FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 16, 2016
Every day for the past 1,000 days (nearly three years), Sahar Aker has snapped a picture of beauty with her smart phone and published it on Instagram using the hashtag #IChooseBeauty. It started in November 2013 during her treatment for severe depression. Her therapist suggested she focus on something of beauty every day to help her get through a harsh Ohio winter, an especially difficult time for her.
“I’m a very visual person, so I decided I would document the beauty I saw each day with a picture,” says Aker. “After only a week, I noticed a difference – I started to feel hopeful. Days went by, and I was hooked. So much so that I didn’t stop when winter was over. I kept going. I’m on Day 1,000 now.”
#IChooseBeauty helped Aker to notice all the little things in life— whether it’s a flower, the clouds or a good hot cup of tea. She started to find beauty she had once overlooked. Beauty she couldn’t see when she was in the depths of her recent episode of severe depression.
“I woke up one morning and found myself curled up at the bottom of a deep dark hole where I could barely breathe, wondering what happened. Wondering how I got here. And not really caring if I ever saw light again,” recalls Aker.
The amazing thing that has come out of this project, besides Aker’s healing, is that it has inspired and helped so many other people who are struggling in life. Dozens have joined the movement, posting their own #IChooseBeauty images and sharing how this process helps them, too.
“Seeing and feeling the ‘beauty’ in everyday things just really changed my perspective on life. I do not take things for granted anymore and I NOW try very hard to actually see the beauty in small things,” says one commenter.
Another wrote, “My depression has gotten progressively worse. #IChooseBeauty has really helped me focus on the day and realize that everything isn’t as grim as it feels. Thank you.”
Depression affects about 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older per year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Positive psychology researchers have found people who notice and appreciate beauty are more likely to find joy and meaning in everyday life. And are more likely to feel positive and grateful.
#IChooseBeauty has been Aker’s life preserver — her proof that happiness is right in front of us, all around us. We just have to choose to see it.