There are triggers in life that set thoughts into motion. As I sit here wearing my honesty pants (and admittedly often these pants are difficult to wear), I reflect upon my actions, particularly over the last 100 or so days.
To put this comment into context, I have just completed a 100 day challenge to post images that reflect my happiness.
‘It’s just one photo a day!‘…you say…
‘You are such a positive person, so it’s easy for you!‘
And one question that made me laugh and still makes me laugh –
‘Do you always wake up this positive?‘
These are beautiful compliments but not quite the correct view of my reality. Perception – Hold that word.
There are a few things I want to clarify:
1) I am not always a positive, radiant and happy soul. It takes work. A lot of attention to be had to my thoughts, words and actions;
2) Not every moment of every day is happy – sometimes the image captures a literal snapshot of a resemblance of happy;
3) Some moments that actually made me happy were kept to myself – I felt I needed to keep some things private from the world;
4) Revealing things that make you happy is like getting naked and inviting strangers to inspect your beauty marks on every crevices of your body;
4) The feedback was a reminder of how far reaching positivity can get.
I grew up in a family home that encouraged appreciation, gratitude and acceptance. I was taught this in a powerful and memorable way – through the interactions and observations of my parents, not from lengthy lectures on the importance of being positive. My parents didn’t read books about it, nor attend seminars on how to be positive – they just were. Equally my parents had no time to preach it to us, they were too busy doing it!
For as long as I can remember, negativity in many forms were eradicated from our home. The most impacting rule in our home was the word ‘hate’ was strictly prohibited. My parents never spoke using it and it was a word virtually ripped away before it had the opportunity to tumble from our tongues. My dad would calmly tell me that it’s such a strong, harsh word and we should never be the ones that put it out into the world. That was a very strong lesson for me in understanding my responsibilities as a citizen of this world – I am responsible for my spoken word, every word has impact as though it leaves a footprint upon the universe.
I watched the countless interactions my parents had with others. They were compassionate, thoughtful and non judgmental. I wasn’t ever privy to gossipy conversations by them either. They always reminded me that I could never know what the person was personally experiencing, nor was it my business to know their business. They also taught me it didn’t matter anyway, I was to treat people respectfully, just as I wanted to be treated. That may be better discussed in another blog….
When I saw my fabulous friend Kylie (http://alohahappycampers.wordpress.com/) start this challenge, I was intrigued by the hash tag #100happydays. It was something long enough in time to truly equate to a challenge. I took it… Boy was it a challenge!
What I learned next challenged a great deal of my thinking. Every day required me to step back and assess every situation and whether it could be properly defined as a ‘happy moment’. ‘Click‘ – shot captured. Then came the questions of whether it amounted to a visually acceptable photo… then the caption… what to write? How to convey my happiness through this brief moment? The perception that judgment would follow and a judgment that I had openly welcomed into my world. A judgment that had an impact on many different levels.
As I conclude the challenge and after a great many, lengthy conversations with Kylie, she has published a blog about this project and has put specific questions to me that I reveal have required time to contemplate and answer honestly. Here are my thoughts:
1. What did you learn about yourself during the project?
First and foremost, that is a somewhat confronting question ~ but I did learned a number of things about myself during the project.
– That I wasn’t previously as mindful of the small things I experience as I thought I was;
– That I need to actually appreciate the little things that do make up my life;
– That I don’t easily accept compliments;
– That I had the capacity and determination to complete such a lengthy challenge; and
– That I have the ability to look at things in detail and often find the most simple thing can have a great deal of depth.
2. Did you learn anything about other people?
This question immediately reminds me of a scene in the movie, Dead Poets Society. Mr. Keating the new English teacher encourages the students to stand on his desk and take a view of the world from another perspective.
I learned that:
– People are very kind and encouraging but that people find it difficult enjoy the happiness of others when they are having difficulties;
– People are more willing to open up when you have exposed your own vulnerabilities by sharing very personal things, whether they are positive or negative.
– People want to be happy but they might find it difficult to locate the happiness. People think something big needs to happen to be happy (ie. ‘I will be happy when…’.
– People see what they want to see – With every image, people will take away what they want from that photo. It may depict a happy moment for me, yet another person may be affected in a completely different way. Perspectives – the beauty of art!
3. Did anything unexpected happen?
One unexpected thing to happen was that I found so many people in ‘real life’ making comments about the challenge itself, as well as the photos I was posting. That shouldn’t be too unexpected given these people were connected to me on Facebook, however I was very surprised at how many people were following my progress.
Somewhere in the ’80’s, I felt overwhelmed with all of the sharing and was in desperate need of hitting the pause button on life for the briefest moment. The unexpected response I received was overwhelming to say the least! I received text messages, private inbox messages, in person check ins, all from those concerned. It reminded me that humanity is such a beautiful thing.
4. What will you do next?
Next…next I will return to blogging about other things. I will be taking a short break from posting pictures on Facebook – Everything in moderation.
Thank you for the ongoing messages of support and encouragement ~ don’t forget that the words you use are powerful ~ choose them wisely. And as I posted in my final Day #100 photograph,
Remember to keep taking photos! With your family, your friends and your experiences! Each picture tells a story that we cherish long after our loved ones pass, friends move on and life changes… but today and everyday I am grateful for every happy moment captured and will continue to capture’.