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Enneagram and Gratitude

Gerry Fathauer, a Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network, is now writing the Monthly Insights for 2012. Thanks to Gayle Hardie for doing this for 2011 and to Ruth Landis for 2010. All three of these Senior Members have an affinity for the transformational aspects of the Enneagram, so it is with great pleasure that I write the month’s first blog from these Insights.

Gerry has a vast background in arts management and currently works as a coach, trainer, and consultant whose work centers on actualizing organizations and individuals.

The holidays are upon us, and what an inviting time of year to be present to gratitude! Gratitude is a state of being. Being in gratitude provides an almost magical shift in perspective.

Gratitude has the capacity to transform our experiences, our attitude, and our self-perspective. When was the last time you experienced difficulty, perhaps with someone who challenges you? How might your experience have shifted if, in the moment, you felt gratitude for this individual? When we open to a state of gratitude, we experience a qualitative shift, even in the most difficult of conversations.

The state of gratitude also has the capacity to shift our perception of reality. Moments of disappointment, defeat, or mindless “shutting down,” when held in tandem with gratitude can be transformed to an awareness of self-acceptance and self-love. Your energy is qualitatively different, as is your perspective on life.

Can you open to gratitude when your attitude is affecting your day? Or in the midst of difficulty? When you do, are you aware of a shift in your perspective? Are you able to hold both the difficulty and a state of gratitude in your experience and open to a qualitative shift in your way of being?

What a gift this state of being we call gratitude is, to ourselves and to others.

Gerry’s Insight Activity demonstrates how all of us can shift our perspective to move into gratitude. In this blog, I’ll add some additional ideas for individuals of each Enneagram style.

Enneagram Ones
Obvious idea: Focus equally on what is wonderful and glorious about something that is not completely stellar as you do on what is wrong with it.
Non-obvious idea: Tell three different people who you care about what they really mean to you and the gratitude you have for them.

Enneagram Twos
Obvious idea: Think of a recent time when something didn’t go as you had hoped – for example, someone didn’t respond to you in an affirmative way or didn’t follow your advice and suffered – and yet you didn’t get deflated or feel unhappy about it. Allow yourself to feel gratitude for your growth and how you handled what might have been a deeply discouraging situation, one in which you might have felt angry, or engaged in self-recrimination.
Non-obvious idea: Write down three things about yourself that you feel deeply grateful for. Say these out loud and place them on your bathroom mirror where you can read them every day.

Enneagram Threes
Obvious idea: Think about what you actually have, not what you think you need to gain. Experience gratitude for what you actually have.
Non-obvious idea: Experience your deepest felt gratitude for allowing yourself to do something you really wanted to do, not for the sake of success or respect, but because you simply enjoyed the process of doing it, not the outcome.

Enneagram Fours
Obvious idea: Spend just as much time thinking about what is “present” as you do with what is missing. Enjoy  feeling appreciative for what is right in front of you.
Non-obvious idea: Make a list of what you have to offer and then shorten this list to three items. Draw a picture, create a song, write a poem, or take a photograph that symbolizes each of these three items. Then put them someplace special in your home or at work so you can look at them every day.

Enneagram Fives
Obvious idea: Think of three things (objects, people, ideas, or events) that you feel extremely grateful for. Every day, add to this list and continue this activity for a full week.
Non-obvious idea: Make a list of everything in the world and your life that you like very much which is abundant and replenishes itself automatically. In other words, it never becomes depleted. Ponder this list for at least three days.

Enneagram Sixes
Obvious idea: Consider this idea: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear” (Ambrose Redmoon). Express gratitude for the role that caution and concern play in your life.
Non-obvious idea: Ponder this idea: “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare” (Mark Twain). Think of all the times you have shown moral courage and be grateful for your integrity.

Note: Ambrose Redmoon is the pseudonym used by James Neil Hollingworth (1933-1996); he was, according to Wikipedia, “a beatnik, hippie, writer and former manager of the psychedelic folk rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service.”

Enneagram Sevens
Obvious idea: Be in gratitude for all the times you have felt uncomfortable and stayed with this experience rather than avoiding it.
Non-obvious idea: Think of one thing in your life that you care about so deeply that your interest in it is self-sustaining. Be in gratitude for this one area for showing you that you can sustain your focus when you allow something to touch your heart.

Enneagram Eights
Obvious idea: Think of three things that someone else made happen (and you had no role in) that you feel in gratitude about. Sit with these in your mind, heart, and body for one half hour.
Non-obvious idea: Feel your vulnerability and experience gratitude for your openness, flexibility, and gentleness in allowing yourself to feel this. Do this daily for one month.

Enneagram Nines
Obvious idea: Express yourself honestly to three different people. Feel gratitude for your courage and directness.
Non-obvious idea: Write an advertisement for yourself, promoting all that you are, your accomplishments, and your capabilities. If you are artistic at all, make this into a visual advertisement and post it on your bathroom mirror.

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