I’ve been reading through Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are.
Ann Voskamp experienced great tragedy that scarred her for most of her life. Later in life, as an adult with 6 children, a friend challenged her to write a list of 1,000 things she was grateful for; 1,000 things that had been gifted to her. Her book is the result of that challenge, the story of how her pursuit of gratefulness changed her life completely.
Voskamp’s story has inspired my to write my own list, to keep a never-ending record of the things I’ve been so generously given. I call it my “hunt for gratefulness.”
The change in me has been astonishing.
Even just a few days into my challenge, I found myself feeling lighter. Happier. More in tuned to the world around me.
My list is simple things, mostly. The pitter-patter of rain on the roof. Sweet cheeks and warm baby cuddles. Freshly scrubbed skies after a hard rain. Blueberry bagels and cream cheese. Pretty notebooks and pens that write well. Violin music. Red nail polish. Chirping birds.
The things I’ve been writing down are not earth-shattering. Yet I’m finding that it is not until I look for the gifts in my life that I truly appreciate them.
How many times have I looked at my red toenails and been grateful for the polish that colors them? Until I started this hunt for gratefulness, the answer would have been never. I just took it for granted, like so many other things in my life.
Yet when I really thought about it, I realized that nail polish is truly a gift, like so many other things in my life. I could never make it on my own; there is a whole complex production and distribution process that has to happen before one bottle of polish is ever sold in a store.
What about rain, and babies, and blue skies, and birds, and so many countless other things?
I have done nothing to create these things, and yet I still get to enjoy them. My hunt for gratefulness has opened my eyes to the wonder and beauty all around me. It’s reminded me of how truly blessed I am, encouraged me to be grateful for the things I’ve been given, rather than pining after the things I don’t have.
If you’ve been struggling with finding happiness and joy in your life, I encourage you to join me in this challenge. You don’t have to try to get to 1,000 if that’s too overwhelming at first. Start with 100. If you find it’s been helpful when you reach that number, keep going. Cultivating gratitude and thankful hearts is an exercise that will never return void.