Try this. Ask a friend or colleague or a group to tell you stories about times when they were happy. Just listen and encourage everyone else to listen. Join in yourself. Then do the same about times when they and you made someone else happy. You will be astonished how interesting, inspiring and enjoyable this will be!
We did this with some friends and found that the hard part was choosing which happy experience to share. That is a nice problem. We also learned that making other people happy was a very good way to be happy yourself, which is encouraging.
This will work just as well with a big group. Just get people into small groups of four or five and proceed as above. I ran an event for fifty people from many different cultures and it was a delight.
I used the same exercise at the start of a meeting to build the relationship between people from two organisations. It worked astonishingly well. The people realised how much they had in common and this helped they build strong mutual cooperation and trust.
Here's a moving story from someone who learned about this recently.
"I used this with my mum the next day....very interesting and what a mood lifter! She's 87 and going through a depressive episode linked to a family bereavement....it's nearly a year later and she's struggling....always 'going back' .....this time though...her mood 'warmed' and she 'glowed' talking of lovely times that she'd had with someone she was very fond of ...talking about how she had helped him....how happy they had both been....It, of course helped me too....listening with open heart....open ears....letting her 'unfurl'.....physically she seemed to do this...amazing!
I will be using this 'oh so simple' idea......in my day to day life...
I loved it!!"
This is a very simple application of the principles of Appreciative Inquiry. You get what you look for.
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