Grand Canyon sunset | James Brandon

Money, Happiness and Doing What You Love | The Endless Delusion

In Blog by JamesB31 Comments

Six years ago today I was sitting at a desk working at Bank of America as a personal banker and loan officer. It was a means to an end, nothing more; the pursuit of a paycheck by any means necessary. I was dead inside. I always felt bad about hating it because I would always remind myself of how fortunate I was to have this white collar job, selling everything from free savings accounts to multi million dollar homes. People think that if you’re making money, you are blessed.

I’m here to tell you that mindset is bull crap.

Why haven’t we ever learned this and moved on? Why is the pursuit of happiness so synonymous with the pursuit of wealth? Every single day I turn on the news and hear about some celebrity who committed suicide, ended up in rehab, got a divorce or ended up in prison because of a DWI. These are the people that seemingly have it all; endless wealth, mansions, italian sport cars, closets full of designer clothes, butlers, private jets, private islands, yachts…the entire world at their fingertips. They are undoubtedly also doing what they love, whether that be acting, singing or being paid tens of millions of dollars to play a sport. So why are they all so damn unhappy?

Get ready because I’m about to lose some followers. That’s ok. There are three things that I believe contribute to true and lasting happiness. Here they are…

A Strong Family Life

Four Generations | James Brandon

Four generations in one photo. My wife, her grandfather, her father and our son 🙂

A while back I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Happiness.” It discussed a survey that found that the average American is no more happy than a person living in the slums of Bombay, India. This should be an absolutely shocking revelation fore most people. How can this be? Well, like I said before; wealth, fame, endless riches…all of that means literally nothing if you’re dead inside and alone. The reason that people in the slums are at the same level of happiness is because (despite their current conditions) they all for the most part have large and close knit families. Strong families support each other, they love each other, they keep each other humble and they are always there for each other in times of need. That trumps everything else that you can gain from being rich and having things.

The Decision To Be Happy

Super Cell Near Ardmore, Oklahoma

Storms make me happy 🙂

The pursuit of happiness is foolish. It’s an ever-moving target if you think about it as something you must go out and find. Happiness starts with a decision to be happy. That’s it. If you are reading this sentence then it is almost guaranteed that you have a computer. That also means that you have a roof over your head. You most likely eat three meals a day (at least) and have a way to get from point A to point B when needed. You also probably have family members who love you, regardless of your current relationship with them. All of that put together means that you are literally amongst the wealthiest people on this planet. When you can truly put all of that into perspective, you’d be a fool not to be happy.

Keeping up with the Jones’s is a fools errand. Stop spending money you don’t have to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t even like. You know what I’ve discovered in my brief time here on Earth? It’s this: nobody gives a crap what kind of car you drive, how big your house is or how much money or influence you have. Going broke in order to impress other people is one of the most backwards-thinking ideologies in existence. Once you’ve “impressed” someone, now what? What did you accomplish? Well, here’s what you accomplished: You made that person feel inferior. Good job.

A True Relationship With God

Balanced Rock Sunset | Arches National Park

Sunsets like this one are enough to make me believe.

This is obviously going to be the controversial item of the bunch but I don’t really understand why; most polls show that 90% of Americans believe in a god. Here’s the thing though: Believing in a god or “being a Christian” doesn’t equal having a relationship with God. Going to church doesn’t mean you have a relationship with God. There are people within the church, people in church leadership…who are just as miserable as the celebrities I mentioned earlier. Again, being a Christian and believing in God doesn’t make you any happier or better off than anyone else. When you actually accept Christ into your heart and start seeing the world through His eyes and start knowing Him; you begin to realize that you are never alone and therefore never lonely. You’re self worth is no longer tied up in the people you know, the number of zeroes on your checks, or the size of your house.

For those who have been hurt by Christians I would say this: How a person treats you has nothing to do with the God they claim to represent. A hypocritical church or a hypocritical church leader doesn’t equal a hypocritical God. People are capable of terrible things, we all know that. People have done horrific things in the name of faith but that’s because the people doing those things are horrific people and have twisted views on just about everything. The crusaders and Mother Theresa all believed in the same God. The difference was not the God they served. The crusaders were evil people with twisted minds and Mother Theresa was a good and righteous person. That’s it. There is so much more to it than that but I assume that you’re either going to be with me or against on this. If you want to discuss it further, feel free message me.


In the beginning of this post I mentioned my time as a banker and how I was dead inside. I left that job in the pursuit of happiness and became a photographer. Years later I found myself shooting weddings and everything else you could think of. I was no more happy than I was at the bank. Now I’ve all but stopped taking clients and am focusing on what I truly love; capturing the beauty of this world and teaching others how to do the same. That certainly helps with the whole happiness thing (doing what I truly love to do) but it fades in comparison to the three things on that list above.

I’m fully aware that some people will see the last point on that list and get upset. I certainly don’t claim to know everything and I absolutely don’t claim to have all the answers. But what good I have found in my life, I want to share it. It’s up to you whether or not you will receive it.

This photo also makes me happy, and that’s why I used it for this post 🙂

  • Picture…YES…Mountains…Light…Graphics…Colors…) + ATMOSPHERE…COMPOSITION…

  • amazing photo, but I am touched by your words, so real… and I'm glad that you do what you really love and that you are happy. Regards 🙂

  • I don't agree with the fantasy stuff, but it's difficult to disagree with the basic premise, here.

  • I don't find this post controversial at all. Of course this is my view point. I'm guilty of one thing mentioned here. (won't reveal what it is) The one thing that I truly admire you and all those that have made the proverbial plunge, is your courage. Fear holds me back in many ways. I'll end with that. Thank God for you +James Brandon You have been an inspiration, the moment I came across your work, more than a year ago. Still consider myself relatively new to G+ and social networking. Still no FB or Twitter for me. Heheh

  • I'm with +Jeff Preston on this one +James Brandon. Your story has a few holes in it; serious ones even. But the base premise is of course quite correct (and well known, really; it is the stuff of many Personal Improvement manuals, as well as the black sheep of the family ones – Self~Help).

    Can't see any reason for your to lose followers over your message, either. At least, not any followers you'd like to have, say I. And pretty cool photograph, too 😉

  • 🙂

  • Thanks everyone! 

    I know that any time I write something (regardless of the topic) there will be those who disagree with me. That is fine! I'm simply sharing what I've found. 

    +Leroy Javois thanks buddy! It's been a pleasure getting to know you and working with you in the Arcanum 🙂

  • Well said!

  •  Just when I thought I couldn't appreciate your photography anymore… Thanks for sharing this Brandon!

  • Totally agree with what you've put into words. And I agree with +Leroy Javois, I don't find this controversial. 

    Love seeing your photos.  Been a follower of yours for about a year now and will continue to follow your work and success.

  • Wonderfully stated! 🙂

  • With you 100% on this one +James Brandon. Thanks for sharing mate!

  • Esther Bartels

    Just recently came across your website. I appreciate what you have stated in this post. It is not always easy to share one’s faith when you know their are those who will disagree. Glad you shared this. It is a reminder of the truly important things in life.

  • wow

  • To view all the other day and night and day out of my life and death of passengers and their

  • Please let me know what you are a few of your choice but it is not only a small business owners and

  • Wythe the same computer doesn't appear to visit not know what to

  • Love it +James Brandon!  So true!  Thanks for being an inspiration and role model in all that you do!

  • Agree with most of what you write, but have to say that the imaginary friend bit is not for me. Sorry. I'm with the late Christopher Hitchens on this subject. And I'm happy!

  • wonderful

  • You should make friends with Trey Ratcliff. Nice shots. Too bad google reckons plus is dead.

  • +Mike Ramsay you are free to disagree with me on any topic, but why include an insult along with it? I haven't insulted you in any way so I don't see why it's necessary? We are all free to believe what we want. I have put my faith in God and you have put your faith in believing there isn't one. 

  • +Ashley Black thanks so much! 

  • +James Brandon, sorry that you take offence but I don't think anything I've written can be interpreted as a personal insult to you, and it was not intended as such.

  • +Mike Ramsay, it was when you referred to God as my imaginary friend. If you can't see how that would be interpreted as being offensive…well…I suppose we'll just leave at that. Not mad, just don't see why it was necessary. 

  • And look, the last thing I want to do is turn this post into an argument. So let's just agree to disagree and move on 🙂 

  • James Brandon, I wish I had your perspective. I've struggled a ton with my life, and photography. I question God and His or Her existence, and I grasp for straws most of the time recently after losing my brother. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but this post is hard to receive fully how I believe you may have intended it, but I'll try all I can. It's a beautiful image, and the message was heartfelt and very profound. It's got me contemplating a lot right now. Thanks for that. Hugz. And best regards man.

    • Thanks for that heartfelt response Eddie. Life is tough at times for all of us. I have lost loved ones as well but can’t imagine what you’re going through with the loss of your brother. My prayers are with you and your family! I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without my faith. It keeps me grounded no matter what happens.

      At the risk of sounding extremely cliche, I think Rocky said it best in the latest movie, “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” Here’s the link to the clip –

  • Craig Brandon


  • Cheers C.S.!