Prior to Thanksgiving week, aSweatLife hosted a breakfast-and-learn focused on gratitude practices – a buzzy topic to be sure, but one that we were excited to talk about in a very different way.
Editor In Chief Kristen Geil led us through a few gratitude visualization exercises, and we all went into the day feeling all kinds of warm-fuzzies alongside the rest of the 50 attendees. On this episode of the podcast, the four hosts break down what we did during that breakfast-and-learn and why we did it, as well as what our own gratitude practices look like.
A few weeks before the breakfast-and-learn, we asked attendees to do the following: Submit three photos from your camera roll on your phone that make you feel grateful. As you’re searching, look for the hidden gems, and make sure you select at least two photos you don’t mind sharing with the group.
Together, Geil led the group through visual gratitude exercises, and if you’re looking for a way to bring your family together this upcoming holiday week and beyond, you’re going to want to jot down these notes, too.
3 gratitude exercises to try this Thanksgiving
With Photo #1: Take 3-5 minutes to jot down any notes about one of the photos you selected. Depending on how big your group is, you can have everyone share one thing they wrote down. Answer the following questions to get the creative juices flowing:
- To someone who doesn’t know you, what does this image show?
- What does this image represent to you?
- How did you feel at the moment this photo was taken?
- How do you feel looking back on it today?
- Why did you choose to print this photo?
With Photo #2: Select a photo you don’t mind having others look at and write notes about. The second exercise is a group activity. You’ll spread out photos next to a slip of paper around the room. Each participant will walk around and write down what he or she sees in the photo. It could be a guess as to why you think someone selected the photo, or just jot down what you observe and what you find to be extraordinary within the shot.
Fellow podcast host Jeana Anderson Cohen watched this exercise unfold and told us on this week’s #WeGotGoals episode, “Everyone was just completely delighted when they got back to their photos. I was overcome by the amount of positivity that came through the room.”
“it was a good way to stretch those gratitude muscles,” Geil added.
With Photo #3: Practicing gratitude is never a one-and-done deal, it’s a muscle you have to continue to work on. So with this third photo, we offered a few ways to allow this exercise to live and breathe outside the walls of the breakfast-and-learn. Either share the photo on your favorite form of social media along with the reason why you’re grateful for the moment, or start a separate album in your phone of the photos you don’t plan to post to Instagram, but the ones you want to save for the moments you need an extra mood boost or reminder why you do have so much to be grateful for.
Listen to the podcast to hear why we loved the element of the visual exercise so much, and how different the different the exercise felt when we could actually hold a 4 x 6 print of some of our most cherished photos from the past year.
What else we talked about on this episode
On this episode, we also share what we learned from some of our previous guests this year and how we have implemented some of their gratitude regimens in our own daily routines.
Anderson Cohen pulls from Laura Vanderkam and Stephanie Izard in her amalgamation of different practices which culminates in writing three separate lists every day. Each morning, she writes what makes today different from other days, because as Vanderkam explains in her episode, creating special moments deepens memories and makes time feel like it’s literally expanding. Anderson Cohen also writes three things she’s grateful for to start out each morning. At the end of the day, she writes an accomplishment list (or as Danni Allen likes to call it, a “ta-da list” versus a to-do list).
For Geil, the Five Minute Journal is a current favorite each morning, but she’s also a fan of The Happiness Planner (and hey, we heard from the founder of this brand on #WeGotGoals, too)!
Cindy Kuzma celebrated her seven-year anniversary in going full-time free lance this past year, and to commemorate, she thought about the people who helped her along her journey and wrote dedicated emails to someone different each week.
“I got to reconnect with people, and think back on those moments when someone believed in me … I got to make their lives a little bit better, too,” she said.
Beyond how a gratitude practice can improve your own health and happiness, Kuzma reminded us all of something. You never know how you can help others by telling them you’re grateful.
Ready to gather your people for the gratitude exercises we talk about on today’s episode? You can listen to #WeGotGoals anywhere you get your podcasts — including Spotify! If you like what you hear, please leave us a rating and a review. Make sure to listen all the way through, because at the end, we heard from a real-life goal-getter just like you – Sarah Russo. (Want to be featured on a future episode? Send a voice memo with a goal you’ve crushed, a goal you’re eyeing, or your best goal-getting tip to Cindy Kuzma at [email protected].)
Oh – and if you listen all the way through this episode you’ll hear us give a shoutout to Lil Jon for this particularly uplifting track. If it gets stuck in your head this upcoming Thanksgiving week then, well, you’re welcome.