letters from a street photographer

“Letters from a Street Photographer” #6: How to Live a Purposeful Life

Provincetown, 2014
Provincetown, 2014

Tied into the previous chapter on how to live a happy life– I also encourage trying to live a purposeful life.

What is the difference between a happy life and a purposeful life?

I think simply a “happy” life is to be free of pain, to be overall joyful, and to be free of stress and concern of how others think of you.

However when it comes to a “purposeful” life– I think it is to live a life not for just yourself– but for others.

As a social creature, we often gain the most happiness by helping others. And I think one of the biggest secrets to a “happy” life – is to live a purposeful life. By living a purposeful life– we not only help build value, love, and help others – but we also benefit ourselves (we are “happy’ as a by-product.

Marcus Aurelius also shares the same ideology– know that you have a purpose in this world. And it isn’t to live for yourself– but to live and serve others:

“Letters from a Street Photographer” #5: How to Be Happy

Provincetown, 2014

For this chapter I want to focus on a section which I think is important for everyone in life: learning how to be happy, fulfilled, and content with your street photography (and your personal life).

Happiness is one of the most elusive things in the world– which we have always chased for millennia. However the problem is that we often go down the rabbit hole and follow the wrong things. We try to chase money, fame, power, wealth, prestige– all external forms of recognition to confer “happiness” unto ourselves.

However happiness is more than that– happiness is an inner-state, which can be controlled by you (not affected by external conditions).

How do we seek to gain more happiness, purpose, and contentment in our photography and lives? Let us seek the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius in “The Meditations”:

“Letters from a Street Photographer” #4: Fuck Fame

Provincetown, 2014
Provincetown, 2014

I’ll admit it. I’m incredibly jealous. Whenever I see my close friends, other photographers, family, or anyone else doing “successful” things– I feel a tinge of jealousy. In the back of my head– I might think negative thoughts like, “That person didn’t deserve that recognition or success” – self-doubt myself “Why am I not as successful as that person?” and I start to sink into a hole of despair.

“Letters from a Street Photographer” #3: How to Focus on Your Life’s Work

Provincetown, 2014

There are so many distractions out there. We live in an age where it is almost impossible not to be distracted.

Our phones are constantly buzzing. We see thousands of advertisements a day that are vying for our attention. We are bombarded with emails from spammers, we are bombarded with notifications, we are bombarded by new technologies that promise to make our lives more “efficient” and “optimized.”

I read something online that the average office worker is interrupted every 20 minutes– and it takes an average of 20 minutes for a worker to re-focus on work.

Many of my friends who work in the corporate world complain of constantly being texted, IM’d, emailed, and sucked into meetings at work– which prevents them from getting any “real” work done. (As a side note– Paul Graham has an excellent essay on managers versus creative time schedules which I highly recommend).

I think focusing is easy– only if we have no distractions. But how do we escape distractions and focus on the work which is truly meaningful to us?

“Letters from a Street Photographer” #2: How to Deal with Negative Criticism (Part 1/2)

Provincetown, 2014

For this chapter in my on-going “Letters from a Street Photographer” book, I wanted to write a topic that I am very familiar with– how to deal with negative criticism (and thrive and benefit from it).

For those of you who have followed me and my blog for a while– you will know that I have a fair amount of negative critics and negative criticism. Here are a list of things I have been critiqued (or criticized, hated for) – and a list of (sort of similar to real-life) comments I’ve gotten:

“Letters from a Street Photographer” #1: How to Live and Shoot without Regrets

Provincetown, 2014
Provincetown, 2014

This is Chapter 1 on a series of blog posts I will do on the philosophy of Stoicism, and how I relate it to street photography. I draw upon the book: “On the Shortness of Life” from Seneca. The title of this series is inspired by “Letters from a Stoic” (also by Seneca).

I have recently been reading a lot of literature on “time management” and have discovered a new angle– “attention management.”

The basic premise is this: time management is overrated. We have all the time in the world. However what we don’t have is attention.

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