Smile Your Way To Happiness And Success

A group of King penguins make their way up on to the relative shelter of a beach on South Georgia Island.

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away I started a wedding/portrait studio in my hometown, Hamilton.

It was 1984 and, despite 5 years in retail, playing in bands and doing a lot of weddings as a side business, I was a shy 22 year old.

To help manage the situation I made sure that I put on a smile whenever I walked along the town's main street.

It made me happy, because walking the walk can make a positive difference to how you feel about your life, and resulted in interest from folks passing by.

People often stopped me and commented on how happy I looked and that I must have a great job and be doing well.

Rockhopper penguin making its way, over rocky ground, after returning from the sea in the Falkland Islands.

Smile And The World Smiles Back

It's amazing how your body language, mood and confidence changes when you smile.

It's worth cultivating such habits as they have an effect on your state of mind and how other folks perceive you.

I’d go as far as saying that such outward physical projection can even shape your world view.

A duckling on the edge of a pond in rural Bali, Indonesia.

Emerging From The Darkness Into The Light

I'm not saying that smiling, on its own, will make you or I a significantly better person. On some level though it will make a positive difference. However, it's only a beginning.

An authentic, meaning rich and purpose driven life is what we should strive for.

Conversely, a contrived, insincere, surface level facade will, soon enough, be seen for what it is.

I’m talking about taking simple action that will allow the person you really are to emerge out into the world. And that person, childlike and unafraid, will be loved by all.

Lone Penguin, Cuverville Island, Antarctica

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Exploring The Concept Of Money And Success 

It's also amazing how success comes to those who are happy and content.

How many times have I read or heard successful people saying that their motivation becomes no longer about chasing the dollar and that money and opportunity comes as a consequence of not desiring it?

It’s a tricky concept, and hard to accept when you’re on struggle street. I suspect it’s all to do with how we name things.

Names have power and the name we give something affects the way we respond to it.
— Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

Rather than chasing money, we’re better to be working consistently towards financial security.

That's because money is so often associated with greed, while financial security speaks to us of safety and freedom.

A hungry King penguin chick, eagerly waiting for a parent to come and feed it, on South Georgia Island.

The Promise To The Employee Is Broken

I grew up with the concept that money needed to be earned and saved for a rainy day. I was also led to believe that the harder you worked the more you would be rewarded.

From my experience I'd say that, for the most part, that has not been true.

Things may well change for the clever, strategically and politically motivated employe, but that’s a different head space and, therefore, a different reality entirely.

Making a conscious effort to smile was good for me, both spiritually and emotionally. As a consequence it was also good for business. I kid you not.

After all, who wouldn’t want to work with or associate themselves with happy people.

Is It Time You Changed Who You Are?

However, despite the belief I have in what it is I'm saying, I'm no shinning example of how to live a well balanced life.

Recently I began to wonder why, many years after I'd moved from the country to the big smoke, things had changed for me.

My shyness had reasserted itself and I found myself happy to disappear back into the crowd, from where folks always seemed to find a way to bump into me or block my path when I was in a hurry getting to a photography class I was scheduled to run in the city.

Now folks I interact with wouldn't consider me shy. I'm in control in the classroom or when running a photography tour. That's because I'm there to help people and there's no time for a negative mindset. 

I'm also really interested in the lives of others, so I'm happy to engage with strangers whenever I can.

I believe in what I do and consider why I do it to be very important. It's my mission in life. But, when you place so much attention on others, you can forget about looking after yourself along the way.

Meanwhile the clock ticks and the sands run through the hourglass.

If you're a parent I suspect you'd understand exactly what I mean. 

Test Your Theories With Practical Action

Recently I conducted an experiment, on three separate occasions.

I’m not at all happy with the way I look. I’ve become seriously overweight, I’m short (though that doesn’t bother me, it’s just a statement of fact) and I don’t dress to impress. I can change two of these things, but not overnight.

I decided this experiment needed to start with the concept of paying more respect to myself.

I wore my best shirt and jacket to three single session, short courses I was running in the city over a period of a week or so. I made sure I was particularly early for work and walked through the city more slowly, in a calm and more confident manner.

I made sure I straightened my back, which lifted my rib cage and lungs, and held my head up while I walked.

Glenn Guy, the Travel Photography Guru, on the tourist train with two local ladies in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Improve Your Life By First Respecting Yourself

It was like I’d slipped into another dimension and, suddenly, I was like Moses parting the Red Sea. Folks moved out of my way so as not to impede my progress.

They also looked right at me. I checked to see if I’d left the front door agape. No, it was something else.

This is an example of how we make our own reality. Positiveness is infective and it’s our choice to present ourselves to the world in a way that attracts or repels.

Of course it’s easier to be negative, which explains why most folks are. As a consequence they remain hidden from the world around them. What a loss!

What’s your view?

  • Do you think any of this makes sense and may even reflect your own circumstances?

  • How can you employ these simple techniques to break away from negativity and lethargy to improve your photography, your interactions with people and, as a result, your life?

Over the years there's one simple technique I find that calms my mind, lifts my spirit and energizes my body.

I get myself into the habit of taking a walk, in the sunlight, on a daily basis. I now know I'II get myself into trouble when I break that habit.

King Penguin chicks, covered in fur, make for a dramatic image against a beautiful, blue sky on a summer's day on South Georgia Island.

Your Future Is Determined By What You Do Today

One of the great things about travel is that I find myself spending most of the day out and about, in the light, meeting people and making photos. You can see why it's so important to me.

As I conclude this post it's now around 7:00am in my neck of the woods. The sun is up and kissing the Melbourne city skyline with beautiful, warm light. As I look out my window I can see hot air balloons floating above.

I think I'II take a walk knowing that, by doing so, I've started the day with a sense of personal empowerment. That can only help shape what I make of what happens to me, both today and tomorrow.

I also know that by starting the day in such a positive, life affirming way I'II be better equipped to guide other people towards a more creative, purpose driven life through the beauty of photography.   

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru