Remember 'Cursed Images'? Well, believe it or not, the internet can offer the opposite too. And no, I'm not talking about those fake TikToks where influencers "donate" thousands of dollars to a "complete stranger." No, I'm referring to the subreddit r/BlessedImages.
As its name suggests, this online community is dedicated to wholesome pictures that spread the best vibes. From a dad losing it over an alpaca to a dog showing up at a uni class, it's like an online safe haven. So continue scrolling and get your smile on.
These pictures come as a nice break since the pandemic has been cheating us out of all the good times we live for—the weddings, the vacations, the graduations, even the concerts.
"It disrupted a lot of things that naturally make us happy," cognitive scientist Laurie Santos said.
But do we have the right to smile when the world is facing so many difficult challenges?
"We feel guilty because [we think] ... we don't deserve to be happy because there are people who are experiencing trauma or people going through these bad times" Santos explained. "I think that gets to some kind of misconceptions about how happiness works, that it's this like, zero-sum game." But it's not.
"Social scientists tend to find happiness in kind of two parts. So they tend to think of happiness as being happy in your life, and being happy with your life. So being happy in your life is having these moments of joy. Whether that's chatting with the barista at the coffee shop, paying attention to the beautiful fall leaves outside," Santos said.
"It's just these moments of true joy, positive emotion in your life. That's not to say that there's no negative emotion. It's just that if you have negative emotion, you want it kind of balanced with these moments of positivity. That's kind of being happy in your life."
But the scientist highlighted there's also the sense that happiness is about being happy with your life. Basically, it's the sense of meaning we have. It's the answer to the ultimate question: 'All things considered, how satisfied am I with my life right now?"
"It's worth noting that those two forms of happiness can dissociate," Santos said. "One of my deans had a baby recently, and I often use the example of her. Because I think in her life she's so happy, this new meaning that she has with this new bundle of joy. But with her life there's poopy diapers and less sleep and things like that, right?"
Santos thinks we all know someone who has the opposite dissociation, where they have all the worldly comforts possible in their life but are actually feeling really empty inside. So the trick of getting by is basically finding a way to bump up the both of these. Because if we do, we could be actually living a pretty happy life.
"We are not supposed to be purely happy right now. It would be a non-normative situation where your social connections are getting messed up," Santos said. "Your routines are getting messed up. Literally, people are dying. And to just be perfectly happy-go-lucky and not experience any negative emotion, that would be non-normative. It is the right thing to do right now to have your happiness be affected, to experience some negative emotions. The key, though, is kind of how you take care of yourself in the midst of that."
Ask yourself, do you beat yourself up over having these emotions and run away from them or do you find ways to allow them?
"This idea that, well, I'm not supposed to be happy ... it's for someone else, I'm doing something wrong. No, no, no, we're supposed to experience negative emotion, especially if you're in a situation of unemployment, or losing your job or something like that."
Santos thinks we sometimes forget that we're not necessarily supposed to be happy all the time. In fact, every now and then negative emotions are important. They can be useful. "The analogy I often use with my students is with physical pain. If you stick your hand on a hot oven, that's going to be painful. That feeling is telling you you need to do something. It's telling you you need to pull your hand away ... I think the sadness, the frustration, the anxiety we're all experiencing, it's telling you you have certain needs that aren't being met in the context of the pandemic."
But that doesn't mean that we must suffer all the time. That would just be pointless. So I hope this list and all of the blessed images in it will serve as a reminder that there's nothing wrong with feeling good.