For the month of November 2018, I visualized passions and gratitude into miniature drawings as a friendly reminder of our humanity in spite of the chaos around us. Each hand holding a drawing has touched me in some way for which I am eternally grateful.
Initially, the motivation for the project was to develop a habit of allocating a specified amount of time—whether that be ten minutes or an hour—to a hobby, as a nice mental break from working full-time. This quickly transformed into an impactful challenge that tested my creativity and courage.
Reaching out to friends, family and strangers was anything but easy for a selective introvert like myself. I had to mute all the little voices squirming around upstairs and overcome my anxiety of negative opinions. I asked thirty people two simple questions:
1. What are your passions?
2. What are you most grateful for?
I thought my questions would be effortless to answer but was proved wrong based on feedback. Here are a few of the responses I received after giving the two prompts:
“Initially I couldn’t really answer it hahaha I really had to pose the question to myself…”
“I was in my shower for 40 minutes like, damn, what are my passions”
“I have been thinking about how to answer the two very simple prompts. I had no clue how to write an answer.”
“This took a long time. I had to sit down and actually think”
“Oh man those are deep LOL okay I’ll think about it in a bubble bath or something”
“I haven’t thought about this since high school when they made you write down your goals and stuff. Thanks for this opportunity to reflect and share.”
The responses were heart-warming, inspiring and outright beautiful. Direct quotes are included in the stories behind each artwork, along with a priceless life lesson I learned from each holder.
After about eight responses, I began to see a trend. It’s safe to say that every individual has a unique passion. But when it comes to what they’re grateful for, it’s almost always for people and everything that constitutes life.
It doesn’t take a lot to get someone talking about themselves. We all love sharing as long as there’s an active listener at the receiving end. It’s a two-way street and the more opportunities for communication, the stronger communities we can build together.
And so here’s a final question for you: how can we instill more gratitude in our daily routines to live happier and richer lives?
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This hand is an incredibly gifted writer and passionate surfer. One of a kind. I’ve never met anyone like her and I am moved by her devotion to her crafts—serving as a constant reminder to never lose sight of my hobbies in the midst of work life. She’s most grateful for having her independence, riding the waves of nature’s beauty, and caring for her precious cat.
This hand is completely devoted to altruism. An incredible team leader and player, he has restored much of my faith in humanity. His passion in helping people stems from a fruitful realization: “benevolence is contagious.” He’s grateful “to be alive and for everything that entails.” I can’t recall the last time I felt happy because my respiratory system was properly functioning to allow for effortless gas exchange. I take these seemingly little but fundamental things I possess for granted all the time. He has allowed me to reflect on my personal values and cherish the little things while looking at the whole picture we call life.
This hand is the life of every party. His genuine affection for quality time with friends and family is contagious and a joy to witness. I’m always inspired to get out and make a new connection. He’s grateful to be able to “live in a world without having to constantly worry about living.” And is passionate about experiencing life with loved ones. “Snowboard down new mountains, swim in different oceans, raft down a new river, learn about different cultures, play basketball in a new country, find what brings happiness to people.”
This hand derives from a curious soul and someone I consider a mentor. A brief conversation with him opened my eyes to his abiding gratitude for family and cultural roots. He’s passionate about learning and growing as a designer whose work emanates “inspiration from the places he’s lived and the people he’s met & worked with.”
This hand is a seeker for self-growth. I truly respect her ambition for gaining insight into new cultures. She’s grateful for the “challenges and harsh realities that life can teach you.” Every mountain that supposedly presents us with adversity can be colored in with a new lesson of virtue. “Growing pains teach you humility, patience and open-mindedness.”
This hand is a dreamer who walks the walk. She has fearlessly followed her passions for “bringing visions and ideas into reality” and carved her own space in the physical world. Her gratitude for her parents’ bravery in introducing this golden land of opportunity to their children is overflowing. Because of them, she does not allow boundaries to confine her imagination or diminish her outlook. Shoot for the galaxies. Even if you miss, you’ll create your own stars.
This hand belongs to the only one who really understands me—we support one another’s passions and aren’t afraid to call each other out when necessary. He’s most grateful for the people he has met. “Life is a journey, that along the way, people will nudge you in different directions. But the ones who matter will always steer you on the right track.”
This hand belongs to my number one role model. Her curiosity for learning at 92 and indisputable love for God and human interactions are my primary motivators. Whenever I look at her, I see a greater being in care for her hearty, full-fledged wings. She has experienced firsthand so much history—WWII, the Vietnam War, and the Cultural Revolution to name a few. She’s grateful for the circumstances today, in comparison to the unfathomable difficulties she’d faced in her past. She’s living proof that life is a privilege. So every time I catch myself taking it for granted, I look up to her for an awakening.
This hand is the reason I wake up every morning, excited to work towards progressing my skill set and becoming a better version of myself than yesterday. Because of the environment, he has cultivated, I am now completely assured of the types of people I want to surround myself with—humane, synergetic, ambitious souls. Like the spirit of a deer, his character is nothing short of kindness. Like the spirit of an eagle, his character manifests the belief in a power greater than himself. Like the spirit of a bear, his character brings healing to those around him.