Did you know that grateful people live longer? They also tend to be healthier and happier than their non-grateful counterparts. Yet, we spend so much time fretting and worrying about what’s wrong in our lives that we forget to be grateful for everything that’s *right*.
The tendency to focus on what’s wrong in our lives is referred to as the “Headwind / Tailwind Asymmetry.” For those of you that bike or run, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to. When you’re running into a headwind, every moment is agony. You struggle against the wind and every step reminds you that the forces of nature are acting against you. There isn’t a moment that passes when you’re not thinking about that headwind.
Then, your course changes and the wind is at your back. Oh, sweet freedom! You feel light, fast, your run suddenly effortless. You thank God and all the powers of nature for your tailwind. Then, something strange happens … after just a few minutes, you forget the tailwind is there, helping to push you along. Your thoughts turn to the fatigue in your legs, the burning in your lungs, and thoughts of the tailwind vanish. But, turn a corner and again meet that headwind, it becomes all you can think about (again).
The same thing happens in our lives. I was reminded of this when I was eating a breakfast with my wife and watching a reality show called “Below Deck Mediterranean.” The show is about a charter yacht crew as they guide guests around the Mediterranean Sea aboard a 150-foot luxury yacht. Honestly, I can’t think of many vacations that would be more wonderful. Yet, during the episode I was watching, the seven passengers did nothing but complain about the service, the food, the weather, and the accommodations. Everything they could possibly complain about, they did. They lamented what a horrible vacation they were having.
“No,” I thought, “you’re not having a horrible vacation because of the food, weather, service, or accommodations. You’re having a horrible vacation because you’re an unhappy person who has forgotten how to be grateful.”
One of my favorite vacation memories involves a camping trip I took with my wife and two sons outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. It was evening and a thunder storm had cut our dinner and time around the campfire short. As we were laying in the darkness listening to the rain hit our tent, my older son started quietly singing “Someone to Lava.” It’s a song from the Pixar short movie “Lava” that played before “Inside Out.” If you’re a Pixar movie fan, I highly recommend both.
As my son sang, “I have a dream, I hope it will come true, That you’re here with me, And I am here with you, I wish that the earth, sea, and the sky up above, Will send me someone to lava,” the rest of our family couldn’t help but laugh and then sing along. It’s one of my truly cherished memories, and it comes from a very humble camping trip in southwest Colorado.
So, my challenge to you is to live today with gratitude. And then tomorrow. And then the day after. Start a gratitude journal and write down all of the wonderful things (both big and small) for which you are grateful; the things that make life wonderful and truly worth living.
Today, I am grateful for the brilliant blue skies and warm sun that’s shining on my face. I’m grateful for the two sweet dogs that are laying by my feet (they are a story for another day), I’m thankful for the health of my family, and I am thankful to be given another day to experience this amazing and beautiful world.
Remember to, as much as you can, accept the headwinds and appreciate the tailwinds. So, what are YOU grateful for?
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