Firmware Engineer, Minimalist, Improving Runner

Change How You See The World With One Word

A morning run on the Mesa Trail in Boulder

I'm going to let you in on a secret technique of mine.

It's one which has helped me overcome many difficult moments in life. When I get stuck in soul-crushing traffic. When I'm burnt out at work. When the schedule calls for 15 miles and I want to quit after the second one.

All it takes is changing ONE word. One word to change your entire view of any situation. I came across it a couple years ago and only wish I had known about it sooner.

Let me illustrate it with a story.

The Dreaded Bonk

Last summer I ran my first 50k. It was an incredible and memorable experience. But not all of it was rainbows and unicorns.

I bonked absurdly hard at Mile 24. All my energy had vanished. My legs could barely move. I just wanted it to end and to lay in bed somewhere with a bag of Cheetos.

This is so terrible, I told myself. I have to keep running though. I have to keep suffering. I have to push through.

Then I laughed at how silly that sounded. Because there I was, in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, experiencing Colorado in a way that very few people get to.

The weather was gorgeous. The air was remarkably fresh. I was healthy with a capable body. Even my siblings were waiting for me at the finish!

How many people would give anything to switch spots with me? To them, they'd probably feel this moment was a gift. Something to be appreciated. That they get to run this race.

Once I grasped this fact, my view of the race changed dramatically. It helped me overcome any hill or low points I encountered, and ultimately led to a 6:57 finish.

You Don't Have To, You Get To

It's as simple as it sounds. Instead of always thinking you "have" to do something, switch the word with you "get" to do it.

  • I get to go to the gym
  • I get to drive to work
  • I get to eat vegetables
  • I get to practice the piano
  • I get to take care of and raise my kids
  • I get to see my parents each week
  • I get to celebrate Valentine's day with my significant other
  • I get to do homework for college

It seems silly at first. I get to do college homework? Why would I be happy about that.

Then you realize there are people who'd love the opportunity and chance to attend college, but can't due to finances or a life situation. People who have a desperate desire to learn, but are stuck working long shifts to provide for their loved ones.

Suddenly, what seemed like a chore just 5 minutes ago has transformed into a reward. You savor solving your Linear Equations now. You can't wait to try the new Fourier Transform you saw in class.

What a difference a word makes.

The Power Of Gratitude

Sometimes, I get so caught up in the day-to-day routine that I fail to appreciate the little things. It's easy to forget how good I have it or how lucky I am.

That's why this technique has helped so much. Because it gives me the chance to be thankful for whatever I'm doing. A moment to subconsciously practice gratitude without all the journals and rituals.

As I applied it to more situations, I began to feel a calm and positive flow in how I went about life. No longer did little things ruin my day (as easily). Instead, I found myself smiling more. Feeling lighter and happier.

When you're grateful for what you have, your perspective on life changes for the better. Just sharing a pizza with a friend after a run can feel like winning the lottery.

It's been so impactful, that sometimes I feel I've unlocked one of life's great secrets. Like I'm seeing things in a different light now.

Did Neo find the secret in The Matrix too?

Give It A Try

Words make a huge difference in our attitude and behavior. Using the right ones can provide gratitude and humility to shape any endeavor we face in positive ways.

Yes, life doesn't always go as planned. There will be many situations we can't change.

What we can control, however, is how we react to them. We can choose to get angry, to suffer, to complain. Or we can choose to change our perspective and appreciate those moments.

People often ask me why I like running so much. There's so many reasons, I usually say, before rattling off a couple.

But the true and honest answer every time, is simply because "I get to".