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Dangers to Happiness in a Photoshopped World

“It’s in our biology to trust what we see with our eyes. This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced and photoshopped world very dangerous.”  ― Brené Brown

Our world view has always been shaped by secondhand sources. Even back to the earliest days of human civilization, one person could not see everything with their own eyes. Things happened while they sleep, for example. In the morning they were given an oral account of what went on. That retelling, always lost texture, shape and context, no matter how accurate the facts may have been.

Fast forward to the modern day, where the broadcasting of ‘what-is-happening-that-you-cannot-see’ is easily manipulated in order to produce a variety of effects. This is not necessarily malicious. Even this blog that I am writing for now is created using a piece of software that enhances the look of this collection of words. But, words can be powerful, producing a variety of feelings. It takes a savvy reader to filter the words in an appropriate fashion.

Understanding the world today, wouldn’t be so much of a challenge if it were not the popularity of digital media. Many people now have a porthole to any and all things going on around the world. This is fantastic and frightening. If strong filters are in place, responsible consumption can be a wonderful, life enhancing experience. The opposite of that is a deep dark hole that can present a dangerous view of reality. Plus, we now have everything imaginable in-between those opposites.

What does the state of the digital world have to do with happiness, the science of wellbeing and creativity? More than we might have thought. Dr. Laurie Santos of Yale university offered, ‘Psychology and the Good Life’ in 2018 and it became the most popular course in the university’s 317-year history.

However, it is not just college students who are yearning for content related to tackling the psychology of personal happiness. Yale now offers a free online course which combines positive psychology with a behavioural science backbone, leaving students with better habits and a more accurate understanding of what real happiness looks like.

Misconceptions About Happiness, what do we think will make us happy? The first lesson in Dr. Santo’s course. It is astonishing how profound the mismatch is between what we assume and true happiness. Some people might protest and say that it is societal conditioning which causes us to believe that material ‘things’ will make us happy. But, the research has been done to tease out the way the brain functions.

Nearly everything you think will make you happier won’t, because nearly everything you’re likely to list — assuming, of course, that your basic life needs are taken care of — is some circumstantial change: more money, a different home or job, a long vacation, or even that enticing snack that lies just beyond the vending-machine glass. Your mind is constantly telling you that if you just got those things, you’d finally, truly, unequivocally be happy. But your mind is wrong and science is right. ― How to Be Happy. A Cheat Sheet

The course goes on to explore a variety of topics related to the way our mind works to support or decrease happiness and well-being. A fascinating syllabus which dives deep into personal territory asking students to explore their assumptions and beliefs.

  • Why Our Expectations are so Bad. Why do we mispredict what makes us happy?
  • How Can We Overcome Our Biases. How we counteract our annoying features of the mind?
  • Stuff that Really Makes Us Happy. What can we do to improve our happiness?
  • Putting Strategies into Practice. How can we intentionally put these strategies into practice and build healthier habits?

The final stages of the class are where the rubber meets the road. This is where new habits are established from all the previously gained insights. Instead of being exposed to learning and not knowing what to do with it, Dr. Santos acts as a guide to strategically embed new ideas. That is truly a gift.

Once we are on a path to building new habits for enhancing happiness, creativity can follow. It is really hard to feel safe enough to properly relax and allow our minds to be creative, if we are feeling the opposite of happy. Finding a greater sense of happiness is a gift in itself, with a greater ability to be creative, being an added bonus!

I believe the magic of a creative practice is anchored in how normal it is. Meaning it is part of a lifestyle, not something separate. I want all my moments to include the joy of creativity, not just the few weeks of a year when I can escape my normal life for a vacation. It seems so sad that we live such a stressful existence, most of the time, so that we require a recovery period. I truly believe we can ‘create a life we don’t need a vacation from’.

By pursuing a creative life, it seems logical that our level of wellness will be enhanced. As the DailyFinds this week have explored, there is much to be gained from practicing creativity. Enjoy these DailyFinds if you missed any of them this week.

Before you go, consider sharing this page with someone who might enjoy a little creative inspiration. If you like this post and want to see more:


By joining, you will receive my weekly DailyFinds essay. The topics are diverse, but creativity is always at the heart. I look forward to connecting with you, feel free to send me an email – Christine@DailyCreatives.com

We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”   — Chuck Palahniuk, Novelist

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