Do photos really show if we are happy?

29th April 2015: Sydney

I found myself locating, then reviewing photos from the past few years. One striking feature was a smile always on sprayed across my face. Consequently, I was left wondering whether I was happier in the past, and if so, does my current state of perceived unhappiness derive from a complete change in living circumstances; health; relationships; experiences; available finances, and employment status? Or alternatively, does the question need to be posed of whether happiness can actually be gauged from looking at photos?

If we were to break down the function of a photo, in the most basic format it captures moments, and some would suggest, only moments to cherish (honestly, how many selfies are posted on the first take). Therefore, the possibility surfaces of becoming drawn to consider past happiness as triumphing over my current state, especially when reviewing pictures when not the feeling the best. Really, who goes looking for photos when happy! In all seriousness, and with little surprise, I am inclined to think I have been happier in the past compared with now. Inevitably, a number of factors could support a basis for the change, and this is definitely not a path I will walk down for sympathy. Instead, I propose that surely a greater level of happiness can be obtained in my current and future life, and firstly this position needs to be truly believed in my mind before it can eventuate.

So, you may ask how a shift in direction will occur? Obviously many areas of my life need to be explored, however, honestly the process of exploring my mind and feelings through these entries helps to put topics into perspective, namely, the compartmentalisation of my Cancer experience into a certain place whereby I once again I can see the smile dominating my face.

Pure happiness…

26th January 2015: Sydney, Australia

It was the first time in as long as I can remember that for no apparent reason a feeling of complete elation swept throughout my body. What a joy to think all the those ever increasing wrinkles on my face creased in unison whilst I smiled. Of course, I have felt excellent on numerous occasions over the past months, however, today was most definitely different. The preceding moments featured no physical exercise, interaction with surrounding company or the experience of bearing witness to a particular phenomena or event. Instead, the occasion simply consisting of me sitting alone at the table to eat some food whilst listening to some music. One could say, as typical and mundane a daily event can be. When reflecting, I believe it seems this very fact is the reason that has caused such emotions to arise. There are not many words to further describe the feeling. It basically comes down to a moment previously mentioned whereby a stream of happiness is flowing inside my body, and importantly the circumstances didn’t involve the seeking of happiness or a direct trigger from an external source or being.

The short incident has made me consider some wise words by a friend when recently discussing the meaning between the terms isolation and solitude. The response from my friend was to consider application of the term isolation. His point, and I agree is that isolation has an associated negative connotation attached. Some may say it is only a matter of semantics, however, I believe in the power and influence of language. Therefore, I have now reconstructed my future view of briefly residing in a room or hut in a hopefully peaceful part of the world as a testing of my resolve in managing solitude rather than isolation. Circumstances viewed in terms of being in solitude opposed to isolation has also made me consider my overall experiences throughout the past year. Namely, Was I isolated from my normal life or did I opt for solitude as a necessary means of shifting direction to internal growth?

My moods can be tidal whereby I wake up with a feeling of uncertainty about when the tide will turn, sliding me back to normality

25th November 2014: Sydney, Australia

Two close friends have seen separate entires since starting to write approximately three months ago. One such friend has repeatedly expressed his curiosity about the reason for not revisiting the past entries written. I know the curiosity is coming from a good place, possibly attempting to challenge me in a way that will lead to growth, however, I remain reluctant to act upon this indirect and subtle challenge. The very reasoning behind my actions would be the stark reality of how often the entries are saturated in negativity, and from the opening passage, one can imagine the theme to follow. If this hypothesis is correct, I wonder what impact it will have by being reminded of how often I can actually be down about my circumstances? Undoubtedly, to be in some ways classified as ‘suffering’ would be expected right? Or is my vision and experiences completely different to others? Do people truly live the life I attempt to act in front of others, taking the experience as a positive, without having down days? I am not indicating I deliberately pretend to act a certain way in front of others, more I choose my moments when I will spend time others, i.e, when feeling good. At other times, I will isolate myself, in both a physical and digital sense, i.e. limited contact with friends on phone and social media sites.

Maybe I am being too critical of myself, and the very nature of the journal is to write about all the range of factors causing me to be in such a negative mind-state? Actually a more accurate account would be to not make reference to a hypothetical array of factors, it simply comes down to a feeling of sickness that overtakes me, sending me spiralling into a gloomy mood. A mood with a tidal motion, gently sneaking upon me as the day passes, and on some days, I wake up with the feelings of uncertainty about when the tide will turn, sliding me back to normality. Surprisingly, the very process of writing, even though it may seem there isn’t a great deal of information contained within these passages, still seems to be able alleviate some of the feelings experienced only 40 minutes before writing? It feels so strange, it is like I need to pour out all this internal garbage into a space where no response is received before I am even able to smile. Over the course of writing the music will shift, the headache seems to fade away and my thoughts redirect from a blurred existence of time watching to constructively thinking about what awaits in the day ahead. It is actually ridiculous how significant the shift is!

Day of perfection

14th November 2014: Sydney, Australia

The weather soared to 34 degrees today! I find it incredible how ordinary and familiar moments are able to bring such happiness into my life. For instance, an afternoon surf elicited an overwhelming joy when recapping the days events. There was nothing spectacular about the day, however, I just felt an appreciation of life, accompanied by a feeling of not seeking or searching for anything, simply living and basking in a state of happiness. The waves were not great, I think it was just the realisation of finishing an excellent day with my favourite pastime featured most days of my adolescence and early twenties.

There was a moment whereby I was so caught up in the days events that I switched into a mode of projecting into the future. Ultimately, I was blocking myself off from what was actually happening around me, and come to to think about it, reminiscing on the days events would have also limited my capacity to fully appreciate the very moments that made my evening surf during my adolescence such a memorable experience. I was able to recognise the thought process of switching between thinking about accounts of my day and how I would be share this with others. Consequently, attention was then directed back to my natural surroundings and the very reasoning for the feeling of elation. A quick summary of my day in a sequence shows:
– Wake up, water garden, breakfast in the sun, surf, exercise in the park, lunch, swim, read, sleep, yoga, water garden, surf, cook then settled into to watch a movie!

A very simple day, and could definitely have been heightened by the company of my girlfriend, however, was feeling content with what I had. Ironically, I am now going to bed with a slight feeling of nausea! A reminder of contradictions and imperfections in my life.