Life is great, here’s why.
In this post, I’d like to share a story of how the same mental approach cited in creating great performers, can be used to change your life (or your perception of it).
As a young athlete, eager to perfect my own mental strengths, I remember reading a book, by a famed sports psychologist, who made an interesting note as to how great champions were able to recall the confidence necessary to perform at key/clutch moments. He starts by noting how many of today’s athletes, media, and public tend to dwell on failure. After all, we’re supposed to be sad, and miserable after defeat, right? He even points to the cultural stigma surrounding someone who doesn’t. ’Can you believe she was smiling, even thought they lost?’ ‘She must not care.’ When presented with victory, or success, however, it’s often the opposite, just business as usual. I mean, after all, you should act like you expected to win, right? A sign of confidence. The social stigma is now cast on celebrating too much. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘act like you’ve been here before.’
Interestingly, the author cited how truly great athletes tend to do the opposite. He argued that, upon experiencing failure, one should analyze enough to learn from it, but then quickly cast it aside without much additional thought. With success however, you should relish in every detail imaginable. Remember the temperature, the feeling of the ground beneath your feet, the people around you, the way you felt, the time of day, the smile on your face, the sweat on your skin, etc. Essentially, he was referencing how the mind tends to remember moments of intense emotion, much easier than moments of routine, which we give little thought. It’s why you might have a hard time remembering what you ate for lunch yesterday, but will never forget that first time behind the wheel, first kiss, or where you were when 9/11 occurred. It’s the same reason why great athletes can so easily recall moments of previous success when they need the confidence for a clutch moment. They’ve spent a lifetime focusing on the good, not the bad.
It wasn’t until a recent backpacking trip with good friends, who happened to be first-timers, where I realized how much this same principle can apply to everyday life. I found myself explaining why I love backcountry travel so much, sharing some of my favorite adventure moments. As my brain was flooded with great memories, and the feelings of joy experienced in those moments, it was a great reminder as to why I’m doing this.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve experienced some significant career, and income angst in previous years, yet my initial thought when asked ‘How’s life?’is always a resounding, “Better than I could have ever imagined.” And I genuinely feel that way. I can’t help but notice now, how that habit learned many years ago in an attempt to perform my best under pressure, may have helped my overall outlook on life as an adult. With a consistent effort to pause and celebrate euphoric moments, whether from wild adventures, or simple interactions in everyday life, I’m able to view my world with great satisfaction. It’s not that I haven’t had moments of disappointment, sadness, or frustration. Believe me, I’ve had plenty. It’s the habit of learning, and quickly moving on from these moments, however, that keeps them in the dusty, almost forgotten recesses of my mind.
While it’s about as cliche as it gets (insert smell the roses metaphor here), focusing on the intense satisfaction experienced in your best moments may just change your outlook on life. As adults (how did we get here?), life can be stressful, chaotic. Sometimes, all we need is a simple reminder of why we do the things that we do, and how important it is to relish those moments when we’re in them. If you’re doing it right, pushing yourself, exploring places of beauty around you, sharing it with amazing people, there should be a lot to absorb. So don’t forget to soak it all in.
Rain. Sunshine. Trying Hard. Love. Laughter. Friendship. Peace. Beauty. LIFE