Sunday, January 25, 2009

Into the Learning Curve

"Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities - that's training or instruction - but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed" --Thomas Moore

Here's a confession: I'm not finding this "Year of Gratitude" project to be a cakewalk thus far. To be fair it is a learning experience. I'm feeling my way toward it, even while I don't quite know exactly what "it" is. Part of the learning is creating the discipline to write blog updates. As someone who loves the sound of my own voice I feel I should find this easy... but I am full of self-criticism. I have dozens of little snippets in draft, hiding out back there behind the curtain, and I am quite convinced that mostly they suck. That, as you can plainly see, is not the voice of gratitude.

Perhaps more to the point, I've begun to notice a few things. To begin I notice that I am not by nature an especially grateful or immediately positive person. The saying goes that a cynic is a romantic whose heart has been broken, and that's enough about that. Yet I notice that my single, simple practice of asking myself throughout the day, "what is there to be grateful for in this moment or situation," is lifting that veil of cynicism.

This is discomfiting to be sure - and it's a good kind of discomfiture. I've been mighty comfortable in my cynicism for as long as I can remember. By nature I am highly idealistic and desperate to help good to triumph over evil. Those familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator will recognize me immediately in the profile of the INFP type. Those less familiar will certainly recognize me when I say that INFP also stands for "I never follow the plan," but that's a terrible digression and an even worse joke.

"Making visible what is hidden as a seed" struck me the moment I read it. A few dozen times a day I ask myself that question about what there is to be grateful for right here and right now. In finding an answer - and there is always an answer (and thus far it has not ever been "nothing") - I sense that I'm increasing my capacity for gratitude, harmony, and flow. Yet as I said, this isn't easy for me, and the self-critical, cynical pull is still there.

Perhaps others of you wrestle from time to time with self-doubt and self-criticism despite that you are highly attuned and well-schooled in the flow and harmony of gratitude. So let's talk about that - how do you reconcile these seemingly conflicting lines of thought? How has being grateful (or not) changed your sense of self or your sense of self-doubt? Has your practice of gratitude become stronger? What has changed?