Lee Davy reflects on what has been a very sad few days in the poker world, by asking people to honor the passing of Johannes Strassmann and the struggle against cancer that Chad Brown is experiencing, by practicing gratitude in order to learn to live joyous lives.
Saturday, 28th of June 2014 was one of the saddest days that I can remember in my short time as a part of the poker circus, after news circulated around social media circles that the German professional poker player, Johannes Strassmann, had been found dead on the banks of the river Ljubljianica in Slovenia and Chad Brown’s struggle against cancer had taken a turn for the worse.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) honored Brown’s integrity, honor and friendship by awarding him with an honorary WSOP bracelet in a specially arranged bracelet ceremony.”
So what goes through your mind when you hear such tragic news?
In the past, I have felt a sense of anger at my lack of gratitude with the life I led. The death of loved ones acts as a timely reminder of how fickle our life is in the body that we carry around with us.
I want to suggest that we all try to use gratitude as our way of remembering Johannes Strassmann, and for sending some heartfelt vibes Chad Brown’s way.
I didn’t know either person but from everything that I have read, the pair led/lead incredibly joyous lives. I want us to honor them by taking a stand to do exactly the same.
There is a lot of gratitude in poker. I see it all of the time. It’s one of the most common responses that I receive from poker players when I interview them but there is also more work that we can do.
Brene Brown is the queen of research into human emotions that other researchers daren’t touch with a shitty bargepole. Her books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly are New York Times Bestsellers and she is a regular guest on shows with such prestige as Oprah.
Whilst researching for these books, Brown discovered that the majority of people she interviewed, who led joyous lives, had one thing in common. They actively practiced gratitude.
This knowledge stunned her.
She expected to find a pattern that showed that if you were joyful then you would be grateful and instead it was the evidence of tangibility that really was an eye opener for her.
We complain about losing in poker tournaments; we complain that the Poker gods are not on our side; we complain about the fortune of the fish; we retell bad beats with the frequency of children reciting the Lord’s Prayer; we blame dealers, Tournament Directors, poor structures, poor schedules and uncomfortable chairs.
That’s not practicing gratitude.
Therefore there will be no joy.
Use the death of Johannes Strassmann and the critical illness of Chad Brown as one of those lessons that life throws up from time to time. Just close enough so you can feel the pain but not close enough to do any permanent damage.
“It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful,” —Brene Brown
It’s not enough to just say you are grateful. You have to practice gratitude in order to attain a joyous return.
So how do you do this?
You will find your own path, but here are some examples that I use to keep me on the path towards joy.
1. Create a list of intentions first thing in the morning. Share these with someone you love, and when you have finished, share a list of things you are grateful for in that moment.
2. Say grace at meal times.
3. Create a gratitude journal.
6. Check-in with a loved one at the end of the day and share the experiences or people that you are grateful for.
7. Set your iPhone to remind you to be grateful of the moment every hour.
Sometimes life can get on top of us. The stresses and strains create lines in our forehead, turning down our lips and turning our posture into that of an old man or woman.
But we are still here.
Alive and well.
Fortune doesn’t favor the brave. It favors the joyous and to become joyous you need to be practice gratitude.
Start today and never stop.
Think, right now.
How wonderful is your life?
How wonderful is it to breathe?
How wonderful is it to riffle your chips, muck your cards and compete with the very best in the world at something that you love?
Something that neither Strassmann nor Brown will ever do again.
Think about that.