When confronted with hardships, it’s all too common to see life through a pessimistic lens, like a half-empty glass. That’s precisely how I viewed my circumstances just over two months ago when I made the tough decision to step away from competitive golf. However, as I continued to practice gratitude, a realization dawned on me: life is, in fact, abundant rather than scarce. In today’s newsletter, I dive into the journey that led me to this revelation.

How Gratitude Lifted Me from Hardship in Golf

Just over two months ago, my life hit a metaphorical stop sign and fork in the road in the world of golf, and the days that followed were marked by a sense of purposelessness. In one of my most popular posts, “The Twists and Turns I’ve Taken: What Lies Ahead and the Lessons I’ve Learned,” I candidly discussed the hardship I faced while navigating a career-altering injury.

I’m sure many of you can relate; when our plans are derailed, it can be a tough reality to accept. It becomes an all-consuming challenge that we wake up every morning trying to conquer. As a result, we find ourselves overly focused on the difficulties ahead and lose sight of the reasons for gratitude in our lives.

For the initial two weeks away from competitive golf, I locked myself in this mindset, unable to see beyond the difficulties that clouded my vision. My thoughts were plagued with questions about how I reached this point, creating a constant haze of self-pity around me, visible both to myself and my loved ones.

However, it was during these two weeks that I had a profound realization. My life, despite its challenges, is actually pretty amazing, and it was embarrassing to waste my days wondering why me?

To shift my perspective, I decided to take inventory of all the areas in my life that were flourishing beyond my career:

  1. My family’s love and support were pillars of strength during this time. Most importantly, being newly married, I now wake up each day to the smile of my best friend. Our time together, which was a rarity while I was playing golf, has allowed us to share incredible experiences and overcome hardships together, strengthening our bond.
  1. This unexpected challenge presented hidden opportunities. With time on my hands, I could explore new avenues and interests. God gave me eyes to see, read and observe the world around me. The vast resources of the internet empowered me to delve into any topic of interest. I found the mental space and creative energy to pursue my curiosities.
  1. Despite the injury that took me away from golf, I am grateful for my overall health. The break from constant travel presented an opportunity to concentrate on enhancing my well-being and adopting healthier routines. Since I couldn’t engage in upper body workouts, I made a decision to conquer cardiovascular fitness and took up running—an area of weakness that I had never been motivated to improve before.
  1. The freedom to participate in family celebrations, enjoy gatherings with friends, and embark on spontaneous trips, which were once declined due to my demanding golf schedule, filled my life with joyful moments.
  1. Golf has always been an integral part of my identity. So, when it was suddenly taken away, feelings of worthlessness began to creep in. However, I quickly caught myself and started questioning who I truly am. I came to the realization that while golf holds significance in my life, it’s just one aspect of my identity. Its absence offered an opportunity for a journey of self-discovery, which I’ll elaborate on later. Engaging in profound reflection and learning more about myself will undoubtedly strengthen me as I navigate my future.

In this quest for personal growth, I read the wisdom of one of my favorite authors, Jon Gordon, who beautifully illustrated the power of gratitude in his new book, The One Truth:

“Since you can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time, when you practice gratitude you counter the stress that drains you. Instead of focusing on what you lack, you appreciate what you have. Instead of feeling small, you are thankful for it all. Instead of a scarcity mindset where you don’t feel like you are enough or don’t have enough, you develop an abundance mindset. I’m convinced abundance flows into your life when gratitude flows out of your heart. When you feel connected to and thankful for everything, you tap into the greater power that gives you everything you need. Where stress and entitlement cut off the flow of positive energy into your life, gratitude for things big and small connects you to it all.”

Embracing gratitude became my guiding light. By shifting my focus from what I couldn’t pursue at that moment to all the other essential aspects of my life that needed nurturing, I gained newfound clarity and motivation.

If you ever find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place, and it feels impossible to recognize the goodness in life, take a moment to zoom out and appreciate the things you have to be grateful for—no matter how small. Whether it’s savoring your favorite coffee in the morning (a top pick on my list!) or cherishing the most important elements of life like faith, family, and fulfillment, gratitude can lead you out of darkness and into the light.

Remember, seeing life as the glass half full, rather than half empty, opens doors to possibilities and opportunities. And although it may sound like a cliché, it holds an immense truth—one that often requires a gentle reminder to appreciate the abundance surrounding us.

The Good Stuff

The author I mentioned earlier, Jon Gordon, hosts a podcast called “Positive University.” In line with today’s newsletter theme, I’d like to share one of his inspiring episodes featuring an incredible overcomer, Patric Young. Patric, a former basketball player at the University of Florida, encountered a life-altering car crash. Despite this adversity, he serves as a prime example of using challenges and difficult situations to forge opportunities and discover a greater purpose.

Listen to the full podcast here.