Can organizing your photos make you happy?

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I’m not talking about the satisfaction of a job well done, of feeling uncluttered and organized. Could decluttering your photo collection make you truly happy? On the other hand, looking at photos of people and events from your past can lift your spirits, trigger happy memories, and make you feel generally more positive about yourself and your life today. But if it is a mammoth undertaking just to find a particular image, you are more likely to feel frustration and dismay than happiness and contentment.

Because we now take photos of anything and everything, thanks to the cameras in our pockets, we are overwhelmed by photos. InfoTrends estimates that more than 1.2 trillion digital photos will be take this year. Do you feel joy when you open the camera roll on your phone, or do you feel your stress creeping up? Can you show vacation photos to friends and family, or does the very thought of the hundreds--or thousands--of photos make your stomach churn? Can you find that special photo exactly when you want it or need it, or do you go into panic mode and desperately search folders with no idea what you named the file--if you named it?

It’s not just digital photos that can cause us stress. Going through old prints from film cameras should trigger happy memories of times past. Instead, we can feel guilt and frustration when look at boxes of photos in no particular order, are unable to find one good photo of Grandma and Grandpa, or struggle to pinpoint names, places, and dates. And worrying about what could happen to the memories buried in those boxes or on computer hard drives in the event of a disaster, or just a damp basement, does not lead to happiness.

Your happy memories of the past can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and joy in the present. It is a gift to yourself, and to your family, to dig those happy memories out of the cluttered mess of photos and let them work their magic.