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There was an interesting article in the NY Times recently that caught my attention – “Researchers said they found that in most activities, a mind that wandered could diminish one’s happiness.” The idea that the more you focus on something without distraction the happier you are is something I’ve experienced many times, and actually look forward to each and every time I go out with my camera. Happiness that comes from staying focused applies to many other activities in life as the article explains, but the most significant statistic was that work ranked as the unhappiest activity by those involved in the study. While at work, their minds wandered the most and lead to the least amount of happiness of all the activities mentioned.

This instantly made me realize several things:

  1. I am very fortunate indeed that I actually have the opposite experience, which is that I am most focused and happiest when I am working.
  2. Being creative requires tremendous focus and little room for distraction, at least that is my experience whether taking pictures, processing images, or making prints.
  3. There are an awful lot of people that are not happy with their jobs, and should really re-assess whether there are any options.

“Do everything as if it were the only thing in the world that mattered, while all the time knowing that it doesn’t matter at all.” – Pema Chodron

For me true happiness comes from somewhere much deeper and more significant than how much money I make, or whether I can buy more stuff. Is this a difficult, frustrating, and incredibly challenging way to make a living? …YES. But the value I derive from sharing my view of the world with others through my prints is what truly matters to me, and defines my “currency.” Sharing that with my customers and supporters is really inspiring and special. Sharing that with my family, my wife, and my 7 yr old son makes me happy, very happy.

Are you focused in your daily work?

RR Jr

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This Post Has 12 Comments
  1. I totally agree. An absolute route to happiness can be found in complete absorption in an activity that you are enthused about. Photography for you, other art forms for some, entrepreneurial endeavors for others, trades and physical labor, and the list goes on. The only determining factor is the individual interest. That’s why it is so important to do work that you can become enthused with and focus on. But that may be easier said than done for some.

    The picture of the boy meditating is a good lead into this, as meditation can teach us how to focus and let go of the wandering mind. And it can bring us to that calm joy of true happiness regardless of our work. So for all those that do work they are not enthused with, maybe learn to meditate, and all that might change.

    🙂
    John

    1. John – you have added much to my article , so I am thankful. It is certainly easier said than done, which is why I treat each day I can do what I love to do as a success – but it wasn’t always that way. I can write a book on my particular journey to this point, but for now, it may keep me busy with this blog for a while – and certainly focused.
      PS- The boy meditating is my son – always willing and able to teach me what really matters!

      RR

  2. Your photographs show that happiness Robert. I love the work I do but it can be very emotionally draining (ICU nursing). Nature has always been grounding and the addition of photography has allowed me to express the joy in life and transfer it to my “work life”. I have shared your work with many of my coworkers through facebook and we all marvel at the beauty and many of us have gotten back in touch with how to express our love of our “work” by focusing on the beauty in life, rather then the negative that we see. Thank you for your inspiration. And I am so impressed that your son can focus so well at that young age! I’m still restless when I try to meditate!

    1. Thanks Nancy for the feedback – there are so many ways to approach this topic, we have only scratched the surface. I’m really glad that my work had been of benefit to you and others, and perhaps that is at the core of what keeps me focused. Beyond any specific activity, the act of giving brings profound happiness to me, and there is much more to say in the future on that.

      RR

  3. Great post. Figuring out ways to be happier in life is one of my passions. I truly believe that the formula for happiness is a very individual endeavor. We can’t be swayed by what others do to be happy, but we can use their happiness as inspiration to find our own. I believe everyone has the right to happiness, but we must make that road ourselves. No one can do it for us.

    I’m always fascinating and inspired by what makes others happy. Thanks for sharing your passion and path.

    1. Well said. and I totally agree that is is a personal issue. We can all learn however from those that have traveled down similar paths, and when we share our experiences, it helps all of us. Thanks as always Michael for your insight.
      PS- Looking forward to your book!

      RR

  4. Thank you for so eloquently saying what I have always felt was true. I am inspired by what you wrote in the last paragraph about your definition of “currency” and the value you place on the sharing of your work. Don’t limit it to the sharing of your prints however. Your writing is also an example of value you give to others and I know what you shared here today will stay with me as I go about doing the work I also love.
    Beautiful image of your son by the way!

    1. Thank you Dianne for visiting and for your thoughtful feedback. I am really glad that it has inspired you, and of course that makes it that much more meaningful for me. Writing has been a passion of mine for some time, I just have to keep working at it as hard as I do with my photography. I’ll we writing more about this and similar subjects soon…thanks!

      RR

  5. Damn that is good Robert. I followed a tweet here from @digisnap and am really glad I did. It is said that sometimes the simplest things can be the most profound. By far, this concept is very profound.

    Absorption and focus leads to a state of being that engenders true happiness.

    Thank you for posting about this. I will go forward from here now with more purpose in my daily activities 🙂

    Michael.

    1. @Michael – Thanks for reading and leaving your generous feedback – I really appreciate it! Great to hear it had some positive impact on you – that was my exact purpose for writing it.
      Best! RR

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