Gratitude Lists that Aren’t Boring
One of the best ways to stay in touch with reality is to fully notice and even celebrate the good things that happen in our lives. Otherwise it’s easy to become bored and a boring person. Or worse, we become crabby. We’re missing out on so much. As Alice Walker put it in her character’s words, it’s silly to “walk by the color purple in a field somewhere” and not notice it. God is always “making little surprises and springing them on us when us least expect” it. In a culture terrified by FOMO (fear of missing out), we can miss out on the best perks.
So how to do it so it’s not a task? Do it as you can, not as you can’t. Do what works for you.
MEALS: My kids got used to the daily dinner table question: What was the best thing about today? Especially with teens, it moved us from complaining about teachers to moments of laughter.
STUDY: When I taught a Bible study for my homeless friends, I always began with that same question: What was the best thing about this week? Why did I do this? Recent brain science tells us that people learn better when their brain has experienced gratitude.
END/BEGINNING OF DAY: Before bedtime doesn’t work for me because I’m maxed out so I do it the next morning, particularly early while sitting on my porch under the stars or watching the sunrise from the couch in my living room.
- Don’t make this work (which I once did!). It’s celebration. Name 3 things or 5 things.
- I write mine down but I’ve learned not to make it a list exactly. It’s important to pause and relish it: 1 item recalled and relished is worth 5 listed hastily.
PROMPTS TO GET YOU GOING:
Where did I see beauty? Or hear it in music or nature sounds?
Who did I see behave unselfishly or courageously?
Whom did I show love to?
What good ideas came to me?
What task did I finish & feel good about taking care of my responsibilities?
When did I laugh?
When did I see something that definitely made God smile?
How did I experience the overwhelming goodness of God?
To notice these things is to live in reality! (It also gives you something to share at the Thanksgiving dinner table if you—as I do—ask your guests to share something they’re grateful for this year.)
Grace and peace,