A Starbucks Grande Lava & the art of Gratitude Practice…


coaches corner

In my sport and performance pyschology practice, I ask athletes what they are grateful for. They often give me the “Thanksgiving prayer” list. They will say,

“I am grateful for my family, for my house, for food…”

You don’t say…

Those are good things to be grateful for, for sure. I wonder though, are they actively aware of and grateful for those things? I think those are just big-ticket items we are supposed to be grateful for, so most people rattle them off first. When probed for what else they are grateful for, most people get stuck.

Gratitude practice is a thing.

I recommend it.

It isn’t “practice,” like in sports, where you do it until you get better at it (but that is what happens). It is more like “putting it into practice,” as in making it a consistent part of your day.

It isn’t about gratitude for the big-ticket items only. It is about finding something to be grateful for in everything.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t see how adults choked down coffee. The smell, the taste… just plain awful.

Now coffee is in my top 5 non-human loves. To be honest, it’s usually in a tie with Prince, Kiss, and the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall for numero uno.

When I go to Starbucks, and get a Grande Dark Roast, I get excited. The first 5 minutes are agony caused by many failed attempts to drink it. I want it so bad, but all I can do that suck the vapor out of the little hole in the lid because the temperature of the coffee is in the range of lava. I get it so close, risking a lip and roof of mouth burn that kills the taste buds for hours.

Once that first non-face melting sip, though…


I’m not saying go get coffee and be grateful for it (unless that’s your thing). I am saying lean into things you like and recognize them as awesome. Hug someone, smell bread baking, find reasons that being alive kicks ass.

Are you wondering what does this hippy-dippy, kumbyah stuff has to do with peak performance?

There are neurological effects to gratitude practice. It keeps the brain from being narrowly focused on problems. It perpetuates optimism and creates positive affect (good feelings).

Positive affect spurs athletic performance, creativity, and a positive attitude.

A person who is grateful will see solutions, be physically looser, and be a peak performer. This includes athletes, parents, and coaches.

Here’s another example for me to model the process for you:

The smell of fresh-cut grass reminds of playing Pop Warner football… it takes me right back to the sights, sounds, and feelings of Saturday morning when I was 12. I am grateful for that smell.

Now you… tell me one thing you are grateful for so far today.

I am Dr J. I help folks get their “Mind Right” through my sport & performance psychology practice.
I work face-to-face or through Zoom. I also offer comprehensive online sport psychology programs, one for athletes, and one for parents of athletes.
Check out my website getyourmindright.us, for more info, or email me at justin@getyourmindright.us

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