WARNING: This blog post is totally unrelated to photography.
Happiness is a topic that has been haunting me all day – popping up in my e-mails, jumping at me from the Facebook pages I follow, and materializing in conversations with friends. That’s why I decided to write a blog post about it. What is happiness, how do we find it, and how do we keep it? Some people equate it with achieving their goal – graduating college, finding the perfect job, getting a new promotion, marring their true love, having children, buying a big house, being successful. However, as soon as they achieve one of these things, the gratification wears off quickly and they are onto the next goal in the search for happiness. What if we didn’t have to look for it at all? What if we already had it and we simply did not know?
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose it. And then continue to choose it each day.” – Henri Nouwen
If you know me, you’d know that I smile all the time. Little kids even ask me why I laugh so much, and I tell them that I don’t know and this is just who I am. For a long time I thought I am really lucky and good things happen to me. However, a year or so ago I realized that it’s not what happens, but how I react to it. When faced with a difficult situation, I choose to see it as a learning opportunity and instead of being an obstacle it turns into an advantage. When I first came into the USA, I hated it. All my friends and family were back home in Bulgaria, and so were the coffee shops and the foods I loved. But being miserable was not my thing, so I started looking for things to do and I found 365project.org. That’s how I discovered I love photography and it turned from a hobby into the job I enjoy so much. Not to mention that I also learned how to cook and bake out of boredom and necessity. 😉
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
― Dale Carnegie
If you cannot change the situation, you can always change your attitude toward it. It wasn’t until I came to terms with the fact that I am in the USA right now, so might as well make the best of it, that every things started turning around and I found so many things to do that add to my joy.
“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.”
— Eckhart Tolle
You find happiness when you look inside and you realize you already have everything you need to be happy. Our longings and desires tend to distract us from the present moment where happiness lies. Reminiscing about the past and hoping for the future will not make you happy now. Accepting things as they are or putting forward a positive action to change them to better suit your liking helps to keep the spring of inner joy alive. I found that nothing or nobody can make me happy, it’s all up to me. A walk in nature with a good friend can add to my joy, but it does not create it.
“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”
— Lost in Translation
The more I did what I loved and focused on the things that were going good in my life, the more apt I were to deal with the ones that weren’t happening as planned. Going along with change and not resisting it, taught me to exist in the continuous flow of the present in joy. Living up to my expectations and not to somebody else’s about my life has proven to be quite liberating. People have been telling me that I could not possibly be that happy all the time, but the truth is that I can because I am. Not everything goes great all the time, neither do I have all that I want. Rather, I accept all that comes my way and I am content with what I have.
“Happiness has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have. Happiness is related to what you are.”
On a second thought, going back to the start, there is a relation between this blog post and photography. Both happiness and being a good photographer require presence. Being fully in the now helps me to notice the beauty that surrounds us.
Success & Happiness How To be Successful by Rosie Hardy Beyond Money and Power (and Stress and Burnout): In Search of a New Definition of Success by Arianna Huffington Happiness & Possessions Better Than Happy by John O’Leary She’s 69 And Hasn’t Used Money for 15 Years… And Has Never Been Happier! Happiness & Relationships Elizabeth Gilbert on How Schopenhauer’s Porcupine Dilemma Reveals the Secret of Happiness by Maria Popova Happiness and Presence An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence Happiness by Osho