The Benefits of Gratitude

“Bowing is an expression of gratitude and respect. In effect, you are thanking your opponent for giving you the opportunity to improve your technique.”

– Jigaro Kano

So, yeah. Themed seasonal blog post this time, but a worthy topic nonetheless. My grandfather once told me that when he wakes up each morning, he meditates on the things he is grateful for. It sets the mood for the day, and helps him to maintain perspective if something goes wrong. It struck me as interesting, considering that over the course of his life, my grandfather, though good at heart, had made many mistakes. The consequences of his questionable decisions had humbled him. Life had handed him some losses and setbacks, but rather than becoming the stereotypical angry and bitter old man, he chose to look for the silver lining. You may be thinking “how does this relate to martial arts, nerd?” It’s simple: be grateful for your losses as well as your wins. For in defeat, we are given the opportunity to learn and improve.

I myself have a lot to be grateful for. Life hasn’t been perfect, there are all kinds of obstacles and hinderances that pop up in our lives. Especially in the last 2 years, a lot of crazy shit has happened that’s affected everyone across the nation and even across the globe. But I maintain perspective. In the tournaments I’ve competed in, I’ve won and I’ve lost. The losses were hard, but I was grateful to have the resources to compete. I was grateful to be good enough to be there. I was grateful for the honest, raw feedback my losses gave me. Experiencing defeat has made me stronger, more resilient, and has given me greater perspective. For how we conduct ourselves in defeat is just as telling, if not more so, than how we conduct ourselves in victory.

Our mindset is not only important to improving our lives, but it is something completely within our control. Sure, there will be plenty of environmental factors that affect our emotional state or habits of thought, but we can actively try to change our perspective. As you interact with those around you, you might notice that the happier people in your life, regardless of social class, tend to be grateful for things in their life, and they talk about things that make them happy. The people in your life who tend to be more unhappy, you may notice a lack of gratitude; their focus is on all the things that bother them, from life obstacles to societal ails, there’s always something obscuring any silver lining. Look, life is short and impermanent. Why be miserable when you can choose otherwise? Choose gratitude. Each morning when you wake up, just run a mental list of what you’re grateful for. Family. Pets. Friends. Coffee. Tacos. Martial Arts. Other stuff etc.

Anyways. I am grateful for anyone who has taken the time to read my blog. If you are at a tough spot in your martial arts journey, I know it can be frustrating but don’t worry about it. If you remain consistent, you will look back on these days and thank yourself for persisting. You will thank your coach and your gym mates for sharpening you. Losses and setbacks can be discouraging, but I am encouraging you to hold course. Trust me, it’s worth it. And if you are in a great spot in your journey, remember to be of service to those who need it.

As always, I hope you’ve found something of value in this post. Keep training, remember to breathe… and Happy Thanksgiving.

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