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Get Back on The Happy Train with Gratitude Photography

You know when you have those moments where you just seem like you are in a funk and can’t escape your own personal misery? Maybe a life event caused your happy train to derail, or maybe you have no clue what triggered your blues.

I am currently in a funk and I need a little kick in the ass to start making some changes in my attitude. I am generally a positive person that approaches most situations with realistic optimism, but every once in a while I get caught up in a pity party and just focus on all the things causing stress in my life.

I’m in one of those ruts where I feel stagnant, bored, and overall BLAH.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am in a funk, but I definitely want to pull myself out of it.

“Happiness (or unfunkness, as Josie Santi likes to call it) is not a circumstance or a reaction to the environment; it’s a skill. A bad day (or week, or month) is only bad if you decide to stay in that state of mind.”

I’ve read enough blogs, social media posts, and self-development books that I can rattle off strategies suggested by experts to create distractions in my thought process and promote self-care:

  • Connect with friends or join a new meet up group

  • Spend time doing a hobby

  • Eat well and get plenty of rest

  • Get outside in nature

  • Visualize a happy place

  • Read a book

  • Plan a trip

  • Pamper yourself

  • Listen to music

  • Redecorate or clean

  • Work on solving some life problems that might be causing stress

  • Adopt an animal

  • Meditate

While those are great options, I’m not really feeling any of them. I just keep thinking, “been there and done that.” I need a mindfulness activity that is new for me and one I haven’t explored. So here I am…

I am going to jump on the gratitude train.

Numerous studies show the connection between gratitude and wellbeing and for the last five years, a major trend has emerged. We are surrounded by a culture of positive thinking.

Just spend 15 minutes in any retail store or public place and count all the t-shirts, mugs, notebooks, jewelry, and wall art with words or quotes expressing positivity or gratitude.

Spend 10 minutes on Instagram and you will find billions of pictures with #blessed, #grateful, #lifeisbeautiful.

Spend 5 minutes on TikTok and you will find interesting people sharing small and parts of daily behavior and life that usually go unnoticed but is so unique and wonderful when we stop to notice them.

Gratitude is more than just saying, “thank you” and it has a profound effect on people mentally and physically.

According to people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

I’m thinking this is exactly what I am needing right now.

The word ‘gratitude’ comes from the Latin word gratus, meaning pleasing or thankful. It is taking time to pause and notice the things around us that we may take for granted.

While driving to work this week, I was brainstorming ways I could incorporate this habit into my life. I thought about journaling every morning before going to work, putting hashtag post-it notes all around my house, sending a thank you message 3 times a week to various people, etc. All of my ideas kept centering around writing down what I am grateful for and sharing it with people.

However, nothing was really clicking.

I felt a little validation when I read the article 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science which explains we don’t have to share our gratitude with someone else for it to be beneficial, but benefits will emerge if a person develops a habit of gratitude.

While the positive impact may not be recognized right away, developing a habit of expressing gratitude will eventually train the brain to be more in tune with experiencing gratitude.

By the end of the day, I was a little defeated when I couldn’t settle on a gratitude idea that I connected with, but I felt a surge of energy from a synchronistic moment while I was scrolling through my Facebook.

I came across a post from a friend of mine. Kim, who uses the THRIVE Experience in her life to reach peak physical and mental levels. She oozes self-care and I loved that she posted about gratitude the same day I was actively brainstorming how to get out of my self-imposed funk.

She posted a picture and shared that her family started writing in a daily gratitude journal as an activity to help her son recognize that no matter how bad of a day he may have had, something good is in there too! The fact that she was sharing her daily habit of gratitude was inspiring to me, and her photo and her hashtags #liveyourbestlife and #positivevibes lit a little fire under my ass.

It finally clicked.

I officially committed to creating a daily habit of gratitude. However, even though I love to write I knew in my heart that I would not be consistent with writing in a gratitude journal daily.

Seeing my friend’s photograph on social media reminded me that I needed something different. Something more visual. So I decided I am mixing it up and I am going to try something with an artistic flair.

Instead of writing down my gratitude, I am going to try some gratitude photography. Who wants to join me?

For at least 30 days, I am going to take one photograph a day that reflects something I am grateful for. The picture could be a material item, or it could be something that inspires emotion in a moment.

I will create an album in my photos app and add the picture each day and maybe I will add a caption if I want to add an explanation to the photo to remember the moment. (never done that? Just swipe up on the photo on an iPhone).

I think creating a visual album of things I am grateful for will change the way I perceive situations and help me notice the wonder of things that I am surrounded by every day. There are a plethora of things right in front of me that bring me joy.

Sometimes I momentarily and consciously recognize things in my environment that bring me joy, but it is so easy to get caught up in a busy life full of stressful moments. As a result, those conscious moments are fleeting.

I feel like taking a picture of these items or moments will give me something tangible to turn to when I need a little pick me up. When I am feeling in a funk, I can open up my gratitude photo album and at quick glance refresh my heart, mind, and soul.

While I have given myself a goal of 30 days, if I am inspired by the project, I will keep going because I love the creative nature of photography.

I think having an album of pictures after 30 days will open doors to new creative projects. Maybe I will make a collage of the photos to hang in my house, maybe I will turn it into a photo book to keep on my coffee table, maybe I will make a slideshow and watch it whenever I am feeling a little blue.

I can feel the creativity starting to flow! I can’t wait to take my first picture.

Who wants to jump on the gratitude photography train with me?

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