If you have ever spent a holiday or vacation meal with me, you are already rolling your eyes at the title of this one. If you are my husband, you have more than likely played this game with me in the past 24 hours.
For as long as I can remember, I have forced people to humor me with this mealtime game. Each person goes around the dinner table and says what their favorite part of their day was.
If it is someone’s first time playing this game, they tend to jump to the most obvious happy moment; a new experience, a delicious meal or something they saw in nature.
Because of this, I created one rule… You cannot duplicate the same answer as someone who went before you.
Why do I force this game on people?
1. In anticipation of the game, people are more mindful during the day. By day three of a vacation, friends start to say casually, “wow that might make the list tonight” or “I bet that is the best part of your day!” Imagine a day where all we thought about was all the good happening around us at that given moment. Not worried about the future or dwelling on the past. Life is good.
2. It allows us to have authentic discussion at dinner surrounding a positive topic. No politics, no current events, no negativity, no gossip, no worries. This sets the tone for the whole night. Everyone begins and ends the meal in a space of gratitude. Depending on how good you get at the game – you end up sleeping better too! It’s hard to have racing thoughts when your energy is vibrating on such a positive frequency.
3. It forces you to listen. Really. I know it sounds silly, but we spend most of our day in our own head worried about what we are going to do or say next — rarely allowing communication to be truly two way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been part of a discussion where a colleague and I are basically having two completely separate monologues. I’m SUPER guilty of this. This exercise helps you tame that. Giving someone else the floor allows you to be present and express appreciation for the person speaking. Each person who shares offers you a gift of seeing a memory through their eyes – and often loads of laughter.
Any time I’m sitting at dinner with my husband (at home or out) and even sometimes when we are lying in bed, I ask the question.
“What was (has been) your favorite part of your day (so far)?”
We don’t need some extravagant vacation or to wait for Thanksgiving to have these discussions with people. And you don’t need a pile of your college roommates or the intimacy of your spouse to play.
Here are a few places that I’ve asked this question (sometimes with specificity):
- In a staff meeting. I genuinely care about my employees and volunteers. Their joy is my joy.
- In an interview. When you ask a candidate this question it releases the pressure in the room.
- In the gym. Whether you are coaching a group or an individual, this question is a great icebreaker. It also helps spread positivity in a space where nerves or the day’s “ick” may be still lingering.
- With strangers. My job often puts me in situations where I’m surrounded by people I’ve never met. Many times, these folks are showing up where I work because something has gone wrong. As a defense tactic, it is a great idea for all parties to start in a common place of positive. This then allows for tension to dissipate.
- In the doctor’s office. I’m spending more time than I can imagine with lab techs and nurses and doctors. Asking the phlebotomist what the best part of her day was actually made MY day better.
- With your children. Have you ever asked a kid what their favorite part of their day is? If not, I highly recommend this. Whether they are five or 15, their responses might surprise you.
- With my barista. Ever have that lagging moment where neither you nor the hospitality staff have anything to say. This question turns small talk into genuine human to human interaction.
Really, this game works with anyone. A couple of my friends groan or roll their eyes when I first call attention and ask the question, but by the end of the game everyone’s spirits are elevated. Even if just for a moment. Mission accomplished.
So, what was your favorite part of your day?