Everyday we all experience unpleasant or uncomfortable moments. But when we recognize, that for many of us, generally life is good, then we begin to treat ourselves with more compassion while creating a habit gratitude.
A fun way to recognize the good in our lives is with a simple game created by Susan Kaiser Greenland called “Life is Good.” By acknowledging our challenges, then recognizing what is good in our lives, we can develop a habit of gratitude alongside difficult circumstances and feelings.
- Two or more people
- Ball of any size
How to Play
- Sit in a circle
- Person whose birthday is coming up next starts
- Hold the ball and name one thing that is bothering you
- At the end of your sentence add, “…and life is good.”
- Roll the ball to another person in the circle
- Continue as long as you like
When my girls and I played the game, we highlighted small things that bothered us during the day. I mentioned things like “a messy house” or “feeling cranky because I was tired.” My older daughter said “she doesn’t love the bees in the backyard.” My 2-year-old also chimed in with “I ruv my friends, but sometimes I don’t ruv my friends, but I ruv my friends…and rife is good.” We couldn’t help but laugh each time she said “rife is good” with such conviction!
Although it felt mechanical to append “…and life is good” with each roll, the phrase stuck with me throughout the day. I realized this short gratitude game was all about developing perspective.
The Science Behind the Smiles
Cultivating gratitude has many benefits, including increased happiness, better physical health and more restful sleep. The benefits of turning the Life is Good game into a habit are real. James Baraz, co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, shares that he played a similar gratitude game with his then 89-year-old mother. Baraz’s mother had spent her entire life as a kvetch, always complaining about the smallest annoyances in life. Baraz asked that anytime she complained, she add “…and my life is very blessed.”
Baraz says, “Although it had started out as just a fun game, after a while the exercise began to have some real impact. Her mood grew brighter as our week became filled with gratitude and a genuine good time.”
Baraz goes on to point out that we can choose to focus on what is difficult or let “…our challenges serve as reminders of the blessings that also surround us.”
Developing a habit of remembering that “rife is good” helps us shift our perspective, rebalance and hold both life’s challenges and blessings.