With the pandemic continuing to rage around the world, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of hope.
Times of extra uncertainty (like now) seem to highlight those among us who seem to remain hopeful even during the darkest times, and those of us (myself included) who tend to get caught in a downward spiral of hopelessness.
But scientific research shows that while some of us may have been born with a sunnier outlook on life than others, hope is also something that you can learn.
The more you look for glimmers of hope and positivity in the world, the more you prime your brain to see both. This is why keeping a gratitude journal of some sort is such a useful strategy to help combat feelings of negativity and depression. By doing so, we train our brains to look for the good in our lives, so we start to notice more of the good and less of the bad.
As a result, we can escape the negativity spiral trap and instead find ourselves in a positivity spiral, one where we keep noticing the good, no matter our current circumstances.
The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Hope is something you can learn, a habit you can develop.
In his book, Learned Hopefulness, author Dan Tomasulo, PhD says that “hope is the result of believing that change is possible, and having the tools to make it happen.”
In short, hope gives us the feeling that we have some agency over our lives. That our actions, no matter how small, can make a difference.
That our future can be better, because we have the power to make it better.
Here’s to staying hopeful.
What I’m reading —
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
How can we live meaningful lives?
This is a question I’ve been pondering for as long as I can remember (I was a quiet kid, turned emo teenager, turned writer, so I’ve always been in my head a lot).
New York University professor Jonathan Haidt seeks to answer this question among others (Why are we here? What sort of life should we lead?) by looking at wisdom both from ancient philosophers and more recent scientific research. While the book is now over 15 years old, much of the research still holds up.
The book’s conclusion is that there is no easy answer, no one thing that will magically give our lives meaning and purpose. Instead, we have to create our own meaning, and can do so through a combination of love, work and a connection to something larger than ourselves.
What I’m listening to —
The Finding Mastery podcast with sports psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais is one of my favorites. He interviews people at the top of their game (mostly in sports, but not all) and dives into how they’ve built the mental skills to get where they are.
Olympic runner, writer, and filmmaker Alexi Pappas blew me away with her openness and authenticity in this episode. The author of Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas spoke about mental health, growing from trauma, and realizing that external accomplishments will never fill the void or lead to lasting happiness.
I really loved her insights on considering our future selves:
“When we try to imagine where we’ll be five years from now specifically, meaning I want to accomplish XYZ, we can often limit ourselves in what we’re capable of. If we plan too far in advance, we decide what we think we’re capable of. I think we’re so likely to sell ourselves short.”
Lesson: Dream big!
A quote that inspires me —
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” – Dan Gilbert
What I’m training —
I started doing hill sprints to train for my first amateur boxing fight a year and a half ago and have been hooked ever since. I’ve never been a big long-distance runner, but I’ve always enjoyed sprints because they don’t take very long to do (read: efficient) and seem to do wonders to keep my conditioning up.
Hill sprints are like regular sprints on steroids. Don’t get me wrong, they absolutely suck when you’re doing them — but then you’re done, and you feel like you just conquered the world. I try and do them two to three times a week, but even once a week is beneficial.
Here’s my typical hill sprint workout:
-Easy 10-minute jog to warm up
-Four or five rounds alternating 10s all-out sprint, 5s walk until you reach the top of the hill, jog back down and repeat
The above is for a big hill (two to four blocks). If you have a shorter hill, you can adjust the number of rounds. The entire sprint portion of the workout should take you no more than ten minutes.
Three new workouts from last week —
Last week’s workouts were from the last week in our latest community challenge.
Those of you who took the challenge and got in at least 20 workouts last month should be very proud of yourself! If you didn’t quite make it, don’t beat yourself up and take it one day at a time. Either way, let’s keep the momentum going into the rest of 2021.
Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).
As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!
Here’s to staying hopeful,
PS. I’ve really appreciated all your feedback so far on this new newsletter format and am happy that most of you seem to like it. Now I have a question for you… what should I name it? I’ve thought of something around the lines of “Movement + Mindset Mondays,” but I’d love to hear any ideas you might have!