This year my husband gave me an iPhone for my birthday (I’m a lucky girl, I know) and I discovered the world of iphoneography and vintage 99 cent apps. Feeling grateful for the present and the freedom of having a tiny camera, I set aside my DSLR and photoshop processing, and embarked on an adventure of photographing the things in my life I was grateful for.
I was cautious to begin with. Initially I only committed myself to photographing gratitude for 7 days. I didn’t want to over stretch myself! But in that first week, I went a little wild pulling out my camera every few minutes, and taking endless photographs of my kids, my husband, the beach, my friends, yummy food and the miraculous blue sky and winter sunshine.
My kids were soon pretty bored with me taking photographs of them all day, but my friends were another story. Initially they were a bit shy when I asked to take their photograph, but when I told them it was for my gratitude experiment, and because I was so grateful for having them in my life, they radiated smiles! And they let me know that the feelings of gratitude were mutual… so the love just kept on expanding!
After a week of my personal adventure, I’d caught the gratitude bug and decided I wanted more. So I committed myself to a whole month of capturing gratitude in August. This time I spread my wings and shared my photographs on my blog. I’m new to blogging, and still feel a little vulnerable sharing too much of myself, particularly photographs of my family (I’m still working out my online boundaries). So I decided to place a limit on my sharing, even though my family is the thing I am most grateful for.
At first I felt like I was leaving something out, and wasn’t really being true to myself and my portrayal of gratitude. However over time I realised that instead of being a limitation, it pushed me to notice the little things I was grateful for. It opened up a whole new world, and turned the practice of photographing gratitude into a mindfulness meditation. A very fun way to meditate, I might add.
Yes…. I’m grateful for my beautiful family and friends. But….. I’m also grateful for the feel of the sun on my skin, new flowers in the garden, a peak at the moon in the afternoon, the special stones my son collects for me, yoga classes and the sound, smell, feel and sight of the beach (oh yes…… the beach!).
So I’m pleased to report that all the hype about gratitude and happiness is true (I mean, if Oprah and Deepak are talking about it, there must be something to it!). Taking photographs each day of things I was grateful for really made a difference in my life. I took time to really pay attention to all the big and little things that made me smile, and instead of mindlessly taking them for granted, I acknowledged them, grinned, recorded them on my iPhone, and felt like the luckiest person on earth.
But I’m getting a little greedy. I want to do it again (and again). Do you want to do it with me?
This is your invitation to join me in photographing all that you’re grateful for, and sharing it with others online this November. I’ve created a facebook group and a gratitude list (where you can share your blogs/websites/flickr, so others can follow your gratitude journey), and I really hope you’ll join me.
It’s all totally free, and all about gratitude, happiness, photography and community.
Read more about the project, join up and download a free gratitude meditation at www.capturinggratitude.com.
Dr Lauren Tober is a yogi, clinical psychologist and gratitude photographer based in the Byron Shire. She works as a counsellor in Mullumbimby and will soon be returning to yoga teaching, offering Mindful Vinyasa Yoga classes at Red Tent Yoga in Byron Bay. Lauren is currently busy writing an online yoga course called ‘A Daily Dose of Bliss’ (stay tuned!). Visit her website at www.laurentober.com or her facebook page.