Hack Your Life With Gratefulness

Posted by Ryan Cogan on 16th Nov 2017

The cooler weather is here and Thanksgiving is a week away. The cold weather makes me cringe. Over the past few years I have had dreams of moving South and saying “see ya lata wintah!” That said, I am not a huge fan of cold mornings in the car on my way to work. This used to be something I dreaded every day when I woke up to coach 5am CrossFit classes. My thought process instantly went to how miserably cold I was going to be, albeit only for about 10 minutes but it was a major obstacle that had to be overcome every day.

A number of things led to me realizing how wrong I was to think like this every day but probably the most important was the fact that my whole life was kind of in a rut at that time. I had gone through a break-up, my dream career had recently been taken from me before I could even get close. That combination led me to get stuck in negative thought funnels often.

Negative thought funnel? Yes. At least for me, a negative thought would always lead to more negative thoughts until I was spiraling downward all because of this one instant of weakness that set my mind up for negativity.

I feel very lucky and grateful that I was able to recognize and catch myself doing this. I am forever indebted to a therapist I was seeing as a teenager who saw this flaw in me and did his best to coach me in the right direction. I never truly heard him during the time we worked together but the lessons he taught somehow stuck with me and came out years later when I was at what was, looking back now, the low point of my life.

I began focusing on what I had and should be grateful for because too many people will never have the same opportunities that I have been given. It all started with the cold morning drives in the dark to open the gym. Instead of “this is cold, this sucks, give me blankets.” I was thinking about how lucky I was to be driving in a car with heat. There are people that don’t have cars and have to make career sacrifices or worse, walk in the cold. I was on my way to teach people how to be better at the 5am class. That crowd is a special breed and I was able to work with and for them every day. For these reasons, I am grateful for my cold morning car rides.

When I first started making this transition to a gratefulness first lifestyle, it was work. I had acquired some bad habits on my way up and breaking them was not as simple as making a statement to myself that I just wasn’t going to be positive and happy. So, I started with the car ride to work and began to take note of things in my life that led to a negative bias. There were a lot of them and upon examining most of these things and situations, it was just nonsense that I was letting myself see things so negatively with all of the opportunity that was constantly surrounding me. Not only did I have opportunity. I had a life. I had clothes. I had friends and family members who cared about me.

Now, my view is clear and almost completely free of negativity. I have moments of weakness where it will creep into my mind. Only briefly though, because I have put in the work to acquire the skills and presence of mind necessary to catch myself when I am not particularly enjoying something that is happening to me in the moment.

When was the last time you caught yourself feeling negative about something instead of looking at your experience as an opportunity to appreciate what you have? I challenge you to give this a try. Find some more positivity in your life. It is there. You might just not be focused on it enough.

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