A Game to Try

I was cruising Twitter the other day (I don’t post much, to begin with, and am even less inclined since the MuskRat bought it.) and stumbled upon this post from one of my connections.

“A famous researcher predicts divorce with 91% accuracy. He invented a game to protect against the #1 relationship killer. Here it is:”

Which, of course, got my attention

“Actor Jonah Hill has a new Netflix documentary (Stutz) about a famous therapist. The film details the tools Jonah learned from Dr. Phil Stutz that changed his life. Dr. Stutz believes gratitude is the only emotion that can cut through the black cloud of negative thoughts.

Another famous psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, revealed that Contempt was the most predictive pattern that killed a relationship over time. Contempt is criticism with an air of superiority. But Contempt was shown to have an antidote: Gratitude.

Gratitude is a magic emotion. When you feel gratitude, you can’t feel anger or sadness at the same time.

So Gottman invented a straightforward game. It’s called Gratitude Tennis. It only takes 3 minutes to play. Here are the rules:

1. Player one serves up something they are grateful for.
2. Player 2 must “return” the gratitude with something they are grateful for.
3. Repeat “serving” gratitudes to all the players until the 3-min timer goes off.
Bonus Points: Share something you are grateful for related to someone playing the game.

Gratitude is fantastic for your health. And it is potent to receive.

As Dr. Andrew Huberman points out:

Counter to what most believe, the significant positive effects of gratitude (which are many, essential & impact psychology & physiology) mainly stem from receiving gratitude, not giving it or observing others helping. That’s what the data show, anyway. Either way, give thanks!

Gratitude Tennis creates a structure where everyone involved can receive it. The game works at home with family and friends. It even works on zoom with remote work colleagues.


(for whoever suggests Gratitude Tennis): Some will think it sounds cheesy or awkward. You may get a few eye rolls (the physical manifestation of Contempt). This is where you lean on the short 3-min timer.

Resistance to the idea of Gratitude Tennis occurs because the game forces the sharing of authentic emotion. Unfortunately, that is not the norm for many relationships.

People resist the idea of the game because breaking that norm is uncomfortable. Have resolve. The game provides a structure to break through that norm and get into a deeper connection.

With Gratitude Tennis, I’ve never seen a game finish without wall-to-wall smiles. Good luck. To my friends in the US, may your holidays have more gratitude and less Contempt.”

I knew I needed to share this with you because I wasn’t raised to be grateful, and perhaps you weren’t, either. And truthfully, I thought the gratitude idea was utterly over the top, and a simple ‘thank you’ took care of everything.


-The day I told my husband I was so glad he was there for me one horrible weather day and could take over the driving.
-The day I told one of my team members, I was so glad she was with me because I’d be lost entirely without her and her unique skills.
-The day I announced to an assembly of 500 the only reason we had successfully climbed the mountain was due to each one of their actions, and I was thrilled beyond measure to be part of their team.

All my comments were off the cuff, said from the heart and in no way were staged. And almost immediately, right in front of my eyes, everyone stood taller, grinned from ear to ear and shyly said, aw shucks. Then almost immediately did even more for me, us, and what we were building together.

That is when I became hooked on the beauty of gratitude‚ÄĒlistening and acknowledging the other person’s actions, skills, talents, and secret sauce, calling their attention to that particular thing and sharing how they had improved my life.

Listen. Not one of us has gotten to where we are today alone. We’ve all stood on the shoulders of giants before us, been supported by those beside us, and pushed and held up by those behind us.

This little game of Gratitude Tennis could be just the thing to reignite your relationships, spark something extraordinary in your family or work circle and drive more efficiency and effectiveness in your business.

Never be afraid to show gratitude, especially to the ones who mean so much to you. It comes back a million times over.

Spinning mirror ball for BPYBN