Swoosh, Swoosh. My Christmas snow shoes move with ease on the snow. Their cleats grip the snow so I can walk sure-footed straight up the hill. I love my new snow shoes. That’s #1 for today. I look down and see #2. The sun is reflecting on individual flakes of snow showing intricate details. And today’s #3: the silence around me. I love the quiet of where I live. I know I have listed that one before. Oh well, it goes on my list again.
I began my list of things I love about 4 years ago. I was half way through reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp when it occurred to me that I could start my own 1000 gifts list. I started my list and noticed, my well-being level was increasing. Meaning, in this case, I was happier.
This increase in well-being made perfect sense when I connected it with findings from current psychology research. Gratitude lists, a close kin to gift lists, have demonstrated the ability to:
Promote higher levels of positive emotion (joy, happiness, life satisfaction, enthusiasm, love.)
Decrease greed envy, resentment
Promote better sleep
Increase connection with others
Make us more stress resilient
And even increase exercising (See research by Robert Emmons UC Davis: link below)
This gift list also relates to one of the amazing recent discoveries of neuro-science. The simple act of focusing attention alters the physical architecture our brains. When we focus on gifts we build-up parts of our brain that relate to well-being.
Of course, the bad news here is that when we focus on life’s grumbles we build up parts of our brain that promote negative emotion. It pays to pay attention to where we choose to direct our thoughts.
When we spend a little time dwelling on the gifts in our life we actually change the structure of our brains.
If you are also a follower of Jesus you will remember that Scripture is full encouragements to be grateful. This gift list is a gratitude tool.
“As you received Jesus your Lord, so live in Him . . . abounding in thanksgiving.” Col. 2:7
Spending 5 minutes a day directing our thoughts to things we love is a good idea, but the tricky part is remembering and choosing to do it. Here is an effective tool (supported by psychology research) that will help.
The 4 W’s
What: Write down 3 things you love.
When: Choose your time. Use the same time each day.
Where: Choose where you will be when you write your list. Keep the paper and pen at the location.
1.To increase your own well-being through directed attention
2. To increase the well-being of your friends, your friend’s friends and your friend’s friend’s friends.
3. To give God the pleasure of your gratitude.
Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 1: Week one: Three Things I Love
Each day for the next two weeks write down 3 things you love.
A. Post Where and When you will write down your 3 things
B. Post some of the things on your list
Don’t get stuck looking for the perfect things to list. My Things I Love list tends to be simple things like moon rises and hot gingerbread. Occasionally they are more complex, like the possibilities created by neuro-plasticity or God’s relational capacity.
If the language ‘Things I love’ doesn’t work for you try ‘Things I Like’ or a gratitude list.
Put a reminder prime in the ‘Where’ of your project like a note saying “3 things”
I am so pleased to have you join Claire and me in this Sculpting adventure. These Sculpting Projects have been transformation for me and I confidently hope the same will be true for you. The Christmas snowshoes are the result of another sculpting project I began last summer, Back to the Future. Thanks Claire, for my snowshoes.
More resources for the curious: Robert Emmons on the Benefits of Gratitude https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRrnfGf5aWE
Use your imagination. There are big perfect flakes in here.