With SeeingHappy, Mandy Seligman aims to blend photography and positive psychology.
Mandy Seligman G’86 wanted to get out of the house. But not too far. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the photographer focused on slowing down and paying attention to details whose closeness to home made them easy to overlook.
Finding satisfaction and gratitude in quotidian moments is the theme of her new project, SeeingHappy (seeinghappy.org), an open forum that filters photography through the lens of positive psychology.
“Positive psychology has a number of exercises shown to increase well-being,” she says. “I discovered that if I generally followed that path I was much happier. I took photos of moments that touched me.” Whether it was her daughter Jenny playing the flute (above) or strangers lined up on a bridge anticipating fireworks, Seligman zoomed in on happy moments.
SeeingHappy started out as a Facebook page before morphing into a standalone website that welcomes contributions from all comers.
It’s a decidedly democratic collection. “My mom is 87 and almost blind,” Seligman says, allowing that crisp focus is not the strong suit of her mother’s contributions. “But they’re the things that bring her joy.”
“To be able to go out and see things in a different way,” Seligman adds, “and notice what’s really beautiful—whether it’s a child, or a connection between somebody, or some kindness I see—just anything that feels good … that to me is just a little piece of hope that the world is not as bad as I think it is.”