One of the most powerful kinds of practices you can add to your daily life is a gratitude meditation in the morning. Gratitude meditation can help focus your thoughts in a positive direction, which can snowball into the rest of your day. When you’re focused on the good things in your life and grateful for what comes to you, you naturally become more clear-headed and productive.
What Is Gratitude Meditation?
A gratitude meditation is a practice that shifts your awareness towards the things you are grateful for. Most of us have a lot of good things in our lives to be happy for, but because of social conditioning, the negative things float to the surface of our minds.
When we focus on the negative too much, it’s like digging a hole every day that gets harder and harder to climb out of. Once you’ve been habituated to negativity and complaining, it’s tough to break the cycle, because the surrounding reality will seem bleaker and bleaker.
A gratitude meditation can help jumpstart you out of those patterns and into one of positivity. Gratitude is just another form of love—love for the things you already have. When you feel love, it’s hard for negative thoughts to leak in.
During a gratitude meditation, you allow yourself to relax and fall into the calm state central to most kinds of meditation. Then, from there, you contemplate things you might not normally think about. For example, you may consider that:
The idea is to list in your mind all the things you might be grateful for. If you’re having a hard time thinking of general, global things without intrusive negative thoughts about the state of the world, then you could switch your focus to more mundane matters. Even being grateful for something simple, like having a soft pillow to lay your head on at night, is a step in the right direction.
You can also try a guided gratitude meditation. This might make it easier for you to stay focused on the positive if your mind is currently habituated to finding negative things to complain about. Over time, if you practice every day, then your brain will retrain itself to hone in on more productive matters.
Why Should You Try Gratitude Meditation?
A gratitude meditation might make you feel good at the moment by shifting your thoughts, but is there a bigger point to it all? Can focus on the positive solve your problems, or is it just another form of denying reality?
Gratitude meditation is not at all about denying reality. It’s quite the opposite. It’s about acknowledging the truth: that you are the creator of your own experience of reality. You can focus on lack and thus grow discontent in your life, or you can focus on the things you love and help those positive things expand.
Awareness and attention are to your experiences what water and sunlight are to plants. When you shift your attention to something, you help that thing grow. This is where gratitude meditation comes in.
The most important thing about any gratitude meditation is that it’s a pattern interrupt. It throws a wrench in the mechanisms of your mind that are constantly looking for the lack.
Instead of looking at life as a problem to be solved, you can instead see it as a journey to be experienced. Most of your problems were already solved for you, by your ancestors. Natural selection and human ingenuity conspired to help you survive and live a comfortable life. Reminding yourself of these ideas puts things in perspective.
That is the goal of basically any kind of meditation: changing your perspective on life.
What Are the Benefits of Gratitude Meditation?
There are many hidden benefits to gratitude meditation you may not have considered. Like any meditation, gratitude meditation can change your life one day at a time.
1. Seeing the Truth
When there is so much strife in the world, it may seem like focusing on the positive is the opposite of seeing the truth! This is not the case at all. We are simply conditioned by society to think negative things are “real” and that viewing the positive side is delusional.
The fact of the matter is that there are infinite things you can place your focus on in this reality, and no one thing is more valid or “true” than the other. However, your attention is limited, so it makes sense to be stingy with what you feed to your mind. Knowing you can only focus on a limited set of things, why would you choose the negative?
Gratitude meditation trains you to find positive things in life, even when you’re not in a state of explicit meditation. Over time, the mental habit you developed during meditation will stick with you.
2. Law of Attraction
If you’re into viewing life through the lens of attracting what you want—if you practice the Law of Attraction deliberately—the first thing you need to do is to be grateful for what you already have! Letting go of feelings of lack is central to this paradigm. If you cannot stop thinking about you not having something, then your ability to attract it to you will be greatly diminished.
Regardless of whether the Law of Attraction works through some mystical process or for some psychological reason, start with what you have. The fastest way to bridge the gap between where you are and where you would like to be is to notice what aspects of reality are already where you want them to be. These small things that resonate with you are like breadcrumbs that lead to what you truly want.
3. Reduce Stress by Being in the Present Moment
Sometimes, stress is about perspective. Eons ago, when humans lived in the moment, stress would last a short while. We would enter a fight-or-flight mode when something with sharp teeth was chasing us, but then once we climbed that tree and got away, it would quickly dissipate. Typically, there was no such thing as being perpetually in stress.
These days, because we live in a very conceptual society that is ruled by thoughts of the past and future, we have fallen out of the present. We stress in anticipation of things that have yet to come, and we get stuck in the patterns of the past and don’t know how to let them go.
Gratitude meditation—and meditation in general—allows us to reconnect with the present moment and our true selves. This is where reality exists. If you notice, there are rarely (if ever) any “problems” in the present moment. All the apparent problems are things that occurred in the past or things we fear in the future. If we live in one endless moment, these problems disappear—and they become merely neutral situations.
4. The End of Worrying
Worrying about the future or about what happened in the past does more than just cause stress. Its true cost is much more disturbing: worrying can cost your life—the authentic life ready to expand out of you.
Worrying is nothing more than a distraction. It’s a convenient way to distract yourself when you don’t have the courage to live the life you were meant to live. You may not even know that this is happening.
What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but never accomplished? Do you have a million worries and excuses why you couldn’t do it? Did you feel you had to be “realistic” and give up your dreams?
Start a gratitude meditation every day and watch as your true self challenges you to drop the excuses. This process may not always be relaxing and pleasant, but you will stop worrying and see the truth: That you can do whatever you want. It is only you who stands in your way.
Does being grateful for all that you have mean that your head is in the clouds? Maybe so, but there are huge benefits to gratitude meditation that cannot be ignored. Not only can it positively affect your mental health, but it can help you attract the things you want in the long run because you will be more focused on finding the path rather than complaining about the obstacles.
If you don’t quite know how to go about it, there are plenty of guided gratitude meditations you can find on the Internet to give you an idea of how to get started. The most important thing is to allow the gratitude to flow into your everyday life. Do your meditation in the morning, and after a while, you will see how it changes your perspective, and potentially even your outside circumstances.