Every Thursday evening at a yoga class that I use to attend we started class by sitting in a circle, introducing ourselves, expressing any injuries that we had and then naming something that we are grateful for. Once while going round that circle a fellow Brit in the class expressed gratitude for the “Attitude of Gratitude” that had been installed in him through the Thursday evening class. Even when he was feeling a little down the Attitude of Gratitude was always available to him, opening up the world around him and lifting him out of his melancholy.
There is much to be grateful for each day, but it is very easy to go through life feeling as though our glass is half empty. The advertising industry in its effort to sell to us tells us that we don’t look right, don’t smell right, don’t wear the right clothes or drive the right car…and that the ever elusive happiness will be with us once we do change our appearance. A celebrity culture presents us with goals that most of us are unlikely to achieve, or a fantasy world in which to escape when our own lives become too much. With external pressures to conform to or being told our own interests are not cool, we can feel alone or unappreciated for who we are. The world of lack created by the media and advertising industry creates a hole in ourselves and society that we try and fill with external stuff, whether through the procuring of goods or running round chasing distractions that ultimately do little to satisfy us.
Developing an Attitude of Gratitude allows us to take ownership for who we are, reclaiming ourselves and our birthright. Through acknowledging that for which we are grateful the world no longer becomes a glass have empty, it is at the very least half full. Less and less do we dwell on the negative or the lack, we start to see the world through eyes of abundance. Joanna Macy speaks of the activist’s inner journey being made up of four successive stages, each interconnected and feeding the others, creating a spiral. These start with Gratitude.
- Opening to gratitude,
- Owning our pain for the world,
- Seeing with new eyes,
- Going forth.
More information about the spiral can be found here.
Joanna said that in the early days of her work, Gratitude was not a part of these stages. When I asked her why she decided to include Gratitude her reply was, “what else was there to do?”
The introvert’s world can be rich through spending so much time in our minds. Details are noticed of the world around us and this in turn fills our lives with an appreciation of its depth and diversity (by the way, I am not suggesting that extroverts do not also recognize this diversity). Counter to that though is the struggle that sometimes exists as introverts interact in an extroverted biased world. Expectations or judgements from others, based on a lack of understanding, can be tiring and also erode self-esteem and self-belief. Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude can be a balm for being in this atmosphere. It helps to create perspective and remind you of what is really important, at the same time building resilience in yourself.
As we move towards the North American Thanksgiving Holidays, what are you grateful for? What Attitude of Gratitude are you cultivating today?