How a List Could Change Your Life

“I tell you I’m going crazy,” the woman shouted to her mentor.

He gently replied, “Here is a yellow pad and here is a ballpoint pen. I want you to write down your blessings.”

She refused, overcome by the despair that had seized her soul.

But he didn’t give up. “Think of the millions of people all over the world who cannot hear a choir or a symphony or their own babies crying. Write down ‘I can hear, thank God.’ Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of all the millions of people around the world who cannot see a waterfall or a flower blooming or their lover’s face. Write down ‘I can see, thank God.’

And so she began to make her list. As she reached the last line of that yellow notepad, clearly “the madness was routed.”

From then on Maya Angelou wrote all of her books and poems on yellow notepads, saying, “As I approach the clean page I think of how blessed I am.”

Ann, a Canadian pig farmer’s wife, began listing her blessings on a dare. Pretty soon her entire life and outlook changed as she kept lists of her one thousand gifts. Ann Voskamp began blogging and writing books to encourage others to do the same. And in just a few short years, many readers have seen their lives transformed by the spiritual practice of thanking God for all that is given.

Even science has shown that practicing gratitude is good for you. According to one study, those who keep gratitude journals:

  • exercised more regularly,
  • reported fewer physical symptoms,
  • felt better about their lives as a whole,
  • and were more optimistic about the upcoming week

They were also more likely to make progress on their personal and professional goals if their gratitude was recorded in some manner, like a list.

The hymnist Frances Ridley Havergal kept what she called a ‘journal of mercies.’ She crowded it with remembrances of God’s goodness. She was always on the lookout for tokens of the Lord’s grace and bounty, and she found them everywhere. She believed that many a complaining life would be changed into music and song by a journal of mercies.

Do you have a gratitude list? Why not?

My daily planner includes a space each day to list gratitudes. My husband keeps one of those small pocket calendars solely dedicated to writing his everyday thanksgivings. Some people put them on slips of paper in a Mason jar.

You could even start right here:

  1. I am grateful for __________________________________________
  2. I am grateful for __________________________________________
  3. I am grateful for __________________________________________

But however you choose to record God’s goodness and faithfulness to you, my prayer is  that as you choose to do it, it will enrich your life, bubbling over to all those you encounter.

Not just for November, but every single day.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength”

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press) 

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouragement at

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is signupforfreebook-1024x1024.png
Click HERE to enter your email and receive weekly blogs and FREE EBOOK “4 Anchors You Need in Life’s Storms!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sellbooks-e1595177605630.jpg

Soul Strong just released! Order “SOUL STRONG” Today …. More about Soul Strong HERE.

Check out my new companion devotional book Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell Order Today!



  1. Cindy Bolshaw on November 11, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you.

  2. Jeannie Waters on November 11, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Lucinda, I enjoyed the stories at the beginning of the post. Thank you for sharing the benefits of recording our blessings. I jot mine in my bullet journal.

  3. Lisa Larsen Hill on November 11, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Lucinda, I started a gratitude list for on March 1st of this year…little did I know how important it would be to continue this list to stay grounded through this turbulent year. My husband and I start each day with our daily devotional and what are we thankful for. It has made a real difference as you say. Thank you for sharing this thought and inspiring this habit. One of my gratitude’s is for your books! With thanksgiving.

  4. Maggie Rowe on November 11, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    I am grateful for Ordinary Graces and the rest of my library of LSM books! The wisdom and truth you share so winsomely with your readers is evergeen.

  5. Lauraine Snelling on November 11, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    You have such an incredible storehouse of stories. Thank you for spreading the power of lessons other people have learned that can help make our lives richer and work better. Thank you, thank you. Your word pictures help me remember the lesson.

  6. Cathy Baker on November 11, 2020 at 11:40 pm

    My love language is list-making, and there’s no greater list than a grateful one. What a lovely post, Lucinda!

  7. Tammy Sue on November 12, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    You have a graceful way of describing why. Thank you for the reminder.

Leave a Comment