10 Reasons to Be Thankful & Why You Need a Gratitude List

I’m sitting at McDonald’s as the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade blares behind me on the television. I drink my coffee, look outside, and smile. I have so much to be thankful for.

Thankful Image
Photo credit: woodleywonderworks (Creative Commons)

The cost of gratitude

Today, I’m aware of the fact that life is better than I deserve, which is saying something these days. The world is full of pain and suffering, hardship and turmoil, disappointment and regret. So the fact that I can be thankful and mean it is, in its own way, a small miracle.

I’m learning there is a responsibility that comes with privilege. That I am blessed to bless. Gifted to give. I am not lucky, fortunate, or merely disciplined; I am expected to do something with the grace I’ve been given. And so are you.

When I was younger, I didn’t understand gratitude. In a universe that seemed to hurt for no reason, giving thanks felt disingenuous. Living in a world where children die of hunger every day, it just didn’t make sense. But now I understand. Being grateful is a choice.

So today, I chose to make a list.

The gratitude list

Gratitude is not my natural disposition, so this took some time and effort. It was a discipline to remind myself of the many reasons I have to be grateful. But it was an exercise well worth the discomfort.

Here’s my challenge to you: Take some time today, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, to come up with a gratitude list. If it doesn’t come naturally, don’t let that stop you from still giving thanks. There is still much to be thankful for, if we only have eyes to see.

And in case you were wondering, here are my 10 reasons to give thanks today:

  1. I am thankful for my health, for being able to run half-marathons and eat turkey dinners.
  2. I am thankful for my wife, who vowed to be my biggest fan on the day we were married and has never once let me down.
  3. I am thankful for the gift and work of writing — that it is both extremely hard and easy at the same time. Easy to do, hard to master. Always frustrating. Always rewarding.
  4. I am extremely thankful for the online community of writers and readers who are making a difference in the world. You guys inspire me.
  5. I am thankful for living in a town full of creative minds and opportunities.
  6. I am thankful for doing work that matters.
  7. I am thankful for music — bands like Mumford and Sons and Nirvana and the Beatles. Their words and music inspire me to create my own art.
  8. I am thankful for movies — for being able to turn part of my brain off and still be inspired.
  9. I am thankful for books — eBooks, audiobooks, children’s books, novels, and memoirs. My shelves are full of them, and they are my one true lust.
  10. Lastly, and most importantly, I am thankful for Grace — for love that cannot be explained (only surrendered to), for a Creator that inspires creativity, for purpose and a hope that there is more to the story than we see.

Looking for a way to give thanks?

If you read this blog, you have already given me a gift. Thank you. As a token of my gratitude, please download this free eBook: Wrecked for the Ordinary: A Manifesto for Misfits by clicking here.

Be sure to tell your friends. If you’re on twitter, use this handy-dandy button:

What’s on your gratitude list? Share in the comments.

64 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Be Thankful & Why You Need a Gratitude List

  1. Thankful for you Jeff and your inspiring words. I read your first line out loud to my family as we sit here in the living room watching the parade. Then we had a discussion about why you were sitting in McDonalds on Thanksgiving and the curiosity of a tv in McDonald’s. But the main thing I want to say is thank you for using your gifts to bless others. Agree with all you say here today and after reading 1000 gifts I started my own list of thanks this year. Great discipline!

    1. Thanks, Shelly. I love Ann’s writing. She is a poet.

      Regarding your question(s):

      I am in McDonald’s to get some writing done this morning.
      The TV is on, because they have a mounted television in the corner.
      Don’t worry: I have a place to eat turkey today.

      1. That was a rich, accidental chuckle reading that you are thankful for your wife who has never let you down as you write from McDonald’s on Thanksgiving Day. 

  2. Nice post Jeff, I didn’t have a list, but did reflect on choices and gratitude, I agree, it is a discipline! Your blog has been an inspiration! Thanks! https://bloggingpainters.com/2011/11/23/attitude-of-gratitude/

  3. Thanks for the reminder, Jeff.  I appreciate the post, and I appreciate your thoughtful help and insight on my own blogging endeavors.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving day.

  4. Oh my! I was so excited to see the Manifesto for Misfits! Thank you, Jeff, once again. I’ve devoured The Writer’s Manifesto every day since I downloaded it. The truth in it is so universal you could substitute “artist” for “writer.” And now, I’m looking forward to being nourished by The Manifesto for Misfits. Coincidentally, I’d written a post nearly a year ago about why I will strive to overcome my fear of…my sewing machine: “My misfits are counting on me.”


    And one more, because I do want to respond to why, I’ve realized, it’s important to be grateful: When what you take for granted is suddenly taken away, the regret is that much deeper precisely because you took it for granted. But if you’ve been appreciating it daily, when you lose it you are comforted by the knowledge that you honored it for as long as you had it.

    In my case, health. That of my husband, mine, and our cat! We each had surgeries one month after another these past few months, and through it all we remained hopeful and grateful. Now we are completely healed—tons more gratitude for that!

    I appreciate you, my brother in faith. Keep on writing.

  5. What a lovely post! I wrote my own list on my blog because I was inspired by Maren Kate’s post on her blog: https://www.escapingthe9to5.com/my-life/25-things-to-be-thankful-for/

    Thanks for the diligent work you do everyday, Jeff! I’ve been reading your blog for a few months but this is my first comment. You have such heart in your words and it is truly encouraging. 

  6. Wonderful post.  I have always tried to focus on being thankful for all of my blessings throughout my life of 52 years. Gratitude seems like a dead concept to most of the civilized (?!) world. As a teacher for the past 25+ years, I’ve tried to call the attention of my students to the concept, explaining to them that the world and everyone in it owes them nothing – that they should try to find ways to give back instead.  And as I now embark on a writing career, I again focus on being grateful that I can actually string words together to create something for others to enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving. I try to give thanks happily every day.

    Maria Entenman

  7. I loved your statement in the manifesto: “To be wrecked is to be disabused of the status quo.” That also syncs up nicely with the Bronson quote of “Stop pretending we are all on the same staircase.” I would never want to read the same story line in different books. It would be boring and we serve an infinitely creative God. We have our own DNA, our own fingerprint and our own unique role to play in His divine story. To be a misfit means realizing that I am living more fully my role in that story, than if I were to blur into the collective background of automatons seeking personal happiness and material success. Brokenness marks me. My woundedness changes me. My struggles and challenges help hone and define my path. I can be a compelling hero in my story line if I seek the will of my Divine Author in doing so instead of looking to the world to tell me what to do or thinking I have to do things “just like everyone else”. Only then will I make a difference in lives of those around me – a difference that will, I hope, last longer than my limited finite time on this planet.  Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff. thanks for sharing your unique gifts and perspective.  BTW – nominated you – partly because I dont follow many blogs – I have a life to live too. . .yours keeps things simple and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your gifts.

  8. Very thankful for you….your encouragement always hits me right where I need it and pushes me through the dips.  I’m still experimenting at my blog, and you continually challenge me to be authentic and write what matters to me, trusting that the eyes that need to read my words will find them.

    As for my blog, I kind of doubled up and made it Thanksgiving Week…Monday’s post was in honor of birthmothers around the world and the sacrifices they have made to carry their babies, often at risk to their own lives.  Today’s was for the family that has changed me life and the God who brought them all to me.  Find both at http://www.riverofthoughts.com.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Happy Thanksgiving Jeff to you and your family. Well, here in my country we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but I have relatives who are celebrating it there right now.Hmmm..first I am thankful because I was able to know about your blog and I share your stories and writings with some of my friends and loved ones.Second, I think I am thankful about L.I.F.E..Despite all the trials we are still given chances to correct mistakes and make our life right and Lastly, I would like to thank my WHOLE FAMILY and the people around me for they are a part of me and whatever I will be.They have been there for me through thick and thin. Hmm..I wonder why are you in McDonalds?:p haha Well, I hope that you’ll have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family Jeff.Take Care!

  10. Dear Jeff,
    I have tagged you in my Thanksgiving Morning note on Facebook.  If that doesn’t help you find it I can try harder!
    Thanks for the constant encouragement.

  11. Hi Jeff, I am thankful for so much, which includes your blog posts that always encourage me.  I love all the links you provide about writing.  I am writing pretty much for personal “bliss” as they say it, but don’t feel that I have found my niche just yet.  I enjoy your writing style and openness.  Thank you for blogging and please continue!  Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff.  You have rocked my writing world – and inspired me a ton. Thank yo for that. ♥ When all felt lost, your words gave me the boost I needed to get back to it! 

  13. Thanks for the post, Jeff, so cool to see others’ take on gratitude. I wrote on the idea that turkey isn’t the tastiest item on the menu: https://insanelyserene.com/gratitude-gobble-the-goodness. Of the suggestions at the end of the post, I tried out a few – including having friends go around using the word GRATITUDE and naming something they were grateful for with each letter. Pretty awesome. Thanks for your commitment to writing and sharing, so fun to meet people with passion and purpose.

    Best, Linda

  14. Aside from all the things I have in my life to be thankful for, I also want to thank you for your inspiring words! 🙂 I hope you continue inspiring other people through what you’re doing!

  15. Since reading Voskamp, I’ve been doing something similar. The list cycles through on my iPhone, but I manage to translate it all over to my little personal art journal. It’s been really neat to see all the beautiful things of my life that I wouldn’t have kept up with otherwise. I’m thankful to be thankful! 🙂

  16. Great article. People are often so busy looking to the past or the future that they forget what is right here in the now. I keep a little notepad by my bed where I write down the 3 best things that happened to me that day – it’s a good way to reflect over the day’s events and to find things to be grateful for.

    Sometimes I’ve had such a crap day that the best things are that I didn’t miss the bus, or  that  the sunlight through the autumn leaves looked beautiful. I can usually find something though and I love looking back through it and feeling grateful all over again! Just voted for your blog on the top blogs site. I discovered your blog quite recently and coming here is one of the highlights of my day.

  17. Yes have feeling of gratitude is one the most important than any other as we can easily see that around us in real world there are all bad and cursed  survives  but we are good and blessed in between them.

    Thus I am thankfull to this life which I am living right now.
    And also thanks a lot for this important sharing.

  18. What a wonderful piece Jeff. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Here are my lessons from 2011 and before –

    18 – You must have a hobby – developing and
    maintaining a garden, taking photographs, travelling, singing, painting art,
    buying art, cooking, drinking wine whatever does it for you – you must have one
    or two or more.

    22 – Have a daily dialogue with The One Above – in
    whatever shape and form you see Him or Her. Yes you heard me right – it is a
    dialogue. You just need to be tuned enough to receive His or Her signals.

    24 – It IS possible to spend the whole day doing
    nothing of value, whiling away your time in inane, absolutely useless
    activities; but the huge sense of guilt thereafter is killing, brutally cruel
    and crushing. So, it is much better to accomplish your goal or at least a part
    of it every day.

    For reading the entire piece, please go here – https://luckyaruna.blogspot.com/2012/01/lessons-from-twenty-eleven-and-before.html

  19. What do I have to be thankful for?–
    —My best friend of 9 years. He’s there to make me laugh, even in tough times
    —My part time job, it’s income and that’s better than nothing.
    —My business, and the family I have that willingly helps out with expenses when things get rough
    —a place to live
    —my health

  20. What do I have to be thankful for?–
    —My best friend of 9 years. He’s there to make me laugh, even in tough times
    —My part time job, it’s income and that’s better than nothing.
    —My business, and the family I have that willingly helps out with expenses when things get rough
    —a place to live
    —my health

  21. Hey Jeff, 
    I just stumbled on this via your Twitter feed and I see it’s an “oldie”, but boy is it a goodie. And yes, thankfulness is a truth that frame the perspective of our entire lives. I think it’s only when you live with eyes of gratitude that we can truly see the world for what it is. Have a great weekend!

  22. Great post, thank you. the picture is awesome too, it even has thanks in Latvian9my native language. I thought it was cool, cause most people don’t even know such country exists. Thank you again for this post

  23. Interesting.  I live in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving,  but the first prayer religious people here say  every day is a one-liner recited as we get up from bed, which is basically a prayer of gratitude for being blessed from on high with another day of life.  If you stop to think about it, it gives just the right tone for how we should live through the rest of the day.

    I am grateful to the Almighty for:
    1. Each new day.
    2. My family.
    3. Having the privilege to live in Jerusalem.
    4. For a day with no missiles and bombs going off.
    5. The wonderful writing blogs I have found.
    6. The return to my writing.
    7. Being able to live most of my dreams.
    8. being able to be on the giving rather than the receiving end of things.
    9. the gift of health and functionality: eyes that see, ears that hear etc. (I could list each one separately, but I’m trying to limit it to 10…)
    10. each bit of joy He sends my way…

  24. It’s the old glass half full thing again.  I could be angry about my ss only just covering my expenses;  instead I CHOOSE  to be grateful that it does.

  25. LeMond Health and fitness (yes, that Greg LeMond) lately introduced its Revolution trainer having a design objective that organization spokesman Eric Stobin explains as, “the greatest feeling trainer available on the market … one which feels just like a bicycle.” lemondtrainer.com

  26. Great points, about a week ago I’ve stumbled upon a video talking about gratefulness and had a best week of my life. Since I am coder I build a small tool to practice it Grateful Vibe (www.gratefulvibe.com) I hope that’s ok to share.

  27. I am grateful for everything in my life! Past! Present! Future! So that could be 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 into infinity! I am grateful and I try to exercise gratefulness everyday!

  28. I’m thankful for life and people who make life worth living. I came through surgery 3 weeks ago and grateful for the each person: doctors, nurses, staff, family, friends, and strangers who showed love support and kindness. I’m still on the journey to recovery but know that I have so much to live for and purpose to pass the love to others along the way.

  29. Very nice article. this helped me for a school project and made have more thanks for thing that sometimes are so small that you don’t notice

  30. I support everything written in this post. I noticed that when there is a period in someone’s life where people are completely dissatisfied with their lives, the gratitude list may help them to remember that they still have a lot to value and be thankful for. That gives them another angle.

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