When you practice gratitude meditation you start to feel super positive about… well, pretty much everything actually.
Gratitude is arguably the number one trait of positive people. It is one of the main types of happiness—we should experience all types regularly.
Gratitude makes you happy, makes you glad, and is basically a big rainbow rising over your life.
Gratitude feels great. That’s definitely true. I personally love nothing more than getting the day off to a good start by meditating on gratitude in the morning.
But did you know that gratitude is so important it can even stop depression, anxiety, stress, and many other problems that we face in life?
That’s why gratitude meditation matters so much.
And there are specific meditations for gratitude that will very quickly inject some thankfulness and happiness into your life.
“You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy–Buddha”
Seriously, Gratitude Is So Important—Just look at these benefits
Science has proven that along with hope and positivity, gratitude is one of the most important character traits we can possess.
Just look at this huge list of benefits of gratitude.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Massively improves happiness
- More positive feelings
- Higher resilience
- Less envy
- Happier memories
- Less materialism
- Less self centred
- More optimistic
- Higher self esteem
- Better sleep
- Less sick days
- Heightened longevity
- Increase energy
- Motivates us to exercise
- Makes us more social
- Improves marriage
- Reduces divorces
- Makes us kinder
- Improves relationships
- Improves interpersonal connection
- Improves personal management
- Improves networking
- Improves goal achievements
- Improves decision making
- Increases productivity
These are the benefits of gratitude that have been proven by science. But long before science, there was religion and spirituality.
If you’re a spiritual person you’ll love the teachings that I’ve shared below.
Let’s take a look.
Before you start doing gratitude meditations, here’s some inspiring thoughts…
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.–Lincoln”
Gratitude meditation will massively improve your levels of gratitude. And that’s a good thing.
Buddha taught that gratitude is one of the most important things in life. He said that a human birth is rarer than the chance that a tiny turtle in the big ocean would ever poke its head through a tiny hoop.
He instructed the monks to sit at the base of a tree in the heart of the forest and practice what he called “Gladdening the heart”.
Monks would do this by reflecting on the positive and good that has happened to them, and particularly to reflect on how fortunate they were to have found the dharma.
The Buddhist way of meditating on gratitude is to be mindful of all the favorable things that have happened to us. Mindfulness of gratitude, Buddha taught, connects us to the broader experience of life and increases connectivity and oneness.
Many people make a common mistake of thinking that it is unrealistic to meditate on gratitude because there are so many negatives in life.
However, Lao Tzu said the quote below:
“Correct your mind and the rest of your life will fall into place”.
The reason the mind needs correcting is because we dwell on negative thoughts.
The human brain is prone to negativity bias, whereby we focus on the negative more than on the positive. We balance this out with gratitude meditation, in which we focus on the positive. It is the act of titrating the bad with the good that creates positive changes in the mind.
Many people have asked me for advice after the death of a loved on. I find it challenging to say, “be grateful’, because someone has died. But the fact is that we are already dwelling on the negative, and gratitude meditation helps us to balance out the negativity with positivity.
The bible agrees with this.
Thessalonians 5:15–18 says:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God.”
The Sufi poet Rumi expressed gratitude in his poem The Guest House:
The Guest House—Rumi (A Gratitude Poem)
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
Use This Gratitude Meditation And You’ll Feel… Magical!
There are some powerful meditations for gratitude that I and my meditation students find particularly useful.
One thing that may surprise you about these mindful-gratitude techniques is that they don’t just focus on the positive. They intentionally bring to mind the negative.
It is important to connect negatives with positives in order to get a healthy perspective on life. The ultimate goal is to be thankful for experiences that we may generally consider negative, because in truth we should be thankful for the fullness of existence.
Gratitude Meditation Step 1
In Buddhist temples that I have visited, there is a prayer that goes like this:
“May I be given the appropriate difficulties so that my heart can truly open with compassion.”
This meditation is based on that prayer.
- Sit comfortably with good posture
- Take 5 deep breaths through you nose
- Softly bring to mind one thing you view as unfortunate
- Remind yourself of why it is unfortunate
- Mindfully observe the negative feeling associate with the circumstance
- Take 5 relaxing breaths
- Say to yourself, “Yes, this is unfortunate”
- Now find five things about the situation that are actually good
- Mindfully observe the positive emotions
- Now say, “I am grateful for the fullness of existence”
- Spend a few moments contemplating on how good and bad exist in harmony.
- Express thanks for the fullness of existence
Gratitude Meditation Step 2
The next step to developing gratitude is to take a long walk (yay, who doesn’t love a good walk?)
- On our walk we will be consciously observing all the things we are thankful for.
- Here’s how
- Choose somewhere beautiful to walk
- Take ten minute just generally walking and relaxing
- Be mindful of your environment. Be mindful of the trees, of other people, of animals, of everything
- Each time you notice something you like, say “I am grateful for [what it is] because [reason]”. For instance, “I am grateful for the bird song, which reconnects me with nature”
Augment these gratitude meditations with a gratitude journal
The easiest way to cultivate gratitude is list things you are thankful for. You can choose to do this gradually, by using a journal book, or you can challenge yourself to write a list of 100 things you’re grateful for.
Here are 100 things I’m thankful for (for inspiration)
1) Being alive in a world of possibilities
2) Those who fought and died protecting our freedom
3) Freedom to choose who we want to be
4) Freedom to choose what we want to do
5) Everybody who ever smiled at us
6) Everybody who ever lifted us when we were down
7) Being able to choose what to do with your time
8) The ability to work and earn a living
9) People who are supportive and caring
10) People who aren’t, who remind you what not to be
11) Food. The smell of it, the taste of it, the sight of it. YUMMY!
12) The imagination. It’s the greatest gift we have.
13) The feeling of the sun on our skin
14) The sound of rain
15) The internet that puts us in contact with the world
16) Our ability to communicate with others
17) The morning paper that keeps us informed
18) Pleasant dreams
19) Video games!
24) Running out in the open
25) Cheesy uplifting pop music
26) Christmas comes every single year!
27) Beauty; in other people, in nature; everywhere.
28) The ability to make a difference in the world
33) Sense of sight
34) Sense of hearing
35) Sense of touch
36) A healthy immune system
37) Our beautiful and complex bodies
39) The human mind
40) Inventions that have made society what it is
43) Our expressivity
44) School / Education system
45) Health care
46) The sky at night
47) The feeling of water over your skin
48) Our propensity for hope
49) Being able to travel the world
50) Being able to take days off
51) Life itself
53) Knowing that pain is temporary
56) Hindsight, which makes us wiser every day
59) The sound of laughter
62) Knowing that we’re never truly alone
63) Living in a country that strives for justice and fairness
65) Air conditioning
66) The pub
69) The sound of birds singing
70) Clothing that keeps us warm and comfy
71) A rich cultural heritage
73) Having photos from around the world a mere click away
75) The media
76) Being able to read and write
79) Our emotions, good and bad, that keep us feeling alive
81) Being able to sing
82) Blank pages on which to hurl our thoughts and feelings
83) The ability to choose to think positive
84) Scientific discoveries that keep society evolving
85) People who share their memories with us
86) Our always playful inner child
88) Our homes
89) The ability to let your hair down once in a while
90) Those in public service
91) Old people who remind us of our history
92) Young people who carry with them our tomorrow
93) Being able to fall over and get back up
94) Knowing there is always love
95) Knowing that every day is a sacred day for at least someone out there
96) Being able to switch off and relax when we need to
97) That pulse of optimism that propels us to act
98) The possibilities–Not knowing what tomorrow will bring
99) Knowing you’re special to at least one person
100)Knowing there are people who believe in you
101) The humility to always look at life with a sense of wonder.
Beware of false gratitude and painful thoughts
When practicing these gratitude meditations you may fall prey to the fake gratitude. This is the attitude in which we lazily think, “Life actually sucks, but I should be grateful anyway”. This is a negative attitude and is not real gratitude.
To counter this false gratitude, get specific.
For instance, if you are trying to be grateful in a relationship, you might notice your mind saying, “My relationship is bad but I should be thankful anyway.” Is you experience this, get specific. Bring to mind things that you generally do love about the relationship, state it explicitly, and give a genuine reason why you are grateful for it.
For instance, when I express gratitude for my father (with whom I had a turbulent relationship and whom I have both negative and positive memories) I might say,
“I am grateful for my father’s hard work, because he fought through alcoholism and maintained a good job, providing for me and giving me positive experiences, and for this I am truly thankful”
This is an example of genuine gratitude in a relationship where there was a lot of pain.
*Obviously some relationships genuinely are bad and it may be time to move on. This is a totally different situation not based on gratitude. Treat these situations differently.
Quotes about Gratitude —For Inspiration
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ― Marcel Proust quotes about gratitude
“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest, yet most powerful things humans can do, for each other.” Randy Pausch quotes about gratitude
“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” Johannes A. Gaertner quotes about gratitude Happiness is itself a kind of gratitude. – Joseph Wood Krutch quotes about gratitude
“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” Beecher, Henry Ward quotes about gratitude Your Beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does!
And that’s how you do gratitude meditation.