Gratitude Defines The Life of Second Most Accomplished Athlete of All-Time

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When someone is looking to excel at something, it’s sometimes useful to look at the path someone else took in order to achieve that goal. If you want to be a great basketball player, look into the training regimens of athletes like LeBron James or Michael Jordan. If you are looking to become a great football player, take a look at the way players like Ray Lewis, Peyton Manning and Jerry Rice prepare both mentally and physically for a game. If you want to improve the way you live your life, take a look at this article to read what ‘gratitude’ means to Cael Sanderson.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Cael is the number one ranked collegiate wrestler of all time. His statistics were pure dominance in one of the most physically grueling sports an athlete can compete in. Through his time at Iowa State University, Cael went 39-0, 40-0, 40-0, and finished his senior campaign with a perfect 40-0 record.  In his career, some of his accolades are a four-time National Champion, three time Dan Hodge outstanding wrestler award, and even made it on the cover of “Wheaties” in 1998. After his collegiate career, Cael received a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece and currently serves as the head wrestling coach at Penn State.

In Cael’s own words, the word ‘gratitude’ means, “that you think less about yourself.” It seems a little odd for a man who went 159-0 in college, who won four national championships and who won the Dan Hodges Award for the nation’s best wrestler three times to base his entire being around thinking less about himself.

To many people, success in sports is viewed as caring about a goal so much that and individual is willing to sacrifice everything in order to attain that goal. Players like Reggie Miller talk about how isolation, devout training, and discipline to oneself is the true mark of one’s commitment to their craft. In an era of time when every form of societal structures preaches independent success and focusing on “me” it’s contradicting to hear Cael Sanderson defines his life and success to “thinking less about yourself”.

In order to explain Cael’s ideology, it must be noted that there is a big difference between thinking less about yourself, and thinking less of yourself. Cael is not a proponent of thinking less of yourself. You need to have high self-efficacy and trust in your training in all aspects of your life. The difference is that when you think less of yourself, other people and situations take priority in your life. When you think less about yourself and spend more time thinking of others, Cael believes that you begin to value every second of the day. You value every interaction with a loved one and every action you commit.

The thought is that when you think less about yourself you spend more time thinking of other people, you begin to work harder and hae a true desire for others to succeed.  The idea of gratitude goes hand in hand with humility. When someone spends time thinking less of themselves and more about others they make sure they make the most out of every moment.

The Cael’s transition from player to four-time national champion coach, was challenging. It went from focusing even less on himself, and more on others.  Cael believes that in order to lead others you must show gratitude through your own life

A challenge to the view of gratitude is the thought that when someone shows it, society often connects them with being passive and lacking desire.  In Cael’s mind, gratitude is the opposite. When someone is truly grateful for their life, they have a fire inside of them that will burn brighter than those that are fueled by self-fulfillment.

The thought of gratitude is a nice, but how do you implement that into your daily life? When you face something that seems insurmountable, are you supposed to be grateful for that obstacle hurled your way?  The idea of gratitude is a constant decision to remain positive. As Cael describes it, it is a constant wrestling match in your head.  Negative thoughts sometime outweigh the positive – and that is normal. The thing to keep in mind is that when you truly are grateful, you have a constant mindset of thanks. You are willing to take the obstacles head on because you have a driving force behind you that is bigger than yourself.

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