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Gratitude Meditation for Year-Round Joy

Want to live a more joyful life filled with gratitude? Use this gratitude meditation to feel year-round joy! Plus four steps to increase your gratitude.

Are you here for the gratitude meditation? Meditate here.

When do we feel grateful? When there is abundance, and also when there is lack. When things are going right and we have much to be thankful for, it can be easy to feel gratitude. But also when we have experienced great loss or hardship, we find ourselves feeling grateful for our loved ones or having survived a big life challenge.

In those times, the loss of “things” isn’t as critical as still having the things that mean the most, like our very life, family, and friends. In between abundance and lack, we tend to take things for granted.

In spite of knowing the general value of gratitude, day-to-day life can sometimes give us little chance to slow down and appreciate all our blessings. Thankfully there are some easy ways to increase gratitude in our otherwise busy lives, one being gratitude meditation. But before we take a look at how you can easily make time for honoring and growing gratitude, let’s see what scientists are saying about gratitude.

Can gratitude really make you happier?

Think Thanksgiving and the main thing that comes to mind is families and friends! Everyone gathered around the table sharing what each is most grateful for in the past year and the general happiness felt by everyone present. But can being consciously grateful on a regular basis make you happier?

Harvard University says, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Gratitude on the Brain

In a study referenced on the Greater Good magazine website, participants were scanned using fMRI (measures and maps brain activity) while doing “pay it forward” activities motivated by gratitude. They found that when people felt more gratitude they showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision making.

They also observed those who wrote gratitude letters and found a similar activation in the medial prefrontal cortex. This effect was also found three months after the letter-writing began. This indicates that simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain.

How amazing is that?!? Turns out that a gratitude practice can be more than just life-affirming!

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

What else can gratitude do for you? A LOT! Check it out.

  • Improves sleep
  • Enhances optimism
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Increases generosity
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Increases mental strength
  • Reduces depressive symptoms
  • Enhances empathy and compassion
  • Reduces aggression
  • And so much more…

Interestingly, the benefits of meditation are so similar to what gratitude does for us!

Enjoy this guided gratitude meditation.

More Gratitude in Four Easy Steps

With just a little bit of time and attention, gratitude can grow. Here are four easy steps to do every day so you can cultivate more gratitude.

    1. Gratitude journal. Journaling about the things we are grateful for seems like an obvious choice, but it also may be intimidating for some. If you’re not much for writing you could try a voice recording (hands-free!) type of journal. This method is perfect for those who are always on the go. There are also virtual gratitude journal apps that give you prompts to use each day. Either way, find some time every day to log or keep track of whatever you are grateful for. Think of this as sowing the seeds of gratitude and more happiness. It may take time to sprout, but reaping the harvest will make having a gratitude journal all the more worthwhile.
    2. Count your blessings instead of sheep. Though you may count your blessings when you journal, counting them right before sleep can improve the quality of your sleep and maybe even help you to fall asleep sooner rather than later. Try reflecting on your day in reverse. For example, “I am grateful for the conversation I had with my friend this evening. I am grateful for the dinner my husband made for me. I am grateful for the kindness of a stranger on the way to work. I am grateful for the hot shower I had this morning. I am grateful for waking up to greet a new day once again.”

      Like this, trace back through your day acknowledging all the good that happened. Don’t be in a rush, notice all the good things one at a time. You might find yourself asleep before you finish reflecting and counting your blessings.

    3. Guided gratitude meditation. In addition to enjoying the guided meditation above, you can also create your own gratitude meditation script! Whether you read your script and fill in the blank each day as an affirmational meditative experience or decide to record a generic version and listen with your eyes closed—you can personalize your gratitude experience. Here are some general ideas to include:
      • Comforts like the warmth or coolness of air or water, a roof over your head, the gift of touch in the form of a hug, and a reliable car.
      • Abilities, like the ability to hear, and walk or maneuver a wheelchair. Special skills and talents also. The ability to work a job or even retire from a job.
      • People: We have so many people in our lives we can be grateful for. When was the last time you were grateful for the guy who collects your trash and makes it all disappear for you?! And our parents, regardless of whether we get along with them, made our life possible.
    4. SKY Breath Meditation. This meditation technique uses breathing patterns to reduce stress levels—even alleviate anxiety, depression, and PTSD. SKY practitioners report having more joy, more optimism, and an increase in life satisfaction. That’s a lot to be grateful for!

What do meditation and gratitude have in common?

One thing that meditation and gratitude have in common, is their effect on your brain. Meditators have shown significantly greater cortical thickness in the anterior regions of the brain, located in frontal and temporal areas, including the medial prefrontal cortex.

And remember all the benefits of gratitude we shared, and that meditation also gives the same benefits? Meditation is an effortless way to grow your gratitude in a very organic way. Together a gratitude practice and a meditation practice ensure you can live your best life!

Breathe in love…breathe out gratitude…

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