The Gratitude Cycle

I’ve noticed a cycle in my own life. It starts with being grateful for all of the gifts I have been given, the friends, lifestyle and even the challenges. Having gratitude gives me a sense of ease and happiness. This in turn helps me to access my intuition, and I make better choices; my life seems to get better when I am feeling gratitude.

As my life gets better, at first I just appreciate how well things are going. But soon I start to take things for granted. If I don’t catch myself, eventually I start to take credit for the improved circumstances of my life. I start thinking how smart, talented and wise I am. As I shift into ego consciousness, I listen less to my intuition, and my choices are less than optimal. Pretty soon the circumstances of my life take a turn for the worse.

As I face these more difficult circumstances, I am compelled into a position of humility and my ego shrinks back down. I may feel sad or depressed. As y ego quiets down, I can hear the small voice of my intuition again. I start being grateful for the little things. Soon my circumstances start to improve, and I’m back to the beginning of the cycle again.

Thus goes the cycle between gratitude and ego. I don’t think there is some being in the sky trying to punish me for getting “too big for my britches”. I think it is a natural consequence of tuning out my intuition and the choices I then make.

I have observed this cycle in myself many times, and even knowing and understanding the cycle, I still get caught drifting into ego. I am assuaged by the fact that I’m starting to catch the cycles earlier, before they go as deep. As I wrote about last issue in “Who’s Driving the Bus”, we all can choose our attitude about life, and I endeavor to choose gratitude.

Not only have I seen these cycles in myself, but I have seen them in other people as well. I have often wondered about seeing someone who seems to have everything, yet is ungrateful for it; could this just be me observing them at the top of the cycle? In some people these cycles seem to last for years (or lifetimes?). I am grateful that for me, they cycle much faster.

These cycles happen within relationships as well. Usually a love relationship will start with a mutual appreciation and gratitude for finding the other; the other’s presence in our life is seen as a gift. Although some people seem to be able to maintain this state, for many of us we cycle into taking the other person for granted, and even hostile if they are not fulfilling our needs. Once that happens, it becomes much more difficult for the other person to maintain their appreciation and gratitude, and the relationship deteriorates. The good news is all that needs to be done is to find gratitude for all of the good things in the relationship; hold that attitude for a few weeks and see what happens!

Although we can’t control other people, we do have some control of our attitude and where we put out attention. I’ve been making it a daily practice to find gratitude for all of the great things in my life. According to the latest in brain research, “neurons that fire together, wire together”, so getting establishing a practice of being grateful can literally change your brain, which can in turn change your life.

I’d like to close with a poem that I wrote as I was pulling out of the ego phase of the cycle and back into the gratitude phase:

Gratitude

I’m grateful for this planet, for there is so much beauty

everywhere that it’s easy to take for granted.

 

I’m grateful for all those who have taught me,

for without them I would know so little.

 

I’m grateful for my inner guidance,

for without it I would be lost and confused.

 

I’m grateful for life being temporary, for that reminds me to

live each moment to its fullest and appreciate the experience.

 

I’m grateful for all those who have hurt me, for the pain

has compelled me to dive deeper and be more compassionate.

 

I’m grateful for the shame I feel as a result of causing

pain to others, for it keeps me humble and aware.

 

I am grateful for all of my mistakes and failures,

for I have learned so much from them.

 

I’m grateful for all the challenges I have faced and will continue

to face, for these help me to build strength of character.

 

I am grateful for all of my friends, for

they make the journey worthwhile.

 

I am grateful for my lovers,

for they make life so sweet.

 

I am grateful for all the love I have received,

and for those who have allowed me to love them.

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