Last Sunday, I watched the 2016 film Collateral Beauty. Essentially, it’s about how losing someone – or something – may transform your life (eg, death, divorce, health, time). It’s a beautiful movie despite its low IMDb rating of 6.8. Initially, the words “collateral beauty” felt misplaced. Its meaning sank in slowly. Like the movie actors, sorrow prevents seeing collateral beauty.
Actually, I delayed watching this film because of its storyline. I was afraid that the movie might hit me too hard. At times, I have difficulty again in seeing the collateral beauty of life. Grief, sadness and sorrow (my blogs) are overwhelming emotions. These feelings have their own particular way of sneaking back into our life.
I’ve lost a lot over the years. I’m not talking about material stuff as that can be replaced. In 2013, I thought, felt and believed that I had lost “everything” and gave up on life. Divine intervention made me reconsider and opened my eyes for noticing collateral beauty (eg, nature).
My transformation – or entropy – took about 18 months. I’ve lost my anger and accepted who I am. Previously, my identity was about what I was – and perhaps still am. Accepting myself didn’t make me a happier person but did increase my satisfaction. Perhaps, I am too empathic to be a happy person. Please see my 2017 blog The burden of empathy.
When I had “everything”, I was unhappy and dissatisfied. Today, I’m satisfied with what I have and do not have. Occasionally, my happiness increases or decreases but mostly, it’s neutral. “Well-being – or perhaps contentment – appears to be the (semi) permanent state-of-mind” (excerpt from my 2016 blog: The meaning of Life = living a meaningful life).
Some of my female friends blame my overthinking (my 2020 blog) for not being happier. The flip side of their argument is that happy people would be dumb. I noticed several sites exploring that notion: Forbes, hbr, howstuffworks, Quora. Often they refer to the (incomplete and misinterpreted) 1742 phrase by Thomas Gray: (where) ignorance is bliss, (it’s foolish to be wise).
I do not believe in the pursuit of happiness; also see part 2 and part 3 of my related blogs. Happiness is output (ie, an effect) rather than input (ie, a cause). The best you can achieve is optimising your personal satisfaction vs happiness curve (my blogs). Sometimes, you may reach a temporary point where completeness is added to the curve (my 2020 blog).
Collateral beauty is found in the smallest of moments. Taking time for appreciating and enjoying those moments, may bring (brief) feelings of happiness. Accumulating those moments may bring a (mental) state of happiness to some people. Not me as I’m probably overthinking the moment.
Watermelon Sugar (2020) by Harry Styles
Tastes like strawberries on a summer evenin’
And it sounds just like a song
I want more berries and that summer feelin’
It’s so wonderful and warm
Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.