Have you ever just felt a little off? Do you ever ask yourself “why can’t we get this place where I know it can be?” Many great entrepreneurs experience this feeling regularly. It’s normal. One of my coaches, Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach, calls it living in the “gap”. The “gap ” is when you recognize how far you currently are from the ideal. He also explained that living in the “gap” is very dangerous. You have to mind the “gap.” When you remain in the gap you may not enjoy the realities of the moment and just keep wishing for more.
I’m no different than you! I experience the feeling of living in the “gap” several times a week, sometimes even several times a day. Here’s the thing, I love growing. As a matter of fact, one of our core values here at ACT Dental is “always be growing.” One of my favorite ways to grow is to host podcasts with amazing people, and be a guest on others’ podcasts as well! I learned what my why was in a recent podcast with Dr. Gary Sanchez: “To find a better way of doing things.” It was a reminder to me that I can always be better, make the world better while also using the only anecdote: by saying “it’s good enough……for today.”
Another realization I had as an entrepreneur is that not everyone thinks the way I do. There are three things I must constantly continue to be successful.
- Recognize and be aware of the “gap.”
- Keep us moving forward.
- Keep everyone in a healthy place rather than constantly experiencing the negativity of the “gap.”
How is this accomplished? By simply practicing gratitude! This morning I woke up and I realized, I’m 51 years old, but I’m alive and I’m healthy. I have an amazing wife and she is healthy. My kids are all home for Thanksgiving. How awesome is that? Sarah’s parents are still alive and healthy and so are mine. We’re going to have a house full of people this weekend for Thanksgiving. I live in this great country called America. I have an awesome business. I have a great team around me that all embrace our core values. That’s even cooler! What the heck would I have to complain about?
Let’s face it, we all feel down sometimes, life can be hard. It feels like there isn’t much to celebrate, or be grateful for. Here is the amazing thing, practicing gratitude, can not only change your attitude, it can actually change your brain! Gratitude cuts off the air supply to all other emotions, which is a pretty amazing thing in itself.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s not the happy people that are grateful, but the grateful people who are happy.” Well, as it turns out there is actual science to back this up. When the brain feels gratitude, the parts of the brain that are activated include the ventral and dorsal medial pre-frontal cortex. These areas are involved in feelings of reward (the reward when stress is removed), morality, interpersonal bonding and positive social interactions, and the ability to understand what other people are thinking or feeling.
Gratitude also has the capacity to increase important neurochemicals. When thinking shifts from negative to positive, there is a surging of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These all contribute to the feelings of closeness, connection and happiness that come with gratitude.
Practicing gratitude every day can help you cultivate happiness! It will actually make you more aware of the good things that come your way, and improve your mental health. A daily practice of gratitude is not an easy task. It requires effort, but you can also get a lot of benefits from it. For instance, when you have a stressful day, practicing gratitude will make you happier and reduce the stress.
There are plenty of ways to practice gratitude, but however it’s done, it’s important that it’s done with consistency and novelty. Our brains like novelty! They love it actually. They quickly adapt to anything that stays constant. This is why the joy we feel for things that have us swooning in the beginning, soon lose their shimmer. Our brains adapt and when they do, they go looking for the next special thing. Gratitude can change this. With gratitude, we’re constantly giving our brains something new and positive to focus on (provided we practice gratitude for different things, not the same thing). Being grateful for the same things every day, even if they are important and worthy of enormous gratitude, won’t have the same effect on the brain as finding something positive and new each time.
By practicing gratitude you’ll live less of your life in the “gap,” reduce your stress, change your attitude, and change your brain! Practicing gratitude will ultimately lead to a better practice and a better life, and that is something to be grateful for!
About the Author: Kirk Behrendt is the Founder of ACT Dental, a customized coaching company for dentists. He has invested his entire professional life studying the top dental practices in the world and the leadership that guides them.
As the founder of ACT, his vision is driven by the commitment to provide highly personalized care to the dental profession. By creating a talented team of experts, Kirk and his team continue to positively impact the practice of dentistry one practice at a time. His personal mission is to use up every ounce of his potential. He lectures all over the world to help individuals take control of their own lives. Kirk has been recognized as one of Dentistry Today as one of the Top Leaders in Dental. Dr. Peter Dawson called him “THE best motivator I have ever heard.”
Kirk has competed internationally in 4 Ironman Triathlons and 9 Half-Iron Triathlons. His feeling is that there is no greater parallel to optimal business performance than optimal athletic performance. He loves cycling, basketball, stand-up comedy, and most of all, spending time with his wife, Sarah, and children Kinzie, Lily, Zoe & Bo.