The fact is that a lot of people, including me, see technology has a hindrance to happiness. I feel it has put a big wedge in the happiness of relationships. I feel it slows down our success because it is such a big distraction. And I feel that it takes us away from real life. In the past few years, I’ve seen more people staring at their phones than I’ve seen enjoying the scenery, people, or events around them.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been with a friend and they are focused on their phone while we are supposed to be visiting. It makes me feel ignored, and it causes us to lose valuable time that we could be using to catch up and reconnect.
A Study Using Smartphone Cameras
On July 4th, 2016, a study was published where 41 participants had set out on a 4-week quest to see the results of taking various types of pictures using a smartphone. There were three different groups. One where participants took selfies of themselves smiling. One where they took a photo of something that made them happy. And one where they took a photo of something that would make someone else happy. Turns out, all three groups experienced positive effects.
1. Taking Selfies As They Smiled
They became more confident and comfortable with smiling, and they became more creative with their smiles. That’s a good thing considering that smiling has been shown to make you happier even when you are not feeling it. As Charles Darwin once said, “The free expression by outwards signs of an emotion intensifies it.” So the more you frown, the grumpier you feel, and the more you smile, the more you feel like smiling!
To me, it’s just like power poses. You take on a pose of being confident, so you feel more confident. Research has shown that these poses don’t just change how other people see you, the change your body chemistry and influence how you interact with others in your day.
I’d be interested in seeing some more studies done on ‘smiling selfies’ on all kinds of people in different stages of emotions. I’d love to see just how far the ‘smiling selfie’ benefits could go.
2. Taking Photos That Made Themselves Happy
They became more reflective, mindful, and appreciative.
This makes sense to me because taking photos of things that make you happy seems like a really great way to focus on things you are grateful for, and we know that gratitude is an effective tool for becoming happier in life. The science is already there.
One of the participants said that the pictures opened their eyes up and made them realize what makes them happy – things they never thought about before.
Because these pictures were of stuff that made them happy, that’s where their focus went. Where your focus goes, your attentions goes, and where your attention goes determines how you feel.
For instance, if you are focused on a loved one’s smiling face, that will make you happy. If you focus on their angry face, that will make you feel bad.
They were forced to take pictures of things that made them happy, so they had no choice to focus on (and possibly see for the first time) what made them happy. Sounds good to me!
3. Taking Photos That Would Make Others Happy
It caused them to feel stress relief. It caused them to feel more connected with others. And, it also made them happy as they received positive responses from the people they sent the pictures to.
This just makes sense. Giving makes you feel better. That’s been shown time and time again. When you are able to give something to someone that makes them smile, feel good, or just feel better, then you automatically feel better about yourself.
And you don’t even have to see that your giving had a positive effect to feel good. I’ve often donated to charities and felt instantly better about myself knowing that someone will receive something in return.
Moreover, I learned a lesson from one of the grumpiest people in the world about giving instead of taking and how it affects your happiness.
I was working in a senior’s home. One woman was so grumpy. She never smiled to the staff. She never said anything kind. She was demanding and rude. And she was messy. One day I went into her room and found a great big mess on her floor. The garbage can was right beside her, but she had thrown everything on the floor up to 6 feet away from her. I lost it. I asked her why she was incapable of throwing garbage in her garbage can. She sat there and stared at her TV not saying a word. For days I felt horrible. Then one day I went into her room and apologized for being rude. She gave me a dirty look, but I instantly felt better. I was doing something kind instead of mean, and ever since then I’ve known that doing something to try to make others happy makes me happy, while doing something to try and make others feel bad makes me feel bad.
Therefore, it makes sense to me that sharing something you think will make other people happy, such as a photo, is a great way to feel good even if they don’t respond favorably to it. In the study, participants mostly sent the photos to people they loved, such as friends and family members, so the benefits expanded and they reported that they felt more connected to those people than before the study began.
Your Smartphone Camera Can Make You Happy?
It sounds like using your smartphone camera for good things can make you happy. While I’d love to see more studies on the ‘smiling selfie’ aspect of feeling happy, I think that taking pictures of things that make you happy can help you reflect on the little things in life that often get forgotten.
I might just start snapping pics every time I see something that makes me smile.
Moreover, sharing pictures with other people that you think might make them happy seems like a great way to connect with people and make yourself feel good about sharing something positive with them.
In the end, I can see how instead of taking bad pictures or pictures of things that make you feel bad, using your smartphone camera to take pictures of the good things, reflect on them, and share them, is probably pretty beneficial to your happiness!