Updated: Jan 13, 2020
What’s your story with gratitude?
I feel incredibly blessed to say that gratitude has been a part of my life for quite some time.
It all started when I was in elementary school, probably around 3rd grade.
More than twenty years ago now, my grandmother (MomMom : ) posed a challenge for all seven grand kids. She gave each of us a small, pocket sized black + white composition notebook (you know the kind I'm talking about?!). Then, she encouraged us to each write out 3 things we were thankful for that day. Whoever continued on with the exercise for the longest would receive a special prize. (And quick side note… she actually had learned about practicing gratitude from an episode of Oprah!)
Let’s just say I’m a *little* competitive and was pretty motivated by this challenge.
I wish I could tell you how many days I wrote in that little notebook or what exactly I jotted down in there (I would love to know..).
What I can tell you is that after quite some time, I asked MomMom if I was the winner.
Let’s just say that enough time had passed that she’d forgotten all about the challenge, haha.
I was awarded first place (woohoo!), and my prize was a trip to Barnes & Noble (which I loved) to pick out whatever book I’d like. I was in heaven.
So, all that to say, gratitude has always held a super special place in my heart.
I was on a flight late in 2018 and God challenged me to complete host a gratitude challenge for y'all <3
And, He gave me the idea to make it themed as a 12 days of gratitude challenge.
Initially, I considered hosting it in the first 12 days of December.
But then, He gave me an even better idea… I thought, how cool would it be if we could establish an attitude of gratitude right before 2019 kicks off. How cool would it be to start the year with a totally new, transformative habit!
And so that’s what happened. From December 20-31, I shared a template with you guys for the GSCC gratitude challenge. On Day 1, we wrote one thing we were grateful for, then two on Day 2, and so on.
1. ALARMS ARE YOUR FRIEND
One of the first things that I recognized (similar to with the prayer challenge) was that I needed to enlist the support of my iPhone alarm. No shame in my game. Establishing habits is hard and it takes energy. Creating an alarm and labeling to remind me of what I needed to do & when was super helpful.
For 2019, I’m recognizing that I have quite a few daily personal rituals I want to make happen -- I’m going to borrow the technique of creating an alarm and label for certain to-do’s throughout the day for them.
Sure, it's annoying to have an alarm going off multiple times a day. But you know what’s more annoying? Going through several months and not completing a habit you said you’d commit to. (#realtalk)
2. IT’S MORE FUN DOING IT TOGETHER
Since I was doing the challenge over ‘Christmas break,’ if you will, I was with my husband a lot of the times when I was typing out my lists. It ended up being super fun to reflect back on the day together. We experienced so much joy & smiles from coming up with the list. And of course, it was fun hearing what stuck out most to each of us. Such a gift!
Also... I really debated on sharing my own gratitude lists with you guys. It felt a little personal and out of my comfort zone, to be honest. But, God convicted me to take the first step and put it out there. I genuinely hope that it encouraged you.
(Want a glimpse into my lists? Hop on over to my Instagram & get the scoop on through my ‘Gratitude’ highlight!)
3. IT’S SO NICE TO THINK ABOUT IT TWICE
Related to that.. I realized that I sometimes double dipped on my list and you know what? I think that’s awesome! On our drive up to Charlottesville for Christmas, my husband and I were listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast (one of his favorites) featuring A.J. Jacobs, who said that gratitude is all about savoring. Yes & amen. I think it’s a good thing to have excitement & anticipation for what’s to come (kind of like the Advent season!) and still feel joy reflecting back on what had happened.
A.J. also mentioned that he was a collector of great moments (which I loved!). And to me, moments mean memories, which are invaluable. How sweet & special is it to reflect back on precious moments.
Because of this, my husband and I actually don’t do gifts anymore… just experiences. We’ve had so many special getaways (even simple day or weekend trips or beach getaways), and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.)
4. PUT A BOW ON IT
I recognized that for me personally, I preferred creating the list at the end of the day.
Oftentimes, my brain will turn back into overdrive right before I try to go to sleep; I found that creating the list proved to be a good way to slow it down.
Reflecting back on the top moments of the day was simultaneously uplifting and calming.
It’s a great way to put yourself in a good mood and put a bow on your day, if you will.
5. KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Before I switched over to an electronic planner (you can read about that here- I use Google cal!), I bought the cutest little pink leather pocket planner with a tassel from Home Goods (I am a sucker for cute planners and stationery!). The planner was under $5 so I decided I might as well keep it. And, after completing the gratitude challenge, I realized I knew just what to use it for. I keep that cute as a button planner by my bed and am writing my top three highlights of the day in it every night <3
As Steven Furtick said, “Gratitude is the tool that converts blessings into joy.”
Couldn’t we all use a little more joy in our lives. <3
P.S. Need a partner to help kick start change in your life?
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I pray that this is the year you say YES to your big God dream.
The new year is always such a fun time to press reset and make it happen.