Thoughtful Thursday: Gratitude, by Alex Hughes

Today we’re participating in a blog tour and scavenger hunt to promote Alex Hughes‘  new novel Vacant, book four in her MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS series. This is my current favorite urban fantasy series. There are two chances to be a winner (you can try for both):

1. We’re giving away an ebook copy of any of the novels — your choice. Just comment below to enter the giveaway.

2. In the following post, you’ll find the next clue in a “CLUE-like” scavenger hunt. To win, you have to solve a whodunit mystery. You can find the rules and information you need for that here at Alex’s blog. The winner of the scavenger hunt gets a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble, a signed copy of Marked, and a character from a future book named after him/her. Have fun!


And here are some thoughts from Alex about gratitude and happiness.

by Alex Hughes

One of the things my main character in the Mindspace series is supposed to do as part of his recovery is to choose three things to be grateful for every week. Adam frequently calls out simple items such as gummy worms and sunsets, things most people find trivial. But he is grateful for them, or he tries to be. Small things are sometimes the building blocks you need to notice the larger ones, and Adam is still working on his stepping stones. Of course, some days are better than others.

I’ve been studying habits and happiness lately, and attempting to embrace gratitude in my own life. There’s a story told about Charles Wesley, the founder of the Methodists, which may or may not be true. Wesley is robbed while on the road traveling from one city to another. The thief beats him severely and takes literally all he has. When Wesley gets to his destination, he gets down on his knees and prays to God, “dear God, thank you that I have never ever been robbed before. And thank you that though he took all that I had, I didn’t have much.” I love this story, because it makes me think.

clueIf I was beaten and robbed, I would probably be complaining about my situation, to God or anyone else who would listen. After all, I had been beaten and robbed, two things high on my list of items I would not ever like to have happen. That Wesley takes a moment to find gratitude in such a hard situation makes me pause. How much gratitude do I seem to find even in my good situations? How much do I pause to find the good things even out of everyday, ordinary life, much less the hard times? And yet with every book I read on happiness, from whatever the source and background, every single one comes back to gratitude.

Happiness is appreciating the life you have, I think, and that’s a hard thing, especially for those of us who spend a large chunk of our time in fictional worlds. Looking at the real life, not-so-perfect surroundings and appreciating them for what they are is hard sometimes. I’d like things to be amazing. I’d like for hard situations and challenges not to come up again and again without warning. But, lately, I’m trying to find a reason to be grateful about something there. Because I’d very much like to spend time in happiness, and gratitude seems to be a stepping stone.

What about you guys? What things can you be happy and/or grateful about in unexpected places?

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

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  1. I agree. I know it sounds cliche’ but when I feel down, I “count my blessings” and it really does lift my mood. Something else I try (TRY!) not to do is “borrow trouble.” To continue on with the religious theme, as Matthew 6:27 says: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

  2. susan emans /

    Not to brown nose, but I am happy that I found great authors who enjoy their fans and truly love what they do. Alex Hughes put a lot of work into her Vacant release tour, and I am enjoying every post. I agree that Mindspace Investigations is a fantastic series.

  3. susan emans /

    Oh! And I won a copy of Sharp from Fantasy Literature, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

    • I think if everyone just stopped and revoked in/marveled at the sheer existence of the world–the air on the face, the trees in their sight, hhe incredible confluence of events that put you there on this world at that moment–Stars going nova, bacteria churning oxygen, asteroids taking out the dinosaurs, this gene connecting with that gene–just to marvel at the sheer wonder of even being able to marvel at the sheer wonder? If that doesn’t send a thrill through you of amazement and gratitude and joy, nothing will.

  4. I’ve been trying to actively notice when something makes me happy or brings me pleasure. The other day I was packing my bag, getting ready to go home from the office, and I realized, “I love my office. I love being here. This feels nice.” And even just something as simple as mentally acknowledging a moment of pleasure, stopping and taking note that “yes, I am happy right now, in this moment,” seems to expand that moment and make it last longer, and make it more memorable.

  5. This is a small thing, but I have been exceedingly happy for the rainy winter we are having in central California. The drought was so bad, and now the earth is finally replenishing itself. I love the sounds of the rain on the rooftop, the crackle of the fire, and the smell of wet earth. SO yay for rain!
    Thanks for the post and the prompt! It’s great to really think about the little things that make you happy!

  6. These are all such wonderful comments. Thank you guys for stopping by, and thank you all for having me on the blog.

  7. nice strangers

  8. I routinely say “thank you” out loud in my car when I find a park space, or when a considerate driver lets me in. And I am often stopped in my tracks by the beauty of he physical world, often tiny things; a shaped stone, a colored leaf, light though branches.

  9. This week, especially: Antibiotics and analgesics. And Absolut Ruby Red.

  10. Barbara Elness /

    I’m grateful for a great many things, including a plethora of wonderful books to read, and the opportunity to interact with some of my favorite authors on social media and on blogs.

  11. Ironically, when things around me seem to be going downhill, it’s easier – perhaps it acts as a reminder – to be grateful for all I have. It’s hard to be upset over trivial things like a lost glove when a natural disaster or tragedy reminds you that you still have your house, your car, your job, the safety of your loved ones… puts things in perspective. I find those trivial annoyances can remind me (if I give it a moment!) of what I *do* have. And my gratitude usually manages to turn my mood around.

  12. I actually look forward to my commute every day because it is a half hour/40 minutes when I can just be uninterrupted me. Usually I spend that lovely time listening to an audiobook so I am thoroughly thankful that they exist and that there are so many lovely authors out there creating readable/listenable art for me to enjoy!

    I am also absurdly grateful for the basics: decent health, roof over my head, a job that doesn’t suck and affords me the price of groceries and gas etc.

    As a young kid, I spent a great deal of time appreciating nature and the beautiful complexity of it. I need to get back to that, enjoy the little moments and views and stop letting other people’s bad attitudes ruin mine. I think this might have to be one of my resolutions. I’ve never made one but this seems like a good year to start.

  13. Monica Rodriguez, you win an e-copy of the Alex Hughes book of your choice!

    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!


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