As the men's tennis
season continues on, senior Stefan Menichella takes a lighthearted look at how
the idea of gratitude makes him a better tennis player:
Stefan Menichella is the name and tennis is my game. Due to the fact that as a busy student-athlete I never felt the need to voluntarily accept yet another homework assignment, this is my first time writing for the Competing with Purpose blog. However, I am now a second-semester senior and am taking only two classes, so if you or your friends have any homework you don't want to do, just send it my way. Just kidding! All right. Done with my lighthearted intro. Let's get philosophical, shall we?
One cannot explain to an incoming freshman just how much they will learn, grow and develop during these four years. Freshmen, many of you might as well be embryos right now. As a veteran student-athlete on his way out of the college sports scene, if I were to give these young impressionable ears any piece of advice it would be to remain grateful.
Being grateful is the most enjoyable form of acceptance. It's difficult to be worried about past mistakes or future challenges or to be angry with yourself or anyone else when you embody a strong sense of gratitude. Gratitude requires you to expand your perspective and allows you to reside in the present moment.
You may be thinking something along the lines of, "Stefan, enough with this hippie nonsense. Shouldn't you be writing about tennis instead of telling me how to feel?" To answer your question ... probably. But patience, I'm getting to that.
With my college tennis career nearing its end, I have only recently begun to feel truly grateful for each day, practice, match and workout. I have begun to recognize that each day is another opportunity to improve and enjoy doing something I love alongside my closest friends. I'm alive, in good physical condition, above-average looking (up for debate), and I get to run, compete and hit a fuzzy yellow tennis ball several hours a day with my boys!
Largely due to this newly discovered feeling of gratitude, I have been playing matches with more calmness, focus and confidence. This isn't just me talking, however. There is conclusive scientific evidence from MRI scans of the brain that shows that the feeling of gratitude has a significant positive impact on our nervous system. Gratitude allows tension to exit your muscles and stress to leave your brain. As it turns out, these effects have a profoundly positive impact on one's tennis game.
Gratitude helps you play more freely with less concern about results and other things out of your control. This frees up your mind to focus on things that you can control such as strategy or technique. If you made it this far, I'm going to leave you with this: sports and life, in general, become significantly more enjoyable when you are grateful and see everything from a broader perspective.