Close this search box.

Why Primals Matter


SOUL SECRETS by Michael Alfano
Selected From Primals Photo Competition
“Make visible what, without you, you might have never have been.” Robert Bresson

In September we announced our first photography competition in collaboration with Jer Clifton at the University of Pennsylvania. Jer’s work is on “Primals”: the basic beliefs we hold about the world and their relationship to well-being.

The primal we chose to focus (literally) on is the belief that ‘the world needs me’. Why did we choose this primal in particular? Well, it turns out that believing the world needs you is pretty important for well-being.

People who believe that they have something to get up for everyday and that they matter to someone or something possess higher well-being. Mattering means you belong and you feel valued – you are heard, appreciated, cared for and in turn this helps you to feel capable, important, and trusted. 

Mattering has two fundamental components: you feel valued and you add value. 

When you believe you feel valued and add value, you gain higher well-being and less depression. If you feel confident and believe in your ability to achieve your goals, then there is a strong chance that you embody what it means to matter.

Gail Cornwall’s article “Want to Believe in Yourself? ‘Mattering’ Is Key.” from The New York Times (linked below) has a few suggestions on not just to increasing our own sense of value, but also that of others. It suggests identifying your own strengths and assessing if you are well “used”. Can you do more of what you are good at? Can you change the situation if you feel undervalued? For instance, feeling undervalued leads to burnout at work or at home.

There is more you can do: tell people how much you appreciate them and how much their contributions matter. Maybe this is why gratitude is so important – it tells the other person that what they do matters. As the old saying goes, the hostess just would like a thank you!

Here at SeeingHappy we have asked you to take photos of how you matter for our competition. You don’t need to enter this competition to find benefit in this exercise – try for yourself. The following are a few more ideas if you are stuck thinking how you would go about taking such a photo:

1.Photograph your hands holding an object that represents your unique contribution to the world.

2.Photograph your reflection in a body of water, symbolizing your connection to the world.

3.Photograph your artwork, music, writing, or other creative work.

4.Photograph people whose lives you have made better or a community affected positively by your actions.

5.Photograph a picture of a problem you are passionate about solving.

You still have until December 15th, 2023 if you choose to submit your photo!

Lastly, we will no longer be accepting selfies which have no element of creative reflection across the site.

The Team at SeeingHappy



The team here at SeeingHappy are all photographers who enjoy the process of creating memorable photos. We are a mix of educators striving to share their knowledge and psychologists dedicated to increasing happiness in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


Seeing Happy Outside the Box


SeeingHapppy @ Imperial College London


A (FREE) Visual Feast

Scroll to Top