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25 Simple Steps To Happiness

Written by: S. Ryanne Stellingwerf, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Everyone wants to be happy. It is an innate desire and one with no need for justification. Happiness is an end in and of itself. There are countless articles, books, and papers on how to be happy. There are courses, retreats, coaches, and counselors whose entire purpose is to help people be happy, and I am in that group. My job is to help my clients find happiness. But just like the adage, "you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” I can only guide my clients on their path to happiness. They have to take the steps that will ultimately get them there.

Depending on the community around us, changing to a more positive perspective can be a challenge. Most people can relate to the Monday morning conversation around the metaphorical water cooler that starts with “What a weekend I had! This went wrong, that happened, and this other thing happened. It was horrible!” And just like someone sending out an invitation, another person will chime in with a response that starts along the lines of “If you think that’s bad, my weekend….” as they try to top the horrible weekend of their co-worker. Drama and excitement seem innately linked when it comes to conversations some days.

But what if you could change the dialog? Imagine spending a day filled with glimpses of only those things that are great in your friend’s and family member’s lives. What would it be like to spend the entire day consciously looking for those wonderful moments of your own to share. This was the vision that inspired Ry’s Text Message Challenge. It is a game that I developed years ago and find wonderfully useful, fun to engage in, and remarkably easy.

First, find two people to join you in the challenge. Yes, adjust the number of members if desired, but a total of three members will be used to illustrate the challenge. Plan ahead, choosing a date that works for all three when each individual can devote the necessary attention to playing. Create a text group on your cell phones before the chosen date. Then follow these rules:

  • Each individual commits to sending 25 individual text messages to the group that are things or events that they are experiencing that they are grateful for. These may be accomplishments, achievements, activities, or moments. Texts might read like the following:

    • Watched a spectacular sunrise

    • Had a great sandwich for lunch

    • My baby smiled at me

    • My dog was playing and it was so cute

    • I love the connection I have with my spouse

  • No sent text is replied to. This allows the individuals to continue on their day and keeps the number of messages more manageable.

  • The group will be either sending or receiving a total of 75 text messages about the wonders of the chosen day.

When I tested this challenge, the results were so much more than any of us anticipated. Not only did we enjoy the experience, but family members who were aware of the challenge, but not participating, became interested as well. My partner was asking about the messages whenever my phone chimed. He was enthusiastically “helping” me discern texts to send. The members learned a completely different side of each other when sharing only those things we were appreciating or enjoying in our day.

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S. Ryanne Stellingwerf, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ryanne Stellingwerf reinvented herself after spending a pivotal seven years working as a contractor on military bases in the Middle East. When she returned home to the US, she became a licensed psychotherapist in Montana specializing in Combat Trauma for military and first responders. She soon had an influx of strong successful professional women requesting her help and learned that the drive and passion in our American heroes is also embodied in our high achievers. But like our heroes, high achievers can also find themselves needing help with stress management as they are driving toward their goals. Ryanne now offers support and guidance to help high-achieving successful women find clarity and balance to make their lives not only sustainable, but fun, passionate, joyful, and ideal.



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