Gratitude: Part 1

Anyone CAN be Elite, but very few are. Are you? Look for the common threads found among those few who realize their dreams—emulating their behavior can be a powerful tool for achievement. Wallace Wattles, W. Clement Stone,  and John D. Rockefeller are among the many legends who wrote about abundance, and they lived lives that are proof positive of the concept. What sets the Elite apart from the unknown rich is how they increase their life every day. What about you? Do you give more than you receive from the universe? I know this question sounds like hippie shit, but it really is a universal principle. If your goals are strength and performance, money, education and learning, or absolutely any other avenue to attainment, there is one all-powerful ingredient that can’t be left out of your recipe for success: GRATITUDE.

Do you live in gratitude? Do you acknowledge what you have, or do you fret about the things you do not have? Do you give thanks for the opportunities and lessons in your life, or do you hold resentment for the experiences you’ve endured? Do you honor the universe by plunging yourself into your passions, absorbing every bit of life available to you? Do you walk into the gym full of gratitude that your ancestors bore the burdens of history so that you could enjoy the luxury of battling with the iron? Do you wake up feeling thankful that your entire day is not a constant battle for survival against the elements, searching for food and fire and trying not to be another creature’s meal? Do you feel grateful that all of your living loved ones are but a moment away from you, thanks to this magic, pocket-sized machine that can bridge across the entire civilized world, or do you throw this machine across the room when it fails to pluck the response to your request out of thin fucking air within a time frame that pleases you? Does it ever even cross your mind that, given the minuscule scale of our individual contributions to humanity, it would be a good idea to express your appreciation that someone put the effort into building a dwelling for you? Or do you bitch at red lights for singling you out because they get off on making you a few minutes behind schedule in your air-conditioned transportation machine? “Fucking red light is doing this on purpose!”

I could go on and on, of course, but I’m sure that the concept is clear. Just the fact that you are capable of setting a goal for yourself and that you are also capable of attempting to achieve it is a mind-boggling situation that should be approached with the most gratitude your heart can muster. The simple process of being alive is an accomplishment of unfathomable proportions.

Gratitude

Imagine yourself sitting down to chat with someone from history—you only have to go back a couple hundred years for a description of your goals to sound so ridiculous that they would probably get you executed for their mere utterance. Even if you only went back as far as the early 20th Century, you’d be in a straight jacket. We regularly benefit from a level of comfort that the human mind could not even conceive of a century ago. We have machines that keep our food fresh and handy, machines that prepare our food with ease, machines that keep the air temperature comfortable for us while we’re savoring our food. I can remember doing research for school projects in middle school where I had to pour over books looking for information that Siri can now retrieve for me in five seconds while I’m taking a crap on an airplane. Oh, the gifts of progress! But rewind the tape far enough and you see that our ancestors dug in the dirt to examine all the different components it contained, figured out how to use those components, and then combined them in a vast array of ways to create the convenience that we tend to take for granted in our little caves. We owe our current lives and lifestyles to those ancestors.

I fall into the woe-is-me trap plenty. When it happens, I take a moment to realize that the one giant organism that is this planet—delicately but systematically balancing life for an uncountable number of tiny organisms—is most likely not going to narrow its focus enough to fuck with me intentionally by playing with the traffic lights on my way to work. I’m not that significant in the grand scheme of things. And, when I imagine myself as some omnipotent being, I don’t really see myself using my power to control the blinking of red and green lights.

Try this exercise: Next time you’re about to begin training or competing, take some time to visualize the journey. Early Man and Woman unlock the secret of fire and hunt big game in order to survive, and yet they procreate and bring babies into the world that are healthy enough to carry on the species. They explore their habitat and then, in search of something better, begin to expand their territory. They wear furs for warmth as they row their wooden boat—with no sonar, no radar, no GPS, not even a fucking map!!—looking for the place that will offer them the best advantages. It’s kind of like Deadliest Catch, but without the cushy heated hull and fancy survival gear. And then—land ho, matey, let’s see what we have here! They’re greeted by every form of hostility, from bears to botulism, and still these people persevere. They fight gruesome wars with rocks and sticks, evolving through the malformed grotesques we all know from the History Channel, right up to their current iteration—whatever you are today.

Generations of people were made of stuff so tough that this world could not stop them. They have provided you the opportunity that you are walking into today. How will you proceed? Are you going to honor their struggle and sacrifice with an effort worthy of their admiration? Or are you gonna half-ass it and do just enough to get through? The latter option disrespects every triumph hard-won by those who came before you. Walk into the gym, or onto the field, or into the ring, or wherever you are going to test yourself, and pursue progress with the mindset that your audience is not only the bodies in the stands, but also the spirits of those who truly deserve the credit for the opportunities you receive. You will never know struggle with the kind of intimacy that they did, and it is their struggle that brought you here. How dare you quit anything at anytime?! What could possibly be so tough in your life that you think you’ve earned the right to throw in the towel?

I offer my gratitude to those who provided for me through their sacrifice. With my performance today, let me honor the mettle they demonstrated. Let me earn my place at the table among those who did not quit. Let me carry on the example for future generations to witness the fruit born of the highest level of effort and dedication. Put this offering into practice before every action of your day. Gratitude is the most powerful mindset—the more it’s maintained, the more you will get out of your own way, without expecting less of yourself than you are capable of.

I know it seems like I drift away from the focus of strength and performance sometimes, but there are so many brilliant people out there providing all of the information necessary for programming, plan design, technique, etc. If I do not feel that I am providing a unique angle to the subject, then I don’t want to waste your time. I try to avoid retreading topics at all cost. My focus is on being Elite! Something more, something better, something unique… Overachievement… Beyond limitations and perceived possibility. Remember that being Elite is not about measuring yourself against others—it’s about comparing today’s you to tomorrow’s you. It just so happens that, if you spend a piece of each day getting a little better, there is no limit to the abundance that lies ahead.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“What if you woke up today with only the things you were thankful for yesterday?”—unknown

Leave a Reply