You know how when you are exercising, there’s a point where you feel like you really cannot possibly keep going for a moment more?
And you know how often turns out that you actually can do a little bit more?
In a Before Breakfast podcast episode that I listened to this morning, Laura Vanderkam was pointing out how in weight training, the moment you squeeze out that last super difficult rep is precisely when your muscles do most of their getting-stronger work.
When you are pushed to the edge of your current capacity, but you do just a little bit more, you grow. Staying in the easy zone helps us maintain, but it doesn’t help us grow or get stronger.
This applies to a whole lot of things in life, such as speaking up in a meeting or doing public speaking, but as I listened to the podcast, I thought about how it applies to thankfulness.
Gratitude is sometimes talked about as a muscle, and while it’s not truly a muscle, neurologists have discovered that the more we use our gratefulness brain pathways, the stronger those pathways become.
So, when things are tough and we have to work especially hard to look for the good, I wonder if those are the times when our gratitude “muscles” do most of their growing.
Getting stronger makes “easy” things easier
I can see other analogies to the weight training idea here too.
If I push my muscles when I am lifting weights, the strength I gain helps me in all sorts of situations that are less strain on my muscles. If you regularly do kettlebell swings, then going up the stairs is easy. Carrying heavy bags of groceries is easy. Walking long distances is easy.
And for me, it seems that when I practice gratitude in the hard times, it becomes easier and easier to be grateful in the not-so-hard times of life. I can be thankful, even when things are hard.
And when things are easy? Those strong gratefulness muscles make gratitude as easy as coasting down a hill or lifting a 5-pound kettlebell.
Being weaker makes even “easy” things hard
I really am going to get to the gratefulness list, but first, one more analogy I see: If you never push beyond the point of comfort with your muscles, everyday, “easy” activities, such as getting up out of a chair, become hard.
Weak muscles make everyday life feel exhausting.
I think the same is probably true for gratefulness “muscles”. If you don’t practice pushing against the human tendency to complain and to only see the negative, then you might be prone to discontentedness even in relatively easy times in life…those times in life that are analogous to the act of getting up out of a chair.
(Just to clarify: I realize there are plenty of reasons that people can’t lift weights, and there are plenty of people with medical problems who are sedentary through no choice of their own. My point is not to be judge-y about that; my point is that the, “This is when you get stronger” idea probably applies to gratefulness practices.)
This week, I’m thankful:
for people who kindly listen to me vent
Sometimes, I just need to get my frustration out, and then I feel calmer, even if the problem is not actually solved.
In fact, once this week, I messaged Mr. FG about a frustration, but first I said, “I’m really upset about something, and I don’t need you to fix it; I just need you to listen.”
He did indeed just listen, and I felt much calmer after my little vent. 🙂
for my beautiful pearl push pins
I needed some thumbtacks for my new bulletin board, and instead of buying some plain ones, I decided to be kind of extra, and so I ordered some with pearl tops.
My order initially said they wouldn’t be here until December (!!), but they arrived yesterday, which was a nice surprise.
that I finally got my exam grade!
It felt like it took forever, but I did get my bone terminology exam back, plus the second exam I had that week.
I missed two on the bone terminology, but I got the two extra credit questions right, so my grade looks like I made no bone mistakes. Ha.
My school philosophy: always try the extra credit! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
that I have two weeks between exams now
Last week I had the bone exam on Monday and then an exam on two more new chapters on Friday. That was….a lot.
It feels quite luxurious to have two whole weeks to learn all the muscle anatomy and physiology. Yay!
that bone knowledge helps with muscle-learning
I can totally see how my work on bone-learning is making this muscle module easier for me.
And I can definitely see how the muscle-learning is going to cement my bone knowledge.
that I like learning about the body
If I hated the topic, all this anatomy and physiology work would feel like a terrible slog. But I think it is so fascinating to learn about how bodies work!
for chatty blog readers
It can’t be said too many times: I love that the people who read this blog are talkative! It’s so much fun to have things be a two-way conversation rather than just me typing into the void.
that the internet brings people together here
As we’ve been hearing from international readers in the Meet a Reader series, I am often amazed to think about how widespread this community is. Isn’t it wild that people from around the globe all connect here?
And then I think about how impossible this all would have been without the internet! But since we do have the internet, we’ve gotten to peek into Lea’s German life, Efterpi’s Greek life, Sonal’s Indian life, and so on.