Character Chats

Showing Our Gratitude

Showing our gratitude

Here at True Balance Karate in Downer Grove, Illinois, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio, and I have two master’s degrees in education. We’ve developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students, who are three or four, and our oldest student who is 85.

And this month we have been talking about gratitude. We started off kind of defining, having an attitude of gratitude, and the positives that come with being grateful for things that are around us, for people that are around us. And last week we talked about the who we’re grateful for, when we’re grateful, what we’re grateful for. Kind of an all-encompassing idea of looking for gratitude everywhere. And this week, we’re talking about how do we show it? How do we show the people that we’re grateful for them?

How do we show, one, we are grateful for something that happened to us? How do we recognize what we would be grateful for, when it’s like a thing, like a pet? And so, the easiest to start with is the people, right? We are taught from when we are tiny to say thank you. And that’s the easiest way to show gratitude, is to just use those two words and say thank you. But another way is to smile. Another way is to offer back. A friend helps you with something that got spilled, and they help you clean it up, and then you help them, right? So you’re at your friend’s house and milk spills, and they help you clean it up, and it’s all good. But then, when one of you goes to carry your books up to the room to put things away, you help put them away.

Taking care of each other is part of that attitude of gratitude. It’s recognizing that we are here for each other. Another way would be just giving back without the first parts, right? I talked about how they helped you clean up, so you helped them clean up, but what if you just helped? What if you just gave back?

What if my students, who are in junior high, saw mom pull into the garage, knew the groceries were in the trunk, and decided to go out and help? That’s demonstrating a gratitude right there. You recognize that she would need that help. There you go. Or dad in this case, because my husband actually does the grocery shopping. So you’d recognize that dad would need help carrying the groceries in, as well. It’s that type of idea that we can then incorporate when it comes to demonstrating attitudes of gratitude, showing our gratitude for the people around us.

We talked last week about when were you grateful, when you learned a particular lesson, when you overcame a certain challenge, when something happened and you could be grateful for the outcome, right? That’s not as easy. You can’t walk up to the situation and then say, “Thank you,” to that particular situation. But maybe you journal about it, maybe you keep a gratitude jar, or vase, or something and you write it on a post-it, and you drop it in there, so that at the end of the month, or at the end of the year, you can look back at all of the positive good moments in your life. That’s another way of recognizing when some of those positive things have happened.

And the what’s? Well, I have two dogs at home, I don’t think they fully understand English, but I can be grateful for them. I can take them for walks, I can make sure they’re fed, I can give them hugs, and pets, and loves along the way, which demonstrates to them that they are cared for, and that they are valued in the house. Fish, I have fish too. I don’t quite know if they understand gratitude, but those kinds of what situations, just by being a positive person, by showing some awareness of what that would need, of taking care of it, right? Maybe you’re grateful for a new computer, or a new program on it, so you’re going to take care of it, you’re not going to just toss it off to the side, that kind of thing.

When my daughter was younger, she really liked drawing and painting, and actually she still does, and she really wanted these really nice smelly markers, because she really liked the Mr. Sketch smelly markers. And so, we got them for her, and her gratefulness of having those markers. Yes, she told us thank you, but then those markers never sat with their caps off, those markers had a very specific place where they went. It was very obvious that she was taking care of them, because she valued them. So as we’re talking about showing our attitude of gratitude, it’s demonstrating it to the people that we love, and care about, and recognize, and appreciate that they’re doing things for us, but it’s also doing the same for objects around us, so that we can show that it has value and meaning in what we’re doing.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here