Cultivating Gratitude for the Smallest of Things

Gratitude. Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts posits that a life of joy and of a filling salvation comes when we learn to live a lifestyle of being grateful and thankful for every single thing God has gifted to us. Good, bad, big, little. We rejoice in it all.

Upon reading Philippians 4:11-12, where Paul writes, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation…”, Voskamp points readers to the fact that Paul had to learn these things. She realized that we must learn to live a life utterly thankful for all that God doles out. It does not come naturally.

So she decided to keep a list. She shares many of the things on that list, thanking God for his little gifts of sunshine and a warm griddle and the dancing moonlight. Little things. I kept waiting for the big ones. The revelatory ones. Honestly, I started to scoff a bit at the little things that made her list.

Then I read this: “Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life—even the hard—is made up of the minute parts, and I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out.”

Learning to seek out an attitude of gratefulness in even the smallest of things, I hadn’t realized how important that is. Because there are always small things for me to be thankful for; the artwork on the wall that makes me smile, the healthy pumpkin-oat muffins I made for breakfast, the cardinal that skips along outside our window. We need not wait for the big things to give thanks. Instead, by stringing our days with little upon little thing to thank God for giving to us and placing in our path, it reminds me of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas story, when it says, "The Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day."

Yes, seeking out the tiniest of details and seeing them as gifts from God and thanking him for them teaches my heart to grow bigger.

Joy is always given, never grasped.
God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.
— Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

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Notes from "One Thousand Gifts": Cultivating Gratitude When It Hurts


  1. This sounds like an amazing book. It's going on my to-read list. Cultivating gratitude and enjoying the seemingly small things is so important to me and my walk. Thanks for sharing, Carmen! :) Hope you're having a lovely weekend!


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