Gratitude gives us hope. Gratitude impacts how others perceive us. Gratitude is multidimensional. There is the personal gratefulness you have and then sharing your gratitude with others that makes such a big impact on how people see themselves. ~ Wendy
In the summer of 2020, while all of us around the globe were isolated in some way from those we love, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Doug Menuez found a way for us to gather safely, outdoors, to listen closely to the stories of seven individuals for whom grateful living is a way of life. The result of Doug’s beautiful work is a new video series, Grateful Voices. In the short film and narrative below Wendy, who generously participated in the project, shares her story.
“I was very fortunate to have a wonderful role model for gratefulness in my life. My mother was always grateful for everything that she had, and always taught that to me. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 16, and she was 50. But I think those lessons were just ingrained in me. We were very fortunate. I grew up having a sailboat. My father was a great sailor, and everything that my mother was grateful for, she wanted to share with others, so she always invited people out on the boat. I learned that gratefulness is also sharing–that was a big message from my mother.
When A Network for Grateful Living (ANGL) started to recruit hosts to lead monthly Gratefulness Gatherings, I was blessed to be contacted by a dear friend, Chuck Roppel, who is on the board and had worked with Brother David for many years. I had been on the Gratefulness.org website frequently sending eCards to friends. The idea of creating community really made me excited. I started my first gathering in Oakland, CA. in January 2019. There was a core group who never missed a month and then people would come who heard about our group. Strangers became friends and shared their practices and experiences of being grateful. Themes and focus areas provided by ANGL guided our discussions. Gatherings were filled with laughter, tears, and rich conversations.
I’ve seen people who, at first, were a bit doubtful, and now when I listen to their language, I hear gratefulness all the time. It didn’t take long before I witnessed a shift in some of the core members. The words “I am so grateful…” became commonplace outside of the gatherings. I realized that gratitude gives us strength. Gratitude gives us hope. Gratitude impacts how others perceive us. Gratitude is multidimensional. There is the personal gratefulness you have and then sharing your gratitude with others that makes such a big impact on how people see themselves.
One of the members since January 2019, Claudia, wrote the following:
“I was raised to not verbalize about being fortunate or feeling fortunate about something. For everything positive, there was always the negative side. The Gratefulness meetings have given me permission to express the goodness, without feeling guilty about it, and of course to look and see it as much as possible, as my personal therapy.”
I think grateful living is definitely a way of being, but we need to have a process to kind of step into it. And sometimes, when people have come to the gratefulness groups, they haven’t had habits to cultivate gratitude, such as writing in a journal, and they begin to pick those up. I believe what you focus on expands. In a gratitude practice, people, activities, daily life adventures that we are grateful for keep showing up. I believe we have a choice of what lens to use to see the world. What’s working for us or what’s not working. I can shift my own energy when I look at all I have with gratitude.”
We invite you to share comments in the space below the video transcript which follows.
Thank you, Doug Menuez and team, including Executive Producer Pear Urushima, Director of Photography Luke Carquillat, and Sound Technician/Gaffer Dino Davaros, for the grace and heart you bring to your work in making it possible for the diverse stories of grateful living to be shared.
To watch more films in this series, visit Grateful Voices.