Character Chats

Who, When, and What

Who, when, and what?

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

This month, we are talking about having that attitude of gratitude. Now, I know I started with who, when, and what, and you were like, “Where are we going with this, Master H?” That is because when we’re talking about attitudes of gratitude, we’re talking about who are we thankful for? When are we thankful for? What are we thankful for? All those different things. One of the people that I’m thankful for is one of our instructors, who actually does all of our social media here for the studio, Ms. Lola.

She was telling me, “Master H, you need to make sure that the titles are shorter so that I can put it together a lot easier.” Because she does the social media side of things for us, it helps me, because I’m really not that good at it, but she steps in and takes care of that. I’m grateful for her doing that side of things, which I suppose also falls under the what. I’m grateful that somebody else is doing that particular task along the way.

As we’re talking about who, let’s put it to you out there, my fabulous audience. Who are you grateful for? Is it a spouse? I know I’m grateful for my spouse, Master Helsdon, every day. He gets up, and he’s the chief breakfast maker in the house, and he just always has this positive outlook on life. Even when I’m feeling frustrated about something, or things like that, he’s willing to sit down and help problem solve with me, so that we can figure it out together.

Is there a spouse that you’re grateful for, kids, teachers, coaches? Who in our lives are we thankful for? Our parents, for some of us, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, colleagues, bosses, any of the people that are around us. Who are we thankful for? We need to take a moment and recognize, at least within our thoughts, like, “Who am I grateful for?” Later this month, we’ll talk about how we can show that we’re grateful for those people, but right now, it’s about generating that list, that idea of who it would be.

When? When are we grateful? Certain times of the year lends itself to us being more grateful, like holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, et cetera. When else are we grateful? Are we grateful when we’ve achieved a goal, and we’ve pushed through it, and we’ve met challenges? Are we grateful and can appreciate lessons learned, when something not so good has happened, but we’ve learned and grown from it? If we take a moment, and close our eyes, and picture a moment, a when moment, if you will, that we were grateful for something, that can give you a clue as to when those things are happening so that we can see that.

What about the what’s? What are we grateful for? Roof over our head, food on the table, school, learning lessons, stories that we get to read, those types of things. All of these things play a role in taking a moment and being grateful, and having that attitude of gratitude. Are we grateful for pets, dogs, cats, goldfish, Guinea pigs? Whatever your pet might be, that might be one of the what’s that you’re grateful for. There’s lots of things. For kids who are three, four, and five, I’ve heard them go, “Well, I’m grateful for my Legos.”

When I say, “Well, why are we grateful for Legos?” Sometimes, they’re like, “Because they’re fun.” Sometimes, one of the kids actually told me, because it gives him something to do, because he likes to build with them. Great reason, because he appreciates what, he has and he can see the benefit that it gives him. Now, last week, I talked about the positives that come from being grateful: lower stress, able to raise ourselves up, meet challenges, those types of things.

To have a five-year-old go, “Well, I appreciate my Legos, because I have something to do,” it’s giving him that positive outlook. It’s giving him that safe space to just create with his Legos that way. For my junior high kids, my high school kids, yeah, some of them love school still, and some of them are like, “School’s a thing.” Within that, I was talking with my own daughter, and she had a favorite class that she really appreciated going to. My son had a favorite activity after school that he really appreciated doing.

Those things are the what’s. Even within the day-to-day stuff that we do, we can still find what we are grateful for, who we are grateful for, the different times that we are grateful for. That’s how we practice our attitude of gratitude.

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