Have you ever been overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude?
I am quite often. To me, this feeling swells in my chest, making my heart literally feel like it has doubled in size. A lump quickly arises in my throat, and I know that if I try to speak my lip will quiver. And, if I let them— the tears flow. This response to positive emotion runs rampant in my family. My grandpa endearingly chokes up every time he leads us in a pre-meal prayer, sharing his love of his family. The same for my dad. And my mom. And all of my aunts. And cousins. It is a condition we have lovingly coined “going Aunt Mary,” after my deceased great aunt who literally could not speak about anything without being overcome with emotion.
Some of you have seen glimpses of this. But, it is more likely that you have not seen this part of me, even if you are truly a close friend of mine. For years I have literally bit my cheek to stop crying when overwhelmed with a deep sense of connection, or belonging. I have dug my nails into my hands and swallowed hard to try to distract myself from, and get rid of, the lump in my throat. I have tried to dull my pulsing excitement, by trying to be “cool.” I have shied away from telling people how much I love them, out of the fear that my displays of affection will be seen as creepy, or even rejected.
This week I turn 43. And I have decided that I am done holding back. I am going to lean in to the bigness of life. I am going to open my heart further to being thankful, and expose the fullness of my gratitude. I am going to go all in-Aunt Mary <3
In allowing more gratitude, I am not ignoring my own struggles, or definitely would never minimize yours. For all of us, it is often hard to feel outside of the acuteness of pain, suffering, frustration, and stress in the moment. And, I am not suggesting that feeling grateful will take away these negative emotions, or that it will magically change your circumstances…. But, it can go alongside even the hardest feelings to give you the chance to smile for a brief moment.
Gratitude gives life another dimension. It makes it fuller.
And being able to tap into an “attitude of gratitude” serves your training and racing as well.
How? (A few ways)
- When you actively focus on being thankful for and cherishing what you have and what you can do, your goals are more likely to be centered around performance and personal growth than aesthetics or benchmarks that rely on factors out of your control. This makes the daily journey feel more fulfilling.
- Expressing gratitude jumpstarts motivation. You know that whole idea of shifting your mindset from “I have to” to “I get to”? Yeah- that works! Being grateful makes it a bit easier to consistently train, day after day.
- Gratitude helps you be grounded in the present moment. It brings awareness to your thoughts, which can help you self-regulate. You can more easily look at yourself honestly, assess your thoughts, and then replace ones that don’t serve you with helpful ones. This helps you control the controllables. It allows you to show up to your best effort each day.
- Focusing on gratitude increases your overall wellness, which results in better sleep habits, and lessens stress. Quality recovery equals improved performance. Less energy spent under stress means more to put into each training session. Quality training means improved performance.
I am blessed to be heading to Mexico tomorrow to celebrate with my most favorite birthday buddy. I am looking forward to some time in the hot sun. I am excited for some fun. And, I am truly thankful to turn another year older. Even if the aging process can include some new obstacles, it is still a privilege to open my eyes for another day on this amazing earth.
You are likely thinking that a trip is a pretty obvious thing to be grateful for… and it is! But, so is a sunrise or sunset. A capable body. A kind word. Appreciation of someone displaying their passions. A smile. A cheer from a spectator. One more pre-meal prayer from my Grandpa. A hug. All racers exiting the water, and/or crossing the finish line safely. Laughter with loved ones.
I could go on and on and on.
I dare you to join me in not only looking through a lens of gratitude, but in boldly showing it. Sharing it. Letting your heart swell. Allowing the tears to flow.
And, I am truly and sincerely thankful for all of you. This blog wouldn’t be the same without someone reading it. Thank you.