I love changing the desktop background on my laptop. Every few weeks I right click on the screen and look for a new photo that matches my mood. They almost always come from the arsenal of digital photos that live in my cloud. This is a Baobab tree in South Africa that can’t get enough of the world it inhabits. I didn’t know the concept when I took this picture, but it would definitely live in my gratitude album today.
It’s really a simple idea that I read about in a Times ten-day challenge to learn new habits for mindful living. It is day eight. Some of the other techniques are equally fascinating like the five-finger breathing meditation and the exercise snack. (Instead of reaching for a cookie, reach for the wall and do a set of wall push-ups.) Then have the cookie, just kidding (about the cookie not the push-up).
Here’s my take on gratitude photography and why it works for me. I carry my phone with me almost everywhere I go – my note-taker, calendar, teacher, shopping cart, and a window to the world. But for this: my easy access camera.
Gratitude photography suggests that we notice the things and people around us we often take for granted. Gratitude photography invites you to be surprised by the world you live in. I’ve begun doing it on my morning walk. The very act of observing the mushroom growing out of the gravel; the fire hydrant on the edge of the lake; the minivan on its final journey that gave 16 years of service; the smile on someone you love; the green that is like no other green of the moss after it rains.
They call it savoring; making an effort to notice our surroundings and appreciate the people, things and relationships that make us happy. I don’t know if it is a game changer but according to the article scientists say that savoring exercises “can lead to meaningful gains in happiness and well-being.” I’ll go with that. So, I am trying it. One a day if possible. I don’t think it has to be the most well crafted photograph. It invites you to notice, appreciate and be grateful. It is one of the pathways to joy. Here’s two.