Performing the “gratitude mile” might be the trick to power through long runs, tough physical exercise, or just everyday life.
The past few weeks of quarantine and complete life upheaval, coupled with the constant depressing news in the world, can leave a person feeling bummed as hell.
I summed up my personal feelings on life at the moment in this tweet.
I've reached a moment in life where I want to know both everything and nothing about what's going on in the world
— Chris Illuminati (@chrisilluminati) March 26, 2020
On every run for the last week, I’ve tried to spend at least a mile thinking about all the things in life for which I’m grateful.
The idea spawned from this piece on Runner’s World about a gratitude mile that I bookmarked months ago and finally got around to reading.
Runner Melissa Emery wrote:
“THE GRATITUDE MILE!
Once I hit a wall, I spend the next mile focusing on the things I am grateful for. ‘I am grateful for this beautiful view, I am grateful for the sidewalk, I am grateful for the sun, I am grateful for my legs, and even though they hurt, I know I can do this, etc.’
By the time the mile ends, the wall has been lifted and I continue on.”
My first attempt came with a mental block. I know what I’m grateful for but I found myself making the same generic, big picture statements.
Ask a person about the things they’re grateful for and they’ll rattle off big picture items – kids, home, job, health – and usually get stuck after the core four blessings.
I had this problem.
I soon realized the necessary first step in this process is a quick refresher on having more gratitude.
It’s important to be specific in gratitude.
I’ll now say things like “I’m grateful my kids show a passion for drums and art” or “I’m thankful that the kids still react to seeing me like that haven’t laid eyes on me in months, even though it’s been about eight hours.”
Make sure to dig a little deeper and think about all the blessings in your current situation.
Sure, you’re sequestered in the house with kids or a significant other, but think of all the extra time spent together.
Especially if the kids are under 13. These years blow by in a blink.
If you’re quarantined alone, contemplate the extra time to tackle personal projects you’ve been putting off for years. (Also, be grateful you’re not stuck in the house with kids.)
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The library opens at 9am. I arrive a half-hour early. Accidentally. Walking all the way back to the car is pointless. The cafe in the library lobby opens at 8am. There are tables, chairs, and stools around a bar in an area reserved for cafe customers only. My cheaper coffee from a spot in town isn’t welcome in this area. So I set up shop in a corner, grabbing a small square of linoleum, and start work for the day. I lose track of time, and the library gates open. While I’m up working, my lower body nods off. It’s giving me more trouble waking than my kids on any school day. The only thing worse than attempting to stand up is having other people ask if you need help. “Do you need help, it looks like you’re struggling.” “I’m fine. My ass is asleep, and my legs forgot their primary objective, but overall, I’m fine. Just leave me here. If you need to lock the place up, I’ll find my way out.” “Sir, the library just opened.” “Great, that will give me at least 10 hours to roll over onto my stomach and push myself up.” — #story #library #humor #fitness #parenting #dadsofinstagram #life #oldman
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Take online courses, plow through the stack of books collecting dust on the nightstand, or learn not to burn everything you put in an oven.
I’m finally shutting up about wanting to learn to play guitar. I signed up for three months of free courses on Fender.
I’m grateful for the extra time, the guitar I bought months ago, and that most of my neighbors are deaf or too stoned to hear my awful playing.
Be sure to give gratitude out loud.
Don’t just say it in your head.
Say it out loud.
If you’re running out in the woods, no one but the birds are listening.
If you’re running through a neighborhood, people will just assume you’re talking into a blue tooth headset or out of your mind.
All of the positive self-talk will do wonders, especially combating the negative self-talk running laps inside the brain.
Here’s a mental exercise idea from Psychology Today to replace negative self-talk with positive words before your daily run.
“Write down some of the negative messages inside your mind that undermine your ability to overcome your depression. Be specific, whenever possible, and include anyone you remember who contributed to that message.
Now, take a moment to intentionally counteract those negative messages with positive truths in your life. Don’t give up if you don’t find them quickly.
For every negative message, there is a positive truth that will override the weight of despair.
These truths always exist; keep looking until you find them.”
Before hitting the streets, trails, or treadmill, memorize the self-talk and pepper it into your exclamations of gratitude.
The gratitude mile is a simple way to distract the mind if you’re new at running. In those moments of self-reflection when the question “what the hell am I doing?!?” pops up, give thanks to being healthy enough to start a running routine and pat yourself on the back for giving running a shot.
If you’re not a runner, show gratitude during your preferred workout.
A counted blessing for every burpee.
Gratitude with every lunge or overhead press.
The feelings of gratitude and fulfillment will spill over into the time you’re not running, lifting, or performing living room yoga.
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