Kindness is "easy to give and priceless to receive"
Updated: Dec 9, 2022
Mackenzie Siddall has always considered herself a positive, outgoing person despite the challenges she’s faced in her life.
Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, the 26 year-old fitness expert and entrepreneur was born without a right hand.
But she has never let that stop her from achieving her dreams - and beyond.
“Life is unpredictable. We don't know what is going to happen. We don't know what obstacles might be thrown our way,” says Mackenzie.
“So if you have your mind set on something, you just have to do it.”
Born into a sports-loving family, Mackenzie played hockey and baseball growing up, even winning a national girls softball championship on a team coached by her mother, Tamara.
But it’s her father, Joe, who was the real inspiration for her love of baseball.
A broadcaster for the Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Siddall is a former professional baseball player, who caught for the Montreal Expos, the Florida Marlins and the Detroit Tigers.
With baseball in her blood, it’s no surprise that Mackenzie was chosen to be the junior captain for the University of British Columbia’s varsity softball team, the Thunderbirds, in her second year.
A pitcher, Mackenzie threw the ball with her left hand and quickly transitioned her glove to catch it when it was thrown back - one of the many ways she has learned to be resourceful and innovative in her life and career.
"Sports bring so much joy to life and they also bring a lot of adversity and hardships,” says Mackenzie. “They challenge you to become a stronger person - to keep fighting even when times get tough.”
Mackenzie has needed to call on that strength many times in her life.
On February 4, 2014, after a six-month battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer, her younger brother Kevin passed away just before his 15th birthday.
As Mackenzie wrote in her blog, “We knew he would want us to keep living, so that is exactly what we did and continue to do.”
To this day, she and her family all wear green bracelets that say LFK - ‘Live For Kevin.’
“Every day you get the opportunity to wake up and live another day, be grateful for it,” says Mackenzie.
After going back to school to get her MBA, Mackenzie started ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ to share this philosophy and inspire others to achieve their true potential through practicing gratitude.
Tapping into her own life story and her personal learnings along the way, Mackenzie speaks to work groups, school classes and sports teams, inspiring others to incorporate gratitude into their lifestyle.
“In school, we learn to read and write. Well, I think gratitude is an essential skill too,” she says.
“That’s my mission, my goal, to start this ripple effect of gratitude.”
Learn more about Mackenzie’s inspirational story and the ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ movement she’s created, in our Q&A below.
Mackenzie, what is your ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ brand all about?
Attitude of Gratitude (AOG) is a lifestyle brand. My mission is to spread my light to others by sharing perspective. It started out when I took over a local fitness company in Windsor. I needed to come up with my own name for insurance/legal reasons. The brainstorming began.
I remember thinking back to my days at UBC Softball and something we started doing in our senior year - our 'attitude of gratitude' circle. This was it. This was what I would name my business. I continued in the fitness space for a short while but realized that gratitude is important in all aspects of our lives, both physically and mentally. I started sharing my story and message with sports teams, school classes, and corporations and this is where AOG has taken me.
I have a story and a message to share, and I love spreading my light to others. Gratitude is something I'm extremely passionate about and I'm constantly trying to encourage and motivate others to adopt this perspective in their own lives. I also have some clothing and other items that I sell to spread this positive message, but my main purpose is to continue speaking to groups of people, to share my story. I offer keynote speeches to motivate others to get the most out of what life has to offer and to start each day with an 'attitude of gratitude.'
On your website, you talk about gratitude as being a ‘secret superpower’ or a tool that each of us can use to reach our true potential. What do you mean by that?
Gratitude is a 'secret superpower.' It doesn't matter how young or old you are - we can all practice gratitude and experience the benefits that come from it. It's something every single person is capable of because you don't need anything to be a grateful person - you just need yourself. It only takes a minute or two, each day, of taking a step back and reflecting on what you already HAVE in your life. It's about appreciating the little things. There are so many scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, it can have a positive impact on our health, improve our social connections, enhance our mood, help us through adversity, etc. It's a tool that is within all of our reach - we just have to get started to unlock its potential!
How have you overcome your own personal challenges to tap into your potential?
I was born with one hand. I don't see myself as different from any others, although I do have a visible difference. From a young age, I embraced who I was as a person. I didn't think 'why me' - I took a step forward and was confident in who I was. I'm glad I did that because the truth is, we are all different. Most of us have invisible differences. We don't always see them, but they exist. I choose to embrace who I am and express gratitude for all that I do have, rather than focusing on what I do not have.
Another challenge I have had to overcome is losing my younger brother. He passed away eight years ago from cancer. This loss hit like a rock. It completely shook my entire family. Over time, I have chosen to view my life through the lens of gratitude, and this has helped me to keep moving forward, each day. I focus on what I do still have, despite the tragic loss I dealt with. I cherish memories and the time I did get with my brother. I use his memory as fuel to keep living each day to its fullest.
Tell us about your brother Kevin, and how he continues to inspire you…
My brother was a few years younger than me and one of my closest friends. We grew up with two older siblings, so we were the younger of the two, and we stuck together. He was a young, active, smart, innocent little kid who was diagnosed with cancer out of the blue. He was sent directly to London Children's Hospital because he had a tumour on his chest impeding his airways. He fought a tough battle for six months, but unfortunately just over eight years ago, he passed away. He is truly my greatest inspiration in life. I witnessed him go through chemo, radiation, picks/prods, and so much more. This made me appreciate the concept of our health. We take for granted so many things in life. These six months of my life challenged me to reflect, to look at all that I do have and start to appreciate it more. He is a true hero. There is not a day that goes by where I do not think of him. I see him in all things green - every sunrise or sunset, I know he's shining down. He has shown me how to focus on the small things in life and truly appreciate them. He has helped me to appreciate everything I currently have in my life, be it people, places, experiences, or things. He has shown me that you truly never know what can happen in life. It's short and we have to start living it more fully.
What have you learned in your life about kindness, and the impact it can have on others?
Kindness is so special and so important. Kindness is also easy to give and priceless to receive. Gratitude is the appreciation of kindness. Throughout my life, I have witnessed many kind acts and in turn displayed my own acts of kindness to others. I love how a smile or holding the door for a stranger can truly brighten someone's day. I love how these simple acts can make such a big difference. We never know someone's story. We never know what they are going through. Whenever I can, I try to be kind to others. It does not matter where I am or who I am interacting with. I truly believe in the power of kindness. When you are kind to others, they pay it forward, and we start to develop a ripple effect of positivity and love.
What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
It’s hard to pinpoint the kindest thing someone has ever done for me, but there is one thing that comes to mind as it happened to me recently. My husband & I celebrated our marriage over the summer. One of our friends graciously sent us an e-gift card for a date night at a restaurant. My friend thought she sent it to my email address, but she got the order of my name wrong for my email address. A couple of days later, I got a message on Instagram from someone named Mackenzie Siddall. She sent me a screen shot of the e-gift card and said that she thinks she received it by accident. She went out of her way to find me on Instagram, send me the screenshot, and then she forwarded me the email. I thought this was an extremely kind thing to do. She could have easily disregarded the email or gone on her own dinner date, but instead she decided to find me through social media and deliver the e-gift card to me! I was truly touched.
You spent many years as the captain of your softball team at UBC. What did you learn from that experience? And from growing up surrounded by sports your whole life?
Playing softball at UBC for four years is an experience I will never forget. It has shaped me into the person I am today. It completely changed my university experience. I met some of my closest friends, I fell in love and found my husband, and I got to see so much of the world. Being on a Team is something I have always loved - I love the instant camaraderie you get. It is an instant friend network and family.
Sports has always been a major part of my life. It taught me the importance of hard work and determination. Things are not always going to be easy, but you can always find a way. It taught me time management. There is only so much time in a day, but you get to choose how you spend it. You can always make time for things that are important to you. It taught me the importance of setting a good example and being a leader. When you are on a Team, there are a mix of people of differing ages. It is important to have a positive role model and someone you can turn to at any time. I had those role models growing up and I always wanted to be one for the others coming up behind me.
I know you speak to a lot of school and work groups about the power of gratitude. What do you enjoy most about sharing your story?
I love sharing my story with others and seeing their faces light up when they realize they too can get started on their own journey with this powerful tool of gratitude. I also love sharing my story because it is a way for me to carry my brother’s legacy forward. Every time I do, I have him right beside me and I love knowing that he continues to have not only an impact on my life, but on the lives of so many who never even knew him!
Check out the 'Attitude of Gratitude' (AOG) website
Read Mackenzie's AOG blog
Listen to Mackenzie's interview on the 'It's Literally Fine' podcast - "You Get What You Give"
Watch this amazing Sportsnet story about Mackenzie's baseball career at UBC