Pastor David's Thought For The Weekby Pastor David Alexander
In her research as a professor of social psychology at Northwestern University, Dr. Vicki Medvec made a fascinating discovery about how Olympic athletes feel about their individual achievements.
In a 2016 article published by Forbes during the Summer Olympics in Rio, she wrote,
“For Olympic athletes, nothing shines quite like gold. Silver, while still impressive, is often tarnished with thoughts of what might have been… Curiously, the opposite is generally true for bronze medalists, for whom the ‘what could have been’ is fourth place with no medal at all. Happy to be on the podium, third-place finishers generally feel pleased with their performance.”
She refers to this surprising insight as the impact of “counterfactual thinking.” To describe this way of thinking she writes in that same article, “counterfactual thoughts lead those who perform better to feel worse than those they outperform.”
Another writer describes her research in this way.
“According to Medvec's study, silver medalists have a tendency to focus on how closely they came to winning gold. Their silver medal is a reminder of how they failed to win. On the other hand, bronze medalists usually focus on how closely they came to winning nothing at all. They are simply grateful to have a medal.”
It is a fascinating discovery. Those who bring home a silver often cannot forget how close they came to the ultimate prize.
Bronze medalists are simply grateful to have a medal.
To begin our new series entitled, Double Blessing, I invited you to join me in a 21-day challenge of writing down three things each day for which you are grateful. The additional constraint I offered to increase that challenge was that each of those 63 things had to be unique.
In other words, I can write down that I am grateful for the dairy cows in the area surrounding Brenham, Texas that help make Blue Bell ice cream, but I can only use that once.
And just in case you have not started the challenge or are hearing this for the first time, feel free to simply start today!
It is surprising to recognize how powerfully our focus determines our perspective, shapes our thinking, and influences the posture of our hearts. If you want to find something to complain about, it is actually remarkably easy, and of course, the opposite is also true.
You can define your life by the disappointment of what might have been or gratitude for what has occurred. You can focus on what is missing or center your living around what you have received.
You can live with the heart of a silver medalist or the heart of one who brings home the bronze.
And realizing that this is actually a choice you get to make can radically change your life.
I would love to hear what you have identified as “worthy of praise” in your life. If you have one you would like to share, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply hit reply to this note.
And by the way, you are one of my 63.
I’m proud of you,