Thanksgiving & Gratitude
Last week I was finishing up a 7-day adventure in Bali and on the last night my friend Doug and I decided to go for a scooter ride to see the ‘Tannah Lot Temple’ on the south end of the island. As we were riding back Doug wanted to ask me a question so he abruptly stopped on his scooter. To avoid hitting him I slammed on my breaks causing my scooter to fall over as it was skidding to a stop. It rolled up on my ankle much like an NFL lineman would experience when somebody gets blocked into him from behind. There was an excruciating pain and then I looked down. The back of my ankle was protruding out a few inches and immediately I knew I was in trouble.
Doug looked at it and just said, “Bro, you broke your ankle.” All I could respond was, “I know”. We both got back to the house, thankfully we were only 45 seconds away, and I laid down. So many thoughts would have been expected to come to me feeling bad for myself or feeling like I had been the victim of my circumstances. Instead, all I felt was gratitude. It was a weird calmness and something even I was a little surprised by but I sincerely felt so grateful in that moment. Grateful that a broken ankle was all I was going to be dealing with.
I was in Bali as part of a yoga/ meditation retreat with 15 other friends and 4 of them happened to be nurses. One of them, Lachelle started helping me wrap and ice the ankle and after half an hour I realized it was feeling pretty good. I needed to charge my phone so I decided to test it and walk from our pool to my room to get the cord. It felt ok. I thought for the first time it might not be broken.
Long story short, the ankle, while painful even today as I write this, was ok. I started my journey home back to Utah the next morning stopping off for a day in Brunei, a day in Singapore, and a day in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and I walked around each country almost pain free.
I can’t stop thinking about this experience. Tony Robbins always says, “Trade in your expectations for Appreciation and watch your whole world change.” This has got to be the secret to living a happy and fulfilled life. As I have had time to look back and reflect on my accident and why I had such a good attitude in that moment, I can’t help but think of all the things I found gratitude for at that time.
• My friend Doug was there to help me get up and then he ran to the store immediately to get me some pain medicine and supplies to wrap my ankle.
• I was propped up in a beautiful resort in Bali poolside overlooking the rice fields, there are worse places to be stuck!
• I was surrounded by great people all willing to help me any way I needed
But then I think I realized the one thing that came to my mind that caused me to feel nothing but gratitude. I was so grateful that I had just broken my ankle and I hadn’t been killed. Earlier that week I had been reading all about the tourists in Bali and I found out that every 9 days a tourist gets killed riding a scooter on that island. If you have never been to Bali or Vietnam or Cambodia you won’t understand but it is complete chaos. No rules, just avoid the other vehicles is essentially how you ride around.
Here I was, happy to be alive, knowing that my situation could have been much worse. Too often in life we experience pain or disappointment and we forget about the positive blessing that is accompanying the negative experience. There are always reasons to be sad or disappointed or to feel like a victim. A wise friend of mine used to always say, “If you are a victim of something terrible, you are probably correct to feel like a victim. The only problem is, you can be right all day about it, but it doesn’t serve you!”
“YOU ARE JUSTIFIED TO FEEL LIKE A VICTIM… BUT IT DOESN’T SERVE YOU!!”
This is such a powerful statement. You can choose to be sad. You can choose to feel disappointed because some expectation you had of another person, an organization, or an experience didn’t live up to what you wanted them to. You can choose to let the paid destroy your life little by little. Or you can find the appreciation for whatever that disappointment can now teach you.
The worst things that have ever come my way have taught me the most and helped me the most to become the best version of myself. When I feel down or feel off balance, I know this is the highest version of myself trying to tell the rest of me that it is time to make some adjustments and improvements. I am grateful when the universe calls me into action through a trauma or a loss.
Trade in your expectations for appreciation and your whole world will change. This is the message this Thanksgiving that I want to share with you. To truly appreciate the bad things that happen to us is to understand that they are part of the greatness that is to be human and to be alive. When you have your heart broken by a woman or a man you appreciate the rest of the people in your life a little more. When your team loses the big game you start to appreciate the journey to get there as much as the destination. When you get hurt or sick you start to appreciate a little more your amazing body. The one that isn’t perfect and many times doesn’t look the way you want it to.
Thanksgiving week is a perfect time to remember this great principle of appreciation. To sum up why we even do Thanksgiving I want to give the holiday a little more context:
The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. They were members of the English Separatist Church and the entire reason they chose to flee England and come to the new land was for religious freedom. Literally the freedom to simply believe what was in their hearts. Never mind being able to rail on the President of the United States on Twitter without fear of repercussion, they couldn’t even believe in their own God.
Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast – including 91 natives who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. They had so much to be grateful for even in the midst of extreme hardship.
What in your life have you complained about recently that you need to instead give thanks for? What have you seen as a hardship in your life that needs some appreciation? Who can you stop expecting certain things from and instead just give appreciation for the relationship that you do have?