Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude

by William Reed on February 3, 2011

The roots of inflexibility

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. These attitudes have ruled and ruined empires as well as personal relationships throughout history, and of course are equally evident today.

The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. In Asian tradition, pride is like the brittle stick which does not bend, but only breaks. The inflexibility of mind, also known as the hardening of the attitudes, is ultimately the cause of the problem. It is better to be flexible, like bamboo.

Unfortunately, pride can be deeply rooted, and actually leaves visible traces in your posture and bearing. In Japanese there are many expressions for the body language of pride and its many moods: high nose (hana ga takai), big attitude (taido ga dekai), bent mouth (kuchi ga he no ji), twisted navel (heso magari).

We must become the change we want to see. ~M. Gandhi

It takes discipline and awareness to restore the flexibility you had as a small child, to be simple and natural. And there is a faster way to flexibility, based on a Mandala Principle from Buddhism, the Principle of Gratitude (慈悲喜捨 Jihi Kisha).

This 4-character compound contains the keys to that principle.

(Ji) Kindness, Love, Benevolence. Giving other people happiness or abundance.

(Hi) Compassion, Mercy, Charity. Offering support, or a helping hand.

(Ki) Celebration, Joy, Empathy. Feeling happy for other people’s happiness or success.

(Sha) Giving, Releasing, Forgetting. Giving freely without strings attached.

These four attitudes, or four gratitudes, will quickly open your eyes and your heart to a deeper level of flexible focus. Instead of looking for things, you will see and notice them, as well as understand exactly how you can help people in each situation. As a reminder, you can download the Mandala of Gratitude, and start using it in your daily life.

There is no limit to how far you can take this. But even if you do not approach the depth of gratitude and awareness of Mohandas K. Gandhi or Mother Teresa, the very intention to shift your awareness toward gratitude can change your life. It will certainly improve the lives of the people around you.

A new model for coaching

While the term Jihi Kisha comes from Buddhism, the importance of gratitude and giving thanks is universal to all religions and even in secular life in all cultures. Even the master of human relations Dale Carnegie, author of the world’s bestselling classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, said that the key to human relations was “to be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” For a great summary of other Dale Carnegie wisdom, visit My Choices, My Life.

Why not apply this to your own relationships, particularly those in which you are supporting or coaching another person, whether it be a family member or friend, or a coaching client?

While it may seem difficult to strive for high character ideals, the Mandala Chart gives you a structure and a tool that you can adjust and apply to your own situation. Using any of the PDF templates in this Flexible Focus series, or the Mandala Chart for iPad, you can start with eight key questions or points of focus, or you can create your own, and you will have a coaching tool with far more flexibility and functionality than a mere list of bullet points.

When you start doing this, one of the first things that you notice is that you are not the only one in trouble, and there are lots of ways that you can help other people, starting with those around you. The more you do this, the more good things come back to you, unless that was your reason for doing it in the first place. Give without strings attached. Give because we are all connected.

Lose the scarcity mentality and replace it with one of abundance, and make the world a better place. It all starts with you!