5 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude this Thanksgiving!
Gratitude is such an important pillar of our camp environment. One of our favorite things to do during staff week each summer is our “Gratitude Letters” activity. It is pretty simple exercise, derived from the popular Youtube video “The Science of Happiness“. We ask our staff to take a blank piece of paper and write a letter of gratitude to anyone in their life: their parent, a friend, a teacher, etc. We ask if anyone would like to share. The letters are always beautiful and give a glimpse into the life of our staff, where they come from, and who helped them get to where they are. There are beautiful stories of grandparents who inspire, parents who lead, friends who encourage, and so on. As those who share express their gratitude, their eyes tear up, and they smile. It is very moving. Naturally, because we are at camp, what usually ends up happening is that our returning staff and former campers write about camp. They share letters to their own counselors from when they were campers, or to their co-counselors, who have now become their best friends. The most powerful, as you would think, is when that person is in the room. The tears can flow and hugs are always exchanged. You could think this isn’t a very good training exercise, but we feel it is a great way for our staff to get to know each other, laugh, and bond. At Camp Wekeela we feel it’s important to cultivate gratitude during the summer and throughout the year.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis:
- Write a thank-you note/letter: Just like our exercise at camp! What will make you feel even better.. sharing your note with the person.
- Thank someone mentally: No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
- Keep a gratitude journal: It takes 21 days to cultivate a habit. Writing down 3 things a day is a great way to start!
- Do Rituals as a family: Pick a high-point of the day, do some MadLibs, make up a line-by-line story. It’ll be great!
- Meditate: Meditation has so many positive effects, especially in today’s busy world.
A quick Google search for “Science of Gratitude” will show numerous scholarly articles and proof that gratitude can help your brain and your life! In one Harvard study, showing gratitude daily to others can enhance your relationships and self-esteem. In the 2015 study on The Neural Correlates of Gratitude, researchers looked at brain activity and identified gratitude as a complex social emotion. An author of this study, neuroscientist Dr. Antonio Damasio, is quoted as saying … “We are not thinking machines that feel, but emotional machines that think.”
Gratitude is an essential part of the Wekeela experience. We think showing gratitude is incredibly important in today’s world. Each Thanksgiving it is vital that we practice what we preach! Thanksgiving is all about having gratitude while enjoying great food with family and friends. Just like camp.
We are grateful for the health and well being of our family and our Wekeela community, and we feel extremely fortunate to be in the summer camp profession. That being said, thank you Wekeela Pioneers past, present, and future for being such an important part of our lives. You’ve enriched it so much.
If there is anything further we can do for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. And from our bunk to yours, we wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous start to the holiday season!
To read more about the science of gratitude: