Sam Trickett has won more money playing live tournament poker than any European player alive or dead. At the last count it was $20m. It isn’t going to go in any other direction except North.
What is his secret?
During a recent interview he told me that he was grateful that he could play poker for a living, that he could make sure his family wanted for nothing, that he was financially secure, that he gotten lucky when he needed to, that he owned a Ferrari, that he owned a great home, that he was friends with his former idols such as Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonious, and that he was happy.
Well of course he is happy.
He’s a multi-millionaire that plays cards for a living.
But his joy doesn’t come from his gratitude. It’s his gratitude that makes him joyful.
Let that sink in for a while.
It’s the beating heart of this article.
Brené Brown is an American author and public speaker who spent a vast amount of time researching emotions such as shame, vulnerability, courage and worthiness.
During her research she found this link between joy and gratitude. She interviewed countless people who were living joyful lives, and she found a connection. It was gratitude. Every single one of them actively practiced gratitude in a tangible way.
Some people are naturally grateful. Others have to work at it. I fall into the latter category – Trickett the former. Here are five tangible actions that I actively partake in to help me improve my levels of gratitude, and therefore improve my levels of joy.
1# Maintaining a Gratitude Journal
Each morning when I wake up I write one full page in my journal. I focus on my emotions. I express my feelings on paper. I take notes on lessons learned, and problems that I need to overcome. I end by writing down at least three things I am grateful for.
2# Intention and Gratitude Setting – Starting the Day
When my wife wakes up we embrace and then set our intentions for the day. After we have set our intentions we tell each other what we are grateful for. The outcomes vary each day. One of my regular gratitude mantras is the ability to wake up whenever I want, and do my ‘work’ when I choose to. By connecting and sharing with someone else the gratitude is even more powerful.
3# Grace at Meal Times
I am not a religious man. If I were being honest, a few years ago I would mock anyone saying grace at meal times. It’s now become a regular thing for my wife and I. We say how grateful we are for the food laid out in front of us, and for the opportunity to spend that moment with each other.
4# Gratitude Reminders
I wear a watch that doesn’t tell the time. It confuses everyone. It bears the words – NOW. It reminds me to be present and to be grateful. Before I got the watch I would set reminders on my phone. Each hour my phone would remind me to be present and grateful.
Each night my wife and I end the day by checking in with each other. We talk about our day, what emotions we felt, what challenges we faced, and how we overcome them. We always end the session with a reminder of what we are grateful for.
These tangible actions have created an abundance of gratitude in my life. In turn this has made me more joyful. Last year, at the World Series of Poker, I was so grateful that I was playing that getting knocked out still left me with a smile on my face. My game was more controlled. Tilt was still present, but nowhere near the degree that it once was.
If you watch Sam Trickett play, or any of the truly great players, you will notice that they have an innate ability to be in control of their emotions for long periods of time, and under intense periods of duress. Joy also manifests itself in patience. Anxiety leads to a lack of patience. Anxiety will come from a place of stress, which often comes from a lack of gratitude for ones current predicament.
Poker is all about the money.
I know a lot of people will argue with me. They will maintain that they play the game because they enjoy it. If that were true then why do we even bother playing for money? Even the most skeptical amongst you will have to admit that the dynamic changes when the money is taken off the table. Then the games lack something. Call it an edge if you want. This dichotomy doesn’t present itself when you play sports. The competitiveness is ever present. Money is not a factor like it is in poker.
So understanding the secret to wealth is also as important as understanding the secret to reducing tilt.
Do you know what it is?
When you are grateful there is nothing to fear. There is no anger. No rage. No reason to tilt. Developing a greater sense of appreciation for your current circumstances will make you the wealthiest man, or woman, on the planet.
As you age, your experiences increase. You get a better view on what life is all about.
There is a poker player who plays in my local game. Some of the players believe he is the luckiest man alive.
“He always has it.”
“He always hits.”
“He is so lucky.”
They aren’t aware that his soul mate and wife died of cancer. They don’t realize that the loss nearly destroyed his life.
But from that dark place came love. He met someone else. He fell in love. He leads the most wonderful life. He even gets lucky at the poker table from time to time.
If you can find gratitude in the worst-case scenarios then you are on the right path.
Trickett is on that path, my good friend is on that path, now what about you?
What are you grateful for today?