Practicing Gratitude When It Doesn't Come Naturally

Yesterday I read that Tiffany Smith, wife of Texans GM Rick Smith passed away. She was 49 years old. Let that sink in for a moment....Puts a lot in perspective. I didn't know her well; which is to say we used to smile politely at one another and chat briefly at the gym. There are children left without a mother and a husband left without a wife. I remember this feeling when my dad passed away at 47 and my heart breaks for them.

I've spent a bunch of time this week trying to be grateful, thinking about gratitude and being appreciative of all that I have. This doesn't come naturally to me.

You're reading this on a Friday because last Sunday; when I normally write became this Friday. That's how fast things move. As grateful as I am and as much gratitude as I have for my life and all the things in it, it is not easy nor am I happy all the time.

I do find it easy to get dragged down, let down and talked down by all the constant happenings, distractions and comparisons...And I work really hard to fight these feelings and steer back towards gratitude.

There's the car that cut us off, the appointment that cancelled, the favorite pair of pants that ripped, the game that my son's team lost that they shouldn't have, the remodel job on the patio that "looks good" but didn't really turn out the way I'd hoped, the unexpected expense, the annoying neighbor, the nagging hamstring injury...These are not real problems. If anything they're "Problems of prosperity"...My own BS place of self-pity. And I'm doing great!

January, I'm sure like for many of us, felt like an absolute tornado; getting back into work mode, finishing up things that didn't get finished by the end of the year, dealing with new sports and activities for the kids. I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary and while I can write a really sweet post and we are genuinely wonderful together, marriage ain't easy. We've had kids for 15 years and as much as I love them and they're the best things in my life, they ain't easy either...And I'm doing great!

It's now 26 years of working to make a living. I've had businesses, I've lost businesses. I've had friends, I've lost friends. I've had ideas, I've forgotten those ideas. I've had goals and I have accomplished some and not gotten anywhere close with others...And I'm doing great!

You try to stay in shape, you try to eat well and you try to live well. Sometimes you do better than others.. And I'm doing great!

You can be doing great and still get down. You can be doing great and still not be where you want to be. You be doing great yet still be uncomfortable. I think for high performers that's always the case.

The willingness and openness to practice gratitude allows you the space for all of these things. The opportunity and acceptance to learn from the successes as well as the failures. It's all part of the process. We can't get too high on the highs or too low on the lows. Focus on trying to keep things in perspective and remember to add on.....And I'm doing great!

You are not going to be happy everyday. You are not going to be at optimal productivity everyday. You're not going to be at optimal health everyday. Some days you will just drag ass. Some days shit will just get in the way, wipe you out, throw you off course, and you will have to stop, hit the reset button and get it back on track.

That does not mean you're not grateful. You are not appreciative. You're not happy. You are not in a good place in your life. But rather, that you're just in the midst of real life, and real life is challenging, everyday for all of us. And that's what I'm trying to keep in perspective and remind myself of. To focus on the positive, focus on the activities, the people, the causes that have high rate of return for me personally, professionally, mentally, physically and keep anything else where it belongs, which is of out of my sight, in the rear view mirror and certainly not top of mind and impeding future progress...Because...I'm doing great!

One of the things that has helped me is to continue to write down the things that are happening in my life that are good and that are positive and keep them in front of me. For example, if you would have told me a year ago that I would have been able to sit down and get an hour of undivided attention and focused time with 55 of the top entrepreneurs, athletes, risk takers, restaurateurs, chefs, entertainers and high performers in their industries,I would have told you you were bat shit crazy. But it's happened, 55 Midlife Male Podcast episodes later. If you'd told me that I'd be representing and working with some of my favorite brands, places and people, I wouldn't have believed you. But I've doubled my business. And I try to remind myself of that. And I keep a list of those names and goals on my desk and keep adding to it.

The other day I had a a guy call me who was on the podcast and he said, "I gave your name and your number to a friend of mine. He needs some insurance. I told him you're a good guy and can help him and he's going to call you". That's great, right? Well, where does my mind go? My mind goes to thinking "Why aren't we doing business? "Why aren't you with me?" " Why would you refer me to somebody before you actually do anything with me?" That's where my mind goes initially and instinctively...That's just how I'm wired.

I told this to my coach and he did a great job (see what I did there....He's doing great!) of steering me back to practicing gratitude by telling me, "Wait a minute, what are you going there for? Why don't you just stop and think about how great this? Think about how great it is that you met a person, talked to a person for an hour, got to know them, connect with them, and that they think highly enough of you that they would recommend somebody for you to work with. Go back to those Four agreements. You can't make any assumptions about why they're not doing something with you or pass judgments. You don't know shit. Maybe his brother is in the business. Maybe his wife's cousin is in the business. Maybe there are things that are going on in his world that he doesn't feel comfortable sharing with you, but still thinks you're great and wants to help you out. Enough." Don't overthink it. Don't overthink it."

Great advice...And a powerful reminder to continue to be grateful for the experiences and the people that have been coming into my world.

And I'm doing great.

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