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November 11th, 2016

What's the point of helping youth discover their inner beauty, meaning, and giftedness if we don't teach them to take time to delight in who they are?

originally shared by Search Institute:

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s the perfect time to encourage the young people in your program or classroom to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Youth development experts Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor devote an entire chapter to the practice of gratitude in their new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs, & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.

Ragsdale and Saylor ask readers an interesting question: What’s the point of helping youth discover their inner beauty, meaning, and giftedness if we don’t teach them to take time to delight in who they are?

“Gratitude is simply the act of being grateful,” write Ragsdale and Saylor. “Being grateful that I am strong and healthy, even if I didn’t score any points in the basketball game. Being grateful for my friend who really appreciates me, even when I was shunned by the popular group.”

A strength-based approach is grounded in recognizing what’s right with people, particularly in yourself and the people you interact with every day. Gratitude is so relevant because it changes attitudes, and it helps people focus on the good, instead of the negative.

“Gratitude is a power practice that changes our perspective about life’s joys and hardships. It recharges our batteries when our energy is depleted or we are overwhelmed by life,” say these best-selling authors of Great Group Games: 175 Boredom-Busting, Zero-Prep Team Builder for All Ages.

Ragsdale and Saylor recommend certain disciplines to adults to foster gratitude, especially because some personalities tend to be more negative than positive. Try these tips:

  • Decide. Decide you’re going to be as present as you can to each moment and find the joy.
  • Every day, embrace what’s good. When something good happens, stop, note it, and receive it as the gift it is.
  • Hit replay. Savor what’s good. Re-picture it and turn it into an experience.
  • Share gratitude. Sharing is a happiness booster: hold open a door, help someone cross the street, or take a moment to listen.

Finally, here are some tips to use with young people to develop their sense of gratitude:

  • List it. Have youth create a list of the little blessings, joys, and graces that they have experienced recently.
  • Journal it. Allow youth time to journal about things they are grateful for each day.
  • Share it. Include a “circle of gratitude” time, inviting each person to share one thing he or she is grateful for.

You can find dozens of strategies to help young people discover their inner strengths and passions inGroups, Troops, Clubs, & Classrooms. The book includes numerous games, activities, icebreakers, and quizzes to keep you and your young people engaged and motivated.


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