Week of Drawing Gratitude, Day 1 of 7
Let's start with our senses.
Aaaaand We’re BACK! Thank you GUT fam for your patience this AM. And thank you Substack Support1 for working hard on a Sunday to recover the lost GUT dispatch. SO GRATEFUL. Now let’s grab our art supplies and try this again.
Welcome to all the new folks at the Table this week! Subscribing members: be sure to visit the Introductions and introduce yourself to the Grown-Ups Table (AKA the GUT) community and see who else is here. Subscribers get access the GUT creative chat where we share our drawings and support each other, as well as all previous and future GUT lessons and assignments. Questions? Drop them in the comments. An amazing GUT member will help you out. (Love you, GUT community!)
Alright, enough blah blah. Let’s get on with the drawing… and grow some gratitude.
Hello DT GUT family!
It’s a special week at the GUT. We are focusing on GRATITUDE. And to keep our gratitude going and growing, instead of one assignment this week, I’m sending members a new drawing assignment every day this week. Nothing too overwhelming. Just a small, daily creative opportunity to draw (and write if you want) that will build our gratitude muscle a little bit every day. I really think we could all use this right now. Here’s why:
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the USA. It’s a whack holiday on a lot of levels, originating from the genocide of the Native American people - and at the same time it’s become an annual celebration of family, community and care (and food!) It can be hard for us humans to hold both these disparate truths at once as we move forward. But it’s so important that we do. So HOW can we build that non-binary muscle?
One way we can start to hold multiple truths at once is by cultivating an “abundance mindset.” A person with an abundant mindset believes there are enough resources for you AND me to accomplish BOTH our goals. My experience doesn’t threaten yours, and yours doesn’t threaten mine. There is space for us both. We can also call this a “Both/And” world view, instead of an “Either/Or” outlook (also known as a deficit mindset.)
Truth be known, as an only child with a tendency towards “black or white” thinking, I struggle to let go of an “Either/Or” deficit mindset. I have to really practice “Both/And”-ing my way through the world. But I’m finding it’s so worth the effort. With it comes a far a more abundant, curious, hopeful, joyful, and relaxed experience in day to day life and relationships. It opens things up instead of closing them down.
One of the best ways to build an abundance mindset is to practice gratitude. Studies show that in addition to combating depression and burnout, practicing gratitude helps cultivate that abundant “Both/And” outlook.
An important note about gratitude: being grateful on the inside does not preclude us from being engaged with the world on the outside. Gratitude is essential to connect with the world in a generative, just and impactful way. When we don’t practice gratitude, it is easy to take things for granted and shift into a deficit mentality. Gratitude helps us tap into our deeper selves and create space. Be present with one another. Stay connected. And take action in ways that move us all towards a more equitable and just future.
Sounds pretty powerful, right? And drawing can help us build it?? Yes it can. So that’s what we are doing all week.
Let’s get into it.
What is gratitude?
First, [gratitude] is an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received… Second, we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.2
Often we put our attention on things we have not done, and do not have. All we see is lack. An ungrateful person asks “What don’t I have? What’s next?” That leaves us feeling competitive, anxious, and isolated.
Conversely, a grateful person asks themselves “What do I have? What is now?” That mindset keeps us focused on the present, appreciating the good things around us, recognizing abundance, and reframing challenging moments into positive experiences. You know that old adage “Where we place our attention grows”? Placing our attention on gratitude helps us grow towards abundance for us, and others.
The documented benefits of practicing gratitude are profound3. On a personal level, it makes us feel happier.
It also helps us live longer. From a study out of UC Berkeley:
Focusing on the positive and feeling grateful can improve your sleep quality and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, levels of gratitude correlate to better moods and less fatigue and inflammation, reducing the risk of heart failure, even for those who are susceptible.4
Zoom out a little, and gratitude sets a course for our day-to-day decisions. How grateful we are can determine how we show up for others in our families, community, and the greater world.
Again, cultivating a grateful mindset is not an excuse to turn away from hardship. Quite the opposite. In the most challenging moments, we need to cultivate that Both/And abundance mentality to move forward in a more equitable and just direction, together. In our families, communities and in the larger world.
Getting Grateful Through Our Senses
When we are experiencing anxiety or stress, one of the best ways to bring ourselves into the moment is to pay attention to our senses. When our feelings are not serving us, paying attention to our senses can also help us focus on what IS around us instead of what is NOT. Focusing on our senses can help us see the world through a gratitude lens.
A few weeks ago author Gretchen Rubin joined the Grown-Ups table and taught us about her Five Senses Portrait, and we created one in collaboration with her, GUT style. (Members can access that assignment here.)
Today I’m giving you gratitude-focused twist on that powerful assignment.
(Personally, I found this simple exercise super fun and meditative and helpful. My drawing is below. I’d love to hear what you think of it, too. If your experience is anything like mine, day one’s drawing exercise really kicks us off strong.)
Let’s do this.
Drawing Gratitude Assignment, Day 1
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