Building a POTENT Gratitude Community

Potent Gratitude Park

A rendering of POTENT Gratitude Park

Dr. Rick Hanson, a prominent neuroscientist, is known for suggesting that the human brain has a natural negativity bias, internalizing negative experiences more deeply than positive ones. According to Dr. Hanson’s “Velcro and Teflon theory,” the brain is like Velcro (i.e., sticky) for negative experiences and Teflon (slippery) for positive ones. But how can we reverse this so the brain becomes Teflon to the negative experiences, and Velcro to the positive? 

I believe you can rewire your brain to create positive opportunities out of the challenges in life and begin to find ways to make all of the good things stick like Velcro. POTENT is the answer. POTENT Gratitude encompasses all of life’s gifts that you can be grateful for—and the growth opportunities that arise from the challenges. 

Changing the Conversation

POTENT Gratitude is a way of looking at and finding all that you can be grateful for in life: the good and the positive. POTENT stands for People, Opportunities, Things, Experiences, Nature and Thoughts. These are the gifts we can look for and see every day. When we program our brains through daily journaling, meditation or “POTENT huddles” with our teams, we can begin to shed the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) that characterizes today’s world—and the good starts to stick in our brains. 

On the other hand, POTENT also stands for Problems, Obstacles, Troubles, “Eggos” (existential crises), Natural Disasters and Transitions. These are the growth opportunities in life, and we can be grateful for the lessons and accomplishments that arise from overcoming them. They can also be programmed into a daily practice that helps transform the not-so-good into amazing learning experiences. It flips the switch on a challenge and turns it into an opportunity!

Peoria has gone through an amazing few years, with both good times and bad. We are a resilient community that has so much to be grateful for and many great lessons to learn from our past. With the help of Build Peoria, Central States Media and my MasterMind 2.0 group, we are working to change the conversation to a POTENT one as it relates to Peoria’s future. 

Keep Up With Our Progress


Each year, based on a public nomination and voting process, Build Peoria selects a community project to bring to life. Located next to Sovereign Grace Missionary Baptist Church and across the street from Proctor Recreation Center, POTENT Gratitude Park is Build Peoria’s 2021-22 project. It is expected to be complete by this time next year. 

To create this new park, our team will remove three vacant homes and replace them with beautiful greenspace for families on Peoria’s Southside to celebrate events—and for all of Peoria to celebrate what is possible when we collaborate as a community. 

In conjunction with this effort, will be up and running soon as a portal for people in our community to share the many great stories upon which we can build for the future. It will be a place where people can go to learn about practicing POTENT Gratitude in their lives, in their businesses and in their community. It will be a place to celebrate Peoria and its awesomeness.

We are excited to be the first “POTENT Gratitude Community” in the world! We believe Peoria can be an epicenter for demonstrating all of the ways that gratitude can revolutionize a community.

What matters most in our daily lives? A practice and mindset based on POTENT Gratitude can help steer you toward answering this question with the most impactful result. Today I am grateful for you—and for the opportunity to share this practice. Let us move forward by internalizing the positive, and be grateful for all of life’s gifts.

With gratitude,

Bob Woolsey
Chief Inspiration Officer at Jones Bros. Jewelers

Follow the progress of POTENT Gratitude Park at or on Facebook or Instagram @buildpeoria. 

Featured in:
Peoria Magazine: September 2021

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