I've been coaching athletes for 16 years now, and I like to think that I am on the cutting edge of research and new tactics and techniques in coaching. I even enjoy taking lessons from other fields of study like psychology, human development, business, stoicism, ancient practices, physics, and anything that could give my athletes an edge.
However, the more I dig into all of these practices and knowledge, the more I realize that it's all relatively simple.
"The more you know, the more you realize you don't know"
Everyone is looking for a magic bullet. The potion or elixir that will make you a more perfect athlete, a more successful business person, a better friend, romantic, student, king, or human. One of my biggest pet peeves is the "hack" trend that is thankfully dying away now but was huge for the last decade or so. "Hack" comes from the British term "hackneyed" meaning "overused and thus cheapened, or trite." Today's terminology has adopted 'hack' to mean a quick and easy way to accomplish something that would normally take a lot of hard work and mundanity to succeed at.
Sorry folks, there is no "hack" to long lasting success and happiness. Here's proof.
Getting back to my experience in coaching and attempting to educate myself in a variety of modalities and philosophies, if you're looking for lasting success and happiness, then it simply takes mastering the fundamentals.
The Outlaw Way focuses on our 3 Pillars: Mind, Body, and Soul. That's our foundation and fundamentals. Without those, long lasting success and happiness will be much harder to come by.
What connects those 3 Pillars would be additional fundamentals such as Consistency, Gratitude, and Perseverance (among others).
Consistency is the ultimate fundamental and the First Principle of success no matter how you define it. It's the Core of the Earth, the root of the Tree of Life, and the Center of the Universe. If you want a 'hack' to get somewhere you want to get, then do it consistently and with intent.
But today's post is all about Gratitude since it's Thanksgiving and all. Gratitude has been a key foundation for Outlaws since day 1.
"Turn your expectations, into appreciations." - Tony Robins
The Science of Gratitude: A Two-Minute Exploration
"Gratitude" a simple word with profound impacts on our lives. The science of gratitude can uncover fascinating insights about its effects on our mental and physical health.
The Psychological Benefits:
Gratitude is more than just saying "thank you." It's a deeper feeling of appreciation that can significantly improve our psychological well-being. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can lead to increased levels of happiness and reduced depression. It rewires our brain, fostering positive emotions and diminishing negative ones. When we focus on what we are thankful for, we naturally shift away from toxic emotions.
This is particularly important for athletes as we face physical and mental challenges often in our careers. Imagine sustaining an injury that takes you out for the entire season. Some of you have been there, most have not. But think about how you would respond in that situation. It's perfectly normal to go through all the stages of grief, but it's your response to each stage that will determine your healing powers and recovery, both mentally and physically.
Practicing gratitude in a time of extreme hardship has been shown to decrease recovery and drastically improve performance post hardship. Having a gratitude journal already in place will make these transitions and hardships in your career and life that much easier to deal with and provide a sense of safety knowing that you'll get through it all and be stronger and better because of it.
Physical Health Improvements
The benefits of gratitude extend beyond our mental health. Research suggests that grateful individuals experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. This could be linked to the fact that grateful people are more likely to take care of their health, exercising more regularly and foster healthy social skills.
Gratitude can improve relationships. Acknowledging others' contributions to our lives can deepen our connections. It's a fundamental component of empathy and understanding, fostering a more supportive and compassionate environment, whether in personal relationships, school, sports, or other walks of life.
Brain Chemistry and Gratitude
Neuroscience offers an intriguing perspective. Expressing gratitude activates the brain's reward system, releasing dopamine and serotonin — neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions and feeling of contentment. This process is akin to receiving a reward, making gratitude a self-reinforcing behavior.
One of our Tribe required books to read is "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. If you've read that, then you'll understand how critical this is for consistency and creating new habits.
Pro Tip: Try to make the first things you do in the morning be to drink a huge glass of water and then write 3 things you're grateful for in your journal.
The Practice of Gratitude
Incorporating gratitude into daily life can be simple. Maintaining a gratitude journal, reflecting on positive moments of the day, or verbally expressing thanks can be effective methods. These practices help in cementing gratitude as a habitual mindset.
Just like working out, learning new skills, or studying, it just takes a little bit of work and consistency and you'll make small, steady improvements each day to build the habit and create lasting success and happiness for yourself.
In essence, gratitude is a powerful tool with the ability to transform our mental, physical, and social well-being. It's a testament to the notion that sometimes, the simplest acts can yield the most significant rewards.
Remember: gratitude isn't just for the good times, but a beacon that can guide us through the challenging ones too. Keep practicing, and watch how it transforms your life!