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Archive for February, 2016

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I want to ask you a question. Have you ever looked at someone else’s life thinking: “Oh, they have it all figured out. Look how happy they are!” I’m sure you have. Let me tell you a little secret….the joy and smiles you see is just the surface, it is NOT the reality. Now, please, I’m not saying that all people pretend to be happy, I’m sure some of them really ARE filled with laughter and joy, because they’ve found ways around the challenges of their lives.  However, in most cases that moment of ‘smile for the camera’ is just that….a smile for the camera. We should take it at face value and NOT confuse it with fact.

Let me explain it in another way: a few years back I was driving my son home from school and he was commenting on the houses in the area, pointing to some and saying: ‘Mom, that is such a lovely house. Those people must be very happy.’ I, always the ‘teacher’, said to him that he must not be fooled by the ‘surface looks’, like a beautiful house or a shiny, new car or even how people dress….it is the only part of their lives we see. We do not know what goes on behind the doors of that lovely house; we do not know if Mom and Dad constantly argue, frightening their children; we do not know if those people bought an expensive car and beautiful, fashionably in clothes, but are actually now struggling financially….a price to pay to be ‘accepted’ by society.

The same goes for all those ‘happy’ pictures we see in magazines and on social media. It is but a moment…we do not know anything at all. I’ve learned over the years to become very distrustful when it comes to accepting truth based on imagery. How many times have you, for instance, seen a celebrity couple smiling and holding hands and even telling the journalists how extraordinarily happy they are, just to read in the news the next week that they’ve separated/divorced and are now involved in a desperate custody battle over their poor little babies.  So much for marital bliss!

Apart from celebrity joy often being totally bogus, these days one cannot even trust their appearance! PhotoShop is a wonderful tool, very clever and abused by many a celebrity photographer. We can simply never trust what we see. I invite you to look closely at those magazine articles featuring blow-ups of the beautiful people in our world….no one on earth has such perfect skin, such bright eyes, such a perfectly proportioned body. One can barely believe what you see on the Internet…people report seeing ghosts (and videotaping them) or witnessing alien spacecraft. Can you really believe that? I don’t KNOW! Oh, I may sound like a doubting Thomas, but the point is, you cannot trust ANYthing anymore.

These days people believe what they see and doubt that which is invisible. Like God….I’ve never seen Him, yet I believe He exists. Modern society stopped believing in Him, though, because they cannot PhotoShop Him into any picture. We rely too much on what we see, we believe everything blindly (like the false relationship, false smile, edited body type and added ghost image), claiming that it is ‘physical evidence’.  We are being fooled people! The reality we THINK we know, is NOT a reality after all, in many cases it is a means to boost sales for diet pills, beauty products, movie tickets, whatever. I fear our generation has become one of the most superficial in all of history; our heroes and role models are figments of the imagination of their sponsors, and our belief in their pretence makes it fact. It is time for a reality check, I think.

The tragic result of all this false imagery is that we are fooled into thinking what we see is what WE should be, because they (those in the pictures) seem perfect. Not to be like that, would mean we are different, outcasts of society. Our need to fit in is overwhelming. Instead of finding peace within ourselves, understanding that people sometimes pretend to be perfect, while hiding their true pain and sorrow, we battle on to BECOME their clones in every way. We should strive to be more OURselves rather than what others are; you cannot live another person’s life, you do not know the face you see in a magazine personally, you don’t know the demons they are battling behind that smile. If you knew the reality, would you still strive to be like that person? Do you think without that ‘face’ that person would still ‘fit in’?

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People constantly complain of feeling confused and depressed by life….whose life? The one you see in those pictures and long for, or the one you are living? Ask yourself this….are you living an authentic life, translation….are you living the life that fulfils YOU? Or are you just trying to cover up your own faults and insecurities by ‘becoming’ a version of the unreality you see around you?

Society’s claim to perfection has, of course, its purpose….it challenges people to be better, to reach higher and further than they can imagine….it inspires. But there’s a difference between being inspired to greatness and selling your soul to it. Many people will disregard the fact that what they see in movies, on television and in magazines or on the internet is mere representations of life and perfection, than life itself. Those happy, smiling faces, those perfect bodies are an illusion; behind them there are REAL people with REAL problems, just like you and me. The difference is that they have the means to slap on some paint and call it ‘perfect’, because, in our society, they have become the ‘item’, the ‘object’, which is actually very sad, because their own pain is disregarded and they’ve learned to hide it behind a mask. Once that perfect mask is removed, the world rocks to a standstill, shocked by the reality; remember all those ‘fallen’ stars? Those with the drug habits, abusive relationships, depression, etc.…we stood gasping in shock, because we never suspected. Our icons are people too, you see, and we would do well to understand that for our own sakes.

Example: there’s nothing wrong with admiring Jennifer’s haircut and having your hairdresser do yours in the same way. What is totally OUT there, though, is feeling that, because Jennifer seems so happy and loved by all (and tanned to perfection) you are a failure, because you are this dull, pale blonde in an unhappy relationship. Therefore you feel the desperate need to change everything about yourself, to become her, so that you can also be so happy (and tanned). You forget, you are NOT Jennifer Aniston, you have to live your own life and acknowledge the fact that even she is not as perfect as she seems (she lost Brad, remember!). The Jen YOU see on the telly is NOT necessarily ‘Jennifer the PERSON’, it is ‘Jennifer the IMAGE OF SUCCESFUL STARDOM’; she’s merely an ‘item’ that is used as walking, talking advertisement for Hollywood, it’s designers and producers. She sells perfection. (NOTE: I adore Jennifer Aniston and think she’s an accomplished actress and absolutely gorgeous to boot, so, please, I do not mean any offense here…just trying to make a point.)

Unfortunately, people, we are only ourselves and we can never BE anyone else. We’ve been given this life, I believe, for a purpose. We live our life in the best way we see fit, but we should stop trying so hard to become part of this unrealistic society. Ask yourself: what do I want? NOT: what should I have/what should I be/WHO should I be? Stop trying to fit in, be different, that is what makes life interesting. Don’t look toward others to seek your joy, look toward yourself…find happiness and laughter in your own life.

We see it so often; people going out of their way, like I said above, literally selling their soul to achieve ‘greatness’ so that they can be accepted in this superficial society. They need people to SEE that they’ve made it. They drive around in their sporty cars, wearing designer clothes, eating at the ‘right’ restaurants, doing the ‘right’ job and, yes, society adores them. They are the Barbie’s and Ken’s of the world – custom made, stamped and sealed….accepted. But are they really happy? Are those not ‘plastic smiles’? The thing is, one day; these accepted great ones will travel exactly the same road than the ordinary bloke in the street. They will die, turn to dust and, no, they may be buried in a designer coffin or end up in a crystal urn, but they will NOT take their ‘acceptable’ lifestyles with them. They’ve lived their glamorous facades, it’s over….the end. But not quite….what about the hereafter? After spending a lifetime of accumulating stuff to be accepted in this world, would they also be accepted in the other world?

I’ve babbled on and on now, only to come to this final point…and I return to the subject of self-actualization and where it is to be found. Not in the smiling, perfect piccies you see in magazines, nor in the perfect body shape or biggest, most modern house….you have to look hard inside yourself for that. Our biggest mistake is that we judge ourselves too harshly. We complain that, for the world we are never good enough, while the truth is, for ourselves we are never good enough. Hence all the make-up, high heels and flashy cars….not only do we often seek to be accepted by society, we seek to accept ourselves, constantly compensating for our own low self-esteem. I’ve told you in the course of this post that what we see in the world is hardly reality and that we are only fooling ourselves if we think that moulding ourselves to the standards of society, will make us feel any better. All the status and acceptance in the world cannot buy inner peace.  And I’m sure all those smiling photograph-people will agree.

I’ve explained the superficial nature of modern society, as I see it, at great length here, so you obviously understand that I don’t really have a lot of respect for what we see in the media; I don’t take what I see as fact…at least not until I’ve considered the alternative. And, since one cannot seem to trust the media anymore, perhaps we should begin trusting ourselves, our own instincts. Stop measuring yourself against the false front of society and start looking at your life, your body and your soul through the eyes given to you by God.

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Try this….

Forget for a moment all preconceived ideas about what is ‘in’, and  what is, in the world, seen as beautiful and perfect and ‘the thing to be/do’.  Take a chance on reality. Be kind to yourself for a change and be kind to the things around you; grab an opportunity to accept yourself just as you are, without the superficial frills demanded by the world.

  • Let’s look at ourselves: stand in front of a mirror and look without judgment. See the perfect eyes, nose, mouth…the unique shape of your face and body. Your hair, coiffed to your own idea of perfection? Or someone else’s? Your clothes….does it represent you or what you want the world to think you are? Ask yourself: Is there anything I want to change….for MYSELF, NOT for society? What do YOU like? Not what is acceptable for your age, for instance, or fashionable at the time. Consider it for a moment.
  • Now, ask yourself this: what makes ME happy? What would make me smile an honest smile? To me? Always having happy children and a happy husband…will make me, well, HAPPY! But again, that is a mistake….what if the kids and the husband are having a bad day? Should I feel unhappy too? You understand what I’m saying? You cannot count on other people’s emotions to determine how YOU feel…you have to find the joy in YOUR life, not in THEIRS! So, back to the question…being alone with a good book, THAT makes me happy. I’m sure, once you get used to the idea of not comparing your level of happiness and joy to another person’s or basing your feelings on another’s, you’ll find what makes you happy, brings you peace, fulfils you, etc.
  • Look around you. Do you live a comfortable life, with all you need? Do you like where you live? Or did you purchase your house because it is in the ‘right’ area even though the neighbours are hideous snobs? Look at the things you own….do you really like what you see? Your home should reflect the personality of your family. Others should enter your house and just KNOW the type of people that live there. Every detail in your house should tell a story about YOU, not about what you think it should tell, so that others can be impressed. Other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter. So, have a look, do you like? Or not? Be honest.
  • Many of us hate our jobs. We work to bring home the bread; so to speak, we don’t work because we love it. This is a tough one, especially in today’s economic climate….if you can do what you love, you should, but unfortunately this is one we can only change with great difficulty. It is more than just the demands of social acceptance that forces us to be so well-employed; if you don’t have a job, you cannot take care of your family, period. On the other hand, if we did not try to live up to society’s expectations in the first place, we would not have been forced to earn high incomes to buy things we don’t really need. Strange, isn’t it? Perhaps there is a lesson in this – if we started out NOT trying to adhere to society, not trying so hard to ‘fit in’ and followed our hearts to do the job we wanted to do, perhaps then our lives would have been easier and happier. We would have understood that the world is only an imperfect mirage of reality and that we should rather remain true to ourselves and be what WE WANT to be, not what the world expects us to be.
  • Finally: who are you? Not – who am I according to the world? Who are you to yourself? Your personality as perceived by yourself. Are you a good person? Do you like yourself? What can I change to make me become a better person, again, for myself? Look at it this way; if you were your own best friend, would you like yourself?

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Remember I’ve said that the people in the pictures are often just pretending? Of course you do, I’ve repeated it often enough in this post, haven’t I? Can you imagine how it would be if you can smile honestly at a camera, without pretending, really BE happy and filled with peace and joy? Do you think others will notice the difference? I do, I think people will be able to see the difference between pretence and reality….now THAT would be true inspiration!

IMAGE SOURCE:

AfroKinkiLove.  n.d. Be Real: Hiding Behind A Mask.  [Web:] AfroKinkiLove on Tumbler.  [Date of Access:] 23 February 2016.

Favim.  2014.  Happiness.  [Web:] favim.com.  [Date of Access:]  23 February 2016.

 

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Was watching the new ‘X-files’ tonight. Mulder was listening to this and it just made me feel like dancing (not that I’m a good dancer). But to have a song lift your heart and let it fly…well, suffice to say, I needed this ‘lift’ desperately.

Let’s hope it remains with me…keeping me up there in the clouds and away from all the cares and worries of life.

Have a good week, friends, only 3 days till the weekend! Hang in there!

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