, or someone who just might need a little pick-me-up. There is so much power in the written word – this is your time to mail some love.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: Keep a list of the people you mail this month and make note of what words you used to encourage them. At the end of the month, look back over the key words of encouragement… are these words you need to be speaking to people more often? Are these words you might like to hear from someone about yourself?]
June’s Linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, June 24. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge.
JULY 2015: Making Room
“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as being able to remake ourselves.” -Ghandi
Challenge: Make a list of things/habits you do on a daily basis. Once you’ve completed your list, ask yourself: Do these things have a positive influence/impact on my life? Do these things help grow me personally? If the answer is ‘no,’ the habit is most likely one that can – and should – go. Choose one habit from the list that needs to go and then write a mission statement to yourself about why you are choosing to let it go, as well as what you hope to gain instead. Place the statement somewhere you will see it daily (refrigerator, bathroom mirror, car, desk, wallet, etc.)
How often: Make the list: once. Letting “IT” go: daily.
What you will need: Determination, internal strength, and a good dose of self-parenting.
Why?: How many times have you used the excuse, “If only I had more time, I could do what I really want to do”? And then when you really look at the ways in which you spend your time, it includes things that not only aren’t helping you reach your goals, but have become nothing more than a bad habit and total time-sucker? Have you ever wondered what you might learn about yourself (personally, creatively, professionally, spiritually) if you replaced a bad habit with simply ROOM? Space? In consciously removing a habit and allowing room and space to enter, you are giving your spirit the necessary room it needs to grow.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: Are you who you want to be? What things are keeping you from getting there? Instead of focusing on outside factors that are holding you back, look within and acknowledge the things that need to not only change, but continue no longer. Was this habit always a bad habit or was it once made with good intentions? Why does empty space often feel uncomfortable? Have you unknowingly fallen into some bad habits in order to fill the space that causes you to be still? To reflect? To change?]
July’s linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, July 29. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge.
AUGUST 2015: A Life Inspired
Every day is like a blank canvas. What masterpiece will you create today?
Challenge: Create your own physical Inspiration Board (no Pinterest!), full of things that inspire you, encourage you, comfort you- the goals and dreams you have for your life.
How often: Add things to your board throughout the next four weeks.
What you will need: Inspiration Board (it can be an actual framed cork board, or it can be as simple as a poster board.) Gather and apply items to your board. Not sure what to put on your board? Ask yourself: What inspires me? It can be a photo, quote, verse, picture, word – the list is endless!
Why? Because each day truly is a blank canvas! So often, with our everyday and busy lives, our thoughts and dreams become scattered, pushed to the side, paused, forgotten about, and sometimes even given up on. It’s time to not only bring all of those things to one place, but to put them in a place you will see every day.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: What is on your Inspiration Board? Why did you choose these things? Are they things that might stay up for awhile, or switched out as the seasons change? After looking at these things for a month, do you feel inspired? Are you living a life that allows room for dreaming?]
August’s linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, August 26. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge.
SEPTEMBER 2015: Stretch.
“Do it with passion or not at all.” -Unknown
Challenge: Spend 20 minutes each day stretching: 10 minutes right after you wake up in the morning and 10 minutes before you go to bed. (*Please remember that stretching should not feel painful! Do not stretch until it hurts. You can check out safe stretching tips by googling “7 Smart Stretching Tips.”) Of course, if you would like to spend more than 20 minutes of stretching each day, go for it!
How often: Each day, twice a day: once in the morning & once at night.
What you will need: I use my yoga mat since it makes laying on the floor a bit more comfy but if you don’t have one it’s not necessary. I definitely recommend using a timer though so that you’re not focused on the clock and can instead focus on stretching and breathing each time.
Why?: Not only are there physical benefits from stretching (increased flexibility, prevention of pulled muscles, posture improvement) but there are mental benefits from stretching too – ones that I believe can help your day-to-day. Stretching once in the morning and once at night each day may mean that you will need to wake up earlier in the morning, or that you might find yourself stretching on a Saturday night in your party clothes, but it can still be done. This is a commitment you’re making to yourself – body, mind and soul!
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: Day One of this challenge: How does your body typically feel when you wake up in the morning? What are your mornings typically like? What are your evenings typically like? How does your body feel when you go to sleep? How would you describe your general feelings and mood? In one word, how would you describe your average day? Last Day of this challenge: answer the previous questions. Have your answers changed?]
September’s linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, September 30. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge.
OCTOBER 2015: Bliss, In the Heart of the Beholder
“For every beauty, there is an eye somewhere to see it.” -Ivan Panin
Challenge: Throughout this month, grab your camper and take pictures of things and/or moments that bring you bliss. The challenge to this, you ask? You cannot delete and retake the picture. (Filters are okay, as I see filters as a way of being creative.) At the end of the month, collect all of your photos & make either a physical photo collage (yes, people still make photo albums – crazy, I know!) or make an electronic photo collage (perfect for linking up with the Twelve Months of Bliss end-of-month linkup!)
How often: As often as you would like!
What you will need: A camera – this can be a professional camera, your phone, or you can even go buy a cheap disposable camera – this would definitely help keep you from deleting and retaking 😉
Why?: No deleting and retaking?! What if it’s blurry?! I know, in today’s day and age this seems near impossible to steer clear from a photo redo but, hence the challenge. Each photo you take is one snap of whatever it is that you see as bliss in your day. When you notice, recognize, see bliss in your life – you see it in the moment. You don’t see it and then think about it and change it in your mind – it’s beautiful to you the moment it registers in your head and heart and it’s in that moment of freedom to just see the true beauty that makes you happy. There is still beauty in blurry pictures, blurry moments.
Instagram: Since we’re dealing with pictures this month, feel free to share your photos throughout the month on Instagram and make sure to use the hashtag #12MofBliss so we can all follow along.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: Keep track of the pictures and the dates in your journal in which the moments were captured. Next to the date of each photo, write a quick recap of what was happening, how you were feeling, and why this one thing or moment brought bliss to your heart. Have you always noticed the beauty in these things? Was it a challenge to not retake a photo? Was bliss found in the simple things or the big things?]
NOVEMBER 2015: The Love Letter
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” -Oscar Wilde
Challenge: Write a love letter to yourself. This love letter is not a simple note of surface things but rather a love letter to your truest self. It’s a letter of important reminders about yourself you desperately need reminding of. It’s a letter of forgiveness for that one thing you just can’t let go of. It’s a letter of encouragement and self acceptance. It’s a letter to all of your quirks and all of your imperfections – a collection of words that say, YOU are worthy of a great love, a kind of love that starts from within.
But the challenge doesn’t end there; throughout the month of November, I’d like to challenge you to “if you can’t say something nice about yourself, don’t say anything at all.” No more self put-downs, no more self critiques. Throughout this month you will practice positive self-talk and positive self-reflection. (I like to call this “parenting yourself.” How does one “parent” themselves, you ask? Check out my article on Best Kept Self for details.)
How often: Love letter: once. Positive self-talk and positive self-reflection: daily.
What you will need: Paper, pen & envelope. Oh yes, I’m talking “old school” here – do not type this up on the computer and save it to your desktop. Get some of your favorite stationary, use your favorite pen. Once you’ve written the letter, place it in the envelope, seal it, write your name on the front and then put it some place safe. You will open your letter back up at the very end of the entire Twelve Months of Bliss project.
Why?: “And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?” I came across this (unknown) quote a few months ago and it was one of those questions that stayed with me the rest of the day. If we’re all good at one thing, it’s being overly critical of ourselves. This month’s challenge is an important reminder that truly needs to stop. I challenge you to go deeper within yourself this month. Confront the things about yourself you’ve stuffed way down, forgive, and then let go.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: Was it difficult to write a love letter to yourself? How many hours/days were you able to go before you uttered a word about yourself? By the end of this month, are you seeing yourself in a better light? Do you feel that loving yourself better helps you to love others better?]
November’s linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, November 25. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge. (*Please note: you will not be asked to share your actual love letter in this month’s linkup, although if you would like to that’s fine. The linkup is just a place where you can share your thoughts about the month’s challenge if you so choose.)
DECEMBER 2015: Pay Bliss Forward
“The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. The purpose of this world is not ‘to have and to hold’ but ‘to give and to serve’.” -Sir Wilfred T. Grinfell
Challenge: This holiday season, consider paying “it” forward: BLISS. Examples of this: volunteering for an afternoon at a food drive, paying for the person behind you at the drive-thru, shoveling your neighbor’s driveway, baking cookies with someone who might otherwise be alone this season, leave an extra big tip for your server, spend a morning at your local animal shelter loving on some pups, or as simple as opening and holding doors for others.
How often: At least once this month, but I’d like to encourage you to pay it forward daily, in some way.
What you will need: A present mind and open eyes! Be aware, look around you – I guarantee there are a million ways to pay it forward throughout each and every day.
Why?: We all know how this time of year can easily distract us with things we must get done ultimately for ourselves. Shopping, traveling, a mile long to-do list, etc. etc. etc. Let’s take a pause and do something nice for someone else – not because we hope to get something in return but because it’s important to serve others.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: How did ‘paying it forward’ change this month for you? Was there ever a comfort zone you felt you had to step out of during this challenge? Did you feel it was easier to step outside of it when the focus was on others and not yourself? What did you do more of this month: talk/converse or listen? Was there an activity you took part in for this challenge that you might continue this next year?]
December’s linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, December 30. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge.
JANUARY 2016: Own It.
“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” -Thomas Edison
Challenge: If you could choose one goal for yourself this month – what would it be? Once you’ve decided on one, write it out on a piece of paper. Then, underneath your one thing, list 5 steps that will help you reach your goal. Keep your goal and this list somewhere you will see it daily: a mirror, desk, car, refrigerator, etc. Finally, find an Own It Partner – tell this person what your goal is, how you intend to reach it, and check in with them at least once a week. (Your partner does not have to take part in the challenge, they just need to be someone who will help encourage you each week.)
How often: You will make one goal for yourself this month. Don’t forget to check in with your Own It Partner once a week though!
What you will need: A goal, an Own It Partner, and a willingness to succeed – you can do this!
Why?: I think a lot of us start out with the best intentions each new year – we want and hope for better things for ourselves but as hard as we may try, it’s easy to lose that fire and ambition as the year continues on. This month should prove to you that 1. sometimes it’s easier to start out with one goal vs. staring at an entire list of them, 2. you do have people around you who want you to succeed & are willing to encourage you throughout the process, and 3. you are capable of reaching the goals you set for yourself.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: Were you able to accomplish your goal this month? If yes, does this encourage you to continue making and “owning” goals for the rest of the year? Did it help to have an accountability partner? Did your partner take part in the challenge with you? If you were not able to accomplish your goal this month, will you try again next month?]
January’s Linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, January 27th. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge.
February 2016: SHARING KINDNESS OVER NEGATIVITY.
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” -Paulo Coelho
Challenge: For the month of February, choose kindness over gossip within your social circles and community.
How often: Daily.
What you will need: Honest self-reflection, self-control, grace for others, and a grateful heart.
Why?: There is so much gossip, negativity, and hurtful words thrown around every single day. And can I tell you something? You are a part of this problem. I am a part of this problem. And it’s time we stop contributing to negative behavior. If we want a better, kinder world, it must start with us. Bullying doesn’t just happen in high schools. It happens in coffee shops, girls night outs and mom groups; it’s in blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts, and phone calls. Make a choice this month to say no to gossip, to say no to negativity. Make a choice to be kind to others – whether you know them or not. And if you find yourself having a hard time saying anything positive about someone, something, or a situation? Practice silence. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)
It starts in your heart and it starts in your mind. Let’s share our dreams with each other, and let’s help each other put those dreams into action. Let’s aim to speak, think and do things that are going to better ourselves, each other, and our world.
[For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss journal: Have you been in a situation this month where you chose to keep quiet, to say nothing at all, when someone else was gossiping or speaking negatively about someone or something else? How did it feel? Awkward? Empowering? By the end of the month, what things were brought to light in your life? Were you able to focus on better things? Did you see others in better light? What is kindness to you? Is it a thought? A spoken word? An action? ]
February’s Linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, February 24. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge. Hope to see you there!
March 2016: DON’T WAIT.
“There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” -Marshall McLuhan
Challenge: Get outside. Spend time in nature, connect with it. And then, take action to care for it.
Here are just a few ideas of things you can do this month – plant flowers, plant a tree, spend an afternoon picking up trash around your neighborhood, set up a recycling bin/station at your home, grab a friend and take a walk during your lunch break, walk or ride your bike instead of driving short distances.
How often: Daily, Weekly.
What you will need: Self-discipline, action.
Why?: We, as a society, have gotten into a lazy rut when it comes to taking care of our planet. We have become self-entitled inhabitants, assuming that we deserve even the tiniest part of this place we call home. Just like any living thing, our planet must be cared for daily. We must open our eyes to the beauty around us, we must learn how to connect with it, and we must take action every day in order to preserve and protect it. We must take action for the sake of 100 years from now, yes, but also for today.
[ For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss Journal: Before this challenge, how would you grade yourself when it comes to recycling and taking care of our planet? How do you plan on improving your methods? How can you make these actions permanent in your weekly routine? How did you attempt to connect with nature this month? Did it work? ]
March’s Linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, March 30. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge. Hope to see you there!
April 2016: DISCONNECTING (TO RECONNECT)
“When you’re together, you learn more about others. When you’re alone, you learn more about yourself. You need both.” -Unknown
Challenge: Two FULL days each week (Monday-Sunday) of going social mediaLESS. This means absolutely no Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. Log yourself out, delete the apps from your phone- whatever you have to do to disconnect. (Hint: to make this easier, plan out your social media-free days for the month now: go to your calendar/planner and circle the two days each week for the month of April.)
How often: One day (a full 24 hours!), two times a week. By the end of this month, you will have clocked a total of 196 hours of social media disconnecting!
What you will need: Some serious self-control.
[ For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss Journal: How hard was this challenge for you? Which social media channel was the hardest for you to disconnect from? What did you do with your “free” 48 hours each week? Were you able to better connect to other people? To yourself? Do you feel like it might take more than two days each week for you to really disconnect and therefore reconnect on a deeper level to others and to yourself? ]
Why?: I think we could all agree that we have become accustomed to busying our minds constantly, and – truth – this is mostly due to the time we spend on social media. While social media-ing isn’t always a bad thing, perhaps you have unknowingly allowed it to not only dictate your time and the ways in which you connect with others, but also your thoughts and opinions as well? Answer these questions right now: How often do my opinions of others come from what I see of them on social media? How often do my opinions of myself come from the time I spend on social media? If you’re not sure how to answer those questions, I’m willing to bet the answers just might reveal themselves to you while taking part in this challenge this month.
Take your eyes away from the screen this month and instead onto the people sitting right in front of you. Re-learn how to connect with others and yourself once again in other ways than social media. Allow yourself to disconnect so that ultimately you can reconnect! Spring is a time of renewal; allow this new season to bring a renewal to your day to day life, to your relationships, and ultimately, to your soul.
April’s Linkup: This month’s linkup will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, April 27th. This linkup will serve as a place for all of us to share our thoughts and reflections on this particular challenge, and to meet fellow 12MofBliss-ers. Hope to see you there!
May 2016: Celebrate Together
“Celebrate we will because life is short but sweet for certain.” -Dave Matthews Band
Challenge: There is much to celebrate in life and this month is all about celebrating together! Whether it’s simply getting through the work week, or someone’s greatest dream coming true – we are so much better when we lift each other up and share in each other’s good things. Grab dinner with a friend, treat yourself and a coworker to cupcakes, clink a few drinks, or throw a party with cake and champagne. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate this month, as long as you do it with others. (As a bonus this month, I’d LOVE to see all of us in the Twelve Months of Bliss community celebrate together. Share your moments worth celebrating on Instagram with the hashtag #Celebrate12MofBliss – at the end of this challenge I’ll put all of the pictures together, along with a link to your Instagram account, and share it in my recap post!)
How often: (At least) once a week.
What you will need: A joyful heart! It takes a joyful heart to celebrate the things in your own life, but also the things in the lives of others.
Why?: Life is to be celebrated. I am absolutely certain about this. Even if we’re going through a hard season in life, we can (and truly, should) still celebrate our friends’ accomplishments and good things. We each have the power to choose joy!
[ For those of you keeping a 12MofBliss Journal: What did you celebrate each week? How did you celebrate? Did you most enjoy celebrating the joys in your own life, or celebrating others? ]
May’s Recap: This month’s recap & celebration will take place at Ember Grey on Wednesday, May 25. While there will not be a linkup, I hope you’ll share your post/experience in the comments section, as well as via Instagram!
May’s Recap Post – (Final post!)
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