“I define gratitude as the immense, powerful emotion behind that thought, that feeling that helps you to realize that you still have something in life.”


Bright Lights/Young Lives is a special project within our Grateful Voices video series which aims to uplift the personal stories and reflections of young people, aged 16 – 30 years old. The series is made up of short-form documentaries featuring young adults from a variety of backgrounds talking about what it means for them to live gratefully, how they embody this commitment, how gratefulness was awakened in them, and why they believe it matters and can make a difference in our world. The intention of these stories is to demonstrate the reality and relevance of Grateful Living across a diverse, inclusive continuum, and to share the insights, grateful perspectives, and rich sense of possibility that so many young people hold. In this short video, we hear from Aida Villanueva.

Video Transcript

So being able to ask yourself questions and try to genuinely, honestly answer them as much as you dislike or like them, because it takes being vulnerable, not just with other people, but you have to be vulnerable with yourself first and acknowledge pleasantries, things that are unpleasant. Because if you’re never even acknowledging it, you’re never going to really push yourself to do something different about it. And yeah, having good, healthy self-talk is probably one of the greatest things that I find gratitude [in].

My name is Aida Villanueva. I am 25, officially a quarter. Okay, I’ll be 50 Cent’s little cousin if I’m a quarter. I’m an artist, but I work at a restaurant. I really just love teaching people and doing all kinds of things. Currently, I know how to paint and draw, so I work with markers, inks, and stuff like that. But I just like making people realize the best things in themselves.

I can be grateful that I can recognize that I have people who deeply love me. Or at the very least I could say — I know for sure that there’s others — but if I was in that place in my mind where I was deep down on loss, I could say that there’s someone at the end of the day I could count on who has my back, who I know thinks about me in their best intention. I could be grateful that somebody wants to fill my cup too. I define gratitude as the immense, powerful emotion behind that thought, that feeling that helps you to realize that you still have something in life.

How many people will just go out and just buy their furniture and then when it gets messed up, just toss it? And how much is that kind of attitude and energy hurting the planet? But how much is that hurting ourselves, our bank, our budget? When did we forget to recycle? When did we forget that back over a thousand years ago, there was a tunic that got repaired 82 times, because that’s how many times it broke and that’s how many pieces of fabric they added to make it better again. And why can’t we treat ourselves like that?

Bright Lights/Young Lives has been executed in honor/memory of the extraordinary life of Julia Burke, who lived her passion for life out loud.  Funding for the series came from The Julia Burke Foundation. The videos were produced by Greg Corbin and edited by Jordan Francis. The Grateful Living Team oversaw the project with grateful hearts.

Visit Grateful Voices to see more stories about living gratefully.

Bright Lights/Young Lives