Testimony of a journey with The Gratitude Graffiti Project

This submission is a great follow up to Lucila’s blog post: “A Double Life”.  Thanks to Tyffanie Ammeter for sending us this heartfelt testimony of how this project has touched her and how she has taken the practice to a new level personally and professionally.  You have made us so proud of you and your success at Columbia University, Teachers College. Thank you for being a champion!

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“When I first heard about The Gratitude Graffiti Project from Candice in June 2013, I was blown away by the idea. I thought it was such an inspirational way to foster the all-important quality of being grateful. It was something that struck a chord with me. I was at a point in my life where I wanted–and more importantly needed–to cultivate a sense of gratitude. I appreciated the value of doing the project leading up to Thanksgiving…not only for the obvious reasons of what Thanksgiving represents, but also for the fact that the holiday season seems to be so hectic and material possession-focused that we tend to forget about all the things we already have. What better way to remember and get the whole community involved?

But I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving. So I thought of way to do it right in the middle of the summer. I emailed a bunch of girlfriends, explained what the project was about and told them that I wanted to create a virtual space where we could all participate.  Twelve of my best friends, located in places such as Chile, Australia, Germany and all over the US, were eager to participate and we got started on June 10, 2013. For 40 days, I would send out an email every morning sharing what I was grateful for, and throughout the day each person would reply all with their gratitude. So every day, I would get 12 replies to my original email, filled with thoughts of thankfulness of the things going on in each of their lives.

This project caused a profound shift in my perspective. I could slowly see how I was able to be genuinely more grateful for everything in my life, even during challenging moments. I also felt increasingly happier…sometimes to the point of tears. Aside from these personal changes, this project also allowed me to feel much closer to my dear friends. It isn’t always easy to stay in constant contact with my friends due to time differences and our busy schedules, but even receiving a one sentence email from each one of them daily made me feel immensely more close to them. Even though they weren’t writing me with updates in their life, I could gather what was going on just from what they shared each day. It was a beautiful experience and many of them expressed similar changes in happiness as a result of participating.

I loved this project so much that I decided to implement it in two ways during the actual timeframe (Oct-Nov) it was meant to be implemented.

First, I decided to do a second round of virtual Gratitude Graffiti Project with my friends. I emailed more friends and 11 of them (some were first-timers, others had previously participated) joined in! Some were new friends from graduate school, some were friends I’ve known since I was 10 and it was fantastic to share another 40 days of gratitude with them!

Secondly, I took the idea of The Gratitude Graffiti Project to the Office of Student Development at Activities (SDA) at my graduate institution, Teachers College, Columbia University. SDA loved the idea, especially with respect to how it helps build community and thanks to a student worker in the office, Katherine Worthington, we were able to implement the project at Teachers College. We modified it to suit our community, but we had great results in the end! This video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPRlzSVgDvg&noredirect=1) gives a great overview of how we implemented it at Teachers College and what it meant to everyone in our community!

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, I already have a reminder in my calendar for next year to get started on planning both a virtual Gratitude Graffiti Project and another one at school. I am so thankful to Candice for all of her guidance and support as we worked to launch the project in NYC. And more than that, I am grateful that her and Lucila for coming up with this awesome project!”

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