What’s makes you happy? Your child, puppy, new home, adventure, cooking? Recalling memories of when we were happy actually makes us feel happier. Looking at photographs has the same effect. Photographs make memories last longer so that we can reminisce and share about a time when we were: happy, loved, valued, safe etc. 

For example, Facebook has executed this perfectly with it’s “Memory” posts – photos you’ve posted in past years that populate into your feed at random It’s an automatic digital reminder of your memories that makes you happier when you see it pop-up it on your feed. Every time a “Memory” pops into my feed, such as a photo of my son when he was a baby, it makes me happy. In fact, it makes my heart burst with joy! 

indian grandparents holding newborn boy laughing

Here are 5 reasons why looking at photographs make you happier: 

  1. Reminds Us Of The People We Love: Looking at photographs of people we love and have fond memories with makes us happier. It triggers happy memories that make us smile and feel good. 
  2. Let’s Us Really See: Kids grow fast. But they move even faster (ever see a three old standstill? Didn’t think so). Looking at a photograph of your child allows you all the time in the world to observe them and take in every single detail. I’m one of those intense parents who is constantly trying to really “see” my son. But he’s four years old and can not be still for a moment. This is why parents like to gaze at their children sleeping. Because it’s one of the few times that can really soak them in. Photographs do the same. And it brings so much joy to us parents to really study and appreciate every inch of our child, for as long as we want to stare. 
  3. Personal Reflection: Looking at photos gives us a moment to reflect about our own or others personal growth. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on where we started and how far we’ve come in any emotional or physical state (behavioral, weight, age, financial, where we live etc.). This makes us happy because it allows us to acknowledge our growth or makes us happy with nostalgia about another time when were happy. 
  4. Photos Replace Belongings We No Longer Can Have Or Want: Taking a photo of something you love but can no longer keep allows us to move on by keeping a small momento of it. For example, my parents bought me a black Pontiac Grand Prix when I was starting college. It had black leather race car seats and a hologram speedometer in the windshield. I loved that car. I drove it for nearly 11 years. It got me through college, it moved me to and from more houses than I can count. It was the ride-or-die car me and my friends always went joyriding in. The day came it needed to retire – and boy, was it ready. By looking at photos of my old car I was able to move on and it brings me so much joy to remember my first car. 
  5. Photos Are A Visual Diary: Taking photos of our everyday lives can bring great joy in both taking the photo and looking at it again later. It also acts a substitution for journaling. The important thing to remember is to be sure to take photos of the everyday – not just milestones or special occasions. It’s the everyday moments that tell your family’s story. 

What type of photographs bring you the most joy looking at? Let me know in the comments. 

genuine emotions trump fake smiles family of three playing with little boy on san francisco beach tossing him into the air laughing at sunset


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