Small Tweaks, Big Results: Gratitude, Encouragement and Love

Meditations in Motion

I have had an off-again-on-again affair with swimming for the past decade. It began as most affairs do – with a rush of emotion and an all-consuming passion. I couldn’t wait to get to the pool at 5:30 in the morning. Swimming made me feel so much better. I felt, as one swimming friend says, “all stretched out“. I didn’t abandon running, of course – I swam on the days I didn’t run.

A lifeguard at the rec center pool who is about my age befriended me. She gave me laminated swimming workouts and helped me with my form. I made some adjustments to my form and began swimming a little bit faster, but I was never a really great swimmer. Then I made one small adjustment which made all the difference in the world. I started driving my hips forward with each stroke.

That one small adjustment took 10 seconds off my lap time and changed my perceived exertion level from a seven (out of 10) to a four.

Meditations in Motion

A similar thing happened with my running. When I first began running, I landed on the balls of my feet. I was a sprinter in high school, and that’s how we were instructed to run. The first thing I had to do was learn to land mostly on my heel or mid-foot, that was easy. I never would have been able to be a distance runner otherwise.

Other than that, I never thought much about my form. I was running, something I had been doing since I was a kid. It wasn’t something I had to think about. I just did it.

Then I read a book called Chi Running. One of the first precepts you learn in Chi Running is that you should run with a slight forward lean. This lean should come from your ankles, not your waist. My running form was too upright.

I made a slight adjustment, developed a slight forward lean, and eventually reduced my 5k times by three minutes. All it took was that one little tweak.

Meditations in Motion

Eventually, my passion for swimming wore off, and I became a sporadic swimmer. I returned to the pool recently, however, due to a running injury. Upon my return to swimming, I unwittingly reverted to my original swimming form, and could not figure out why I was struggling. Then, like a light bulb going on over my head, I remembered “drive your hips forward“, and it came back to me. I was amazed at how a small adjustment could make such a big impact on my swimming. It made me wonder what other areas of my life could benefit from a small adjustment.

Meditations in Motion

Gratitude is one concept that I think about often. In order to cultivate a grateful attitude, I express gratitude in several ways. I keep a gratitude journal, I say “Thank you” for the many favors and kindnesses I receive, I send thank you cards for gifts.

But is there something I could tweak to show more gratitude to those around me? Could I do some preemptive favors for my friends and family? In order to do this, I will have to pay attention in order to anticipate the needs of those close to me.

Could I give a little gift to express my gratitude? It doesn’t have to be expensive – a small plant, a jar of homemade jam, some fresh fruit.

Could I say a prayer expressing my gratitude for each day? Here is a wonderful one from the Dalai Lama:

Meditations in Motion

When I was a school teacher, it sometimes seemed the majority of my job involved being the encourager-in-chief to my little band of science fair students. I was a professional encourager, and I loved it. Encouraging people is still important to me, but is there something more that I could do? Could I make a small adjustment to be more encouraging to those around me?

I was moved to tears by this story about a fellow blogger giving encouragement (and cash) to a young waitress who needed and deserved some fortification. It inspired me to look into Prophetic Encouragement more deeply and to find ways to be a more encouraging person. Here is a good reminder for me to be more encouraging today.

Meditations in Motion

Finally, is there some improvement I could adopt to make my love for friends and family more visible? I am a multi-tasker and easily distracted by shiny objects. Could I give my loved ones more undivided attention? Could I really listen to what they are saying before trying to formulate a response?

Could I make more of an effort to be in touch with my far-flung friends and family? (Ooooh! Alliteration!) I haven’t forgotten about them. Could I show my love more frequently, more regularly?

I know that patience is a virtue, but it is one that I am sadly lacking. Could I make more of an effort to show patience to my loved ones (especially the youngest loved ones)? Could I count to 10, bite my tongue, do whatever it takes to demonstrate forbearance?

As the great philosopher Meat Loaf once sang, “I would do anything for love“.

Meditations in Motion

What do you think? Are there small tweaks that you could make in your workouts or in other areas of your life that would make a big difference to you or those around you? It may be a simple as remembering “drive your hips forward“.

 

I am linking up with the following bloggers: Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Shank You Very Much for her Global Blogging,Β  Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Char at Trekking Thru,Β  Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs Β for the Coaches’ Corner linkup, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart, Debbie at Dare 2 Hear, Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well, Anna Nuttall for her Bloggers Link Up, and A Glimpse of Our Life for Scripture and a Snapshot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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58 comments

    • I am definitely going to read it. I don’t often write book reviews, but maybe I could feature it in the monthly 4 Somethings post, where I comment on something I read. I worked as a waitress for 8 years when my children were young. I can put myself in her shoes and imagine how grateful I would have been for the blessing, the encouragement, and the extra cash. I loved her story! πŸ™‚

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  1. How true that subtle tweaks can make an enormous difference to an entire system. I’m currently discovering that when it comes to the quality of my attention. Drivin’ my attentional hips forward! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve got a copy of Chi Running in my Kindle–I plan on reading it and reviewing it this fall or winter.

    As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I spend a lot of my day encouraging my young patients and their parents. Much like you did as a teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow – you have a tough job! I admire you and your profession so much!

      I have got to take another look at Chi Running too. I think a refresher is in order!

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  3. I’ve started to express gratitude more towards myself and other and found that the more I give the more I get. It’s been such a life changing experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s really interesting how you went from a post on activity to one about gratitude.

    I think everyone can always do more. I think we all could benefit from more patience. I’m going through a somewhat stressful time at the moment, but I’m still writing in my gratitude journal every evening. There’s always something to be grateful, even when it seems the universe is after you.

    And thanks for the reminder that we need to listen and EXPRESS that gratitude — I try to, but like most, sometimes it’s easy to focus on the negative, not the positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lot of great thoughts and insights (as usual). πŸ˜‰ I started gratitude journaling last month…nothing grandaiose, but each night I list three things from the day that I’m grateful for. I have felt a lot more peace and less “annoyance” with the stuff usually brings me down. Focusing on what is good allows much less time for dwelling on the bad.

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    • Thank you so much! I love gratitude journaling, although I usually write just ONE thing each day and even then I am sporadic! It is something I do to develop a grateful attitude. I love the last sentence that you wrote!

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  6. I love how you connect sport to daily life. That’s something I have always found about sports and activity is you can pretty much pick up every life lesson from them somehow.

    Gratitude and patience are something everybody can work on (like most areas in life) but as you say the slight changes here may help in all areas of life.

    Great thoughts as always, thanks

    Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mike. Running has always been the time for me to think, reflect and solve problems. When my kids were young, it felt like my only alone time (I even had to lock the bathroom door if I wanted to pee alone!) πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such wonderful truth for today! I think, reflect, and pray while I run as well, and it is a great gift! I’m in the stage of locking the bathroom door when the little ones are here (which is always), and running is a great release! What a gift from God!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Small form tweaks (and other tweaks) can definitely make a big difference. I’m having a hard time visualizing how driving your hips forward works with swimming – guess it’s been too long since I’ve been in a pool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess I did not do a thorough job of describing it – as you move your right arm forward, you drive your right hip forward too. Same on your left side. Like a soldier crawling on his belly.

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  9. It’s funny how things come to us at the right time. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, because I’ve been feeling a little light in the gratitude department. I’ve been trying to get back into meditation too and boom, I saw your comment on my blog and decided to check your blog out and here was this terrific article. I think I’ll copy that prayer from the Dalai Lama and add that to my meditation practice (if I can get regular again). Thanks
    http://www.thismainlinelife.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think you’re absolutely right and it’s amazing how sometimes that one simple tweak can make such a huge difference! I need to think about that, not just with fitness, but in every day life.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Michele! I am so blessed by you and your encouragement. Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing what you think of my book.

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  12. Laurie, thank you so much for mentioning me with a link back in your post. I am so honored and blessed that my post touched you in such a way. I look forward to having you read my book and look forward to hearing what you think . πŸ™‚ Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m apply those small tweaks to my diet; adding in more fruits and veggies saying no more often to fatty fats and sugary sweets. Just small adjustments here and there and so far I’ve already lost 9 1/5 lbs.

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  14. Chi Running was among the first books on running I’ve read. How great that small tweak helped you improve your 5k time so much. I’m a latecomer to swimming having just learned 3 years ago. Now I’m going to try to implement the hip thing you mentioned! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Two wonderful scriptures. Your post reminds me of when I read Ann Voskamp. I was so inspired by her ideas for being more encouraging. Thank you for sharing over at Sunday Scripture Blessings, and the tip about Prophetic Encouragement.

    Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

    Liked by 1 person

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