Get excited... The Fourth Annual 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge begins on November 1! For the past three years, I've hosted a 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge (see here and here and here) and this year it's back again for another month of embracing an attitude of gratitude. The premise of the challenge is this: snap photos inspired by the daily prompts listed above and share them on social media with the hashtag #Gratitude30.
If you haven't done the challenge before, you might be wondering: Why participate in the challenge instead of just being grateful? Having done this for three years now, I can honestly say that it makes being grateful easier because it holds you accountable for your gratitude and encourages you to look for gratitude all around you. Though I try to practice gratitude on a daily basis, this challenge always motivates me to think a bit more about all that I'm so fortunate to have in my life. Plus, it's actually really fun to do.
One of the benefits of the challenge is that it encourages you to get a bit more specific about what you're grateful for. In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor discusses how gratitude lists sometimes aren't as effective as they could be because they're often repetitive and general, like being thankful for "family" or "shelter." To create a deeper sense of gratitude, it helps to get more detailed — and that's what I'm hoping you'll do with the Fourth Annual 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge!
Not only do I encourage you to share photos of what you're specifically grateful for, but this year I also recommend that you dig a little deeper and consider why you're grateful for the things you choose to photograph. Below you'll see not only the one-word prompts, as I've done in previous years, but also some thoughts on what you might want to contemplate while snapping photos for the challenge. The challenge has been designed for you to participate in any way you like, but if you're the type who likes a bit more guidance, here are some more detailed prompts to keep you feeling grateful all month long...
DAY 1: BEAUTY
Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. What beauty are you grateful for? What things make your home, office, neighborhood, etc. more beautiful? Who around you embodies the essence of beauty? What do you find beautiful about yourself?
DAY 2: LAUGHTER
Laughing is one of my favorite things to do, and I'm so thankful that I do it on a daily basis. What makes you laugh? A movie? A book? A joke? A memory? Whatever evokes that giddy sense of happiness within you, be thankful for it.
DAY 3: DREAMS
What we dream says a lot about what matters to us. What do you dream about often (either in the literal or the abstract sense)? Do you have reoccurring dreams at night? Do you find yourself daydreaming about the same things?
DAY 4: WISDOM
Consider the wisdom you've received in your life. Who is the wisest person you know? What is the best piece of advice you've been given? What books / films / experiences have made and continue to make you wiser?
DAY 5: INSPIRATION
We are all uniquely inspired by the world around us. What inspires you to get out of the bed in the morning? What inspires you to keep working, loving, living? Contemplate how fortunate you are to have inspiration in your life.
DAY 6: DETAILS
It's time to stop and smell the roses, to pay attention to the little things in life that make a big difference. What little details of your life have you been taking for granted? What small acts or experiences shape you on a day-to-day basis?
DAY 7: ATTIRE
We are fortunate to have clothing on our backs, but what about your attire are you most thankful for? Is it the item that makes you happy every time you wear it? Or is it a purposeful item, like a coat design to keep out winter's chill?
DAY 8: FRIENDSHIP
Celebrate those friends you have in your life by being grateful for them. Who are the people who have stuck by you no matter what? Who are the ones you can call, day or night, for a chat? How lucky you are to have friendship in your life!
DAY 9: HOME
Home is where the heart is, they say. What does "home" mean to you? Is it the place you rest your head each night? Is it the place you grew up? Or is it more of a state of mind? Whatever home means to you, be thankful for it.
DAY 10: KINDNESS
We should all be thankful for whatever kindness we experience. What kind acts have you experienced lately? What kindness have you shown to others? Be thankful not only for others' kindness, but for your own ability to be kind.
DAY 11: ART
Art is everywhere. What you consider to be art is unique to you, but ask yourself: what do I consider to be art? What art do I see in my life on a daily basis? What art do I love but see rarely? What art have I created (or want to create)?
DAY 12: SEASONS
The changing seasons echo the cycle of life and it's important to be thankful for what they represent. Which season are you experiencing now? Which season do you most like to experience? Why do you enjoy that particular season?
DAY 13: TASTE
Taste may be a difficult thing to photograph, but try to capture and share the tastes that you most enjoy. What is your favorite food? Why? What tastes (sweet, salty, etc.) are you most drawn to? What flavors entice and excite you?
DAY 14: NOSTALGIA
Looking back isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it's pleasant to reflect on what was. Consider your favorite moment or item from the past. What was wonderful about it? How do you feel when you think of that time / thing / person?
DAY 15: NATURE
To be grateful for nature is to be grateful for life. Look around you at whatever nature you can find. What is beautiful or inspiring about it? What elements of nature do you most connect with? When were you most in touch with nature?
DAY 16: COMFORT
Whether it's comfort in a physical sense (a hug, a blanket) or in an emotional sense (a good listener, wise advice), it is wonderful to find comfort in your life. Think about the things, people, or situations that make you feel most comforted.
DAY 17: WORK
It can be hard to be thankful for work, but consider how work makes your life better. It provides you with income, and it can challenge, inspire, and excite you. Even if you don't love your career, ask yourself: why am I lucky to have work?
DAY 18: CHANGE
Change can be both terrifying and exciting. What changes have you experienced recently? How did they make you feel? What changes might you like to experience in the near future? What can you do to initiate those changes today?
DAY 19: NEW
What's new in your life? Do you have any new friends, new experiences, new mindsets? If you don't have any newness to be thankful for, do something completely out of character today and embrace the new experiences you have.
DAY 20: ROUTINE
Many of us are creatures of habit. What routines or habits do you have in your life? What about these are you thankful for? What routines do you wish you had in your life? What routines would you like to shake up and change?
DAY 21: SCENT
The nose is a powerful force and what we smell can transform an experience or mood. Consider what your favorite smells are and why. How do they make you feel? Why do you like those feelings? Be thankful for the aromas in your life.
DAY 22: RELAX
Relaxation is a beautiful thing. Do you spend as much time relaxing as you'd like? When you do relax, what do you most like to do? What sights / sounds / smells make you feel most at ease? With whom do you feel in a most relaxed state?
DAY 23: TRAVEL
Travel doesn't necessarily mean visiting foreign lands. Every day we travel from place to place. What travels do you embark on frequently? How do you feel when it route? What places have you most enjoyed visiting? Where do you want to go?
DAY 24: LOVE
There is little that deserves more gratitude than love. It is one of the most powerful forces on earth. How do you experience love in your life? How do you receive it? Give it? What does the word "love" really mean to you?
DAY 25: CREATION
Every day, we create. We create connections, experiences, conversations. We create art and music and magic. Consider what you have created today or recently. How did it feel? Now consider what you'd like to create in the future.
DAY 26: SOUND
What we hear can greatly influence who we are. What sounds are most appealing to you? What kind of music motivates or inspires you? What song could you listen to on repeat day after day? Appreciate all that you can hear.
DAY 27: FAMILY
It might be a love-hate relationship, but you are fortunate to have family in your life. Take note of them today and be mindful of the ways they have shaped your life. What do you love about them? What do you often take for granted?
DAY 28: DESIRE
What would you like to have more of in your life? What things / people / experiences fill you with longing? Consider not only what you want but also why you want it. How would you feel if you had it? How much it transform your life?
DAY 29: WEATHER
Weather can impact more than the color of the sky. How do you feel when the sun is shining? When the storm clouds are gathering? What is the weather today and how does it make you feel? Whatever the weather, try to embrace it.
DAY 30: SELF
The most important thing to be grateful is the only thing you will always have in your life: yourself. Consider all the ways you are wonderful and appreciate the good (and not so good!) parts of yourself. What do you love most about you?
I hope you'll join me in participating in the Fourth Annual 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge this year! It really is a lot of fun. If you're joining in (yay!), here are a few things to note before you begin the challenge:
* No photography skills needed. You don't need to be a photographer or even all that interested in taking photos to participate. All you need to be is interested in staying present and focusing on things you're grateful for.
* Don't be scared by the word "challenge." It's just what these photo things are called so don't let it prevent you from participating. There's no reward, no punishment — just an opportunity to be more thankful.
* Any kind of camera works. You can take your photos anyway you want to — with your phone, a digital camera, a DSLR, a Holga, an Instax, a SLR, a Polaroid. Anything goes when it comes to capturing gratitude.
* Start at any time. The point is to focus on staying thankful for thirty days so you can start the challenge on November 1 and do it for the whole month (as I'm doing), or you can start the challenge any day that works for you.
* Print out a reminder. You can copy the photo above (save it to your phone, perhaps!) or you can download and print out a version to post wherever you'd find a reminder helpful by clicking here.
I'm looking forward to sharing my photos with you all month long — and I can't wait to see your photos as well!