Does photography CAUSE us to become happier, or do we shoot photos as a result of our happiness?
A working theory:
Perhaps it is better to focus on our personal happiness (physiological health and strength), THEN start shooting photos as a result of our gratitude for our happiness?
Will making photos when you’re miserable make you happier?
I don’t think so. What improves my mood?
- Eating lots of meat
- Sleeping 8+ hours the night before. If really exhausted during the day, take a nap.
- Walking a lot during the day, good coffee, and lifting weights
- The chance to think, reflect, and write.
Photography does help clear my mind, if I go for a walk.
This is the thing: walking will make you happier. So if you decide to go on a walk and bring along a camera, it’s like killing two birds with one stone.
When I’m furious, stressed, or need time to think, walking (or going to the gym to lift weights) seems like the best solution.
How to become a happier photographer
It seems the “via negativa” strategy works well:
To become happier as a photographer, delete Instagram.
I think social media is the WORST thing you can do for your self-esteem as a photographer. By uploading your photos to Instagram or Facebook, you’re “outsourcing” your self-esteem and happiness/joy in photography. The best happiness to gain as a photographer is making your photos more private; shooting more photos for yourself.
Share your photos on your website or blog
I haven’t checked the stats or page views on my website/blog for 6+ years, and I’ve been SO MUCH HAPPIER by NOT checking my stats.
Why? Numbers make us emotional. Looking at our stock prices go up and down is not good for our happiness, mood, or anxiety. 1000x worse if you invest in cryptocurrency and watch the numbers all the time undulate up and down (far too much serotonin and cortisol stress hormonal signaling in a single day, not good for our health). The same thing will happen if you monitor your social media numbers constantly (likes, new followers, unfollows, etc).
Is happiness the goal in photography?
I don’t think happiness is the ultimate goal in life. Happiness as only a means to making great art (which I consider our principle aim and task in life as artists).
Now how do we become happier? Let me continue more of this thinking in a future essay, but some basic ideas:
- Happiness as a physiological thing: Happiness isn’t in your mind, it’s in your body. Once we understand this, becoming “happier” is quite simple. Do what’s best for your body.
- Get an intense hour-long massage (can be cheap, I pay around $20 an hour at this one Chinese place). Ask them to go “hard”. A good massage should be “painful”(good pain).
- Do acupuncture: Acupuncture isn’t a “real”science (in the western sense), but it seems to work. Cindy swears by it. She got me to start doing it (even though I wasn’t in any chronic pain), but it’s amazing! After having done acupuncture a few times, I feel even healthier, happier, and stronger than ever! I feel hyperhuman.
- Do powerlifting during the day, stand all day, walk all day, eat lots of meat, then go to sleep (conquer insomnia). This seems key.
These are just some basic ideas for now. More to come!
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