Earlier this year, The New York Times published tips for taking “gratitude photos.” A gratitude photo is a picture of anything around you – a flower, a pet, a person, a building – that makes you happy.
“One small study found that mindful photography can be a fun and easy way to savor everyday experiences and cultivate gratitude,” wrote Tara Parker-Pope in the Times. Craig L. Anderson, a postdoctoral scholar in marketing at Washington University in St. Louis who studies “awe” says we can find it in “the small beauty in our everyday experiences we might be blind to when we rush around.”
Whether you’re rushing around during the holidays or you’re at home feeling anxiety about Covid (or both), I hope you’ll try taking “gratitude photos” over the next few days. And I’ll add my own tip to the Times story: Create a folder in your phone for these special pictures. Then you can open it any time and remember where you found wonder in the world around you.
I just learned about gratitude photos, but I feel like I’ve been doing this without knowing it for a while. Below are some of the photos I took this year and why they’re meaningful to me.
Like most of you, I didn’t travel much this year due to the on-going pandemic. But I did have a few adventures. I love the unpredictability of travel, represented by these two photos. In London, I was headed to meet friends but the traffic was terrible, so I ended up taking a water taxi on the Thames River to get to my destination on time. In the U.S. I had an Uber driver pick me up – and I was very surprised to see a dog in the front seat! I’m usually scared of dogs, but this one was nice.
I took this picture when I visited a jeweler to get the ring sized for my finger before my nikkah ceremony. The stone is an emerald from the Swat Valley, where I was born and spent my childhood. I love how it ties my past and future together.
Speaking of my husband Asser, here are two pictures of him losing games to me! We played poker and he lost by a lot. The other photo is from a more competitive game of pickle ball – but I still won and it was only my second time on the court! A natural athlete.
I got to do a reunion with my college class this year. It was especially meaningful since we missed spending the last half of our final year at Oxford together due to the pandemic. Here’s a picture of me happy to be back on campus and one with my college principal, Alan Rusbridger.
I got to spend some time in Los Angeles this year. I was really excited to see my production company’s office for the first time and visit Erika and Shuyu, who run Extracurricular Productions. I also did some shopping there and, as always, Asser was a good sport about carrying my bags.
Finally, here are two of my favorite 2021 sunsets – from the gardens of Birmingham, U.K. to the beaches of California.
Looking through my photos, I’m reminded of all the happy moments I shared with loved ones over the last 12 months. I’m also reminded of my friend Amanda Gorman’s words that kicked off 2021, “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.”