I am Because You Are: Cultivating An Attitude Of Gratitude
The default mode of our existence has been to view things in binaries – black or white, yin or yang, right or wrong, good or bad, either this or that, career or family, passion or profession and the list goes on. This has troubled our mind to make choices based on rationality, logic and sometimes on a whim. But why do we have to choose only one option? Why can’t we choose both? While you are reading this, your rational mind might be whispering, “That’s how my whole life has been, there is a scarcity of time, resources, talent, knowledge etc. You have to choose one of two or more options. This idea of ‘both’ is illogical. Be pragmatic, get a life!” Well, I might have over exaggerated on the last line but I hope you get my point.
We are attuned and brought up in a world which is conditioned to live in binaries. The notion of scarcity is entrenched so much in our lives that we simply resign and mostly make excuses by exclaiming, “Time is not enough, “Economic value is more important than human and environment value”, “win-lose not win-win”, “this is not enough, both is not possible”, “you have to make the choice, right here and right now!” To put it simply, we have developed and cultivated a mindset of ‘scarcity’ which means to live a life of ‘not enough’. We intuitively refuse to acknowledge the possibility of “having enough”, wherein, ‘less is more’ seems like a distant dream.
Let’s do a small exercise, look at this image for 3 seconds.
Ask yourself honestly, what did you see first, ‘black dot’ or ‘white area surrounding the dot’ or ‘both’? If you saw the black dot first, the chances are that you tend to give more importance to the problems or challenges in your life more than what’s working on your side; if your answer is the white area, it means that you probably tend to look at life as it comes by and not get too bogged down by the challenges. However, if you chose both then you are an incredible human being! You tend to look at challenges as they come, seek possibilities to transform them and also live the life to the fullest by shifting your mindset towards abundance.
When I did this exercise during ‘Personal Mastery for Development Leadership’ at the Indian School of Development Management conducted by Shiva, it was one of the biggest revelations of my life. I realized that I tend to see the ‘black dot’ which means I get bogged down by the challenges, problems or issues and completely disregard and negate the needs that are being met – physical needs like food, water, shelter, air, and psychological needs such as relationships, authenticity, freedom etc. I realized that I was living a life of scarcity and not abundance.
This mindset has had a huge impact on my orientation towards anything I did because the conflicting thoughts clouded my decisions. For instance, “I always used to tell myself that time is not enough, I can’t do this right now and wait for the ‘perfect moment’ to arrive.” To my surprise, it was a flawed belief which was leading to delays, because there is never a perfect moment to do anything. You have to start doing things by taking a leap with patience to see things emerge. The reason for such orientation can be addressed through a human condition which states that“Your mind controls you and not you“. Our mind is a perfectly designed ‘justifying’ machine which always gives us justification for not taking risks, seeking possibilities or just doing anything when it feels right. It is designed to be risk-averse, cautious and safe, mainly because we are animals and once lived solely on our instincts to ‘survive’. However, unlike animals, human beings have developed a conscious mind which can not only ‘survive’ but also ‘thrive’.
For me, to thrive in this context means to wake up each day with a smile, irrespective of any circumstances and with a heart filled with immense love and gratitude for everything that I have in my life. Family, friends, people, mother earth and universe have showered their unconditional love on me; I am because they are and they are because I am! This relationship underpins the importance of cultivating an attitude of gratitude for everyone’s growth! It means learning from each and every being around us including ourselvesHere, learning doesn’t only mean observing and evaluating, but also consciously seeking, being and doing in a collaborative manner through reflective practice.
Earlier, I used to get disturbed when someone questioned or inquired about my ideas or sought an understanding of the perspectives that I hold. I felt intimidated, my mind used to go blank with crippling fear and screamed: “You don’t know enough!” “You are wrong” “Why did you say this when you are not sure?”. All these thoughts used to make me numb. The thought of appreciating and acknowledging the other person’s attempt to seek clarity in their mind and therefore in my mind never occurred to me. But, by forging an attitude of gratitude, I have a sense of reverence towards others when they inquire or even challenge my ideas. Now, I listen to them attentively as the purpose is to gain mutual clarity and not demean each other; because it is rightly said that two minds are always better than one.
Therefore, this sense of gratitude love and empathy towards each being in the entire universe for fulfilling all my needs and adding happiness and meaning to my life, makes me embrace my true self every day, and truly live a life of abundance in the shades of the rainbow and not just in the binary of black and white.
By Sakshi Sharma, a student of second batch of PGP in Development Leadership at ISDM