Sharing is caring.

Eating a muffin sure does make me happy. However, eating half and giving the rest to my friend to enjoy alongside me makes me even happier. The joy that can be found through using what you have to lift another’s spirits is indescribable. You are not only happy that you possess something of value, but you get a warm fuzzy feeling with the knowledge that you have helped another obtain something they would not have otherwise have received.

Sharing is one of the most fundamental attributes that we are taught as children hence making it one of the most important. Without appreciating the value in sharing a person will struggle throughout their entire lives. It starts off in primary school when no one wants to play with you because you don’t lend your toys, next in high school when you won’t share clothes with friends and in adulthood when you are never the one to throw a party at your place. It makes you quite unpopular because it seems like you are only interested in your own needs rather than considering those of others and what you could do to help them out in some small way.

Our ability to share, although largely in tact, has been tainted by the way that society is now structured. There is increased pressure on individuals to achieve and possess commodities to reflect these achievements. This downgrades the importance of sharing significantly as people’s first priority becomes the accumulation of their wealth rather than using what they have to assist the achievements of another.

Despite these changes, sharing is no less important and needs to be given more time in the lime light. Once people realise that the act of sharing produces greater rewards than the act of accumulating, I believe we will return to a time when society assists rather than competes.

Blogtastic.

I’m a little disappointed in myself that I’ve gotten this far through my blogging adventure and failed to reflect on the happiness that can be found through blogging itself.

The type of happiness that is generated through writing a blog is distinctive due to the unique form of self-expression that blogs promote. By keeping a blog, we have the ability to share our deepest thoughts and our most wild ideas. It is a place where our imaginations can run free and reach their full potential without being restricted by society.

A lot of the joy is born through the writing, not out of people’s responses. Sharing ideas in cyberspace creates a sense of self-awareness and reflection that is extremely satisfying. The number of people that read or comment on what you have posted is not the main purpose of the blog, because happiness has been achieved through allowing yourself to be upfront and honest about your thoughts and opinions.

It is true that further joy can be found when people comment on your work as it gives you a sense that you are not alone. At times we all feel as though the people we have contact with such as friends, family and work mates don’t fully understand us or our points of view. Blogging allows us to find people who we can connect with on this deep level and share thoughts and ideas that would otherwise remain dormant. My fellow WordPress blogger at No Blog Intended posted about the joy that she gets through making friends with people from across the globe that, in some ways, become closer than her real friends. She jokes that if they were her only friends then something would be a bit strange, so instead they provide support for her writing that she lacks from her immediate relationships. This is the beauty of blogs−they are not a substitute for person-to-person relationships, but rather an additional support network that succeeds when the others fail.

The networks that blogs create are arguably their most attractive feature. The people of the world were attracted to blogging like bees to pollen, and because of this the blogosphere has become an incredibly colourful and diverse pool of thought and discussion. No matter what your niche is or how unique you think your opinions are, it is virtually guaranteed that you will find another person on the blogosphere that agrees or can relate to you. The resulting connections would not have been possible or able to thrive without the use of blogs.

The free expression and networking that blogging promotes helps all who participate in its community to fully realise their creative potential. It is our diary, friend and confidant. Since the rise of the blogosphere, many sleepless nights must have been eliminated because we all suddenly have access to a network of people ready and raring to listen. Even if no one reads what we have to say, the act of writing our thoughts down is often enough to get them in order.

Take your time.

Time; we never seem to have enough of it. We all run late and wish that there were a few more hours in the day. The amount of time we have creates significant stress because in some shape or form, we all have a schedule to adhere to. With this in mind, wouldn’t it be bliss to have one day of utter timelessness? It may seem impossible, but I think that forcing yourself to forget the time is a relatively easy way to venture into paradise.

Janet Bailey spoke about our relationship with time on her blog, Mindful Time Management. She discusses the experience of being ‘mindful’ for an extended period of time and the things that she noticed when time became irrelevant; the sound of the air conditioner, the temperature and the interactions of those around her. This shows that so much around us goes unnoticed because we are preoccupied by the clock.

I originally envisaged this post as being constructed around the idea of taking off your watch for a day to create an environment for timelessness. However it seems as though our attachment to hours and minutes does not solely rely on the information provided by the clock on our wrist. The exact time can now be located on our phones, iPods, computer screens, televisions, ovens and microwaves which seems convenient, but has facilitated our time obsession. It seems as though reminders of the time completely surround us and in order to avoid them we would need to shut ourselves in a dark room with no power points, as not all of us are as strong as Janet Bailey and can simply ignore the clock’s intimidating presence.

Keeping track of the time has become an invisible stress in our lives because as I have found, I subconsciously check and align my actions with the clock. We are under the illusion that our actions are driven by the necessity to complete the task, when in reality the fact of whether they are completed or not depends on the ability to achieve the desired result within a certain time frame. If we don’t have time, the task doesn’t get done. This means that no matter what we are doing, no matter how menial the task might be, the amount of time it takes to complete the action determines its quality.

It seems as though forgetting of time seems virtually impossible, but I assure you that it is not. During the week when we all have commitments so it is not possible to have time free day, therefore one day on the weekend would probably be the best opportunity to embark on a timeless journey. It means removing ourselves from all environments where there is electronic technology and leaving our phones and watches on our bedside table. A dark void will ensue, but I assure you that it will pass and enlightened bliss will follow. In this bliss we forget hours and minutes, instead we seize every immediate moment and can enjoy the unique offerings of every single second.

The grass is greener.

This blog is all about how happiness can be found in through the simplest of means. There is no simpler act than watching the world go by. Simply stopping to observe what is going on around us, like breathing the fresh air, admiring beautiful flowers and people’s loving interactions, can make us realise that we should be grateful of the things that are denigrated as being merely part of everyday life.

Through observing these things we connect with our outer world and gain a sense that we are part of a bigger picture. That as humans we are all connected by the common threads of nature and relationships. Although these threads may change and evolve over time, they will always impact upon our lives in some shape or form.

Network technology has been both beneficial and detrimental to people’s abilities to appreciate their surroundings. On the one hand, innovations such as YouTube have improved our accessibility to natural phenomena occurring across borders, and appreciate the beauty of life in another setting. However, on the other hand, it has reduced the impact that these events have. It is impossible to feel emotionally connected to something on a computer screen, so witnessing animals do incredible things on YouTube may seem amazing but would not be nearly as breathtaking as if it was to be witnessed in person. Although this may be a good tool to see things that may not otherwise be seen, the time spent using these tools should not overtake that spent enjoying the amazing natural resources that surround all of us.

It means that what is directly in front of us has been traded in for what can be found on the Internet; supposedly more interesting and exotic occurrences in nature and relationships. We no longer are satisfied by what our own setting has to offer because the wider world can supersede anything that is immediately available to us in our own surroundings.

It’s time to stop and smell the roses that grow in our own backyard. We can use tools like YouTube to educate us on what else is out there, but we must cease to use it as a replacement for our immediate surroundings. I believe that we will find a great sense of pride in acknowledging the beauty that surrounds us which in turn will help us to better connect with images that we see from other places. Afterall, the grass is much greener in real life than it is on a screen.

Be the change.

The Internet allows us to choose who we want to be and how we want others to see us. Through social networking, virtual games and chat rooms we can create a complete online persona which contains all of our favourable personal traits and none of those that we see as undesirable. Although there may be similarities between our live and online selves, it would be untrue to suggest that the self that appears online is a complete reflection of  who sits behind the computer. Creating online personas are a way for people to combat their insecurities and change who they are to suit society’s mould. But a lot more happiness can be found when we accept ourselves for who we are and surround ourselves with people who appreciate and admire this self.

All relationships rely on trust and honesty. These traits are even more important when fostering an internet relationship as each participant must solely rely upon the other to truthfully portray their personalities and intentions. The internet makes these relationships unstable because individuals have little means to verify information that they receive from others as people are empowered to construct a false identity for themselves through words, images and stories.

Setting aside the suggestion that people may do this to seduce or cause harm to another, I suggest that people create alternate selves because they are deeply unhappy with the one they portray in reality. However, alongside a false identity comes a false relationship. Any relationship fostered upon this foundation of fantasy does not hold any merit as it is not a true connection between two compatible people. It too is a construction.

As in real life people will have the richest and most rewarding connections with people who complement and appreciate their personalities. We gain a sense of self worth when people acknowledge the merits of our positive traits and can still appreciate or help improve our negative ones. The internet makes it too easy for people to change who they are and continue loathing their real selves. Great happiness can be found in relationships with people who love your whole self, not just the elements of it.

I’d sure LIKE to help you.

The selfless act of lending someone a helping hand is incomparable to any other form of acquiring happiness. It is unique because the joy that is felt is a product of assisting and witnessing someone else’s happiness being realised rather than acting to merely satisfy our own needs.

In the chaotic world that we live in it is easy to become preoccupied with where we want to be and what we want to personally achieve. This is due to mounting pressures at school and in the workplace to be the best you can be to climb the ladder of success. Because of this, most of us rarely look past our own desires to consider those less fortunate and the myriad of ways we could help to improve their circumstances. The ways of helping are abundant and yet the importance of these services has become buried beneath our own wants and needs.

The creation of Facebook and other social networking sites has dramatically altered the nature of helping people and the ways in which we show empathy. Actions that are being described in the blogosphere as ‘slacktivism’ have been made possible  by Facebook as people show their support through liking charity pages, yet this action makes no tangible positive contribution to the cause. In the past people have gone to great lengths to show support for a cause and certain individuals were even willing to risk their lives for activism. I refer to actions such as movements during the Apartheid, the abolishment of slavery and fighting for Indigenous rights. Now activism has been reduced to the click of a mouse whereby people feel as though they are making a significant difference when really they have not helped at all.

It is unrealistic for me to suggest that risking your life is the only way to lend someone a hand, however, I believe that people should be showing more effort in their strive to show empathy. This doesn’t mean leaving your job to join Greenpeace or giving all your money to charity either. It means using a small amount of the time and resources that you have to give back to society and those who struggle within it. This could be as simple as buying the Big Issue from a homeless vendor or volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month. These seemingly small contributions make a tremendous difference to those who have nothing.

Society is in dire straits if we associate the same level of respect to those who support certain causes on social media rather than going into the world to make practical contributions. In turn for these efforts you will gain a sense of self satisfaction that is unparalleled by any other act, and heavily outweighs the disconnected empathy achieved through liking an activist’s Facebook page. Looking past our own desires to tend to the needs of others is the only way that we can band together as a community and achieve the highest level of happiness for the greatest number of people.

 

Cold Comfort.

Books provide happiness through simple means as they have the ability to transport a person to a time and space that is vastly different to their own. I believe that people to do not appreciate the power of books anymore because the age of rapid technology and transport of information has destroyed our ability to appreciate the time it takes to devour and enjoy a well-written piece of fiction. There is one byproduct of technological advancement that threatens the integrity of the book more than any other, and that is the eBook.

I despise eBooks. And Kindles. And any other device that transforms the comforting thumbing of pages into an interaction with a cold metal screen. There is nothing like the feeling of opening the first page of a novel and gradually working your way through each page until you reach the end. There is no greater sense of comfort than opening the pages of your favourite well-thumbed novel and meeting that old friend again. No feeling can compare to lending a book to a friend and then animatedly discussing its virtues and downfalls. All these feelings are lost when the pages are replaced by a thin and sterile computer.

I recently read a blog post on BiteTheBook.com (http://bitethebook.com/2012/08/24/the-future-of-reading/) that outlined the great opportunities that eBooks create for readers. He discussed the ability of eBooks to provide more freedom for readers to choose what and how they read, to make reading a more social experience by encouraging reader interactions through the development of digital networks and an increase in the diversity of content as authors are no longer constrained by the economic constraints of the publishing industry.

Although these seem like viable points, I believe the negative ramifications of destroying printed literature will outweigh any short-term advantages. When using an eBook an individual purchases a desired text which is then downloaded to their personal device and can not be shared to another person’s device. This eradicates the tradition of sharing a literary gem around a group of friends and their enjoyment being signified by the worn and yellowing pages of the text. This also limits people’s consumption to books as they must purchase an expensive digital device in order to read a comparably inexpensive novel. This technology eradicates the physical and emotional connection that people have with a book as the interaction occurs between the person and a computer screen which is a notoriously impersonal relationship.

Generally speaking, I do not believe that the advancement of technology is something to be feared however its impact on the literary world is something which I am highly concerned about. People can find great joy in reading a good book and forming a connection with its author through emotionally engaging with their story. I believe that eBooks destroy this connection and people would learn a lot about appreciation by experiencing the joy of physically engaging with novels.