My parents were holocaust survivors and growing up in their home I observed how they were grateful for every little thing we often take for granted, like food on the table, a roof over your head, a steady job and the miracle of having children after what they went through. They had hope and love in their lives, given what they went through. So I love to tell stories about people who overcome adversity and still have hope, joy and love in their lives.
2. How do you suggest to people to be grateful when there is so much hardship in the world?
If you want to fight the good fight against injustice you need to be resilient. Gratitude can pull you out of a negative spiral, and set you on a course of a positive direction that will enable you to escape despair and disconnection, and shift your consciousness to being the change you want to be and bring into this world.
3. How do you practice gratitude in your life and what are you grateful for?
My practice revolves around my filmmaking. I wake up every morning wondering if the time lapse shot I set up of a flower in my studio opened up in frame, and looks beautiful. I also go into the garden and see what flower or mushroom is ready for its close up. I am grateful for my eyes that can appreciate beauty, and send these vibrations to my heart. I am grateful for my health, and if I feel depressed or anxious, I wiggle my fingers and feel grateful they can move. There is always something I can feel grateful for, and that stops the negative spiral and engenders gratitude.
4. What did you learn about gratitude that you did not know by making the documentary?
What I learned is that practicing gratitude can have real benefits for your health. Studies at UCSD show that patients with heart disease recover quicker by having a gratitude journal, where they write down five things they are grateful for. Science has proven that gratitude is good for you.
5. Was there ever a time in your life when you couldn’t find anything to be grateful for or trouble being grateful?
Not really. Given what my parents went through I find it hard to feel sorry for myself when negative things happen to me. I can always look at my hand and be grateful I can wiggle my fingers, or breathe, or observe light illuminating beauty.
6. Did you experience any serendipity or synchronicity in making the film?
Yes, some of the people I filmed came into my life without me researching their story. An example would be Minnie Yancy the Appalachian rug weaver in my film, who walked up to me at a gas station in Kentucky and said “You look a little lost, you’re not from these parts” I told her my name and about to go film some coal miners. She said ” If were you, I would say my name is McCoy, if you plan to go up in them there hills” She had this charming glint in her eye, I asked what she did, and I ended up filming her, which turned out to be one of the best highlights of the film.