Practicing Thankfulness

In the moments before I sit down to eat my lunch, read a book, or enjoy something so luxurious as a hot shower, I think, wow, there is a staggering amount of wonderful in my life to be thankful for. Comparatively or otherwise, I have so much to be thankful for.

But sometimes…I don’t act very thankful. I forget to be grateful with my lips and my heart. And after considering all the things I have that others could only dream of, I feel a deep sense of remorse for expressing (even internally) envy or bitterness about all the things I don’t have. As I write this post, I’m thankful for that pang of contrition because the person I want to be has a heart of gratefulness.

I’ve often heard thankfulness is about attitude; that we can learn to recognize the gifts around us, however small they may appear at the moment, and choose to cherish them.

I thought I was fairly thankful. Not anywhere near the level I’m aiming for, but so-so. Not abysmal?

And then I met Barrington Whelk from The Raven Boys. <–Fabulous, btw. Highly recommend 🙂

raven boys

****I have become a very deflated, albeit hardcore fan-girling balloon.****

Ouch. Just…not like ripping off a band-aid quickly at all. No.

Whelk was a bit of a whiny character, but the thing that really characterized him for me was 1) his sense of entitlement (that doesn’t sound familiar at all!) and 2) his bitterness which, in turn, reflected a lack of gratitude. It really struck me–like, cut me to the quick and don’t even try to set that gun to stun* kind of struck. Was I like Whelk? No way! No. Way.

But actually…yeah, I am.

*Yes I totally stole this and no I am not even remotely ashamed because that one line was so hilarious I instantaneously fell in love with it.

Not all the time, of course. But sometimes, when I don’t get to take a shower exactly when I’d like, or if my husband decides the garbage actually doesn’t need to get taken out that day (and I am very much in disagreement with him), or if Astrid figures that sleep isn’t a commodity more worth its (somewhat?) intangible weight in gold? Unhappy camper.

And really, it’s ok to be disappointed. It’s ok to be angry, too.

The problem is failing to recognize how each breath we take is a gift, and we take that gift, among many, many others, for granted. Ten seconds ago, as you were reading this post, someone died.

You are still alive.

Whelk complained about not having a personal chef, about losing his prestige, about how terrible his day was when he could have–and should have–been more concerned about someone else’s. Because I don’t live in that kind of world, I could look at the things he was railing about not having as utterly ridiculous and write him off as stupid/lame/pretentious. But what about the people who, for example, don’t have a place to sleep at night? A bed? Access to fresh water, never mind running water available at a moment’s notice?

I’ve heard people complain about their water getting shut off so. many. times. Granted, it’s not illegitimate; it certainly is inconvenient. But it isn’t life or death for them. Food is not a life or death issue.

I’m so guilty of whining (oft internally) about having to cook dinner when it’s late (or, ahem, I just don’t feel like it). How rude. Seriously. At least I have food to cook. It’s not rotting (or rotten). I have a way to cook it, and people to share it with. I have plates to eat it with, silverware, and I have been given enough money to pay for electricity. I have literally negative five thousand things to whine about.

Whelk has much to teach us about the importance of gratitude, practicing thankfulness, and the ill-effects of bitterness.


For a week, at the end of each day, write or speak 3 things you are thankful for. The three things need to be different every day! If you’re feeling brave or inspired, feel free to share them! (I will probably share at least a bit of my list. Excited about this challenge my grandmother shared with me!)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend…and an even more wonderful week!

Cheers! 🙂


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