What is Gratitude?
In short, Gratitude is a conscious thanksgiving for something. It can be an event, an object, a person, or anything else that exists. When we express our thanks for it, we are exercising Gratitude.
Who should be Grateful?
Everyone! We live in a miraculous world, filled with unbelievable creatures and beauty. The simple fact that we exist at all is a marvel. While there are circumstances that may push us into depression, the truth is, there is always something to be grateful for.
The most negative person I ever knew was a woman I worked with at a large law firm in Denver. She had accumulated thirty days of paid time off, and she used it to take a Caribbean island vacation. When she came back to work, I asked how her trip had been. Of course, I expected to hear about beautiful sunsets, long walks on the beach and evening swims in the lovely turquoise water, amazing conversations with people she’d met. Instead, in no uncertain terms, she replied, “It sucked! First, they lost my luggage…”, which began a list of mishaps and mistakes. We find what we’re looking for.
Why is it important to be grateful?
Of all the attributes that we humans have, Gratitude is the most transformative. Even more than Love, it is able to change a life. A person can love deeply and sincerely, and still live a negative existence. When we begin to exercise Gratitude, though, our views become naturally positive. We notice when things go right, but arent so bothered when they don’t. We’ll see the positive in situations that once would have seemed negative. Our outlook becomes brighter and we just feel better.
Be Grateful All the Time and Everywhere
If we were perfect, we would naturally be in a continual state of Gratitude. Our hearts would rejoice for every tiny, marvelous thing. Since we aren’t, though, we sometimes need to remind ourselves to be grateful. Through mindful meditation, focused on Gratitude, we can reprogram our minds to recognize the positive things that Life brings us.
A Meditation on Gratitude
To begin, you’ll need a couple of things. First is a comfortable place to sit, or stand if you prefer. Second, you might need a timer. I don’t generally use one, but it helps if you’re beginning.
Now, get into a comfortable position, with your back straight but not stiff, hands on your thighs or in your lap (at your sides if you’re standing). Mindful Meditation doesn’t require any specific position, but you don’t want to fall asleep.
Once you’re comfortable, set your timer for whatever duration you like. For beginners, I suggest five minutes. Close your eyes, or lower them and let your gaze rest on some inanimate thing, then focus on your breathing.
After thirty seconds or so, focus your thoughts on something that you’re thankful for. It might be an object, a person, something nice that happened. Develop a mental picture and think of all the reasons that you’re grateful for it.
In this meditation, I want you to talk to yourself. Say the words aloud. “I am grateful for ____________, because _________.” Say all the reasons that you’re grateful for that thing. Now, move your mind to something else that you’re grateful for, and do it all again.
At some point in your meditation, think of something that you really aren’t grateful for. Something that irritates you and turns you negative. It might be a co-worker, a car, a great big pothole in the middle of your morning drive. Whatever it is, repeat the same words that you used in the previous moment – “I am grateful for _________, because ________.” List as many positives as you can. It may be difficult, at first, but you’ll do it. Each day, take time to express gratitude for all these things. Be repetitive.
“I’m grateful for Barb, because she does work that I don’t want to do. She also brings great things to the potlucks.”
“I’m grateful for my car, because it keeps me from having to walk to work, and the heater is awesome.”
Why say these things out loud? We believe what we tell ourselves. If we speak these things, our subconscious mind receives them as fact and begins to replace our negative feelings with the new positive ones. As we give thanks for all things, we begin to see the good aspects of things that we didn’t really care for.
Bring Them Back
As with any meditation, your thoughts will stray. It happens to everyone. When it does, simply refocus on the things you’re grateful for. Don’t get defensive or feel guilty. That’s a waste of time and energy. Mindfulness is not judgmental, so don’t judge yourself. Simply, let it go.
“I am so grateful to myself, because I’m making my life better, on purpose.”
As you finish this meditation, don’t forget to be grateful to yourself for the progress that you’re making. List the things that you’re doing to build a better life. This may sound vain, but it’s absolutely essential to building up a proper self-image. You are the one who’s making the changes that lead to further happiness. Express your gratitude to yourself aloud. Your subconscious will begin to believe that you’re marvelous and will take action to make sure that you are.
Finally, for a few seconds, turn your awareness back to breathing. Notice the movement of your abdomen. Feel the air moving through your nostrils. You’ll know when you’re finished.
Understand that this is not a once-and-you’re-done thing. It takes time to develop a grateful attitude, but it is necessary if you want to experience a new level of joy in your life.