We believe inspiring people to be grateful will allow them to change their lives and communities for the better.
“Grateful living is a way of life which asks us to notice all that is already present and abundant – from the tiniest things of beauty to the grandest of our blessings – and in so doing, to take nothing for granted. We can learn to focus our attention on, and acknowledge, that life is a gift. Even in the most challenging times, living gratefully makes us aware of, and available to, the opportunities that are always available; opportunities to learn and grow, and to extend ourselves with care and compassion to others. Grateful living is based in, and reinforces, values such as respect, responsibility, and generosity. Small, grateful acts every day can uplift us, make a difference for others, and help change the world.”
According to Brother David Steindl-Rast, grateful living practices have three simple steps:
STOP: become present, awake, aware, receptive
LOOK: notice, observe, consider, have a direct experience
GO: acknowledge, take action, do something with the opportunity and awareness which gratefulness offers you
The Origins of the Gratitude Project
Ken Stober of ThirdSpaceCanada.org
The gratitude project came to me one morning while I was walking the Greenway and reflecting on life. The previous night I watched as the newly formed ISIS, a radical group known for beheading anyone
opposed to their mandate, captured a young Syrian pilot; beat him, placed him in a cage, and set him on fire.
The image of this human burning in a cage for doing his duty to his country, contrasted with the beauty of the Greenway that spring
morning pained my soul in an unimaginable way. My brain could simply not process the inequality the world has to offer. Where some people can live in peace and prosperity and others in a living nightmare. I could not ignore the implications this stark contrast of inequality was telling me.
I thought to myself that morning, something needed to be done in our community to elevate the awesome privilege it is to be a citizen of Canada. The R.C.M.P. immediately came to mind as the undervalued organization that disproportionately influences the fabric of our society allowing us to live in freedom.
The seed of the Gratitude Project was planted. I shared this inspirational “call to action” with my Third Space team. Elevating human potential and building a supportive community are key values at Third Space, making the concept of the Gratitude Project a natural and inspiring
concept for the team.
Our core committee for the Gratitude Project was born of dedicated community partners: Inspector Brent Mundel, Corporal Jesse
O’Donaghey of the R.C.M.P; Judy Gillespie, Brian Rasmussen, Manuela Reekie, Bonny Thorne, School of Nursing and School of Social Work students of UBC Okanagan, as well as Third Space team members Scott Lanigan, Sharlene O’Reilly. These diverse team members and myself began meeting every two weeks with the aim to harness the power of gratitude and translate it into events and school initiatives.
After much work and the addition of many more community partners and sponsors the Gratitude Project has become a reality. Thank you to all those who have and continue to practice gratitude. Your choice makes a difference in the lives of those around you!
“Officers and staff of the Kelowna Regional RCMP have been honoured to be a part of the inaugural Gratitude Project during the month of October. It’s truly amazing to see members of the community band together to express their gratitude to others in original and such meaningful ways. Our hope is that the public will continue to express their gratitude throughout our great city year round.”
– Corporal Jesse O’Donaghey – R.C.M.P
“My journey as a pediatric nurse has invited me to be grateful and to cherish and embrace every opportunity – often without hesitation. I have learned that life’s greatest learnings and blessings can arise from the simple every day. An invitation to join a small group of individuals at Third Space to discuss gratitude and to brainstorm how to bring a community together marked the beginning of my involvement in the gratitude initiative. The notion of inviting a community to pause and be grateful inspired me, as research has shown that gratitude positively influences psychological wellbeing and physical health. It has been a pleasure witnessing what was a simple conversation, and a few ideas on paper, grow and morph into what it has become… for that I am grateful.”
– Manuela Reekie – UBC Okanagan School of Nursing
“When working with the Third Space team in organizing our Forgiveness Challenge, I was repeatedly faced with quotes that touched on having a heart of gratitude for where we are in life: being focusing forward, and realizing we have the power to change things if we need to, even if it’s simply our perspective on a situation. In counseling, I would often encourage clients to list off what they have to be grateful for rather than acknowledging the have-not’s in life as a means of empowerment when they feel stuck or even hopeless. Personally, I see gratitude as vital in loving and living in the now, acknowledging both who and what I have in my life, in my hands, and in my heart as something to be present with for the time I have them. It helps us see and keep what’s important in the forefront.”
– Sharlene O’Reilly
“When I listened to Ken share his inspiration to champion a gratitude community engagement, city-wide project at Third Space, and his team’s aspiration to elevate the work of First Responders, I lit up. In my capacity of fostering UBC partnerships that aim to enrich student engagement, encourage faculty participation, and create tangible mutual benefits for our community partners — while allowing us to serve the community in which we live– the gratitude project has surpassed my expectations. “
– Bonny Thorne – UBC Okanagan Faculty of Health & Social Development
“It’s my experience, and from what I have noticed in others lives, living a generous and grateful life and living your life, modeling a life of gratitude is the greatest positive game changer in a persons existence.”
– Ken Stober
“As future nurses, we strive to empower community members and create a foundation for mental wellness. Knowing that our values aligned with those of the minds behind the Gratitude Project, we were inspired to join the movement. Most importantly, it was an honour to be provided the opportunity to use gratitude as a venue to positively impact the youth within our community.”
– UBC School of Nursing Students
“Throughout my life I have seen how gratitude directly impacts my attitude. It fuels so many things in my life: generosity, kindness, patience and it always reminds me to be thankful for the simple things. Knowing what it has done for me, it was a no brainer to jump on board the Gratitude Project to see how it could impact our community.”
– Scott Lanigan
“First, it offered me an opportunity to learn about and reflect more on the role of gratitude as an aspect of a strong and healthy community, how gratitude at a community level might impact individual well-being, what can be done to enhance gratitude at a community level, and what might get in the way of gratitude. My desire to be involved also reflects the reality that the older I have gotten, the more I have become aware of – and felt grateful for – the role community has played in my well-being – but this project made me more conscious of that “feeling” of gratitude and seemed like an opportunity to ‘pay it forward.’ With that in mind, I was also inspired by the impact I felt this project might have – we live in a very individualistic society where people often forget how much we affect one another’s well-being. The goal of this project was to remind us of the importance of community in our lives and to help us think about how we can enhance our own communities. The outcome I am most hoping for is that the project has started new conversations between people – conversations that reflect greater awareness of how important we are to one another’s well-being.”
– Judy Gillespie, UBC School of Social Work
A huge thanks to all our 2016 Gratitude Project Partners.