Part 5: Think Thanks Tank
Looking at the list of topics I included in Part 3 of my Blog, today was originally slated to be called “Exercise in Perspective”. Having thought about this I realise I have little to say about exercise and frankly am so under qualified to talk about it! What I can say is that I am exercising more in both volume and efficacy. I have a great set up in my garage with a rowing machine, mag-bike and space to do core exercises – which have become a much bigger part of my exercise routine. In the absence of swimming I think the rowing machine is one of the best all round workouts. I regularly go for a good walk (8km+) and right now itching to get back in to the mountains! Happy to share more as needed – message me if you want to chat!
I also realise that the last couple of blogs have been quite heavy - sharing information and data about things I am learning and have genuine enthusiasm for. So today I have decided to take a more open sharing approach.
A couple of references but mostly just my thoughts.
I have shared a lot about health! Mainly eating health and the effect of this on the health of the planet etc. I have been feeling good and am excited to talk about it. BUT, being honest, in the last 2 weeks I have experienced a little bit of a set back. Lockdown has been several steps forward, but definitely one step back recently! I think too that it’s important to share the setbacks, especially given that one of my favourite podcasts is “How to Fail with Elizabeth Day”. This is a fail for sure, and one of thousands over the years!
A few weeks ago I foolishly, yet enthusiastically, threw this large old body on to a slip and slide (9m strip of tarpaulin + water + detergent) we made in the garden and hurt my chest – possibly cracked a rib or torn an intercostal muscle. Chest injuries like this take forever to heal and are very easily aggravated, just turning over in my sleep one night and over reaching for something really hurts and each incident seems to set me back a few days. This has meant doing much less exercise and some of my arthritis type aggravations have returned. WTF!
The image below is a screen shot from a video of my second attempt - having done the damage on the first go! I was hoping the tube wouldn’t burst and putting on a brave face. FAIL!
I addition to this I applied for a new job! I have been reflecting on my current balance of work – 50% SRL employed locum optometry and 50% looking after Greepers Ltd. Being in lockdown made me reflect on the self employed situation and whether or not I’d be better off in employment? Both have benefits and both have disadvantages. I did not get the job but am glad I applied. Those of you who know me well know that, once I decide that something might be a good idea, I do it straight away. I do not think about it for days and weeks going over a million “what if’s”. It’s my way and sometimes helps and sometimes doesn’t. It can lead to a lot of mistakes but the opposite can lead to a lot of missed opportunities! It’s the way I’m wired!
I did a phone interview and felt I represented myself well. I know there are gaps in my optometry CV and I also have great experience that was very relevant to the job, but it was not to be. I was frustrated for about half an hour (while I dealt with my pride, embarrassment, shame etc) and then moved on!
So let’s come back to the title I have given this blog – Think Thanks Tank! Come on, who does not love a good alliteration and especially one that’s a little bit of a tongue twister to boot! (OK, yes, probably too proud of it!) Of course it’s a play on words and embraces aspects of a number of ideas that I’d like to chat about here.
It’s these kind of things…
· Attitude of Gratitude
· Positive Mental Attitude
· Always look of the bright side of life
· Glass half full
It’s these kind of things but not exactly. However, what it definitely is NOT is the philosophy of the contents of that rather loathsome book The Secret – that expounds the Law of Attraction – which in essence says think positive thoughts and good things will happen. If you want a new car, think it and before you know it you’ll have a new car! This is the first book I have ever sent back to Amazon. It’s ridiculous in my opinion, and if you want a helpful commentary on it I’d recommend the book Happy by Derren Brown who takes time to dissect it and other dodgy “positive” approaches in the second chapter entitled “the problem with being positive”.
What do I mean by Think Thanks Tank? For me it’s about building a think tank of gratitude that can form a solid base/foundation on which, and in part, life is built and supported. It’s more than being grateful, or having a positive attitude in situations. There is an important element that involves practice!
To be good or even great at something takes practice. You may be naturally skilled or inclined to certain personality traits and behaviours, but add practice to them and skills and abilities improve and can become “second nature”. I recognise that I am naturally positive and optimistic, but that in and of itself does not make for a solid foundation. I still need to practice – be a practitioner of gratitude.
Over the years, at times, many people have told me very lovely things about me – using words like solid, dependable, safe and that I have presence. People have commented that I live up to my name Peter which means rock (I have also lived up to Mr Greedy well at times too!). This is very kind and there are probably some natural characteristics and behaviours that support this, but it’s not all just how I came out the womb! Think about the spontaneity I have to “decide and act” that I referred to earlier. Ask Jess, this doesn’t support the rock like nature!
I believe I have made choices to develop my Think Thanks Tank. For me this “tank” has two clear aspects.
1. It is a foundation on which to build and from which to launch.
2. It’s an anchor in the storm to which I can cling.
The tank needs to filled up and the fuel gets burned up too. To use a car analogy (which I have just thought of), it costs to put fuel in, if you run out the engine stops so best not to get too close to empty, you’ll always get further on a full tank, and the fuel is most efficient and so gets depleted more slowly when not driving like a bat out of hell!
To be clear – the fuel I am talking about here is gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for and I’m guessing if you’re still reading this, so do you! (Just the fact you have access to the internet, a device and time to access it are three things to be grateful for.) I am not going to go on about being grateful itself, you only need to ponder for a short while, and count your blessings. And there’s a ton of helpful material out there on this subject.
What I want to emphasise is simply the importance of the discipline and practice of gratefulness. To use the analogy of learning a physical skill, be it a sports skill, a trade skill, a craft skill, a cooking skill etc. Do it over and over again and you both get better at it and it becomes second nature as muscle memory and coordination improves.
I am always awed by a skilled craftsman. I remember at a very young age watching my uncle Gordon who was an upholsterer grabbing a handful of tacks, throwing them in his mouth and then spitting the tacks on to the end of his magnetic hammer and with a single blow precisely hammering the tacks in an even straight line along the edge of the underside of the chair he was working on. He was like a robot and it was genius! Such skill. But how many times did he practice that process before he was able to perform it like that?
My point is simple – if you practice you develop a kind of autopilot whereby you fill the tank without even knowing it! You maintain a level of fuel that keeps you going, sometimes you need to go fast, other times you can cruise. It becomes a foundation on which you can build and an anchor to cling to in a storm.
As I went through my minor frustrations in the last few weeks, having made some great progress, I never felt ungrateful. The practice has paid off and when other challenges come along my Think Thanks Tank should be fuelled up. At least I certainly hope so.
To finish, I simply say thanks! Thanks for reading this, for being a friend, for encouraging me.
Book - Happy by Derek Brown.
Podcast - How to Fail with Elizabeth Day.