It works, but it’s work.
In April 29th’s edition (released on my blog May 27th), I went into a bit on the role that gratitude plays in helping me deal with dissatisfaction and ended that email with “Have a grateful week”.
If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me share quotes from the Calm meditation app pretty much everyday for the last 50 days with the statement “Have a grateful day”, and lately I’ve ended each Grind message with a similar statement. I hadn’t put it together until right now that when I wrote that edition of The Grind, I started meditating.
For the last 50 days I’ve spent at least 10 minutes a day practicing mindfulness. I’m not saying this for a pat on the back, I’m sharing this to make note that this weekly practice of writing from my heart is changing me for the better. Specifically, writing about gratitude 50 days ago triggered a practice that was been nothing short of transformative.
One of the big benefits I’m finding of mindfulness practice is that it develops an ability to observe yourself. Doing that in the moment is helpful to understand what makes you tick. Doing that over long periods of time can be helpful to understand how you’ve been shaped.
Thinking back on my life in Nashville, a large chunk of my time and effort has been consumed in technology and entrepreneurship. What made these such memorable years was that I was able to work with kindred spirits over these last two decades in these areas to develop my self and the city to become more robust in both fields.
So far this year, not even half way complete, three men who were important fixtures in my Nashville tech and entrepreneurship journey, and the journey of many others, have passed away. If you were a subscriber of The Grind back in February, you may remember that I spent one edition paying my respects to Jim Schorr.
I didn’t write about him explicitly, but Germain Boer was an incredible force in the world of entrepreneurship in Nashville who befriended me, promoted me and was one of the original co-founders of Jumpstart Foundry. He passed in late April, and my April 29th edition regarding gratitude was written with him on my heart.
And just last week, my old friend Matt Kenigson passed away in a car crash.
I met Matt back in 2005. He was an entrepreneur and programmer and taught me some things about how one blends those two roles. We spent a fair amount of time together getting a user group going for the PHP programming language in Nashville. Over the years we would see each other in a variety of initiatives and were always friendly. I was super busy when he launched Make Nashville with my old boss Chris Lee, but I made a donation to be a founding member.
Matt was many things to the Nashville community, but I’m under no illusion as to what his most important roles were. He was a husband and a father. I understand that at a cellular level, especially as I had such a wonderful Father’s Day weekend with my family.
I’ve been talking to whoever will listen lately about habits and practices.
Writing this newsletter started me thinking about gratitude. That got me thinking about practicing it, which started with meditation. The benefits I was receiving from meditation inspired me to look for other habit building practices I could adopt. On May 31st I started a gratitude journal with the app “Grateful” (iPhone only, sorry, I’m sure there are some great ones for Android).
This simple app reminds me everyday to write down something I’m grateful for. Something that made me laugh or smile. Something I’m looking forward to.
It seems silly, but after doing it for two weeks, the change in my disposition and perspective is undeniable. The change in my perspective really comes through when someone who I came up with, who has a family like me, dreams like me and probably a bigger heart than me loses their life at such a young age.
There is so much to be grateful for, each and every moment that we are still here with the opportunity to make something better is truly a gift.
Being grateful is something we can do for ourselves to better process the challenges that this world will lay before us. It works, but it’s work. That’s what I’ve figured out this year.
I’m grateful for Matt, for Germain, for Jim, for my family, for my friends, for my partners.
I’m grateful for my failures, my challenges, my shortcomings and my weaknesses. They are by far my greatest teachers and where I get to experience one of the most beautiful aspects of the human experience: growth.
I’m grateful for you, and I mean that. I started writing this at 11:12pm CT on Father’s Day. As tired as I am from a perfect family travel weekend, being accountable to you has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Write the letter, make the call, say the words. Mood Follows Action my friend.
Have a truly grateful week.