Using life-algorithms to practice Gratitude
Are you sitting right now as you read? If so, then a chair, sofa, or bed is supporting you. You probably have not paid much attention to this fact until I mentioned it. Nor have you been thinking that someone designed the chair (sofa, bed, etc.); someone manufactured it; someone brought it to where you are sitting; someone paid for it – perhaps it was you. It is likely that many people (mostly unknown to you) had a hand in the chair’s creation and journey to where it is now. It is fair to say that you are receiving a service from the chair and from all of those people whose efforts were part of the story. Whether you notice it or not, whether you thank it or not, the chair offers you support, comfort. The chair is a silent gift. (Patricia Madson, Improv Wisdom)
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How can I practice Gratitude more effectively?”
“There’s two aspects to it:
– remembering to practice; the more often, the better
– how to practice
In both cases you can use life-algorithms [<link; medium].
Concerning the remembering aspect, the strategy I use is Anchoring [<link; medium], setting reminders. You can anchor reminders to existing structures (eg things in the environment), or you can create your own structures (eg setting a timer).
Expressed as life-algorithms, they have the following form (anchoring-algorithms):
IF you NOTICE x in the environment THEN THINK Gratitude
IF timer alarm sounds THEN THINK Gratitude
Concerning the how to aspect, the strategies I use are spreading activation and idea-stacking [<link; medium].”
“What is spreading activation?”
“We can think of the Information stored in our mind as a network. When an information node is accessed, nodes directly connected to it are accessed as well (first-order nodes), as well as nodes indirectly connected to it (second-order nodes, and higher).
One aspect of higher order thinking is deliberately creating connections between information nodes. I call this process connection-mapping. To that end, mind-mapping is beautiful tool.
To use Gratitude as an example, write down ‘Gratitude’ in the middle of an empty page, and see what thoughts come to your mind. Whenever a thought arises, write it down as one word and connect it to the center.
Like a sun, Gratitude will come to radiate in all directions. This is a generative process. The next stage is a selective process: selecting only the most powerful connections, thus creating a ‘custom sun’. By focusing on these connections and accessing them frequently, whenever you think ‘Gratitude’, they will be the most prevalent.”
“So it’s like a controlled activation.”
As concerns idea-stacking, this means accessing multiple ideas as one unit. Expressed as an algorithm, it looks like this:
IF you THINK Gratitude THEN THINK idea-stack”
“Can you give an example of an idea-stack you use most frequently?”
“EVERYTHING is a Gift.
Take NOTHING for granted.
Appreciate how far you’ve come.
What are you taking for granted?”