When it comes to gratitude, too much of a good thing is, well, too much. In fact, if you sit down to focus on everything you’re grateful for more than once a week, you might not be as happy. One study found that three doses of gratefulness a week generated lower levels of joy than just one. Apparently all that goodness turns into white noise if we play it for too long. We can become bored by it and its meaningfulness dims.
Pick one day of the week to go around the dinner —or breakfast—table and ask every family member to name three (or more!) things that make their life good. It could be anything from a pair of socks that keeps their feet warm or a good brain that helped them score high on a test, or, did someone say mom, ahem! (See below for gratitude games)
At Yoga Playhouse Summer Camp, our theme in session 1 (June 27 – July 2) will be the DIY Smile. We’ll learn why being happy for others can be good for us too, we’ll learn the Breath of Joy, make a joyful jar and essential oil necklaces or wrist bands, and cultivate a happy heart. We’ll also create more smiles as we help People for Animals with their Kitty Academy!
In the meantime, if you’re looking for different ways to give your kids a weekly dose of gratitude—try one of these games!
The Longest List
Give everyone two minutes to make a list of everything they are grateful for—the more the better. When the time is up have everybody count the items on their list. The person with the highest number reads his or her list. Anybody with a duplicate item must cross it off their list. Continue going until there’s only one person left with items on their list—that’s the winner!
What if you didn’t have … ?
This is a good one for kids who can’t think of anything they’re are grateful for. Start by asking them: “What would you do if you didn’t have a…” then fill in the blank with any old every day item. This does NOT have to be serious. Kids will get the point even if it gets silly. Here are some items to get your started: a bed, a toothbrush, forks, heater, chairs, drinking glasses, iPad (or gaming system), books, car, house, food, shoes, shower.
Goodness Grateful Jar
This is the grateful jar that keeps on giving because you’re not only taking time to think about all you have, but your linking it with an act of kindness—another action that increases happiness! Start with a jar and about 10 strips of paper. On each piece of paper, write something you’re thankful for. Now go back and add something you can do to show how grateful you are. For example, if you say you’re grateful for your crossing guard, you could write “bring him a to-go coffee.” Now, once a week, you can draw something from the jar and you’ll have until the beginning of the next week to complete your activity. Here are a few more to try: Nature—go on a hike; my bed—spend a morning sleeping in and reading books in bed; my toys—choose three toys to play with that you haven’t played with in ages, bonus if you decide to donate toys to a charity.