This mindfulness activity is heartwarming! It combines kindness and gratitude in a fun way anyone can do. The “Gratitude Gift” mindfulness activity is great for all ages. Yes, even for grown-ups.
It’s a big win-win-win …
You get to spend quality time talking and thinking kind & thankful thoughts and at the end you likely get a big hit of oxytocin. I’ll explain the oxytocin part later :-)
With this fun mindfulness activity kids can …
learn to appreciate people for simply existing,
experience how it feels to give,
find ways to express gratitude,
and figure out that thinking kind and thankful thoughts makes us feel good!
Our heartful adventure in Spain
We spent two months in Spain this year and the lady from the Indian restaurant in our building was amazing. She kissed and hugged my son, Anton, every time we met. She was kind and sweet and my son adored her.
Then after a few weeks she suddenly seemed stressed. She wasn’t her happy self anymore and I asked Anton what we could do. He figured we could bring her flowers and we did. It made her smile again. Then Anton thought we could do even better and he wanted to draw a card for her. We decided to write about the things that made Anton thankful to make it a thank you note – a gratitude gift.
We spent an hour drawing and writing – talking about the lady and how we appreciate her. Creating the card felt awesome! We connected with my son and it was heartwarming to talk about all the good things.
The best was yet to come. When Anton presented the card to the lady, she was blown away! Anton got tons of kisses and a warm heartfelt hug. She was beaming and that made us feel uplifted, too :-)
Finally she gave Anton four lollipops … which was exciting but problematic. We don’t eat candy ( refined sugars ) so Anton was faced with a dilemma. But he took the candy and decided he could make someone else happy by giving them away as gifts.
This heartwarming experience is something I’m sure that Anton will never forget – how it felt to think about the good qualities of the recipient and how giving a heartwarming gift feels. This experience I recommend to all kids. It truly seems that joy and kindness breed more joy and kindness. You get what you give and happiness spreads like magic.
Here’s the card Anton made.
So, by now you’ve probably figured out that this is a compassionate spin on the traditional thank you note. A thank you note generally thanks someone for something, but this activity is a great way for a child to show appreciation to someone for simply existing. You don’t have to spell out anything, but this time we thought it would be fun to thank her for all the wonderful things she’d done for us.
Heartwarming Mindfulness Activities – Gratitude gift
Purpose: Gratitude, Kindness, Connection
Best for: Ages 4+, groups or one-on-one
What you need: Writing/drawing materials or art supplies
Consider doing this activity every few weeks, or however often your child finds it fun. She likely will find it fun, because the recipient of the gratitude gift is almost guaranteed to be honored and touched.
To begin, have a conversation with your child about a person in her life who is currently important. It could be a teacher, a friend, a sibling, a neighbor… anyone, really.
Ask her to think of a reason why she is grateful to have that person in her life, and encourage her to draw or write her feelings. She should have fun with the project, decorating the “gift” or writing in a way that she knows will make her “important person” laugh or smile.
Explain that it’s a good idea to let the people whom she cares about know that she is thankful for their presence. As she works, continue to talk with her about what makes that person so fantastic. When she eventually presents her thank you note or drawing, she will certainly brighten someone else’s day; if, for some reason, she decides not to present her gratitude gift, she still spent a great deal of time thinking positively about someone else.
Boost feel-good hormones and empathy
Grown-ups can do this activity by drawing or writing a card – or even by sending a gratitude text or instant message :-) But I recommend that you deliver your gratitude gift in person as it will give you the most pleasure – and oxytocin, also know as the “cuddle hormone”.
Face-to-face interaction releases this feel-good hormone that amplifies empathy. When we interact face-to-face oxytocin is released in our bodies and we experience heightened empathy, and we may understand the other person better.
When you feel empathy for someone, you are motivated to treat them better because you can put yourself in their shoes. Face-to-face communication achieves the greatest oxytocin release compared to other forms of interaction. This is why it’s almost always best to talk in person.
Empathy in decline?
A study found that empathy is in decline in younger generations because of the way we interact. We tend to communicate through social media & messaging and we drift further apart from each other – having a harder time understanding each other.
Only 10% of empathy is hardwired
On a similar note, a new study suggests that 10% of empathy is hardwired. Which means that the rest, a whopping 90%, is a learned skill!
So, let’s practice more kindness and help our kids experience more empathy. I believe it’s key in building a brighter future.
You can start by doing this fun activity with the kids.
You’ll find 150 playful mindfulness activities in my 5-star rated best selling book:
“The Most Important Mindfulness Book You’ll Ever Buy” – Helen Hudson
I wish you many many mindful moments :-)
Chris Bergstrom ( Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids )
If you are new to mindfulness with children OR you want to make practice easy we recommend our online mindfulness courses.
Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a blog dedicated to children’s mindfulness, and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also known as “the dad who tried 200+ mindfulness activities” and has taught meditation for more than 15 years.