Friday, October 26, 2018

How to Increase Happiness and Relaxation

This post was updated 2022.

Two things that seem to be in high demand and short supply these days are happiness and relaxation.  Stress seems to be taking their place. Today I’m going to show you how to find increased happiness and relaxation in some surprising places from some unexpected sources.  It’s funny how easily they could be had but how elusive they are until we get a few hints.

The Surprising Sources for Happiness

Something we all have (and sometimes have too much of!) is pictures.  They’re on phones, cameras, computers, and social media.  I believe this leads to an all too common way of thinking about pictures:  big deal.  But pictures and memories are a much bigger deal than we think.

In fact, pictures have been shown to increase happiness!  Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” says {pictures make us happy for many reasons}, including:
  • They help us remember people, places, and activities we love.
  • Pictures help us remember happy times from the past, which makes us happier in the present.
  • A photo can sometimes replace a thing we love.  (Think about something that was broken or old or impractical to keep–a photo lets it live forever with you.)
  • Taking photos increases {creativity}.
Dr. Peter Naish did a study on {how viewing photographs lifts your mood} when compared to other common ways to do so like eating or drinking.  Looking at photos increased mood by 11%, whereas eating, drinking, watching TV/movies, or listening to music increased mood only 1%.  He found, too, that looking at pictures even helped people relax more!  After viewing photos, people reported a 22% increase in relaxation!  (Incidentally, drinking wine came in at 14% and eating chocolate came in at 8%.)

And it’s more than just pictures–it’s what’s behind them.  In the mid-1990s, Dr. Marshall Duke from Emory University took a close look at the American family.  Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara, had noticed something about the children she worked with:  the ones who knew a lot about their families did better when challenges arose.  

So Dr. Duke and a colleague, Dr. Robyn Fivush, decided to further examine this theory.  Through their {“Do You Know?” study}, they found that kids who were connected to their families by knowing family stories were more resilient and had higher self-esteem.  They also had a greater sense of control over their own lives, {even in the face of crisis}.

Another thing that working with our photos and memories does is develop a stronger sense of self, more gratitude, and a sense of purpose.  Our perspective gets better.
"The secret to having it all is knowing you already do." -anonymous
The Trick to Tapping Into Happiness, Relaxation, and Strength

The only trick to using photos and memories and family stories for increased happiness, relaxation, connection, resilience, and strength is that you have to have a way to access them.  If I sit back and try to remember family stories, none come to mind all that quickly (especially when I need them).  When I brainstorm (either alone or with others) and then write them down, I have a place to go to when I need my family stories.  Same goes for pictures.  If they’re unorganized or in too many places, they’re just overwhelming–they’re not useful for happiness, relaxation, or strength.  But if I put them into a book or scrap page and write my memories with them, they’re there the instant I need a lift.

Many people don’t do much with their photos these days because of {overwhelm} and {too little time}.  There’s also a pervading false notion that you have to be a scrapbooker in order to do something with your photos.  

I’ve been a memory-keeper, preserving my photos and memories and stories, for as long as I can remember.  Since 2005, I’ve been helping other people do the same.  So today I’ll share with you the best time hacks I know of for making time for your photos and memories so you can get all the fabulous side-effects of memory-keeping.

Before I share my three favorite time hacks, here are two helps: 
  • If disorganized and cluttered photos makes getting started difficult, there are several {photo organization tools and resources (including a video)} right there at that link.
  • If the idea of doing anything at all with your photos is overwhelming,  you might want to try {Scrapbooking For Hire}.  This service can be anything you want it to be, from basic tips on where to even start to helping you with photo organization or the actual creating of {digital books or scrap pages}.  Sometimes you just need ideas and directions, and sometimes you need a partner.

My Three Favorite Time Hacks to Make Memory-Keeping Doable for Increased Happiness and Relaxation

One requirement for memory-keeping is time.  That’s true of everything, right?  Learning something, helping someone, Christmas shopping, reading, cooking.  Everything requires time.  Because of busy schedules as well as {the pervading sense of and idealization of busy-ness in our culture}, it’s more important than ever to make time for something as important as our photos and memories.  

I have a whole collection of {ideas and time management helps from experts} at that link, but one of my favorite ways to “find” time for memory-keeping is called a Digi-Crop.  I’ve been doing this for years and years.  Here’s what a Digi-Crop is andhow it can help you.

Another great time-saver hack for getting memory-keeping done is to ask for help!  If you’re writing a family story, the fabulous gals at {} can help!  If you’re trying to get some photos and memories preserved in books or scrap pages, check out {Scrapbooking For Hire}.  

My number one favorite memory-keeping time hack is shown in this video.  The idea of a Yearbook broken down by month means that you already know where all the photos go!  (Halloween 2015 pictures go in the 2015 book on the October pages.)  These beautiful templates make your yearbook come together so quickly!

If you'd like more flexibility than the templates offer, I highly recommend Artisan digital scrapbooking software.  It's what I use because I love the flexibility and creativity.  Learning the Design & Print platform (above) takes about 2 minutes, so it's much simpler to use, but I know a lot of people who love all the design capabilities in Artisan (below) even though you do have to learn the program.  (Plus, I have a whole bunch of Artisan Quick Tip videos for you!)

There’s No Time Like THIS Time

Pictures seem to be one of the easiest things to put off.  They pile up on cameras and phones, and before you know it, you’re {swimming in them} But memories fade far faster than we think they will, and digital photos left in digital form are always at the mercy of technology.  

If you’re serious about increasing your own happiness, relaxation, strength, and well-being, there’s no time like this time.  Why on earth would you wait?  Take advantage of the hacks I’ve shared, or {contact me} with your specific needs and questions.  

Whatever you do, #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs  {Get started here.}

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This post was originally published at on October 26, 2018, by Jennifer Wise as part of the #familyhistoryfriday series that ran for a year and a half.  Although this is the last post in the series, you can go back and find many, many more posts about family, photos, memories, stories, and connections!  Just click the #familyhistoryfriday hashtag below next to Labels.  This entire blog is dedicated to the same theme, so explore and enjoy!

Hooray!  This post was a featured favorite here:


  1. Love these statistics on photos over food! I should keep some family photos in the snack cabinet to deter anyone who feels like some emotional eating! :) Such great ideas, thank you! #heartandsoullinkup

  2. Ha--that is a fantastic idea, Alicia. Keep a family photo album in the pantry. :) Glad you enjoyed the ideas! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Thanks for linking up at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty 40!

  4. Can I just say that I LOVE this post and I skimmed your book! I think I might be a fangirl! We think so much alike. So much of what you wrote in the book is stuff that I just haven't been able to articulate. I am a geek, I love to read research and I love to share the knowledge that I have learned with others, especially when it comes to saving their photos and stories.

    1. Ahhhhh! You have made my day, Jan. :) Thank you! I, too, love knowing the research behind photos and stories. I feel like it just confirms what we all can feel and sort of instinctively know without being able to pinpoint it. I'm honored to have you as a fangirl! :D So glad you enjoyed both the post and my ebook!!


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