Lately, I've heard several folks grumble about experiences specifically related to reading certain blogs, or Facebook, or especially Pinterest. "I always feel bad about myself when I see these posts," was the general consensus. "I wish people would be more real online. I mean, come on -- my life will never be that beautiful and perfect."
I never know how to respond when I hear this, but if I had my wits about me, I would do so exactly in the same manner as my friend's therapist did: I would gently smile, look them straight in the eyes and say, "But you have evidence to suggest otherwise."
It's not that I believe that it is possible to live a perfect life. Far from it: in fact, I feel confident in saying that every single person on the planet -- even the ones whose lives are recorded online in Pinterest-worthy fashion -- has moments of deep pain and suffering and despair. But I'm also confident in knowing that every one of those same lives also contain some genuine beauty in them. I think that those moments of beauty are no less real or valid or worthy of sharing than the painful ones. And I further believe it's entirely possible that some of those bloggers, or Facebookers or "Pinners" are simply focusing on those good moments because it helps them through the dark ones.
These thoughts were never brought into such sharp focus for me so much as they were this past weekend, when I received an email from someone I don't actually know in real life. She has been participating in #lookforthelight for the last 6 weeks, taking photographs of the light in her life with her camera phone and publishing them online. During this time, however, her father passed away after a devastating illness -- an obviously extremely difficult event in her life. But in her email, she shared with me how much the exercise of looking for the light is helping her through it, and she has been surprised that she has been able to find moments of true beauty that help comfort her as she works through her grief.
I was so honoured she shared her story with me, and thrilled that she confirmed what I always believed to be true: that even through the darkest, hardest times in our lives, moments of beauty slip through, and if we make a point of looking for them, they can encourage or comfort. I believe that collecting these moments -- even simple moments, like, say, the morning light as you sit with your laptop and a cappuccino in an otherwise ordinary coffeehouse -- you start to see, with gratitude, that your life has moments of real beauty in it. And as you know, I believe gratitude is the key to living life with joy.
Anyway, my purpose in all these rambling thoughts, as we enter this month of Thanksgiving in the United States, is this: keep keeping those gratitude journals, taking smart phone photographs of the light in your life as it strikes you, genuinely and with all heart sharing the good in your life with the people you love. Because, then, whenever that gremlin starts whispering in your ear that your life isn't beautiful and light-filled, you'll be able to say with absolute confidence:
you have evidence to suggest otherwise.