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By Peter Dench

The world has been turned on its head. At times it feels more toxic. In this era of confinement, there are more ways to connect and share than ever before but with increased access to good news, there’s also an intravenous highway of bad. I’m not depressed but I feel a lot less happy, the flames of joy burn a little less bright.

My film-maker friend is depressed and has been for a while for a number of reasons: loved ones falling ill, career troubles, the isolation that freelancers often experience. Coronavirus could be a tipping point for many.

The not so happy snapper needs help and me, and hopefully, you, have something to offer. They are looking to pull themselves out of it, to find a new interest. Perhaps witnessing other people being happy and doing inspiring things could be a way for them to glean some happiness of their own, to be inspired and eventually ease their depression? Using photography as therapy isn’t an original concept (very few are) but that shouldn’t stop us finding a way to make a positive contribution.

This is the seed from which capturehappiness.org has germinated. Nothing revolutionary but never more relevant. Mental health is one of society’s big issues. Photography has never been more popular or accessible. The need to share the happier moments of our lives has never been greater. More and more people are coming forward to say they are struggling with depression. This is sad but reassuring that people can share their troubles knowing they’re not alone.

Capture Happiness hopes to build a community that encourages people to focus on the positives in life through the lens of a camera. A movement that motivates people to take photos as a valuable process in itself, whatever the end result. The community utilises photography, film and personal experiences to share perspectives and problems in the search for peace of mind and contentment. It concentrates on the lives around us and to take on this period of introversion.

What I contribute, is to showcase some of my own photography that reflects happiness, set photo-challenges and also guide others to get started on their photographic journey. The team also includes an applied positive psychology and leadership trainer and researcher. They offer practical tips and daily habits to promote positive mental health.

Capture Happiness is a lovely phrase, one you can carry in your head when searching for pictures. A focus for the lens, motivation for the mind and a reason for being. It uses the camera for what I believe is its higher strength, to turn it away from us and document the life we’re currently living. The world needs an antidote to the spiralling feeling of despair. It needs more pictures and stories of happiness. There will be moments of happiness over the next few months, perhaps more than expected. You must already have an archive of happy-snaps to share from when we were free to roam. We can help each other through these challenging times and hopefully, begin to turn our collective frown upside down?

If you’d like to get involved, simply capture your happiness in a photo and share on Facebook. Post your photo on your Instagram profile, tagging @capturehappinessnow and use the hashtag #CaptureHappinessNow. Send in your photos and stories to smile@capturehappiness.org – No trolls, haters, politics or partisanship. Keep it HAPPY 🙂

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