Gratitude Makes Me Look Backward

Gratitude forces me to look backward.

There’s a camping tent in the middle of the room. A few days ago my girlfriend and I challenge ourselves to see if we could go on an adventure in under 12 hours.

Then we realized that this challenge meant we could pack lightly, and the question turned into - “Can we run with backpacks?”. Now I’m sitting here on the sofa with a tent drying off from morning due, and I feel like I had a four day weekend in one night.

It’s amazing how much happens around us that we never notice. We get used to our surroundings, our commute to work, how the dishes are stacked on the shelf, what we do after we silence our morning alarm, the way we react to pressure or pain or stress or even the way we think about our goals and dreams. We create our reality, and then our reality creates us. But sometimes we do something different, and our reality changes and we have a chance to change too. To some people, this was a simple weekend adventure, but to me, it was an exercise in gratitude.

Gratitude forces you to look around at the resources you might never notice, just like this camping trip changed the way I perceived my weekend.

362 days ago I woke up one morning like every other and recorded an audio journal entry. At the time I had reasons in my mind for doing it, but those reasons have developed into something more defined and meaningful now. Purpose. Over the past year, I’ve shown up and recorded an audio journal every single day. Today is day 362.

At first, I talked about life stuff like “what is success” or “finding joy in your work” but sometimes I would make proclamations, or I would talk about my purpose in the activity itself. I would say I would do X or Y. Then there were times when something went wrong, or schedules changed, but I still recorded and instead all I talked about was how embarrassing it was to fail.

And then things got real. That is when I learned why I was recording every day. Because we try our best and most of the time we fail. We develop this relationship with ourselves that says I can’t trust what you say because I see what you do. Multiple times on the show I said I was going to do X or do Y or do H. And then it didn’t happen. But I still showed up. And then I would talk about it or why it didn’t happen. It is as if we want consistency. No, we NEED repetition to be successful. We must follow through to accomplish our goals. We see successful people doing the same thing over and over again, but we don’t see them fail because they don’t talk about it. Then we wonder why we haven't found our thing. But we are too afraid to try and fail at lots of things.

We don’t see the successful people try 26 different random things and now know they enjoyed the 13th thing the most. Then on the 27th trial, they combine what they learned from trials 13 and 22 and all of the sudden something clicks and whatever it is that they are doing works! There’s joy and money and flow and it works. So they keep doing that 27th thing again and again as 27A, 27B, 27C and finally, we see them doing 27H, and they are killing it! We want to be like that! We want to copy and be like them.

We focus on the outcomes and what we see the successful people do. But what we don't see is what we should copy. People don’t see the failures. People don’t understand the process of being completely focused on a goal yet detached from the outcome. People don’t see you return home to your chair or table or bedside where you sit and review the feedback you’ve gotten from your failure and decide to try again.

That is what I learned from recording a daily journal for an entire year. Every day I looked backward. Every day I tried again. I was forced to forget the outcomes and the accomplishments and spend a little bit of energy reflecting on my time and my life.

It took 362 days but reflecting daily allowed me to notice what I had at my disposal, to see the resources I had around me. Soon I forgot what other people were doing simply because my thinking never went in that direction.

Now I say you should look backward to move forward and slow down to speed up.

Let's learn. Let's live. Let's get unstuck!