"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
- W. A. Ward
There's an old Dale Carneige quote about acting enthusiastic makes you actually enthusiastic. It's true, just act like you're excited and somehow you jumpstart your way into excitement. But I've always found that approach to be disingenuous. It's like a "life hack" for enthusiasm. The thing is, I don't really think "life hacks" are such a good thing.
A famous "life hacker" talked at one point about how he "hacked" his way to a muay thai championship by exploiting a technicality in the rules. Some would argue that he did - in fact - win the championship. Technically, yes. But here's the thing, I have a notion that there's much more to muay thai than trophies. I have a notion that "life hacker dude", if faced with an actual street fight, might find that the belligerents don't so much care about the technicalities of sanctioned muay thai fighting. Never mind the spiritual and mental benefits he sidestepped by "hacking" his way to a belt.
I'm learning (Yes I'm late to the party. Can we embrace the fact that I've showed up at all?) that to gain the benefit (All the light and benefit.) it helps to do the work. Not find a glitch. Not hack. Just show up and do the work. Do the work with consistency. Do the work with gratitude.
Kim, my wife (best friend and hero) has a knack for consistency. She shows up to the empty page day after day and puts words on those pages. She tells stories. She helps other people tell their stories. She shows up consistently and she shows up (mostly) with gratitude. It's not easy. It's not glamourous. But it's how actual work gets done.
The hack, the guy who plagiarizes his way to word count. The guy who takes other peoples work and slaps his name on it, that guy may win a "championship belt" but he's deprived himself of several things. First, he's lost the chance to enjoy, truly enjoy, the fruits of his own labor. You can't be proud of something you didn't actually do. Second, he's lost the opportunity for legacy, longevity, respect. When you hack your way to the belt, you are a flash in a pan - nothing more. Finally, he's given up the opportunity to truly experience joy. Joy at making something new and creative. Joy from accomplishment. Joy from ...
I'm pushing up against a full year of a daily yoga practice. I've put in the work. I've showed up every day. It's not been pretty. It's occasionally been lonely. But I've showed up and I've done the work. I walk the two blocks to our home studio each morning. I'm grateful most of them. When I approach the work with a senses of gratitude, I find more joy.
I'm also finding that this "Do the work/skip the hack" thing seems to work for so many things.
Go now. Do your work.
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