gratitude meditation

Giving thanks goes a long way

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie

As another year comes to an end, many of us will be looking back at how the year played out for us. There is no better time than this to cultivate a feeling of gratitude for everything we have, and all that we have received. What many people don’t realise is that cultivating and regularly tuning into a feeling of gratitude can materially improve our mental state, and brighten our outlook on life. Cultivating gratitude is a practice that has been scientifically proven to improve happiness, health and even how we relate to each other.

And yet gratitude doesn’t always come naturally to us. We are so caught up in the flow of doing things, wanting more, regretting the past and focussing on what’s missing, that it helps to set aside time and space for it, and make a concerted effort to appreciate all that we have. 

 

How cultivating gratitude improves our everyday lives

 

SAVOURING THE MOMENT

Grateful thinking encourages us to savour the positive moments in our lives and helps us make the most out of them. It reframes our thinking to appreciate these moments while we are still in them, instead of remembering them after the moment is gone, this gives us the most satisfaction and enjoyment from what is happening right now. 

IMPROVING OUR SELF IMAGE

People are often harsh self-critics, however through gratitude we can re-train our brains to appreciate what we value about ourselves and be thankful. It helps us to reflect on all the positive things that people have done for us, or on what we have accomplished or how lucky we are to have people or things in our life, all of which contribute to improving our self-worth and help us to feel supported and secure. 

ENRICHING OUR RELATIONSHIPS

Gratitude can strengthen existing relationships and nurture new ones; as you appreciate your closest circle the more likely your relationships are to improve. According to professor of psychology at UC Davis Robert Emmons, gratitude makes people more generous, outgoing and compassionate, which makes them much more pleasant to be around and can create a feedback loop of positive emotions. 

BLOCKING NEGATIVITY

Another huge benefit of gratitude is its ability to block and prevent negative emotions. Due to the way the human brain processes emotions, we can’t feel two contrasting feelings at once. It’s impossible to feel regret and gratitude at the same time; as these are two very different ways of relating to the world – so those who practice gratitude often generally have less time to experience negative emotions such as resentment or envy.

How can we cultivate gratitude?

Although all these benefits sound amazing, sometimes we need more direction on how to apply this to our daily lives. There are very simple ways to bring the mind back to gratitude, and the more we practice these things the more likely they are to become second nature and ins 

  1. As with mindfulness meditation, take the time to pay attention to the small things in life, all those things we take for granted on a daily basis – such as the water we drink, the sunshine, our health.
  2. Keeping a gratitude Journal – take a minute every day to note down what you are grateful for and why. Do this at the end of your day before you go to sleep.
  3. Ask yourself these questions when dealing with a stressful situation: what can I learn from this situation? What is the silver lining?
  4. Take time to remember good moments – reminisce about the times you laughed the hardest or smiled the most. The good memories reinforce the neural networks associated with happiness and gratitude.

We wish you lots of laughter, love and peace for 2018.