The Gratitude Museum™

The Inspiration: My kids have not had the life experiences I have had to truly appreciate the incredible freedoms we have in the USA, our health, financial stability, emotional stability, food security, safety and the list literally goes on and on. Instead they simply compare themselves to their surroundings and see that as the norm. Everything they may want in life or see as good or bad is relative to the high standard of living they already have. The higher your normal life is, the harder it is to have true appreciation for the things you already have.

I notice most adults (and myself occasionally) do the same. This behavior is normal. Its root cause is due to our psychology and incorporates the Contrast Principle and the Social Comparison Theory. People view their satisfaction and success in relative terms to their surroundings and they compare themselves to others socially to see if they are “on-track”. So it is part of the human condition to focus on and what you don’t have without fully appreciating and having gratitude for all of the blessings we do have.

I wanted to change that for my kids and for some of the adults in my life that have many blessings in their lives, but are miserable because they just don’t see what they have and are not grateful. They spend their limited and precious time on this earth putting their emotional energy into focusing on what they don’t have, what they can’t change, or the problem instead of feeling grateful for what they do have and what they can do.

The Idea: I started to think about how I could teach and expose my kids to how similar aged children in other countries live so they can be more grateful for what they have. I tried things like showing them some videos of kids in poverty and having them give toys to kids that are less fortunate but it didn’t seem immersive. I wanted a fully immersive experience, like an experiential museum on steroids, where you can walk into and surround yourself in the environment of a Shanty town with the smell, look and feel that is like being there. Immersive experiences like this will help them realize how good they have it, and if they ever say anything about the size of our house, the food we eat or thing they “need”, they will have a point of reference that helps them be grateful for what they do have.

When I observed friends and family not taking advantage of all of the opportunities they do have and focusing on what they don’t have, I thought the Gratitude Museum would be helpful for them and the concept expanded to other areas of gratitude and inspiration like health, security, government, freedom, commerce and the list goes on. The museum would be a place where people would walk in thinking they had a real “problem” and leave feeling grateful for all that they have and inspired to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.

The Next Step: I am building a coalition of people and organizations that would like to collaborate on this project and bring this vision to life. Please contact me if you are interested and let me know how you think you could help. In the meanwhile you can visit the Virtual Gratitude Museum™ which is a work in progress as I curate content provided by supporters that may be used in the physical museum. Thank you for your support!