Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
September’s newsletter usually has a philosophical bent to it, so let me ask you a question: Will you live life in the Gap or the Gain?
Life seems hard, and our world is more confusing and chaotic than ever. This is no secret. When life isn’t moving in the direction you want it to go, or if you feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate, turn to gratitude. Gratitude is the way out of chaos.
Gratitude is the mother of virtues. You’ve probably already heard that a thousand times. As we transition from summer to fall and finish out the year, it seems timely to take a closer look at gratitude. At its core, gratitude is intended to change three things: your past, your present, your future.
Recently I was reminded of a concept that enormously helps my gratitude practice. I’m sharing this idea with you, because maybe, just maybe, it will help you create a life steeped in gratitude.
The concept is called, “The Gap and the Gain.” Most people live in “The Gap.” They always see what’s missing. Here’s a simple example of what I’m referring to. I could buy a friend a sweet treat on my way over to visit with them, and when I give it to them, they might say, “You didn’t get the one I like.” That’s the gap. They didn’t notice or appreciate the fact that I went out of my way to get them a gift. They only noticed that the gift wasn’t what it could have been. There was no realization that they just gained something. They only saw the gap.
Many of us live our entire lives in the gap. But you can make a different choice and instead live in the gain. This is actually quite simple: rather than measuring yourself against your ideals, you measure yourself against where you were before. We remain emotionally attached to outcomes when we live in the gap. When we live in the gain, all we see is progress. And progress begets progress.
Every day, you could measure the gain. You could look back at the end of your day and think to yourself: What were my three greatest wins for the day? Another question to ask yourself every night might be, “How did I see God’s hand in my life today?” I love asking this question at the end of my day. By asking this question I realize that not a single day goes by when I don’t experience a miracle along with many blessings!
What about the past though, and using this Gap or Gain concept? Measuring progress is essential, but we also want to remember the gain.
Most people, myself included, when looking back on their past, often remember the gaps. We remember where and when things didn’t go as well as they could have. We see the unfairness of it all and focus on life not meeting our expectations.
Over time, being in the gap forces your brain to think that things cannot change. It’s one of the ways we develop negativity as a mindset.
Yet using gratitude allows us to reshape memories of the past to get us out of the gap and into the gain. I find this comforting. My past is not objective, and neither is yours. Rather, the past is entirely subjective. It’s a meaning. Good or bad. Happy or sad. And you are the person who ascribes meaning to your experiences.
You give both meaning and context to your past experiences. Our past can be something continually inspiring us and guiding us forward. You are the designer of your past. You get to decide the narrative and perspective and context.
The truth I’ve come to understand about using gratitude and creating a different narrative and choosing a different perspective on my past is that amazing amounts of opportunity, learning, and growth came out of those redesigned experiences. I’m choosing to remember the gain, not the gap. I’m choosing how I remember that experience. I like to say to myself, “You can remember the gains, or you can remember the pain. It’s up to you.” In this way, our biggest failures and problems can be our greatest drivers of joy, success, and learning.
Very rarely will our circumstances be ideal. There will always be challenges to a life well lived. There will always be inconveniences. If you focus on your circumstances, you’ll find plenty to complain about. Yet, there is always something you can do to impact and change your life and move in the direction you want to go. A good place to start is by practicing gratitude and living in the gain.
In spite of challenges, you can still transform the present by appreciating it. Have gratitude for the amazing people in your life, for the opportunities you currently have, and for the chance to live on this beautiful planet. Having gratitude for the opportunity to grow and move forward is how you change your present. You see all the beauty in what you currently have, and you recognize the amazing power you have to improve upon what you have. This is a powerful way to live.
If you’re at a place of acceptance, peace, and trust, then you’ll be able to navigate the challenges you’ll face toward your future.
You can change your life, one day at a time. Every day, you can experience huge amounts of gratitude for your past, your present, and your future. If you take a few minutes to really do this, you may be shocked at how good you feel and at the hope and optimism you feel about your future.
When you begin living from a place of true gratitude, you’ll immediately begin transforming your life and the year ahead. I want to remember to live in the gain and use this gain or gap concept as a reminder for when I inevitably slip in my gratitude practice. If you’ve read this far, I thank you. I do hope something in my musings has stirred in you a deeper understanding and appreciation for the benefits of leaning into gratitude.
And while you’re leaning into gratitude, never forget to find Joyinmovement!