What is gratitude? Gratitude is a reflection of thankfulness and a readiness to return kindness. It is a word that is instilled in young children around Thanksgiving; with age, however, it is a forgotten necessity that is often lost amongst a plethora of mundane tasks and responsibilities. My reminder for gratitude came in an extremely unlikely place: SoulCycle.
SoulCycle is a place, a workout class, a therapy session, and (to some) a cult.
At its core, SoulCycle is a 45 minute spin-cycling class set in a dark studio. Riders cycle to upbeat remixes of pop songs or hip hop verses with the volume set high. Instructors act as motivators, pushing class-takers to turn up their resistance and test their limits. These instructors also remind me to be mindful of my privileges and to incorporate gratitude into my life.
There is a final run in every class--the last chance to conquer some goals and peddle towards the finish line. Right before this run, most instructors will build up with high resistance and some words of wisdom. I attended a class during the peak of the California fires. I recall my instructor Nick taking some time during this ride to point out how lucky we all were--we had shelter, food, and good health. Those affected by the fires in Malibu, Paradise, and Campfire, however, did not have those basic necessities. In that moment, my exhaustion and loads of assignments back in my dorm room seemed like tiny problems.
Too often, we lose perspective. We complain about going to our 8 am classes when others would give anything to obtain a higher-ed degree. Others complain about the dinner served in the dining halls when some people suffer from lack of food security. The things that seem normal are often items that are taken for granted. Our attitudes should switch from "I have to go to class," to "I get to go to class." Incorporating daily gratitude builds an optimistic outlook on life that enriches the human experience.
So, give gratitude, and seek the reminders that inspire you to live with open arms and hearts.