Ep. 63: Growing Gratitude with Sara Kuljis

Enjoy the little things because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.

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In Episode 63, I’m chatting with my friend Sara Kuljis of Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp and Emerald Cove Day Camp. We talk about family gratitude practices and lessons from camp for having more grateful families. At Thanksgiving, it’s easy to remember to be grateful, but the habit of gratitude — practiced at camp, at home, and in the world — helps us to be happier all year long.


  • Gratitude is a muscle. We can build it with practice.
  • Research has shown that those who express gratitude daily have a more optimistic view of life and a healthier well-being.
  • Developing relationships with the people around us makes it easier to share authentic gratitude.
  • Model respect by thanking others, especially those who serve us.
    • Use their first names when possible.
    • Make eye contact

Ways to show gratitude at camp or at home :

  • Flower Sunday — the practice of handing a daisy while sharing an affirmation or gratitude with another person. You give your flower away and receive a flower from someone who acknowledges an action or quality they appreciate. Using a token such as a flower makes a difference.
  • WOW Bulletin Board — staff and campers send and receive notes to build each other up and express thanks.
  • Thankful Thursday — a note, text message or phone call to someone expressing thanks can become a helpful habit.
  • 3 Good Things — share three good things that happened at the end of each day.
    • Commit to sharing them with friend or family member via text. It helps with accountability and makes it easier to remember.
    • Go around the dinner table and share with your family or friends.
    • Write them down in a journal before bed, or share three things you are thankful for first thing in the morning.
    • This habit can not only strengthen your gratitude muscle but also deepen your relationships and improve your outlook on life.
  • Gratitude Jar — keep slips of paper for family write down things they are grateful for and collect the scraps in a jar.
    • Share the memories collected over the year at New Year’s Eve or at Thanksgiving or anytime.
    • Attach the messages to a bulletin board or even to the Christmas Tree!
  • Warm Fuzzies — Take a sheet of paper for each person, write their name on it and pass it around. Have everyone write down what they appreciate about that person.
    • Be specific. It is nice to recognize precise actions or character strengths we appreciate in others.
  • Go around the table at mealtime and share 3 good things, something you are grateful for (besides friends and family) or something you are grateful for about yourself
  • Ask children to think of ways they would like to show gratitude for others. Children have really good ideas themselves.


Audrey: “We cannot raise grateful kids if we are not promoting our own gratitude.”

Audrey: “It’s important to remember that it’s not just about completing a task, like sending a text or writing in your journal. It’s about taking the moment to feel thankful. We need to take the task out of it and feel the gratitude.”

Sara: “At the end of the day being grateful makes me kinder and softer to those around me.”

Sara: “There’s a lot of not-feeling-good-enough in the world. I enjoy helping people identify their natural talents and the natural goodness that is built in them and being intentional about building those into strengths for making a positive impact in the world.”

More Gratitude Resources and Ideas

My Pinterest “Gratitude Board”

5 Ways to Avert Thanksgiving Disappointment

Raising Grateful, Not Entitled Kids

A Grateful Family is a Happy Family

Gratitude Revisited

Feeling Thankful

3 Reasons to Give Your Kid a WOW Today

Grateful Campers are Happy Campers

Learning to Enjoy the Little Things

Teaching Kids Gratitude Rather than Entitlement: Berkeley News/Christine Carter

Giving Thanks can Make you Happy, Harvard Health

The Science of Gratitude: More Benefits Than Expected; 26 Studies and Counting, Happier Human.com

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round, Forbes

30 Days of Gratitude, Writeshop.com

Kind over Matter

Why Gratitude is Important

Audrey & Sara

Like listening to Audrey and Sara?
Here are more of our episodes:

Ep. 57: The Importance of Adult Friendships

Ep. 28: Focusing on Our Kids’ Strengths

Ep. 23: Peaceful Mornings

Ep. 15: Traits of Parents Who are Great to Work With

Ep. 7: Family Pace & Space

Ep. 3: Raising Resilient, Independent Kids

Want to Watch this Episode on Video?

Our Favorite Books About Gratitude

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