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Breaking Ground With Gratitude

A learning experience about the importance of using gratitude as a framework when starting an organization.

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During my freshman year of college, I decided to form an organization with a group of then strangers, who are now my closest friends. It has been an interesting ride, one full of uncertainty and stress. With each passing day, we did not know if our organization would make it past the baby-stages. We lost a few founding members along the way, and gained many more new ones, but looking back now, over three years later, I cannot help but feel exhausted. So much time and effort was put into the success of our organization, but I feel that the blood sweat and tears we put into the organization were not acknowledged three years ago, nor are they acknowledged now. In the first year, we were so focused on merely staying afloat that I did not thank my friends nearly enough, and I also never received thanks. However, I am not bitter or angry about not being acknowledged. I knew what I had signed up for and I was aware that it was a difficult journey to form this organization; thus, I never felt like I needed a thank you for my contributions, because I was working just as hard as the next person to keep our organization moving forward. Now though, things are different. 


The issue that I’ve come to realize is that we never built any display of gratitude into the foundation of our organization, and now the next challenge (in a series of seemingly never-ending struggles) is going to be fixing our group from the ground up, to create a more grateful, positive culture. Overall, morale has been incredibly low as of late. People are increasingly becoming uninvolved and apathetic towards the goals of our organization, which is disheartening. At this point, my friends and I have passed the reigns onto the younger students, but we have run into a scenario where the founding members’ concerns are no longer heard by some individuals, and the collective hours spent on building our organization from the ground up seem to have vanished from everyone’s minds. It is now, more than ever, that we feel unappreciated and it is now, for the first time, that we crave acknowledgement for our work – to prove that we are worth listening to.


I took the quiz with this organization in mind and got a pitiful 37 out of 80, and after thinking critically about my situation, it has become abundantly clear that fostering a culture of gratitude and positivity is essential for the success, but more importantly, the longevity of any organization. This is a huge lesson for me, as I will spend this next school year working to incorporate gratitude into this organization, with the hope that it will help the organization survive and thrive, even after I am gone.

Tell us about yourself

I am a senior at the University of Michigan studying Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience.

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