When a group of Mindful Sports children was recently asked, “what is gratitude,” a girl asked, “does it mean great attitude? Because that’s what it sounds like!” Genius.

Gratitude, the appreciation and heartfulness for others and our own circumstances, is an important part of mindfulness training. Amy Saltzman, one of the original creators of mindfulness training programs for children, describes gratitude as an advanced level that comes after awareness and acceptance. As mindfulness is the non-judgemental awareness of the present moment, and the continuous return to that moment when the mind wanders, gratitude is the master class. Gratitude asks us not only to be aware and accept what is happening but to be thankful and compassionate for it. How can we do that?

Adding gratitude into our practice can begin simply by listing things we are grateful. Gratitude training allows us to be thankful for what we have. Gratitude training can improve our mood and our perception. We can then use those skills to begin to incorporate them into our mindfulness training. Noticing our thoughts, our feelings, and our surroundings, and not just accepting them – but appreciating them. Not so easy! Loving those darker thoughts and tougher feelings? I have to laugh myself, because in my own practice, I constantly am being reminded (and humbled) just how difficult this is to do. And all I can do is to continue to notice that process.

This winter, as we approach the start of the winter and the end of the year, let’s share the intention to bring gratitude into our lives as much as we can. I’m so thankful for all of the Mindful Sports families for entrusting us with their children this year, and to all of you who are interested in our work and our program.