We live in a fast-paced world where we far too often measure ourselves against the successes of others, or what other people have (material possessions, promotions, positions at work or on the team, certain skills, ‘good looks’, etc.).
All of our time is spent looking at what we don’t have rather than appreciating the gifts, accomplishments and good fortunes that we’ve been blessed with.
If we are to live a truly complete life, then we must embrace the strength and power of gratitude.
This post was inspired by Father’s Day, 2017. I’ve written before about gratitude and how I try to incorporate it into my daily routine, but for some reason, Father’s Day hit me differently this year.
As in past years, I reflected on my father, father-in-law, and grandfathers who helped shape me into the man I am today. While I’ve lost some of them in years passed, they all push me in different ways and continue to inspire me to strive to be the very best for my wife and children.
Although this was my 3rd Father’s Day, it was my own status as a father that really hit me – more so than before. I was even more grateful that I have the distinct honor and privilege to be a father.
Actually, as I write this, I realize that I owe the content of this post to my wife. She reminded me that to be an excellent father you have to choose to be one, and let me know how grateful she was that I continue to make that choice.
So I am grateful to be a father. I am grateful for the huge responsibilities and challenges that come with it. I am grateful for my beautiful children that look to me for guidance, protection, and love. I am grateful that I make the choice – each and every day.
The Inner Athlete Embraces GRATITUDE
Just in case anyone was thinking this post is just about or for dads, please stay tuned. It’s time to dig into the importance of gratitude as we define and unleash our Inner Athlete.
For the vast majority of things in life, there are pros and cons for any decision we make or path we choose.
For instance, those that choose complacency don’t have to worry about the stresses or high stakes of making their dreams a reality, or going all in to create their best selves – they can just kick back and relax. However they will have to face a life of emptiness and unrealized potential.
On the flip side, for those of us who are driven and want to create a life that is fulfilling, amazing and rewarding to ourselves and those around us, we will keep grinding and pushing ourselves to higher levels of performance, competency, and mastery in order to obtain that life. And in order to do so, we have to put in a mountain of hard work.
I use the word ‘mountain’ not to discourage, but rather to highlight the importance of embracing gratitude and acquiring the strength it provides for the journey ahead.
It may be easier to keep pushing and pushing towards our goals all day every day, but is that approach really worth the cost? You still may accomplish your goals – maybe even earlier than expected – but will there be anyone around to celebrate with you? Will you get burned out? Or, what if the joy and excitement you feel about reaching the goal fades as you are only left with the question of, ‘now what?’.
I argue that we must appreciate the incremental successes and positive things in our lives no matter how small or seemingly insignificant to keep us hungry, humble and motivated to climb that mountain.
Therefore, I challenge all of us to be intentional about creating time to slow down, look around, and acknowledge all of the great things in our lives – here are a few small yet impactful things that we can be grateful for:
- Your health – try doing anything of significance without a solid foundation of good health – not going to happen
- Laughter around the dinner table with family or friends
- Your 9-to-5 that supports your lifestyle, passions, family, (fill in your blank here) even if it isn’t your dream job or career
- Great weather and the endless potential that comes with it
- Quiet time to read, reflect, get inspired
- A pat on the back for a job well done
- Appreciation from your peers, boss, coach
- Your dog’s wagging tail that welcomes you home, or your cat’s… well, whatever cats do (I’m really not a cat person)
- Gaining that next 1st down (even though it isn’t a touchdown, you have a fresh set of downs to get there!)
While I hope I’ve reminded you that the things we can and should be grateful for are everywhere around us, I also want to leave you with a few ideas to make space for practicing gratitude in your life.
While I don’t practice all of these (at least not right now), I’ve either read about them or heard how powerful they can be, so take a look and I hope some if not all bring you value:
- Start a gratitude journal – pick the time of day that works for you and jot down a certain number of things you are grateful for, or as many things as you can think of during a set time
- Or, as I’ve mentioned before, check out the 5 Minute Journal – start your day by jotting down 3 things you are grateful for
- Create a family / friend gratitude practice – Before you reach for your fork at the dinner table, go around and have everyone list one thing they are grateful for – challenge each person to come up with a different one each time
- Reach out and touch someone – everyone, whether a pain in the ass or the love of your life, has a role to play in making you your very best – take the time to tell them how grateful you are for having them in your life. It will make them feel great too (or really confuse the pains in the asses, which will in turn be more fun for you)!
These are a few of what I’m sure are hundreds of gratitude practices.
The lesson is to make the time on your journey towards greatness to appreciate all that you’ve accomplished and built thus far – I guarantee it’s more than you think!
What are you most grateful for today? This month? This year?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."