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Why Practicing Gratitude Works (and How It Can Change Your Life)

By 21 April 2023No Comments

During the build to any goal whether it be and athletic pursuit, a work goal, or family related event there’s going to come a time when all the pressures of life begin to add up and the sum can start to feel unbearable.

You’ve probably heard plenty of people online speak about practicing gratitude. How it’s a great method to destress and clarify what’s important in life. This is true.

The reason why practicing gratitude can help you deal with stress and find moments of calm when the pressures of life, training, work, and relationships begin to add up is it effectively turns anything that feels like a chore into a choice. It’s about finding peace in chaos and beauty in the little things – it’s there, so often though we forget to look.

Where people come unstuck is how to actually action this.

How do we practice the act of being grateful?

We can address this the same way we would address writing up a training plan for a new athlete: Macro – meso – micro / long term (yearly) – medium term (weekly) – short term (daily/ right now).

I’ll use myself as an example here: Training for an Ironman is hard, it is very time intensive, and coupled with work leaves very little time to do anything other than train. But I know the feeling I will get when I finish the race will be better than anything I could possibly feel in the short term – that’s my long term gratitude sorted.

Seeing all my sessions lined up like a firing squad at the start of each week can be daunting. I know how there’s going to be a lot of pain. All with no company besides the conversations going on inside my own head. However, there are times each week I know will be great – Sunday Run Club following my long run at the end of each week is something I genuinely look forward to and makes the rest of the week easier to get through knowing that is waiting at the end. Medium term gratitude – check.

Finally, day-to-day and in the moment gratitude can be the most difficult. Particularly if the sum of all of life’s stressors are adding up and beginning to feel unbearable. This can be particularly tough in the minutes before a training session when it’s dark and cold, you’re tired, and you know it’s going to be hard.

To get around this I take 30 seconds before I start to find one thing about either the environment I’m in or the session itself that I’m grateful for. Yesterday morning I had an 80 minute run with 1600m repeats kicking off at 3:15am coming off a less than ideal amount of sleep. After my warm-up before my first effort I noticed how still the water was and how the stars where reflected perfectly on it like a canvas. This made it easier to get going and it ended up being a great run.

This works for me and can be worth a try. You might prefer journalling or writing some of it down. However you choose to practice gratitude, it will make the hard times more bearable and could be the trick that gets you through when you feel like giving up.

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