The gratitude loop

Small things go wrong all the time. Things break down, people act in unexpected ways, and minor plans fail. The “ideal” you shoot for hardly ever works out as per plan because of small nits. When these things happen, we tend to have a choice between two paths – the victim loop or the gratitude loop.

The principle involved is similar to the idea that we choose between judger questions or learner questions at any given point of time (HT Marilee Adams for the wonderful choice map that I’ve shared many a time). It just extends the concept a bit.

the gratitude loop

When we’re dealing with small annoyances, the smallest reaction of anger can lead us down the victim loop. It begins with some level of denial, then some irritation, then some more irritation, anger and general unhappiness. This loop involves heavy doses of playing victim and, thus, not taking responsibility for something that happens to us. The obvious flaw in our thinking is that we point to the fact that it is somebody or something else’s doing. But, if it is affecting us, it really is our responsibility. In every case.

The gratitude loop does something different – it treats what is going on as a non-issue and gives thanks for the fact that nothing worse happened. Faced a flat tire? Thankfully it wasn’t the engine. Sprained your angle? A fracture would have been long lot worse. You get the idea.

The beauty about the gratitude loop is that it tends to take us down a path of increasing gratitude. For every small annoyance we face, there are literally a hundred worse things that could have happened. And, since nothing monumentally bad took place, all is really fine. We just have to learn to see it that way.

How we deal with small annoyances is a measure of the strength and size of our character. If we react to every annoyance and make mountains out of mole hill, then we really are small people. To be able to transcend that and focus on bigger and more important things, we have to learn to get over the small stuff.

In the long run, how we deal with the small things are the big things.

4 thoughts on “The gratitude loop”

  1. A great reminder. Handle small things well and big things fall in place.

    Another framework to help make the right choice. Will you remember this small thing 2-3 years down the lane? We as human beings do have a tendency to make mountain out of a mole. We should be grateful for things that have been gone well and treasure what we have.

    Blessed are those who have learnt to deal with small things.

  2. This is an awesome concept, Rohan. Thank you for sharing that illustration, it helps me see more clearly the kind of people I’d want to surround myself by and why it’s so hard for me to be around those who are judgemental.


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