rebelling against low expectations

3 Things I Learned From One Year of Thankfulness


One year ago, I made a different kind of new year’s resolution. My resolutions used to look like “Get healthier” and “Be more consistent at practicing my instruments.” Last year, I shared on theReb my decision to forget about those resolutions (which I never manage to stick to anyway) and do something more like a challenge

I challenged myself to write down one thing every evening for which I was thankful. The only rule? It had to be something that applied to that specific day. Not just something random.

One year and a notebook full of blessings later, I can say this was the first new year’s resolution I stuck to, day after day, week after week, month after month. And this thankfulness challenge taught me a lot.

Here are three things I learned from practicing a thankful heart every single day:

1. There’s Always Something to Be Thankful For

I know. We’ve all heard it. But there’s a big difference between hearing something and actually believing it. Before 2021, I didn’t believe it. This past year, I put it to the test.

Out of 365 days, I missed maybe a dozen. Once because I was traveling and forgot my notebook at home. A few times I was so exhausted that it slipped my mind. But only 3-4 days were missed because I couldn’t think of something to be thankful for. Or maybe, if I’m honest, it was because I didn’t want to find anything, because I didn’t feel like taking the time to examine my day for reasons to be grateful.

Don’t get me wrong – I went through tough days and weeks last year. There were plenty of moments when I thought, “Surely I won’t be able to think of anything tonight!” Well, I was wrong.

Some nights, something to be thankful for came to mind immediately. Other nights, I had to think about it for a very long time.

But I found that no matter how tough a day, there is always something to be thankful for. Even if it is “only” that God is still in control or that Jesus still reigns.

There is always something to be thankful for. Even if it is “only” that God is still in control or that Jesus still reigns. Click To Tweet

2. Thankfulness Resets Your Focus

It’s very hard to be in a bad mood when you’re thankful. Yes, I’m speaking from experience here.

Something I noticed as the weeks passed was that during my day, I started thinking about what I could write down that evening. What started out as an intentional daily thought became a habitual search for reasons to express gratitude. That means I was thinking about my blessings while going through life. It means my day was spent focusing on what was good.

A friend of mine, who also writes down something she’s thankful for every night once said that on those days that seem too bad to have a blessing in them, she goes through her notebook and reads through all the things she was thankful for in the past. It’s quite humbling to realize how blessed we are.

The further through the year I got, the more I realized there are very few days that are “bad” in and of themselves. Usually, it’s just a matter of my eyes being on the wrong things, and my thoughts being in the wrong place.

Purposefully making myself be thankful helped me redirect my focus to the good things in my life and realize that those “bad days” aren’t all bad after all.

3. Thankfulness Affects All of Me

I’m a little bit of a people-watcher, and one of my favorite people to watch is myself. This year, I noticed that being thankful had a kind of chain-reaction effect inside of me.

I realized I am more loving when I am thankful.

I realized I am more motivated to get things done when I am thankful.

I realized I am generous when I am thankful.

When I am thankful, it affects so many areas of my life. This year of thankfulness turned a lot of things around for me. And in total, it helped mold me more into the person Jesus wants me to be.

I know I will continue doing this challenge in the years to come because I can say that thankfulness has changed my perspective on life. It can change yours, too.

Give it a try! What are you thankful for today?

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About the author

Sarah Susanna Rhomberg

is a teen who lives in Europe and is fluent in both English and German. When not writing, you will often find her reading or working on the organization of a camp for children – always with a mug of herbal tea at hand. Sarah wants to live her life for Christ and writes to glorify Him. Connect with her through her email list here.

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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →