Classes 4 Classes Founder, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis Interviews Anne Kubitsky, the Founder of the Look for the Good Project
. Read below to hear about Look for the Good Project’s incredible mission!
What lead you to found ‘The Look For the Good’ project?
I was having a really rough time when I started the Look for the Good Project and had just learned about Post Secret. I thought, “Why not create a happier version of that?” So I printed 500 self-addressed postcards which asked people to share a “glimmer of gladness” in a community art project and left them in random places in CT and MA. I was amazed at the response. Within a week, I was receiving handmade messages from all over the country; in five weeks, I was receiving gratitude messages from other countries; and soon, thousands of messages poured in from all over. The project quickly gained traction in the media and morphed into a series of books, public installations, school programs, and a nonprofit organization! In the process, I have gone through a tremendous amount of healing.
When I was 15, I experienced a sexual assault that I never told anyone about. I had been attacked and robbed by a number of strangers and never really processed it. Ever since that event, I had avoided crowds, kept myself small, and did whatever I could to numb myself from pain. But I have since learned that you cannot selectively numb emotion. When you avoid pain and shame… you also avoid love and gratitude. So in order to acknowledge all the love that was arriving in my P.O. Box, I had to finally own my story and publicly claim the shame and pain I had buried. And even though this was incredibly difficult, it has opened the door to a new kind of strength and freedom which have been deeply empowering. I now want to share this with as many people as possible.
What is your mission? What do you hope to accomplish?
In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington describes three metrics for success: (1) Money, (2) Power, and (3) Wellbeing. When the third metric is overlooked, a person’s “success” is not balanced and they will eventually stumble into a problem. The same goes with communities. This is why the Look for the Good Project Inc. helps people value wellbeing as a necessary component to success, and creates cultural shifts within communities that better reflect this value. Specifically, we prevent violence by infusing communities with Hope, Gratitude, and Kindness. Through individual and community-based programming and products, we strive to create a more peaceful, happy, and resilient world.
You wrote the book ‘What Makes You Grateful’ which shares many different people’s stories of gratitude. What makes YOU grateful?
I am grateful for the Look for the Good Project because I really think it saved my life. When I started this, I had just lost my job and faith and was being bullied by someone I trusted. This project helped restore my own sense of purpose and wellbeing and empowered me to also share this with others. I am so grateful for the many people who have supported me in the process and opened their hearts to gratitude too!
Why do you think gratitude and looking for good in our world are both important?
Our society is overmedicated, depressed, addicted, violent, and operating in unsustainable ways. We throw people, places, things – even ourselves – away. If we want to be happy and successful in a truly sustainable way, we need to start practicing gratitude. This simple shift in attitude helps us accept ourselves, confront our problems, and learn how to be part of the solution. Simply put, gratitude changes everything:
- Gratitude is Good for Your Health: It lowers blood pressure, it boosts your immune system, it creates favorable changes in the body’s biochemistry including improved hormonal balance and increases in DHEA (the anti-aging hormone), it helps you sleep longer, it improves mental health, it decreases addictive tendencies, and it makes you feel happy and at peace.
- Gratitude is Good for Your Community: It improves your mood, it helps you communicate more effectively, it strengthens relationships, it increases your ability to deal with adversity, and it helps you connect with something larger than yourself.
- Gratitude Decreases Suicide and Teen Violence: Every year, more than 36,000 people kill themselves in the United States – twice the number of deaths from homicide. According to researcher Evan M. Kleiman, positive traits like gratitude decrease the likelihood of suicide. Further studies show that grateful teens are significantly less likely to engage in bullying or violence.
Why is the work you do when you go into classrooms to work with students important?
Over the years, I have worked with all sorts of students. Each age group requires a different approach, but no matter who I’m working with, gratitude works. According to researcher Dr. Jeffrey J. Froh, grateful kids are happier, more satisfied with their lives, more generous, more cooperative, and more likely to want to use their strengths to better their communities. Grateful kids also have higher GPAs and are less likely to be materialistic, envious, and depressed. Teens who became more grateful over a four year period were less likely to be sent to the principal’s office, suspended from school, expelled from school, skip school, bring alcohol or drugs to school, or participate in bullying or violence.
When you create a safe space for students to connect and share, they will surprise you. Kids are hungry for real kindness and connection. The Look for the Good Project helps people create that safe space and students are responding. Katherine Seckler, a college student at Sacred Heart University writes:
“Two days ago I sat in on a colloquium at Sacred Heart University. I was expecting this lecture to be boring. To my surprise this presentation was anything but ordinary. My eyes were open and my thoughts changed. We rarely stop to think about who or what we are thankful for. So today I am thankful for the fact that I can sit here on my computer and write you this message. You have changed my outlook on life, thank you! :)”