The Best Attitude is Gratitude

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June 9, 2016

Growing up, my mother always instilled the importance of counting your blessings, and doing so especially when nothing seems to be going right in your life. When I was a teenager, none of this made sense to me. I would complain and whine about everything and anything, and my favourite thing to do was throw around the phrase “I hate my life” like it was nobody’s business. Every time I would complain about how horrible my life was or how unfair something was, my mother would pay me no time of day. Her response was always: “you are healthy, you have a roof over your head, there is food on the table, you have all your limbs, you have a family who loves you, and you have the privilege of attending school. There’s a lot to be thankful for Saba”. This line always made me cringe, and instantaneously triggered a dramatic eye roll on my behalf, and the most theatrical exit you could imagine (loud stomping included). But as I grew older, and a wee bit smarter, this idea became ingrained in my DNA, and I am so thankful I have since shifted my mindset to think like my mother.

imageIt is way too easy to get caught up in counting all the things we hate about our lives and all the things we don’t have. This is an extremely toxic practice. Whether it’s money, the latest fashion must-have item, clearer skin, a boyfriend, or your idea of the perfect body, there will never be a shortage of things we don’t have. All of us, myself included, could easily make lists that go on for days of everything we don’t have, and maybe some of you are thinking about these things right now. DON’T!!! The problem with focusing on everything we don’t have is that in this process, we forget about all the things we do have, and all the things we should constantly be thankful for. We might beat ourselves up about our arms not being toned enough, but consider this. Consider a woman who lost one of her arms in a tragic accident, and with each and every day that passes, all she thinks about is what she would give to have her arm back. If you put yourself in her shoes, then those arms of yours that may be a little less toned than you would like, seem pretty darn good don’t they?!

imageGrowing up in such an amazing country like Canada has definitely spoiled me, and sometimes I take my privileges of being a Canadian citizen for granted, without even noticing. I am reminded of this every time I hear about my friends experiences growing up in different parts of the world, where the basic rights and luxuries I take for granted everyday, simply do not exist there. I think we are all guilty of taking certain things for granted, but if we take a step back from our hectic lives and reflect on what we have, we learn how lucky we actually are.

imageNo matter how bad our lives may seem at certain times, we all have so much to be thankful for. The point I’m trying to get across here, is that it is extremely important to remember to be thankful for what you have, because despite what you may think, somewhere around the world there is someone who would die to be in your shoes. From time to time our brains are bound to wander to this negative ungrateful space, and this is natural. When this happens, be mindful of not dwelling in this space, and correct it. Refocus your thoughts on at least one positive thing you have going for you, and start to think about some of the things you are lucky to have. Whether it’s your health, access to food and clean water, supportive friends, a stable job, a talent or skill, or a home, whatever it may be there is certainly something to be grateful for. When you learn to be grateful and appreciative of the things you have, rather than upset over the things you don’t have, you start to live a much happier life.

Try to keep this post in mind, or better yet, keep this page bookmarked for the next time you are feeling down, and revisit it to help inspire some positive thinking! Although I myself am not Muslim, I am aware that the month of Ramadan began four days ago on June 5th, and I think this can be nicely tied into this post. A large part of Ramadan involves fasting, and this month-long practice is to instil and cultivate gratitude for what you have, and to realize what life is like for those less fortunate. Thinking about the lives of those less fortunate than you, or actually experiencing how those less fortunate live, can really help to open your eyes and also teach you to appreciate what you have. To the over 2 billion Muslims celebrating this month around the world, I would like to wish you all Ramadan Mubarak (which translates to a ‘Blessed Ramadan’). Regardless of practicing a religion or not, please stay positive, thankful, and remember to always be appreciative. Gratitude is the best attitude!

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#MotivationMonday

April 26, 2016

I’m writing this post from my bed, a lot later than I had planned to, because I am not feeling so hot today.

The reason I’m in such rough shape today is because I ran the Mercedes Benz Oakville 10k race yesterday morning, which in my opinion, was well worth the state I’m currently in (even though it would be nice to having feeling in my legs again). The course I ran was absolutely stunning, and took me on a winding journey throughout downtown Oakville, along the waterfront, and past some of the most gorgeous mansion homes. It was no surprise I woke up feeling not so great, because similar to last year when I ran the Nike Women’s 15k, I got super sick the next day, which is fairly common if your body isn’t used to running long distance races.

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In my training leading up to the race, I had ran a total of 46.5k and finished 10k in under an hour, so I was very confident that the race would go well (as I was much better prepared than I had been for the 15k last year).  But boy was I wrong. Yesterday was an extremely challenging day for me, both physically and mentally.  During the first three kilometres, I was thinking “okay, I got this, this is going fine”.  But as I neared the halfway mark, I noticed my problematic knees really beginning to give me trouble, despite having attended physiotherapy the day before the race for knee mobilization work and taping. It also didn’t help that I was overdressed for the run, and the sun decided to show up and warm things up, making it even more of a challenge for myself.

To be honest, I was so close to giving up and walking.  My stomach started cramping up, and I started feeling very weak and exhausted around the 7k mark. I have no idea how, but I somehow found the strength to push through and keep going, and I think that is partly owed to some of the people with smiles from ear to ear clapping and cheering the runners on from the sidelines.

I finished the race with an official time of 01:12:17.9, with a pace of 7:13/km.  At first, I was very unhappy with my race time, due to the fact that in all my training leading up to the race, I had ran a lot quicker and finished in much less time. But what I soon realized is the fact that the time really means nothing. The medal is what means something, and this medal signifies perseverance and personal growth, which is much more important.  When I think back to three years ago when I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and I couldn’t even run to catch the bus without losing my breathe, my race distance and time shows significant strides. The race was not easy, but it was definitely worth it. Although my time wasn’t what I had hoped for, it still represents personal growth, and it is a nice reminder that running really teaches you that you are capable of much more than you could ever imagine. Thinking back to my lifestyle a couple of years ago, I would have never in a million years believed anyone if they had told me I would willingly run 46.5 kilometres in less than a month.

My time not only shows I have come a long way in changing my lifestyle for the better, but it also inspires me to keep doing so, and to keep running so I can beat that record next time. The slogan of the race was #MindOverMileage, and I couldn’t think of a quote more fitting to sum up how this race made me feel. Running is all about your mindset, and a positive mind can help take you to places you could never have imagined, not only in regards to running, but also in regards to every aspect of your life. There will always be instances in life when you don’t achieve things in the time you wanted to, but no good comes from beating yourself up over it. You must remember to always be proud of what you have accomplished, and to persevere and push through the struggles that come your way and keep going until you get what it is you want.

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