COVID-19 is the worst. Tim Bono, campus happiness expert, won’t pretend otherwise. But if we are to protect our mental, as well as our physical, health, it’s vital to celebrate small kindnesses, moments of beauty and pieces of good news. “The Gratitude Project,” a new video series, highlights Washington University in St. Louis faculty, staff and students rising up for the greater good.
“Despite the challenges, we can still take some time to watch one of our colleagues running down the street in a gingerbread costume to bring cheer to his co-workers or a sloth at the Dallas Zoo wishing students well,” said Bono, assistant dean for assessment in Student Affairs and lecturer in psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences. He produced the series with Jeff Allen, manager of the Harvey Media Center. “Practicing gratitude does not trivialize trauma or deny it, but it can help us cope.”
Inspired by actor John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” web series, the Gratitude Project was developed by the innovation subcommittee of the chancellor’s Fall Contingency Planning Committee. The debut episode — which features Rob Reardon, assistant director for operations in the Office of Technology Management; Shanti Parikh, associate professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences; the Bon Appetit staff and others — launched this week, with more to follow throughout the spring semester.
To contribute ideas, visit The Gratitude Project.
Bono says he, himself, has been buoyed by the project. He loves meeting new colleagues and learning about the creative ways that faculty, staff and students are supporting one another. Not long ago, he interviewed Gay Lorberbaum, senior lecturer at the Sam Fox School, for the second installment of the series. For almost an hour, they talked about her organization, Building Futures, which offers design work for local students.
“I learned about the amazing work she’s doing in the community and the great kids she’s met who will be the next generation of engineers and architects,” Bono said. “I got off the call feeling so uplifted. It occurred to me this was the first in-depth conversation I had in a long time that wasn’t dominated by, ‘How’s working from home? Will we ever eat in a restaurant again?’ And it felt great. And that’s what gratitude does — provides a reprieve and a reminder that there is still good in the world.”