By Sandy Adams
[su_quote]I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run. What they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted. And I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me.[/su_quote]
A long time ago, someone gave me a gift. It wasn’t a gift at first. Once I became grateful for it, it became a gift. It was my cross country coach and she told me I’d never be a runner. It was a lesson in gratefulness. The gift was a challenge to prove her wrong and I am where I am today because of that.
I guess one of the philosophical biggies is how to be. It’s up there with why? and who am I? and what is time?
The short answer is: happy. That’s what we humans strive for ultimately. The real question is: how?
If you’ve ever read The Secret, you’ve read about the power of gratitude. Whether you agree with Rhonda Byrne about the Law of Attraction and getting back what you throw out into the universe or not, there is something to that whole idea about being grateful.
Is it true that if you’re grateful for what you have, you’ll get more, and if you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough? Yes. I believe so, but, maybe not how you would initially think so.
I was at a loss for words this morning, in a way. I was wondering where these roads I began following were taking me and if it was worth the price I pay to keep up.
I didn’t run today because my body was worn out from my race Saturday…still. I let the old mind start hammering at me; wondering if it was best to take tomorrow easy then start speed work or start HIITs again tomorrow. Will I ever be ready for this next 5k? What if I disappoint myself? What gives me the right to say anything about running or think I have any ability to train myself at all?
Then I pulled into work.
One of the ladies from the third floor hurts her back continually. She’s usually in so much pain that she’s almost bent in half. She fights depression constantly. She’s not shy about letting everyone know what she goes through. Somehow, she manages to come in every day.
Not that she should. There are days I don’t think it’s safe for her to drive. Today was one of those and my friend and I helped her with her bags. We each took an arm and slowly, very slowly, walked to the building supporting her.
I’d want someone to do the same for me.
I was instantly grateful for the body I have. It might not be perfect, but it does what I ask of it, for the most part; even if it needs a break sometimes.
I’m grateful for the challenges that I face in trying to get faster, though I’ll never be in the Olympic trials. I’m grateful for the feeling when my hard work pays off, and I’m grateful for the times it doesn’t, so that I keep the drive to work harder.
When I’m consciously grateful, I’m more aware of small things that compound that feeling. This happens all the time during long races and easy runs. I might have fallen behind or taken off to do some easy miles and I’m out there just running for running’s sake.
I notice things that make me happy to be alive and have that chance at that moment in time to witness them. I understand that if I weren’t out there, just then, I would’ve missed them, and running is the reason.
It’s the reason I see little mice when it’s still dark in the morning and we go about starting our day together. It’s the reason I see sunrises and sets and look at hills differently than other people. It’s the reason I’m grateful for sweaty piles of laundry and blisters. All of those are gifts, and for them, I’m grateful.
If I looked at it all as work and dirty laundry and pain, I wouldn’t run another step. Guaranteed. Who would choose any of those things with their own free will?
It’s about having the right perspective. It’s a mindset. Being grateful is a mindset. When you’re in that mindset, the things that normally wouldn’t be, become gifts.
It’s sort of like Flip Meditation when you’re dealing with pre race anxiety. When I get down on myself, I flip what’s wrong into a reason to be grateful for what’s going on. When I feel like a failure, I think about how hard I tried compared to how many people never even bother.
It can be done with anything, if you’re willing. There’s always a little good in everything if you look hard enough.
This process doesn’t come naturally. You have to work for it. When I’m grateful for what I have, it seems as though everything gives me a reason to be grateful for it.
The Power of Being Grateful, Present and old Epicurus
What I can call my own then multiplies because we’re not generally thankful for things that aren’t ours. That’s why it’s important not to focus on what we don’t have unless you’re trying to go get it. Then, be grateful for the courage to try and journey on.
The Epicureans were onto something when it came to happiness. Some call them rational hedonists. I call them brilliant; especially since their influence is manifest today more than ever with the emphasis we have on the “science of happiness”.
Epicureans recognized that humans are not good at being happy. Plain and simple. We place unreachable demands on ourselves in the form of “shoulds” that we never fulfill even when we really do. There’s always another.
Epicureans had no demands. Their focus was always on and only on the present moment because that was all that counted for them.
I disagree with that approach only because I think it’s important to look forward to the future. I also think the past is ok to visit since it’s where our roots lie. I don’t think it’s good to live there.
I visit the past once in awhile. I remember the day a coach gave me one of the best gifts of my life. Because of that, today, I am the runner I was told I would never be.
The relationship I forged with the road after that day gave and got me through more than I could ever have dreamed.
And, for that, I will be forever grateful.