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Can you enhance your meaning in life by taking a photo?

Have you ever pondered on how to find and enhance your meaning in life?

I know I have.

Is this it?

Is that what I'm here for?

Should I be striving for something different in my life...something more meaningful?

Steger et al. (2014) conducted a study called 'Through the windows of the soul: A pilot study using photography to enhance meaning in life'.

Within this study participants were asked to take between 9 and 12 photos of "things that make their life meaningful". After the photos were taken, the participants returned to view and describe their photos.

The study found improvements in life satisfaction, meaning and positive affect. Before trying this intervention it seemed too simple to be true. Could I really enhance my personal understanding of my meaning in life by taking some photos?

After trying the intervention, the direct answer is 'yes'. Over a week I managed to take 9 photos of things that I had identified that made my life more meaningful. Not only did I enjoy looking at the photos I'd taken (they gave me a massive smile) but I started to consistently find things in my life that I was grateful for. The intervention allowed me to be present. It allowed me to find things in my life that created joy and spurred me into a reflection on my life that I would not have achieved without it.

I encourage you to give it a try, and this is how...

  1. Use your phone camera to capture photos of things that make your life meaningful.

  2. Take about 10 photos.

  3. Share them with a friend, or with us if you'd like to.

  4. Reflect on why you have taken that photo, and discuss this with someone else.

Easy peasy. Try it. It sparks a lot of joy!


Michael F. Steger, Yerin Shim, Jennifer Barenz, Joo Yeon Shin,

Through the windows of the soul: A pilot study using photography to enhance meaning in life,

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science,

Volume 3, Issue 1,



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