No matter how tired I was at the end of a 12-hour rowing day on the ocean, I always posted a blog entry. It took discipline – it was desperately uncomfortable sitting hunched over a laptop in my cramped cabin while the boat tipped and yawed – but I was always happy that I’d done it.
Not only did it create a channel between me and the folks following back at home, but it also gave me a chance to reflect on the day as a whole. Often the last shift would have been a struggle, the devil on one shoulder pointing out how tired I was feeling and wouldn’t it be lovely to go to bed, while the angel on the other shoulder wagged her finger and reminded me that my future self would be grateful to my present self for carrying on. So my mood, by the time I retired to my cabin, was not always sunny.
But writing the blog post would give me a perspective on the day, as I thought back to the glorious sunrise, the a-ha moment I had mid-morning, the delicious lunch of freshly grown beansprouts, the fun I’d had in the afternoon recording the latest podcast episode with Leo Laporte via satellite phone, the sighting of a whale. It became a kind of gratitude practice, an opportunity to focus on the positive.
I still do my gratitude practice today, jotting down some notes in a Moleskine notebook (or in the Gratitude app on my iPhone) every night about the good stuff that has happened during the day. If you believe, as I do, that we create our reality from the inside out, then paying attention to the positive wires us to expect – and therefore get – more of what we want.
And here’s a funny thing. Now, 10 years after I rowed my first ocean, I’m also grateful for all the “bad” stuff that happened during that voyage, because it was the challenges and suffering that taught me the most – about who I am and what I’m capable of.
So now I also try to find it in my heart to be grateful for the things I didn’t think I wanted, those damned “opportunities for growth” that may seem like a pain in the neck now, but if treated right, are all grist to the mill of my evolution. It’s all information. It’s all feedback. From this perspective, nothing is bad – it’s all good.