Connecting with our loved ones and friends makes us feel good and strengthens our bonds. This is important during these trying times. So, here’s a fun and engaging mindfulness game to help you connect, boost feel-good hormones and practice gratitude together with friends, classmates and family – even if you can’t meet face to face. Continue reading and you’ll find two fun ways to spread joy.
Psychologists suggest that happiness in life comes from the frequency, not the intensity, of positive versus negative emotional experiences (Diener, Sandvik, & Pavot, 2009; Shiota, 2006). And gratitude practice is a simple and fun way to up that frequency.
The cool thing about a sustained gratitude practice is that your brain will start to look for more good things in life. We have this thing called negativity bias built in. Which means that we tend to focus on the things that don’t go our way – it’s a built-in survival mechanism. But we can balance this default mode of constant negativity! We can balance all that negativity and negative self-talk with the good things in our lives with a simple gratitude practice.
Gratitude practice is linked to
improved social support,
and overall satisfaction with school, family, community, friends and self.
And guess what …
gratitude practice is both fun and easy to do!
Mindfulness Games for Kids and Teens – Gratitude Buddy
Purpose: Gratitude, Connection, Appreciative joy
Best for: Ages 6 to 199, groups or one-on-one
What you need: A friend, classmate or a family member
To get started pick a friend and share the good with each other. You can start together with your child and later ask him or her to pick a friend to continue the practice with. You could also do this with a grandparent or a godparent to keep in touch. Every day, or at least once a week, write or call or instant message what you are grateful for. If your child can’t write yet you can do it for them. This is a fun way to build your gratitude muscles. The fun thing is that you will feel joy for the good things your gratitude buddy experiences, too. You get to recall your own joys AND you get to feel appreciative joy for your buddy. It’s a positive spiral!
This is a fun activity for a whole class at school. You could do this for a week or even a whole month, depending on how often you ask the kids to keep reporting to each other. You can even assign gratitude buddies over vacations to keep in touch.
Okay, but what can I be grateful for?
You can learn to feel more joy for both big and small everyday things.
Can you think of something good that makes you happy?
It can be anything … people and things that make you feel good.
Someone who makes you happy.
A friend. Mom or Dad.
Your favourite food.
A smile you got from a friend.
Or a sport or game you enjoy.
Or a nice warm hug.
Or something that made you smile or laugh.
Someone was kind to you.
You did something well.
Something that’s been good. Anything goes! You can share anything good you notice.
Okay, now here’s how you can level up and expand your circle of gratitude.
Send personalized gratitude notes and make it extra powerful with “SBI”
Send thank you notes to friends and even people you don’t know that well. Be brave, get personal and thank your friends and contacts for who they are and what they do.
Here’s an example. I sent this to my friend the other day:
I really appreciate the way you wrote about the current situation in the US. Thank you for being such a caring and compassionate person and actually voicing your opinion. Reading your post made me feel proud of you. And proud of myself for having a friend like you, even if we haven’t met in years. The planet needs more people like you… who aren’t afraid of standing up to inequality. You rock!!
I could have said: “You rock!!” or given him the thumbs up. But, that would probably not have felt as good or had the same impact as the longer more specific message I wrote :) With the Situation Behavior Impact model I had to think about it… and I got the chance to feel the emotions again. And I bet my friend felt good about himself after reading my message.
So, use the SBI feedback model to make it extra powerful. Be specific because sometimes we have a hard time accepting thanks for the reason that we tend to belittle ourselves and focus on our faults. A great way to help your friend feel good and bypass impostor syndrome is to be very specific in how you thank them.
Situation – What happened
I really appreciate the way you wrote about the current situation in the US.
Behavior – What they did
Thank you for being such a caring compassionate person and actually voicing your opinion.
Impact – How you felt about it
Reading your post made me feel proud of you. And proud of myself for having a friend like you, even if we haven’t met in years. The planet needs more people like you… who aren’t afraid of standing up to inequality. You rock!!
Yes, this is great way to praise children, too.
Okay, I hope you liked these mindful ideas and will give gratitude buddy a try. It will make you feel joy more often… and that’s a path to happiness!
Thank you for reading this article, it means a lot to me. I feel happy and grateful when I see people reading my articles because it means that I’m doing something right :)
Wishing you many fun mindful moments with your children :-)
Chris Bergstrom ( Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids )
If you are new to mindfulness with children OR you want to make practice easy we recommend our online mindfulness courses.
Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, a leader in the field of mindfulness, the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a blog dedicated to children’s mindfulness, and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also known as “the dad who tried 200+ mindfulness activities” and has taught meditation for more than 15 years.