Gratitude is one of those words that has been snapped up and embraced by the world, with various types of gratitude projects popping up all around the place. In Byron Bay, we hear the word gratitude frequently, possibly because we do indeed have so much to be thankful for, living in such a beautiful and unique part of the world. Sometimes though, no matter where we are, the days can begin to roll into one another and we forget to stop and acknowledge the little things that shape our lives and make us smile.
Lauren Tober and her project Capturing Gratitude, is out to change that complacency, helping people to see and share the little things that keep their world spinning.
How did Capturing Gratitude begin, what was your initial aim with the project?
I was lucky enough to be given an iPhone for my birthday a few years ago, and for the first time I found myself with a camera on me all the time.
Inspired by Brene Brown’s work on gratitude and the research supporting it’s efficacy in changing lives, I started including gratitude meditations in my yoga classes and counselling sessions. When I signed up for Susannah Conway’s August Break in 2012, I decided to put my iPhone to use and started taking photographs of the things I was grateful for every day.
When I started sharing my images online, I began to hear how my photographic gratitude experiment was inspiring others to take their own gratitude photographs. I created Capturing Gratitude as a way for others to join me in sharing the things they were grateful for and to create a community around something positive and life enhancing.
Have you found that embracing an attitude of gratitude into your life has benefited you?
Straight away when I started taking gratitude photographs, I noticed the positive effects. Happiness just crept up on me. Honestly, I didn’t expect the effects to be so immediate and so profound. I felt blessed by everything in my life and I was able to find things to be grateful for even amidst the challenges of daily life.
On day three of my experiment, I had a kind of a ‘gratitude high,’ I was really buzzing! But, since then it’s levelled out much more! More of a general contentment than a high, but there’s still moments of such profound gratitude that I can’t quite believe how lucky I am to be alive.
And these moments don’t come from the things I would have previously thought about. Pausing to take gratitude photographs has really tuned me in to the little things. Holding hands, the whispers of the trees in the wind, bare feet in the sand, moments of stillness, giggles, cartwheels. It’s actually in these small moments that the most profound emotions of gratitude emerge.
How has the community embraced and supported this project?
Overwhelmingly! There has been a wonderful team who volunteered their time to make this project happen, and hundreds and hundreds of people who have signed up to the project and are now taking their own gratitude photographs.
You must have experienced lots of people having personal transformations through this project- is there any story in particular you would like to share?
One of the really touching and unexpected things that came out of the project is all the lovely emails and messages I get from people all over the world who are taking part. What I keep hearing is that by creating a gratitude practice for themselves, many people are realising that what they already have in their life is pretty awesome. And that’s really the power of the gratitude. We realise that we don’t have to constantly strive, that, even if just for a moment, we can be happy with life just as it is.
How does this project tie in with what you do with your yoga nidra and psychology?
There’s been a lot of research about the psychological effects of gratitude, including increased happiness, optimism, generosity, compassion and feeling less lonely or isolated.
And it’s not surprising really. Yoga teaches us that happiness is our true nature, that there’s nothing we need to have or do to make us happy. Gratitude is a beautiful way to help us to remember that. It helps us to let go of the striving and the wanting for things to be different and instead to be with things just as they are. When we give up that struggle, even if just for a moment, we are in touch with our innate sense of joy.
Now that the website is up and running, what are your goals for Capturing Gratitude now and in the future?
That’s a very good question! Capturing Gratitude has been a pretty bumpy ride at times, and has taught me a lot about technology and working in an online space, but also about patience, trust and surrender.
I had a very clear vision for what I wanted the Capturing Gratitude project and website to be about, but despite having a wonderful developer on the project, it isn’t what I imagined.
I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of either throwing myself back into the website to make it even more user friendly and engaging, or taking a simpler path, and scaling it right back and focusing on what’s really important.
And the simpler path won! So over the coming months I will be making some changes to the project- Stay tuned!
What is your favourite thing about the project and why would you recommend people to join you?
It’s a really easy way to connect with gratitude on daily basis and to get creative. As a mother of two young kids, ease is really important for me. Capturing Gratitude gives me the opportunity to stop, be present, feel into the gratitude, take a photo and share it immediately with my tribe.
If you’re into taking photographs (with any camera, whether it’s a phone or a fancy-pants DSLR) Capturing Gratitude is a beautiful way to do so with meaning and authenticity.
Come join the gratitude revolution! Sign up now join the Capturing Gratitude tribe, and download the Gratitude Interviews eBook and start the 30 day Gratitude eCourse. It’s all free!
We’re changing the world, one grateful moment at a time!
Dr Lauren Tober is a Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Teacher based in Mullumbimby and Byron Bay. She brings western psychology and yogic philosophy & practices together in a way that is empowering, authentic, joyful and meaningful.
Lauren teaches iRest Yoga Nidra™ as well as Yoga & Mindfulness for Depression, Anxiety and Stress courses, and is known to bring off-the-mat yoga into the counselling room.
Lauren also lectures on yoga and mental health on a number of teacher training programs, and organises a Yoga Psychology Sanga for mental health professionals.
Committed to sharing her wisdom beyond the borders of the Shire, Lauren is the creator of Capturing Gratitude and A Daily Dose of Bliss, a 6 week online yoga course designed for busy people to learn yogic practices to balance their mind.
Visit www.laurentober.com to get in touch.