Gratitude and gratitude meditation is a practice that appears across multiple different cultures, practices, and eras. The Buddhists promote it as a way to enhance well-being. The ancient Greek philosophers promote it as a way to reduce suffering.

Today research suggests that gratitude can provide us with a deeper sense of happiness in our lives, it enhances our contentment, appreciation, and optimism.

Gratitude can even help us feel more positive emotions consistently, reduce stress, and build better relationships.



Gratitude mediation is an active meditation in which you focus solely on being grateful for the things in your life.

This practice can be found in Buddhist monks where they begin each day with a meditation on gratitude for the things they have in life. The practice can be seen in Native American culture, in which elders show gratitude to the various elements around them that support life. In Tibet monks even meditate on gratitude towards the suffering they have experienced in order to shift suffering from a negative experience into an experience for growth.

If you’re reading this it’s not very likely that you’re a Native American Elder, Tibetan Monk, or Buddhist Monk (If you are, then welcome), so how can we, as everyday people, use this in our own lives?

  1. How to Meditate:

    To begin, find a comfortable sitting position in a chair on on the floor, in an area without too many distractions.

    Once you are sitting, if you’re in a chair, make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor and in all cases keep your back straight and your chest open and able to breath. You can place your hands on your legs, or together in your lap, whatever is comfortable.

    From here close your eyes, focus on a few deep breaths in and out, and move on to the next step.

  2. What to meditate on:

    Gratitude meditation isn’t the same as mindfulness. In gratitude meditation we need to focus our attention on things in life we can be grateful for.

    These can be:

    • The people around you, loved ones, and family. Think about how grateful you are that you have these people in your life, what they have taught you, what they have done for you, and how they make you feel.

    • Experiences. Think about what experiences you have had and how they have provided opportunity for growth, development, enjoyment, self discovery, memories etc

    • The world. Think about the planet and the very fact that you’ve been fortunate enough to be born a conscious and aware animal such as a human. Think about what a rare opportunity it is to experience all of the things around us for the brief time we’re alive.

    • Problems. We can even be grateful for our hardship, challenges, and problems. Often it is in our adversity that we find the most growth, character, wisdom, and learning. Part of gratitude is to learn to be grateful for all things, good or bad.

The great thing about gratitude mediation is it’s flexibility. You can choose to focus on gratitude wherever you are, regardless of place or time. It can be as simple as enjoying the warmth and smell of a fresh cup of coffee, or as complex as reflecting on past hardship and how the experience strengthened you as a person.

Many people build gratitude into routine, for example when they brush their teeth or take a shower in the morning you can go over three things that you’re grateful for.

Some of us prefer to develop an evening practice, taking the time before bed or during a meal.

Perhaps you decide to do both.


Gratitude is a good reminder that the world isn’t all chaos and bad news. These days it’s easy to get swept up in the opinions of other people, whether that be on the news, social media, or the talk amongst people around you.

There are some areas of the world today that thrives on outrage and conflict. Gratitude can help balance these pressures and remind you that there are things in life that don’t have to be views negatively, but can be seen positively and something to be grateful for.

Not only will this help take your mind off the noise around you, it also helps us view the world more favourably, changing our perception of the things around us, build compassion, confidence, and in doing so it can reduce stresses and feelings of anxiety.


Another way to meditate on gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, this can be:

  • A purchasable gratitude journal (there are a few options now)

  • A notepad

  • A note taking app

  • Even a few pieces of paper around the house

Whatever it may be, some people prefer to write their thoughts down. For this, a gratitude journal is perfect.

With a journal you have the ability to look back at what you covered in the past and see the change in your mindset about various different things. You also have the ability to find things from the past that you were grateful about but have since forgotten.

Regardless of how you choose to structure your practice, putting pen to paper and getting your thoughts down is a great way of seeing the workings of your mind at that moment and reflecting.

You can:

  • Write a note to someone to whom you’re grateful. This is a great way to express gratitude for people that have helped you in the past, and even people who have caused you some hardship in the past where that hardship has caused you to grow.

  • Write a letter to your past self about what you’re grateful they did.

  • Write about what you’re grateful for in the world around you.

Guided Gratitude Meditation:


Dr Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done a great deal of research into gratitude.

For examples, one study had participants write down what they felt at intervals during the week, focusing on particular subjects.

One group focused on the weekly events that they were grateful for. A second group wrote about the things that occurred during the week that upset or irritated them. A third group were instructed to write down the events that had affected them, either positively or negatively.

After 10 weeks, the results showed that the participants focusing on gratitude were more optimistic and had a greater sense of well-being.

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