Peggy’s Facilitation Tip: The Power of Gratitude

Looking for an easy way to strengthen your programs? Try gratitude.

Gratitude empowers facilitationResearch shows that expressing gratitude leads to a happier life. According to the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

At Power of Hope youth camps, we have found that gratitude not only makes us happier, it helps build a strong, safe community. Each night, we hold a Gratitude Circle before dinner, inviting everyone to share thanks for something that happened during that day or something that someone did for them. The gratitude circle is infectious and the feel-good effect results in extra community bonding.

Grow Your Gratitude

Here are a few ways to foster an “attitude of gratitude” in your group:

Conduct a gratitude check-in

Do a check-in where each participant states their name and something they are thankful for.

Thank individuals

Take the time to thank participants when they speak up in the group. The more specific you can be the better, and see if you can recognize a strength in the person. “Thank you for having the courage to start the discussion,” or “Thank you for being so vulnerable” are great ways to show gratitude and acknowledge unique contributions.

Acknowledge the group

Use phrases like “I appreciate how you are all participating,” or “I admire the level of creative risk you are taking.”

Build appreciations into your activities

When leading an activity in a small group that requires creative risk taking or self-disclosure, end with a quick appreciation circle in which, one at a time, each participant turns to the person to their right and tells them something they appreciate about them.

Notice the positive field that develops as you bring gratitude into your facilitation. This is not to say that your programs should be nothing but love and light. In fact, practicing gratitude will help build the resilience your participants need to wade into the deep waters of conflict and take on challenging issues.

For more ideas about gratitude read “In Praise of Gratitude,” Harvard Mental Health Newsletter.

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