Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, based solely on the fact that it is an entire day where the whole world stops to think about what they are grateful for. In a world surrounded by so much negativity and devastation, gratitude is a bright beam of light in the midst of darkness. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a synonym for gratitude is applaud. I love that! How cool to think, that by having a mindset of gratitude, we are literally walking around applauding the beautiful creation surrounding us. Even more shocking was to see that an antonym for gratitude is abuse. To not see the good in something, is to see the bad, or to not see anything at all. And when we feel like something is bad or unimportant, it becomes more difficult for us to honor it. I know with the people in my life, I want to applaud them, not abuse or ignore them. So why would I not want to do the same for my life experiences and circumstances as well?
As the month of November draws closer to an end, I cannot help but ache for the thought of gratitude being a long forgotten healing balm, only to return again this time next year. With the bustle of Christmas drawing ever nearer, my awareness of how important it is for gratitude to be a consistent part of my life is becoming even clearer. In sharing gratitude with a dear friend the other day, I realized how helpful gratitude can be in reflecting our own hearts back to ourselves. If you ever want to see what state your heart is in, see how difficult it is for you to find things to be grateful for. Does finding something you are grateful for feel difficult, rubbing up against your pride, or does it spring forward from an overflowing heart? The great thing is, the more we practice gratitude, the more our perspective will naturally shift to notice the light before we notice the darkness.
I do not know about you, but for me, it is about this part in the post where my shame and perfectionism start to make their debut. When I read something that points to an action I want to take, shame and perfectionism pop up to say hello quicker than Trump can post on Twitter. So I’m going to stop now and say, ANY practice of gratitude is better than none. This is not an all or nothing thing. Some moments we remember to be grateful, and some moments it is the best we can do to make it home without attacking another human being. Some moments we express gratitude with celebration, and sometimes we express gratitude through gritted teeth. IT IS OKAY! Baby steps are still steps.
Wanting to offer a practical gratitude baby step, I began to wonder what the gift of gratitude could bring to each Enneagram type. By talking with friends of different types, and by also attempting to place myself in the shoes of each Enneagram type, I determined that although gratitude is helpful for everyone, it can work to heal our specific and individual blind spots. Every type has an area where it is much easier to gravitate towards seeing the darkness rather than the light. So if you are interested, feel free to reference the below list I created in order to see how the practice of gratitude might aide you in particular. My hope is that gratitude will lead you to see that when things are difficult, we are growing, and when things are great, we get to celebrate! And despite whichever camp you happen to fall into at the moment, I am grateful for you, and you are worthy of being grateful of!
Type 1: Gratitude helps me - Accept Imperfections
It is one thing to notice imperfections. It is a whole other ballgame to practice being
grateful for the imperfections that we find. This is no easy task, but if only for the sole purpose of it being an opportunity to practice grace, then seeing the good in the very things that seem oh SO not good is, well…very good.
Type 2: Gratitude helps me - Receive
Seeing the darkness for Type 2 can look like scanning for ways that others are selfish or ungrateful. However, seeing the light is flipping the script in a way where we now scan for the times that others ARE reaching out to help us and love on us well, and soaking in those precious moments. If we are not acknowledging or receiving the ways in which we are being loved, then how can we ever feel loved?
Type 3: Gratitude helps me - Rest
When I am grateful for what I have in this moment, I realize that there is no need to
strive to obtain more, for now is sufficient. I realize that there is good to find here, despite my shortcomings. And if there is good here now, there will continue to be good in my future, when I get there…despite my efforts. We do not pry open a flower for it to bloom. We simply sit back and watch its beauty unfold.
Type 4: Gratitude helps me - Notice Abundance
Seeing the darkness for Type 4 can look like scanning for ways that others have more, and therefore, how I have less. With an eye heavy on my internal world and other’s external worlds, gratitude allows us to switch it up, so I begin to acknowledge all of the greatness surrounding me, as well as the person beneath the life they are projecting. Even more so, it allows me to see that, there is enough goodness in this world for both of us to experience it, even if our experience of it looks different. Blessings are blessings, no matter what clothes they decide to wear.
Type 5: Gratitude helps me - Engage with Others
When engaging with the world seems tiresome, gratitude is a wonderful tool to help Type Fives create a bridge to the people they care about most. We can tend to look at people as energy drainers, but when we focus on the ways in which we are grateful for people, we begin to notice the many ways in which they are actually giving us energy.
Type 6: Gratitude helps me - Acknowledge Positive Outcomes
In scanning for worst case scenarios, we spend a lot of time on what could be. By
practicing gratitude, we are given the opportunity to spend time on what is. By spending our energy finding what could go bad, we are missing the many things that are going well staring us right in the face. And the more we celebrate what has gone right, the less we feel like things will always go wrong.
Type 7: Gratitude helps me - Experience Satisfaction
It is one thing to be grateful in order to avoid pain. It is another thing to be grateful because you have experienced pain. Only by walking through our suffering will we ever see the gifts it will bring us. And true satisfaction is found in the gifts. When we start searching for options and experiences, we do not find more gifts, just more opportunities for gifts. There is a difference.
Type 8: Gratitude helps me - Surrender
We could try to control gratitude, forcing ourselves to be grateful for things we are not really grateful for. Or we could simply soften our stance enough to be affected by the world around us, so that are hearts will naturally well up with gratitude despite whether we want it to or not. The first approach is gratitude because of me. The second approach is me because of gratitude.
Type 9: Gratitude helps me - Be Present
As a Type Nine, it can be all to easy to check out of life, and to simply numb out. If my life were a candle, it is as easy as just blowing it out, calling it a day, and going to bed. Gratitude is a helpful tool to encourage us to remain awake to our human experience. We cannot celebrate what we are not aware of.