Meditation on the Power of Gratitude

Mindworks | Mindfulness Meditation Blog | Meditation Meditation on the Power of Gratitude
2018-03-28T05:56:43+00:00 By |

Our society regularly reminds us to be thankful for the acts of kindness that come our way and appreciate all the things to be grateful for that we have. Gratitude is key to being a good person and along with kindness to others, it makes the world a decent and more livable place. But, we sometimes underestimate the power of gratitude, which is much more profound than mere polite behavior and is deeply important to how we view the world and our place in it.

Gratitude Connects Us to Each Other

The opposite of gratitude is the belief in being self-made—that we have gotten where we are by our own actions and merit alone. Such an attitude cannot be true. It is a denial of reality that diminishes and harms us and actually steals away our joy and happiness. Everything in our life including our life itself involves the efforts of others. A sense of gratitude is a way of acknowledging the fact of our interdependence with the world, how we got here and who we are. Gratitude is a kind of wisdom in recognizing reality and living with truth and honesty about what’s been given to us.

How do we develop this sense of gratitude? As with most important things, it’s always good to start small. Begin by acknowledging the importance of our parents and particularly our mothers. Our mothers bore us in their wombs for nine months, gave birth to us, fed us, cleaned and raised us. They cared for us when we were completely helpless. Our mother is a living example of someone who put us before herself and that puts us forever in her debt. Then, think about your father and other close relatives. We wouldn’t have thrived without the kindness and protection of our families who helped us along our way. This contemplation makes us joyful and open hearted—we can rejoice because we have countless opportunities to do the same for others. But, our gratitude shouldn’t stop with our family.

Think about everyone else who has come into our lives—the friends and teachers who’ve done so much for us over the years. Even consider all the strangers—people you don’t know—store clerks, health care providers, firefighters, police, garbage collectors and countless others who help make our lives run smoothly each day. Gratitude can open our hearts wider and wider when we realize all the people we are indebted to. Because the whole earth is an organic system, we contemplate our interdependency with all the sentient beings in it, including what we owe to animals. Now our gratitude becomes a meditation on the network of life.


 


 


 

But what about the people who have hurt or wronged us? At first, we may want to exclude them from our practice of gratitude. But if we look closely, we realize we have received a lot from them as well. In fact, difficult people and situations give us the opportunity to develop strength and resilience. If we really pay attention to what we get from difficult people, we begin to realize it’s the gift of learning to practice patience—a beautiful quality upon which so much depends in our lives.

No Difficult People = No Patience—That’s the Equation

If the world were always soft and nurturing like our mothers, we’d never develop the muscle of patience. Obnoxious people, even our enemies, are our helpers too because they can teach us to go deeper within ourselves and find the capacity for patience. If we are interested in personal growth and developing our potential as human beings, we need to view them as objects of gratitude. We’ve got a debt to the entire world and all the beings in it, and the only response should be one of gratitude from our heart. We didn’t create who we are at this moment—our abilities, skills and knowledge all by ourselves. Everything is a result of the kindness and giving of others, whether intentional or not. When we start to realize this interdependence, we resolve to be that kind of being who shares with others what has passed through us from those who’ve touched our lives in direct or remote ways. To truly be a good person, we must return this kindness to others. Gratitude teaches us how to be a good human being and gives us joy and happiness to be for others what others have been for us. Gratitude profoundly and positively impacts our life experience.

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About the Author:

Lama Jampa Thaye, PhD
Lama Jampa Thaye, a highly accomplished meditator and scholar, is recognized as one of the leading meditation teachers in the West. Lama Jampa is the founder and spiritual director of the Dechen Community, an international association of meditation centers located throughout Europe and North America. An accomplished author and speaker, his books and essays have been translated into numerous languages and he has lectured for more than 20 years at universities in his native UK. Lama Jampa lives in London with his wife Albena Stott and their youngest daughter.

One Comment

  1. Mike Chavez-Dawson December 21, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Insightful, and timely for this time of year. It’s easier to be grateful to those nearest and kindest, but we do have a tendency to avoid those who test our patience. So I really appreciate ‘No Difficult People = No Patience—That’s the Equation’ this is a daily meditation for me – without a doubt.

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