Progress, Not Perfection: BONUS POST: Unfortunately, Fortunately Game

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In my gratitude post, I talked about learning to show gratitude even when things aren’t going your way. This game is designed to do just that.

When we talk about showing gratitude, part of this means looking for the good even when you recognize the not-so-good. I like to tell my students this is called looking for the silver lining. I play this game in my Growth Mindset classes and my Hogwarts for Muggles: Defense Against the Dark Arts class, and the game is also required homework for my students to play with their families.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Print the cards that are part of my ebook.
  2. Cut out the cards so they’re individual.
  3. This is a family or group game. So, make sure you have at least 2 players. The more, the merrier!
  4. Each person should receive 1-2 cards, so you may need to print multiple copies.
  5. On the card, write an unfortunate situation. These can be imagined or actual situations you’ve encountered recently. “I left my favorite shirt at my friend’s house.” “I lost my book.” “I wasn’t nice to my sister.” “I didn’t do my best, and I’m upset.”
  6. Fold each card into quarters. Place cards in a bowl, bucket, hat, or something else that will hold them.
  7. Take turns drawing cards. If you draw your own, fold it up and put it back. When you draw someone else’s card, read the Unfortunate situation. Carefully consider what positive things you can say before speaking. Always begin speaking with Fortunately: “I have other shirts I can wear OR I can get my shirt tonight after practice.” “I have been saving my allowance, so I’ll buy another copy.” “I can write my sister a letter to tell her all the things I love and appreciate about her, and do better tomorrow.” “I can do better tomorrow, and being upset shows I really care about my performance or results.”
  8. Repeat as needed: I have students who, a year after finishing my classes, still play this game every night at dinner. This has become a tradition!

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This game helps you to:

  • Shift Perspectives: Oftentimes, we sink down into the negative feelings we have about things that happen to us. This game requires you to shift your perspective and see the good in the world around you. Your situation is part of that world, so you’ll learn to see the good in it, too.
  • Rephrase to Reframe: You have to literally look at the card you have which represent the metaphorical cards you’re dealt in life, and learn how to handle them. This game allows you to do that in a safe environment with your family so you have practice for when things actually arise (and believe me, they will!)
  • Be Happy: So much of what happens to us is good. But, the negative often takes hold. As a society, it seems we sometimes make a game out of dwelling on what bad has happened to us. Why not change that? We can make a game out of the good. When we learn to appreciate our lives for what they are instead of what we wish they were, we are happier people. This does not mean we cannot want something else and work to change our lives: when we’re happy with what we have, and grateful for the life we currently lead, we are more likely to work to see positive change than if we dwell on the negative and surround ourselves with it.

Research has shown that even a small amount of negative brain activity can lead to a weakened immune system, making you more prone to illness, and even lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Negative attitudes can also affect your intelligence and ability to think — according to Dr. Travis Bradberry, negativity compromises the effectiveness of the neurons in the hippocampus — an important area of the brain responsible for reasoning and memory. We can’t control others (that’s a blog post for a different time), but we can learn to control ourselves. Think about how this game can serve you and your family. I’d love to hear how you put this game to use in your home!

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