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No Alcohol. No Sugar. Non-Intoxicating.

Will these three dinner activities extend your life? According to researchers, they might.

We all know the drill. We sit down at the Thanksgiving dinner table, do a once-annual, round-table gratitude share and then annihilate the delicacy that is a plate of beige-y carbs.

While this is still a great start to a sitdown dinner, unless we’re inserting a little vulnerability or infusing some dinner table novelty, we may not walk away from dinner feeling as connected as we’re all secretly hoping to feel. We’re simply sharing space and checking boxes.

As we look to Blue Zones and a plethora of studies on the impact connection has to longevity, our relationships and the way we engage with the people we love may matter more than we think.

So, how do we lead the charge to deepen group connection?

The answer is rather simple: we get bold with our questions, listen intently to their answers and try new things together. 

Here are three dinner table activities for better connection:

  1. Tackle gratitude with nuance

Despite Thanksgiving’s complex history, we’ve made a cultural agreement to mark this day with food, good people and shares of gratitude. With gratitude being one of life’s most bountiful emotions, sharing the truth behind our gratitude will likely boost our own mood more than a general statement, while inviting people into our internal experiences – a bid for real connection.

Instead of requesting everyone at the dinner table share what they’re grateful for, ask this question instead:

What challenge this year are you most grateful for?

This question will inspire a different brand of responses. Instead of saying I’m grateful for my family, I might open up about a challenge that had a big impression on me and then talk about the gratitude I have for how my family showed up for me and what it meant to me.

These sort of answers show our humanity and quickly knock down the walls that keep us on the surface.

2. Butter your people up

We forget to tell people how wonderfully weird, kind and lovely they are, not realizing the impact our recognition has on the people we care about.

If you’re not into the round-table gratitude share – or want to tack something on – take turns going around the table, sharing a compliment about the person to their right (or left).

Concerned the people at your dinner table aren’t acquainted enough for such an exercise? In my experience, this can lead to even better outcomes. Think something like the following:

I happened to see you doing a little dance by yourself while waiting for food, and it made me want to run up and hug you! Your energy is infectious – I felt it across the room.

Whether connections are new or old, this one makes people feel seen and appreciated.

3. Build camaraderie with mushroom shots

Two things: shots and mushrooms. Shots – of anything – is one of the easiest ways to capture a little group thrill. In short, it’s an experience that says we’re in this together. 

Because shooting mushrooms is a less-common experience, coupling a dose of novelty with a camaraderie-building activity may multiply the impacts.

Pour a shot of St. Ember for everyone at the dinner table, make a toast and prompt a bottoms up moment.

The best part? St. Ember was formulated with a potent lion’s mane extract to enhance conversations by sharpening the mind and calming the nervous system, without any intoxication.

We encourage you to take the lead and make your holiday gatherings a little unordinary.

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