I’m a big believer in expressing gratitude for the good things in your life.
It’s human nature to focus on things in our lives that we don’t have or are just outside our grasp.
In some ways that’s a good thing, as wanting more is the first step towards achieving success.
However, at a certain point you need to take stock of what you have and say, “While this shit ain’t perfect it could sure as hell be a lot worse.”
The Fitness Anomaly
You see this a lot among very fit people. They seemingly have everything — muscle, sex appeal, youth, health, vitality — yet when you get to know them, many aren’t happy, or at least not content.
I can see why.
From a competition perspective, the higher you go in bodybuilding or fitness, the more mere fractions of a percent separates relative fame from total obscurity.
And the higher you go, the more pure genetics — also known as the shit you can’t fix — is what separates the few winners from the legions of forgotten.
With so much riding on being just a little bit better — and with so much at play that you can’t control — it’s easy to fixate on where you might be lacking without acknowledging how far you’ve come.
However, I’m big on gratitude for other reasons.
People who are more content tend to be more relaxed. They smile more, laugh more, and get more out of the “little things” in life that perpetually “hungry” people tend to miss.
And if you practice the following trick, you’ll also sleep better and wake up far more refreshed. And a more rested body is a better performing, better looking body.
I learned this trick from strength coach Charles Poliquin. A few minutes before you head to bed (I do this after I plan the upcoming day) take out a notebook and write down 5 things that occurred that day that you’re grateful for.
It could be a great workout you had, a movie you saw, or even something nice someone did for you .
For me, today (it’s a Monday):
• I had an awesome workout where I hit a rep PR in the squat
• I had a solid Krav Maga session where I finally nailed the release from a headlock from the side.
• I enjoyed an extra long bike ride home through Manhattan on a gorgeous fall day. Lots of scenery. 😉
• I ate an awesome homemade beef brisket dinner with my wife.
• I went to a speakeasy in Chinatown and heard a friend’s jazz band play (and I didn’t get drunk and fall down; double-bonus!)
Sometimes I extend it to 10 things and include 5 “bigger” things that I’m grateful for, like my health, my career (believe it or not), my wife, my family, and of course, my quads.
And that’s it. I close my notebook and hit the bed. And typically I’m asleep within seconds, as a sense of gratitude is highly relaxing and satisfying — a perfect gateway to a long, restful night’s sleep.
Of course, crappy stuff still happened today. (It was a Monday after all.)
I’dI lost track of time working and had to rush a project. The repair guy coming to fix my sink had said he’d arrive between 6pm and 11pm — he showed up at 10:45, meaning I missed my friend’s opening set.
But those pains in the ass are still kinda small when compared to the 5-10 awesome things that happened that are staring me in the face.
Option B: The Smart Phone Option
Sitting down with a notepad isn’t your only means to express gratitude. You also have a helpful tool resting on your hip — your smart phone. Specifically, your camera.
Here’s the deal. Another big part of gratitude (or happiness) is being in the moment — not thinking about where you want to be in the future or the mistakes you’ve made getting to here — but being present and engaged and appreciative of the “here and now. ”
In other words, it’s “stopping to smell the roses,” or in my case, stopping to give props to New York City.
I love being here — there’s no place that I’d rather be — so every day I stop and appreciate what I see by taking a picture. So I can look back on it later. And be grateful.
Below are a few examples. I have tons more on my Instagram feed so if you like gratuitous shots of urban Americana, I’m your man.
However, for you, depending where you live, it might be the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Or English Bay in Vancouver. Or Lakeshore Drive in Chicago.
Wherever you are, stop and appreciate the beauty.
Just like Ferris Bueller said, life moves pretty fast — if you don’t stop and look around sometimes, you could miss it.
Click on any of the pics to enlarge them. Just if you do, hit the BACK button on your browser to get back here. Don’t close the pic.
6 am trombone practice along the East River. Sadly, this dude really needed to go shed.
A morning pour-over near the High Line.
Life ain’t checkers homie.
Coney Island. I miss summer.
Street Art, Little Italy
This was parked out front of a club in the Meatpacking.
Hats in BK.
Street art in a warehouse along the Hudson.
This kinda sums up Chelsea, my favourite neighbourhood in the city.
Its the Brooklyn way.
Cheap flowers all year!
Red, white, and beautiful
And I’m out.
So whether it’s Thanksgiving or just another day, be sure to take a moment to be grateful. Cause it could ALWAYS be a hell of a lot worse.
How do you show gratitude?