Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking a Dare

I took a new dare this year that has the potential to change my mindset. I only know this from seeing many people do the same thing and having found they felt better.

This New Year, I didn’t make resolutions knowing I wouldn’t be disciplined enough to keep them. However, I’m chewing on some ideas, turning them around in my head. They’re safe there, untested. Trying to implement them in practical reality has often proved to be a challenge requiring a commitment to discipline that I don’t possess. I used to try to make my resolutions “official”, almost ceremonious - as if that would make them more legitimate and increase the odds for success. Doesn’t work.

I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s bestselling book One Thousand Gifts – a semi-autobiography, poetically written, about finding joy in the mundane, learning the art of gratitude. She was dared by a friend to write down 1,000 blessings, gifts, or anything she appreciated in life no matter how small -- the ultimate goal being to change the perspective from one of ingratitude and other negative states of mind (i.e. resentment, apathy, discontent, anxiety, anger, etc.) to that of thankfulness and appreciation for the life before us. On a greater scale, she came to believe it could actually heal some deep wounds in her life. She chose the cool Greek word Eucharisteo – thanksgiving.  How many of us go through the motions of our days, sometimes lifelessly, gradually losing our capacity to feel?

Since the book’s publishing, she’s dared readers of her blog to do the same. So I’m taking the dare…with some trepidation. It’s hard to imagine finding 1,000 things to appreciate. Then again, I’m the queen of lists; I can do this. Looking at some of the things on Ann’s list, they’re pretty darn mundane – but if they bring her joy and alter her mindset, maybe they can do the same for me? I’d sure be a nicer person if that were to happen.

Another concept the author discusses at length is being present – being “all there”. This is amusingly so Zen Buddhist. We in the West of Judeo-Christian persuasion can really learn from Eastern practices. We’re so not geared for being mindful and living in the present. Instead, we languish about the past and plan, worry and try to rent time in the future. I’m the guiltiest of that habit. Do we actually gain time or fix anything doing that?

So far, I’ve been list-keeping for about a week while also reading the book, and I’m encountering a surprisingly more positive mentality. I am so not the “happy” type. I’m a Type A, semi-obsessive, control-oriented, sometimes anxious, easily irritated introvert. Okay, that’s the worst of me. I’ve been writing about 3-4 blessings per day and I think I can even improve on that. The reminder to continue to shift my thinking is helping me see the glass half-full rather than my usual half-empty. Will it really net positive dividends??

Here are a few on my list:
13. When Wesley (my eight-year old) leans up against me, all warm
14. Looking at Wesley’s soft facial features – eyelashes, peach skin, sea blue eyes, glossy golden hair
15. Lying on my large, full-back, massage-grade heating pad at night
16. Pouring my cup of coffee with cream first thing in the morning
17. Breaking off a hunk of 70% cacao dark chocolate and mixing it with salted almonds, savoring flavors

Okay, those are pretty boring but they make me happy. Somehow making my arm and hand move to name it on paper and then reading them is slowly -- just a little bit – lifting my burdens.

Linking up with Ann at



Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

"Then again, I’m the queen of lists; I can do this." Coming from a fellow list maker... I love that! :) What a sweet gift when Wesley leans against you. Savoring flavors. That is so great to take the moment to enjoy!

Amy said...

My youngest daughter is eight, so I could imagine her as I read about your time with Wesley. Sweet. Enjoyed reading all your gratitude! It's wonderful to focus on the good.

Anonymous said...

The transformation is an amazing one and I will enjoy watching (and joining) you as you Dare to Joy!

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