Express your gratitude every day, not just for the holidays. Learn how to play The Gratitude Game.
With the holiday season upon us, I could write about ways to survive your family, company holiday parties, or what to do with the kids who can't wait for presents. Instead, I want to give you the gift of gratitude, so you can use it in all your relationships.
Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood (New York Times bestselling authors of The Passion Test) introduced me to the Appreciation Game, which I adapted to the Gratitude Game. This game is a powerful tool for practicing some fundamental principles essential for connecting with that part of you which is capable of achieving all of your dreams, and allowing you to give all of your gifts fully. It is also a potent way to relate to those around you. I have seen amazing success using this with clients as well as my family and myself.
Why is gratitude important?
By definition, gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude allows us to be present. It draws our attention to what is positive in our lives. When you start to focus on all the positive events and moments, you become even more aware of them as they happen. This recognition and awareness allows your perspective to shift. At first, the game may be difficult; but, stick with it and it will become easier and easier.
"The more grateful you are, the more you get to be grateful about. It's that simple." -Louise Hay
How to play the Gratitude Game.
At the end of each day, sit down and get comfortable. Take a few deep breathes, close your eyes and review your day. As you review your day, identify what you have to be grateful for about yourself, your life, and things that happened that day.
2. Make a list.
Write down 10 things you have identified to be grateful for, things you notice, events that happened, what you've done, wins from that day. Each day, the ten items need to be new and unique, meaning no repeats from the previous day's list. If 10 is too many, then start with 3 each day and build to 10.
This easy exercise sometimes has a way of bringing light to beliefs of being unworthy, unlovable, not good enough. Continue to put your attention on what you are grateful for, your wins, on the things you do well and what is good in your life. Notice and journal any reactions you have to expressing gratitude for yourself and your life.
3. Reflect on the positives.
After a week go back and re-read your entire list. How does reading all the positive, grateful moments make you feel? Another great time to re-read your list is when you are going through a difficult time, whether it is a fight with some one close to you, a rough day at work, or the passing of a loved one.
You now have a personal list of positive events and wins to refer back to. By re-reading the list in these more challenging times, you are able to refocus your attention on the positive, even if that focus is only while you are reading your list.
Want to play with your family or friends?
To play with your family and friends, take turns expressing gratitude to each other. I love playing around the dinner or breakfast table. Everyone has to say one thing they are grateful for about each person around the table, including their own self. No repeats. Once everyone has completed their turn, start finding other areas of your lives to show gratitude.
Another way you can play with your family is to create a list together and post it somewhere that everyone can see it. Each day, every person in the family adds another grateful moment to the list. Once a week, read the list to the entire family and talk about all the great things that you have experienced.
Want to play with your co-workers?
I have used this as a team building exercise at work. Person A starts by picking someone (person B) to express gratitude for. Then, person B picks someone new (person C) to share what they are grateful for about them. Keep going until everyone has received and expressed gratitude. You can play additional rounds of the game, only you can't re-pick the same person you expressed gratitude for previously.
It is amazing to hear from co-workers what they are grateful for or what they appreciate about their co-workers. It might seem a bit touchy-feely. I can say from experience that this exercise has a way of bringing teams together and providing understanding of how the team functions as a whole.
Whether you use this game for yourself, with family, friends, or co-workers, it can create profound transformations in relationships with others and with yourself. It is a game, so have fun and make it your own to fit your needs and situation.