Simplicity And Thankfulness

I read about One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp last spring and after waiting a few months for it from the library (yes, it’s popular…), I was able to read it a few weeks ago. To be honest, I had to get past her poetic way of writing prose- many times I just wanted her to tell the story. However, if you’re like me and don’t think in a flowery, poetic way DON”T let that stop you from reading this book!

It has me looking at the world in a different way. And looking at my life differently, as well.

Ann is a Christian who has has some pretty hard things happen in her life. This book tells her journey to wellness through a challenge to list 1,000 things she’s thankful for. Sometimes she can only find small things to write down, like the petals of a flower that struck her. Sometimes they are big and meaningful, like the love of a child. Other times it seems there is nothing to be thankful for (accidents, job problems, etc.), but the challenge causes her to see even these events in another light.

She finds that these constant thoughts of thankfulness over the months it took to complete the list helped her not give in to depression, fear, and anxiety. More importantly, being thankful in everything is the key to feeling close to God on a daily basis.

As I’ve been mulling over the lessons from her book, I realized that thankfulness is a key component of my desire to live a simple life as well. When I’m thankful to God for what I’ve got – and what I’ve not – that is the ultimate road to living a simple life.

So here’s my confession: I’m constantly thinking about the next project I want or need to complete.

I’ve come to realized that this can cause me to not see and enjoy what I already have. They aren’t big, expensive projects (I am frugal, remember? *smile*) and there’s nothing wrong with having projects that we enjoy working on, BUT the problem occurs when fixating on the next project doesn’t allow me to live fully in the moment.

I want to appreciate all the moments of my life and One Thousand Gifts has motivated me to start a Thankfulness Journal. If I’m thinking of things to be thankful for all day, I can’t obsess about my next project as much, can I?

My sister-in-law gave me this sweet little blank book for my birthday in May and I didn’t know what I should use it for. Now I do. Perfect- no?

It’s pretty enough to sit out on our breakfast bar with a pen so it can remind me to find the joy in everyday life. In the little things. The big things. And even the ugly things.

And in the few weeks I’ve been doing this, I find that I really have lived my life not being thankful enough. I’m having to purposefully think about it and remember to write things down.

They aren’t poetic and beautiful like Ann writes, but that’s not the point, is it? Ann’s examples have helped me see that the smallest, most seemingly insignificant things are worthy of writing down because they have inspired me in some way.

And you know what? I’ve been challenged to be thankful in challenging times, as well. Maybe not for the situation, but for the growth it gives me and the things I learn.

I’m finding that when I’m concentrating on being thankful on a daily basis it’s easier to be content, enjoy the moments of my life, and live simply.

What about you? Have you read One Thousand Gifts? Started a journal? Do you want to?


Oh, and Ann also has an inspiring blog, A Holy Experience, that I encourage you to check out!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you would like to purchase the items mentioned and you use the links, you will help support An Oregon Cottage- thank you!





  1. ChezPooh says

    I, too, have started a thankfulness journal (mine isn’t as pretty). I waited months for Ann’s book but could not read all of it before it was due, but it has helped me to focus on each day. And right now that is what I need to do, because there are no guarantees about tomorrow. Like you, I have many projects waiting in the wings, but they are insignificant compared to being aware of the people around me RIGHT NOW. I hope we can both keep writing the innumerable blessings we all have, even in very difficult times.

  2. says

    I have not read this book, but I saw a quote the other day that has really stuck with me. “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” It’s pretty easy to get into the habit of looking past all of the good and only see the bad, or the what-if, or the I wish. The gratitude journal is a good way to have a daily reminder. I’m thinkin’ I should probably start one. :o)

  3. Anonymous says

    I’m thankful for the beautiful hydrangea photo. We used hydrangeas from my mom’s garden at our wedding 41 years ago next week.

  4. says

    Yes, I started it and got about half way through but I was also not a fan of the poetic way she writes. I just could not get past it. It is a good idea but coming from someone who worked until my oldest was 18 months I think the “mundane” things of the day are fabulous – such as hanging out the laundry, fixing dinner and washing dishes. So I try to just be thankful for everyday.

  5. says

    Wow!! A thankfulness journal is such a great idea. I am going to go do that. It requires you to sit back and see what you already have before taking in more. Thank you for posting this!

  6. says

    you know I got her book because of the great reviews and recommendations, but i couldn’t get past chapter one. Like you her flowery poetic prose bore me. :( so I am waiting for another opportunity to pick it up again. I thought i was the only one that had trouble with her writing.

    A thankful journal is a good idea though.

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