Look Beyond Photography: Episode 14 “Happiness is…”

One of the most illusive personal goals in today’s society is “happiness”…yet so many people are just so, unhappy.

We all define it differently, but when it comes down to it there’s really one thing we all want and have in common.  We want to be happy.  We want to stop wishing, hoping and stressing about this or that and we just want to be able to live in the moment…happy to exist in the here and now.  But how do we find this happiness when so many people have different versions of what “happy” is?  Is it the human struggle to simply always want something we just can’t have?

Happy High School Senior - Joshua Hanna Photography

Happy High School Senior – Joshua Hanna Photography

I’m going to let you in on a secret.  Well, it’s not really a secret, but it is something that most people have never stopped to think about.  Here it is:

You will never be happy until you have what it is that you desire.

Happiness is a condition that results from the fulfillment of our desires.  Think about it.  Anyone that has ever been in love has experienced it.  When you love someone, you aren’t happy until you have the love of the one you desire in return.  Maybe you really want a new car and it’s all you think about?  You’re not going to be happy until you have that new car.  It could be the desire for a new job or new home or the desire for more money.  You’ll never be happy until you have those things that you desire.  The real icing on the cake is when we do then get what we desire.  We’re happy for a time, only to find that happiness is short-lived as soon as we begin to want something else.  It feels like a vicious cycle that will never end…always striving for happiness and only getting brief glimpses of it.

I read and hear a lot of comments from photographers who are struggling as well.  They’re just not happy with how their business is going or they’re not happy with how they’re progressing in their skills.  Many are not happy because they don’t have the gear and equipment that some others have.  We find out that in doing something we love and we thought would make us happy, really just makes us miserable, jealous, complainers.  Don’t be fooled here, it’s not an issue of “if” you’ll ever feel like this, but is an issue of “when” you’ll feel like this.  So it’s important to know what we can do combat these feelings and find a way back to being happy.

What we need to understand is that the key to happiness isn’t in obtaining all of those things that we desire, but the key to happiness is rather in changing what we desire.  If unhappiness is a result of desiring something we do not or cannot have, then we start to realize that happiness is desiring what it is that we do already have.  It’s all about focus.  Do you know why creative people are so happy while they’re creating?  Because all of their focus is on the act of doing what they love.  They’re lost in the process and lose all sight of the outside world.  It’s not until we begin to contemplate on what we want to have and do not have, that our sense of happiness starts to fade.

Make no mistake, the vast majority of our unhappiness is by our own design.  Is it any wonder that God instructs us to be content with such things as we have and to give thanks in all things?  He knows that if we look to what we have of value in the here and now, we will be filled with happiness.  We can’t control life.  We can plan and we can put in our best effort, but ultimately we are at the mercy of what life throws at us.  If we’re holding out for things that we don’t have, well let’s be honest, they may never pan out despite our best efforts…which means we’re lining ourselves up to be unhappy.  But if we take what we have and desire to make the most of it, we begin to experience genuine happiness!  Then, as plans work out and life comes together, we find ourselves overwhelmed with the happiness that comes when we least expect it!

If you’re unhappy as you read this, stop for a moment and think about why you’re unhappy.  What is it that you desire that would make you happier?  I challenge you to actively try changing your thought process this week.  Think about how it would feel to actually want what you have available right now, desire to make the most of what you’ve been given…then see how your mood begins to change as you work on your desires this week.