I promise you that this is a post about gratitude and how I practice it but first…
… this particular story started back in 2015/6. I was still relatively new to blogging (who am I kidding, I’m still relatively new) and looking for some other Christian bloggers to connect with. I was part of a blogger group on good ol’ Facebook so I put out a post asking if there were any other Christians who’d like to chat. Next thing I knew, I was getting to know Hannah, Jasilyn and Jackie.
At first, we did the normal things. We exchanged messages, followed each other on all the platforms, created a group Pinterest board. I even asked Hannah for help with creating pins as she was the real whizz at that side of blogging. Then Christmas 2017, Hannah made a suggestion that we all jumped at: Secret Santa/Present Swap! The gift I was given is what started me on this practice of gratitude.
Finding Everyday Graces
“One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces” was the name of this particular devotional. It was written by Ann Voskamp and arrived at the precise moment I needed a new devotional. Though there are only 60 devotions, Ann encourages you to record 1,000 everyday graces. Just the little things that we ignore, take for granted each day, that we really should be grateful for.
Ann starts her introduction with…
It all began quite spontaneously, unintentionally. One of those things God grows up in the most unexpected places. A friend dared me to start counting one thousand things I loved. I took the dare, accepted the challenge, kept track of one thousand things, one thousand gifts – a thousand graces – on a quiet, unassuming blog. Before I knew it, thankfulness to God began to change me.One Thousand Gifts Devotional, Ann Voskamp
Despite this, and despite having heard all about practicing gratitude on the millennial Insta/blog grapevine, I was a sceptic. How could listing things that I’m grateful for change me? I was a fairly grateful person anyway. I sometimes remembered to say grace before I ate, said my Ps and Qs, and knew I was better off than the majority of the world. Yes, I needed some time to reinvigorate my quiet times so a new devotional was very welcome. Practicing gratitude? Maybe for as long as I was doing the devotional.
One Thousand Gifts Becomes a Lifetime
It turns out I love a challenge and I hate leaving a list unfinished. By the end of 60 days, I had only written 180 things. Not exactly near the 1,000 target so I continued. By the end of the year I was closing in on 1,000 but I wasn’t done yet. Those days when I skipped out on gratitude it genuinely made my day a little worse. I needed to keep making note of my everyday graces.
It is now 2020… we’re over two years on from when I started recording what I was grateful each day. It turns out that all the cliches are true. The simple act of writing down three things I am grateful for / want to thank God for at the start of each day really does change your outlook. It reminds me that there is always something good in your life. Sure, there are days when all I can write is that I’m grateful to have a flat to live in, food to eat, and clothes to wear but you know what… I need to be grateful for those “basics” as much as for the “shiny things” because they are more than many people have across the world.
Listing three things to be grateful for every morning grounds me for the day. It might not cure me of a bad day but it shows me that life is never as bad as it seems. I would go so far as to say that I am a better person because of it.
Now I’ve taken this practice on the road. On my worst days, especially when I have them at work, I will take five minutes to jot down three things I’m grateful for there and then. Not in my lovely, fancy journal I use in the morning but on any piece of paper I can find. It breaks the cycle of whatever-I’m-stuck-in by showing me the good things in my life that day. Trust me, this practice has changed days from snapping at everyone to at least lowering the volume of my voice. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a miracle.
Just Do It
You may have got to the end of this post and now think I’ve truly become the millennial nutter you always knew I was. Maybe you’re a sceptic as to the power of words. I was too.
I love words. I always have loved words. But words change who I am as a person simply by using them to list what I’m grateful for? Don’t be daft! Well, now I’m a believer. Practicing gratitude, gratefulness, thankfulness, or whatever you call it, is life-changing.
So, let’s start today. Go on, I dare you. It’s easy: list three things you are grateful for in the comments below.
I hope it changes your life today as much as it has mine.