olympics-give-clues-to-better-lifeIf you ever need the inspiration to kick up your game, create more resilience, more heart, a more positive mind or a better life in general, just watch the Olympics. Am I right?! And, if the games aren’t going on when you happen to need that jolt of motivation, just go to Youtube and watch some highlights from years gone by. Good grief, does the mental toughness of these human beings just knock you out? They’re just humans like us after all. But, it’s the grit  – the ability to reach deep within themselves and persevere to their goal that is so stunning.

I haven’t gotten to watch the games as much as I would like this go around, but what I’ve seen definitely deserves a recap of the best Olympic moments in Rio and five lessons learned (Please put your favorite moments in the comments at the bottom of the page, as I haven’t been able to view everything!!):

1.) Going Beyond Your Personal Best

The thing that stands out to me most about Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt is not the  number of gold medals they’ve won (although ridiculously impressive), as much as it is about pushing their personal best – going for what they’ve never done before or the world has ever seen before. Did you see Simone’s floor routine? What she does, most especially her signature “The Biles Move,” defies gravity and is actually pushing the limits of physics. How can Usain Bolt smile for the cameras while beating the world’s best? They say it is lightening that is the work behind thunder. The work that Bolt has put in over the years makes his record breaking performances look effortless (but how many practice meters has he put in behind the scenes to achieve that level of performance). And, of course Phelps is in a category by himself, created by himself. With 28 medals, 23 of them gold, he has more Olympic medals than 90 countries at the games. Again, what pushes someone who has won an event many times? It has to be that they are competing with themselves, trying to best their personal best, push the boundaries of our world and theirs.

2.) You Can Help Others Even When You’ve Been Knocked Down

You’ve probably seen the picture of Abbey D’Agostino helping Nikki Hamblin up after their spill at the Olympics the other day. And, that kind of sportsmanship is the kind of thing that warms our heart most every time the games roll around. I’ve watched the footage several times and am still unclear of how or why they bumped or tangled, but what happened next was beautiful. Hamblin reached down and helped up the competitor that she didn’t even know. They did both finish the race and Hamblin later said, “I went down, and I was like, ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ Then suddenly, there’s this hand on my shoulder [and D’Agostino saying], ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this.’ And I’m like, ‘Yup, yup, you’re right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.’”

It’s obvious that D’Agostino left an indelible mark on Hamblin’s heart as she went on to say, “I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before. I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing? Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that’s a moment that you’re never, ever going to forget for the rest of your life, that girl shaking my shoulder like, ‘Come on, get up.’ ”

3.) You Can Overcome Anything and Achieve Victory

For me one of the most inspiring Olympians came from the refugee team. First of all, what brave souls these Olympians are to not be able go home to their homelands for whatever reason, but still have the tenacity and discipline to make their athletic dreams come true.  In March 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared that the IOC would choose refugees to compete at the Rio Olympics to show solidarity for the growing refugee community.

So the story that inspires me most from this group is that of Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee.  She competed in these games just a year after battling to survive in the ocean when the dingy her and her fellow refugees were in capsized.  After an arduous three hours of struggle, she and others drug the dinghy to land. “I thought it would be a real shame if I drowned in the sea because I am a swimmer,” she said before the Olympics started.

Despite being from war-torn Damascus and her treacherous trip to freedom, Mardini won the opening heat of 100m butterfly.  She and the other 43 athletes competing under the banner of the refugee team, forced to flee their homelands, have a message for us to remember.  No matter what, we can overcome anything and end up victors.

4.) Beating Your Odds is a Surefire Way to Happiness

Well isn’t that Figi rugby sevens team something! Figi is a small country consisting of 332 islands and they’ve never ever won a medal in the Olympics, much less a gold one. So this was their 14th Olympics, and they finally snagged a gold and countrywide pride that had the islands dancing in the streets. The government actually declared two days of holiday, one to watch the final match and the other when they won. The authentic happiness on their faces was so contagious, I couldn’t help but carry it with me all day.

5.) Keep Love #1 in Your Heart and You’ll Always Win

Okay, being the sappy female that I am, I absolutely adored the Olympic moment in which Will Claye won the silver medal in the men’s triple jump then went up in the stands and dropped on one knee to propose to his Queen Harrison, long-time girlfriend and also an Olympian. I love his courage in this hugely demonstrative public display of love for his life mate, even though he admits he didn’t know if she would say yes. I also was touched that she said in the interview below that his Olympic efforts came first and the ring second, obviously putting his dreams and aspirations for the games before what comes next in their lives.

How can you lose when the ones you love are #1 in your heart?

Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach