Gratitude Meditation: How to be grateful?
We have a lot of things that we are grateful for. The fact that we are alive and well, is one of those significant reasons. That is where gratitude meditation comes from.
Do you know how you can use meditation for gratitude?
The name might make it seem as if it is a new thing, but most people do this without even noticing. The best thing about this type of meditation is that it can be done by anyone, anytime and anywhere. Now, the questions that may come to mind are: What is gratitude meditation? What are the benefits of morning gratitude meditation? How to do gratitude meditation effectively?
Our aim here at Betterme is to make sure we answer all these questions for you and help kickstart your journey towards effective gratitude meditation.
What is gratitude meditation?
Based on its name, this is a type of meditation that centers its aim on gratitude. To understand what this type of meditation is all about, we initially need to know what gratitude is and why it is important.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow”. These were the words of Melody Beattie, who, in a couple of sentences, highlighted what gratitude is in a nutshell. Gratitude is about being grateful for what we have (14). It is a feeling of happiness that comes from appreciation.
What should you be grateful for?
Many people are always thankful for the monetary possessions they have. These include a beautiful house, a four-wheel-drive Toyota Landcruiser, the newest iPhone, a good job, among others. Although these are indeed things we should be grateful for, gratitude goes beyond that. It starts with things that actually matter, like the fact that you are alive, you are healthy, you have a good and strong family, you have friends, you are living in a time of peace, and so on.
Gratitude should not be limited to only the good things in our lives, but also extend to the things that are not so pleasant. If you don’t have money to pay rent, food to eat, or even a job; continue to be grateful as it could be more than that, and some people have it worse. Some things look as if they are bad at first, but in the long run, such situations end up allowing you to learn and grow. Gratitude is pretty much finding the good in every situation. Even those situations that look bad from all angles. There must be something good in them even in the slightest way, or even if it might be considered irrelevant.
What are the benefits of gratitude?
In short, quite a several studies have been done to show the benefits of gratitude; these benefits are:
1. It is beneficial for people who struggle with mental health
We live in time and age, where mental health is essential. There are so many mental disorders that many people in the world are currently experiencing. The common types of mental illnesses are; clinical depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. What if I told you gratitude could help you if you are dealing with some of these disorders? Even if it does not get rid of them, it helps make the situation a bit better, and I know you are wondering how this is even possible.
How gratitude can help with mental issues
A group of young adults in a particular university was used to show how gratitude can help with mental issues. These were people who were about to start counseling at the university; most of these students were going through anxiety and depression. The young adults were divided into three groups (12).
The first group of individuals was instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person every week for three weeks. The second group of young adults had to write down their deepest thoughts and feelings about the negative experiences they had gone through. The last group of students was not advised to write anything. All three groups received counseling.
It was noted that the first group experienced better mental health than the other two groups four weeks into the program and twelve weeks after the writing exercise ended. This shows that gratitude writing was helpful to the individuals who did it. It also shows that practicing gratitude in addition to receiving psychological counseling is better than receiving psychological counseling alone. The results will be positive even if you practice gratitude for only a short period.
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2. It makes someone optimistic about life
There is nothing better than having a positive mindset on all the things that are happening in your life, even to the ones that seem negative. Gratitude was seen to help people become more optimistic and generally make one feel better about their life (3). A study attested to prove this.
Just like the study above, the group was divided into three groups, and each group was instructed to do different things. The first group of individuals was instructed to write about things and happenings that they were grateful for throughout the week. The second group of individuals was instructed to write about things that irritated them every day throughout the week. The final group was instructed to write about anything that affected them without sticking to positive or negative situations. They could write about all sorts of things.
After ten weeks, it was noticed that the people who had been writing about things that they were grateful for were more positive in life and that they felt better about their lives. It was also noted that those people exercised more and had few visits to physicians compared to those who focused on unpleasant things and happenings.
3. It helps promote happiness among individuals
Happiness is something we all strive for, as we all want to be happy. Different people define happiness differently. However, no matter how you define your happiness; we all want to be as happy as we can. It was proven that individuals who practice gratitude are happier in life than those who don’t.
A study was carried out where a group of people was instructed to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to a person they think has never been appreciated properly for his or her acts of kindness (7). It was noted that participants of the study immediately exhibited high levels of happiness scores after doing it. Hence, being grateful helps you become happier and that you should try it if you want to be happier.
4. It improves relationships between people
No man is an island. We all need people to exist; nobody can survive on their own. Naturally, human beings are social beings, and hence we need to socialize with each other to survive and fulfill our purposes in this world. We all strive to make the relationships we have with people better. These people can be our family members, friends, spouses, children, colleagues, and so on.
Different studies have been done to prove that gratitude makes interpersonal relationships better (3). It was seen that couples who took the time to appreciate their partners felt better and more positive towards them. These couples were also comfortable in their relationship and could talk about things affecting their relationships easily.
Gratitude and work relationships
The same was also proven in work relationships (3). Employers who remember to appreciate their employees by just saying thank you had more motivated employees than those who didn’t.
A group of university fund-raisers was divided into two. One of the groups of fund-raisers made phone calls to ask former students and alumni of the university for donations the way they’ve always done. The second group, on the other hand, was first assigned to work on a different period. Before the second group could start working, they had a small talk with the director of annual giving. In the talk, the director thanked the fund-raisers for their efforts and work.
It was noted that in the following week, the university employees who belonged to the second group and had been appreciated made 50% more fund-raising calls than members of the first groups who weren’t appreciated.
5. It helps reduce stress
Nobody likes stress, and this is a fact. We all want to be relaxed. People who are grateful experience less stress, less pain, fewer instances of sleep deprivation, stronger immune systems, healthier relationships, and perform better in their work and studies (4). This is to say being grateful improves both your mental and physical health.
6. It helps people to be less materialistic
Gratitude is appreciating all the things in your life. It advocates for the appreciation of non-monetary items. This then helps us see how lucky we are to have some things that money can’t buy like peace, good health, family, and friends. As a result, being grateful helps us be less materialistic.
How can you cultivate gratitude?
As we have observed, being grateful comes with so many benefits. We all need to be grateful to experience the benefits that come with being thankful. We can cultivate a culture of gratitude by:
Writing thank-you notes. Write thank-you notes to people in your life. Tell them a message of gratitude for the impact they have on your life. Let them know how lucky you are to have them in your life. Do this regularly. Do not let a month pass without you writing a thank you note to someone.
Count your blessings. This is a very effective way to keep being grateful. Always find time during the week or at the end of the week to list down things that went right for you during that time and things that you are grateful for. This helps you appreciate what you regularly have.
Keeping a gratitude journal. This is a journal where you write down all the things you are grateful for. This is a nice way to remember all the things you appreciate. So many times we are usually very busy that we forget the things we cherish in our lives. Consequently, this journal helps us keep track of such things.
Praying. If you are a spiritual person, you can help cultivate gratitude using prayer. Every time you pray, tell all the things you are grateful for to the one you believed in.
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Hindrances to Gratitude
Certain things can hinder you from being grateful (1). Such things include:
- Excessive sense of self-ego
- Being arrogant
- Feeling entitled
- Thinking you are better than other people
Gratitude Meditation: How to do it?
Now that you know all there is about gratitude, it is time to learn how to practice gratitude meditation. The best thing about this type of meditation is how open it is. It can be done at any time, anywhere (9). You can design your morning gratitude meditation. What else can you do? You can also practice gratitude walking meditation. You can even go the extra mile and create your very own 21 days of gratitude meditation.
Here is an example of what to do when you want to meditate for gratitude (8):
- The first thing you need to do is find a quiet and comfortable place where no one can disturb you.
- Have a timer, and put the exact time you want to spend meditating. It can be anything from ten minutes to even an hour.
- Sit in a comfortable yet upright poster. Make sure your upper body is well supported. This is your head, your neck, and your back. You can choose to sit or lie down. It all depends on what you prefer. You should make sure you feel warm, and you might want to loosen any clothes that are tight or change to something comfortable.
- You can close your eyes or slightly open them. The choice is yours.
- Focus on all the negative emotions that you might have in your mind. This can be fear, anger, or jealousy. Breathe into those emotions, noting them and breathe them out, as you breathe out. Do this second time.
- Focus on all the other emotions that you have in your mind, and just like you did with the negative emotions, breathe them out.
What to do when you want to meditate for gratitude (8):
- Now that you’ve gotten rid of all those emotions, your head should be clearer, and you should feel as if you are at peace. Now begin to focus on the people, events, experiences, pets, and even possessions that you are grateful for. Think about why you are grateful for all those things.
- After that, take a moment to be grateful for all that is happening around you. The oxygen flowing through your lungs, and all other reasons you might have to be grateful for at the moment.
- As you finish, you will notice the feeling of your body and your breath in this place. Take a few minutes to rest while you just experience the feelings and thoughts that are currently going through your mind. Just experience them without judging them or putting much thought into them. You can choose to journal down what you feel. With practice, you can make this an everyday habit.
As you can see, that is one of the ways you can practice gratitude meditation. You can also do this randomly, where you just sit down or walk around thinking about the things you are grateful for. Gratitude meditation works to ensure that you actively appreciate the things in your life. It helps you notice the things that you are lucky to have. It helps you remember that every day you are alive, and you have a reason to be grateful.
In conclusion, gratitude meditation has been done by many religions and natives since time immemorial. Monks usually wake up to this. They just sit done and be grateful to Mother Nature, to the skies and the heavens, to the plants, to the animals, and fellow human beings.
Benefits of Gratitude Meditation
Most of the benefits of gratitude meditation are similar to the benefits of meditation. This is to say, that if you are generally a grateful person, you are already experiencing the benefits of gratitude meditation. Just to list them down, the benefits of gratitude meditation are:
- Happiness and general optimism (10)
- Feeling of contentment
- Being less materialistic and focusing on things that truly matter
- Gratitude meditation provides better mental health (5)
- Better relationships with others
- Gratitude meditation provides better sleeping patterns (11)
- Better physical health (6)
- Better appreciation and satisfaction of the life you have
- Helps disconnect us from toxic and negative thoughts and emotions
- Helps facilitate helping behaviors (13)
The Bottom Line
Thus, gratitude meditation is or should be an important aspect of our lives. It comes with so many benefits that it makes it all worth it. Other than that, it helps make us generally whole as people. This is because it leads to better mental and physical health. It can also be easily done by anybody without even having so much experience in it. The best part is that, if you need help, there are so many professionals that might help you in it, as well as many apps.
How to do gratitude meditation?
You can do gratitude meditation by following the example given above. The important things you need to keep in mind are the things you are grateful for and why you are thankful for them. Having a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to keep track of such things (2). Make an effort to have a gratitude journal as this helps in your process for effective gratitude meditation.
If you want to do even more for your body, why don’t you supplement meditation with some exercise? Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this
- 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science (2020, positivepsychology.com)
- 8 Ways To Have More Gratitude Every Day (2016, forbes.com)
- Giving thanks can make you happier (n.d., health.harvard.edu)
- Gratitude (n.d., psychologytoday.com)
- Gratitude and Well Being (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Gratitude is good medicine (2015, health.ucdavis.edu)
- Gratitude Letter (n.d., ggia.berkeley.edu)
- Gratitude Meditation (n.d., ggia.berkeley.edu)
- Gratitude meditation (n.d., headspace.com)
- Gratitude Meditation: A Simple But Powerful Happiness Intervention (2020, positivepsychology.com)
- Guided Gratitude Meditation (n.d., mindworks.org)
- How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (2017, greatergood.berkeley.edu)
- The Science Behind Gratitude (and How It Can Change Your Life) (n.d., happify.com)
- What is Gratitude? ( n.d., gratefulness.org)