The Dictionary defines happiness as “a state of being happy.” Well now, that sounds pretty simple right? Come on get HAPPY!!!! (insert Donny Osmond and the rest of the partridges) Ok, so maybe that song was before your time…ahem, I digressed there a bit.
Ok, so back to the subject at hand. Happiness! To me happiness is about more than just BEing happy……wait, what did she just say? It’s more than BEing happy? Huh? Isn’t that the whole point of happiness? Well yes, but let me further explain.
To me happiness is about CHOOSING to BE happy. Do you notice I didn’t say that it couldn’t include experiencing negative feelings as well? True happiness, to me, is about experiencing all of the various spectrums of emotion all while maintaining a outlook of positivity, regardless of whats going on around you.
Lets give a case example shall we?
Jane is feeling overwhelmed because she has a zillion and one things on her to do list.
~Her college essays are due by Monday, its Saturday afternoon, and she still has to finish her final project for Science class (no one in her group is helping her and she’s left to pull it off on herself; lest SHE receive a bad grade too).
~She also has to rock it at this Sunday’s track meet because its the playoffs race which could lead them to states,
~and…she just got her period.
Sounds like Jane could loose it at any moment right?
Well, despite all of the expectations surrounding her, Jane sits down to write her paper and thinks to herself,
~”I’m so grateful for the opportunity to apply to such amazing colleges where I can study my life’s passion.”
Well…we can see how that story could end.
In my mind, Jane would rock out her essay, get into the college of her dreams, ace the science project, slay the playoffs race, win states, and maintain a ho hum attitude around her moon cycles.
Its not that unhappiness, frustration and set backs don’t register in her feelings; its that she CHOOSES to look on the bright side of life. Thus, the bright side of life shines down upon her.
This describes exactly how I feel when I’m working with someone in front of my lens. They could be shelling out a gazillion insecurities about themselves to me about their acne, their weight, their freckles, their crooked nose etc… etc…and all I see is how AMAZING and GORGEOUS they are, and thus that is what they’ll see reflected back at them when it comes time for their gallery reveal.
This is not to say that I don’t see their “flaws” as they see them; I mean I CAN see the huge zit on someone’s forehead pretty clearly, but its more to say that I don’t perceive the zit as a “flaw” whatsoever. All I’m really seeing is who they are, their strengths, their passions, their smile, their interests, their joy. That to me is what I stay present with, and what shines through.
There is a quote that I love to think of when I’m doing portrait work, which Peter Hurley shared with me during this past summer’s Headshot Intensive weekend.
“Keep your face always towards the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you” by Walt Whitman. This quote deeply resonates with me as a photographer, not only because its my job to place people in the best light possible, but also because it feels metaphorical to how one views their subjects as well.
When we’re focused on the light, the shadows fall behind us. Isn’t that true of life itself? Isn’t that true of our CHOICE to focus on the sunshine/light?
I know for me when things are getting all shadowy, busting out with some positive affirmations keeps things flowing in a positive direction.
Here are a few of my favorites that pertain to maintaining those happiness vibes. Feel free to try them out when you’re wallowing in the pits, they may help pull you back into the light.
~I AM SURROUNDED BY LOVE
~THE TIME TO BE WHO I CAME HERE TO BE IS NOW
~KEEP SMILING AND ONE DAY LIFE WILL GET TIRED OF UPSETTING YOU
~HEAD UP, HEART OPEN
~I AM RECEIVING RIGHT NOW
I’m curious to know your thoughts on the meaning of happiness. What does happiness mean to YOU? Leave me a message in the comments below. <3