“Tell me about your day. How was it?”
“Good! Tell me why it was good.”
“Because it was fun.”
“Well what did you do?”
“I don’t know. I played on the playground.”
“What did you learn in school?”
“I don’t remember.”
I couldn’t wait to pick up my kids from school to hear about what they had been doing. Unfortunately, my visions of a joyful discussion between my two children -ages 6 & 8 - were quickly diminished into very short, one-word responses.
After weeks of these meaningless conversations, I became very frustrated. I knew they were tired from a long day, but I wanted them to recognize and remember what they had done.
Additionally, my daughter went through a phase where she would frequently have “bad days,” but her “bad day” would consist of not having a special treat for lunch. I knew I needed to shift her perspective, and help her to identify all the things in her life that were great.
One day, while I was walking around the local grocery store, the solution hit me: Fortune cookies.
I LOVE fortune cookies. What if I turned them into fortunate cookies, and gave them to the kids when I picked them up from school? Perhaps I could teach my kids just how fortunate they really were! I bought a box and kept my fingers crossed.
The next day, when they arrived in the car, we began our typical one-word response conversation. Then I told them I had fortunate cookies, but in order to get one, they would need to tell me ten things they felt fortunate about that had happened that day. They could be big, like getting an A on the spelling test, or they could be small, like a new friend smiled at them in the lunch line. Once they listed ten, they could get a fortunate cookie and read their special message.
This was a big shift - especially for my daughter. When she focused on what she was grateful for, the bad days diminished. This lines up with the research around gratitude and happiness. If we are searching for the positive as we go through our day, we are likely to find it and be more positive overall!
Thanks to these fortunate cookies, my visions are actually a reality! Each day, when I pick my kids up from school, they run to the car and announce, “I have found ten things I am grateful for!” and I get to learn all about their adventures at school.