The Experience of Gratitude

Nov 20, 2020 | Mind, Spirit

The Good4all Experience starts from the premise that positivity has a ripple effect. We encourage people to embrace 4 new or renewed “positive practices” each season, as a part of a small group or “pod”. Recently we spoke with serial entrepreneur and Mom, Amy Pal, about the gratitude board her family created during the springtime lockdown. This is a perfect example of a “positive practice”. Visit our list for more ideas.

G4A: Your family created a “Gratitude board” during the Spring lockdown. Tell us how this worked?

Amy: Yes! At the very start of quarantine this past Spring, I decided to repurpose my family’s “daily schedule” chalkboard in the center of our kitchen into a daily gratitude board. During “normal times” we’d rely on that board to tell us where we need to be each day. It kept us on task and in sync with each other’s various schedules and served an important purpose. When the reality hit that we were stopped dead in our tracks and we would not be going anywhere, I instinctively felt like we all needed something to inspire to have a positive attitude during a time steeped with uncertainty. 

G4A: Were your kids enthusiastic participants from the beginning?

Amy: My sons are middle schoolers: Thor was 11yo/6th grade and Magnus 12yo/7th grade this past spring. It was like a fun game to start…but as time wore on it was clear that Thor really understood gratitude easily, and that Magnus needed more prodding. Some days Mags would just be absolutely stumped for saying anything he was grateful for and it would make my husband and me crazy. Honestly! We’d tell him we could easily rattle off dozens of things he ought to feel grateful for. How and where we live, our health, the weather, his toys, and games, etc, etc, etc. After three months of this exercise, he really “got it” and was often the first of the day to tell us excitedly what he was grateful for. I guess I didn’t realize what an important exercise it was.

G4A: Tell us how this gratitude board helped you all cope?

 Amy: In a way, I wanted to claim some kind of control, I suppose. I grappled for a way to find a daily rhythm during the lockdown. A way of moving forward, but in a different way with these new bizarre restrictions imposed upon our daily lives. The gratitude board exercise served me well because it gave me a purpose; to feel some rhythm in our daily routine when the one that we had had was suddenly completely obsolete. My husband and I collaborated on finding inspiring quotes and each member of the family was accountable daily for saying something – no matter how small – that we were grateful for on that day. It forced us to consider all that we truly had going for us. In spite of bad news, in spite of more shutdowns, in spite of terrible Covid spikes…we tried to focus on the good every damn day and not let each other get down. Often we would discuss our gratitude over nightly dinner, which of course was exclusively the four of us at home for more than 100 days straight. 

G4A: Did you learn anything new about each other? Yourself?

Amy: Absolutely! It was so fun to exchange thoughts and hear the things that my boys thought were important. I was very curious about what they noticed and deemed as gratitude…just as well as my husband. It may sound corny but we got to know one another on a deeper level and this simple activity created a closer bond for our family.

G4A: Would you recommend this practice to other families?

 Amy: Yes I would absolutely recommend it! I think it is quite similar to “saying grace” in some ways. We are not particularly religious, so I think it served as an important lesson, a bit of a blessing. I would recommend a gratitude practice even once a week, or when you feel like it. That said, there was something rather magical in doing it daily.

G4A: Any tips on how to create a successful family gratitude board?

 Amy: You bet! Here’s how it worked in my house:

  • FIRST THING IN THE MORNING put a positive quote on the board that resonates with you, along with the date. That way it sets the tone for the day. Your family will get used to it being there and even start to look for it. (My husband and I traded off this responsibility.
  • THROUGHOUT THE DAY family members write their gratitude statement on the board at any point that day when the idea strikes you…but the deadline is dinnertime! It doesn’t have to be significant, anything you’re feeling grateful for that day will do but we had a rule of “no repeats.”
  • END OF THE DAY at dinner, we recapped what each family member was grateful for on that particular day. It’s a wonderful way to get the banter going around the table. 

G4A: Your family embraced Meat Free Monday after learning about the Good4All Experience. Has it been a good experience? Tell us!

Amy: I was inspired by the idea on the Good4All Experience Instagram page and decided to try to implement Meat Free Monday for my family. I thought about what kind of meals we like to eat and how I could sneakily introduce it without my boys (or husband) even realizing it, and I did just that for the first three Mondays! Then on the 4th one, I revealed that we’d already been doing it and they were completely bought in. I feel like if I’d announced “we are starting Meat Free Mondays this week” I would have gotten some groans and protests but because I’d proven we were already doing it successfully, it became a welcomed family tradition. I really think you’re on to something with the Good4All Experience! Positivity does indeed have a ripple effect!

About Amy:

Amy Pal and her husband Kevin Manley live in Ridgefield, CT with their sons Magnus and Thor, and a black cat named Hazel. Amy is a serial entrepreneur whose latest project is Whip Salon, a popular salon franchise chain in Connecticut. She is passionate about art and serves as a Trustee for The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. She and her husband are also partners for a contemporary art gallery Newton Roux in Westport, CT. 

Amy Pal and Kevin Manley of Ridgefield, CT.