Photo Credit to: Courtney Slade and Under30Experiences

Rose, Thorn, Bud (RTB): A 5-minute Game to Kickstart Your Mindfulness Habit

Cesar Romero
General Writing: Idea, Thinking, Opinion
5 min readJul 28, 2015


By Cesar Romero

What was the highlight of your day? (Rose)

What went wrong during your day? (Thorn)

What are you looking forward to tomorrow? (Bud)

Before you continue reading, I’m going to ask you to take 5 minutes and come up with your own answers to these questions.


Ok cool.

Did you do it?

Was it difficult?

How did it make you feel?

If you found it difficult, no worries. It gets easier and better with time.

Now that you have taken a few minutes to think about your answers, let me share with you the story behind this mindfulness exercise.

Why are you asking me do this?

The main purpose of this fun simple exercise is to help you become more aware of your surroundings and incorporate gratitude into your daily routine.

By reflecting on the highlights and low points of your day, you start to realize that:

-There are always things to be grateful for.

-Sometimes things won’t go according to plan and that’s ok.

-There are events you can and cannot control. The true wisdom lies in knowing the difference and taking action on those things you CAN control.

-There is always room for improvement.

-Mindfulness is like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the more developed it becomes.

That’s cool, but why should I care about gratitude and mindfulness?

Because it makes you more self-aware.

We live in the “information age” but a big chunk of the world’s population know very little about themselves.

They don’t know their strengths, weaknesses, or what they are passionate about.

It takes time to discover them but it all starts with introspection, mindfulness, and gratitude.

Gratitude and mindfulness can help you:

-Discover and focus on your strengths.

-Appreciate the blessings in your life as well as the “not-so-great” things.

-Strengthen your relationships.

-Become happier by celebrating the present and blocking toxic emotions.

-Pay it forward to other people.

-Sleep better.

If you want to learn more about the science behind gratitude, I recommend reading Dr. Robert Emmons’ book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier

How can you incorporate Rose, Thorn, Bud into your daily routine

It’s very simple.

You can do this with a partner, group setting, or on your own. Just make sure to give an extra 5 minutes for every additional person.

For optimal results, try to keep the group under 15 people.

From experience, when the group is more than 15 people it starts to get repetitive and the answers are not as introspective as they would be in a smaller group.

You start by explaining the purpose of the exercise and sharing your own Rose, Thorn, Bud. If you are feeling too much pressure on yourself, relax! This is supposed to be fun and remember that anything goes. This is a judgment-free game.

You can have multiple Roses, Thorns, and Buds. Don’t feel limited to sharing only one.

Once you are done sharing, pick the next person and ask him/her to share. Remind this person to have fun!

Repeat this process until everyone involved has had a chance to share.

If you are doing this exercise in the morning or early afternoon, you can take inspiration from yesterday’s events or something that happened to you earlier during the day.

The first time I played Rose, Thorn, Bud

It was during one of our trips with Under30Experiences to Nicaragua.

After a beautiful afternoon at Playa Maderas filled with relaxing beach time, adventurous surfing, delicious tacos, ice-cold beers, awesome friendships, and a breath-taking sunset we came back to the hotel to get ready for the night ahead of us.

“Hey guys, dinner will be served at 7:00p.m. and tonight’s menu will be Mexican Night”, I told the group right before getting shuttled back to the hotel which I realized later on that it contributed on everyone being ready on time for dinner. I guess you can never go wrong with nachos, avocados, and pico de gallo.

At the dinner table, right after they brought us the delicious appetizers (chicken, steak, and shrimp nachos), Jason suddenly gets up and says:

“Hey guys, I want to play a very simple game called Rose, Thorn, Bud where we all share our highlights and low points of the day and what we are looking forward to tomorrow. I do this all the time with my friends and family and it’s a great way to get to know more of each other and build deeper connections. Who’s in?”

And by unanimous decision, it was on!

I think it also helped that a few people had a few ounces of liquid courage in them helping get over those introvert inhibitions.

I can’t blame them. After all, nicaraguan rum is hard to resist :)

Every single person openly shared their own experiences from the day and by the end of the exercise, we had deepened our friendships and it felt like we had been friends for years, although we had only met for 24 hours so far.

And this is how I got introduced to Rose, Thorn, Bud which is now a staple game in every Under30Experiences trip.

Here’s my Rose, Thorn, Bud of 2015 so far:


-Participating in Hive Global Leaders program

-Getting engaged to Jennifer

-Leading 2 back-to-back Under30Experiences trips to Iceland with Courtney

-My sister visiting us in Raleigh and giving the ok to marry Jennifer

-Spending quality time with Jennifer’s parents

-Collaborating with Hive on the community engagement program

-Spearheading sales for Under30Experiences

-Becoming ambassador for Cloudpeeps

-Running my first ½ marathon

-Becoming part of the Rich20Something freelance community


-Not being financially independent yet

-Not chatting with my parents as often as I would like

-Not realizing how much work there is into planning a wedding….but I know it’s worth it

-Not realizing how much work there is into selling your stuff….but I know the extra cash will come useful during our travels


-Mentoring of the upcoming Startingbloc Institute in NYC, August 2015

-Finishing the Hive community engagement project

-Moving to Costa Rica with Jennifer for Under30Experiences winter season

-Selling stuff we don’t need for extra cash during our travels

-Visiting NYC in September and have a great time with family and friends

-Running my 2nd ½ marathon in November

-Diversifying my income streams

-Writing a book about leadership and traveling

-Moving forward with wedding planning

Now is your turn!

I encourage you block 10 minutes of your day and try this simple yet introspective game.

Share with me:

What was the highlight of your day? (Rose)

What went wrong during your day? (Thorn)

What are you looking forward to tomorrow? (Bud)

Looking forward reading your answers :)



Cesar Romero
General Writing: Idea, Thinking, Opinion

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