The Gratitude Game
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The Gratitude Game

I have to admit, I lived with some magical thinking that all would be better on January 1, 2021. I was with the rest of the world, waiting with baited breath for an end to the worst year ever. (Turns out Homer Simpson would add, “Yet.”) Then 2021 arrived and, well, what can we say that isn’t already captured in this meme:

Fortunately, even with the craziness out there, we can wrest some control back in our lives and even bring a little joy with a simple habit. We can practice gratitude. In recent years there’s been a lot of research around how practicing gratitude can literally rewire our brains. It reduces stress, improves sleep, boosts our self-esteem and performance, and makes us happier. It’s something we can do any time of day—or even in the middle of a sleepless night. I guarantee it’s better than counting sheep for falling back asleep.

Here’s a gratitude game to play with your kids to help them shift how they view the world. Go through the ABCs and think of something that starts with each letter that you’re grateful for. It might be something small: I’m grateful for the apple I had for lunch. Or something big: I’m grateful for my brain and all that I’ve learned and will continue to learn. You can choose to explain why you’re grateful for something or just identify what it is that makes you grateful. Try playing it by alphabetically naming the people you’re grateful for. For extra fun, unleash your kids with your phone and have them take photos—alphabetically, of course—of all the things they can find that fill them with gratitude.

A nice bonus is that once you play the game a few times, you’ll have random flashes throughout the day of things you’re grateful for. Oh, yes, F is for friends. P is for pizza and puzzles.

It’s never too late to develop a gratitude mindset. We’ll get you started with our own letter A: we’re grateful for all of our Pack-n-Go readers, big and small!

Here’s hoping that Homer Simpson is wrong.