How Fitness Can Magnify Gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most prevalent and important lessons that I have learned over the last five years. I want to share this with you so that you can also experience the life-changing benefits of using gratitude towards yourself.
Gratitude can re-shape your thoughts
Gratitude has always been a part of my life, even growing up. However, I never cultivated gratitude for my physical body or my own self-worth. My fitness journey helped me to understand that my body is something to be grateful for, not just something that needed to be ‘fixed’.
When you put the time and energy into being grateful for your physical body, you don’t have time to tear it apart. When you are feeling down on yourself, you can choose to indulge in that self-depreciation, or you can employ gratitude to help you to shift your mindset.
Fitness magnifies gratitude for your body
As you start to care for your body through exercise, you start to understand that your body is worth taking care of. As you discover the different things that your body can do, you start to become more aware and more grateful for the ways that your physical body can move, it instils that appreciation for the body you have.
When you wake up feeling down on yourself, you might choose to let negative thoughts cloud your mind. Or, you can choose to acknowledge how you are feeling, and then put gratitude first. You have a body, you can exercise. If you can’t exercise, you can walk. If you can’t walk, you can breathe.
Gratitude for your physical body is powerful, you can take it to a macro level. If you are really struggling to be grateful for anything, be grateful to be alive.
At this point, the question isn’t about whether you are feeling negative or positive, it’s about which thoughts will govern your actions. You can deploy gratitude to overcome your negative thoughts, change your mindset and help you to get out of a negative place.
You can choose to have gratitude for your physical body no matter what your circumstances are, and you can choose whether you allow negative or positive thoughts to govern how you are feeling.
How gratitude can amplify fitness
If your fitness goals are based on gratitude and positivity instead of being based on achieving a particular appearance, this is very powerful.
You can move your body as a gratitude practice, as an expression of how grateful you are for it. As you do this, you begin to manifest a life of abundance. It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do.
You can say “I am going to give myself more water so that I feel better” or “I am going to give myself more vegetables so that I have more nutrients for my body to perform better”, or “I am going to give myself endorphins by doing this workout”.
Rather than thinking, “I have to work out because I don’t have a flat stomach”, you can frame this as “I have the opportunity to work out because I have a body that is able to work out right now”.
Being grateful doesn’t mean ignoring the negative
It isn’t possible to exclude the negative from your life, from your mind or from the world around you. We are surrounded, externally and internally, by both positive and negative things. Just because you cultivate an attitude of gratitude does not mean that you are naive to all of the hardships of life. This includes your own feelings!
You are going to have moments when you are upset, angry or down on yourself. Gratitude is about understanding that you get to choose which feelings you govern your actions with.
I have learned that you can choose to use gratitude as the lens through which you look at your situation. A better attitude is only a mindset shift away and your situation is what you make of it. Yes, what happens to you affects your life, but how you respond to what happens is so much more important and will define what your experience of life is.
When something bad happens in your day that causes stress and anxiety your plans can be derailed. You have to drop what you were doing to fix the problem, and you then feel behind and stressed. Even in a situation like this, there are so many things that you can be grateful for. You have the resources and knowledge to take care of problems that happen and things will work out.
How to start a gratitude practice
I keep a gratitude journal which I try to do in the morning and the evening of each day. It’s just a notebook, pen and paper, nothing special or fancy. Every evening I make the time to physically write out three things that I am grateful for from that 24 hour period.
This was really hard at first! On the days that are really crappy you might have to dig deeper or be more thoughtful but it really helps you to find the positives in a bad situation.
I’ll share an example with you from my own experience when I had to attend a family funeral recently. I was so grateful that there were flights that allowed me to fly home and back in one day so that I could be there. I have very specific memories of this person that I am grateful for, and I was so grateful that Anderson behaved well during the services.
You can choose to cultivate gratitude in your life
You don’t have to be a born optimist to have a gratitude practice. You can choose to cultivate this practice to change your own mindset. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes.
Gratitude is the cure for comparison, jealousy, self-pity, self-doubt, and this is super powerful. I know that it is not easy. It takes practice and it takes work to start thinking in these ways. Training your mind to be more grateful will allow you to cope with all of the very human and heavy and meaningful feelings that come up in life.
Over time that shift will happen. For me, there was a time when I couldn’t imagine a day when I would wake up and feel good and positive about my body and have a positive attitude. It is the intention that is important.
If you are intentional enough, if you stick with it and work hard at it, you can change your mindset. Over time, those moments of self-loathing, doubt or being down on yourself become the exception and gratitude becomes the rule. This is a far more beautiful, happy and healthy way to live.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.