The Happiness Connection  

What do you see?

Look at the picture above. What do you think is happening in this photograph?

I’ve asked this question in many workshops and received answers about happiness, enjoying the sunshine, and gratitude. These all make sense — based on appearances. If you go below the obvious, what you can see from the outside, you’ll discover something different.

This is from a few years ago when I had purple highlights in my hair. I love purple! The colour showed up best in bright light, especially in the sunshine. Sadly, it was around Thanksgiving and I was spending more time inside than out.

I wanted a photo that allowed the highlights to shine through. My husband agreed to take the picture. We went into our backyard and I explained what I wanted.

I wanted the background to be blurry. This can be accomplished by zooming in on the subject. My husband is a great photographer, but at that time, creating a soft background was something that happened by accident, not by design.

In the world of digital cameras, you can see the result immediately. I could see that he wasn’t creating the image I had in my head.

As I struggled to get him to understand what I wanted, emotions became tense. Perhaps a few harsh words were exchanged. That was the atmosphere between us when this picture was taken. I wasn’t feeling happy or grateful. I was frustrated and annoyed.

It is a great example of seeing a situation from the outside and assigning meaning to it as if you were on the inside. That is what you do when you judge others.

Have you ever seen a mom struggling to get her toddler to behave and judged whether she was doing a good job? Maybe you had coffee with a friend and left thinking that they should be doing things differently or making better choices.

Perhaps you see a family with perfectly behaved children and judge the adults to be great parents. You may think you know what is happening on the inside, but there is every chance that the offspring are verbally abused and scared to do something that will upset mom or dad.

Unless you are evaluating your own life, you are always standing on the outside looking in.

Even if you are evaluating your best friend or a close family member, you aren’t them. You only know what you observe and what they tell you. What they say is from their perspective. Their partner may see it differently.

This is why it is so important to stop judging others. Your view is limited. The way you interpret what you see is coloured by your experiences, values, and beliefs.

Remember this the next time critical or judgmental thoughts jump into your head. Remind yourself you are on the outside looking in. You are just an observer.

I keep the photo of my purple highlights near at hand to remind myself that appearances can be deceiving.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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