I read a book last year called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp that is centered around Christianity, but is applicable to everyone, religious or not. In the beginning of the book, the author reflects on her own childhood and subsequently how her life experience has taught her that there are sometimes horrible things that happen in life that are out of our control that become defining parts of our lives. Yes, the book is a bit intense, but it speaks on reality and has taught me the very valuable practice of true Thanksgiving.
The author then proceeds to share how through biblical study she realizes that the blessing always follows the act of thanksgiving. She decides to challenge herself to write a list of 1000 things that she notices that she is thankful for. Many of these things are very small like the iridescent glow of a bubble the sunlight lands on while she’s doing the dishes, and others are larger like her relationships with people.
After reading the book, I began to really take note of my daily environments and actively try to search for things that I am thankful for – like my daughter’s giggle when she blows a wooden train whistle, the feeling of holding both of my girls in my arms and watching Inside Out, the way my husband takes a moment to always kiss all three of us before leaving to work, a beautiful view I saw on my run, etc. I now keep a list of these things in my phone and when I am feeling down or have an off day, I take a look and realize how much I have.