In this time of great turmoil, we can all use stress-reducers. Among the most effective are LOVE, EMPATHY, GRATITUDE and OPTIMISM. Interestingly, those four feelings and attitudes share something with the world’s biggest toy company, LEGO®—and the stress-reducer of creative play it promotes—because “L.E.G.O.“, in English, is the acronym for Love, Empathy, Gratitude and Optimism. Since the company name is so well-known (LEGO® products are now marketed in over 100 countries) the acronym can also be used to continually remind all of us of these other helpful attitudes.

The trademarked/registered name LEGO® derives from “leg godt,” which in Danish means “play well.” The LEGO Foundation—the company‘s philanthropic arm—has as its goal to “convince parents, decision-makers and politicians to bring play into children’s lives in the homes, schools and communities.”  I believe that they now have a huge opportunity to go beyond play and children to everyone. Love, Empathy, Gratitude and Optimism are not only stress-reducers but great sources of human happiness—people rarely have enough of them. What if we combined the powerful creative force of LEGO® play with the powerful and life-enhancing forces of Love, Empathy, Gratitude and Optimism—not just for kids, but for all of us? 

Like imaginative play, love, empathy, gratitude and optimism lead to happy, productive lives. They are among the most important gifts any person can receive and give while growing up and throughout life. When possessed and shared they are all sources of human well-being. Gratitude, for example, is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness in positive psychology research, helping people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Wonderfully, these four stress-reducing feelings and attitudes are freely available to everyone. Yet they are far from evenly distributed—love, empathy, gratitude and optimism are either lacking or under-developed in a great many of the world’s places and people.  This state of affairs compounds our problems as we face the stresses of today’s world crisis. People without love, empathy, gratitude and optimism are far more likely, in these troubled times, to be lost and unhappy. It is crucial we spread the message that these things are important and obtainable by all. I believe LEGO®, by virtue of its phenomenal success in reaching and promoting play to kids all over the world, is in a unique position to help. Combining imaginative play with love, empathy, gratitude and optimism is a natural fit.

My modest proposal here is that the LEGO® Group and Foundation adopt the acronym L.E.G.O. (for Love, Empathy, Gratitude and Optimism) as their own, incorporating the additional value it brings into their marketing message. Their current message is “Rebuild the World”—which is precisely what we will have to do when this crisis is over and we move into physical, and emotional, recovery. We need to not only “play well” but to “be well”—and we will all be helped (as we will be immediately) by strengthening our love, empathy, gratitude and optimism—positive emotions and attitudes that bind us together and keep us moving forward.

Suppose LEGO were to put its huge marketing power behind a message like “LEGO® BRINGS L. E. G. O.” —I.e.“We bring not just play, but also love, empathy, gratitude and optimism into everyone’s lives, homes, schools and communities?  If the powerful creative force of play were combined with the powerful life-enhancing forces of love, empathy, gratitude and optimism, I believe it could improve the life of everyone on the planet. Whether LEGO® chooses to go down this path or not, I highly recommend that we all, in these trying times, keep LOVE, EMPATHY, GRATITUDE and OPTIMISM at the top of our minds.


  • Marc Prensky

    Founder, The Global Future Education Foundation

    Marc Prensky, coiner of the term “Digital Native," is an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed speaker & author. He has spoken in over 40 countries, authored seven books, and has been published in over a dozen languages. Marc strives to empower our planet’s two billion kids to improve their world via a new, real-world impacting project-based upbringing. Marc is widely known as one of the most future-oriented, out-of-the-box thinkers in his field, Marc’s many writings, interviews and videos can be found at Contact Marc at [email protected] .