The Three Things Challenge

Several years ago, I started a simple practice when taking our daughters to school. As we drive, everyone in the car has to say three things they are thankful for.

There is only one rule, you can’t say something that someone else has already said. You are forced to come up with your own unique list of three things. Our girls are so used to doing this that I never have to prod or offer suggestions, they can usually shoot off their three in a matter of seconds. When we first started this, the lists contained the usual. They mentioned items such as “food,” “a house,” “family.” But now, they expand their list to include anything or everything. Examples being “socks,” “hair ties,” and “brownies.”

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I have to do it too and some days I have already determined my list before I really even get in the car and some days I struggle to come up with even two. Those days that I struggle with my list are dark days and a good measurement on where my soul is. I ask myself tough questions on those days. What has so clouded my spiritual life that I can’t come up with three things to be thankful for? What am I not noticing that is right in front of me, blessing me? Am I choosing self absorption and self pity over gratitude and faith?

As a person who writes a blog on spiritual formation, I am often thinking about how I can encourage others to practice spiritual disciplines. This practice of three things is a spiritual discipline that anyone can do with no special training or explanation why. So many mornings, this practice has reset my day, established my priorities, and reminded me of God’s goodness on even the darkest of days.

Don’t make gratitude just a November thing. Do it daily by coming up with your own three things. This has been an invaluable gift to me and I think to our daughters. Try it for yourself.

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