On Gratitude

Gratitude is a muscle; the more you flex it, the easier it becomes to be grateful. Negativity and pessimism are no different. The more negative you are, well you get it…

It’s interesting how often people choose pessimism, especially when the benefits of gratitude are so numerous. A steady diet of gratitude:

  • Improves physical health;
  • Improves psychological health;
  • Enhances empathy and reduces aggression;
  • Helps you sleep more deeply and for longer periods of time; and
  • Improves self esteem and increases mental strength.

Don’t believe me? Read this and the linked studies. Now that I’ve hard-sold gratitude, allow me a few more paragraphs of your attention to apply it to our beloved Bearcats.

Coming into this football season, it was unclear whether Coach Luke Fickell had made any progress with the team since taking over. The 2016 Bearcats stumbled through Tommy Tuberville’s last season and finished 4-8. Likewise, the 2017 Bearcats, Fickell’s first season, showed little promise. Though the team finished 4-8, a few of those wins were a play away from being losses (for what could’ve been a catastrophic 1-11 season). Privately, I worried the team regressed his first year.

Everything Fickell said was fine. It sounded like the things a new leader might say, even if it bordered on stereotypical coach-speak (i.e., Toughness, #JUICE, Let It Fly, and Together Everyone Achieves More). Fickell went the extra step of having one of his mottos – T.E.A.M. – stitched across the back of each of his UC vests. But mottos weren’t winning football games in 2017.

In 2018, the mottos were an overtime-road-loss-against-Temple away from winning eleven games. Fickell’s mottos brainwashed the players into outperforming expectations, including mine. In early August at Camp Higher Ground, I would’ve been thrilled with six or more wins. Thrilled. Now, in December I am hammered drunk off a ten win regular season, and I’m considering having “T.E.A.M.” stitched across the back of all my suit coats.

On New Year’s Eve, the 10-2 Bearcats will try to polish off an outstanding 2018 campaign by beating Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl. The game is played in Annapolis, Maryland, which is a mere five hour drive from Tech’s Blacksburg, Virginia campus. While it sets up as a home game for the Hokies, I like UC’s chances to prevail in that game and to carry forward this season’s success into the offseason.

When I traveled to Los Angeles for the season opener against UCLA, I harbored low expectations. To now venture into bowl season in pursuit of an eleventh win, I’m feeling almost greedy. And overwhelmingly grateful.

One of the disciplines I’ve tried to incorporate into my daily rituals is to jot down a few things I’m grateful for just before I go to sleep. I keep a disheveled stack of notepads on my bedside table which basically form something of a gratitude journal. Alongside references to warm thoughts of family, friends, clients, and career you’ll find notations about a Bearcats team that made fall Saturdays fun and a coach who inspires. Thanks for reading.

By Brian Fox

For more, follow B. Fox on Twitter @BearcatsRadio.