Friday, 16 March 2012

Keep Calm and Count On!

Good news! I think I'm overcoming my ambivalence towards gratitude!

This amazing video talk (also embedded at the very end of this post) about the nature of happiness, and the way that we have the equation all the wrong way round, helped a lot. Sometimes I need the message in poetry, as Ann Voskamp does so brilliantly; and then sometimes - as my friend Abigail said - "Give it to me straight forward and to the point." Shawn Achor does THIS brilliantly, and with the same practical outcome as Ann: writing down 3 things you're grateful for every day actually changes you (Shawn: your brain; Ann: your heart; both: your outlook; both true!). It's worth 12 minutes of your time for sure. I mean, it got Jeremy into gratitude-listing (with the One Thousand Gifts app on his iphone!) when poetry would never have cut it! :-)

I'm also seeing that it is often just cleverly disguised pride that makes me think writing down what I'm thankful for is too simplistic
to be important for me to focus on, and too simple to make any difference in my life. In fact, I see more and more that such a simple act is the most worthy and appropriate of all for a life aiming to become more Christ-like and therefore, as he called us to be, more childlike. As I wrote last week:
"And so I present my own blank page to God, finally deigning to handwrite my simple, childlike gratitude and bathe in God’s mercy-rain right here and now (I am the just and the unjust) rather than waiting for another day, the perfect day, the perfect way, the perfect words. I am counting the ways he loves."

To simply write down my three (or more) gifts each day supports my desire to see God right where I am, in the here and now, in the ordinary and mundane.

And the Joy Dare for March turns out not to be the contrived or romanticised way of looking for God's gifts that I have at times feared it would become, but actually a way to help me 'scan' (a Shawn Achor term!) for gifts I wouldn't instantly, naturally see. To look out for '3 gifts round', for example, makes me more attentive, and opens my eyes to things I really am grateful for - both big and small - but might not have noticed without prompting. Why don't you try it too?!

So, below, I will continue cataloguing my 'One Thousand Gifts'. Feel free to read on if you want to, but really I'm writing them down for me, and for God. But whatever you do, and whatever's going on for you right now, here's some sane advice:

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