10,000 Reasons

by Chantell Mills

I was in a season of deep grief. My youngest daughter, who was born with a disorder that left her without the ability to walk or talk, had died a couple of years before. She lived her whole life as a 3-month-old. Being her mother was full of joy and despair. I cared for her daily needs, and in her death, I not only lost my precious baby girl, but I also lost a significant part of my purpose.  

I had a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I was surrounded by supportive family and friends. Initially, I felt like I was handling it all.  Until I wasn’t.  All I could see was loss everywhere. And that loss made me feel lost.  

I was given a book called, One Thousand Gifts. The author encouraged the reader to write down three things everyday to which you were grateful. Writing down at least three things a day would lead to 1,000 things a year. I decided this was a challenge that seemed doable.

At first it was easy. I was grateful for warm coffee, my kids’ hugs and my husband holding my hand. However, the challenge became more difficult when I needed to avoid repeating myself. Things got a little trickier real fast. I had to look past the surface things, like the warm cookies, to notice the smile of the person who handed them to me. I needed to start paying attention more closely to find three new things a day.

This little hunt for gratitude began to change the culture around me. My children would notice things and point them out to me because they knew I was gathering this list. My mindset soon began to shift.  All I could see were the good things.  The little blessings that reminded me again that God was good and so was the life He had given me.

According to Positive Psychology expressing your thanks leads to the following outcomes:

  • can improve your overall sense of well-being
  • deepen your relationships
  • improve optimism
  • increase happiness
  • give you stronger self-control
  • better physical and mental health

Eventually my goal grew to do this for 10 years so I could have a list of 10,000. At the close of 2020 I finished that goal. I have 10 notebooks full of things – 10,000 reasons – I am grateful.  However the real gift is to have a mindset that looks for the good in any season.  

When I crossed the 10,000 mark I thought I would stop. I quickly noticed that something did not seem right. Gratitude has become a keystone habit. Making this list is so ingrained in me, I don’t feel like myself when I am not doing it. 

Can you make time today to express gratitude to someone?

  1. Voscamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
  2. Courtney E. Ackerman. 2021. “What Is Gratitude and Why Is It So Important?” Positive Psychology. {https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-appreciation/}