3 Ways Selfies Can Help You Thrive

It may have been the origin of the word “selfie” that condemned it to the playground of narcissists and gave it a bad reputation.

The tale goes that the term was coined by a drunk Australian when he tripped down some stairs at a party, split his lip, and took a close-up “selfie” of the damage to share. Nice. Who knows if that’s true or not.

Anyway …

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, conducted a study to understand the effects of snapping selfies on wellbeing in three areas:

  1. self-perception

  2. self-efficacy; and

  3. pro-social

The study was over four weeks with 41 college students who were told to go about their normal daily routines while taking part in the research study.

Three times a day during the study, via an App, they reported on their moods. They also supplied further details each evening on any significant events that may have played a part in their moods during the day.

Over the study period nearly 2,900 mood measurements were collected.

The study found that participants experienced increased positive moods across all three groups (self-perception, self-efficacy, and pro-social).

So what does that tell us?

Smiling selfies (self-perception)

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." —Thich Nhat Hanh

Each time you smile, you pull the string on a few party poppers in your brain. The simple act of smiling activates neurons that benefit our health and positive mood.

It’s a little contagious too. When you’re smiling, others do too.

In the study, students reported that taking “smiling selfies” felt themselves becoming more confident and comfortable with their smiling photos over time.

Positive experience selfies (self-efficacy)

Taking selfies of positive experiences and then looking back and remembering the experience helps us thrive.

The positive experiences don’t need to be big. Here are some small ones that can contribute just as much to our wellbeing bucket:

  • a quiet moment - just you and your coffee

  • a walk at lunch time for fresh air

  • a brush with nature - even if it’s simply a flowering plant in your driveway

  • the result of a task you’ve finally completed

In the study, students reported that taking “positive experience selfies” that made them happy helped them to become more reflective and appreciative.

Giving selfies (pro-social)

We know that helping others (including giving our time or energy) has a positive effect on our wellbeing. Numerous studies have provided the scientific evidence.

Instead of thinking only of selfies as gifts we give to ourselves, flip it around.

Your goal is to take a photo that will make someone else happy. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine the smile on their face when they see your photo. Examples might be:

  • sending your mum a photo of her favourite flowers

  • sending a friend a “thank you” selfie for … just being there

  • sending a friend a photo of a location that has happy memories for you both

In the study, students reported that taking “giving selfies” made them calmer and said that the connection to their friends and family helped to reduce stress.

So there are three ways “selfies” can help you Thrive by building self-confidence, becoming more appreciative of positive experiences, building connections with friends/family which helped to reduce stress.