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What Mady Howard’s ANW runs can teach us about gratitude

The rookie’s thoughts on running the ANW course can apply to our non-Ninja lives, too.

American Ninja Warrior - Season 11 Photo by: Matthew Hayward/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Madison “Mady” Howard was one of the new faces we saw in season 11 on American Ninja Warrior. The 23-year-old ICU nurse from St. George, Utah, had a couple of fast-paced runs in Seattle-Tacoma Qualifiers and City Finals that landed her a spot in Vegas. Her Stage One run wasn’t shown on TV, but highlights showed that her rookie season ended on the Double Dipper.

Mady had been a gymnast since she was six and got into Ninja about eight months before the show. ANWN Editor Nikki Lee caught up with Mady before her first run, asking if she was nervous about competing. “I think a little bit of nerves are good,” Mady replied. “Just like when I was competing in gymnastics, I would get nervous. And so I do think I’ll be a little bit nervous, but I think it’ll be good nerves that will help me through the course.”

What I took away from that conversation was what Mady said next: “I just try and look at it as excitement instead of nervousness and so when I get up there, I just think of all the things I’m grateful for instead of all the things that could go wrong.”

What if we could all adopt that mentality in our lives? What if we could reframe anxiety and nervousness as excitement and gratitude for what we already have?

Ahead of the National Finals, Mady said her goal was to “stay calm and just go one obstacle at a time” so she could hit her first buzzer. We know she ultimately failed to achieve that goal, but staying present helps all of us to enjoy what we have and not miss what’s happening right in front of us.

So let’s take a moment and be grateful for what we have right here, right now, with the people we love. Who’s with us? (P.S. Thanks, Mady!)