I’m the type of person that takes lots of pictures on my phone. I love to capture a moment, even in moments where using your phone is considered taboo. I’ve been known to snap pictures during church…while I’m the priest leading worship. I can’t help it. Some moments are so beautiful to me that I am compelled to capture them, and so many moments of our worship are beautiful. I captured this picture of my colleague in our outdoor worship this summer, and I’m not sorry about it.
We’ve gotten some mileage out of this wonderful picture, but most of the photos I snap simply rest in my phone, often never looked at again. I don’t post them on social media all that often, and I rarely go through old pictures or make photo books.
One day a couple of months ago I was wishing I had a platform to post my pictures just for me. I went searching for apps and found one called Happy Feed. Happy Feed is essentially a photo gratitude journal. The free version of the app allows you to post up to 3 pictures a day. You can set a daily reminder (mine comes at 8:30pm) so you don’t forget to post, and the app will show you memories from previous weeks, months or years. You can scroll your Happy Feed the same way you would take in an instagram feed, but it’s all your photos all the time – no danger of a post that might emotionally hijack you. I’m a few months in, and I’m loving it.
The concept of a daily gratitude practice is certainly not new – it’s a common spiritual practice for many people. The addition of the photos makes it a bit more interesting for me. I like the visual representation of what has made me happy throughout the day. Some days I have to choose between lots of photos, and other days—when things feel a bit harder and more complicated—I have to go searching for a happy moment. You can see one such example here:
It’s no surprise that this gratitude practice has changed me. Throughout the day I am more attuned to the moments where I feel connected and grateful, and have often captured those moments in order to store them in my app later in the day.
My 7 and 9 year olds are too young for a phone (though they ask for one daily), but when they are older I could see forking over the money for the paid version of this app, where you can share your Happy Feed with a selection of people. I can imagine a shared family gratitude practice where we get a glimpse of each other’s happy moments each day.
In the meantime, especially as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we can begin to cultivate gratitude more intentionally as a family even without our phones. We often discuss our highs and lows at the end of each day, but we don’t always think to use language of gratitude. Yet gratitude can transform us, and turn a regular daily ritual into a spiritual practice. Once we start to name what we are grateful for, we spend more time looking for what we are grateful for. When we look for gratitude, we will find God’s abundance in everything. I am sure of it.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I give thanks for Grow Christians, for technology that helps us feel closer to one another and to God, and for Taylor Swift!