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Updated: Oct 18, 2021

Written By: Dana Skelton

Gratitude- READINESS to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Gratitude- A thankful appreciation for what one receives—tangible or intangible—as they acknowledge the goodness in their lives.

Gratitude- Helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.


What makes gratitude so amazing:

Gratitude can build resiliency. When something bad happens, will you bend or will you break? Gratitude gives us a tool to help protect ourselves from the potential negative effects of stressors. If you get the chance, look up the Kalaloch Tree of Life.

Gratitude is something that is in your control. It is a decision you must make every day. Gratitude comes from inside you, not outside. Someone may do something kind for you, but it is up to you to be grateful for it! Gratitude does not depend on the right set of events or circumstances; it is how YOU react to things.

Being grateful is a skill you can learn and improve. Perception can become your reality. Our perceptions can profoundly impact how we experience life. But… perception is merely a lens or mindset from which we view people, events, and things. It is often based on past experiences, emotions, and prior knowledge (among other things). We can become naturally wary of things that are new, even if they are better for us. Be proactive about shifting your perceptions, trying new things, and practicing gratitude.

Gratitude can be contagious. Whether it is a co-worker, a kid you work with, or someone you don’t even know. The impact on those around you can improve their day, encourage them to pay it forward, and strengthen your resolve to living a grateful life.

Gratitude can prevent us from taking things for granted. Most of us wake up at the same time every day and go through the same routine, even our morning coffee is the same every day. How would your day be different if you woke up and the first thing you did was read a quote from Maya Angelou, “This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before”. Or on your drive into work, you slowed down so that someone could merge in front of you. Or when you got home from work exhausted, you took a moment to smell the basil, as you made dinner for your family.

Gratitude can help develop confidence. It takes confidence to appreciate what you have. It is much easier to always wonder what you are missing.

Gratitude can improve delayed gratification. A life skill that is huge for athletes to learn and a must for coaches working with young athletes!

Gratitude is NOT complacency. “Gratitude may be the secret sauce for happiness, but the recipe works for a lot of us only if it still allows for ambition and resolve.” – Janice Kaplan


How to practice gratitude:

  • Journal- Doing has a stronger lasting impact than thinking, which is why journaling can be one of the best ways to practice gratitude. Find a time that works best for you:

  • First thing in the morning. Make an effort to not look at your phone, but instead read a quote, write about something in your life you are grateful for, or lay for a moment and recognize what you are looking forward to that day.

  • End of the day. Write down 3 things you were grateful for that day.

Remember, even when you have a bad day, there is something to be grateful for. It may simply be that you didn’t spill hot coffee on yourself or that you had an umbrella in car when it started to rain that day.

  • Role model gratitude- Practicing gratitude is something that has to be a conscious choice every day. The amazing part is, that the more you do it, the easier it gets. In coaching, how can you talk to your athletes in a way that demonstrates to them, the power of gratitude? How can you highlight to them the opportunities they have and benefits of viewing situations from a new perspective?

My girls and I at night, each write one thing we are grateful for. Then one girl gets to pick a friend or family member to call. They ask them, “what were you grateful for today?” As soon as they ask the question, you can feel the other person smiling on the other end of the line.

  • Express gratitude- The biggest benefits come when we GIVE, not receive. Think of a moment when you unselfishly did something for someone else and how that made you feel. Imagine having that feeling every day!

  • Be open to accepting help- Allow others to show kindness to you; it is not a weakness, but a gift. This is a simple way to see outside of ourselves and allow others to do the same.

  • Develop a no complain zone- Take this on as a personal challenge. Maybe it is a challenge that only you know or maybe it is a challenge that you pose to your athletes or staff. Complaining puts blinders on our ability to see what we should be grateful for!

  • Turn bad to good- How can you REFRAME a situation? When Michael Jordan did not make the Varsity Basketball team in high school he said, “Everybody goes through disappointments, it’s how you overcome those disappointments. I just wasn’t good enough. In terms of the best thing that could happen to me, it was to get cut, cause it made me go back and get caught up with my skill level at my height.”

  • Write a thank you letter- Step 1, think of someone that has helped you or changed your life. Step 2, write out what they did and how it impacted your life. Step 3, send the letter or deliver it in person.

I am grateful for anyone reading this right now, the positive impact it can have on others around me, and the inspiration you feel to share the information with others!

Learn More From Dana at @girlsstrivingthroughsport on Instagram and Facebook!

Dana is in her 14th season with the First Colony Swim Team. She is the lead coach for Age Group 1, where she gets the privilege to work with the 9- & 10-year-olds. She is also the Head Developmental Coach, working with the awesome coaches in the novice groups. She is an ASCA Level 3 certified coach. Dana started her coaching career with the East Bay Bat Rays in California. This introduction to USA Swimming kick-started her love of coaching, working with young swimmers, and learning what it means to be a great coach. Her coaching philosophy includes doing what is best for each child, parent, and coach in the sport. Focusing on what we can do as a collective whole to promote the sport, help everyone become better people, and have the children see the benefits of working hard. She uses an IM based training (with lots of kick) to ensure the young athletes have a solid base to keep developing through the sport. Dana has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Kinesiology from California State University, East Bay. She enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 daughters. Hobbies include being active, being crafty/creative, exploring the great state of Texas, and seeking out education to continue improving herself (on and off the deck).


FCST rep for Gulf Masters

Texas All Star Camp coaching staff

Southern Zone Select Camp coaching staff

Meet Task Force for Gulf Swimming TPC

Committee Chair for the Texas Select Camp

USA Swimming Age Group Committee Member

Committee Chair for Gulf Club Development Committee

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