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Not sure how to start practicing gratitude? Psychologist Dacher Keltner guides you through a practice that can help you see the good things in your life that you might otherwise overlook.
How to Do This Practice:
1. Sit or lay down somewhere comfortable. You may close your eyes if you wish, and take a slow, deep breath in to ground into the present moment. Then, scan your body from head to toe, noticing how you’re feeling in this moment. Let worries and plans clear from your mind.
2. Start by thinking about all the things that make your life comfortable: Clean water on tap, light at the flip of a switch, a roof over your head to protect you from the weather, warmth, and comfort when it gets windy, rainy, or cold.
3. Let your mind wander to all the millions of people who have worked hard to make your life more comfortable: Those who plant and harvest the food you eat, who bring it to markets, people who ensure the water we drink is clean, delivery drivers, teachers, all the people who create art and music and books and films and all the things that can bring us so much meaning, and so on.
4. Think about the acquaintances who bring richness to your life, like a colleague, neighbor, or someone you often see at the gym or a coffee shop.
5. Take a moment to think about what you’re really grateful for today, right now.
6. Notice how you’re feeling now, compared to when you started, and then start to bring movement back to your body, wiggling fingers and toes, maybe slowly standing up.
7. If you have the time, spend a few minutes journaling about what you thought about.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Dacher Keltner is the host of The Science of Happiness podcast and is a co-instructor of the Greater Good Science Center’s popular online course of the same name. He’s also a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
This practice was created by Dr. Kathy Kemper, who’s the director of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at the Ohio State University. Learn more about some of her work here: https://mind-bodyhealth.osu.edu/
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
Try GGSC’s online Gratitude Journal, Thnx4: https://tinyurl.com/2s4e4bx6
Take our Gratitude Quiz: https://tinyurl.com/yhbz6cwv
Four Great Gratitude Strategies: https://tinyurl.com/2muyff64
Is Gratitude Good for You?: https://tinyurl.com/ycknm2ru
Three Surprising Ways Gratitude Works at Work: https://tinyurl.com/yc2c8y4n
How Gratitude Motivates Us to Become Better People: https://tinyurl.com/5n6ejpdy
We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience with practicing gratitude. Email us at email@example.com or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
Find us on Apple Podcasts: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap
Help us share Happiness Break! Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap
We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner I’m Dacher Keltner. This is Happiness Break, where we take a short break in our day to find more calm, compassion, and kindness.
It is the season of gratitude right now, but cultivating more gratitude on a daily basis. Benefits our bodies in terms of our cardiovascular and inflammation profiles. It even has been shown to activate dopamine in certain regions of the brain, which give us a sense of excitement and enthusiasm and joy. It benefits our minds in terms of a sense of, uh, reverence and being given things, and it benefits our relationships in terms of feeling more connected and trusting of other people around us.
Given what we’ve learned in the science, I think it’s so important that we find a moment each day to practice a little gratitude.
So we’re going to try a gratitude practice together right now. This gratitude meditation was created by Dr. Kathi Kemper, who’s the director of the Center of Integrative Health and Wellness at the Ohio State University.
So to begin, find a safe, quiet place where you know you will not be disturbed or you’re not driving. Sit upright, in a comfortable, stable position where you feel fully supported and your back and your neck and your head are straight or lie down. Close your eyes or soften your focus, gazing, say six to 12 feet in front of you. Now take a slow, deep breath in to bring yourself into the present moment, expanding your rib cage, and breathing in … and breathing out.
On this next breath in, just scan your body from your feet to your legs, to your back to your face, and notice if there are areas of tightness or tension. Just breathe into that space …
On this next breath, just notice your mind and clear your mind of worries, your plans, your intentions, and just focus on this present moment.
Now think about all the things that we have today that make our lives easier and more comfortable than they were for our great-grandparents. Continuing this nice pattern of deep breathing, just reflect on the fact that when we flip a switch, light appears. You turn on a tap and clean water flows.
We have nice roofs over our heads, and when it rains or gets cold or the wind blows, we can feel comfortable and warm.
We have so much to be grateful for in the health and comfort of our lives.
Now take a moment to imagine the millions of people who have worked so hard. Many not knowing you at all, who make your life easier and more comfortable.
Reflect on those people who have planted and grown and harvested the food that you eat. How hard they work. People who have in different ways brought food to markets.
Think about the person delivering mail, often until 8:00 PM.
Think about all the teachers out there generating wisdom for our kids. And think about all the people who create art and music and fiction and the written word, and journalism and films that can bring us so much meaning these days.
Most of these people you’ve never met or barely know.
Now think about the acquaintances out there who you know, who bring richness to your life, a friend or a colleague, somebody you see regularly in your walks out where you live.
Now, take a moment to reflect on the reasons you feel grateful right now.
Think about what you’re grateful for today.
There is so much to be grateful for in the present moment.
Now, resting hopefully in a pattern of deepened breathing, notice how your body feels, what is running through your mind. What emotions you might be experiencing compared to a few minutes ago. Just notice what this practice brought to you.
You can open your eyes if they were closed. Stretch your hands and your arms, and move your feet and your legs. You can move around. If you wanna stand up, do so slowly.
If you have the time, it’s often good to spend a few minutes right now writing down three or four things that you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful.
That practice helps us keep them alive in our minds and carry them forward as we move through the day.
I’m Dacher Kelner. Thank you for taking this Happiness Break with me to find a little bit more gratitude in our daily lives.
This gratitude meditation was created by Dr. Kathi Kemper, who’s the director of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at the Ohio State University. You can learn more about Dr. Kemper’s work and the science of gratitude in our show notes wherever you’re listening to this Happiness Break.
We’d love to hear about some of the things you were grateful for. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag #Happiensspod. Happiness Break is a production of PRX and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.