Sunday, March 17, 2013
I wrote you about how the sunflower icon on my gratitude app inspired me to begin to be grateful every time I see one anywhere. You need to know that I’ve not been into sunflowers so I’ve never noticed how truly ubiquitous they are. My chiropractor has a painting of one in his office because he’s from the Sunflower Capital of Canada.(photo above) Last night I noticed that one of my friends has canisters with a sunflowers. A number of commercials have them. A couple of weeks ago I went to a conference and one of the speakers used a sunflower as her Powerpoint graphic. Sunflowers are everywhere!
At first it felt like pressure to have to think of something to be grateful for each time I saw one. If you know me at all then you probably know that I’m prone to seeing the negatives in a new situation, and that I begin to see the positives only when I’ve warmed up to said situation…a sort of self protective defense mechanism. With this new practice, I’m now getting to the point where I’m looking for things to be grateful for…with or without the presence of a sunflower. I’m also making quick notes about what I want to remember to put on the app when I have the time. I’m consciously looking for and thinking of things that I am thankful for.
Some of my basic beliefs may be different than hers but Brene Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, has valuable insights to share resulting from her research on Wholehearted living. She says that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works--it’s not alive. For example, people may talk about having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a behaviour or action.
Brene writes that joy and gratitude can be very vulnerable and intense experiences…many of us have very little tolerance for vulnerability. So we think to ourselves: “I’m not going to allow myself to feel this joy because it won’t last.” Or “Acknowledging how grateful I am is an invitation for disaster.” And yet again, “I’d rather not be joyful than have to wait for the other shoe to drop.” Most of us, she says, have experienced being on the edge of joy only to be overcome by vulnerability and thrown into fear. Until we can tolerate vulnerability and transform it into gratitude, intense feelings of love will often bring up fear of loss.
On the face of it, who would have thought that choosing gratitude would bring out vulnerabilities. But it resonates with me as I think of how I’ve chosen that aforementioned negative attitude so much of my life. At the risk of vulnerability, and fear creeping in, I’m gradually learning to acknowledge the fear and then consciously lean into the situation, choosing gratitude. It feels good to be building this new habit.
How about you?