Early this month one of my favorite mentors, Terri Savelle Foy, issued a gratitude challenge. The title of her podcast that day was called “Change Your Life in Three Minutes.” I was intrigued. She encouraged all of her viewers to record 3-5 things we are thankful for everyday for 30 days and to STOP complaining! She was so inspiring, and I couldn’t wait to jump in!
How I Started the Gratitude Challenge
Everyday we had a new thread to share our 3-5 specific things that we were grateful for that day. We had a little prize system in place for incentive. Bonus points opportunities were available as we practiced acting out our gratitude. Some of these bonus points came from writing thank you notes, expressing gratitude to a stranger, or to our family members.
Here’s a recap of the awesome quotes in our gratitude challenge. If you’d like a printable version, just fill out the form below and I’ll send ’em to your inbox!
I have definitely been one of those people who has thought, “If only X will happen, then I will be so happy!” Instead of waiting for things to happen that might make us happy, it is so much easier to look at our lives and FIND things that make us happy.
Part of the challenge was to stop complaining. Honestly this was the part I was most unsure about. I realized that I could definitely improve in this area, but I was drawing a big blank as to HOW I could stop complaining. I encouraged everyone to post little reminders around the house of our goal to stop complaining. Raising awareness about our complaining habits was a good place to start this part of the gratitude challenge.
This quote pretty much stopped me in my tracks. When we love someone, we should tell them, right? It started to make sense to me that because I love God, I should tell Him by being more grateful. I’ve been trying to offer more gratitude in my prayers, and I find that when I do, I feel a lightness in my heart.
How does gratitude make fear disappear? I think it has a lot to do with faith. When we see our lives through an eye of faith and find the many things we have to be thankful for, we begin to focus on those instead of the things we are afraid of.
Gratitude, like any attitude we may have, is a CHOICE! I think of the story of Corrie ten Boom who, as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck, wrote about her gratitude for the fleas. Because the fleas were so bad, the guards left her and her friends largely alone. Her example of choosing to be grateful, no matter what, is one I thought of often during the gratitude challenge!
This to me is similar to the well-known, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I know it’s not always easy to find the rainbows or the lemonade, but I have come to believe that it is worth it to TRY.
A few years ago, my husband was deployed for a year. I lived in Japan with our five kids. He was in the desert. As a Saturday treat, I’d promised the kids that we’d go to breakfast and the library. Every restaurant we went to on the base was either closed for an event or renovation. The last place we tried was atop a huge hill overlooking the East China Sea. They’d stopped serving breakfast 10 minutes before we arrived.
Every single one of us was crying as well walked down the hill, bellies hungry and frustration in full swing. We piled back intoour little Japanese van feeling sorry for ourselves. On the way to the library, I had the idea that we should all share something we felt thankful for. I’m telling you, we saw and felt our own little miracle. By the time we made it to the library, we were all laughing and our hearts were happier.
Quotes like these with a strong, guaranteed opening phrase always get my attention. Jack Canfield, author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, knows what he’s talking about here!
I often tell my kids to focus on finding on a solution rather than dwelling on the problem. So often I need to take my own advice!
At this point, our gratitude challenge was about halfway over, and I was beginning to realize something: the more focused I was on finding things to be thankful for, the less I had a tendency to complain. I’m beginning to believe that there is a gratitude/complaining continuum of sorts: the more gratitude I express, the less I complain; the more complaints I offer, the less gratitude I feel.
On this day, the three specific things I was thankful for were:
- My kids were beginning to feel better after battling colds for weeks.
- My delightful paleo chili recipe.
- The opportunity to serve as a family during a community service day on Saturday.
This quote is one of my very favorites of the whole challenge! I love the unexpected twist and the reminder that we can live a life always looking out for things to be thankful for.
Many of the ladies mentioned that they were grateful for things I have never considered before. One specifically wrote about how thankful she is for her car that is a little climate-controlled bubble wherever she goes! Too often I take my minivan for granted! (I NEVER in a million years thought I’d say that!)
Some of the most beautiful women I know are ones that will never grace the cover of a newsstand magazine. They are women who are kind, thoughtful, and courageous. They are women who exercise faith and express their thanks. Take a minute and think about the most grateful person you know. Isn’t she a beauty?
In this post, How to Teach Gratitude to Your Kids, I wrote about how studies show that there is so much more to gratitude than just saying thank you. The ever-wise Zig Ziglar had it right as he mentions the fact that we must first recognize what we have to be thankful for. Expression can’t come until after the recognition!
When I tuck my kids in bed every night, I try to say something positive about the day. During this gratitude challenge, I tried to turn that into thanking them for something that they did.
I remember on this day in particular how thankful I felt for my oldest son. I’d completely forgotten that my littlest son had to read a book for his book club and I was overwhelmed with dinner, social commitments, and birthday prep for my oldest son the next day. So I asked him if he’d read I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor to his little bro as fast as possible, which he did without complaint. I tried to tell him how much I appreciated his willingness to bail me out that night!
During this gratitude challenge, I realized that I often anticipate the joy I’m hoping to feel. Instead of waiting for joy to come to me, I learned that I can CREATE joy. It lives in me! All I need to do is recognize it and express it.
I love the psychology here! If we struggle to find things we are grateful for, I recommend this tactic: think about all the problems you don’t have. For me, that is a massive list!
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. What does gratitude help us to create?
I’m convinced that gratitude creates an awareness of the abundance that surrounds us. Before this gratitude challenge, I didn’t often feel thankful for my van or clean drinking water or warm blankets. Practicing daily gratitude has created new eyes for me.
I love to hear other moms talk about the importance of being present with their kids. I know I am far from perfect at it, but I do try! This was the second to last day in our challenge and I realized that YES, I had become more present with my family as I’d tried to practice gratitude more intentionally. As I was looking for things to be thankful for, I’d become more aware of what was happening around me. And as I became more aware, I became more present. It was an awesome cycle!
We know that it takes 21 days to form a habit, and I hope that the mamas who took this gratitude challenge will continue to find specific things to be thankful everyday. I have a little spot in my daily planner where I write down my gratitude list before bed, and I plan to continue writing my list every night. I have learned that intentional gratitude does make a difference, and I hope it can live in our hearts as we reach for heaven.
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Tell me, how has gratitude blessed your life?