Take Carla’s Challenge: List 30 Things You Love For 30 Days

One of my favorite apps on my smartphone is called “Gratitude.” Its creator, Carla White, wanted to encourage people to make daily lists of the things they are grateful for, because living in gratitude can be life altering.

I use Carla’s app daily to create a list of at least 5 things I’m grateful for. Even on the toughest days, I can think of 5 things!

Then Carla upped the ante. She sent out an email a few weeks ago with a new challenge. At first glance, it seemed easy enough:

1: Write 30 things you love each day AND then say them out loud.
 2: Do this every day for 30 days.
 3: Each day must have 30 NEW things…you can’t recycle.

What? No duplicates? It’s that pesky third rule that makes the challenge so…well…challenging!

Still, Carla made it sound easy. She said, “You can choose anything…from your socks, kids, lunch, trees, flowers, air, music, a slice of toast…you can even choose things that you don’t have yet…It just has to be things you love.”

I breezed through the exercise the first few days. But I soon found myself staring blankly at my smartphone, desperately trying to flesh out the day’s list as minute after minute ticked by.

I quickly learned to be very precise. After all, “bacon” isn’t the same as “bacon on a BLT sandwich”, right? Still, hyper-parsing my entries didn’t seem very satisfying — and almost felt like cheating, so I decided to avoid taking specificity too far. I didn’t care how desperate I got — I wasn’t going be like the Bubba character in the movie Forrest Gump and list every conceivable way to prepare a meal of shrimp just to fill my list.

I quickly realized I would need to approach this project from a new perspective if I wanted to successfully name 900 things I love during a one-month period.

“I need to put more poetry into this,” I thought to myself.

As the days went on, my list entries became less mundane. And then, this unfamilar voice appeared. It felt like I had awakened a long-dormant voice inside myself, and he wanted in on the challenge, too. The voice began interjecting some interesting remarks in between my prosaic love for racks of seasoning firewood and Ranier cherries.

Sometimes, he expressed praise:

“I love what a good verbal communicator and storyteller I can be!”
“I love that I seek to continually learn new things!”
“I love that lately I have been willing to be brutally honest with myself. That’s the first step toward positive change. Attaboy!”
“I love remembering that I am a much stronger and disciplined person than I usually give myself credit for being.”

Many of the remarks offered psychological nuggets:

“I love knowing that the way I feel at the beginning of a day will not be the same way I feel in the middle or at the end of the day. Emotions are fleeting.”
“I love realizing that experiencing negative feelings doesn’t mean I’m bad or deficient. It simply means that I feel.”
“I love when I am aware of how many friends I have in my life. I want to create more ways to remember them.”
“I love remembering that seeds I planted many years ago still sprout when I least expect them to. What a wonderful delayed gift I gave myself! I’d better sow some more seeds.”
“I love realizing that the changes I want to make won’t be as difficult as I have built them up to be in my mind. Things always end up being far easier than I had imagined once I get started.”

Other remarks were quirky:

“I love that meditation feels like a brain vacation. That makes me imagine my brain wearing sunglasses, laying on a colorful beach towel, listening to the waves tumble onto the shore. When he gets too warm, my brain body surfs with the dolphins. Because my brain is gray, the dolphins think he’s one of them.”
“I love how when my heart and awareness are wide open, the world looks both wonderful and horrible all at the same time, which somehow seems like perfect natural balance.”

The voice also expresses his philosophical side:

“I love wondering what kind of art I would make if I let go of all my self-imposed restrictions and went crazy-eyed wild?”
“The best question to ask is ‘Why not?’”

I love this new voice! Or is he an old voice that has been silent and tucked away for far too long? Whoever he is, I want to encourage him to keep showing up and speaking out.

I am a week away from completing the 30-day journey. Carla White said of her 30-day challenge, “It’s a simple habit that snowballs events, people, opportunities into my life…”

If the challenge does nothing more than having reawakened this inner voice, I’ll be more than satisfied. If any additional wonders come my way, they will seem like gravy. By the way, I have a feeling I will continue this exercise beyond the 30 days to keep the conduit open so my new-found voice can keep speaking to me.

Now, it’s time to pass the challenge onto you. Are you willing to list and speak out loud 3o unique things you love for 30 days? If so, I hope you’ll tell me how the exercise affected your life.

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