A grateful state of mind exists mutually exclusive to all other thoughts and feelings. Think about it for a moment.
It’s impossible be grateful and angry, for example. Nobody feels grateful and jealous at the same time. One cannot be anxious or depressed while being grateful.
Gratitude now has good evidence to back that it isn’t just a better mindset, but it might also make us live longer, better and happier lives.
This isn’t merely anecdotal; being grateful has enormous psychological and physical benefits. Gratitude has made cardiac patients sleep better and experience less cellular inflammation. Grateful people live longer and are more satisfied with their lives.
Gratitude on the mats
Training correctly means finding and experiencing failure. How we approach failure determines if we will continue to fail in the same ways, avoid failing by quitting altogether, or becoming more resilient.
Black belt means a lot of things, but one thing everyone will agree on is that anyone with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is resilient and doesn’t quit. Why? Perhaps gratitude has something to do with it. When we appreciate the ability to train, being physically well enough to train, we get more from it.
We forge lasting friendships and test our own limitations. We get the desire to come back and train again.
As much as we have to be grateful for, like living in a free society where we can indulge Jiu Jitsu and May Thai, it benefits us to be grateful for what we don’t have. Be grateful for all the things you are not; things that don’t work out can offer valuable insights.
Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better. Breakup or divorce? Excellent. A new beginning without all that drama. Didn’t get the job you tried so hard to get? Sweet. Now you can focus on the job you have. Didn’t get the medal? Great. A chance to learn from mistakes and identify what to work on now.
Cultivating gratitude in life
Cultivating gratitude is not always easy. Everyone is a hero when it’s 70 degrees and sunny, but that’s not when heroes and she-roes are needed. Being grateful when everything around you is going wrong is when gratitude counts the most.
To cultivate gratitude, we need to know what its enemies are. Cynicism, materialism, envy and narcissism are running hills and doing push-ups right now waiting for you to come out when it isn’t 70 degrees and sunny. They’re waiting to sucker punch you. When things aren’t as we want them to be, these qualities will show up to make us ungrateful and unhappy.
Nothing will make us unhappier than when we compare ourselves to others. There will always be people that are better or worse than us, but these are not fixed things.
Any one of us can put in the work become better. Some people have advantages we don’t. That’s life, and life’s not fair. Resentment and jealousy won’t change that. Being bitter holds a metal as the fastest way to become unhappy and unproductive.
As long as these enemies keep us from being grateful, we won’t enjoy our lives or training nearly as much as we can when we are grateful, and they will rob us from our potential.
So how do we cultivate gratitude? Everyone is different.
Some people need time to reflect on things. Some need to write down every day something they are grateful for. Some do this by sitting outside in the morning, no matter what the weather is, to list these things to themselves.
Whatever works for you, consider what things you’re grateful for in your world, in your relationships and in your life.
By making this a habit, a practice, it’ll infect your existence in meaningful ways. Your training and your life will be better for it.