Waves of gratitude and awe have been flooding over my body recently. The waves come unexpectedly and only last for a passing moment. This is a novel experience for me but one well received as this has been a hard year for me -- the hardest.
Some pain has been acute, however much of it is chronic. Pain always lurks -- I've accepted that it probably always will -- at least to some degree. But that's OK, pain is not our enemy.
I've always liked pain, and challenge, and the triumphant feeling of an AND1 play.
pain = action
Allen Iverson always used his pain to fuel his passion, but pain is a raw energy that becomes hard to discipline over the long term -- at least that's my experience.
Let me tell you a personal story from this past weekend which paints the message im trying to share: I hate losing more than I love winning. So this weekend after losing a couple initial games of basketball it made me give even more of myself.
However, as my morning hoops dawned into the afternoon and I evened the series I decided to finally listen to my aching body. The usual dehydration of playing ball in the sun was setting in. This time I knew it was going to be bad. And it was.
Within just a couple hours I was retreated to my bed to hideout in the dark. I drank water and tried to withstand the pounding pain of my head. Every slight movement hurt. And then I felt sick. I've never felt nausea with a migraine before. However, before I knew it, I projectile vomited all across my bathroom. Luckily it was mostly water. But it was devastating. Dry heaving is the worst. Especially when you have a migraine and are completely sober to experience it all.
I eventually got to sleep and woke up at sunrise for an important meeting. But then i hit unexpected construction traffic -- there was only one damn lane to get across Golden Gate Bridge, and I knew I had f*cked up. All of my going at 100 mph the day and months before caught up to me. I was now late, sick from the night before, had a busted finger and I had no one to blame but my self. I had spread myself to thin, lost my composure and dropped the ball in a working relationship that was equivalent to championship game to me. It sucked. I could have simply blamed it on murphy, how was I to avoid the traffic... but it was my fault.
After messing up this important meeting I realized I needed to make a change -- I needed a comeback. I told myself, "I need to focus better, get to simplicity and do work!" However, I realized that I could not use my pain as a source of energy here -- I needed a more discerned energy.
I realized that if we are going to have longevity -- if we are going to have consistency, we need to run on more than pain alone. And repetition is the mother of all skills. It's everything. So we need this. We love Kobe because we know he trains harder than anyone else -- even when he loses, we don't hate because w know he did work. He gets our respect.
Consistency is challenging to master not because it is necessarily hard, but because it takes being fueled off something new besides pain and aggression to achieve it. We are so use to pain and aggression it can be hard to use anything else as motivation. Yet consistency demands us to use gratitude to guide our pain.
Gratitude helps us to do the small, tedious, and mundane day-to-day activities with full engagement -- to be in flow. Flow is the psychology of optimal experience, when we perform and feel at our best. But flow is actually a subjective experience that is only partly dependent on objective conditions -- flow is more dependent on simply how engaged we are with life ( the good and the bad).
So while pain helps us explode, to power lift, to go to war; it doesn't empower us to achieve long-term and consistent success and well-being.
Pain pushes us like the wind does to a sail. But gratitude is the rudder that points our ship in the direction of it's destiny.
Gratitude = consistent successful action.