What makes your life meaningful makes you happy. Being happy comes from the inner thought of being enriched, contented, and grateful. Being grateful amplifies your thoughts of gratitude from your inner self.
Gratitude is the ability to show appreciation and be grateful for everything in your life, which will help you change for the better. Being grateful amplifies your existence, makes your life meaningful even amidst the chaos of daily life, strengthens relationships, and makes you a better human being. So how would you be able to achieve all these?
The Attitude of Gratitude
To be grateful for every little thing needs a lot of practice and self-discipline. You can do this by having a conscious habit of expressing thankfulness and appreciation for every part of life – and that is called gratitude.
Gratitude is the remedy to negativism, like negative emotions, thoughts, worry, hostility, and irritation. Gratitude is living in the moment, savoring everything, and not taking for granted anything.
How to Cultivate Gratitude?
Everyone should be grateful to experience the benefits of the experience of being thankful. And you need to cultivate the practice and embrace it within yourself in ways as follows:
- Counting your blessings is an effective way to be grateful; this helps you appreciate everything you have;
- Praying – you can help cultivate gratitude through prayer; every time you pray, tell your God everything you are grateful for;
- Writing thank-you notes – do not let time pass, not thanking the people you are grateful for. Please give them a message of gratitude and tell them the impact they have on you or the effect of the deeds that they have done to you. Do this regularly and never miss a chance to express your gratitude;
- Keep a gratitude journal – in this journal, you can write all the things you are grateful for. This is an excellent way to appreciate and look back on the times to cherish them in your lives. Set your priorities – take a moment to heal, ground yourself, process emotions and put aside overthinking about yourself.
The Hindrances to Gratitude
Success comes with a price, and sometimes the cost is in the form of obstacles and hindrances. Like in practicing gratitude, there can always be a hindrance to keep you from being grateful.
- Being arrogant – stop having an exaggerated feeling of self-importance. If you think of yourself as “know-it-all” and have nothing to learn from others, you have the sign of arrogance;
- Feeling entitled – this is a human trait that believes that you deserve privileges or recognition all the time, and you think that the world owes you everything;
- Excessive self-ego – if you have this attitude, you have the preoccupation of self-identity and lack of appreciation to others;
- Superiority – it is often a defense mechanism for inadequacy, and thus they feel superior over everyone else.
All these negative attitudes deter you from being grateful for the things big and small that happen in your life.
The Gratitude Meditation
Your life would surely change for good when you practice the attitude of gratitude, and you can achieve that through gratitude meditation.
Gratitude meditation is a kind of meditation that centers on being grateful by being mindful of the various things you are thankful for in life and letting that mindfulness take its course within yourself. It’s a kind of meditation that is so rewarding, enabling you to be happy about simple things.
Gratitude meditation is as simple as appreciating your ability to hear, talk, feel, see and walk, or appreciating the vital lessons that you learned at some point in life. It is a simple but powerful intervention to happiness that connects you to more positive emotions.
The Origin of Gratitude Meditation
According to research, gratitude meditation was inspired by religion. Jack Kornfield, a meditation expert, said that Buddhist monks start their day with chants of gratitude for their blessed lives. At the same time, Martin Luther described gratitude as the essential attitude of Christians.
Also, the native American elders begin every ceremony with grateful prayers expressed to mother earth and father sky, to the animals, plants, and brothers and sisters who support life. Meanwhile, Uma Mysoreker, MD, a Hinduism advocate, states that anybody who has an attitude of gratitude is closest to achieving freedom from karmic life cycles.
Indeed, millions of Christians celebrate Thanksgiving to count their blessings and express appreciation any time of the year. But despite being religious in the background, gratitude meditation is not limited to a particular spiritual practice or a godly pursuit. And therefore, everyone can be thankful for everything in life, even without being religious.
The Benefits of Gratitude Meditation
Aside from the abundance that you manifest in being grateful, you will enjoy many other significant benefits.
- Improved mental health – being grateful helps you to rewire your brain to deal with adversity positively. It also sensitizes the brain to appreciate the minor things and enables the mind to break from the bondage of worries, fears, insecurities, and rumination;
- Greater sense of happiness – practicing gratitude can make you happier, and counting every blessing can make you feel more optimistic and maintain a cheerful disposition in life. A study revealed that being grateful could become the most positive intervention to prevent depressive thoughts that set in your mind;
- Stronger personal relationships: A gratitude meditation strengthens friendship and shows to protect marriages. Friends, colleagues and partners feel very appreciated and valued when you express your thankfulness to them, thus maintaining your bond and preventing conflict;
- According to Sirois and Wood, gratitude meditation could result in decreased levels of depression. And another study by Nezlek, Newman, & Thrash says that it creates higher levels of well-being in you;
- Rao & Kemper found that gratitude meditation can reliably increase feelings of gratitude that can lead to a higher level of well-being even if practiced for a short time;
- Gratitude can be a protective factor in some situations, even in the face of traumatic events and risky behavior. It will also lead you to positive outcomes following a traumatic event in life or following negative life experiences;
- Practicing gratitude four times a week for three weeks led to reduced stress and depression and increased happiness (O’Leary & Dockray, 2015);
- Higher levels of academic interest, performance, and engagement for adolescents, and a lower level of drug use and early-adolescent sexual behavior (Ma, Kibler, & Sly, 2013);
- High levels of gratitude are associated with lower levels of suicidal ideation;
How to Meditate?
While meditation gratitude is neither new nor restricted to a spiritual or religious movement, it is also not confined to the thanksgiving of life’s blessings. The monks and nuns in Tibet offer prayers of gratitude even for the suffering they experience in life. So it is not about being thankful only for the good things but all the things in life, including the bad things that happen.
Bad things might seem difficult to be grateful for, but actually, some bad things happen to give you ultimate prosperity and good opportunities for growth and improvements.
While you may think that doing meditation is clearing your mind while sitting in a dark room, it can also be practiced in many different ways, as told by expert life coaches:
- Reflect on what makes you grateful – all the people and things – this is a simple way to meditate at its core;
- When you meditate, open your meditation to include difficult people, neutral people, and even your enemies – until you extend sympathetic joy to everyone and everywhere;
- Journaling- keeping a gratitude journal is an easy way to be grateful without losing sight of what’s essential. Still, it’s not necessarily a part of the meditation process but of being thankful. In the journal, you can write the things you are grateful for or thank the people you are thankful for by writing letters to them.
What to Do When You Meditate?
- Find a quiet and comfortable place free from distractions and disturbances;
- Determine how much time you want to meditate; you can start from ten minutes up to an hour;
- Sit comfortably with your body well supported, from your head, neck, and back. You can also lie down, but this position predisposes you to sleep;
- Wear comfortable clothes;
- You can choose to close your eyes or remain slightly open;
- Breath out all the negative emotions you have in your mind, like fear, jealousy, or anger, and do this two times;
- Focus on other emotions in your mind, and like the negative ones, breathe them out also;
- Once you are cleared of your emotions, you should feel at peace. You can now begin to focus on everything you want to be grateful for, like people, things, events, experiences, pets, and even your possessions. Everything is happening around you, including the oxygen you breathe and the flowing through your lungs;
- Please take a few minutes to rest, and enjoy the experience without any judgment or putting much thought into them.
Who Can Do a Gratitude Meditation
Anybody who wants to enjoy the benefits of gratitude meditation can start learning and using the practice. According to a study, Rao, and Kemper (2016), it is easy to learn gratitude meditation that you can even learn online; thus, even absolute beginners can learn the practice.
So if you want to be happy, contented, and prosperous, always be grateful and practice gratitude meditation.
What about you? Share your thoughts in the comments.