How extraordinary happens

I have learnt that sometimes the extraordinary takes place when specific conditions occur all at once: personal growth fueled by great adversity, a selfless desire to help others, there is a need or several needs to be met and there are no expectations. I would like to describe one of the times when the extraordinary took place: it has to do with a small Facebook group called “PicturePositive” and its role in bringing much needed positivity to people’s lives across the world in an era laden with uncertainty.

A journey towards humanity

It all began when through the hell of addiction, I felt I had grown as a person and thus, I sought a sense of purpose. I found the latter in the desire to help others. I understood that photography could be the ideal vehicle for helping me fulfill this sense of purpose after a stranger suffering from cancer told me that some of the amateur pictures I was taking of positive moments such as beautiful vistas, gave her joy. This was a lightbulb moment as I surmised that a small gesture such as sharing pictures of positive moments could help humanity: PicturePositive, a Facebook group dedicated to people sharing pictures of moments of positivity with others with the intention to help fellow humans feel the joy they themselves were feeling, was born.

The moments of positivity shared though pictures accompanied by text range from humourous to inspirational to touching: the wonder of seeing a sunrise over the Indian Ocean, the legitimate pride of having a spouse as a frontline worker during the Pandemic, the awe at sights of swans eating cranberries on a lake or how to stay healthy while confined.

The group drew the interest of media in Ottawa where I lived and quickly what started with 40 members mostly in Ottawa grew to 1600 across the world. There were no expectations that stifled the group’s growth, only hope and purpose to fuel its expansion.

A haven during uncertainty

Many of the members later said they joined the group because they felt a need for positivity in their lives. However, the Pandemic intensified this need exponentially due to heightened uncertainty. From this uncertainty, touching examples of human compassion, hope and unity arose through PicturePositive:

  • After I had a terrible accident in Ottawa that left me badly hurt, the members of PicturePositive rallied from across the world. People came from places as far as Texas to come and help me. The love I received from strangers amazed me.
  • Kate (Canada) was not able to visit her dying father because of the Pandemic and she finds comfort and support within PicturePositive, much like within a haven, that help her better cope with the isolation and grief.
  • Pam (Canada) recounts that in a time where traveling is difficult, being able to connect with people from other countries has helped her feel that her own world is still very much alive.
  • Carol Ann (Canada) knew great tragedy and loss this year. Given this and the state of the world presently, she finds joy in posting happy or funny things and seeing striking pictures from across the world.
  • Marcio (Brazil) likens the group to his happiness “fix” during the Pandemic.
  • Norma (USA) feels that the posts give her hope during the Pandemic with members reminding each other that this will pass and of lessons learnt which help her remain optimistic.
  • Mary Jennifer (Canada) finds that the habit of posting positive pictures powerfully counters the impact on mental health of omnipresent negative media information.
  • People have said that the group helped them to overcome or relieve depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal thoughts through the positivity and feeling of connectedness in this haven.
  • People have made solid friendships that span the globe. As well, they are able to share their experiences and support each other during this time which diminishes isolation. This is especially important for people living on their own.
  • The community has become a place of learning and promotes tolerance through sharing of stories told through pictures be it of resilience, compassion, or of other cultures.

Extraordinary takes place

Overall, what I find especially touching with PicturePositive is that people consciously set aside any differing beliefs (including political and ideological ones) to spread their joy to other human beings so as to brighten their day. If the whole of humanity did this, the world would be a better place.

Personally, this adventure taught me that we are all on the same team fundamentally and we all need each other like any successful team. I also learnt that feeling connected to others, even strangers, is a powerful antidote against loneliness and an anchor in a world seemingly gone awry. Above all else, I saw that the power of compassion and positivity can transcend any man-made barrier and shine light on the darkest moments in the darkest of times.

While the people on PicturePositive accept this period as uncertain, they also know they can make it positively so for them and others. Within this “positively uncertain” mindset lies the most extraordinary thing of all: hope.

Kevin Chitamun created “PicturePositive“, a global Facebook group dedicated to capturing moments of positivity in photography and sharing them so as to help people who may need hope and to show them that life is worth it. Kevin learnt through life experiences and through PicturePositive that kindness and positivity can change the world and now he tries to spread them everywhere he goes.




Image courtesy of John Schnobrich.