Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Watch Out! Mental Habits Can Take Away the Joy of a New Pursuit

Morning Light

Morning Light

I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s August Break photo adventure for the first time this year, and posting my images on Facebook.

I know nothing about photography.  I don’t own an expensive camera, just my hand-me-down iPhone.  When I take a picture, I go by my gut.  I’m slowly learning what I think makes a good photograph and about my own own mental obsessions at the same time.

I’m struck by how much my mood changes with each successive prompt.  Any new pursuit, it appears, provides a premium opportunity to understand and work with your own mind.

Here’s a little picture of the way my mind tends to work when I engage in a new pursuit.  Since these are common patterns, you might notice one or two that feel familiar to you.

Day 1 – I began to notice “morning light” wherever I went, which brought me into the present moment and sparked a bright joy.  I love the photo I took in response to this prompt.  Pride crept in with joy around its edges.

Day 2 – Why can’t “leaf” be “leaves?”  Frustration sets in.  I take several photos, but am not satisfied with a single one.  Frustration is one of my mental habits.  I’m acutely aware “joy” has turned into “chore.”

Day 3 – I don’t resonate with “handwriting.”  I take and post a photo of a page in my journal.  Why?  To be a good girl, I suppose.



Day 4 – I already have the perfect picture that embodies “sweetness.”  I’m all joy and smiles again.

Day 5 – It was a busy day, but I found a “midday” moment to snap Hilo Bay during one of our occasional visits to the city.

Midday Hilo Bay

Midday Hilo Bay

Day 6 – I don’t connect with the prompt “I’m reading.”  How can you make a beautiful picture out of a book or even worse a digital device?  I see that beauty is important to me in photography.  I’m more inclined to photograph nature than anything else.

Day 7 –  Liberation.  I feel the ground “beneath my feet” and a return to my senses.

Beneath My Feet

Beneath My Feet

There are no rules to the August Break.  Anything goes.  So whatever emotions arise, they are mine and mine alone.

I know I don’t have to be a prisoner of my mind’s patterns or of these prompts either.

So I’ve decided I won’t follow prompts that leave me flat though they may be the perfect nudge for someone else. When frustration arises, I’ll put the camera down and have a good laugh at myself.  I’ll carry the camera around with me along with a few prompts in my head.  Then I’ll click when I feel inspired instead of trying to track down a prompt each time.

These are simple ways to give less energy to the nonsensical emotional patterns and leave more space for joy.

Naturally, I wanted to get back to that Day 1 sense of being in the moment, filled with joy.  And while I believe that everyone can have more joy if they pay attention to it, I also know the ordinary mind is fickle.  I won’t count on any emotional state as permanent or unchanging.  The greatest joy, I feel, comes from seeing all the ups and downs with humor instead of jumping on the thought train and embedding myself in the unreal.

I’ve been especially reflecting on joy since this quote appeared on my personal screen:

What if joy is the only metric for success? – Sarah Jones

I don’t expect to be joyful all the time.  But I wonder if joy could be my cue for what’s truly working for me?

I know I’ve lost the joy I felt creating beautiful image quotes and sharing them on Facebook once the corporate giant changed its algorithm and shows them to hardly anyone at all.  Whereas, I get a visceral hit of excitement each time I share my articles on LinkedIn and Medium, another new pursuit of mine.

I believe in higher values, something greater than an exclusively self-centered joy. Like if someone takes a bullet for someone else, do they stop to ask if it will bring them joy?  Still, I’m paying attention to see if and when joy interweaves itself seamlessly with my greater ideals.

What do you think about the relevance of joy?

P. S. I’m planning to take a break for part or all of August.  I’m not sure for how long. As soon as I decide to take a break, my creativity swells up like a tsunami.  Not sure I can contain it for too long.  We’ll see. In the meantime, if you’re new and like what you’ve read, check out the archive to read more.

Thank you for your presence.  If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others; this makes a big difference.  Thank you!  May you be well, happy, and safe – always.  Love, Sandra


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  1. Sandra, I constantly find joy in clicking photos. And you know what? It isn’t the camera that makes a great photo – it is the photographer. 🙂 Yours are fantastic and I loved the commentary. I’ve been enjoying some of these on Facebook and particularly liked the first one you posted – I have a thing for sunlight falling on leaves creating shadows.

    Enjoy your August break. Hugs! For me, joy is in every little thing through the day!

    • I’ve so enjoyed your photos over the years, Vidya. I feel like I’ve been on a personal tour of India and definitely of your city. Thanks for the encouragement. I think I’ve gotten over my initial hump and can move into click for the joy of it! The “morning light” photo is my favorite too. I love your commitment to joy in every little thing!

  2. i so understand this! i am doing august break, too. beauty and narrative are important to me in photography. i am giving myself permission to just shoot what i like as i like and it’s so much better than doing a linear approach to the prompt for me.

  3. I am missing this and it is a disappointment, but I’d rather not be in pain to do it. I also found many times the prompts were frustrating some days. But as I breathed into them, inspiration usually struck and I found I was outside my comfort zone and creating something completely different I had not seen before. I think this is what I loved the most about the prompts….stretching me. Always go with joy with photography….if it doesn’t feel right that’s OK, move on. Those phone cameras are amazing, and I think you are creating some wonderful shots!

    • I love hearing your experience, Donna. It’s good to know about the “stretch.” It’s almost always like that when we try something new, isn’t it? I don’t have to label it as “bad” or get too stuck in it. Thanks for your support and encouragement. Hope your shoulder heals well soon.

  4. Love the photos, especially the one with “sweetness” Awwww 🙂
    I am also going on an August break for 2 weeks, Sandra. I am hoping to hole up and clean and purge my house and tell everyone that I am off limits until break is over! If I need to, I will take the first week of September off, too. I love teaching but I am SO glad this is my last 2 classes coming up Mon and Tue night!!!
    Enjoy your break and each moment of joy that you experience! Much love <3

    • How wonderful, Jean! You so deserve this break. I’m sure you’ll enjoy teaching all the more for having taken it. Good luck with the purge. Thanks for your good wishes and much love to you too. See you in September!

  5. I love the way you support yourself Sandra. I love what Albert Einstein supposedly said about creativity…”Creativity is intelligence having fun.” And your experience sounds just like that, with a dash of spiritual discernment thrown in for good measure. 🙂

    • That’s such a great quote, Elle! Definitely what I’m moving toward. Thanks so much for that encouragement – it encapsulates it all in one phrase.

  6. I love your Sarah Jones quote. When pondering success, I always bring myself back to the question: Why do I do anything? The ultimate answer, if you go deep enough, is usually to be happy – to experience more joy. Sometimes experiencing more joy involves getting out of your comfort zone and doing uncomfortable things. In the end, that stretching has always helped me to experience the world a little differently and be a little happier.

    • It’s a really good question to ask, isn’t it, Paige! I’m glad you’ve found it so helpful and that asking it has helped you stretch at times too. I’m also getting out of some ruts, another form of comfort zone, and that feels good too. Thanks for your thoughts.

  7. I love the pictures, Sandra and your new passion. Also understand the frustrations with sharing online that can sometimes happen. Taking a break has always allowed me to reflect, regroup, and regain my energy and passion. Enjoy your time away. I hope you continue to share your beautiful photos!

    • I’m inspired to hear that your break helped you regain your energy and passion, Cathy. You bring so much goodness to the world via your online activity. Yes, it can be frustrating for me sometimes but I think you have the key, which is staying connected to our vision and passion. Thanks for your kind wishes. I’ll definitely be sharing more photos on Facebook and maybe here too.

  8. I love the thought of joy being the measure of success. I’m adopting it. Enjoy your break…and your picture taking!

  9. Suzie Cheel

    Have a wonderful break . looking forward to the creativity that flows from that tsanami. Also thank for sharing your experiences. I am taking note. Not a great feeling seeing your well planned work going into the ether. xxx

    • Thank you, Suzie! I will enjoy the break. At the moment, I’m feeling I need it more than ever. Much love to you.

  10. A picture is worth a thousand words 🙂 Love your pictures! So full of love and light.
    Take your break and recharge. And take some more pictures while you are taking that break.
    Much Love,

    • Thanks for your sweet words and encouragement, Zeenat! They mean so much to me. I spent half the day in the garden today, a great way to get a away!

  11. Beautiful images! I too am being particular about which challenge days I take part in. I’m not stressing over it; it is a “break” after all, right? I do want to challenge your idea that you can’t work with certain themes though; why can’t you take a beautiful image of handwriting or books out in nature? What if you shook up the theme a bit and shot chalk writing out on a sidewalk? Or maybe where someone chipped out their name or a heart in a tree or on a park bench? What about a picture of a cereal box, magazine, or newspaper out in nature? The daily themes don’t have to be the first thing you think of – they can be anything you can imagine. For example, it’s really hard to find a “real” unicorn, but maybe you associate unicorns with rainbows? You get the idea.

    I’m not trying to push you to do anything you don’t want to do, but rather I’m hoping my comment encourages you to look beyond the obvious. But maybe you already are? Either way, hope you enjoy the rest of August and August Break. I can hardly believe the month is almost over! It feels like it’s gone by way too fast! 🙂

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