Teddy Droseros ’10 had plenty of experience with heartbreak growing up with a mom who was battling multiple sclerosis, but a life-changing gratitude practice made him realize how lucky he was and prompted him to create a new company so he could share the wealth.
“As I got deep into gratitude practice, I came to understand that my experience with my mom created a lot of pain and obstacles and stress about the future, but at the same time, it’s really the best thing that’s ever happened to me for what it taught me and for the awareness of what I had,” said Droseros, who started his company, Grateful Peoples, in 2015. The company publishes a gratitude journal as well as a coffee table book with grateful messages written by strangers from across the country.
The more Droseros saw his mother struggle with everyday movements, the longer his gratitude list became.
“The fact that I get out of bed and my legs hold me up, and I can walk to the bathroom, and I can shower by myself and get dressed by myself. These are things that a lot of people can and do take for granted,” Droseros said. “Tying my own shoes, in particular, is a big one. I spent a lot of time tying my mom’s shoes.”
But, Droseros didn’t always feel so positive. He had graduated from Babson in 2010 and was in his early 20s and working in New York City when he began practicing gratitude.
“I just started questioning what I was doing every day and how I was spending my time,” Droseros said. He looked into different methods of personal development, and practicing gratitude was something he could implement immediately.
“I’m really bad at starting new habits, but for whatever reason, this one just stuck,” Droseros said. “Every night before bed, I would write down three things I’m grateful for. And, after a couple of weeks, I really noticed my mind responding a lot differently to things going on in the outside world.”
Attitude of Gratitude
Droseros remembers the day when he felt the impact of his gratitude practice. He was stressed about work, but as he climbed out of the subway station, his attitude had shifted toward positivity.
“The way my mind kind of switched up the day and switched up the way my day would proceed—it was really cool and beautiful. And, I was like, ‘Wow, this stuff can be pretty powerful.’ ”
Droseros immediately started thinking about how the practice of gratitude could help others.
“My first idea was to see if I could help kids in school. I started practicing gratitude in my early 20s, and I saw what it did for my mind after just a couple of years. What if this was started at 10 years old? What if someone received their first gratitude journal at that age,” Droseros asked.
Droseros, who grew up in New York City, reached out to one of his former high school teachers and asked if he could hand out Grateful Peoples’ gratitude journals and encourage students to fill it out during homeroom. The teacher agreed, and Droseros went to visit the class at the end of the school year.
“I knew it was going to be a positive experience for them, but I didn’t realize how much of a positive experience,” he said. “I remember standing in front of the class and realizing that this is what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life. So, that was the beginning, and since then it’s just been really awesome and crazy.”
Grateful Peoples has since donated 20,000 gratitude journals to students across the United States and Canada, and continues to donate one every time someone buys a journal. Gratitude’s positive impact on students continues to impress Droseros and the teachers he works with.
“The feedback from teachers is really amazing. Across the board, literally every teacher says they notice a significant difference in their students’ behavior and how they treat each other,” Droseros said. “One of our schools that followed the project very closely reported a 40% decrease in behavioral reports after just one year.”
“My thinking is, why not just make gratitude in the classroom a worldwide thing? I just want the people around me to practice gratitude and get the amazing experience of feeling gratitude.”
Teddy Droseros ’10, Grateful Peoples
Thanksgiving Day and Giving Thanks
Despite the fact that Thanksgiving often kicks off the holiday season, Droseros said gratitude and positivity can sometimes be in short supply at this time of the year.
“The holidays can be a bittersweet thing for many people,” Droseros said. “Keeping a gratitude journal just helps you to take note of the better things and put a positive spin on it. Gratitude is something that just strengthens the mind to be more aware and more present and see reality for what it really is.”
The Babson graduate’s work with gratitude has been so intriguing that Michelle Smith, Babson women’s lacrosse team coach, got a bunch of Grateful Peoples’ gratitude journals and asked the team to use them during the spring 2022 semester.
“She had so much positive feedback about how they helped the team,” Droseros said, adding that Babson prepared him for so many of the issues he faces every day at Grateful Peoples.
“It’s such an amazing place to learn about entrepreneurship and how to use business to create change in the world,” he said.
Droseros is working to expand Grateful People’s outreach, publishing both the journal and book in Spanish so he can extend to Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.
“My thinking is, why not just make gratitude in the classroom a worldwide thing? I just want the people around me to practice gratitude and get the amazing experience of feeling gratitude,” he said.
Response has been overwhelmingly positive from the young students, teachers, coffee shop owners, and many others who get a chance to use his book and see gratitude in action.
Perhaps most importantly for Droseros, he was able to share his work with his mother before she died in 2020.
“She knew I had made a journal, but she didn’t realize the whole extent of what I was doing. I was able to show her one of the school videos,” Droseros said, referencing a 2018 video that interviewed the students and teachers at Lincoln Middle School in Syracuse, New York, after they had been practicing daily gratitude.
“That’s when she really understood what I was trying to do. And, you know, my mom is a huge inspiration in my life in general, but especially for Grateful Peoples.”