When we scroll through social media and see all the pretty pictures and smiling faces, it’s natural to think, “why can’t we have fun like that?” It’s normal to question and feel like your life seems lackluster in comparison. Are their lives better than ours? What’s their secret?

Social media is a highlight reel. It showcases the rosy (and Photoshopped) side of life. You can’t compare your reality to a curated one. Plus, the photos may look even better if the person is creative, and has great photography and editing skills. Don’t feel disappointed when looking at your quick “point-and-shoot” photos taken by your iPhone with the cracked screen.  Keep in mind that you actually don’t know the whole picture of that very picture.  Maybe they spent hours scouting the location, planning the outfits, preparing hair and make-up.  They took hundreds of shots in different poses with a high quality camera.  Their photographer was not your fed-up husband or 5 year old with fingers covered in chocolate ice cream!  Maybe they spent hours after editing the photos, removing the background people, fixing the lighting and imperfections.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but you don’t know if there were a thousand steps and edits accompanying it too.What’s important is capturing authentic moments that are special to YOU.  If you fill your social media feed with pictures that make you smile it will be more meaningful.  What brings you joy?  Find it, capture it and share it.  It doesn’t matter if it gets zero likes.  Unless you plan on being a professional blogger or influencer, the only person that needs to like the photo is YOU.  When you fill your feed with moments that resonate with you, joy will naturally fill your heart as you scroll through.

Not a strategy for building followers but if you’re looking to add more personal joy to your social media, here are some helpful tips:

If It Makes You Happy

Ask yourself that question.  If the answer is yes, take a picture and post it.  Every time you see it on your feed, it will spark a special memory and smile.  Sure, maybe you’ll be the only person who ever gets the meaning behind the photo but the last time you checked, isn’t this YOUR social media account?  Do you post for others or for yourself?  Do you live your life for others or for you?  Do you need other people’s affirmations to be happy, or will you be confident in knowing what makes you happy?  Social media has increased the need for validation from others.  Too many of us are consumed by the “like” that we sometimes prioritize it over what we truly like.  Don’t change “you” to suit an audience.

So if you’re excited that your wilted plant is making a comeback, take that pic. It will remind you there’s always hope, even in the most dismal situations.  Oddly love carwashes?  Sure, share a pic of the soapy suds.  It will remind you to enjoy the simple pleasures as random as they may be.  Fill your feed with joy and the feeling will come to you. The only “like” that truly matters is the one you give yourself.

Authentic Moments

It would be great to be on vacation all the time, share pictures from exotic locations. This is not reality for the majority of us, unless you are a travel blogger, billionaire jetsetter or travel for work.  Yes, it’s hard to find Insta-worthiness from an office cubicle. Margaritas on the beach vs. coffee on a pile of reports? Definitely not as exciting.  So without the backdrop of picturesque scenery, train your eye to spot the special moments as they happen.  If you feel a smile slowly spread across your face, that’s the best clue.  Snap a photo.  In fact, snap a few pictures as you may capture even more beauty as the moment unfolds.  Many of my favourite pictures are those of my kids with their backs to the camera.  They are not posing, in fact they are walking away, oblivious that their stalker mom is taking another photo.  It makes me happy to see a bonding moment, them laughing together.  Although no one is looking, I love these pictures more than our posed camera-ready smiles shots.  An authentic moment captured means joy was captured.

Pic: Pinterest

Colour Your World

Colour psychology is the study of how different hues affect human behaviour.  It’s a known fact that colours can affect your emotions.  Those Instagram feeds with the tone-on-tone coloured pictures appear more sophisticated, while pastel ones feel fun and playful.  Influencers spend a lot of time to perfect their image, ensuring they have the ideal colour scheme to match the tone of their personal brand.  It’s a true art and why we’re drawn to so many of these accounts.  They are designed to appeal to you.

I’d love to have a tone-on-tone feed.  Love how it looks.  However, my life is full of colour.  There is so much I’d have to edit out to match any colour theme.  My reality is full of colourful people and experiences that never fit any Insta-flow.  And I’m not an influencer, social media is not my career, it’s a hobby and joyful distraction. There is no need to stress over the aesthetic of my feed so I’ve embraced the colour scheme of “no scheme at all”.  What I do instead is make sure the pics best reflect the moment.  Is there a theme called, “bright & happy”?  If so, that’s what my theme is.  Sometimes this means I have to bump up the colours, brighten the picture, play with contrast, shadows and clarity.  It may not be the perfectly curated shot done by professionals, but it’s the best shot done by yours truly.  Apply what works for you!

pic: Pinterest

Follow Your Own Rules

So this certainly won’t gain you any followers.  Proper social media etiquette calls for all sorts of rules about when and how to post.  Understanding the do’s and don’ts can create anxiety, a far call from anything joyful.  If your goal is to gain followers and momentum on social media then yes, you have to abide by the rules.  If you’re using for personal enjoyment then ENJOY it.  Don’t stress out by what you should and shouldn’t do.  Too many posts in one day?  There is NO Instagram police who will give you a ticket for exceeding your daily limit.  Inconsistent or late posts?  Newsflash: no one is holding their breath waiting for your post.  They will survive.  There is no deadline.  And even if someone points out that you’re 2 months late on your Halloween post, ask yourself why can’t Santa and the Great Pumpkin be friends?  Worst case scenario: people unfollow you.  Nobody ever died from losing followers.  You’ll be fine.  In an ideal world our lives would flow seamlessly together both online and offline.  That’s not reality.  Don’t lose the joy of social media by stressing over the rules.  Make your own and make it work for you.

pic: Pinterest

Know Your Limits

Last but not least, remember you’re in control. If something triggers a negative feeling, click unfollow.  I get it, sometimes we can’t simply unfollow because that would open a whole can of worms.  Maybe that person is a friend, or someone tied to your work… in that case, mute them.  You can mute their posts, their stories or both.  Doesn’t mean you hate them, just sometimes we are not in the mood to see certain people.  Maybe they don’t currently align with you and you don’t need them popping up on your screen. Or sometimes you just need a little peace.  Muting allows you to check in with them at your preference.  No harm done. 

Also, knowing your limits means setting up parameters so you don’t fall into the endless scroll.  Set a time limit, or go on purposely to check on your friends but then check out before you get lost in everything else.  I also sometimes commit to a “number of scrolls” strategy.  If I decide this is a 5 scroll break, then I only allow myself to scroll up 5 times. Whatever I see in those 5 scrolls is all I’ll permit for this mini break, then it’s back to offline.  Sure, I miss out on seeing many things, but it’s also important that I don’t miss out on real life and getting things done.  Social media is addictive and it’s easy to get sucked in.  For me that’s bunny videos.  They bring me joy but it may take a stressful turn when I’ve spent more time than anticipated looking at little cottontails.  Know your limits and honour them.

Pic: QuotesGram

On the professional front, I advise clients of the social media rules and dutifully apply them to business projects we work on.  For my own personal use, all this goes out the window.  That’s why I smile whenever I’m scrolling.  I see people that I adore and inspire me.  My own feed is full of my favourite faces, places and random joyful moments.  My screen lights up with reminders of the blessings in my life.  So I may post late, be guilty of a handful of IG offenses and no one cares about my ten thousand flower pics, but I’ve found a way to make social media a joyful escape for me.  And that’s how it should be.  Make it work for YOU.  Tell it how you wish, in your voice, in a manner that’s authentic to YOU!