How to Practice Gratitude Meditation for Daily Well-Being

A quick and easy way to improve your well-being

<p>Verywell Mind / Stocksy</p>

Verywell Mind / Stocksy

Chances are you’ve heard through the grapevine that meditation is good for you. Most of us associate meditation with sitting quietly in a dark room and clearing your mind for 20 minutes in perfect silence. But gratitude meditation is very different.

Gratitude meditation simply means focusing on and acknowledging the things you are grateful for. It can be done anywhere, at any time, making it very easy to build a gratitude meditation practice.

Read on to learn more about what gratitude meditation is, its benefits, and how you can incorporate it into your everyday life.

What Is a Gratitude Meditation?

A gratitude meditation is the conscious act of recognizing and appreciating the things in life for which you are grateful. This can be done in a few ways. Just like with other kinds of meditation, you can set aside a few minutes a day to actively identify things that make you grateful, write down a list of what you are grateful for in a gratitude journal, or acknowledge in real time something you are grateful for as you are experiencing it.

The practice of gratitude has roots in both religion and philosophy and actually dates back to our growth and progress as a species. People who recognized acts of altruism from others were more likely to be the recipients of altruism in turn. This reciprocity became deeply embedded in our collective psyche and is the reason that gratitude is now associated with so many positive effects.

You can listen to a guided gratitude meditation—there are a plethora floating around the internet—or you can design your own approach to gratitude. However you choose to practice, you are sure to see the benefits of your gratitude meditation quickly.

Related: How Meditation Impacts Your Mind and Body

The Benefits of Gratitude and Gratitude Meditation

It’s been proven that practicing gratitude—actively thinking about and acknowledging the things you have in your life for which you are grateful—increases your feelings of happiness and well-being. In fact, studies have shown that being mindfully grateful can actually rewire your brain to make you better able to deal with life’s challenges going forward.

Gratitude meditation has been shown to help with everything from depression to sleep quality to improving your trust in strangers. It promotes optimism and can calm you down when you are feeling anxious or stressed. By focusing on the people, places, things, and experiences that you are grateful for rather than what you don’t have or what you have lost, your day-to-day mood can improve, and your ability to see the good over the bad can be strengthened. This leads to less time worrying—something we could all benefit from.



Explainer

Specifically, gratitude and gratitude meditation have been proven to:

  • Improve mood and mental well-being and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression

  • Increase feelings of happiness

  • Rewire the brain so that we are better able to deal with future adversity

  • Increase feelings of gratitude, which in turn improves quality of life

  • Lower levels of depression in people with chronic illnesses

  • Support the recovery of those living with alcohol and substance use disorders

  • Decrease stress and anxiety and promote better mental health

  • Increase your trust of strangers and influence your monetary decisions

  • Lead to positive outcomes like post-traumatic growth

  • Improve your sleep



Practicing gratitude can help you change your perspective on what you might otherwise consider negative or detrimental. This promotes acceptance of the things in your life that you cannot change, determination to change the things in your life that are actually in your control, and, as the old saying goes, the wisdom to know the difference.

But how?

Related: How to Teach Children Gratitude

How Gratitude Meditation Works

Humans are hardwired to focus on the negative. This keeps us alert to and safe from danger. But often, this instinct ends up being too much of a good thing. We can easily forget the good things in our lives when we focus on what we have to do when things are bad.



Takeaway

The point of gratitude meditation, however, is not to forget or ignore the injustices or suffering in the world, nor is it meant to erase the problems you yourself are struggling with.



Instead, gratitude meditation works to open our eyes to the larger systems at play in our lives, and to be able to recognize our successes while simultaneously acknowledging and respecting our challenges.

Practicing gratitude meditation can get us “unstuck” from a place of self-absorption or anxiety by encouraging us to look at the bigger picture. Maybe someone you love is ill—remembering and appreciating the good times you had with that person can help you through this tougher time. Maybe you were passed over for a promotion at work—recognizing your hard work up to that point can encourage you to speak up for yourself and make goals that will help get you where you want to be.

Related: How Long Should You Meditate?

How Do I Start Gratitude Meditation?

The great thing about gratitude meditation is that you can practice it literally anywhere at any time. While there are guided gratitude meditations out there that can talk you through the process, all that’s involved in practicing gratitude is your own thoughts and feelings.

An easy way to introduce gratitude meditation into your life is to set up a daily routine. Set aside five minutes of your morning to think about the things you are grateful for.

Some ideas might be:

  • Your family, your friends, and/or your partner(s)

  • Your pet(s)

  • Your favorite coworkers

  • Your job (or the aspects of your job you like the best)

  • Your hobbies and passions and the ability to pursue them


If it feels difficult to identify specific things to be grateful for at first, you can always think of the larger picture and go from there:

  • You are alive

  • You have a roof over your head and food to eat

  • You have people in your life who love you



Takeaway

Of course, even these basic things—which most of us take for granted—are not applicable to everyone, and this kind of gratitude practice acknowledges that. The greater point is, no matter what obstacles you face, identifying at least one thing that you are grateful for can make dealing with those obstacles even just a tiny bit easier.



How Do I Maintain a Gratitude Meditation Regimen?

Another simple way to establish a gratitude meditation regimen is to start a gratitude journal: take a few minutes a day to jot down what you are grateful for. A gratitude meditation can also be very specific. For example, maybe while you wait in line to check out at the grocery store, you make a point of being grateful for having the groceries you need and the ability to buy them.



Takeaway

However, it’s important to point out that starting and maintaining a gratitude meditation practice can be hard.



Coming up with things to be grateful for can be difficult in itself, especially if you aren’t in the habit of doing so. This is especially true for people who are currently dealing with exceptional adversity.

This is why gratitude meditation emphasizes the importance of not being judgmental of yourself. Identifying just one thing for which you are grateful is a huge success, and it doesn’t matter what it is. However you feel as you practice gratitude is OK; it’s important to recognize your emotions and allow yourself to feel them without judgment. Noticing those emotions and remembering them during your next meditation might make it easier to let them go.

Related: Want to Move Through Your Day With Ease? Try Morning Meditation

The Bottom Line

Starting a gratitude meditation practice can help you improve your happiness and well-being by allowing you to access a different perspective on what’s happening to you and focus on the things in your life that really matter the most.

Not only that, but gratitude meditation can be done anywhere at any time, making it super easy to incorporate into your everyday life.

So if you’re feeling down or anxious, or feel like you need to step away from a situation in your life so that you can look at it with fresh eyes, try out a gratitude meditation.

Related: 40 Phrases to Express Your Gratitude That Go Beyond a Simple 'Thank You'

Read the original article on Verywell Mind.