A sunrise. A child’s laughter. That first sip of freshly brewed coffee.
These seem like simple, everyday things. But more often than not, these are aspects of our fast-paced lives that many of us overlook.
Schedules, deadlines, and to-do lists have consumed our day-to-day. And we rarely get to stop to breathe in the magic of the moment.
Herein lies a transformative practice that many of us fail to cultivate. It’s one that has the power to reshape the way we see the world and, at the same time, enhance our well-being.
That practice? Gratitude.
And one individual has dedicated his life’s work to exploring and promoting this notion—all in the form of art and nature. His name is Louie Schwartzberg, a master of visual storytelling and acclaimed filmmaker best known for his documentaries Gratitude Revealed and Fantastic Fungi.
In an episode of The Mindvalley Show, Louie shares his unorthodox perspective on gratitude—one that includes an unexpected connection: mushrooms.
Listen: You can catch the full interview on The Mindvalley Show:
Who Is Louie Schwartzberg?
The name “Louie Schwartzberg” may be linked to gratitude and mushrooms, but it’s synonymous with breathtaking timelapse photography of nature. He’s spent a good portion of his life capturing the unique blend of artistic vision and scientific curiosity.
I love making films not only about the little things but also about unveiling the mystery [of] ‘what is the foundation of life?’— Louie Schwartzberg, director, producer, and cinematographer
His work isn’t just about capturing awe-inspiring visuals—it’s about storytelling. Through his stunning cinematography, he weaves complex narratives of nature and life, shedding light on the intricate tapestry of connections that define our world.
Louie’s approach is deeply rooted in understanding nature’s feminine aspect. “The real story of nature is more about the feminine,” he emphasizes. “It’s about relationships; it’s about connection; it’s about rebirth, regeneration, love, nurturing.”
Indeed, it’s these interactions that often go unnoticed. These are the moments of magic that we’ve glazed over without a second thought, the ones we take for granted.
Through Louie’s lenses, however, these moments become a symphony of light and color. It’s a testament to the unfathomable beauty that is nature.
For example, in his Netflix documentary Fantastic Fungi, Louie brings us into the amazing world of these little plants. His film shows us the power of mushrooms and how they can help heal us and the planet. And it’s this mix of nature, art, and people that are at the heart of Louie’s ideas about gratitude.
Louie believes that when we start to notice the small details in nature around us, we start to feel more thankful. But it’s more than just enjoying the beauty around us; being thankful can help us feel better, be more positive, and improve our mental health.
The Benefits of Gratitude, According to Science
Gratitude isn’t just a feeling; it’s “the key to happiness,” according to Vishen, the founder of Mindvalley.
There is plenty of research that highlights the benefits, including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Better sleep
- Stronger immune system
- Boost in confidence
- Higher levels of patience
- More positivity
- Able to “bounce back” faster
- Less focus on materialistic things
- Improve relationships
- Make better decisions
These, among others, can ultimately make you happier in the long run.
And the thing is, Louie’s work supports these scientific findings. But he goes even further.
He shows how a gratitude practice can change your life. And he does this in a surprising way—with the world of mushrooms.
The Intersection of Gratitude, Mushrooms, and Mindfulness
Gratitude? Mushrooms? Mindfulness? These three ideas together might seem like a strange connection, much like art and neurology, when they’re applied to marketing strategies. But dive deeper into Louie’s work, and you’ll find an amazing tale about how important mushrooms are to the world.
The thing is, Fantastic Fungi isn’t just about different kinds of fungi or even the psychedelic benefits you can get from ingesting them. Rather, it’s about realizing how much mushrooms do for us and the world, making these overlooked little guys something to be grateful for.
“Mushrooms break down organic matter, which creates soil,” he explains. “And without soil, there’d be no plants. So without fungi, there’d be no life on our planet.”
What’s more, science is starting to show that certain mushrooms—psilocybin, for instance—can have a big impact on mental health. They might even help with problems like depression and anxiety.
So, there are the mushrooms that help make the world go ‘round. Then there’s the gratitude for it and the things it helps produce.
But what about mindfulness? Well, it’s simply that mindfulness is experiencing all of life in all its fullness—the smell of a flower, the taste of a strawberry, or even the quiet calm of a forest.
These three ideas—thankfulness, the wonder of nature, and being in the moment—are a reminder that we’re all part of the world. And that helps us feel like we belong and, ultimately, impacts our overall well-being.
How to Cultivate Gratitude: 3 Practical Tips From Louie Schwartzberg
Saying “thank you” is just one part of gratitude. Acknowledgment and deep appreciation for the good things in life are the other parts. And this is the attitude that Louie has devoted his life to cultivating and inspiring others with.
So how can you nurture gratitude like he does? Here are three tips he shares on The Mindvalley Show:
1. Be grateful
As mentioned, Louie is a huge advocate for the practice of gratitude (after all, he made a film about it).
“It’s so easy to fall into a practice of gratitude,” he says. “It stops the negative thinking that we all get, I think, sucked into, especially in today’s world.”
What’s more, it has a therapeutic effect. The ability to sort through thoughts and emotions reduces the odds of heart disease, as one study from the University of San Diego found.
Louie Schwartzber’s tip: There are plenty of ways to do this practice, from keeping a gratitude jar to simply saying it out loud.
One that Louie highlights is a gratitude journal—a daily activity that encourages you to write down three things you’re grateful for. The power of this practice lies in its simplicity. By forcing you to stop and think of what you’re thankful for, it shifts your attention from burdens to blessings.
2. Be mindful
“Hack your present with mindfulness,” Vishen has been known to say. And with good reason.
For one, it’s one way of appreciating the small, intricate details you may miss as you go about your day. (And this ties back to the practice of gratitude.)
Two, it’s about having sensory experiences—see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. With mindfulness, you take the time to see the trees sway, listen to the rustle of leaves, feel the earth with grounding, smell the freshly cut grass, and taste the fruits of nature’s labor.
And third, by consciously pausing to immerse yourself in what’s going on around you, you can elevate your emotional health. It minimizes the mental habit of revisiting past sorrows or worrying about future uncertainties.
Louie Schwartzber’s tip: If you’re open to it (and if it’s available legally), check what Louie mentions about psychedelic experiences. Despite its controversial reputation, he explains that “it’s a portal into feeling the energy that’s all around us that we normally don’t see.”
It allows you to have a present-focused awareness. And by slowing down and having that sensory experience, you’ll be able to foster a sense of wonder and gratitude for the natural world.
3. Be with nature
Mother Earth is called that for a reason. As any mother does, it nurtures us and provides us with the sustenance we need to thrive.
And as research shows, doing things with Her is an antidote for stress. It goes back to having a sensory experience—seeing, listening, feeling, smelling, and tasting.
“When I discovered nature, I found my greatest teacher,” Louie says. “She taught me everything about lighting composition, texture rhythms, also a portal into universal rhythms that connect with the deepest part of [my] soul.”
Taking his cue, being in nature can remind you of your interconnectedness with the world. That can help you with mindfulness. And that can bolster your sense of gratitude.
And as you now know, that, as a result, can really do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit.
Louie Schwartzber’s tip: Going for a hike, nurturing a garden, or watching a documentary like Fantastic Fungi—there are so many ways to engage with nature. Such interactions with what Mother Earth has to offer can help you appreciate its beauty and complexity.
As Louie says, “Nature’s imagery is medicine.”
Sowing Your Seeds of Thanks
The story of Louie Schwartzberg, gratitude, and mushrooms is many things—a journey of exploration and connection, uncovering the profound beauty in the every day, and acknowledging our interconnectedness with the world around us.
Yet it’s also a reminder to pause, appreciate, and express gratitude for the wonders that surround us. Everything from the smallest mushroom to the vast expanse of the night sky.
So, the next time you encounter a mushroom during a walk, remember Louie’s message: Don’t simply dismiss it as a strange, fungal organism. Instead, see it as an emblem of nature’s wonder, a prompt to be grateful and mindful, and possibly a gateway to deeper emotional well-being.
So how do you get there?
“You have to start by being really clear inside of yourself,” Louie explains. “Psychedelics enable you to do that. Music enables you to do that. Beautiful imagery enables you to do that. There are many portals into the Divine.”
One other way to the Divine? Through personal growth.
And if you’re interested in learning more about how you can level up in life, unlock your free Mindvalley access. With it, you have access to:
- Free quest lessons,
- Daily guided meditations from Mindvalley mentors,
- Invites to exclusive community events, and
- The world’s best learning technology.
As Vishen says, “Your soul is here to grow.” And so, welcome in.