While on my journey to uncover what was next, now that my youngest of three children left for college, I was struck by an overwhelming reminder about the importance of being grateful everyday for where I was and what I had in my life as opposed to focusing so much on what was now missing.
I have always been grateful and so incredibly blessed but when hit with a big change in life, I found it can be hard to practice gratitude. At least for myself, this was the case. I also discovered it’s so much more than just being grateful, you must PRACTICE being grateful.
SELF HELP JUNKIE
This all happened one day while I was doing some research online (Yes, I’m a self help junkie so this is a daily ritual for me). There is an overwhelming amount of science behind the correlation between overall happiness and practicing gratitude. Studies have shown that those who frequently feel an authentic level of specific gratefulness have so much MORE....MORE happiness, MORE social connections, MORE optimism, and MORE energy.
Being where I was at the time that I read about the studies on gratitude (feeling pretty unsure of what’s next and not very happy), I decided that I would try and make this a new daily practice of mine. At this point, I knew I needed to do some more research to figure out the best, most effective ways of doing this….(again can’t help myself, part of my daily ritual).
It was soon clear that most "experts" all had this one common component that their research found was the most effective way of practicing gratitude...Journaling! I also found a pretty consistent trend in the recommended ways of getting the most out of your time journaling in an effort to be the most grateful. Check out the infographic at the end of the blog to see what they recommended.
I TRIED IT...I DID IT...I'M HAPPIER!
I found that following the steps that the "experts" recommended on a daily basis, has made a huge impact on my happiness and my ability to discover and love what’s next. It was so powerful that practicing gratitude is a foundational element to a participant's success in the Love What’s Next Project. In my experience, I found that you can’t effectively achieve big dreams or fully redefine your normal until you have a strong grasp on gratitude and practice it regularly. This can be as simple as knowing and acknowledging those little things that bring you Simple Bliss each day or taking a minute to authentically tell a friend how much you appreciate them for the joy they bring into your life. Gratitude propels you towards your future goals and lays the seeds for change because of the foundation of positive emotions one gets from being grateful for what they have NOW.
Just last summer, I discovered that I really enjoy mountain biking. Friends and family had been urging me to try it for the last 20 years, so as a part of my journey and “pursuits” I finally decided to give it a try. Yes, as any of you cyclists already know, the first couple of rides were definitely a bit shocking to my lungs and my legs! Outside of those first impressions, I realized that this was going to be a blast and incredibly empowering! I truly LOVE IT!
ATTEMPT TO RIDE AROUND THE WORLD!
Because my “what’s next” includes sharing inspirational stories of fascinating humans who take this notion of a “pursuit” to a whole new level than I could ever imagine, today I am sharing the story of Annie Cohen Kopchovsky. Haven’t heard of her? Don’t feel bad, many haven’t…. but, she is someone you won’t soon forget!
Annie, better known as Annie Londonderry, became the first woman to circumnavigate the world by riding her bicycle “around the world” (across many of the continents north of the equator). More incredible than the simple athletic skill of doing this is that this amazing feat took place long ago in our history of America. At this point in history, when Annie set out on this amazing adventure, no woman had attempted to even ride a bike across the United States on a bicycle let alone the world!
The stories vary as to “why” Annie did this. Some say it was simply a publicity stunt for money, others say it was to support the women's equality movements of that time, while others said she simply had an adventurous spirit that was more bold than her desire to stay at home and tend to her family. The most commonly accepted version of this story has her being a part of a bet whereby two wealthy Boston businessmen bet $10,000 - $20,000 that no woman could travel around the world by bicycle (a feat that had been accomplished by a man just a few years earlier). The simple rules of this bet were that she had to circumnavigate the world on a bike and on top of that had to find a way to earn $5000 above her expenses along the way and finish her trip within 15 months. It is important to add in here that at this point in history, bets like this were the latest rage. Some bets and stunts were completely fake while others, like Annie’s, were real. (The only “fine print” on this bet was the fact that it didn’t specify how many miles she had to to be on the bicycle.)
BIKE 9 HOURS A DAY IN A DRESS...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
A French newspaper reported that she started in Boston with a 42 pound Columbia brand bicycle ($100 value) and $500 in cash for initial expenses. Annie would often ride 9 hours a day, dressed in the traditional long dresses that women in that day wore. We might never know her true reason for tackling this unbelievable adventure but it is important to note that so many things going on at this point in American history: Women’s equality measures were boldly moving forward, sweeping changes to traditional women’s dress attire were speeding ahead and the rise of the bicycle, (with 2 Million of them being sold per year) was changing the mobility of Americans in general. Some even say that an industrialist manufacturer of bicycles in Boston was the driving force behind this whole concept simply to bring awareness to his brand. Regardless of what factored into Annie’s decision to take on this challenge, the sheer volume of ways that this could go horribly wrong would have been enough for me to immediately take a “pass” on this adventure.
SHE CRUSHED IT!
Records show that Annie completed this challenge in just under 15 months! She proved that not only could she withstand the athletic demands of this adventure but also make her way, stay safe, and earn a rewarding stockpile of fees from her lecture fees along the way. This inventive genius is not only one of the most outrageous chapters in cycling history but she arguably might be one of the most colorful characters in America’s history.
While Lewis and Clark ushered in the 19th century with their famed travels through the Louisiana purchase territories starting in 1803, Annie Londonderry helped close out the 19th century travel feats when she completed her journey around the world in September of 1895! It is reported she made liberal use of steamships and trains at certain points on her journey but I am none the less impressed! She went on to write sensational articles for a publication called “New York World” and then retreated to family life raising her three children.
MORAL OF THE STORY
To me, the moral of this story isn't about having to ride your bike around the world in order to redefine YOUR normal. The moral of this story is to inspire you to be MORE adventurous and open to new “pursuits” so you can experience more of what life has to offer. This is where you will find MORE joy and how to love what’s next.
If you know someone inspiring that I should write about or have a story to share, leave a comment below. I would LOVE to hear from you!
I am so inspired by people who make positive and bold moves as they answer their question of “what’s next ?”. An old colleague shared her “next” with us and I was so excited for her as well as inspired! With her youngest graduating from high school next month she and her husband are looking at the next phase of their life, being empty nesters. As she tells it, they were watching an HGTV segment about homes in the Appalachian Mountains. It inspired them to look online at properties in this area. They found a house they wanted to take a look at so they jumped in the car and made the drive from Texas to Georgia. After seeing the house in person, they fell in love! While driving home they decided that this house on the river was what was “next” for them. They both have successful careers and work from home so making this move was not only possible, it was practical since this new home had everything they needed and more...including a guest cottage for her mom.
After double checking to make sure it had wifi, they did it…. They put in the offer as they drove home. This will be their “Next”.
Similarly, birthdays (especially as we get older) seem to be times when we naturally spend a bit more time reflecting. Although this next story is way outside of anything that I might personally be considering in my “what’s next”, I could not help but be motivated by a school friend of mine sharing the story of his mother on her 70th birthday skydiving and “showing nearly perfect form” in her tandem jump with the instructor. Ok, I will admit, it is hard to imagine THAT being on my list of considerations for MY what’s next but it was on hers and SHE DID IT! Wow! I am so inspired by her and she is on the top of my list to interview! Go Mrs. Elliott!!!
Considering and defining your “what’s next” doesn’t have to mean a move to a cabin in the woods or a terrifying step out of an airplane mid-flight. Instead, like I found on my journey, it can consists of some short, simple, yet fun challenges that help you to redefine YOUR normal.
Join us and explore more of what life has to offer. OUR FREE PROJECT shows how simple little changes in your life can make a big impact on your happiness and discovering simple things may lead you to your “next". Begin Now and REDEFINE NORMAL!
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Nicole Cavey is the Chief Pursuit Officer of Love What's Next. Through her personal journey to uncover what was next for her, she discovered that you can love where you are no matter what stage in life you are in... as long as you know how. Her mission is to show YOU how!