Thoughts on Selfies, Happiness & Giving
Yesterday afternoon, I holed up in my study to catch up on some work. I'm enrolled in Marie Forleo's B-School (incredible so far) and I watched the weekly video modules. My sister Ceara called and we talked for a while. It was a real conversation, one stuffed with questions philosophical and perfunctory, and the conclusion was that we wished we still lived in the same city, but we are thankful that our kids are so close, and that we are.
I hung up and made myself a cup of coffee in my favorite cat mug and sipped it. One by one, the girls came to visit me. I cuddled them and shooed them away, but they kept returning and I kept snuggling them. Middle Girl sent me an emoticon-filled text from our nanny's phone that said Hi Mommy i love you. It's interesting - or maybe it's not - but there were these moments yesterday afternoon when everything felt so good and simple and right. I felt myself smiling just because and then I indulged in the selfie above because I wanted to capture this stretch of time. I'm beginning to grow more and more curious about the narcissism inherent in social media, and in the selfie phenomenon in particular, but taking this picture - and then looking at it - felt important somehow. It's evidence of a sort. Of happiness. Not perfect, but real. Not pristine, but beautiful.
I am and always will be, I imagine, a seeker. I am forever asking questions about identity and existence and the good life. What does this life look like and feel like and what does it contain? The mysteries intrigue me, and propel me. The not knowing inspires me as much as it frustrates me. I like to wonder and I like to wander, to ruminate and to ramble.
I posted a quote on Instagram (follow me there!) this morning from Gabrielle Bernstein. I just read her book Spirit Junkie(I have been on a major reading binge and oh does it make me happy). Anyway, she says, "Real happiness doesn't come from getting, but from giving." And now I'm thinking about this, about this compelling, if familiar, notion that real happiness doesn't reside in money or things or circumstances or in the outside world, but in ourselves, in how we face the world and process its elements, in what we do to give and serve. I'm pretty much convinced (even though I will always love plenty of things. Alas. Work in progress).
Why do I write these meandering posts about myself, about the non-linear progress I'm making in my own life? I've often wondered this, but this morning it seems kind of clear: Maybe by writing these words, I'm actually giving. Bits and pieces of myself, what I have learned, what I have earned. Maybe sharing my story is bigger than it feels? Maybe it is serving someone or a few someones? Maybe this is why it makes me so happy?
Maybe stories are not just personal, but universal somehow. Maybe they are windows, doors, invitations. Maybe by telling our stories, however half-baked or profoundly in need of editing, we are encouraging others to think about their own pages, their own chapters, beginnings, middles and ends?
Oh goodness, I don't know, but here I am, continuing on. Being my ever-silly/serious self, the kind of self who takes goofy, self-regarding photographs and asks unwieldy questions that aren't so silly at all.
Do you agree that real happiness is about giving and not getting? Do you think those of us who are telling our stories are actually giving, or providing some kind of service? Thoughts on the ubiquitous #selfie?