Welcome to a journey of appreciation and self-discovery. In a world that often emphasizes what we lack, turning our focus to gratitude can be a transformative experience. Gratitude isn’t just a warm and fuzzy feeling; it’s a powerful force backed by science. In this post, we delve into the importance of gratitude, explore the science behind its profound benefits, and offer you a guided gratitude meditation. Whether you’re new to the concept or looking to deepen your practice, this exploration is an invitation to unlock the healing and enriching power of thankfulness in your life.
I invite you to listen to this article as a podcast episode with more insights as well as embracing my guided gratitude meditation!
Table of contents
What is Gratitude?
According to Robert A. Emmons, gratitude has two core components — “an affirmation of goodness” and as a way for us to acknowledge that the “sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves” (Emmons, 2010).
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedectine monk and author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, puts it this way: gratefulness has two important qualities, the first being the appreciation of something you deem valuable. The second quality of gratefulness is that it must be gratis or given freely (The Gratefulness Team, 2017).
In laymen’s terms, gratitude is being grateful and appreciating what you have in your life as well as giving thanks to other people around you.
Gratitude and Being in the Now
What follows are my own thoughts after gathering wisdom from others and making sense of it all within me.
It comes down to being in the now as much as it is about gratitude. You see, we all wish to attract nice experiences and things into our lives. But here’s the thing – it’s not enough to simply manifest or repeat to yourself that this is what you want but you truly need to start feeling how it would be to be in this desired place and begin being thankful for it. Only when you’re able to do that and you’re truly living and feeling what you’re visualizing for yourself, can all those things come into fruition.
The Importance of Being in the Now
The universal energy or the great consciousness loves you unconditionally, wherever you are in your life. If you choose to be in the place of lack, that is never satisfied with what you have right now in this moment, always yearning for something that might happen in the future and even if you achieve the thing you wanted you never stop in gratitude but instead focus on the next thing in the future, you send out this vibration or energy of lack. And what you give out is what you get back. So, the universe sees that you’re choosing to be in the place of wanting all the time, and it sends you more of it, meaning you’ll always keep wanting and never getting.
Changing How We Think
How often have you caught yourself not being in the moment enjoying exactly what you’re doing but already thinking about future events? For example, having a nice relaxing walk in the nature and not completely immersing yourself into it but maybe thinking what you’re going to eat when you get back. Then, after you get back and eat that thing, while you’re doing it you already concentrate on the next thing you’re going to do and so on. Meaning, you never are present and embracing and enjoying what you’re doing.
I realised that very deeply when I started deeper inner work this spring. I was and sometimes still am that person. This is exactly why I find it so important to practice gratitude every day and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
I just recently listened to a podcast with neuroscientist Tara Swart who explained how creating new pathways in the brain is hard physical work. Especially if you have thought patterns that root from your childhood. It takes patience and hard work to redirect those pathways but eventually it will happen. Every time you recognize a negative thought, acknowledge it and replace it with something positive. In the beginning it might seem artificial and even cliché but over time with patience it will become automatic. You wake up in the morning and you see mostly beautiful things.
The Law of Attraction
There’s nothing wrong with visualizing and manifesting your desires, it’s important as well. What is as important though, is to first manifest, then feel it in your body, truly be in it, smell it, touch it, taste it and then… let go. Yes, let go of the insistence of any outcome and wholeheartedly enjoy the process, do what excites you the most. By doing that you raise your vibration and naturally attract more good things/experiences and synchronicities.
It doesn’t mean sitting on your butt and expecting that gold will start flowing in through your windows. No! You NEED to act. It’s all about doing what excites you – I can’t imagine sitting on your butt would excite you for a very long time! You’d most probably get bored and frustrated which is the opposite of raising your vibration.
So, you need to act and at the same time NOT focus on the outcome what you think is the best for you. That might lead you onto the wrong tracks. Thin about it – maybe you can’t even imagine what your higher mind or universe has in stake for you and by blindly giving yourself away to this certain outcome that your physical mind has come up with might simply limit you in what you actually may achieve and attract.
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How Does Gratitude work?
There are many scientific studies on the benefits of gratitude. So, how does it work scientifically:
- Gratitude enhances dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness.
- Reduces fear and anxiety by regulating stress hormones.
- Fosters cognitive restructuring by evoking positive thinking.
- Wires and fires new neural connections to the bliss centre of your brain.
How to Practice Gratitude
There are many ways you can bring yourself into the state of gratitude:
- Gratitude meditation
- Keeping a journal
- Use visual reminders like notes on your mirror or on your desktop
- Creating a vision board
- Share gratitude with loved ones
- Do small acts of kindness
- Ask what other people are grateful for
The Benefits of Gratitude
There are numerous benefits of being thankful:
- Improved sleep
- Blood pressure regulation
- Preventing you from overeating
- Motivating to do more exercise
- Strengthens immune system
- Helps regulate glucose levels
- Reduces the biomarkers of inflammation
Mental, Psychological, and Spiritual Benefits
- Boosts self-confidence
- Improves patience and reiliancy
- Reduces envy and jelousy
- Helps to be more optimistic and forgiving
- Steers towards less materialism
- Helps with depression and anxiety
- Aids recovery from addiction
- Enhances overall vitality
- Strengthens your romantic relationships as well as the relationships with your friends and family.
- Fosters a healthy social circle. Like-minded people attract like-minded people!
- Improves workplace retention.
- Increases productivity.
- Helps you build better relationships with your colleagues.
- Enhances yor decision-making skills.
As we conclude our exploration of gratitude, remember that this powerful practice is more than just a habit – it’s a way of living. By integrating gratitude into our daily lives, we open ourselves to a world of positivity, resilience, and connection. The science of gratitude shows us the path, and our meditation offers the tools to walk it. Embrace this journey with an open heart and watch as gratitude transforms not just moments, but your entire life. May your heart be filled with thankfulness today and every day. Thank you for joining me on this journey of gratitude and discovery.
Don’t forget to do my guided gratitude mediation that you can find on Spotify:
- 35 Scientific Benefits of Gratitude: Mental Health Research Findings. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- Benefits of Gratitude: 28+ Surprising Research Findings. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- Gratitude and Well Being. The Benefits of Appreciation. Randy A. Sansone, MD and Lori A. Sansone, MD. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- Exploring neural mechanisms of the health benefits of gratitude in women: A randomized controlled trial. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- Exploring the role of gratitude and support-giving on inflammatory outcomes. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- Does gratitude enhance prosociality?: A meta-analytic review. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- Gratitude and well-being: a review and theoretical integration. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
- The impact of gratitude interventions on patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Retrieved November 22, 2023.