Inside this issue
The Prospect of Happiness
Getting off the the hedonic treadmill
Although it was not until 2014 when I bought my first “professional” camera, I believe a part of me has always loved photography. I remember constantly taking pictures around the house, of my family, of our vacations, and especially of Jazmine, my family’s dog. At first, I had thought that landscape photography was boring, not understanding why someone would want to wait hours on end in a single location, just to end up going home empty-handed. Yet in 2016, I found myself doing exactly that. I found myself going on long hikes with my girlfriend, sweating and panting as we walked up steep hills to various waterfalls, often coming home only to realize that none of the photographs I took were portfolio-worthy. The memories shared, however, made it so much more worthwhile than any photograph ever could. And that, I truly believe, is why landscape photography is so special.
Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. ~J. S. Mill
Lately, I have been pondering the prospect of happiness. Questions flood my mind as the topic surges in and out on a daily - hourly - basis. What does it mean to be happy? How can one become happy? Is there even such a thing as "becoming" happy? If so, what is the cost of such a goal? Most importantly, perhaps: why is it that we, as a society, grow to find ourselves unhappy, despite it seeming as though, as children, we are always happy? (https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/kids-happier-than-adults.htm)
Lastly, I wonder, what does one's state of happiness have to do with art and the creation therefore?
As I begin writing this piece, I sit on the porch of my family's cabin in northern Pennsylvania. The weather is rather warm for a mid-March day, the sky mostly clear of clouds, the sun beaming upon the lake, still as glass. A slight breeze toys with a windsock as it stands tall on the grassy runway, which used to be frequented by my grandparents' plane years ago.
Whatever leaves are left upon trees around me, rustle gently in the breeze. A squirrel plays around in the brush to my left, searching for whatever nuts it may have buried long before the winter season. Birds chirp and ducks quack. And atop the mountain, at the edge of the property, the warehouse is bustling with activity - the only sign of human existence, other than myself.
There's a general sense of solitude here. Perhaps that has to do with the lack of the typical hustle-and-bustle the world finds itself consistently entangled within. Despite the usual chaos my mind finds itself delving into, the solitude creeps within me, calming me. Is this what happiness feels like? Though I cannot say for sure, it seems as though this is the closest to it I have ever gotten. Perhaps it is the closest I will ever get.
When people think of happiness, and compare it to how others view the same emotion, they may often find their definitions skewed. Not everyone garners the same emotions from similar aspects of life. For instance, the joy felt whilst wandering the woods is something from which I derive great joy - perhaps something which could be considered happiness; however, someone who grew up in the city may find it disgusting to be out amidst the wilderness and the various insects and animals which may be found. Another example of this variation in emotions is the happiness an expecting mother feels, versus someone who has no desire for children. Though the latter may empathise with the expecting mother, it is understood if they were in the expecting mother's shoes, they would not feel the same way.