Be Grateful for Life

One postcard from the The Look for the Good Project expresses the importance of being grateful for life.

| June 2014

  • "Congratulations! You're ALIVE! If that's not something to smile about, I don't know what is." —Anonymous
    Photo by Fotolia/Glamy
  • “What Makes You Grateful?” began as a personal pick-me-up for Anne O. Kubitsky and quickly turned into a phenomenon after she began distributing blank postcards and asking people to share their own “glimmers of gladness.”
    Cover courtesy Globe Pequot Press

Anne O. Kubitsky has amassed a collection of postcards filled with sincere expressions of gratitude in What Makes You Grateful? (Globe Pequot Press, 2013). What began as a personal pick-me-up after a traumatic event turned into much more when Kubitsky left blank postcards in public places, inviting others to share what makes them grateful. The following excerpt gives the background of the Look for the Good Project, and a look at how one man learned to be grateful for life.

The Look for the Good Project

It started innocently enough. On a whim—one crisp, fall day in October of 2011—I printed 500 invitation cards asking people to share a glimmer of gladness on a postcard and distributed them in post offices, parks, cafes, community centers, libraries, and anywhere I went. I thought it might be fun and wondered if anyone would write back. And to my delight, people did. Within three weeks I was getting handmade postcard responses from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Germany, Australia . . . and now, two years later, I have thousands of responses from all over the world—letters, e-mails, postcards, text messages, phone calls, music, and art of all kinds. In fact, I got so many responses that I’ve hosted a number of exhibits, shared the cards online and in the media, and I unexpectedly went through a lot of healing.

You see, about twelve years before this project began, I went through a traumatic sexual assault that I never fully processed. Still in my teens, I found the experience so upsetting that I bottled it up for the next decade, hiding behind philosophy and science to distance myself from the pain. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the whole thing until just a few years ago. That’s why these postcards have been so healing.

Little by little, postcard by postcard, I began to see that I wasn’t alone. We all have bad things that happen to us. We each have something we regret. But the question is: What do you do about it? Do you get stuck in the drama of the experience and use it as an excuse to stay angry and afraid? Or do you use it as an opportunity to learn a little more about life, love, peace, happiness, and all the intangible qualities that make life great? That’s what this project is helping me do—learn. And I hope that’s what it does for you, too. Because there’s always something to be grateful for. We just have to be open enough to see it.

For example, to keep this project going, I had to consolidate my expenses—selling all my stuff and giving up my apartment. I lived in a small space on the second floor of a beautiful old house overlooking the Connecticut River. Raspberries grew along the wooded paths, deer frequented the neighborhood, I could bicycle to the farmers’ market, and everything was quiet and serene. So, as you might imagine, it was very hard to let go—especially because the move put me in the position of breaking up with my boyfriend and bouncing from house to house working as an overnight petsitter. And as challenging as this has been, it has taught me so much about being present and grateful moment by moment. Money, food, clothes, friendships—resources keep appearing even though I myself have very little. That’s why I think that there’s something magical about this question: “What Makes You Grateful?” It rolls around in your head until your heart opens, your eyes soften, and your whole life begins to reorganize.

At least that’s what’s happening for me.

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