I hate burpees. Seriously, I absolutely abhor burpees. I’ve never met a burpee I liked. In case you’ve missed the disgruntlement in my voice, let me say it one more time – burpees, not a fan. It’s hard to pinpoint when my disdain first began. To be honest, it may track as far back as elementary school. It’s one thing to encounter challenging movements in the gym, it’s something different to plan your life to avoid them altogether. That’s where I find myself with the burpee. In our gym, the next day’s workout is published the night before at 8 pm. I usually check in sometime before bed, and as I scroll through the warmup and strength to the WOD, if I see the word ‘burpee,’ my brow furrows. Then I start devising my avoidance plan. Thoughts race through my mind like a rolodex of excuses. Maybe I’m sore so I need a recovery day. Maybe my kids need my attention, so I’ll skip the workout to focus on them. I’m sure there’s laundry or dishes to do at 7:30 in the morning. Anything to avoid the burpee! But alas, I’ve been in the fitness game long enough that most of the time I make it in anyway. I’m typically quieter than normal and my face often looks like someone shot my dog. In all this process, I miss the opportunity to be grateful.
Gratitude is powerful. It’s an outward expression of an inward feeling of thankfulness. I have so many things to be thankful for, it’s ridiculous. No doubt you do too. So, what is it about the ‘burpees’ in our lives? How do they sneak in like ninjas and assassinate our gratitude? One of the reasons may surprise you – it’s because we hold grudges. No one likes to think they hold a grudge. Grudges sound mean, like something only bitter people hold. But we hold them. And when we do, they have a direct impact on our gratitude. The grudges you hold limit the gratitude you experience. I’ve developed the following formula for gratitude:
GRATITUDE = YOU + PERSPECTIVES - GRUDGES
Let’s start with perspective. To experience maximum gratitude, you must infuse yourself with positive perspectives. If life is always something bad happening to you, there’s a serious ceiling on your gratitude threshold. If you want to break through, start surrounding yourself with positive people. My closest friends are incredibly optimistic. They help me see the bigger picture on days when I don’t want to. They also share a strong faith in God with me, which is important because an eternal perspective is as positive as it can get. When I face difficulties, I don’t think I’m being persecuted. I think I’m being prepared by God. On days you can’t see the bigger picture, ask God to show it to you. I truly believe my circle of friends is God’s answer to my prayer for perspective.
Not only do you need an infusion of positive perspectives, sometimes you need to subtract grudges. The antidote to grudges is forgiveness. For a long time in my life, I held the belief that when people did something to me, it was their responsibility to apologize before I forgave them. In other words, I withheld forgiveness until I received an apology. Have you ever waited on an apology? You know what forms while you wait? You guessed it, a grudge. When you choose to forgive, it gives you the freedom to let go of grudges. So why are you waiting to forgive? Forgiveness is powerful. It unlocks your potential for maximum gratitude. That’s my problem with burpees. See, I don’t hate burpees so much as I hate what they remind me of. Every time I pick my 230-pound body off the mat, I wish I weighed less. I’m reminded of being an overweight kid in middle school, getting picked on by my classmates. The burpee teases out this battle between who I am and who I want to be. I’ve decided that my limit to maximum gratitude in the gym is to forgive. I need to let go of the past. I need to stop beating myself up every time I don’t live up to whatever expectations I’ve imposed on myself. It’s time to, dare I say it, find gratitude in burpees.
What’s in the way of gratitude in your life? Do you have a perspective that needs to change? Have you held on to a belief so long that you no longer realize the effect it’s having on you? Surround yourself with positive people. Give your closest friends permission to challenge your perspectives. Maybe it’s time to let go of a grudge. Maybe that thing that you’ve been walking around with that’s been keeping you warm at night is really just holding you back. What would it look like to freely forgive? The way God freely forgave you by sending His son Jesus to die for you? Ask God to help you let go so you can move on with living your best life. Confront your ‘burpees’ and watch your gratitude grow.
Questions for Reflection:
Can you think of a perspective that limited your gratitude? What changed it?
Have you ever held a grudge against God? If so, why?