Steve Gross is a clinical social worker and a pioneer in the field of using playful engagement and relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma. Steve is the founder and chief playmaker of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, a non-profit that spreads the power of optimism to kids who need it most. Steve’s signature approach has been widely adapted across the country and throughout the world in response to the social and emotional needs of children deeply impacted by poverty, violence and illness.

Steve reminds us that we all have a negativity bias.  In the service of survival, we often focus on what’s most threatening and challenging.  Thus, finding the good in life requires practice.   For Steve, optimism is our capacity to see goodness and value in ourselves, in others and in the world around us.  It’s not about denying the injustices and challenges in the world.

According to a new study, Fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for young people ages 18-45 in the United States.  Steve says that all humans want to feel good and avoid pain, and perhaps right now our environment is causing us to feel more pain than in the past.

When it comes to realism, it’s about seeing the whole picture – the good, the bad and the ugly.  But it’s so much easier to focus on just the negative.

Steve says that you cannot share with others what you don’t have for yourself.  One way to cultivate joy, connection, balance and inspiration is with the Playmaker’s Practice.  In fact, Steve walks us through this powerful practice designed to change brain chemistry in a positive way.

Each domain of the playmaker’s practice revolves around a key question:

#1) Joyfulness – What am I going to do to bring more joy into my life?

#2) Social Connection – Who are the people in my life that I need to connect with?

#3) Internal Control – What are the things I can do to keep me feeling strong and balanced?

#4) Active Engagement – What are the things I need to do to stay engaged and inspired by life?

Steve says this practice is not selfish at all, rather it is the conditioning you need to bring your best self to others.

Years ago, Einstein once said that the most important question a person can ask is this: is the universe a friendly place?  Steve answers this question by telling a wonderful story told to him by his father.

In general, Steve says that what you put out into the world is what you are going to find.  In the end, Steve says that the world is a very friendly place ~ and it’s amazing how friendly it can be when you are sending out the friendliest, warmest and kindest vibes.

You can learn more about Steve and the Life is Good Playmakers right here: