“The purpose of life is to contribute, in some way, to making things better.” – Robert F. Kennedy
How can we expect to make a positive difference in the lives of others if we, ourselves, aren’t leading a purpose, value-driven life? Miscommunications and frustrations all too frequently stem from people not understanding each other – what drives them, what passions fuel them, or what they hold dear. The core of our values as a group always has its foundation in what we each individually value. Undoubtedly, our individual values are shaped by our experiences.
The activity, “The Highlight of Your Life” helps groups understand the individual members of the collective whole on a personal level, helping everyone understand the diverse, unique values that make up the collective whole. Being aware of the concept that “people have a whole life before you meet them” is helpful to finding common ground, but also in reducing/minimizing possible future conflict.
If this activity is done after other activities of its kind, or after a time covering difficult subject matters (addressing existing conflicts, going over sensitive material, etc.), it has the potential to become emotional for participants. It’s a good idea to:
- Preface this activity by emphasizing that in the space the activity is happening, there will be no judgments of any kind
- Emphasize the importance of keeping whatever is said during the activity in the room. It’s important that individuals participating feel that the environment is one of unconditional acceptance. Without this, people cannot feel truly open to sharing themselves with others.
- Your main job as a facilitator is to do just that: facilitate conversation! Ensure members in the group remain respectful and open, and ask members questions or to elaborate when the conversation lulls.
- Have members of the group sit in one, large circle (either in chairs or on the floor).
- Make sure everyone isn’t setting too close, or too far away from the person next to them. Too much distance can make people feel disconnected, too little distance can make people feel uncomfortable sharing.
The timing of this activity can vary greatly from group to group. Groups with individuals who haven’t known each other for very long may not feel extremely comfortable sharing long or more personal stories right away. The activity should take no more than an hour (assuming reasonable sized groups of under 20 people).
Activity – The Highlight of Your Life
- Ask everyone in the group to close their eyes (for 1-2 minutes, the facilitator will keep time) and imagine moments in their lives that impacted them the most. These moments could be times of overwhelming happiness, extreme frustration, or even defeat and sadness. The important part of the moments that people think of isn’t necessarily the emotion they felt in the moment, but the impact that moment had on them.
- After a few minutes thinking of the moments that shaped them, ask the group to think of the experience they would relive if they only had enough time on earth left to experience just that moment again. Remind members of the group that they can choose this moment because of how happy they were in that moment, but the determining factor for their moment should be picking the experience that they feel most profoundly affected them.
- Go around the circle and ask people to share their moments, asking them to share the experience, as well as why and/or how if affected them. Remember to emphasize that not everyone’s moments need to have the same tone! Just because one person’s moment may be somber, doesn’t mean the next person’s can’t be humorous.
The most important outcome of this activity is for participants to understand the experiences that everyone holds dear. Make sure to continually promote openness throughout the activity, and don’t be afraid, as the facilitator, to ask questions to spark discussion. The post-activity discussion should be positive, allowing people to build each other up by showing understanding.