Beyond happy

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We spend a lot of time in search of happiness, which I define as a blissful state of satisfaction. Being happy makes everything a little easier—work, family, life—and even where there are hard tasks ahead, happiness seems to make them less daunting, less onerous, less tasking.

When I am happy, I can roll with whatever punches life throws at me, and nicely have found that life throws fewer punches when I am happy.

And although not perfectly so, I find happiness is infectious. When I exude happiness, I am no longer perceived as a threat to those around me and therefore allow others to stay in their own happy place, or in some cases, make it easier for them to experience happiness.

alison_me

Although happiness may initially have an external source or motivation—a job you love, good friends—it is very internal. It is a state you choose to be in. And any external impact it has is purely passive; a choice others make in its presence.

Thus, I believe, there is another level beyond happiness that is more active, more empowering, and if taken wrong, possibly more intimidating.

Joy.

Where happiness is about contentment, satisfaction and peace, joy is the embodiment of love, laughter, engagement and play. Joy takes happiness and dials it up to 11.

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Joy is the ultimate expression of freedom, and as such, it cannot be easily contained. It exudes from every pore, every movement, every thought. It is an aura that precedes your entrance into any space and remains a gleeful echo long after you have moved on.

Joy changes how we see the world around us, finding glimmers of light in even the darkest of moments. It is not about self-delusion or selective memory, but rather a complete reframing of the question of the moment.

Like happiness, joy is a choice we make as individuals. But it is a more difficult choice to maintain because it ultimately demands an expanded consciousness to what is around us and an eternal openness to the possibilities in life.

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As such, joy demands more faith than happiness, which is more easily rationalized.

Happiness, when you choose it, makes sense. Joy doesn’t have to make sense. And perhaps, the less sense joy makes, the more joyful it is.

To embrace the irrational is to truly be open to the possible.

Because it is difficult or impossible to suppress joy—not sure I know why you would want to—joy can be seen as obnoxious or intrusive to those who have yet to find their happiness or joy. That is unfortunate for those individuals.

For those in joy, however, this is another opportunity to explore, understand and exchange. In this way, joy begets joy, even if not always from person to person.

All this to say that while I continue to explore happiness in my life, I have chosen to embrace joy and hope to share it with as many people as I can.

It is my gift to myself and to others.

vic

From perspective to perception

A railway track is perspective trying to make a point

A railway track is perspective trying to make a point

What makes your writing unique from all others is your perspective, the way thoughts, words and actions are interpreted in your mind.

If 10 people witness the same collision between two cars, each one will recount a slightly varied story from another. Some may gauge the speeds of the vehicles differently or not remember the same car braking first.

Less what you remember and more how you remember is influenced consciously and unconsciously by your personal experiences, your beliefs and your moods. As good a reason as any for the police and court system not to rely on a single eye witness account whenever possible.

The same is true for your writing.

Although our imaginations give us some ability to write fanciful stories and characters outside our day-to-day scope, a close examination of our oddest creations will show that they are largely reinterpretations of things we have read or experienced in other stories.

Dragons, for example, are likely an amalgamation of flying raptors (e.g., eagles), strange lizards (e.g., monitors) and giant fossilized remains that humans have dug up for millennia. How else to explain the similarity of a T. rex skull and monitor lizards?

How to make a dragon with 3 simple ingredients!

How to make a dragon with 3 simple ingredients!

At the same time, it was the unique experience of these three factors in combination that may have resulted in the first dragon description. A truly unique perspective.

To consider it another way, think on the meaning of perspective in the visual arts:

The art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.

Giving the right impression of [facts]…from a particular point [of view].

But what if you changed that point of view?

3-Point Perspective

Changing perspectives is perhaps the easiest way to approach cliché writing and makes the predictable unexpected.

If you want to tell a love story that is essentially Romeo & Juliet, tell it from the perspective of rival street gangs in New York. Oh, but wait; they already made that one.

Then how about from the perspective of fish in a pet shop and instead of rival families, it is the divide between fresh and salt water? Crazy, hunh? (NOTE: I already wrote this one, so please go write something else.)

The same holds true whether you’re considering an entire story, a single scene, an individual line of dialogue or a character trait.

How might the floor of a dance club look if you changed your perspective from that of an evening reveller to that of an observer seated on a ceiling rafter? Probably like one of those wild life documentaries describing the mating habits of some ridiculous animal.

Or what might your backyard “look” like if your only sense was touch?

By changing your perspective in even the smallest of ways (you don’t have to blind yourself), you can dramatically alter your perception of the world.

So, the next time you find yourself stuck for an idea or facing a cliché moment in your writing, try looking at your world upside-down or through another character’s eyes.

Take a new perspective and you’ll reach a whole new point.

(Drawing is property of owner and is used here without permission because I take a different perspective on these things.)

I sight

I cannot see you

As you might wish,

But only as my eye allows.

Retinal engrams

Of old beliefs—

Blind spots

Emotional and real—

Shade the greys,

Colour the colours,

Frame light with dark,

Dark with light,

Until all I see

Is what I choose

To acknowledge,

To believe,

To understand.

I cannot see you

As you might wish;

Be glad I see

Any of you at all.

A slug eyes me eyeing him as it crosses a shrub near Tofino, BC

A slug eyes me eyeing him as it crosses a shrub near Tofino, BC