Health & Fitness

#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

Author: Elle Canada

Health & Fitness

#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I recently read about a young woman who, suffering from depression, began documenting things she was grateful for to bring more happiness into her life. I am searching for happiness and meaning in my own life and occasionally experience moments of self-pity and despair, so this idea resonated with me. Several weeks ago, I found myself having one of those moments. I was in a change room trying on dresses for an upcoming event. A task that used to be simple and even enjoyable had now become a form of torture, as I looked for a dress that could accommodate my misshapen chest: My implants are firm and uneven and do not move like real breasts, which makes it extremely difficult to fit into clothes that I used to wear with ease.

I tried on dress after dress, attempting to force the zipper over my protruding side boob, frustrated that everything was too loose on one side and too tight on the other. Flustered and fuming, I looked in the mirror and, tears burning my eyes, cursed my misfortune. I felt ugly, deformed and very sorry for myself.

READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman draws new conclusions

This seemed like as good a time as any to begin my own gratitude project. Would forcing myself to focus on what’s good in my life – instead of what isn’t – lead me to a greater sense of happiness?

The kind folks at Fujifilm provided me with an Instax Mini 8 camera so I could photograph my grateful moments. I started snapping, attempting to find something each day that I was thankful for.

Some photos were less profound than others, like a quiet moment to myself or a meal I was about to enjoy. Others held greater significance, like being grateful for the 60th birthday of my father, who didn’t know if he’d live to see his 20th birthday after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 16 (and again in his 50s). Some days, it was difficult to find something to photograph. And I began to realize that fleeting moments – someone holding a door open for me, a friendly smile from a stranger – can’t always be captured in a photo. In those instances, I decided to just be in the moment, appreciate it and keep it all to myself.

At the end of the month, I wondered if my gratitude experiment had changed me in any way or if all I’d done was take some pictures of random things in my life. But as I began to compile them and write the stories behind them in a scrapbook, I noticed something: I felt happy. I went through all the snapshots and saw that, big or small, there was much to be grateful for, even over a relatively short period of time – so many things I might have missed had I not been training myself to see them. I realized that the immense gratitude I experienced after finishing my treatment for cancer – the joy I felt to simply be alive and wake up every morning – had been slipping away from me as I fell back into the typical frustrations and challenges of everyday life. But looking through all these photos, I was reminded of how extremely important and fulfilling it is to just stop for a minute and be grateful.

READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman shares 5 steps to facing fears

The last photo I took was of my printer, which, moments before, had inexplicably jammed and stopped working. As my temper flared and I angrily shook the printer, I sat back, reflected and thought, “I am so grateful that, right now, my biggest problem is a broken printer.” Compared to cancer, almost everything else seems so unbelievably inconsequential. I am grateful that I have that perspective. But here is a secret: You don’t need to wait until you’re faced with a life-threatening disease to experience gratitude and enjoy life. You can start right now. And, in fact, you should start right now because there is so much to appreciate in this world and so much time wasted not doing so. Being grateful might even be the key to your happiness. Or, at the very least, it will stop you from smashing your printer to bits, which, in my case, is still something worth celebrating.

Slideshow

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#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

Milk chocolate...Need I say more? READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman draws new conclusions

By: Stephanie Gilman Source: Stephanie Gilman Credits: ELLECanada.com

#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

My dad's 60th birthday. He has survived cancer three times and gives me hope that I will survive too. So grateful to be able to see him celebrate this milestone birthday. READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman's spiritual retreat

By: Stephanie Gilman Source: Stephanie Gilman Credits: ELLECanada.com

#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

The realization that if my biggest issue is a broken printer, then that must mean my life, at this moment, is pretty great. READ MORE: One woman's journey to reboot her life

By: Stephanie Gilman Source: Stephanie Gilman Credits: ELLECanada.com

#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

Getting dressed to go out to an event. We rarely ever do this, so it feels very special when we are able to. READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman walks on the edge

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#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

My amazing neighbourhood that is constantly changing and growing every day. I feel very fortunate to live in one of the greatest neighbourhoods in Toronto. READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman's top 5 blogs

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#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

Taking a holiday and relaxing on the beach in Mexico. It is very easy to feel filled with gratitude when staring out at the turquoise water and white sand. This is truly my happy place. READ MORE: 5 simple steps to facing your fears

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#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

Yummy fresh food. I ate many fish tacos while in Mexico and savoured every one. Mmm. READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman's journey to lead a meaningful life

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#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

My collection of cards people sent me when I was sick. There are hundreds of them and I kept every one. They remind me of how lucky I am to have so much support. READ MORE: Stephanie Gilman's journey in photos

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#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments

I'm grateful for...

Time spent with great friends. READ MORE: One woman's journey to reboot her life

By: Stephanie Gilman Source: Stephanie Gilman Credits: ELLECanada.com


READ MORE:
Stephanie Gilman's journey to reboot her life
#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman walks on the edge
How our #lifereboot columnist spent a day in silence
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#lifereboot: Stephanie Gilman photographs her grateful moments