I had tickets to the Phillies game last night but unfortunately I also had a meeting to attend. I was disappointed but I told my husband that it would be a great night to take some of his friends to the game and have a “boys’ night out” at the ball park. When he later told me that one of his friends was bringing his 16-year old son, who had never seen a game at Citizens Bank Park, I was thrilled.
I like nothing more than introducing someone to the joys of a night at that beautiful ballpark. So decked out in Phillies red, they headed off to the game while I, dressed in black, headed off to my meeting. Truth be told, I was still a little bummed but it was tempered by the fact that my ticket had been given to someone who I hoped would really enjoy the experience.
While at my meeting, we heard from a speaker who made some thought-provoking remarks about happiness. She said that while the outside events in our lives have something to do with whether we’re happy or not, the major factor determining our state of mind is actually in our control.
She went on to explain how habits, bad or good become habits through repetition and we can change those habits, and our state of mind, by changing our routine and then repeating that change.
She used the example of starting every day with gratitude. That even if things may be tough in some areas of our lives, that we can still find at least one thing to be grateful for and we should start our day expressing gratitude for even that one thing.
She admitted that it wasn’t easy to develop a new skill, that it might feel forced or awkward at first, but she assured us that with practice, giving gratitude could become a habit that could have a positive impact on our state of mind.
I left the meeting thinking about her words and how I’m really not grateful enough for what I have in my life and, if I’m really honest, I spend a lot more energy complaining about what I don’t have. I could definitely do a better job with that gratitude thing and I resolved to try.
By the time I arrived home the game was in the seventh inning, the Phillies leading 2-1. Well, as you know by now, Jonathan Papelbon blew his second save in three games, wasting a brilliant performance by Kyle Kendrick and eventually costing his team the victory and a sweep over the Washington Nationals as the Phillies lost 6-2 in 11 innings.
Perhaps this wasn’t the best moment for me to practice my new-found gratitude skills but I mostly felt bad for my friend’s son, that his memory of his first game would always be marred by the disastrous ending. When my husband finally got home, we debriefed about our nights and then I said I was really sorry that his friend’s son’s first Phillies game had to end like that. I asked if he was upset by the loss?
My husband said he had felt the same way and told the 16-year-old as they were driving home that he was sorry about the game.
“Sorry? I had a great time. It was a beautiful night. I had my first ballpark hot dog with mustard and I was here with my Dad. We saw a great game, a nail biter till the end. And we even got extra innings. It was perfect.”
Now that, my friends in baseball, is a lesson in gratitude for you.
He wasn’t upset that our $50 million closer, Jonathan Papelbon blew his second save in three games or that the Phillies offense didn’t get a single hit between the first inning and the tenth. It didn’t kill him that the game-tying hit came off the bat of former Phil, Jayson Werth with two outs in the ninth–two outs!
No. Instead he chose to focus on the good things about his night at the ballpark. So on the same night that I learned about the theory of giving gratitude, I also learned from a 16-year-old boy how it’s done.
I will admit that I am not as proud of my less grateful reaction to last night’s Phillies loss: screaming at my tv, banging my fist and burying my sorrows in a bowl of coffee ice cream.
Oh well, our speaker did say it is a skill that takes practice. In my case, when it comes to the Phillies, I’m afraid it may take a lot of practice.
But let me start with this. I have gratitude for the fact that the Phillies are off tonight.
Ok, so it’s not great. But it’s a start.