There are countless benefits to having a disciplined gratitude practice- a few of which I have referenced in this blog post before. Gratitude can also have positive effects on group dynamics and social settings. As this article from Fast Company cites for instance, teams who express gratitude together show more reciprocity and are more sensitive toward one another. So for this week’s kindness project, we did a Gratitude Sharing Circle. This is a very simple activity, where we joined together as a family to first write about and then share our appreciation for one another. I got the inspiration from this classroom activity listed in this article here.
I took sheets of paper, and wrote each of our family member names on each paper- with space under each name for writing. We each took a piece of paper- my 2-year old included. And then after dinner one evening, we spent some time writing:
- one thing we most appreciated about each family member
- a favorite memory that we had with the person
After we all finished writing (or scribbling as my 2-year old did), we passed around the sheets of paper in a circle. And then each family member read what everyone else wrote about them. This was a really simple and sweet activity that left us all giggling and with warm fuzzies inside. I asked my 5-year old the next day what she thought about our little gratitude game and how she felt. And she said she felt happy because it was so nice to hear and say all the kind things about each other. What I really liked about our Gratitude Sharing Circle was that there was a deliberate focus on thinking about someone else in our family, so it required each of us to mindfully pause, reflect and then write something before sharing. And the recipient of the kind words was left smiling as he or she read what was said.
There’s other ways to do this type of practice. Another idea is from this article which describes an Appreciation Chair. Each family member can take turns sitting in the Appreciation Chair, and the other members share grateful and kind thoughts about the person in the chair. We will have to try the Appreciation Chair soon and explore other ideas. The key is that we start creating a habit in our family of talking as a group about the little things we appreciate about one another.