This might turn out to be a touchy subject with some but I’m going to approach it anyway.  Carefully.  Exactly what is it in life that keeps us motivated towards the enjoyment of life?  What I’m talking about, is what is it that makes us look forward to living, to wake up every day excited about life and looking forward to the next day?  I’m sure we can all remember the excitement of certain days in our childhood where we couldn’t wait to go to sleep, because when we woke up we knew it would be Christmas morning, our first day or school, or perhaps we’d be getting a new bicycle? 

As we get older such excitement becomes much more difficult to generate and even the general question of “why do I even exist” starts to present itself.  Logically, because as adults we have much more control over our lives than we do as children, it should be easier to maintain that excitement.  But we all know it’s a rare adult who exhibits the same zest for life and excitement for a new day as does a happy child.  Why?  What is lacking in the life of most adults which stifles or attenuates these feelings?  I’m sure this question could keep the average shrink busy for a lifetime.  Let’s try to simplify and summarize the answer.

 

 

As we get older such excitement becomes much more difficult to generate and even the general question of “why do I even exist” starts to present itself.  Logically, because as adults we have much more control over our lives than we do as children, it should be easier to maintain that excitement.  But we all know it’s a rare adult who exhibits the same zest for life and excitement for a new day as does a happy child.  Why?  What is lacking in the life of most adults which stifles or attenuates these feelings?  I’m sure this question could keep the average shrink busy for a lifetime.  Let’s try to simplify and summarize the answer.

 

I’ve always believed, in addition to much more, life consists of a series of goals.  Short, intermediate, and long term goals.  Some are immediate such as eating lunch, and some can only be realized through the living of life.. such as an academic degree or even becoming a parent.  There are some things you just can’t decide at the last second you want, and then have it happen.

 

Sure, if you have unlimited financial resources you can ‘buy’ most anything in life.  You can buy the fanciest sports car as easily as the Average Joe can buy a cup of coffee.  You can even arrange to have a family installed in your home.  I grew up in perhaps the richest area in the USA and knew many people capable of ‘life forming’  in this way, yet I’m solidly of the opinion the most unhappy people I’ve known in my life are the richest.  The happiest I’ve ever experienced have often been the poorest.  And yes, of course we’re talking about being rich or poor in terms of financial wealth.  But perhaps we shouldn’t.

 

 

The cliché, “it’s not the destination, but the journey which provides the most satisfaction” holds true in many if not most cases.  Disneyland was nice, but what I really remembered from our family vacation was all the time in the car together, the shared meals at rest stops, the small yet interesting places we visited along the way.  The time we spent together as a family, we might have spent 4-5 times longer on the road getting there.. than we spent at the destination.  Of course this isn’t always the case, but isn’t it interesting the ratio is so heavily influenced by our level of wealth?

 

 

 

The cliché, “it’s not the destination, but the journey which provides the most satisfaction” holds true in many if not most cases.  Disneyland was nice, but what I really remembered from our family vacation was all the time in the car together, the shared meals at rest stops, the small yet interesting places we visited along the way.  The time we spent together as a family, we might have spent 4-5 times longer on the road getting there.. than we spent at the destination.  Of course this isn’t always the case, but isn’t it interesting the ratio is so heavily influenced by our level of wealth?

 

Those with much wealth are able to skip the less exciting periods of life, and replace them with faster travel, immediate access to material possessions, and even accelerated personal relationships.  But I ask you, can a person really appreciate the value of what they have, whatever it is, if the ‘essence of earning’ never took place?  If the journey never took place, can we truly appreciate the destination?

 

 

We’ve heard the term “she’s really grounded” before.  Grounded:  Someone well aware of not only what they have, but what the people around them have, and who chooses a balanced approach.  I think most of us can recognize such attributes in others, and we are probably of the opinion they’re a happier person for their efforts.

 

 

 

We’ve heard the term “she’s really grounded” before.  Grounded:  Someone well aware of not only what they have, but what the people around them have, and who chooses a balanced approach.  I think most of us can recognize such attributes in others, and we are probably of the opinion they’re a happier person for their efforts.

 

Is the key to life merely a balanced approach to managing your goals?  To ensuring you balance the experience of the journey, with the joy of the destination?  Is self-happiness simply tied to the satisfaction we achieve through the earning process?  If so, let us not cheat ourselves.

 

 

Example:  I remember waiting weeks for my first SLR film camera to arrive from Japan to my location in Cuba.  Every mail call would find me eagerly asking the mailroom clerk if there was a package for me.  Heaps of disappointment and anticipation and dreaming, followed by the excitement of finally being handed the small brown paper wrapped box, followed by the hours of carefully opening the box and reading every word of the instruction manual.  Followed by months of using that SLR with its simple kit 50mm F1.8 lens before satisfying myself I’d uncovered all its secrets.

 

 

 

Example:  I remember waiting weeks for my first SLR film camera to arrive from Japan to my location in Cuba.  Every mail call would find me eagerly asking the mailroom clerk if there was a package for me.  Heaps of disappointment and anticipation and dreaming, followed by the excitement of finally being handed the small brown paper wrapped box, followed by the hours of carefully opening the box and reading every word of the instruction manual.  Followed by months of using that SLR with its simple kit 50mm F1.8 lens before satisfying myself I’d uncovered all its secrets. 

 

Compare this to the time I switched my professional gear from Nikon to Canon.  The replacement gear arrived over the course of  a three day period, large boxes full of it, 4 bodies, 12-15 lenses, 3 flashes, tons of accessories, and stacks of instruction manuals.  Frankly it was a stressful time, I needed to get all this gear setup and incorporated into my workflow ASAP, otherwise I’d lose business and therefore my livelihood.

 

 

What a difference!  I derived immeasurably more enjoyment from a simple $200 SLR, than from a $84,000 stack of camera equipment.  The difference was in my choice of journeys.  Sure, you could say that because it was my work it was necessary and that would be true.  But it’s also true that because of my work, and whatever benefit I gained from the work, I lost the experience of the journey.

 

 

 

What a difference!  I derived immeasurably more enjoyment from a simple $200 SLR, than from a $84,000 stack of camera equipment.  The difference was in my choice of journeys.  Sure, you could say that because it was my work it was necessary and that would be true.  But it’s also true that because of my work, and whatever benefit I gained from the work, I lost the experience of the journey. 

 

By now it’s obvious life is finite, there is only so much time in a person’s life for whatever they choose to fit into that life.  Could it be argued that several long and meaningful journeys will ultimately make a person more happy, and by happy I mean really looking forward to the next day, than a great number of destinations? 

 

 

I think this would support my observation of the rich and poor people I’ve known in my life.  Yet, our modern media orientated world convinces us through a series of fleeting sound and video bites, that it’s all about the destination.  Because of modern media we tend to look at life through the same filtered glasses.  We learn to judge happiness not by observing the journey, but by noticing the destination.  The expensive nice car, the glitzy house, the fine clothes, and all the trappings of wealth as they float through our view in small periods of observation.  How can we possibly learn to look forward to the next day, when we’ve been conditioned to only look at today?

 

I think this would support my observation of the rich and poor people I’ve known in my life.  Yet, our modern media orientated world convinces us through a series of fleeting sound and video bites, that it’s all about the destination.  Because of modern media we tend to look at life through the same filtered glasses.  We learn to judge happiness not by observing the journey, but by noticing the destination.  The expensive nice car, the glitzy house, the fine clothes, and all the trappings of wealth as they float through our view in small periods of observation.  How can we possibly learn to look forward to the next day, when we’ve been conditioned to only look at today?

 

This segues us into our photography (you knew it was coming..:).  I ask you, if we’re not participating in the journey then how the heck are we going to photograph it?  If you look at the images which have withstood the test of time, Ansel Adam’s Moonrise for instance, or his Winter Sunrise.. they’re small carefully selected slices of the journey.  What about all the ‘flash’ photographs used in the media and advertising to entice us into straying from our journey and buying the destination?  Frankly you won’t remember them tomorrow.  Nice, flashy, colorful, but ultimately meaningless.

 

 

Is it necessary to adjust the way we experience life, to really adjust our photography?  To make our images more meaningful and likely to withstand the test of time?  You only need to look around your own home for the answer.  What personal photographs have been on display the longest, and were they photographs of the journey or the destination?  This raises my last question, do enough destinations, a journey make?  Look forward to tomorrow, it’s yet another day you’ll have the opportunity to make the meaningful capture that won’t go in the lonely drawer or dusty box, it will stand the test of time on display in your life..

 

 

 

Is it necessary to adjust the way we experience life, to really adjust our photography?  To make our images more meaningful and likely to withstand the test of time?  You only need to look around your own home for the answer.  What personal photographs have been on display the longest, and were they photographs of the journey or the destination?  This raises my last question, do enough destinations, a journey make?  Look forward to tomorrow, it’s yet another day you’ll have the opportunity to make the meaningful capture that won’t go in the lonely drawer or dusty box, it will stand the test of time on display in your life..

 

Until next time..

 

 

As we get older such excitement becomes much more difficult to generate and even the general question of “why do I even exist” starts to present itself.  Logically, because as adults we have much more control over our lives than we do as children, it should be easier to maintain that excitement.  But we all know it’s a rare adult who exhibits the same zest for life and excitement for a new day as does a happy child.  Why?  What is lacking in the life of most adults which stifles or attenuates these feelings?  I’m sure this question could keep the average shrink busy for a lifetime.  Let’s try to simplify and summarize the answer.