Gratitude and Contentment
I’ve wanted to write on these topics for the past few months, but have struggled with putting my thoughts down on paper (or the computer). As the months have come and gone post surgery, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my life and my athletic drive. The reason I think I’ve struggled is, as much as I believe in both having gratitude and contentment, I also felt at times, I was lying to myself. Occasionally I do not feel content in where I am, or grateful for what has occurred to me. Now that I’ve put it out on paper I hope you know this is not about sounding pious or about making anyone feel bad, because I struggle too.
It’s hard to be grateful when you’re injured, on crutches, lying in a hospital bed, working a job you don’t care for (no not me, just an example), struggling to pay the bills, etc. I could go on and on. Think about all the challenges we each face, often not knowing what others are going through. We all have struggles, we all face uphill battles. Even if you think others aren’t battling, they most likely are. And then think, how can we be grateful, or have gratitude if we’re always struggling?
I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not God, but I think it’s important to think about all the good things that you have in your life. It can be as simple as, you have a car. While it’s not a Ferrari, you have a car. Or, you have a job. It’s not the best job in the world, but it provides for you and your family. You are injured and unable to workout. You might be injured, but you’re breathing. You’d really like a new power meter for your bike, but you just can’t afford one. But you have a really nice bike. It’s the people who can turn their attitude around from “why is this happening to me,” or “why don’t I have that,” to, look at how I am blessed.
Personally, I am grateful for so much in my life. I’m grateful for friends and family that are always by my side. For a job that brings me pleasure and provides an income. For the fact that I’m now walking and driving. I could go on and on, but my point is, when you start to feel sorry for yourself, stop and think about what you do have.
Before surgery my thought process went like this:
- Why am I always injured
- Why can’t I stay healthy like others
- Why did this happen to me
When in fact, I could have been focusing on the fact that getting injured gave me more time to focus on my job, more time to focus on my family, more time to focus on my coaching and nutrition businesses. For every bad thing that we have happen, there is a silver lining. And remembering what we do have can really help when you start to feel sorry for yourself.
As I sit in my hotel room, working on this laptop, I can with fact say, the age of technology is upon us and is here to stay. Looking around you’ll see people walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, or working, all staring at their smart phones. I’m guilty of this too. A large chunk of my job is responding to both stores requesting a clinic or event with PowerBar, or an athlete asking about a workout or nutrition choice. Technology is so important to our society, but at times I wish we could unplug more.
One, because I think our relationships are suffering, but two, because I believe it has caused the “keeping up with the Joneses” to be even more public and prevalent. Friends and strangers can have glimpses into our lives, and see what we post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. And what people are posting isn’t the sad, down times that they have in their life. They are posting pictures of their new cars, their new jobs, their new house, their beautiful clothes and jewelry, and more. So, when someone goes on a social media site, they are bombarded with “look at how great I am,” or “let me show you what great things I have.” I’m guilty of it too, so I’m not casting blame on others. I’m trying to point out that, in the past before smart phones and Facebook, the way we compared ourselves to others was from daily, weekly, monthly interactions. I’m also not saying it’s good to compare ourselves to others, it’s just how it happened before. Everyday you saw people, their good times and bad times, their good news, their sad news. Bad news is never good, and obviously no one really wants to broadcast it out on the internet. When all you see are people’s good times, their wins and not losses, I think it can cause unrealistic thinking, and possibly an unrealistic view on their life.
From an athletic standpoint, I found it to be quite harmful for me. Before surgery, when the doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong with me, I was very depressed, anxious and frustrated. Every time I logged onto Facebook I was hit with my friends athletic endeavors, their victories, their PR’s, and I was jealous. It got to the point where I just stopped going on social media. I was already so upset, and to see have everyone’s positive performances, the workouts that I couldn’t do, it was too much. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for them, I was. But telling myself that it was going to be ok and that I too would be back there one day seemed to slip away more and more with each passing day.
During that time I was not content. I was desperate to find out what was wrong with me, so that I too could race again and post about how fun a race was, or how good I did. And this was a huge mistake on my part, and one that I hope to never do again. I can honestly say that I am content with my life right now. I am content because I have family and friends that love me, a good job, food on the table, my strength is coming back every day, and I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself.
You might be thinking, how can you be content to just walk a mile? To just do squats without weight? To have to sit on a funny cushion when you drive? And my response would be, because I’ve decided to be. I’ve decided that I am fine just the way I am, and where I am in life. Now don’t get me wrong, I am going to work my hardest to get back to where i was, and to even be a better athlete, wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc. But where I am today, is just fine. So, while you’re striving to be the best that you can, stop and look around, and see what you have. Be content with where you are right now, knowing that in the future you will achieve more, but right now, you are ok.
I believe that social media has many great qualities, and will continue to use it for work and personal reasons. I’m going to keep trying my best to remind myself of everything I have, and that I am ok, in just the spot I am today. I’ll keep striving for success, but if I only ever think about the future, where I want to be, the things I want to have, and don’t stop to think about what I already have, I’ll always be trying to compete against others.