It's been nearly three weeks. Super Bowl LII is history. Tom Brady and the Patriots lost. Of course, you knew that. What you may not know is what was going through Brady's mind in the aftermath of that loss.
I should get one thing out of the way before I go any further. I'm from Boston but I'm not a rapid sports fan and I don't have a Patriotic allegiance to Brady. Besides, let's face it, Brady and the Pats have not won the hearts of many outside of New England. So, holding out Tom Brady as any kind of role model has inherent risks, to say the least.
Still, there are lessons that can be learned in how to handle loss, regardless of who it is that's doing the teaching.
Brady's post (shown below) captures what I believe is the one emotion which is the most elusive and yet also the most necessary when dealing with any kind of loss--in fact, it may very well be the most powerful of all emotions; gratitude.
When we lose something or someone the last thing we want to feel is grateful. It's much easier to feel anger, blame, rage, persecution, unfairness, and a range of emotions that only serve to distance us from the one inevitable and indisputable fact that we lost.
This doesn't just apply to sports. A dear friend once shared with me how when he lost his mother he fell into a deep depression. He finally pulled himself out by turning to gratitude as a strategy. So powerful was his experience that he even went so far as to establish a foundation dedicated to helping others show gratitude at GratitudeSpace.com
How can anyone be grateful for loss? The power is not in being grateful for the loss--though every loss teaches us something--but rather in being grateful for those things that we still have despite the loss. These are the things that loss cannot take away from us; the people who support us, friends and loved ones, the opportunities and experiences we have had and will have, the ability to find resilience and courage, the ability to help raise others from their suffering, the simple fact that you are here to talk about what you're grateful for.
But here's the key, and what is most important to take away from Brady's post, gratitude is meaningless if it's kept under wraps. You need to express it to activate it. Actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a riding accident, said it best, "Gratitude, like love, needs to be active."
So, here's a simple question; when was the last time you expressed gratitude in the face of adversity? How many people are you grateful to for helping you through tough times but who will never know it?
Being grateful and sharing gratitude is a stunningly simple thing, and yet it may be the single most important thing to keep in mind when the world seems to conspire against us.
So, the next time you or the world falls short of your expectations, and before you rage (or very shortly thereafter), try showing some gratitude for the lessons learned, the people who are still there to stand by you, and the opportunity to be here and the choice to try again.