A simple yet powerful technique to be happy
If you are reading this you know you are not happy enough and you deserve to be happier. In this blog I will give you easy and simple yet very powerful technique to stay happy. We will talk about a special type of meditation especially designed to make us feel happier and why you should do this. This meditation technique is gratitude meditation.
This blog will tell you:
What Gratitude Meditation is?
Why Gratitude Meditation is good for you?
Some guided gratitude meditations (youtube)
A Take Home Message
Lets talk about Gratitude Meditation?
Gratitude meditation is one special kind of meditation technique which focuses on expressing gratitude for the things in your life. Buddhist monks begin each day with a chant of gratitude for the blessings of their life. Native American elders begin each ceremony with grateful prayers to mother earth and father sky, to the four directions, to the animal, plant, and mineral brothers and sisters who share our earth and support our life. In Tibet, the monks and nuns even offer prayers of gratitude for the suffering they have been given.
So, now you know that this is neither new nor restricted to one spiritual or religious movement. If you think meditation is sitting in a dark room and clearing your mind,let me tell you, gratitude meditation can be practised in many different settings. You can practice gratitude meditation while you wait for your morning coffee to brew, while you are commuting, even when you are brushing your teeth. Gratitude meditation is one of the simplest way to meditate because at its core, all you have to do is just reflect on all the people and things you are grateful for. Yes, It’s that simple.
Please note that gratitude is not just about being thankful for the good things in your life, but it is about being thankful to everything in your life. There might be things in your life which might initially seem bad, but if you keep reflecting them further those feelings will, give you good opportunities to learn and grow. You have to be open and include neutral people, difficult people, and even enemies- until you extend sympathetic joy to all beings everywhere, young and old, near and far in your meditation session.
You can also start keeping a gratitude journal. This is simply a journal where you write down things you are grateful for, or even write letters to people whom you are grateful for. Gratitude journals are not a necessary part of a gratitude meditation practice, but they are an easy way to staying grateful throughout your life.
Why You should try Gratitude Meditation?
You might remember I told you about Buddhist monks and some Native American elders who begin their days and ceremonies with Gratitude Meditation, you might be interested in starting your day in a similar manner. Let me give you some results of scientific studies
One study [Rao, 2016: Online Training in Specific Meditation Practices Improves Gratitude, Well-Being, Self-Compassion, and Confidence in Providing Compassionate Care Among Health Professionals] found that gratitude meditation can reliably increase feelings of gratitude. You might say it’s a silly or obvious finding, but isn’t it important to verify that gratitude meditation leads to increased feelings of gratitude rather than just assume it does because it seems like a given?
This study is also interesting because participants were briefly trained in gratitude meditation online, practised gratitude meditation just one time, and then they immediately saw results. This is very exciting isn’t it? We understand the importance of gratitude but that does not necessarily mean we practice feeling gratitude as often as we should.
Since gratitude meditation leads to higher levels of gratitude, any benefits that come with gratitude should also come from practising gratitude meditation. Feelings of gratitude come with all sorts of benefits:
- Decreased levels of depression(Sirois, 2017: Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Lower Depression in Chronic Illness Populations)
- Higher levels of well-being (Nezlek, 2017: A daily diary study of relationships between feelings of gratitude and well-being)
- Trust in strangers (Drążkowski, 2017: Gratitude pays: A weekly gratitude intervention influences monetary decisions, physiological responses, and emotional experiences during a trust-related social interaction)
- Increased sleep quality (Jackowska, 2016: The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology, and sleep)
On top of that, all of these benefits were found with relatively brief gratitude meditations, so if you even practice gratitude meditation for a short amount of time you can lead to higher levels of well-being.
Gratitude can also be a protective factor in certain situations. For example, gratitude has been shown to lead to positive outcomes following traumatic events such as campus shootings (Vieselmeyer, 2017: The Role of Resilience and Gratitude in Posttraumatic Stress and Growth Following a Campus Shooting) or destructive earthquakes (Lies, 2014: Gratitude and personal functioning among earthquake survivors in Indonesia), or negative life experiences such as substance misuse (Chen, 2017: Does gratitude promote recovery from substance misuse?).
In fact, one study looking at adolescents (Ma, 2013: Gratitude is associated with greater levels of protective factors and lower levels of risks in African American adolescents) even found that gratitude was a protective factor that was associated with several different aspects of adolescence, such as higher levels of academic interest, engagement, and performance. That same study also found that higher levels of gratitude led to lower levels of drug use and early-adolescent sexual behaviour.
Two other studies (Kleiman, 2013: Grateful individuals are not suicidal: Buffering risks associated with hopelessness and depressive symptoms and Stockton, 2016: How does gratitude affect the relationship between positive humour styles and suicide-related outcomes?) show that high levels of gratitude have even been associated with lower levels of suicidal ideation. This shows the importance of having high levels of gratitude in general and potential value of gratitude meditations.
For benefits of gratitude meditation specifically, one study (O’Leary, 2015: The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness meditations on Well-Being) found that practising gratitude meditation four times a week for three weeks (along with keeping a gratitude diary) led to reduced levels of stress and depression, as well as increased levels of happiness. Anybody like you can incorporate this intervention into their lives with minimal cost and effort, making that finding extremely promising. This specific intervention’s schedule of four times a week for three weeks could also easily be incorporated in schools, prisons, and other situations.
These findings tell us, starting a gratitude meditation practice yields near-immediate benefits leading to increased levels of well-being. Having a gratitude meditation practice will also increase your levels of gratitude, which will serve as a protective factor if you face certain traumatic events and risky behaviours.
Interesting thing is, the Rao & Kemper (2016) study shows that teaching people gratitude meditation can be done very quickly and that it can even be done online. This means that just about anyone in the world can quickly learn about gratitude and gratitude meditation and start using it to their own benefits.
Guided Gratitude Meditations
I know that after reading this and knowing those benefits, you are eager to try it. Here i am giving you few guided gratitude meditation videos to get your practice started. One of these is a quick, short introduction to gratitude meditation, one is a bit longer, and one is only for people who are ready to commit to a long video.
Click here to watch this very short (shorter than seven minutes) guided meditation from Deepak Chopra, focusing on gratitude. He also focuses on forgiveness in this session. It an excellent choice for beginners, as it should be easy to find 7 minutes for this meditation.
Click here for a slightly longer but still short (coming in at just over 10 minutes) guided video to walk you through a gratitude meditation session. Even absolute beginners can enjoy this video, as the speaker will guide you through every aspect of the meditation.
Click here for guided gratitude meditation which is just about half an hour long. It is a good choice if you are looking for a long gratitude meditation session to be guided through. it is longer but still guided, so if you want to try it, go for it.
A Take Home Message
Gratitude meditation is taking time to reflect on the blessings in your life, as well as accepting the things which do not necessarily seem good but are still a part of who you are.Gratitude meditation sessions can be very short to around a half hour or even longer if needed.
Gratitude meditation has several benefits. Gratitude meditations have been proven effective in many different situations within a wide range of populations, so it is never too early or too late to start practising gratitude meditation in your own life.
Finally, gratitude and mindfulness are two key aspects of human life (and have been for a long time) that complement each other nicely. If you are currently practising one but not the other, it should be easy and beneficial for you to start incorporating both in your meditation practice.
Even a single gratitude meditation session can start improving your life immediately.