I first got to know Claudette in a visual manner, so to speak, through the lovely photography on her site. Her images and vistas ranged from tiny to expansive, and she would fiddle with angles and textures and perspectives, sometimes using filters and post-production techniques to lead us in a different direction. It was the altered images, in my own humble opinion, that were the most captivating, taking an image we thought we knew and showing it to us in a different light.
Then I discovered her poems and stories and musings, and I was happy to learn that they followed the same path, focusing on details that we might have missed had she not pointed the direction. It was the perfect way to start the friendship that we now have, peeling back unique layers, one a at a time, such as the following piece where Claudette shares her thoughts on how we find contentment. Enjoy.
I’ve been thinking…happiness
I’ve been thinking about happiness.
All the different ways we humans try to find it, strive for it, keep it, pretend about it and encourage it.
There is so much in social media about “how to be happy”, “do this to be happy”, “blah, blah, blah happy” – and some of it is worthwhile, a lot of it is irritating, and large part of it is just advertising for “the next big thing”, or indeed, the last “slightly-small-thing-that-has-been-rehashed” – and most of it is absolute rubbish!
Despite attempts by many people to improve social media with positive images and messages (which, actually, sometime have the complete opposite effect on me), I don’t think you’re going to usually find meaningful “happiness” on the internet. If you have been one of the lucky ones to do so, I congratulate you.
So, I’ve been thinking about “being happy” – and what does that mean to other people? I have a cousin who famously/infamously (well, within a small portion of my family anyway) said “I don’t do happy”; part of me admired that and part of me was appalled. The expectations that we should present a happy facade, most of, if not all of, the time has always been a see-saw contradiction for me.
Let me tell you what I mean….
A while ago, well a few years ago actually, a new person started where I worked. They came with an attitude of “happiness” – by this I mean that if you asked them how they were (as you tend to do with those you work with) you would get “extraordinary, fantastic, great” or similar descriptives. They explained that they wanted to look at the world positively, to stop being as negative as they had been, and had decided to do it this way.
Ok, that sounded like a good idea, I thought, I might try that.
So I did, for a while.
For a while it made me happy, but then I started to feel deceitful, and became resentful of saying “I’m fine, things are great” when I really didn’t feel that way. Was it wrong to tell the truth about how I was feeling? Did I have to try and make other people feel happy by telling them what they would prefer to hear, rather than what I wanted to say? Was my state of mind, my happiness (even when I wasn’t really happy), less important than theirs?
I came to the conclusion that, ironically, sometimes my happiness depends on me not pretending to be happy! I don’t need to be the doom and gloom of the party, I don’t need to bore you with whatever is making me unhappy, but if you ask me “how are you?” on one of those days, you’re going to get a variable answer – depending on where you sit on my “closeness” scale.
I want to be positive, and I am practicing and becoming better at it, because being positive in thought and actions does have a good impact on your life. Even when it isn’t completely true it can still have meaning to me, when I know that I am trying to reach a level of “feel good” but I just need a teeny bit of self-pretend motivation to get me past the bump on the path.
Being free to be true to myself, and speak truly about that, is the base of my happiness … and I won’t sacrifice that just to make someone else happy.
You can peruse more of Claudette’s main blog by clicking here. If you have comments specifically for Claudette, please be gracious enough to make them on the original post found here (on her professional blog) so Claudette can be assured of receiving your feedback.
Story behind the photo: This is a ceiling in one of the many rooms at the Alcazaba in Malaga, Spain. I felt that the interesting patterns, and the fact that you could easily miss this if you didn’t look up, is a nice nod to Claudette’s attention to detail in her photography…
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